Blizzard Entertainment sent a copy of World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria for review. I just opened the box, and got thrilled with the format of this DC Comics graphic novel product.
I haven’t seen anything like this before from DC Comics. The dimensions of the book resemble that of an iPad, thus comfortable to hold. An iPad is 9.50″ x 7.31″. The World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria Graphic Novel’s dimensions are approximately 11.25 x 7.37″.
The front cover artwork of World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria seen above is a book jacket you can remove and frame up if you wish to. This is how the book looks like without the book jacket.
The first chapter introduces the history of Liu Lang to set the background and starting point of this story for readers new to World of Warcraft and/or to the Mists of Pandaria expansion.
Liu Lang was the first Pandaren to leave Pandaria with the wanderlust of adventure. Originally, after the Sundering ten-thousand-years in the past the Pandaren thought the whole world had been destroyed, and because of the Mists none dared to explore thinking they wouldn’t find their way back home.
Liu Lang observed the dragon turtles would leave into the sea, but eventually returned to the shore they were born. Thus, with that wisdom, Liu Lang explored beyond the mists on top of Shen-zin Su.
The Pandaren laughed at Liu Lang and thought they would never see him again. Five years later, Liu Lang returned to Pandaria on a now grown turtle to share his adventures with fellow Pandaren. The turtle would return home every five years, and more Pandaren accompanied Liu Lang and as centuries went by the turtle became as big as an island.
Some of the lore in this graphic novel is exclusive and won’t be seen in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. However, the story of Liu Lang will be experienced by players who delve into the path of the Lorewalker. I recently shared my experiences in beta on where to find all the sites and achievements to reach exalted with the Lorewalker, and some videos that tell the lore of Liu Lang.
Micky Neilson joined Blizzard Entertainment in 1993. He’s got several video games story development experience under his belt, including: Warcraft III, The Lost Vikings II, World of Warcraft, StarCraft. He’s presently Lead Publishing at Blizzard with two graphic novels: WORLD OF WARCRAFT: CURSE OF THE WORGEN (co-written with James Waugh), WORLD OF WARCRAFT: ASHBRINGER (Number Two in New York Times Bestselling Graphic Novels List).
If you have read both graphic novels, you are in for a great story with PEARL OF PANDARIA. It’s written from the point of view of Li Li Stormstout, the niece of famous adventurer Chen Stormstout who we are acquainted with since his debut in the bonus orc campaign in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (2003).
There’s definitely a message to be found in the context of the story aimed both at young children and [why not] adults. Sometimes we celebrate holidays, study history in school but do not live what we celebrate and commemorate.
Li Li is a dreamer and loves the stories of Liu Lang, but sees that her father and even the Elders of Shen-zin Su have forgotten what it is to leave the Wandering Isle and explore the world and enjoy every day of their lives in a continuous adventure.
She’s young, but not a coward. She refuses to live in a pedestal, and decides to leave the Wandering Isle to go in search of her uncle Chen Stormstout. I liked very much Micky’s approach and direction in this story.
According to Licensing Manager Kat Hunter, in the DC Comics website, this is an independent story outside the Mists of Pandaria expansion. While you might recognize some elements that appear in-game, the story takes place before the events Pandaren level 1-10 players will experience in the Wandering Isle’s starting location in-game.
One of the scenes when Li Li goes to Stormwind gives a glimpse into where in the timeline the story takes place, and it’s definitely not Mists of Pandaria-time, nor even Cataclysm-time. One guard is asking for volunteers to go to Northrend for the ultimate fight against the Lich King. Another scene reveals the fight against the Emerald Nightmare — which took place during World of Warcraft: Stormrage — hasn’t happened yet.
Li Li Stormstout is not an NPC in the Wandering Isle for example. You get to meet her as an NPC later on at level 86 in the Valley of the Four Winds alongside Chen Stormstout.
Sean “Cheeks” Galloway
Sean Galloway is the artist of the interior pages and front cover. Not everyone is used to comic books or animation, so it’s normal for people to like or dislike the artwork style.
Personally, when I saw the front cover a few weeks ago I had no idea who the artist was, but recognized the style right away. The artwork and the coloring resembles that in TV animated series and even Disney animated films. Knowing how Blizzard Entertainment works they will get the best in the industry. We have seen Simon Furman (The Transformers) behind the StarCraft comics series, Walter Simonson (Mighty Thor) behind the World of Warcraft comics series. All the awesome writers and artists in the Tokyopop Manga. You know the drill. Blizzard Creative Team is passionate about their projects and fans themselves of writers and artists that are involved in their personal geeky hobbies: Tabletop, fantasy stories, SciFi, etc.
