As someone who knows nada about the massive World of Warcraft game franchise, I was mainly looking for one thing from Tokyopop’s latest graphic novel World of Warcraft: Death Knight: a simple coherent sword-and-sorcery fantasy that wouldn’t require a heavy dose of supplemental reading for me to get the basic story. This I did get, from solid comics pro Dan Jolley and Argentinian artist Rocio Zucchi: a prequel to lord-knows-what about a young would-be warrior named Thassarian, who's killed by a nefarious type named the Lich King and transformed into an undead warrior slave. In thrall to the wicked King, Thassarian slays his own mother, but before the book’s finish we know he’ll break away and take arms against the rotter.
In other words, WoW: Death Knight provides a quick, no nonsense back story to a major figure in a popular multi-player online role-playing game. As such, it may carry more emotional resonance to those readers actively invested in the game, but for an outsider, Jolley’s script comes across flat and characterless. Even the death of Thassarian’s mom doesn’t carry much weight since we don’t know much about her in the first place — in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.”
Zucchi’s art is at times more expressive than the cliche characters deserve, though once her figures become the pupil-less undead, she has her work cut out for her. Would love to see what she can do in a comic not so hamstrung by the contrived requirements of a game-playing rule book, though.