Boom Studios: Crown of Destruction
As you may recall in my AVCon post, I mentioned picking up a Warhammer comic. In the interest of portraying an accurate look at everything Warhammer that I do, and with the notable absence of any real Warhammer hobby content, I’m going to take a look at this publication.
The graphic novel is called Crown of Destruction, and it is published by Boom Studios. When I found it at the Pulp Fiction stand at AVCon the whole thing was shrink wrapped in plastic. They tell you this is because there is a special code for a Warhammer: Age of Reckoning item inside, but I think it is as much to hide the content from any discerning consumer.
Initial impressions from the comic are great. The cover is really well illustrated by Karl Richardson, the presence of Skaven in particular had me intrigued. On the back cover the blurb reads really well and offers a story of intrigue and desperation. Finally, perhaps the man-things get their comeuppance!
Upon opening the book, however, the terrific first impressions dissolve.
It has to be said, Kieron Gillen has done a good job with the story. He has managed to avoid a lot of the obvious plot devices and situations that appear in so many Warhammer fiction pieces and put an interesting and thoughtful tale into a small area of conflict. The characters are well written, especially the main human protagonist, Sergeant Frohlich. Believable Warhammer characters are hard to come by, and I think that Frohlich is one of the most well written characters I have seen. He seems fallible, and is driven by his oath as a Greatsword. All in all, he is an excellently conceived central character.
This is all let down terribly by the artwork. Looking at online release notes on Crown of Destruction, it describes the illustration style as ‘digital artwork’. While reading this, the images just struck me as odd. They are so peculiar, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. It took me a little while after finishing the book before I figured out what it was.
I think artist, Dwayne Harris, has modelled all the characters in some 3D program, rendered them out, and applied some kind of Photoshop filter to them. While on a couple of pages this works really well, for the other fifty or so pages it is just horrible. Most characters suffer from that odd, balloon limbed look you can get from 3D objects. Not to mention the technique he has used to turn them into ‘illustrations’ is downright garish.
Producing the artwork for an entire graphic novel can be difficult, I understand that. But these illustrations are just downright offensive.
If you are forgiving of woeful illustrations and only want to read an interesting and well written story set in the Warhammer world, then I can recommend Crown of Destruction. Unless you are a total Warhammer completest, and must have absolutely everything Warhammer related, then I would not recommend this graphic novel otherwise. Which is such a pity.