I won’t lie. I have rarely watched american TV in the past 12 years since playing Blizzard games — kinda odd for someone who lives in New York City. Sean Galloway is a name that caught my attention though.
In the animation front, Sean Galloway is the founder of Table Taffy Studios and lead character designer for The Spectacular Spiderman animated TV series. Sean has been involved in Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms, Blood and Iron, Disney’s Tron Animated, Dreamworks’ Mastermind, G.I. Joe Renegades, and Scoobie Doo Mystery Inc.
As a comics penciler/artist he’s been involved in TEEN TITANS GO and the Teen Titans stories in WEDNESDAY COMICS. He’s also done video game and toy design. Some fans know him for his creator-owned properties: Bastion’s 7, Gumshoes 4 Hire and Little Big Heads.
In terms of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, the artwork style sometimes might break what’s known as the “Warcraft Style” — which players are used to with Senior Art Director Samwise Didier, René Koiter, Glenn Rane, and other Sons of the Storm artists. However, considering the main character of this story is a little girl named Li Li, and the bulky shapes of the Pandaren — it made sense to go the TV animated series style which is welcomed by children, teens and adults in general, rather than one specific audience.
Some of us have been playing World of Warcraft since 2004-2006. Some might have by now a young kid at home which is ready to kick some indiscriminate justice at your side against the evils of Azeroth. World of Warcraft: Pearl of Pandaria makes a perfect gift to a son/daughter, nephew/nice (etc.) as a background story prior to playing World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.
The coloring techniques are amazing and quickly you get to dig Sean Galloway and his team’s style. There are many landmarks and locations captured in this 128-pages graphic novel, including Booty Bay, Ironforge, Kharanos, Azshara, Westfall, Golshire, The Dark Portal, Stormwind, Stonetalon Mountains, and Orgrimmar — to name a few.
Wish to ask Micky Neilson or Sean Galloway a question? Post a comment below using your Facebook/Yahoo login. We will talk with them on Wednesday during an interview.
Li Li Stormstout
Zhahara Darksquall (Naga witch)
Elder Po Stormstout (Li Li’s father, Chen’s brother)
Shisai Stormstout (Li Li’s eldest brother)
Xiu Li (Long-lost Elder Po’s wife)
Rahjak (Fel orc blademaster)
Dark Iron Coren Direbrew
King Magni Bronzebeard
Rumblefitz (Goblin alchemist)
Fisherman Wanyo (pandaren)
Graphic Novel Credits
Written by: Micky Neilson (Blizzard Entertainment Publishing Lead) Art and Cover: Sean “Cheeks” Galloway Lettering: Saida Temofonte Blizzard Special Thanks: Chris Metzen, Sam Didier, Cameron Dayton, Doug A. Gregory and Glenn Rane Sean Galloway Special Thanks: Table Taffy Studio’s Derek Laufman, DJ Welch, Dario Brizuela, Caleb Sawyer, Hwang Nguyen and Ryan Odagawa.
Editors: Hank Kanalz& Sarah Gaydos Design Director: Robbin Brosterman Publication Design: Larry Berry VP-Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras President: Diane Nelson Co-Publishers: Dan DiDio & Jim Lee Chief Creative Officer: Geoff Johns Executive VP-Sales,Marketing and Business Development: John Rood Senior VP – Business and Legal Affairs: Amy Genkins Senior VP – Finance: Nairi Gardiner VP-Publishing Operations: Jeff Boison VP-Art Direction and Design: Mark Chiarello VP-Marketing: John Cunningham VP-Talent Relations and Services: Terri Cunningham Senior VP-Manufacturing and Operations: Alison Gill Senior VP-Digital: Hank Kanalz VP-Business Affairs, Talent: Jack Mahan VP-Manufacturing Administration: Nick Napolitano VP-Book Sales: Sue Pohja Senior VP-Publicity: Courtney Simmons Senior VP-Sales: Bob Wayne
Prince Anduin continues his education in the Exodar with Velen and the draenei — in continuity with the Leader Short Stories: “Velen: Prophet’s Lesson” by Marc Hutcheson.
Kalecgos and the blue dragonflight continue to regret Malygos’ demise, the Nexus War and the Hour of Twilight which is their responsibility due to Arygos’ betrayal and the use of the Focusing Iris to give life to Chromatus — as seen in World of Warcraft: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects.
Garrosh Hellscream recently set a plan in motion to invade Ashenvale — in the pages of World of Warcraft: Wolfheart by Richard A. Knaak. However, it backfired when the Alliance got word of it and reinforcements came in kind through Theramore marching toward Southern Barrens, Stonetalon Mountains and Ashenvale to respond to Garrosh’s atrocities.
