Styled as an exploration of the early sword-and-sorcery genre in the vein of Robert Howard's Conan, this compilation of several Elak and Prince Raynor stories delivers a healthy dose of adventure, cliche and magic with just a touch of Cthulhu thrown in for good measure. Kuttner's writing style may not be as florid as Clark Ashton Smith's but his view of slaying swordsmen, hapless maidens and icky, tentacled creatures is quite similar and lovingly revealed in this book.
The book itself is a nice softbook with only a few minor flaws, mainly 1) very wide outside margins which forces the reader to bend the book more than is necessary; 2) a few spelling errors (page 88, "sliver"; page 182, "heart") and 3) a rather ugly typeface. My favorite softback books are those of Bester and Dick from Vintage, such as can be seen here, and I urge the editor to consider upgrading the line a little bit in this direction.
Apart from these minor irritations, the stories are great fun and a wonderful source of inspiration for budding S&S GMs looking for some classic two-fisted action. If you like Howard, Leiber, Burroughs or Doc Smith, you'll definitely enjoy Kuttner's Elak.
The artwork is top-notch, the design excellent and the descriptions quite creative, so the only part of this card set that I don't like is the randomness and duplicates. But it is fun to open a new booster pack to see what you get.
Finally, a D&D comic series that is as engaging as Wormy, as humourous as Zogonia and as fresh as a newly-planted corpse! I got interested in Downer during the latter half of its story arc and was as amazed by its intricate subterranean world as I was perplexed by its convoluted storyline. Now I can finally understand the whole picture and catch the story.
Kyle has added helpful commentary to explain the sometimes abrupt transitions between segments, and there is lot of additional content that rounds out the book. The book itself is only volume one and runs up until Downer is about to enter the Overbright (above-ground), but a subsequent volume should complete the story. The quality of the book is very high, and the map of Oubliette (one of the most memorable Underdark cities I've ever seen) could make for a great roleplaying location. The appendix of Kyle's monster cartoons could be photocopied and used during gaming sessions.
All in all an excellent collection and a good value. Here's hoping to see more Downer some time in the future!
I love Zogonia's humour and the "woodblock" illustration style used throughout the series, but I was a little disappointed with the no-frills presentation of this book. Stranger still, half of the comics seem to be hand-printed while the other half seem to be computer-generated. I'm not sure why that is, but the author seems to have neglected an opportunity to add interesting content, or even commentary, about his work.
In other words, there's nothing new here if you've already read the comic in the magazines and on the website, which is a pity because the Downer comic book managed to add tonnes of nifty content.
Despite these little disappointments, this is one of the funniest D&D comics you will ever read.
A great little replacement for the much-lamented Dragon magazine, KQ2 offers quite a lot of punch for an amateur production. Filled with interesting sketches (the avatar of hunger is particularly evocative), guest articles by some of the most famous names in the business (Greenwood, Grubb, Williams) and some very intriguing ideas, KQ fills a niche that needs filling. Reminiscent of the early days of Dragon, but with more spelling errors, the magazine is laid out in a simple but pleasing manner and can be easily printed. The article on Belphegor is worth the price of admission alone, and despite poor editing the overall value is quite good and the articles generally beefy enough to sustain interest. Recommended for those who miss their monthly Dragon fix.