George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones #11 continues the comic adaptation of the bestselling series of fantasy books. Previous issues have struggled to separate themselves from the original text, serving as little more than picture books. How does this issue fair? Here’s the official description from Dynamite:
At last, Catelyn Stark and her prisoner, Tyrion Lannister, have reached the Eyrie, the lofty citadel of Catelyn’s sister, Lysa, the grieving widow of Jon Arryn. Because Lysa believes that the Lannisters were responsible for her husband’s death, Catelyn had thought to find an ally in this forbidding refuge. Instead the refuge seems more like a prison . . . and the “ally” a fearful and vindictive madwoman. Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen is also faced with a sibling’s madness-her brother, Viserys, impatient for the crown promised him by Khal Drogo, grows increasingly unable to hold his rage in check.
While Daniel Abraham continues to be almost excessively faithful to Martin’s original text, it works better this time. A bit more than half the issue is devoted to Catelyn’s ascent to and arrival at the Eyrie. The journey format makes the narration far more palatable, and it’s a lot of fun to watch the terrain grow more treacherous and the sky get clearer, the higher Catelyn and her guide climb. Tommy Patterson does a brilliant job, and the sequence is the highlight of everything I’ve read in the series thus far.
The Eyrie is one of the most strikingly beautiful images found in Martin’s novel, and Patterson captures that. Unfortunately, it’s quickly followed by one of the novel’s most disturbing scenes: a six year old boy breastfeeding. Unfortunately, Patterson captures this too, the most unsettling part being that it’s so obviously a common practice for the characters and no one gives it a second thought.
The last portion focuses on Dany, and again features word-for-word dialogue extracted from the book. This section does, however, feature particularly strong facial work.
The greatest problem with A Game of Thrones as a comic series is how formulaic it. Abraham seems to cut-and-paste the text, and even Patterson’s beautiful pencils are consistently arranged in perfect rectangular panels. Luckily for issue eleven, that formula works unusually well with the subject matter on hand.