Players have experienced this war in-game in the Cataclysm expansion’s low-level quests.
Garrosh has learned from his mistakes and came up with a master plan to now not only invade Ashenvale, but to take the entire Kalimdor continent for the Horde.
Christie Golden fully benefits from her years of hands-on experience playing World of Warcraft. She is played up to level 75, but still has plenty of material to work with. She used elements from each expansion to add to continuity. Garrosh uses elements from questlines seen in Terrokar Forest (Burning Crusade), Vash’jir (Cataclysm), Coldarra (Wrath of the Lich King) and fused them to mastermind Garrosh’s ultimate plan.
Tides of War is an epic battle between the Alliance and the Horde — rated M, with all the violence, blood and gore.
I was literally surprised by the large amount of characters that either take center stage in the story, or make a cameo. It shows Christie Golden and the Blizzard Creative Team worked really hard with each character that appears in the story and to keep track of continuity.
I’m still unsure about two characters who made a cameo, as they were supposed to be dead long ago, but in general I counted at least 84 characters. Some are established known NPCs who make a cameo, others were created by Christie Golden as they don’t even show up in WoWHead, and few are merely mentioned (i.e. Arthas and Admiral Daelin Proudmoore).
The story mainly focus on the point of view of Warchief Garrosh Hellscream, High-Chieftain Baine Bloodhoof, Lady Jaina Proudmoore, and Kalecgos the blue dragon. Supporting characters who get some relevant screen time in certain chapters are King Varian Wrynn and Thrall.
It’s no longer a spoiler to mention the focus of this book is to lay the groundwork for the destruction of Theramore — coming up in Patch 5.0.4 on August 28th.
This heinous crime is the trigger that starts the war that eventually causes the Alliance and the Horde naval fleets to get stranded within the Mists of Pandaria.
Thus, Tides of War novel serves as a prequel to the events of the upcoming World of Warcraft MMO expansion pack, which is expected to launch in September 25th.
Many changes are to come in the expansion, and I am not truly convinced some of these changes are currently seen in beta servers.
Not only Theramore, which will now become a crater, but even Dalaran might have some changes as well. Significant ones.
The events set in this novel will change Jaina Proudmoore in ways we have never expected, that will put her down the path of hatred and revenge her father Admiral Daelin Proudmoore and her former lover Prince Arthas walked. Will she come to her senses, or seek to return the atrocities of the Horde back at them in kind?
Whichever path she chooses, it will certainly change her forever.
I finished reading the novel. It shook me to the core at an emotion level no other Warcraft novel has at this magnitude. There will be countless loses of life — NPCs we have interacted with since 2004, and characters some players have grown fond with in past Warcraft novels.
World of Warcraft: The Shattering by Christie Golden was in the Top 25 New York Times Bestselling Hardcover Fiction List for around five consecutive weeks.
It’s no wonder. The novel is a World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion tie-in. A prequel.
In this novel, Deathwing has not yet emerged from Deepholm. However, most of the story setting seen in the expansion is mentioned in the novel. Thus, the novel reveals how things came to be the way they are in-game.
For example, the main topic of the novel revolves around Thrall. What led him to vanquish his title as Warchief. The elements are in distress, and at times don’t listen to the call of the Shamans.
The earthquakes, storms, tsunami, and fires keep increasing as weeks go by with no definite source to what’s causing the worldwide problem.
Thrall decides to embark into a long journey to learn more about his shamanic and spiritualist ancestry in order to learn what’s going on in Azeroth, and in learning, be able to help the elements.
Not much of a spoiler because most of players already experienced the pre-Cataclysm world event and its phases.
Remember that scene when Thrall goes to Nagrand to learn at the Throne of the Elements? We see all the story prior to Thrall arriving there unravel.
Grandmother Geyah wasn’t able to teach her grandson Thrall, err Go’el, but her right-hand: Aggra, obeys her wish to take the task.
Thrall learned shamanism from Drek’Thar long ago, as seen in the novel Warcraft: Lord of the Clans. However, Drek’Thar didn’t have the necessary tools to do the rituals and tests Thrall required.
The ritual should have been done surrounded by a community of Shamans while Thrall enters a deep trance to face his trials before the element spirits.
The relationship between Aggra and Thrall is a tempest during his training. It’s revealed why she is so angry at him. However, I can say Chris Metzen kept his word that Thrall would be falling in love, as stated a few BlizzCon ago.
It wasn’t Garona as he joked, but now we know he wasn’t able to talk about Aggra yet without spoiling certain things about Cataclysm. Christie Golden is a legend when it comes to bringing forth the emotive feelings in her writing style. You won’t want to miss this interesting hate/love interaction between Thrall and Aggra.
