World of Warcraft #2-3
May 4, 2009
Behold the world of Borecraft, where characters are needlessly melodramatic, pointless exposition rules, and no one even gets to level up once.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Today's subjects were donated to me on the strict conditions that I must review them, because he thought they were absolutely atrocious. Are they? Well, not really.
(Cut to a montage of shots of the World of Warcraft game)
Linkara (v/o): But before we get to the comics themselves, let's talk about the World of Warcraft for a moment. Before you ask, no, I don't play it, but I used to. A while back, as a Christmas present, my aunt gave me several months free after I had expressed an interest in playing. It was an all-right game, but it took me forever to get my damn horse, which is all I really wanted since traveling was slooooooow.
Linkara: And don't get me wrong, we wouldn't be here if these comics didn't suck in some fashion. So what's the problem? Well, let's dig into (holds up two World of Warcraft comics) "World of Warcraft #2" and "#3" and find out.
(Cut to a closeup of the cover for "World of Warcraft #2")
Linkara (v/o): The cover to number two is, well, bland. I mean, really bland. Which is sad because it's penciled by Jim Lee, one of the best artists in the industry. But it's just a static shot of Conan the Barbarian here, with two Orcish beings behind him. We open to our protagonist, the amnesiac human warrior referred to only as Croc-Bait, forced into fighting a gladitorial master, since he's been captured and made a slave. Huh, I guess my Conan the Barbarian metaphor actually is accurate.
Gladitorial master: I'm Hyku Steeledge, pinkskin.
Linkara (v/o): Ooh, boy, let's jump right into it, shall we? First of all, who the hell just shouts their name in the middle of..
Linkara: (holding up his fists) LINKARA!!
Linkara (v/o): ...of a fight? Secondly, "pinkskin"? What are you, Andorians from Star Trek: Enterprise now?
(Cut to a clip of the Andorians from this show)
Andorian: The Pinkskins. Answer me, Pinkskins!
(Cut another clip of the show)
Female Andorian: Pinkskin.
(Cut back to the World of Warcraft comic)
Linkara (v/o): We're gonna see an elf in a second who's got pinker skin than the human. What the hell did they call her, "Hot Pinkskin with a Touch of Auburn"? Thirdly, "Hyku Steeledge"? "Hyku Steeledge".
Linkara: (speaking in haiku) My name is Haiku. / Steeledge is my family name. / Springtime comes and goes.
Hyku: I hear you don't even know your own name!
Linkara: But what's puzzling him is the nature of his game.
Linkara (v/o): Conan is able to whack the Orcs across the face before quipping...
Croc-Bait: I just hope he can spell yours.
Linkara: (as Hyku) Y-O-U-R-S? Why would he need to spell... (looks down at himself) Oh, you cut me in half. ACK! (falls over, as if dead)
Linkara (v/o): We now meet our other main characters, Valeera the Blood Elf and Broll the Night Elf. Valeera comments...
Linkara (v/o): "Wicked"? Apparently, '80s slang has affected the World of Warcraft. They talk for a bit about how Rehgar, their master, sicced Hyku on him to force him to "expect the unexpected". Yes, that seems like a wise tactic: potentially ruin your source of profit. I see why Rehgar makes the big bucks. Our stalwart hero also wins Hyku's swords, as is the rule of combat.
Linkara: Oh, so that's why enemies drop items and money when you defeat them in games.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to an armory called the Hall of Legends. By the way, get used to the names, folks; they never stop getting tossed at us, even though they're only there for, like, two pages.
Narrator: The weapons stored here come from every continent on Azeroth and the Orcs' homeworld, Draenor.
Linkara (v/o): Wait, Orcs are aliens?
(And now it's time to play - "How many people will comment on the video and explain?" Make your guesses now!)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and look! Apparently, one of those legends is Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. Neato! Rehgar says they can choose any weapon they want to carry into the arena for their next battle. Really? You're handing your slaves weapons before they actually get to the fight? For that matter, why are they still in armor and not imprisoned in some way? Are the slaves on the honor system?
