Back in 1998, as a fresh-faced college student, I entered the Forgotten Realms through Baldur’s Gate. I had played in the Realms before, with pen, paper, and dice, of course, but this was a whole new experience. Twenty years on, gaming has evolved, but the memories of that original game live on, especially through IDW’s Dungeons & Dragons: Evil at Baldur’s Gate series by writer Jim Zub. For those not in the know, the whole series boils down to a man and his miniature giant space hamster. That’s not this particular story, but Minsc will always get the name drop.
Zub has been writing Baldur’s Gate mini-series since 2014, focusing on Minsc as a member of a party of adventurers doing their adventurer thing in adventurous ways. In this most recent mini-series, IDW is taking a tack quite different from the earlier installments: Zub is writing an issue for each party member with a different artist for each issue. In issue #2, the two rogues are featured together as they deal with an unexpected return in Baldur’s Gate while they attempt to make nice with the local thieves’ guild.
From a comics standpoint, EaBG is a straightforward story with art that matches the tone well. Artist Steve Cummings does a fine job with the dark streets of Baldur’s Gate, as well as the big battle scene standard in any good adventure. Speaking of adventure (have I used that word enough?), from a straight-up D&D point-of-view, EaBG covers what would be a good one-shot adventure for when most of your players can’t show up one week. That’s the main feel I’ve gotten from this series. If we look at the meta world here, how would our players fare if we took away the rest of the party, especially the ranger Minsc? On a random Tuesday night, life interferes and only our rogue players can make the table. Any Dungeon Master worth their salt would drum up a solo adventure like this.
My hang-ups with the issue come during the big battle, really. The story is solid throughout, if neatly tied up like the one-off adventure I mentioned earlier. I honestly had no idea that Duke Ravengard, introduced in a mass city meeting, was a man. A few pages into the fight scene, the character’s face looks completely different, including coloring. It’s an inconsistency that makes me page back and forth to figure out if I’ve just seen two different people or not. The other thing that bugs me, this time from just a meta/D&D ridiculousness scale POV, is the character randomly introduced during the fight who is currently wearing a green mask, pink ruffled shirt, and purple cape like he’s the love child of Zorro the Gay Blade and Green Arrow. Who goes to a meeting, where everyone knows your name, and still wears a mask? Who takes that man seriously? I digress.
In the end, Evil at Baldur’s Gate is a fun adventure with a neat take on the splitting-up-the-party trope, including using different artists for each issue. Even with my quibbles, it’s worth a pick-up for anyone who remembers fighting their way through the original game waiting for a random shout of “Butt-kicking! For goodness!”