The Shattering is not just about Thrall, however. For the first time in a novel, Prince Anduin Wrynn takes most of the spotlight. We have seen Anduin and his mindset in the World of Warcraft comic book under the hands of Walter Simonson, but Christie Golden had the opportunity to really polish and dye-finish what Walter clay molded.
A comic book has a bit over 20 pages, while a novel has 352 pages.
There’s a broader approach with the nearly mother-like relationship between Lady Jaina Proudmoore and Anduin throughout the novel. Anduin also grows gradually in maturity. At the end of the novel, the child Anduin we know ends up more like an adult teenager understanding and executing the concept of politics, and diplomacy as he would once he becomes King. We see Anduin falling in … love?, for the first time.
King Varian Wrynn decided to let Anduin stay in Ironforge for a while, hoping he would be trained to be a glorious warrior the way he was trained as a child himself. His primary reason for this decision was to keep his boy away from him, while he deals with his Lo’gosh personality and inner-demons.
In the pre-Cataclysm world event, we helped a courier that was under attack by the Twilight Hammer to take from him a tablet from Ulduar. This is further explored when one of the tablets reach Ironforge.
King Magni wishes to lead the tablet ritual himself hoping to commune with the earth to understand what’s so wrong that the elements are in disarray, and to help. Things go wrong. So wrong.
King Magni Bronzebeard transforms into pure diamond before the astonished eyes of Anduin, High Priest Rohan, Belgrun and Magellas.
This later leads to a coup in Ironforge when Moira Bronzebeard comes to claim her heritage as Empress of Ironforge, leader of two kingdoms.
In this novel, we see how the Council of Three Hammers is formed, which is composed of Moira (Dark Iron Representative), Muradin (Bronzebeard Representative) and Falstad (Wildhammer Representative). This is what triggered the whole Red Shirt Guy thing during BlizzCon 2010. He read The Shattering a few days prior to BlizzCon, and noticed Kurdran Wildhammer was in Ironforge’s Throne Room instead of Falstad.
Another aspect of the pre-Cataclysm world event is seen with Garrosh taking the mantle of Warchief when Thrall assigns him to watch over the Horde while he goes to Nagrand to learn how to help Azeroth’s elemental spirits.
Christie fleshed out the whole Garrosh vs Cairne Bloodhoof relationship from the moment Cairne arrives to Borean Tundra to take home the Horde after the defeat of the Lich King.
Cairne saw things that alerted him of how dangerous it was to let Garrosh loose with too much power.
Things get really bad when Thrall decides to appoint Garrosh as Warchief. However, a misunderstanding caused Cairne to call upon an orcish duel to strip Garrosh from his position. Garrosh in turn bluffs to force Cairne to retreat his challenge by asking the duel to be the old way: to the death.
Everyone wishing to learn how Cairne died would love to read it through the mind-eye of Christie Golden.
We see a very unusual alliance surfacing when Baine Bloodhoof seeks help to retake Thunder Bluff. One that really makes no sense unless we play the low level quests in Dustwallow Marsh.
Overall, World of Warcraft: The Shattering is one heck of a rollercoaster ride jam-packed with action on both sides: The Alliance and the Horde. Lot of emotional moments. Intrigue. Conspiracy. Betrayal. Love. Anger. Revenge. Uncertainty.
Most, if not all the characters, are characters that already exist in-game. That’s a nice touch.
It’s a must-have in your collection of Warcraft novels, and it does add to your knowlege of the game lore and quests by revealing to you how the status quo in the Cataclysm expansion came to be.
Once you read World of Warcraft: The Shattering, your feeling toward the Cataclysm will be widen up several notches, and you will hope the upcoming World of Warcraft: Thrall, Twilight of the Dragons is released soon enough to keep reading.
Christie Golden is a known World of Warcraft gamer, and she has helped build the lore and content that developers pour into the game.
TOKYOPOP Editor Troy Lewter sent my way an early copy of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING, in terms you can remember from an early interview of mine with Richard A. Knaak, it is the first volume of a trilogy titled DRAGONS OF OUTLAND, in which we learn the lore that led toward Malygos’s return to his senses from his milennia insanity and the Nexus War against the Kirin Tor and the Wyrmrest Accord.
The manga will be at a bookstore near you on June 1, 2010; but if you need a little jumpstart to get your engines going, I have written a lengthy article that mentions a few key moments of this story, without necessarily spoiling it too much. Just enough for you to get a grasp of what the first installment of this manga trilogy is about.
