Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin takes a break from adapting Butcher’s novels, instead presenting an original comic story, which takes place a few months after the events of Fool Moon, thereby avoiding some of the pitfalls associated with adapting a story between media. Here’s the official description of Ghoul Goblin #1 from Dynamite Entertainment:
Harry Dresden has survived the events of Fool Moon – barely – but all is not well in his world. He’s still alienated from his closest friend, Karrin Murphy, and on exceedingly poor terms with Chicago’s number one gangster, John Marcone. And that’s just the small stuff — the creatures of the Nevernever don’t take vacations and aren’t particularly worried about Harry’s friendships or love life.
As mentioned, Ghoul Goblin #1 fairs better than the previous Dresden book. Intended as a comic from the start, the story is paced accordingly, and usually keeps things interesting visually, even during long conversations. Narration boxes were used poorly and often in Fool Moon, usually to describe events the reader could see in the panel all on his own, thank you very much. Luckily that’s not the problem here. The boxes are abundant, but they’re generally used for interior monologue and to describe transitions between scenes (which is as it should be).
The story goes that Harry is still recovering emotionally from the events of Full Moon when he’s approached by a small town cop from Missouri about the mysterious deaths of two siblings. Some of Jim Butcher and Mark Power‘s writing here is a bit on the nose. It’s one thing for this cop to come to Dresden, but when Harry agrees to help, this muggle goes along with everything he does, never really questioning this magical world he’s supposed to be completely ignorant of. Similarly, when Harry asks his handy magic talking skull, Bob, about the victims’ family, Bob essentially says “Oh, the Talbots? Yeah they got a curse on ’em. Been dying off mysteriously for years.” Too easy. It also seems pretty obvious at this point who the villain is, although I won’t mention it here, to avoid spoilers if I’m right and to avoid bringing shame upon my family name if I’m wrong (actually, if may be too late to avoid bringing the shame.)
Joseph Cooper‘s art is a great fit for this title. He brings just enough cartooniness to the characters to reinforce the book’s humor, while still keeping things somewhat realistic. It’s reminiscent of Amanda Conner‘s work, and that’s definitely a good thing. A lot of the action (from a narrative standpoint) in this book is in the character’s faces, and Cooper’s work is subtle, emotive, blatant, and off-putting, as the scene calls for. One action scene near the end has a bit of a choreography problem, but that’s a minor complaint, and there’s no telling who’s to blame.
If you’ve never tried The Dresden Files before, Ghoul Goblin may not be the best place to start, but if you’re a Butcher fan, or a lapsed reader of the previous Dresden graphic novels, you should give GG a try.