IDW Publishing 2020
Written by Jim Zub
Illustrated by Max Dunbar
Coloured by Sebastian Cheng
Lettered by Neil Uyetake
A devil-tainted puzzle box sends our heroes to the fortress-library known as Candlekeep. If Minsc and his companions can’t unravel its secrets in time, thousands of innocent souls will be lost, including their own!
One day at a convention I want to play an adventure with these characters that's run by Jim. That would make my life complete, well partially but certainly it's a bucket list item at this point. So anyone listening, Jim, let's do this because my god how much fun would it be? If you haven't read this then you really have no way of understanding of just how damn good this series is on such a regular basis.
Here's another thing about this series that I love and that it feels like they are more than a team, a family if you will. Strangers when they met and now a well oiled machine who care for one another and look out for one another. In a lot of ways it feels like the New Teen Titans and arc after arc the parallels do not fade and it's because of how well Jim is writing this. This isn't him creating the characters it's him telling the story of their lives and adventures and there are very few writers alive and working that have the ability to do that. Part of me wishes that last issue we hadn't seen Beatrice, who isn't a Tressym, reveal what she really is. The surprise element would have been much nicer but then again it worked out the way it's supposed to.
I am fan of how this is being told. Aside from the style of Jim's writing the story & plot development we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well how the reader learns information is presented in such a spectacular manner. The character development continues to impress me and to see the group never staying quite the same and the addition of new characters who leave subtle influences upon them is delightful. The pacing that we see here is superb and as it takes through the pages revealing the twists and turns along the way really help create some great unexpected moments. The way all this works together helps create the ebb & flow that we see and how the structure of the book comes to life.
Max is a delightfully talented artist and illustrator. He has a nice style that verges on the all-ages cartoon type of work and yet he infuses that will some great attention to detail. The linework is superb and how the varying weights are utilised to show a sure, strong and steady hand is fantastic. How we see the backgrounds being utilised and how they fit within the composition in the panels bring us depth perception, scale and the overall sense of size and scope of the story. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a marvellous eye for storytelling. The creativity and imagination that we see is fantastic and the imp or whatever it is one of those crazy creepy cool things we love to see. I am loving the colour work here and how we see the way that the hues and tones can bleed or show gradation and even colour blocking is so beautifully rendered and shows such an understanding of how colour works.
Listen if you've ever been a fan of the New Teen Titans then do yourself a favour and start with the first trade and tell me you don't see what I see. You'll thank me for it I guarantee that much. This is as good if not better than a majority of the super-hero team books on stands today and that isn't just an opinion. So if you think you only read super-hero stories and you only read them from the “big 2” then I am here to tell you this will change your mind.