Without further ado, and minding a few spoilers here and there, feast my lore-hungered boys. Tip: Jorad Mace, Tyrigosa, the Nether Dragons, Deathwing and an original second war Death Knight on the loose in Outland.
If you loved the stories within Warcraft Legends, be prepared to get bewitched by World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing.
This manga trilogy is based on the two characters from the pages of WarCraft: The Sunwell Trilogy. The very same manga that spawned the likes of Kalecgos, and Anveena (known in-game at the Sunwell Plateau dungeon), Trag Highmountain (known in-game at the Argent Tournament Grounds in Icecrown) and Dar’Khan Darthir (found in-game at Deatholme in the Ghostlands, Quel’Thalas).
Like all of these characters who first were born in the TOKYOPOP manga, and appeared in-game time later during the Burning Crusade expansion, both protagonists of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING were born in THE SUNWELL TRILOGY and became quest NPCs in the Burning Crusade.
You can find both, Jorad Mace and Tyrigosa, at the Celestial Ridge in the region known as Netherstorm in Outland. To refresh your memory, Tyri (or Tyrigosa the blue dragon) gives you the quest to kill Veraku — the leader of the Nether Drakes in Netherstorm.
Her quests: A Promising Start, Securing the Celestial Ridge, and Troublesome Distractions. Ok, you got the idea. This manga gives you a prologue to their adventures in Outland, before those quests. How they got into Outland, and how they happen to learn about the Nether Drakes. That’s all in WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING.
The story by Richard A. Knaak is very fluid and packed with action in all fronts between the Burning Legion and the Alliance forces at the Dark Portal’s Stair of Destiny in Hellfire Peninsula, dragon against dragon, Gronn versus dragon, Ragnok’s forces against our heroes, and much more.
All brought to awesome detail by artist Jae-Hwan Kim: face expressions, body details, background details. The inker and texture makes this entire manga be a yummy sight. I’m not sure if the artist inked it, or Marco Paolilli, but it looks astounding. Jae-Hwam Kim’s art style and Richard A. Knaak’s writing are a perfect match for World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing. No wonder this manga took so long in the making.
Storywise, Jorad Mace comes to Outland with the Alliance forces to fend off the Burning Legion’s advancement into the Stair of Destiny in Hellfire Peninsula under the vigilance of Lord Irulon Trueblade of the Argent Crusade.
Jorad Mace continues his quest to make himself worthy and redeem his past transgressions against the former Silver Hand. The Light abandoned him long ago before the events of Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy, and he seeks to be worth of the return of the Light into his being.
On a separate quest, Tyrigossa has come into Outland hunting down a disturbance too familiar for her taste. She can’t pinpoint what it is, or how it relates to her hunches but she has come to seek it. It turns out to be the Nether Dragons. Are they friend or foe? Sadly both. Zzeraku sees her as a foe, but Valoku wishes to befriend the blue dragon.
“Wait hold it there, Medievaldragon — that name rings a bell.” — hah, I read your mind, eh? Yes, the same Zzeraku that became a prisoner of Lady Sinestra at Grim Batol in the novel World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon by Richard A. Knaak. Except, we get to see the recent past before he was captured by her. Remember Dragons of Outlands was delayed for a few years before the release of the former.
We get to see an image of Deathwing as shown in the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm concept art when Tyrigosa senses the familiar magical signature in one of the black dragon skeletons found in the Nether Dragons’ lair in Blade’s Edge Mountains.
We see the interaction of Jorad Mace and Tyrigosa with the Draenei Broken tribe of Hellfire Peninsula as allies. The first encounter between the Alliance and the draenei of the Temple of Telhamat, and the introduction of Ragnok Bloodreaver — one of the original Death Knights created by Gul’dan, still in his decaying human host.
That bears some explaining for those who missed Warcraft II. During the final throes of the Second War, Warchief Orgrimm Doomhammer ordered the Horde to slay the Shadow Council. Only Gul’dan survived because he was catatonic after his mind-melding (so-to-speak) with Medivh at the moment of his death.
Gul’dan pleaded Orgrimm for his life, and offered an army of dead risen human knights holding magics to counter the Alliance’s mages. What Gul’dan didn’t tell Orgrimm was that these human corpses would be risen as hosts for the spirits of the slain Shadow Council — thus creating the original Death Knights, of which Teron Gorefiend was the first, and Ragnok Bloodreaver one of them.
It is wildly rumored by lore fans that this Ragnok might be the same mentioned in the novel World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden. So far, I can’t confirm if that’s true yet.
