17 Jun, 2010

World of Warcraft: Mage

By: Sam Kusek

By Richard Knaak & Ryo Kawakami
TOKYOPOP, 192 pp.
Rating: Teen (13+)

World of Warcraft is something that I will never personally understand. I am all for roleplaying games, but the time and level of commitment that people put into WOW is astounding. I spoke with a taxi driver today who totes around his laptop, stealing other people’s internet to get a few hours of play in during his downtime. So it is with no surprise to see these TOKYOPOP-published World of Warcraft books coming out; I see it as a really smart way to get gamers invested in manga and vice versa. The question is, does this manga live up of the hype of WOW?

The great thing about this stand-alone volume is that the protagonist is very well-constructed centerpiece. Aodahn, our main character, is a lanky, awkward mage trainee who has run away from a home that doesn’t accept his magical abilities. He trains hard each and everyday at Dalaran, mage capital of Azeroth, but is plagued by the lack of support in his life, which severely hinders his abilities. He doesn’t get to utilize his full potential until he reunites with his uncle Crevan, an older mage who has gone astray, who brings out the best in Aodahn, both personally and magically. All the right character motivations are there; as a reader, you really feel for Aodahn and his confused state. He is a great way to us to get introduced into this fantasy world because Aodahn represents that human element, more so than any other character in the book.

Unfortunately, Aodahn isn’t a strong enough centerpiece to hold up this book. I have to say that the story presented in Mage is all around average, although it has some good points. There are no outstanding plot holes; every action that takes place makes sense, with all of the problems created becoming resolved by the end of the book. However, despite all of this, the plot is cut and dry. This is by no means an original story about the Warcraft world, and focuses on the human element and involvement in the World of Warcraft instead of the actual world itself. Regrettably, at the end of the book, it just feels like wasted potential, as WOW has so much to offer a reader’s imagination.

The artwork can not save this book, either. The whole book feels haphazardly prepared, possibly rushed for production. All of the human characters, except during a few well-pieced-together dramatic scenes, couldn’t seem to pick a shape to stay in. Aodahn in some cases has a very normal looking face and on the next page, it’ll be stretched out beyond belief. Once again, much like the writing, the artwork fails to fully utilize the fantastical elements of the world. There are dragons and goblins in this book, but there is no real detail to bring them to life; they just appear flat and lifeless, taking away a lot of the fantasy feel of the book.

Let’s face it, folks… World of Warcraft: Mage isn’t a very good exploration of the mage class or even the World of Warcraft itself. There are just so many themes and ideas that could’ve been explored with this project and some of those points are even hinted at in the book! I am all for licensing intellectual properties to extend product life cycles (it’s what I went to school for) but this book is not an extension of the World of Warcraft. It is just a lifeless retelling.

World of Warcraft: Mage is available now.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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