George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones #12, from Dynamite Entertainment, continues adapting Martin’s original epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Here’s the official description from Dynamite:
In Winterfell, young Brandon Stark, though crippled by his near-fatal fall, is finally able to ride again, with the help of a gift from Tyrion Lannister. As thanks, the Imp has been imprisoned by Catelyn Stark and her sister, Lysa Arryn, in the forbidding sky dungeons of the Eyrie, and charged with Bran’s attempted murder. Now, in a desperate bid for freedom, Tyrion demands the right of trial by combat. But what chance does a dwarf have against Lysa’s chosen champion? Differences in size are not the only reason for an unequal fight, as Eddard Stark learns in King’s Landing, where his investigation into the death of Jon Arryn takes an unexpected-and deadly-turn.
Daniel Abraham‘s adaptation continues in the same vein as previous issues, facing problems with pacing, flow, and, most seriously, narration. Staying so faithful to Martin’s novel means characters often go several issues without making an appearance, which is a serious problem when the story is also being served up in bite-size segments, once every few months. Similarly, the near-direct transfer from prose means the panels are choppy, without the smooth flow one hopes to see in the sequential narrative medium of comics. Finally, there is the ever-present problem of narration, specifically Abraham’s insistence on telling things that artist Tommy Patterson could do a much better job of showing. A particular instance this issue is when Tyrion is in the Eyrie’s sky cells, (dungeon cells with one wall missing, open to a 600 foot drop). A previous inhabitant of Tyrion’s cell has written “The blue is calling” on the wall in blood. For some reason I won’t pretend to understand, Abraham tells us this by way of a narration box, rather than allow Patterson to draw a cool, haunting image. Something has gone wrong, somewhere along the line, for this book to turn out this way.
What Patterson does get to draw is adequate, although still lacking in places. Related to the flow problem I mentioned before is a general lack of movement in the panels. Again, they feel more like illustrations in a storybook than images in sequence. I also had some trouble telling characters apart, especially Eddard and his second-in-command, Jory (both have beards). However this may be my problem more than Pattersons; I’m not the best with faces. Overall, the facial work shines, with what must be some of the more realistic depictions in comics. The direwolves are also really cool, as they’re more obviously wolf-like than the CGI-enlarged Siberian husky mixes used in the TV show.
With all the options available for getting your Game of Thrones fix, I don’t know why you’d choose this one. If you want to Martin’s words, read the books; if you want to see the story realized visually, watch the show on HBO.