Ragnok Bloodreaver wishes to become the new master of Outland, and plans to conquer Azeroth as well. Obviously, he is not aligned with Illidan nor the Dragonmaw Clan. He seeks to destroy Illidan and all his forces in the Black Temple with the use of the Nether Dragons, employing the services of Kadavan, a mercenary Ethereal who uses his magical technology to hunt down and capture the behemoths. Ragnok is even assaulting the Dragonmaw Clan to steal the Nether Drakes controlled by them.
Ragnok has his own cadre of Fel Orcs, probably stolen from Hellfire Citadel’s surroundings and some of the Dragonmaw are threatened to be killed by the Death Knight if they disobey or fail his orders, following him unquestionably.
Comparing both MAGE and SHADOW WING, I feel more inclined for the latter. It’s well executed with a lot of action, mystery and drama. The pacing resembles much what some of us are accustomed with comic books from panel to panel interweaving plot after plot from different points of view.
I can’t wait for volume two to come out. Expect World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing Volume 2: The Nexus Point on November 2010. And the third part somewhere in 2011.
Don’t go thinking “Meh, this is a wannabe non-canon story” because you are wrong. Most of what Knaak writes is outlined to him by Blizzard Creative Team, and he fleshes out, then the developers add the story and characters into being in the MMO. It’s canon. The TOKYOPOP editor Troy Lewter, who sent me a copy of this manga a month before it goes into bookstores (on June 1) wrote an afterword located near the final pages of this manga.
There Paul Morrissey and Troy Lewter thank the people behind this story, including Richard A. Knaak, Jae-Hwan Kim, and the Blizzard Entertainment’s Creative Development Team: Jason Bischoff, Joshua Horst, James Waugh, Micky Neilson, Evelyn Fredericksen, Samwise Didier, Tommy Newcomer, Cameron Dayton and the thundergod, bourbon cowboy, father of Warcraft lore hmself — Chris Metzen. Did I miss any title? (chuckles) Ok. All-seeing and loved VP of Creative Design too, but that be the lesser of his titles before his loyal fanboys — myself included. He’s up there along with the legends: Stan Lee, H.P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, and many others loved by fans of Fantasy and Sci-fi genres. Ok. Enough boot-licking. Koff.
Get your copy of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING. You won’t regret collecting the trilogy. It looks very promising, and dare I say rival previous WarCraft manga in lore and awe.
This is the missing story that gaps World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon and the Nexus War. From this trilogy comes the truth behind Malygos’ cure and decision to start an all-out war against the Kirin Tor and the Wrymrest Accord.
And from the picture of Deathwing as seen in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm’s concept art, dare I say we will learn more than we could possibly guess as a tie-in with the upcoming expansion? You bet.
The first volume of the manga takes us to Hellfire Peninsula, Dragonmaw areas in Shadowmoon Valley, and Blade’s Edge Mountains.
Lord Irulon Trueblade – is one of the characters who led the incursion into Outland to fend off the demons from accessing Azeroth during the Burning Crusade in this manga. You can find him in the Howling Fjord at Valgarde currently in Wrath of the Lich King.
Lord Trueblade oversaw Jorad Mace’s progress to redemption, but initially gave him more humbling tasks to do such as helping with the construction of their outpost.
Amaan the Wise – from the Temple of Telhamat in Hellfire Peninsula appears in the manga with a convoy of Draenei to introduce his people to Lord Duron, Commander of the Alliance Forces at the Stair of Destiny in the Dark Portal, Hellfire Peninsula.
The Broken – (Krokul in draenei old tongue)
Warrith – leader of the Broken in Hellfire Peninsula, and father of Valwar.
There is reference to how Gruul and the Gronn killed the black dragons at Blade’s Edge Mountains as revealed in World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal.
After reading World of Warcraft: Mage (read my review, I discovered an interview held by Tokyopop editors with Paul Benjamin in the last pages.
The interview is about his upcoming manga titled World of Warcraft: Shaman.
I am going to post that interview in this article, but before that I just want to kick the Beehive to shake lore fans and fill them with interest. Check it out on October 2010 folks, because that’s when you will learn more about that mysterious character revealed in the pages of White Wolf’s World of Warcraft RPG: Dark Factions … High Shaman Muln Earthfury, leader of the Earthen Ring.
Earthquakes. Fires. Floods. Tornados. The elements of Azeroth are out of control, unleashing devastating natural disasters that threaten to tear Azeroth asunder.
All hope rests with the shaman, who are able to commune with the elements. Muln Earthfury, the shaman leader of the secretive Earthen Ring, attempts to pacify the elements — but his pleas fall on deaf ears. The elements are unresponsive, full of confusion and chaos. The Earthen Ring is riddled with doubt. Have the shaman lost their ability to corral and guide the elements?
