In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that my first exposure to George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series of novels came earlier this year when HBO debuted the Game of Thrones TV show; which also happens to be one of the best television programs in a long time.
As a way to draw in new fans, it's hard to top the TV series' reach, but comics are still a good gateway drug for readers. With that in mind, Dynamite Entertainment has begun an adaptation of the first novel, A Game of Thrones, with writer Daniel Abraham and Tommy Patterson on art.
Abraham stays very close to Martin's original story and thus far there don't seem to be any major deviations. On one hand, it's good to see that the comic is very faithful to the book, but if you know what's coming ahead of time there's not much in the way of surprise. It's competently done and Abraham even keeps as much of Martin's dialog and narration as he can. At 29 pages, the length of the comic felt right. But there isn't quite as much excitement as I would have liked to have seen.
It's difficult to completely summarize the story of this issue for anyone unfamiliar with the novel or the TV series. But the short version is that Ned Stark and his family of five children and one bastard son are introduced while Ned carries out an execution. Ned also gets some tragic news about someone close to him and he learns that King Robert is coming to his home at Winterfell. Meanwhile, a young girl named Daenerys is given by her brother to a warlord named Khol Drogo in exchange for an army to take back his kingdom from King Robert. And beyond the Wall, something sinister is beginning to marshal its forces against the kingdoms of Westeros.
The first issue of this adaptation suffers from a few pacing problems. There are times where it seems like the story is jumping ahead needlessly. Instead of letting the readers meet the Starks in Winterfell. The first time we see them is at the execution of the deserter from the Night's Watch. The opening sequence on the other side of the Wall was one of the highlights of the issue, but it also went about a page or two longer than it probably should have. The one advantage of telling this story as a comic is that it does allow the reader to examine the setting and characters on their own time. Abraham also included some passages from the novel that helped flesh out Ned Stark's relationship to Jon Arryn, and Daenerys' life with her brother prior to meeting Khol Drogo.
Some of Patterson's pages are very well rendered and he seems to have good handle on the fantasy elements of the book. The look of this comic reminds me of Brett Booth's art style and the pages are serviceable for the story, if not spectacular. Unfortunately, Patterson doesn't seem to have much variety in the way that he draws faces. Several characters appear to have the same nose and chin structure with only the color of their hair to help the audience figure out who is who. And even then there are still some pages where you can barely tell who is Theon Greyjoy and who is Jon Snow.
The Game of Thrones comic also appears to be less adult oriented than the HBO series. It's more of a teen reader friendly comic with only the occasional beheading and blade through the eye… and no outright nudity. This book isn't trying to ape the HBO series and its version of the characters and the threat beyond the Wall seem to be intentionally different for the most part. This comic may be best suited for people unwilling to read Martin's novel all the way through. I've no doubt that the comic will eventually cover the entirety of the first novel, but at this rate its going to be a very long time before readers of the comic catch up to what people have already seen on HBO.
Crave Online Rating: 6.5/10