Gaming & Manga Collide
Tokyopop is not your average manga publisher. They take, in my opinion, a lot of changes with Korean manwha as well as unknown artist in the United States to create a lineup of books that appeal to such a broad audience. They got some great triple-A titles any publisher would drool over (Princess AI, Clamp, Rozen Maiden, My-Hime, Gundam) and a slew of rising stars. Being an avid gamer I love the lineup of game based and inspired titles Tokyopop rolls out, and below I'm going to talk to you about three particular titles. Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy, Archlord and Kingdom Hearts II are sure satisfy anyone who's picked up these games yet stand alone very well, from the source material. Its game on, on the printed page.
Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy vol. 3
Take the fantastic are to Jae-Hwan Kim (King of Hell) and the elegant story-writing of Richard A. Knaak (DragonRealm) apply each to the rich world of Warcraft and you've got pure manga gold. This is volume three of the Sunwell Trilogy, a unique story spun in the world of Warcraft by Knaak and brought to life by the pen of Kim, and I'll say it again, pure gold.
The Sunwell is the source of all elven power, and it's missing. Volume three reveals what happened to the Sunwell, it's protectors and land it was entrusted too as well as where the Sunwell currently resides ... or should I say in whom (whoops, spoiler!) The story of Anveena, hunted for her ties to the Sunwell, comes to an end in volume 3 as she, Kalec (male blue dragon), Tyrgosa (female blue dragon) and Jorad Mace all find themselves in Quel'thalas, land of the elves, confronted by Lor'themar, an elven captain, and the siren (fallen elf) Sylvanas (hottie on the cover of volume 3). Everyone's fate if tied to the Sunwell, and the evil traitor Dar'khan who's trying to harness the lost power of the Sunwell.
Now I'm not going to go into too much more detail on the story as ... well I'd ruin it if I told you all the events occurring till now. I am not a World of Warcraft player, but for those who are you'll recognize locations and characters appearing in WoW. As a noob to the whole series I found The Sunwell Trilogy utterly enjoyable, easy to read and a true pleasure. The creative team behind this series has a great resume, and I hope to see them teamed up again soon. This is not a cheap cash-in on a hot license, this is a trilogy that stands so well on it's own it could launch a series of books, or maybe inspire more, more stories from Warcraft. If you consider yourself a Warcraft fan, buy this trilogy. If you like fantasy comics, buy this trilogy.
Archlord vol. 2
Next up, Archlord. This is one game I've never played, (PC based, same as WoW). In the game you assume the role of some guy working to become the supreme ruler of the land. Can you tell I don't have too big an opinion of the game, and based on its review score neither does the gaming press. Good thing I'm not here to talk about the game because the manga is suh-weet!
With art by Jin-Hwan Park, the Archlord manga is beautifully drawn with unique characters, beautiful environments, great looking monsters and dragons as well as perfectly incorporated humor which had me laughing out-loud quite a few times. Volume 2 of Archlord was a little bit of a letdown. See the story laid out in volume 1 of Archlord was deep and engaging, while volume 2 is the transition story. What I mean is it sets the stage nicely for volume 3 with characters introduced, journeys embarked on and conflicts about to kick into gear. Damn if it does not just leave you wanting volume 3 oh so bad. If you can pick up vol. 2 and 3 at the same time I guarantee you'll enjoy them much more.
Anyway, bad guy Ernan sets his lieutenants loose to find and kill the descendant of Nathan Mana so that he might finally wield the sword Brumhart (which burned the crap out of his hand). So, said descendant Zian is set to leave Taas forest with Zian and Ugdrasil to find the prophet Berouze. As fate would have it they meet the same lieutenants out to kill them, but nobody on either side knows the others, at least not right away. This is where volume 2 leaves us, both sides beginning to figure out who the others are and fights about to get underway.
A good story, great art, and a little bit of good frustration await you in volume 2 of Archlord. Oh, nice bonus for fans of the game as there is a code for a special item in the back of the book. I'd give it to you but where's the fun in that.
Kingdom Hearts II vol. 1
Ah, now this game I've played, in addiion to the first Kingdom Hearts and Chain of Memories. First things first, if you've not played the games or read the manga for Kindom Hearts or Chain of Memories, stop now, go buy them, play them, then check in with me, I'll be here. See, Warcraft and Archlord stand very, very well on their own as stories set in very expansive worlds. Kingdom Hearts is quite the opposite as it's a direct adaptation of the games, and the story is very deep and sometimes mind-numbing.
KHII begins with the story of Roxas, a boy in Twilight Town who has dreams of Sora, dreams that are his, but at the same time are not. He is enjoying the final days of summer with friends Hayner, Pence and Olette, but his enjoyment is constantly interruped by strange events, figures clad in black, white creatures who can only be defeated with a keyblade, a mysterious mansion where a ghostly girl resides. Anyone familiar with the games knows of Organization XIII, the witch Namine and Sora along with his journey, but who's Roxas, where is Twilight Town and why is all this starnge stuff happening to him? This is the same situation found in the game, and it's portrayed in the manga also.
As a huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts game I will tell you that this series from Tokyopop is a must buy. The art, courtesy of Shiro Amano, is to die for, just perfect. Amano captures the world of Disney and Square Enix in a unique light that any fan of art will jus tlove to stare at his representation of the games. They are just a joy to look at. You can tell he's studied the source material very well as each characters in these manga reflect their gaming counterparts down to the most minute details such as the change purse. Fans, get out now, get this series, and for those of you without gaming knowledge don't fear, just start form the beginning, this is indeed a fun journey,