Mysteriously, Shotoa arrives. This Tauren shaman doesn’t just merely tend to the elements — he forces them to do his bidding. Shotoa promises to lead the Earthen Ring into a new era of Shamanism … As the world crumbles around them, Muln and the Earthen Ring must decide if Shotoa is a hero or a heretic …
Written by Paul Benjamin (StarCraft: Frontline) and drawn by Roccio Zucchi (World of Warcraft: Death Knight), WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHAMAN ties into the upcoming World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion in stunning ways!
Available October 2010.
Is it safe to assume that you’ve played a fair amount of WARCRAFT? Do you have a favorite class to play?
Benjamin: My main is a pally retadin. That’s a paladin built to do lots of damage for any noobs reading this (Hi, Mom!). I tend to do a fair amount of solo play because if I play with a group I’m on for too long and wouldn’t make any of my Warcraft writing deadlines! The pally is great for soloing because I can heal myself and do plenty of damage. That said, I do have a lot of fun playing with guildies or doing random heroics when I’ve got the time. ANd, of course, since writing SHAMAN I’ve really been digging my new shammy character as well.
Give the fans the inside scoop on WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHAMAN. What’s the story about? Is it true that it will tie into the upcoming CATACLYSM expansion?
Benjamin: SHAMAN is the tale of a group many players have seen around Azeroth and beyond: the Earthen Ring. The main characters are Muln, the tauren High Shaman of the Earthen Ring, and his orc apprentice, Kettara Bloodthirst. The focus is on them and the elder council of the Earthen Ring, so I’ve gotten to write dranei and trolls as well as a few very important (and well known) orcs from Orgrimmar. The secrets of CATACLYSM are quite closely guarded at the time of this writting, but there’s a lot of connection between this book and the upcoming expansion. I can tell you that the elements are in upheaval adn that’s wreaking chaos with the powers of Muln and the Earthen Ring.
SHAMAN is a story about tradition versus change and choosing which one is more important. It’s also full of shaman calling down lightning, summoning elementals and manifesting totems to help them smack down any monsters stupid enough to threaten the shaman way of life. And it’s all beautifully illustrated by DEATH KNIGHT artist Roccio Zucchi, so I imagine fans will be as excited to read the book as I have been to see those pages coming in as she works!
Richard A. Knaak receives a lot of good feedback, which translates in the success and sale of World of Warcraft and Diablo novels, and some bad feedback from the minority.
I don’t mean to offend those with bad feedback, I have read and understand their concerns, but sales would be low otherwise if everyone or the majority thought likewise.
The way I see it, there is room for every type of writer, and each has their own technique and style. There’s room for everyone. And Richard A. Knaak has a tall condo, not just a room.
The artwork by Ryo Kawakami is not very detailed when it comes to backgrounds, like Jae-Hwan Kim or my favorite, Hector Sevilla; but Troy Lewter — the editor — does mention in the back of the manga that they were on a deadline, and the artist was pretty swift in making things happen within that deadline. So, let’s be forgiving, and see other work of Ryo.
I either like a style or dislike it. I like the artwork in World of Warcraft: Mage. Some people may think otherwise.
There’s a difference between manga and comic books, and while I am new to the manga world, I welcome the style.
I have always said I am not really into manga, but there are many styles and I do dig my first incursion into reading manga: Starcraft: Frontline, Warcraft Legends, and World of Warcraft: Death Knight are pretty cool art-wise.
I am more a comic book reader having a large collection of all kind of X-men titles, and some Avengers and West Coast Avengers. I also check out the latest previews of all kind of Marvel Comics titles (not just X-men) at Newsarama.
There’s a lot of new artists with great styles, but from my early incursions into comic books back in 1996, I like Joe Madureira, Ian Churchill, Chris Bachalo, Alex Ross, and others. Their styles are very different from one another.
If anything, I welcome different styles, and open-minded to taste other people’s work — in both fields actually: writers and artists.
I do hate some artists’s styles more than others, nevertheless, but rarely. Coughs-José Ladrönn. Sorry dude, you ruined it for me in CABLE.
Decade-old-rant aside, I read an advance review copy of World of WarCraft: Mage, thanks to Troy Lewter [TOKYOPOP editor].
The very-short description of the book released last April 2, and its front cover could barely offer fans any grasp at info to form a guess.
Reading the manga, I am surprised at how Knaak weaved the story behind the Nexus War’s assault on Dalaran.
We see how the Azure Ley Dragon Cyanigosa, dragonkin and drakonids got access into the Violet Hold, bypassing and weakening Dalaran’s outer magical-shield.
It all came from within. From the cover, you might think Rhonin and this mysterious kid Aodhan work together all along from beginning to end of the story, but that’s clearly not true for most of the first half of the manga.
