Written by Dan Watters, Cassandra Khaw, George Mann | Art by Caspar Wijngaard, Daniele Serra, Nick Percival | Published by Titan Comics
I’ll be honest, Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame #2 is a tough book to rate easily. Not just because it is an anthology book, tough enough in itself, but also because what criteria do you use? Do you judge it solely as a comic book? As an adaptation of a game? As fantasy? The first issue as a self contained comic was ok, I felt the scripting quite weak and generic but the art very good. So, as a game adaptation that concentrated more on the visuals it was a very good effort, but as a comic pitched at the general reader, as an overall package, it was average at best. That being said, the anthology format is definitely the right way for this title to go, and there is always hope of a diamond among the coal with several stories by several different creators.
After the usual framing sequence which sets the adventures in context, we start with ‘The Devoted’ by Watters and Wijngaard, which reminded me a little of DC Comics great Weird War Tales anthology series back in the day. The first person narration makes you believe that we are listening to the adventurer we see, the one attacking the creature hidden deep in a cave. Everything is not as you think, however, and the writer pulls a neat little twist on us, very cleverly pulled off. The artwork is nice, but typical comic book art where more fantasy tinged work would have perhaps been better, perhaps painted even which is quite the fantasy staple. I did like the final two panels though, which made the twist ending that bit more powerful.
Story two, ‘That Which Holds Us Human’ , does have that painted fantasy art look, and very nice it looks too. Grainy, murky art and colours for a dark, menacing tale that with its narration is every bit the dark fantasy story. It is very simple in structure, but the narration works well. The artwork though is the real winner here. The final story, ‘Action Replay’ is by the dependable team of George Mann and Nick Percival, and again is very slight in the scripting department, though still effective despite that. Our ‘hero’ awakes to find himself forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena, with no memory of how he came to be there, something that seems strangely familiar despite not remembering fighting before. This has more of a subtle twist than the first tale, but still effective. The artwork is excellent, nicely painted with great use of light and darkness, and nice panel composition.
A stronger compilation than last issue definitely, though the limited page count still makes it difficult for the scripters to tell an engaging story in the space allowed. They give it their best though, the first story especially being well written with such a short page count. The artwork is what shines through the most for the second and third tales, typical painted fantasy art, well designed and implemented. Moody, atmospheric, and giving a deeper understanding and substance to the scripts. Nothing that unique here, but then again it is always nice to see another stab at a genre other than costumed heroes. Take Dark Souls off the title though, and you essentially have a perfectly serviceable fantasy anthology. The covers are again worthy of a mention, fantastically rendered.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this issue won’t convert people who don’t read fantasy books, and it might not completely satisfy rabid fans of the Dark Souls games, but it is a solid stab at delivering well written and well drawn short stories in a genre that is a little under represented at the moment, and Titan should definitely be commended for that.
Dark Souls: Legends of the Flame #2 is out now from Titan Comics