Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is one of my favorite genre characters. I picked up the first book in The Dresden Files on a whim on my birthday five years or so ago, read it in a single sitting, and thought “that guy is awesome.”
The book felt a little juvenile and rushed, but I figured I’d look past that to learn more. Lucky I did, as the author, Jim Butcher, wrote the first novel as a throwaway to get into fantasy writing. It was a hit, and 15 novels later, we’re still finding out more about Harry and his “what if Peter Parker was a wizard” tone continues.
There have been a few comic series as well, and now we are getting The Dresden Files: Wild Card #1. But does it live up to the legacy of the novels, and, is Dresden wearing a stupid hat?*
Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Duster, check. Staff? Check. Stupid hat? NOPE!
*Famously, Harry is depicted on almost all of the book covers wearing a western style hat, like a wizard cowboy, and since authors don’t have much say in cover art, Butcher took it upon himself to address it in his novel Changes: “I sighed patiently and reached up to remove a conquistador’s helmet decorated to match the armor. I put it down on the floor of the limo and said firmly, “I don’t do hats.”
Set after the events of the White Night novel, there’s an easy peace across the city of Chicago. The various supernatural factions that work in the shadows of humanity have all slowly come to a detente of sorts, and that usually spells hard times for our favorite wizard for hire. I mean, just look at his car.
THE BEETLE! FINALLY DEPICTED CORRECTLY!!!
That is until a double murder alerts the city coroner, a friend of Dresden’s who doesn’t brush aside the various weird creatures and murders that come rolling into his morgue. So it’s going to be up to Harry, his apprentice Molly Carpenter, his friend on the police force, Detective Murphy, and his half-brother/full vampire, Thomas, to solve this mystery.
This looks just like the Chicago I remember…
Is It Good?
Yes, and I’m highly critical of my fanboy favorites. This gets the tone right–Harry is nothing if he’s not an almost perennial loser, and his biting sense of humor in the face of killer werewolves, demon-haunted coins, and vampires in Mayan pyramids is continued in this book. Jim Butcher is listed as one of the writers, so I’m sure he had a steady hand in ensuring his tall, fire-loving P.I. was handled correctly.
The artwork is excellent, casting a very good visualization on characters that many of us have been envisioning in our own heads for years, since the SyFy series never actually happened…IT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
Look at the reflection and light play – the layout of this book is very well done.
The world that Harry lives in is full of so much supernatural intrigue that you can easily throw a story or two in between the official releases of the novels, so sometimes these quick hit series are a nice way to tell a fully contained story. If you’re not looking for a Noir-meets-self-depreciating-Wizard-meets–weird–s--t–hits-Chicago, this might not be your tale, but for me it’s a home run.
9.5 out of 10. Run and grab this–it’s going to be a fun ride, and if it gets you reading the novels, you’ll thank me. Just stick with it to novel #4 or so, he really finds his voice and stride.
Also, as I’m desperately trying to collect a full run of the hardcovers – if anyone has any extra, you know where to find me!