The Witcher: Of Flesh and Flame #1 starts a new four-issue miniseries set in Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher Saga. However, the license was given to Dark Horse Comics by CD Projekt Red. As a result, it has more in common with the games than the books. Beyond lacking the deconstructionist narrative of the books, The Witcher: Of Flesh and Flame #1 lacks anything of true value. It falls flat, hoping to cash in on the hype surrounding the franchise currently.
The Writing Lacks The Poetry Of Sapkowski
The set-up for the story is good enough. Aleksandra Motyka clearly wants a more light-hearted tale that is full of wonder and adventure with Geralt and Dandelion. The tone that is being evoked is reminiscent of the short stories Eternal Flame and The Edge of the World. Sapkowski’s world is vibrant and dark, not just one or the other. Both coexist, and certainly, some of the most memorable moments of The Witcher Saga come from this blend. Any Witcher fan will smile when you mention the mandrake chapter of Baptism of Fire, for instance. However, by the end of the issue, the balance of tones becomes skewed, leading to a rather bland first issue.
In addition to the problem balancing tones, this issue has a pacing problem. It takes six pages before the inciting incident happens. Establishing the status quo is a good thing to do, especially in the first issue. However, spending five pages with little going on causes a disconnect between the reader and the story. In these five pages we learn two things, Geralt is a monster hunter and he is looked down upon in society due to his mutations.
This could take less than five pages, Sapkowski himself covers these two things in a single paragraph in The Lesser Evil. The dialogue is a little clunky in places. But usually, the expositional dialogue tends to be this way in the first issues. Once Dandelion shows up, the dialogue takes on a new life, considering that he himself is larger than life.
The Art Is Serviceable At Best
Marianna Strychowska’s art hits and misses for me depending on the page. There are points that the art is very detailed and evokes the imagery of the best descriptions in the books or sequences from the games. However, the art becomes very stylized at times, losing a lot of that detail in favor of exaggerated and comical facial expressions. This leads to a massive disconnect in artistic continuity in my opinion, and at times kills the potential tension of the scenes.
While it is not Marianna Strychowska’s fault, it is worth noting that this is the game’s version of the characters. Geralt has a beard even though in the books he explicitly mentions he hates them and Dandelion has brown hair instead of being blond. While this isn’t anything particularly annoying, as the games have gone on to define the look of the characters even if they don’t match the books, it’s just distracting when the tone being invoked is that of some of the funnier short stories by Sapkowski.
The Witcher: Of Flesh And Flame #1 Is A Bland Entry In A Wonderful Franchise
The Witcher: Of Flesh and Flame #1 is serviceable at best. The first issue of a light-hearted romp and ends with an intriguing cliffhanger, Geralt and Dandelion have found themselves in Ofir. A country briefly mentioned in the books and some citizens seen in the games, but the place itself was never actually seen. The comic could do so much with this basically open canvas, however, I’m not sure it will. The Witcher: Of Flesh and Flame #1 is just missing too many vital components that make the setting and characters so wonderful to read about.