House of the Dead — Witcher #1 Review

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Dark Horse

Based on the video game of the same name — which itself was based on a series of novels — the Witcher comic series follows Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter with special abilities.

The Witcher is set in a fictional and medieval world where magic and monsters are commonplace, and previous stories involved a lot of swordplay, political drama, and an ambitious amount of backstory that created a large and dynamic world in the vein of Tolkien’s masterpieces.

We’re first introduced to Jakob the hunter, a lonely man fishing for food who ends up befriending a tired and bedraggled Geralt who hasn’t seen anyone for days. The two strike up an unlikely friendship with campfire tales and life stories after Geralt takes down a drowner stalking Jakob from the fishing hole.

As they share deeper stories, Geralt learns about Jakob’s wife, a woman taken by the Bruxae Vampires and turned into one of their own. Since then, Marta has watched over Jakob from a distance which has kept Jakob in place until he chooses to move and follow the Witcher for an adventure.

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The two travel through the ominously named Black Forest where they encounter a grave hag that warns them of “the house.” Dangerous encounters spur them forward, and the pair eventually arrive at a mysterious location — a place that could give Jakob the closure he wants while giving Geralt the action his sword craves.

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The Witcher #1 is a solid entry to the series and a decent introduction for readers entering Angren for the first time. Jakob functions well as the reader’s eyes, and we’re with him on his journey as he gets to know the Witcher and his fantastic world.

Paul Tobin’s scripts are most excellent in the dialogue — the budding friendship between Jakob and Geralt feels natural and paced. The lore is also strong, and the premise carries weight.

Tobin’s scripting gets bogged down are the forest scenes — we get way too much explication of and wandering that gets a little repetitive. It feels a lot like setup which ultimately makes what comes at the end of the story a little predictable.

On the visual front, Joe Querio’s artwork coupled with Carlos Badilla’s colors give The Witcher #1 a great sense of tone. The mood is somber when it needs to be, and the action sequences ramp up with a good sense of speed and movement.

Anyone looking for a fantasy comic might find exactly what they’re looking for in Witcher #1. It’s not the strongest start, but the elements are there pointing to everything genre fans want and desire. If it’s anything like the video games, expect an immense world filled with history that’s constantly shifting and building. Issue #1 scratches the surface, and if the subsequent issues dig further, fans can expect something pretty amazing.

The Witcher #1 (2014)
Dark Horse
Words: Paul Tobin
Art: Joe Querio
Colors: Carlos Badilla
Letters: Nate Piekos

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