Good Thing: Why You’ll Love ‘The Adventure Zone’ If You Love Comic Books
It seems like, especially recently, if you're on the internet you're inundated with projects from the McElroy family. Whether it's podcasts, YouTube series or the new My Brother, My Brother and Me show on Seeso, there's so much McElroy content out there that it's hard to find a place to start. If you're visiting us, that means you're probably a big fan of comics, and the way high-concept stories can be told via serialized fiction and if that's the case, you need to listen to The Adventure Zone.
The Adventure Zone is an "actual play" Dungeons and Dragons podcast, where the sweet baby brother Griffin McElroy serves as DM to his two brothers Justin and Travis, as well as their father Clint, sending them on adventures and forcing them to come up with creative solutions to seemingly impossible problems.
That might not sound like your cup of tea --- it certainly didn't sound like mine at first --- but I've recently come around to storytelling possibilities of tabletop roleplaying games, and it's not all lowercase-d dungeons and dragons all the time. Over the course of nearly 60 episodes, Griffin has built a meta-story across separate arcs that's shockingly similar to the way certain writers like Chris Claremont, Mark Waid and James Roberts structure long runs on comic books.
The larger story of The Adventure Zone sees Magnus Burnsides (Travis), Merle Hitower Highchurch (Clint) and Taako (Justin) tasked with retrieving seven "Grand Relics" that were once the cause of a great war, but throughout the series Griffin as Dungeon Master has been seeding a gripping mystery revolving around the enigmatic Red Robes and gaps in the characters' memories.
As separate stories, The Adventure Zone has adventures inspired by The Fast and The Furious, Alien and Zero Escape and while the first introductory storyline is a fairly standard D&D adventure through caves and villages, it's followed by a locked-room murder mystery on a speeding train featuring a pro wrestler named Jess The Beheader and Angus McDonald, Boy Detective.
The Adventure Zone isn't full "all adventure, all the time" either, and the personal moments of the series are sometimes the highlights. Whether it's Magnus' tragic backstory, teased out over the course of 40 episodes, Merle's hidden family or Taako's quest to unlock the magic of Tacos, the characters are so well-defined you start to separate them from the McElroy that plays them and they become as real as any character in TV or film.
The podcast is making the jump to comics in 2018, as Clint (who has written comics before, including The Green Hornet and Universal Soldier) will adapt the story alongside Carey Pietsch on art. 2018 is a heck of a long-time away though, so if you're hankering for some of the most gripping serialized fiction in any medium today, you need to start listening to The Adventure Zone.
In Good Thing we celebrate something we love from comics or pop culture, because every day could use something good.