I really enjoyed the first issue of The Witcher: Fading Memories. I found it emotionally engaging and technically impressive, with some incredibly fantastic art that dazzled me with its depth and skill. The second issue of the series does not live up to the heights of the first one, but that still leaves a very entertaining, and a very impressive, comic book.
Issue #2 continues to follow the eponymous Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, as he investigates a prosperous little village in the middle of nowhere, the monsters that threaten it, and the mysteriously absent wizard responsible for the town’s prosperity. It still uses many of the interesting storytelling tools that I found so engaging in the first issue, particularly the flashbacks, the use of narration captions that don’t necessarily correspond with the actors in the panel, and the non-chronological storytelling. But with the reveal last issue, none of those tools bring as much weight. Much of their power is brought by the element of surprise, the mystery of who the flashbacks are referring to, and who the narrative captions are coming from, but that just isn’t present here. It’s clear about a quarter of the way in what the deal is.
But the big saving grace of the book remains Amad Mir’s art and Hamidreza Sheykh’s colors, which I just adore. They sit somewhere between an Evan Shaner and a Mike Mignola – clean lines and clear penciling, but with heavy, heavy inking and a lot of darks in the coloring. In a different story, it could be overwhelming or confusing, but in this story – something that is both thematically dark and tells a story that involves venturing into shadowy places – it reinforces this sense of almost claustrophobic closeness. Geralt of Rivia is hemmed in, he’s got few options, and he’s in a dark moral place – you see this from the visuals and you understand the themes from the art before you even get to reading the words.
I’m honestly fascinated by the behind-the-scenes story that must have gone on here. There wasn’t a need to make a comic this good for this franchise. It’s a, what, five-year-old video game (and this is based on the video game, not the TV show or the original books), and Dark Horse could have easily made a simple cash grab. But instead, the company published a deeply interesting comic that I really encourage you to read.
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