Published on May 26th, 2020 | by Jules-Pierre Malartre


Review: Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons Vol. 1

You can read it in one sitting, but you’ll want to go back to it the next day, and you’ll still be able to laugh at the same jokes. To me, that the best bang for the buck of any comic book, and with the pandemic going on, it’s the kind of laughs we need at the moment.

I’m not writing these Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons reviews in the right order. I reviewed the sequel (Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons II: Painscape) first. It’s OK though, because both Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons series are good, and it does not matter in what order you read them.

If you’ve read my review of Rick and Mortry vs. Dungeons & Dragons II: Painscape, you know I read the series reluctantly, at first. Since then, I found out that I like Rick and Morty, a lot. Immediately after reading Painscape, I ordered the trade paperback of the first Rick and Morty D&D outing, but given the current pandemic, it took a bit of time to get here. It was worth the wait.

It feels like everything positive I said about Painscape goes double for its predecessor. I actually wish I had bought the original comic books when they came out; especially the Director’s Cut edition of Issue #1, which I’m still trying to get my hands on. I’m still not a Rick and Morty expert, but I’m sure the fans are going to love this one too. (Most of them have probably read the series already, so this will be old news to them.) For the D&D fans who may not have checked out this totally unusual Dungeons & Dragons adventure yet, I can only promise you that it will be unlike any other D&D comic book you’ve ever read before.

There is much to like about this book. First, there is the story itself, which I won’t spoil here. (I hate those reviews that are little more than a blow-by-blow recap of the story.) The writing team alone should be enough to get both novel and comic book readers to pick up this book. It’s a collaborative effort between Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub. Comic book readers already know Zub for his work on the resurrected Conan the Barbarian series and other D&D titles (among others). As for Rothfuss, if you’re a fan of literary fantasy, you must be familiar with his Kingkiller Chronicle. Two of the books in the series have already been published (The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear), plus the related short story, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the third book. So, picture this, if you can: We have D&D writer extraordinaire Zub, Kingkiller author Rothfuss, Rick and Morty, and D&D thrown in together; I can only kick myself for not picking up this book earlier.

The writers take all D&D fans where they’ve dreamed of going—into the game, for real (or fake-real, whatever). Without spoiling the plot, Rick, Morty and the rest of the family get thrown into the world of D&D, and it’s everything any kid who’s ever rolled a 20-sided die ever hoped would happen to them in real life. Like Painscape, the Easter eggs and gaming references are on almost every page. There is so much D&D lore thrown in, some more obscure than others, to make you read the book several times to see if you’ve missed any. The cameos by real and not-so-real D&D luminaries are particularly endearing. If you’re active in the D&D community, and if you’re old enough to remember the animated D&D television series, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the guest appearances.

While the in-game references, lore and Easter eggs would be enough to carry the whole story, the plot itself is also pretty good. Jerry shines in this one, much to Rick’s frustration. Rick also meets his match in the person of a guest DM I won’t name (I don’t want to spoil it). I think that the longer you’ve been playing D&D, the more you’ll enjoy the Easter eggs and other gaming references. I always enjoy any fiction based on D&D, whether it’s in comic book or novel format, but this is different. It feels more personal, more “real life” because it stars normal, everyday people (not counting Rick). You can read it in one sitting, but you’ll want to go back to it the next day, and you’ll still be able to laugh at the same jokes. To me, that the best bang for the buck of any comic book, and with the pandemic going on, it’s the kind of laughs we need at the moment.

I’m a big fan of both Jim Zub and Patrick Rothfuss. I was pissed off at first when I heard that Rothfuss was working on this comic. I felt his time would be best spent finishing up the third book in his Kingkiller Chronicle. If you’re a fan of that series, you know how long Rothfuss has been making us wait for the third installment. I don’t mind waiting, actually—you can’t rush genius—but after reading Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons and seeing what he spent his time on, I really don’t mind, because he helped give readers a truly unique D&D comic book. He wasn’t part of the team that worked on Painscape, so I can only assume he went back to working on his novel, but his cooperation with Zub on this book was really worth it. Zub acquitted himself beautifully while writing Painscape solo, like he always does on any of his books, but if the two of them were to get together once again to pen another Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons series, I’d be more than happy—even if it means more delays for the next Kingkiller book.

Title:                Rick and Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons

Writers:          Patrick Rothfuss, Jim Zub

Artist:             Troy Little (art), Leonardo Ito (colors), Robbie Robbins (letters)

Publishers:     IDW/ONI Press/Wizards of the Coast

Format:           Trade paperback

# of pages:      138 pages

Release date:  Available now

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About the Author

Jules-Pierre Malartre currently resides in Rigaud, Quebec, which is cold enough to save him from big-ass spiders, but as close to The Great White North that he will ever dare go. In 2005, he quit a promising aerospace engineering career to go into freelance copywriting. Since then, he has become considerably poorer, but much happier. When he is not writing technical manuals, newspaper articles or online features, he is busy working on his first novel. His first short story, “The Rest Was Easy,” was published by the online literary magazine Amarillo Bay in 2013.

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