Comics · Fantasy · Recommendations · Reviews

Abraxis Wren of Eberron – A Comic Review

I really pride myself on owning all of the Eberron novels and the one comic that’s ever been released. The universe is absolutely spectacular and fascinating to me, so much so that I’m quite obsessed with learning everything about it. I’m even in the process of acquiring all of the first generation sourcebooks on Eberron. So, when I discovered the existence of this trade-paperback, I bought it without hesitation! After reading it today, I know it was damn well worth the moolah.

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Abraxis Wren is an Elven inquisitive (private detective) in the Eberron universe, specifically in the City of Towers, Sharn. He has a Dwarven partner who joins in on his theatrics, and the duo are known to solve even the most seemingly impossible cases. The first two-thirds of the graphic novel follow Abraxis Wren and Torin, while the last story focuses on a former military officer from The Last War.

The very first and most important thing that I will say is that the comic will not be as enjoyable or satiating to anyone who is unversed with the Eberron universe, specifically its history and lore. There are plenty of references to events that have occurred in this universe, especially The Last War (the biggest event of its history, actually), magical facets, and races and cultures. The Abraxis Wren stories aren’t too bad with it as it’s used in conjunction with plot via vague mentionings that can be chalked up to basic fantasy-laced, imaginative writing. The third story, however, is ripped straight from The Last War. Unfamiliarity with what this event is, as well as a particular deity from Eberron, will make you feel like you’re missing out on some big part. It’s wholly unsatisfying and leaves the door open to a bunch of unanswered questions that may make you feel robbed.

eye_of_the_wolfWith all of that said, I rather loved the comic relatively a lot! Abraxis Wren is quite Sherlockian in his theatrics of crime solving. The interactions he has with different characters combined with the way that the evidentiary elements are deduced definitely have that Holmes ambiance. Toss in some British-ish humour that’s equal parts dry and cheesy, it creates a jovial and amusing tone overall. Wren is very much arrogant yet charming, obnoxious yet intelligent, and narcissistic yet compassionate. His partner is sassy and handsome. The chemistry between the duo felt normal. The only qualm I’d have is that there weren’t more scenes with just two of them chatting up the case.

The action was very good, steady even. It kept to the natural flow of the story. There wasn’t an overabundance, yet it didn’t feel inadequate to the plot, or cases, the twosome were working on. The first case felt a bit rushed, but the second one was fairly perfect with its pacing. The mysteries themselves weren’t anything overly spectacular, or brilliantly outside of the box, yet they were still entertaining.

In the third story, it’s a lot more action-heavy as it takes place smack dab in the middle of the bloodiest war in Eberron’s history. There’s a lot more bloodshed, less dialogue and more panels filled with sound effects, the blur of a blade, or a splash of scarlet. Because the tale focuses on one specific individual, you don’t really expect much chemistry aside from angst and the brooding quality that tends to follow soldiers around like a shadow.

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The illustrations for both were reasonably lovely. It was aesthetically satisfying to physically see Sharn and finally have something to compare to the imagery that pops into my mind whenever I read the novels. Sharn is a magnificent city and I’m pleased with how it was depicted in the comic. It was a wonderful complement to the city’s environment. I’m happy that what I imagined was surprisingly close to the actual concept. In the third story, the panels have more fighting in them, so it can seem somewhat strenuous to decipher what’s going on during specific scenes, but once again, it was a good complement to the violent nature of The Last War, and Eberron itself.

The not-so-great parts, aside from the reader needing some Eberron-knowledge in order to fully grasp and appreciate the book, weren’t too terrible. Most of the issues I had were in the final story. For example, the stories involving Wren created a charming foundation and expectation. But there is a severe change in tone and mood, as well as setting, which creates a bit of discord to the comic in its entirety. As I mentioned earlier, the final tale makes heavy references to The Last War, which will contribute to any befuddlement that unacquainted readers may be feeling. I liked the story, from a lore standpoint. It was titillating and fresh to gain some perspective on something called the Mourning of Cyre.

Overall, as someone who is obsessed with Eberron, and a humongous fan of the world, I thoroughly adored the graphic novel and plan on re-reading it again in the near future. Nevertheless, I do not recommend this to readers who don’t know anything about this world, specifically the history and lore of The Last War. While you may like the fantasy bits and the artwork of the setting, the plot won’t be nearly as engaging at all.

4.5 eyes outta 5!

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