DRESDEN FILES STORM FRONT VOL 1

DRESDEN FILES: STORM FRONT, Book One: The Gathering Storm
Written by Jim Butcher and Mark Powers, Illustrated by Ardian Syaf
Published by Del Rey/Dabel Brothers

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files return to comic form in Book One of this adaptation of the first Harry Dresden novel. Difficult as it may be to translate a well-established series into graphic novels without being repetitive or losing some of the magic, so to speak, along the way, both newcomers to this fantastic world and hardcore Dresden fans are going to be more than pleased with the first part of STORM FRONT.

Harry Dresden is a professional wizard, and though he is by no means the only wizard in the world, he does hold the distinction of being the only one listed in the Chicago yellow pages. He doesn’t make a great deal of money, he often suffers bodily harm on the job (and off), and there seem to be more people who want to kill him than not. Thankfully Harry has a few people in his corner, including Bob, a horny talking skull with nigh infinite knowledge of magic, Susan Rodriguez, a tenacious reporter with long legs a crush on Harry, and Karrin Murphy, member of the Chicago P.D. and one of the few people on the force who keeps an open mind about the paranormal. When Murphy calls Dresden in on a murder case, Harry finds himself in the middle of a magical war involving vampires, cold-hearted businessmen, and at least one very sick sorcerer.

Mark Powers has done right by Dresden, keeping his semi-sarcastic voice and smart-ass sense of humor at the forefront, and by alternating between thought bubbles and interactive dialogue he keeps Harry from being too much in his head or being too preachy. Powers included a few lines from the book and some of Harry’s favorite catch phrases, giving the script an authentic feel while also keeping it unique and fresh by adding his own words to the mix.

Ardian Syaf is a Dresden fans’ wet dream. His illustrations of not just our favorite Chicagoan wizard but of the entire supporting cast are spot on, and the magic scenes are amazing. The heart-exploding murder scene, easily one of the more disturbing scenarios in a Butcher book, is stunningly portrayed. Blood and guts have never looked better than Syaf’s depictions of the two doomed lovers, locked forever in their gruesome embrace. Syaf also includes several little details to make die-hard Dresden fans smile and nod in appreciation, such as the fuzzy robe Harry wears in his ice-cold basement workplace, and the multi-color parts of his indomitable car, the Blue Beetle.

The script and art are both wins, allowing STORM FRONT to work both ways, dragging novel fans into the world of comics, and comic fans into the world of Harry Dresden. STORM FRONT is a must-read for not just for Butcher buffs, but for fantasy fans of all sorts. There’s magic, mobsters, sex, blood and a whole lot more, all wrapped up in a shiny, Technicolor package, leaving nothing wanting for the creative connoisseur in search of a helluva good time.

Avril Brown

DRESDEN FILES: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

DRESDEN FILES: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
Written by Jim Butcher and Drawn by Ardian Syaf
Published by
Ballantine/Dabel Brothers

A nasty mauling at the Chicago Zoo looks like a simple case of a gorilla getting out of its cage and “expressing” itself. But when the facts don’t quite add up, CPD calls in a specialist, one not exactly beloved by the entire department: Harry Dresden. Dresden is not just a private investigator; he’s also a wizard, the real kind, and expertise with the supernatural is his domain. But a case that looks like it will be an easy solve goes haywire when more bodies start turning up and Harry realizes that there’s a master plan at work that may be way out of his league.

THE DRESDEN FILES novels by Butcher have gained quite a following over the last few years, aided and abetted by a live-action series that ran on the Sci-Fi Channel. But it turns out that Butcher is a comic geek at heart and produced the story for this book himself, originally published as floppies in 2007 and now collected in a sweet hardcover version. And fortunately, the whole enterprise really works; Dresden comes across as an interesting character on the page, his world captures the imagination, and the added punch of seeing visuals with the text gives the book some added punch. And, as I’m sure Butcher intended, it draws reader interest into picking up one of the novels and giving it a try.

Syaf’s art smartly keeps things simple; the star here is meant to be the author, and the artist doesn’t do things to distract away from the story being told. Camera angles are kept clean, “money shots” are minimal, and the storytelling is fairly basic. That’s smart, as the book may draw in some readers who have never picked up a graphic novel before. Recommended.

Marc Mason