Comic book adaptations of RPGs can be a minefield for potential readers. Those who are unfamiliar with the source material can feel like they’re missing all the references, and fans of the original game might find that the storytelling of the comic pales in comparison to their role-playing experience. It’s something of a relief, then, to discover that Pathfinder Origins #1, the first in a new Dynamite series based on Paizo, Inc’s popular Pathfinder RPG, is actually a lot of fun to read.
As the name suggests, the series will be made up of six origin stories, telling the personal histories of a band of adventurers led by the Pathfinder Ezren. The framing story sees Ezren and his associates attempting to gain access to the secrets of the Magnimar Lodge, a Pathfinder stronghold whose keepers have heard unsavoury rumours about Ezren’s ragtag gang. In an effort to gain the keepers’ trust, each of the adventurers takes turns recounting the series of events which led them there. In this first issue, Valeros the mercenary takes centre stage, and tells his macabre story of strange caravans, demonic idols and deadly betrayal.
Pathfinder Origins #1, then, is a short but sweet romp with plenty of action and some nicely creepy moments. Erik Mona’s writing shows a welcome measure of self-awareness; the meta-commentary about stock character types and adventuring leads is both amusing and raises the tantalising possibility that the story could actually be the record of a role-playing session rather than simply a straightforward adventure tale. Valeros himself has something of Ash Williams (of Evil Dead and Army of Darkness fame) about him, and his loud-mouthed oafishness coupled with some legitimate heroism makes him an endearing lead character. The plot does get just a little clunky at times, but does more than enough overall to keep readers interested right to the end.
Tom Garcia’s art is also impressive throughout, and works beautifully with the colours of Mohan. The overall effect is one of restrained vibrancy, the eye-catching early scenes in a Crowstump tavern and the malevolent appearance of an enchanted demon stone being particular highlights. Gory moments, when they do arrive, are handled expertly with grimy detail. If Garcia slips up at all it’s in the layout of his panels, where in a couple of instances his experiments in size and spacing leave too much white background on the page, but this is ultimately a minor quibble.
So is Pathfinder Origins #1 just for fans of the Pathfinder RPG? Not at all. Mona’s savvy writing and entertaining use of fantasy tropes make for a hugely enjoyable read, and Garcia’s artwork is consistently high in quality throughout. If you’re looking for entertaining, action-packed adventure stories, then this series has had a very promising start.