Title: The Witcher Omnibus.
Writer(s): Paul Tobin, Borys Pugacz-Muraszkiewicz & Karolina Stachyra.
Artist(s): Joe Querio, Max Bertolini & Piotr Kowalski.
Colourist(s): Carlos Badilla & Brad Simpson.
Letterer(s): Nate Piekos of Blambot.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Release Date: December 3rd, 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy, Horror.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski probably didn’t see coming the Westernized treatment of his beloved Witcher saga over the past years. From movies, television series, video games, and comic books, the various adaptations remain tantalizing to voracious and hungry fantasy aficionados all around the world. With the recent Netflix television series adaptation that unleashes actor Henry Cavill as the witcher, there was no denying its timely and fitting arrival in the entertainment field for viewers around the world as it fills in the void left by HBO’s Game of Thrones. But how are the comics compared to the rest of these adaptations? In the hands of the multi-Eisner award-winning writer Paul Tobin, publisher Dark Horse continues their foray into adapting critically-acclaimed video games into comic book stories with the dreary and rugged adventures of the infamous witcher Geralt of Rivia.
What is The Witcher Omnibus (Vol. 1) about? Collecting all three volumes written by Paul Tobin (House of Glass, Fox Children, and Curse of Crows), a one-shot story titled Killing Monsters, and a sketchbook section featuring additional artwork, this omnibus is a diverting visual adaptation of the video game developed by CD Projekt Red, which has greatly grown in popularity since the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. While some are original stories (see House of Glass), others are adaptations of certain chapters of Season of Storms (see Fox Children), but all follow Geralt of Rivia on a myriad of adventures as he slays fiends, completes contracts, tries to enjoy baths, and teaches humans a couple of lessons on monsters.
In this omnibus, The House of Glass story arc introduces readers to a variety of creatures within the Witcher universe while exploring the concept of true love. The Fox Children story arc continues down the same lane and presents other fascinating creatures while showcasing the witcher’s vast knowledge of monsters and his understanding of their customs to solve mysteries. The Curse of Crows story arc focuses on the lore behind strigas and finally includes Ciri and Yennefer into the narrative. The Killing Monsters one-shot story is a quick tale where humans are illustrated as monsters amidst the presence of an ugly creature roaming in the darkness of the forest.
These all contain plenty of neat ideas explored through different characters but every time you turn a corner thinking that you’re about to be impressed, the story skids into an underwhelming web of standstills and gimmicks. The pacing is a noteworthy issue that is inconsistent from one story to another, unable to find a rhythm that works well with the linear storylines. The action sequences are another problem as writer Paul Tobin struggles to make them interesting, resorting rather to hack-and-slash tactics or a simple Witcher spell (igni, aard, etc.) to solve the problem within a page, making it all rather underwhelming.
Artist Joe Querio’s does a fairly great job in utilizing a shadow-heavy and blurred visual style, especially for facial expressions, that captures the grim and depressive atmosphere within the different regions in the Witcher saga. While he allows the omnibus to maintain artistic consistency for the first two stories, the illustration duties are then handed over to Max Bertolini for the one-shot story and then Piotr Kowalski for the final story arc. The former accentuates shadows and prefers a rougher and less clean style that remains within the same veins as Joe Querio’s established vision for this comic book universe. The latter steers slightly away from the previous artworks and utilizes designs closer to the video games, giving the story a refreshing touch that works for the better.
The Witcher Omnibus (Vol. 1) is a solid collection of stories that further expands the lore, despite story-telling flaws, and paves the way to riveting adventures featuring Geralt of Rivia.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
The video game adaptation of the classic fantasy series was released on May 15, 2015, and garnered incredible praise across all platforms to become one of the greatest video games ever released.