Saturday, July 3, 2010

Warcraft Legends Vol 2. Review

When ever you start dealing with sequels you run the heightened risk that it will not live up to the original. Since I have made no qualms about expressing my disappointment with the vast majority of the Manga Blizzard has commissioned I was surprised I  enjoyed the last installment of this series so much. I am beginning to detect a standard format in layout. The cover art will have little to do with the over all feel of the book. Volume 1 featured an Orc, yet the vast majority of the stories focused on Alliance characters. In this addition the cover features a Night Elf, but the focus is more on Horde characters. They also seem to start each with the stories that will be linked volume to volume and while having the third be the humor piece.

With the exception of the first chapter which is by Richard Knaak and Jae-Hwan Kim each of the authors and artists in this addition are new. The second is written by Grace Randolph, with artwork by Erie. The third was crafted by Dan Jolly, drawings by Eliza Kwon with the final piece submitted by Aaron Sparrow and In-Bae Kim. As I am unfamiliar with EACH of the new artists it forced me to consider this addition as a completely new entity and keep my expectations low.

As with the first volume there is a disharmony of artistic styles between each of the stories. One thing I noted was Jae-Hwan Kim's artwork was quite different from that I have previously seen. While his inking is still quite heavy, the characters didn't display the overwhelming effeminate characteristics of his previous works. This may however have more to do with his subjects than an actual style change. That isn't to say that I now enjoy it but it seems a step in the right direction. The other stories had so many contributing artists that it is hard to really say whose style is what. For example the second story alone was penciled by Erie, the backgrounds by Lince, layout and character designs were crafted by Young-Oh Kim, with the inks by Erie AND Lince,  finally tones were done by yet another artist Lincy Chan. It makes it hard to really get a feel for the other artists artwork.

The first chapter is titled "Fear" and reveals what happened to Trag Highmountain after he left his people to journey to Northrend, still battling the Lich King's attempts to dominate his will. This is the second installment in his story and it is not concluded in this volume. One thing of note is the vast majority of this story doesn't deal with Trag at all, but rather with Thrall. I have to say I was impressed that Mr. Knaak managed to stay true to Ms Golden's character as well as keep the focus off his own.

The second story titled "Warrior: Divided" is a stand alone entry that could appear again with a sequel. The story focuses on twin human sisters Lieren and Loarnia raised separately by non human guardians.  When the thirst for their past results in their being reunited, together they and their guardians set out to discover if they have anything left to call blood family beyond each other.

The third entry called "Miles to Go" deals with two unlikely traveling companions. The Tauren shaman Kova Broadhorn and gnome warrior Miles Corebender, have completely different agendas for their journey which further ads to the tension between them.  If there is a cliche that could be remarked on dealing with their respective size differences, racial jokes or the over all unlikeliness of their friendship, be prepared to find it in this story. Over all though it is an enjoyable read and their constant bickering is light hearted and fun enough to be believable.

The final installment of this edition is titled "Family Values" and deals with former orc Shaman Jaruk Bloodfyre on Draenor. Jaruk finds himself in direct conflict with his brother over the current policies regarding the few surviving Draenei. Sickened by the constant bloodshed of those he personally considers innocents, his repeated efforts to spare them are constantly thwarted. Everything comes to a head when Jaruk flees with a young draenei orphan girl named Leena, attempting to establish a NEW family no longer filled with hate and violence.

What follows contains spoilers so continue on at your own risk.

In "Fear" Trag flees toward Northrend, doing his level best to avoid others as his control of his behavior is in doubt. When he crosses paths with Warchief Thrall, the leader of the Horde offers assistance in overcoming the Lich King's taint. After offering his OWN story of redemption as an encouragement to fortitude, Trag is finally convinced that he can over come his personal fears and gain freedom. Still doubting his own strength Trag decides to continue on his journey, hoping that in the end he will be capable of finding peace. Thrall holds true to his pledge of aid, even if it is not in the form he originally intended, by offering Trag safe passage on one of the Horde ships currently transporting troops to Northrend.

"Warrior: Divided" begins with the human girl Lieren, being raised by the Wildhammers, and facing her feelings of disconnection. When her adopted father refuses to explain how she came to live with him Lieren takes matters into her own hands and determines to discover it truth for herself. A chance encounter results in her coming face to face with her identical twin sister, raised separately within the home of one of the local High Elves. This forces the hand of Lieren's adoptive father to share their history. What follows is a journey to discover the final fate of their parents. In the end the girls form a bond and make a vow to one day continue a legacy of honor to their fallen parents.

"Miles to Go" was a completely unexpected story for me. When Kova is unexpectedly summoned by Magatha Grimtotem to go on a quest she seems completely ill prepared for I anticipated a much more sinister story. Instead I was treated to a romp across Azeroth. Kova is an independent personality, determined to do things herself rather than rely or ask for assistance. Her traveling companion Miles is a mouthy, glory seeker not to pleased to be stuck with a "female cow". At one point enemies flee because they figure it is safer to stay out of the way of their constant arguments, believing they will end up killing EACH OTHER anyway. While much of the humor IS predictable I still enjoyed this over all light hearted tale. I was only left wondering what Magatha could want after sending THIS particular pair on this mission.

"Family Values" deals with the inner conflict faced by Jaruk Bloodfyre as he attempts to retain his honor while surrounded by a clan given over to blood lust. Disillusioned that the elements have left him he reluctantly picks up a weapon and joins with his people on a journey of genocide. In the end it becomes more than he can bear so he lashes out at his brother, the current group leader and rescues young Leena from death. Together they flee across Draenor, creating a new family. When they are finally cornered Jaruk is granted a vision of the future and reassured that eventually, with the aid of his young charge, balance will once more come to the Orcs and the elements. To be honest, I would have preferred if the girl he rescued proved to be Dornaa from Children's week.

Final thoughts on this the second installment of the Warcraft Legacy series is that I was underwhelmed by it. No new lore is really shared in this edition, rather the stories are either recaps or side lines. I can only wait to see what volume 3 has in store for us.

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