Thursday, December 29, 2011

GN Review -- The Guild / Felicia Day and Jim Rugg

Whenever I find a comic book adaptation of a show that I really like, I'm always excited and apprehensive: excited to find more stories from a mythology I've become fond of, and apprehensive that the people in charge of the comic will somehow lose the essence of the show in translating it to a new medium.  Thankfully, when I saw Felicia Day's--Cyd Sherman herself!--name on the cover of The Guild, I knew it would be good.  And I was right.

The Guild acts as a prequel to the popular web series of the same name, told from Cyd's perspective and relating the story of how she came to get involved in the online fantasy world of The Game, in which she and her guildmates spend so much time during the run of the show.  It also chronicles how she, in piecemeal fashion, comes to the acquaintance of Vork, Bladezz, Tinkerballa, Clara, and Zaboo, her eventual comrades in arms in their guild, The Knights of Good.

Things start off well enough, Cyd supposes.  She "has it all": she plays in an orchestra (way in the back), has a boyfriend (who ignores and takes advantage of her), and a perpetual schedule with a therapist (who doesn't seem to understand her).  So, she can't figure out why she's not happy.  While trying to support her boyfriend's band, she ends up buying The Game, and is almost immediately enthralled by it.  It gives her a semblance of control over her life: she can craft her avatar's look, name, and decide what she does in the game.  So she creates her online persona: Codex, a healer.

While gathering flowers in game, she meets Clara, with whom she strikes up a friendship when they chat live over their mics and speakers.  Others follow, and Cyd is further enchanted by the friends she's able to make and somewhat "manage" in game.  Her boyfriend and therapist do not share her enthusiasm, and deride her interest in the game, with her boyfriend calling her interest in it selfish, and her therapist chiding her interest in people who "aren't real" relationships.

Things come to a head when she finds her boyfriend making out with another man, and she invites all of her new game friends to work together in a contest for in-game loot.  Gradually gaining confidence in herself from her in-game performance, Cyd begins to assert her own independence in real life.  Unfortunately, that involves setting fire to music she wrote for her boyfriend's band, which also sets his cello on fire.  This gets her fired from the orchestra and in debt to her boyfriend for $100,000.  But, she has closure on the relationship, and finds her escapism into The Game to be just what she needs at the moment.

This was a supremely entertaining read, and felt very much like an enhanced group of episodes of the web series.  It uses a lot of the same scenes, situations, and humor from the show, along with the added bonus of actually seeing the characters as their online personas in The Game.  The dialog was spot-on, particularly Cyd's awkward humor, and the personalities of the characters were accurately reflected in this narrative.

The artwork is fabulous, by and large.  Jim Rugg does a good job of capturing the looks of all the characters, both in their online and real life personas.  There is the occasional picture of Cyd that looks a little off, but this is easily forgivable, as she's the one he has to draw the most often.  I also really liked the differing art styles between online and real-life environements: it's more traditional ink-on-paper in real life, and more of a painted appearance in the fantasy world of The Game.  Both settings look great, and add a visual dimension to the story that has never been present during the show.

Overall, a wonderful adjunct to the series.  Fans of The Guild will undoubtedly enjoy this work, as well as just about anyone who plays MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Star Wars: the Old Republic.  Newcomers to the show might be slightly confused in some places, but overall the humor is pretty well handled and easy to get.  Non-gamers might not get a lot of the situations and references, and I do pity those poor souls.  Highly recommended.

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