As you may have noticed, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher has turned into quite the franchise. There are the novels, the TV shows, and now the graphic novels. Storm Front Vol 1: The Gathering Storm is the first adaptation of one of the novels into graphic format and the second graphic novel for the Dresden Files. It was first released in four single issues which are now combined as a graphic novel. The adaptation is by Mark Powers and illustrated by Ardian Syaf.
Harry Dresden is Chicago’s only practicing wizard, and not the kiddie party kind. Right now he has two cases: a magical murder for the Chicago Police Department and a missing person case. Neither is as simple as it seems.
Some good, some necessary bad
First things first: this is an adaptation of a much longer work of the same name. However, Powers has done an excellent job streamlining the story so that even though you’re given half of a print novel in four graphic chapters, the story still feels paced properly. However, to get the ‘good parts’ version stripped down that far, there are perforce a lot of things left out. You don’t see a lot of the detective work that Harry does in the original story in this graphic novel. You don’t see the research discussions between Harry and Bob that will foreshadow some of the things to come. But you do get to see some grisly murder scenes, some major characters, and some straight from the shower Dresden-vs-demon action.
A welcome relief
One of my key issues with Welcome to the Jungle was its departure from the Dresden Files’s normally complex and layered characters. Now, I will admit that because I’ve read the regular novels, I’m already familiar with the characters that appear in Storm Front Vol 1. However, they still play better for me than several of the characters from Welcome to the Jungle. And even though our second introduction to Susan is a bit… risqué… the comedic nature of the situation still comes through. Also, her strength as a character who is not a damsel in distress comes through. I did not end this novel feeling like I needed to join a feminist march for better female characters in comics, for which I was incredibly relieved and thankful.
A little extra
At the very end of the novel, there’s a little extra bonus story. Those of you who’ve read Side Jobs will recognize the short story “A Restoration of Faith.” It takes place before Storm Front and Welcome to the Jungle and features an early case for Harry while he’s still learning how to be a private detective as well as a wizard. It’s adapted by Grant Alter, with art by Kevin Mellon, colors by Kieran Oats, and lettering by Bill Tortolini. It’s a fun piece, and I actually like this version better than the original print one.
Why should you read this comic?
Obviously, if you love the Dresden Files, you’re likely to love this. You get to see some of your favorite characters in a way that’s far truer than the TV show (at least for me). If you’re new to the Dresden Files, I’m not sure how this will play for you. The action is quite literally breakneck, and there’s no slowing down to catch you up on the nitty-gritty of a complex storyline. You have enough to get on with, but I’m not sure you have enough to really hook you and pull you in. If you don’t need all the details, this may be right up your alley.