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The Wheel of Time is a long running series of fantasy novels, written by Robert Jordan and continued after his death by Brandon Sanderson. Jordan’s first book in the series, The Eye of the World, the book adapted in this comic, was first released n 1990. The fourteenth and expected final book in the series is scheduled for release in early 2013. Basically, this comic adapts a very prolific fantasy series that has built its mythology and characters over decades and has no small number of fans. Does the comic adaptation measure up?
Yes and no. Let me say right now that the comic should not under any circumstances that I can imagine be considered a replacement for the novel. If you are at all a fan of fantasy or adventure or even just fantastic world-building in general, then you owe it to yourself to at least give The Wheel of Time series a try. Having said that, if you have already read the book and want to see how its adapted here or just want to give it a try before dedicating yourself to a seven hundred page novel, then the comic is not a bad choice, nor is this particular issue.
Part one of The Wheel of Time concerns a group of young men and women from a small farming village being thrust into a war of light and darkness taking place in the larger world. Issue #26 takes place a decent ways into the series and I will admit right now that if this is the first item in the series you pick up, then you will probably be more than a little lost. Even so, the issue focuses on two scenes that work quite well on their own and that does work to its credit.
Our first scene depicts the meeting of Rand al’Thor, arguably the most important character in the series, and Loial the Ogier. This scene acts as not only the reader’s introduction to a very important supporting character, but the Ogier people themselves. Of course, one of the big problems for new readers is the confusion between friendly Ogier and villainous Trollocs makes no sense to those who have not seen Trollocs before. Regardless, the scene itself is interesting and adds a great deal of initial characterization to Loial. It is very much a dialogue-centric scene, which it does not share with the preceding action-focused scene.
The next scene concentrates on Nynaeve, eldest of our young protagonists, is attempting to rescue two of her friends from a group known as the White Cloaks. This is not by any means a bad scene in and of itself. It depicts Nynaeve as a very capable young woman, as well as one who is willing to go to any lengths to help her friends. The problem comes with what I fear is probably a trend with how this series is being written as a comic. That is to say, a comic book is a visual medium that uses visual storytelling. If action is happening, then you show it; you do not tell it. For some reason, the entire scene of Nynaeve acting without dialogue is accompanied by massive amounts of narration from the book. I cannot think of this as anything but a flaw.
If anyone wants to read the actual novel, then it is probably not only easier to attain, but a good deal cheaper than purchasing multiple comics. The fact is that if the artist is capable enough, then there should be no need to describe what is going on. At one point there is even a narration box that says what Nynaeve is thinking. That is what thought bubbles are for. This may only be one problem, but it is a very big one and, because of it, I reiterate that this is really going to primarily for those who have already read The Eye of the World.
Basically, the story is already there and it is a very well written story; meaning that one would be getting this comic mainly for the art. It is decent. The covers of the actual novels have done a very good job of depicting intriguing scenes, but a very poor job in actually depicting anything happening in the book. While the art here looks, of course, much more like it belongs in a comic book, the characters are given decent designs that effectively emulate their descriptions from the books. The visual storytelling I discussed is actually not bad. Of course, it is not going to grant as much nuance as the narration, but it could certainly survive with less narrative boxes and would be better for it. Unfortunately, the backgrounds are very bland and could be a great deal more detailed. One of the wonderful things about Jordan’s novels is how rich they are in detail. Artist Marcio Fiorito would have an infinitely better comic by following Jordan’s lead.
I think it should be pretty clear by this point whether or not Wheel of Time #26 is going to be for you. As an accompaniment to the source material, it is not bad at all. As a stand alone fantasy/adventure comic though, there are probably going to some better options.