Review: Pathfinder Volume 1 - Dark Waters Rising / Author: Jim Zun, / Artist: Andrew Huerta / Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment/ Release Date: Out Now
The Pathfinder franchise started life as a third-party extension to the third edition of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. It has since become a richly developed fantasy world in its own right, and Pathfinder Volume 1: Dark Waters Rising is a collection of the first six issues of the comic book set in this world.
The plot details a brave band of adventurers: a dwarf, an elf, a wizard and a cleric. They go off into the woods to fight goblins and orcs, and uncover a deeper evil that they must investigate, because if they didn’t the book wouldn’t have a plot. If you’ve ever played a game of Dungeons & Dragons then this is pretty much a serialised version of how a typical campaign is supposed to go, though without people forgetting to turn up halfway through or dice getting lost in the middle of an exciting fight scene.
Dark Waters Rising did fill me with huge amounts of nostalgia for the Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms spin-offs of the early '90s and that isn’t a bad thing; the book is fun, though it doesn’t really go anywhere and certainly doesn’t inspire the reader to play more games of Pathfinder or D&D. There’s nothing wrong with the writing, the dialogue or even the extremely functional if slightly bland art. It’s simply that this brings nothing new to the table and fails to evoke the excitement of the Pathfinder setting or the fun of a tabletop roleplaying game. Spin-off material for fantasy worlds has evolved a lot over the last twenty years, and sadly this is a throwback to less interesting times. They are a few nice ideas here, but nothing that saves the book from being anything more than mediocre. A very disappointing start to what could be a great series.