The very first League of Legends comic is getting a trade paperback format this week and it comes at a perfect time. With Game of Thrones winding down, what better time than now to dip into a whole other fantasy world? This serves as an introduction to League of Legends stories, but speaking as someone who doesn’t play the game, I assume this is a must-read for fans of the game.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The first full-length comic series in the League of Legends universe, delivering an epic journey through the Freljord! Raised in the savage wilds of the north, Ashe is an Iceborn, a warrior gifted with a magical connection to her frozen homeland–and burdened by her mother’s fanatical expectations. When they set out on a dangerous quest for the truth behind an ancient myth, bonds are broken, secrets come to light, and Runeterra is forever changed. Will young Ashe become the leader her people need? Or is destiny merely an empty dream? Available in print for the first time, ASHE: WARMOTHER features the comics debut of Riot Games writer Odin Austin Shafer, with stunning artwork by Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award nominee Nina Vakueva (HEAVY VINYL).
Why does this matter?
Aside from the obvious League of Legends reasons, this story has a strong heroes journey focusing on a young girl, Ashe, who has a Warmother that seems out of control. The journey leads her to surprising places and sets in motion her quest to become something greater.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This book drops you into a tumultuous time for Ashe and her people. Ashe’s fanatical mother who leads their people sets the entire tribe on what appears to be a suicide run for a throne of power. This sets in motion surprising double-crosses, all-out war, Ashe fleeing and nearly dying alone, and eventually a new path for the character. Odin Austin Shafer writes a strong story here due to Ashe being a good surrogate for the readers. She’s level headed and wants to do what is right for her people even though outside forces try to lead her in different directions. The use of magic is subtle enough so that it’s similar to Game of Thrones — it’s used as more of a gift that comes with real consequences when used.
There are some interesting cultural aspects subtly revealed too. We get a look at a few different types of people as well as a religious lot that’s totally evil. I can’t say I understand the entire scope of the LoL universe, but I have a fine taste of it. This is a series about tribes, people who are never alone, and monsters that hang on the edge of their strength as a tribe. There are mysterious forces outside the tribe and we get just enough to satiate our appetite for high fantasy.
The art by Nina Vakueva (with layouts by Peter Gross for issue #3 and #4) suits the grittier tribal style of the characters and setting. You get a good sense of the barren landscapes thanks to the art. Beasts, monsters, and wild fantasy clothing are quite well rendered. There’s a good amount of extras from the art department too, like character designs and a full commentary on major characters from Vakueva. There are also penciled pages included with scripts.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
As a total newbie when it comes to League of Legends this is a good taste of the universe, but it doesn’t do much in the way of explaining the grander scheme and story. I’m curious about Ashe, but not dying to know more about the universe.
As the story goes there are some convenient plot developments that keep Ashe on the right path. She makes it to the end not necessarily because of her heroism or effort, but some dumb luck.
Is it good?
I had a blast reading this story and I’ve never even played League of Legends. The hero’s journey Ashe goes through is an exciting one. This is a good read for anyone wishing for more fantasy stories like Game of Thrones.