Aodhan is a reckless kid who tries hard to demonstrate his abilities, who wishes to prove worthy to his father and to himself by one day becoming part of Dalaran’s defenses.
He is taught by Master Simeon, a Dalaran mage trainer, who keeps Aodhan pressed to the limit because he considers the kid needs to learn to be patient and focused before leveling up in rank even when he surpasses any other student in skill for those at the same level. The kid simply rushes recklessly without measuring the possible consequences.
There is a bit of lore thrown in into the mix about the Book of Argaleus the Crafter who lived centuries ago. Myth says he learned the spell language written on this special book from Malygos. Among the marks on the book can be seen the All-seeing Eye of the Kirin Tor.
The opening of rifts within the Violet Hold was not the first attempt. It had been breached before, with help of Aothan and his uncle Crevan. This explains why some of the cells in the Violet Hold prison are empty. Some of the lesser beings such as a fire revenant, ogre magi, and a void terror (like Immol’thar in Dire Maul west) were locked within, and freed to cause a distraction from the true target that would destroy Dalaran.
We get to see Archmage Modera, Rhonin and Archmage Aethas Sunreaver in action fending off the Azure Ley dragons from bypassing the outer shield of Dalaran, but no real background or lore about these three Kirin Tor council members.
The story focuses on Aodhan the mage apprentice, his attunement to magic which promises to see him one day as a powerful mage.
Richard A. Knaak shifts his story-telling back and forth between the present to the past to explore the origins of Aodhan, his family, and his motives to become a great mage.
However, we learn the true meaning of being a mage is not about controlling magic, but to humbly learn to wield magic for the benefit of everyone, not oneself.
World of Warcraft: Mage contains an interview about World of Warcraft: Shaman — revealed to be written by Paul Benjamin and art by Roccio Zucchi.
It also contains a preview of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING, VOL. 1: THE DRAGONS OF OUTLAND. The same exclusive preview TOKYOPOP and Blizzard granted Blizzplanet a few weeks ago.
Sideshow Collectibles and Blizzard Entertainment partnered on 2007 to launch the epic first World of Warcraft diorama based on the Burning Crusade expansion. This polystone diorama of a Blood Elf Rogue versus a Draenei Paladin was sculptured to perfection from an artwork created by Blizzard Entertainment Art Department. The sculptor really put a lot of work into each part of the diorama: the draenei and blood elf’s shoulders, gauntlets and legs are amazingly detailed.
The lengthy video shows you the box as it was delivered by UPS (with dent and all), I unpacked it and show all the foam it’s protected with, and step-by-step how to assemble this diorama.
It’s actually composed of five pieces that need to be manually assembled by yourself: the base is pretty solid heavy (handle with care); the draenei; the draenei’s right arm is a separate item which includes the right-arm, shield, and the whole blood elf (all in one piece); the Tome is a separate item, and the mace.
The whole process of unpacking and assembling the diorama takes approximately 15-20 minutes. It’s heavily protected by an exoskeleton of foam in the shape of a box split in half. The different components are secured individually and firmly with wires. Untying these wires is what takes the most of your time.
It’s recommended to remove the diorama parts on a table and with a lot of care, and if possible bring a few folded towels to cushion the parts when the foam is turned upside down while you untie the wires. If a piece comes loose abruptly it can literally break a piece. I say so by experience. The Blood Elf came loose on top of the solid base and the green blade on her left hand broke off to my shame. That’s my fault.
It would be wise to have a couple of tweezers handy when assembling the tome (book) to the draenei paladin. These chains are short and cut to fit what’s necessary — meaning you will take a while trying to place the hooks inside the tome’s rings. The tome has a pin to insert it into the draenei’s waist beneath the belt where you can find a hole.
Once the tome is secured in place, you can take the big piece where the blood elf is laying on the shield and hook the slot inside the draenei’s arm into the pin located where the elbow joint is. The force of gravity does its job as the weight of this big piece settles on the Draenei’s elbow pin. One thing I gotta complain is there is no way to secure these five pieces. It only takes a curious family, friend or child to grab the diorama to realize it’s a loose set of pieces instead of a solid statue. The only solution I can really think of is to permanently glue these parts with Krazy-glue; but at your own risk.
Overall, this is a sculpture that is going to wow you and everyone who sees it. You can look at it for long periods of time, browsing through all the detail, and awesomeness. If you can spare the $299.99, go for it. It’s numbered in the bottom of the base, and there are approximately 750 of them around the world. A collector’s choice. This diorama was provided and shipped to me for review purposes by Sideshow Collectibles.