Back in the day, I was obsessed with and addicted to comic books. In the early 70s, my brother gave me a huge collection of early Spidey comics that he had built up. From there, I became a constant fixture at our local FLCS (Friendly Local Comics Store) from junior high through my undergraduate years. I loved me some Marvel, but there was the occasional DC mixed in. My monthly holds cost me more than I was earning, first from allowance and then from my job. Monthlies? Graphic novels? It didn't matter; I didn't discriminate. I have boxes and boxes in my basement office right now.
And then I got married.
While my wife loves her Geek, she didn't appreciate the expense of comics. So I gave it up, nearly cold turkey. Yeah, I still picked up the occasional random issue, but NOTHING on the scale of what I had once been. I had convinced myself that there really wasn't a reason to pick up ongoing monthly issues, not when the story was never resolved in a month. Plus, they seemed to becoming less about the story and more about advertising...besides, I could always pick up a bound collection next year, right?
So when Paizo announced the production of their new Pathfinder comic book, I wasn't overly excited. It barely registered as anything other than "another publication on the FLGS Pathfinder shelf." I certainly didn't look at the details.
I should have.
My FLGS has a "preferred customer" punch card: you get a punch for every $10 you spend, and with $10 punches you get $10 off any item. So...last week, I was perusing that stacks looking for something with which to get a $10 punch. I found (as I said yesterday) a copy of the WotC module from 2000: The Forge of Fury. Problem: it was only $7. So I need to find something else to make $10 in order to get a free punch. Minis were out, because where I was vacationing I didn't have access to my paints. Dice were out, because I had already picked over the dice sets they had in stock and the inexpensive ones were not calling to me. And then I turned the corner and found the last copy of the comic book.
At only $4, it was the perfect padding to my purchase.
I wasn't expecting a whole lot; I never saw a lot of value in WotC's attempts to "comic-ize" their iconic characters. I just didn't enjoy them. Little did I know; remember: I hadn't read anything about what to expect inside. There was some folded poster in the center--from what I could see of it, the image was the same as on the front of one of the Pathfinder tomes. I left it folded up and tossed it aside, unexamined.
First off, the story: it was a pretty tame "intro" story. It's weak and contrived, but aren't all "Issue #1" stories? You got a bit of insight into the interactions between the characters. There was a little combat, a little repartee. I admit that I was not enthusiastic at this point. While the art was pretty good, there were some small continuity problems in that I had to go back to a previous page to determine if two images were actually the same character. As for the story line, it seemed to take for granted that a reader knew what Pathfinders were, who the iconic characters were, and that the reader already had a little background. But it was an OK attempt at a "Issue #1" comic story--I've certainly read worse in my day.
Then I got to the middle of the book and found the tagline: "CONTINUED." I started to fume. Really?!? Only half the freaking book is story?!? WHAT A FREAKING WASTE!!
And then I turned the page, looking for the self-stroking "Coming soon in our other comics" pages.
Instead I found a write-up of the village of Sandpoint, including game stats and interesting NPCs. I got a little bit excited at this point. As I kept turning the pages I saw game stats and backgrounds for a couple of the iconic characters introduced in the comic, which made them perfect NPCs for my game. And then I came to a mini-adventure, a game version of an encounter described (or foreshadowed) in the comic.
And then a little light went on in my brain and I thought, "What if....?" I reached for the discarded, still-folded poster. I began to unfold and, yes, my initial guess was right: it was the cover of the Core Rulebook. And then I flipped it over.
Holy cow, the comic not only comes with a story, game information, NPCs, and a mini-adventure.... It also comes with a map. A FREAKING MAP.
I love maps. But you know that.
As I told my wife: how do you pack this much entertainment and game material into $4? You don't. At least, WotC doesn't. This, to me, shows Paizo's smarts yet again. They're offering the entertainment of the comic story as well as game material. The only thing they didn't do is include a special edition polyhedral die.
I'm impressed. And subscribing.
Like I said, I have some issues with the art style and the story-telling style. But to get this kind of value at only $4? You can't miss.
Rating: 4 out of 5.