Valeera: These! A set of Orc daggers! Long as swords and sharp as dangerous teeth! Beautifully balanced!
Linkara: (as Valeera) I like to loudly announce how awesome my weapons are! (pulls up magic gun) Look, a magic gun. Wood finish, with metal on top. Uh, aluminum, I think. I don't know. Uh, beautifully, um... shooty.
Broll: I choose a druid's weapon!
Linkara: (holding up a Pokeball) And I choose you, Bulbasaur!
(He slaps the Pokeball, popping it open. Suddenly, there is a bright flash, surprising Linkara)
Linkara: Holy crap, this thing actually works! (shuts ball)
Linkara (v/o): Conan sees a belt, which causes him to free an imagined Dr. Wily in armor.
Rehgar: What's wrong with him?
Broll: The belt must have triggered a memory.
Linkara: (as Brawl) Don't worry, just a flashback. It'll be over in a minute.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the group leaving aboard a zeppelin while more silly names are thrown at us. And only now are they actually wearing any kind of chains. The two elves continually argue, a fact commented on by a goblin.
Goblin: Two of your team are constantly bickering while the other stares into the distance and broods. You may have a problem there.
Linkara: (as goblin) I mean, with Cloud's sword from earlier, and now this, it's looking more and more like a Final Fantasy game by the minute.
Narrator: In the area known as Feralas in southwestern Kalimdor lies the ruins of the ancient highborne city of Eldre'thalas.
Linkara (v/o): Look, Walt Simonson, you're not Tolkien, and this is not Lord of the Rings. We do not need to know this information or these names. Airship fly to arena, people hit each other, that's all we need. Seriously, this goes on for several pages, where we have background exposition. Nobody shuts up in this book! They're always talking about something and providing useless backstory! Also, the Night Elf turns into a bear. Huh. Among the random shouting from the audience, we see more shouting about the Pinkskin. I just like to point out there's a guy with pink skin right there at the bottom of the panel. If you're gonna shout racial slurs, at least try to have them make sense.
Troll: Aren't Orc blades a bit large for you, little human?
Croc-Bait: Dance closer, troll. I think you'll find that they're just about your size.
Linkara (v/o): And Conan throws a sword right through the guy's neck!
Linkara: (as Croc-Bait) Hmm, wait, I was wrong. They need to go three sizes up. If you hand me the sword back, we shall try again, little blue girly-man.
Linkara (v/o): Naturally, the crowd is still pissy about the whole thing, and Rehgar just cashes in on them betting against the human. By the way, we don't get any transition with this stuff; it's just fight, kill, next scene! Next match is a team battle, with our heroes versus a bunch of blue ogres.
Croc-Bait: They're bigger than we are and stronger. We'll have to be faster and smarter.
Valeera: No problem. For a second there, you had me worried.
Rehgar: This is serious, Valeera!
(Cut to a panel of the "Newmen" comic, showing Reign, with pink smoke coming out of his forehead)
Linkara (v/o): Well, how are we supposed to know that without pink smoke coming out of somebody's forehead?
(Cut back to the World of Warcraft comic)
Linkara (v/o): So they fight, blah, blah, blah. It's seriously hard to comment on a fight when it's done in an all-right fashion. Really, my only complaint is about Valeera's armor. Of course, they decided to have her cleavage exposed and her armor riding up her ass like a thong. Because, you know, even when you're in a fight for your life, you need to show off what you got. After a while, the crowd finally gets around to supporting Conan, calling him, "LO'GOSH!" According to Rehgar, it means, "ghost wolf". So... why don't they just say "ghost wolf"? And so, our comic ends with a Tauran woman saying she wants to buy Valeera so she can put together an all-female gladiator team.
Linkara: Why do I get the feeling there's going to be a lot of cat fights in the issues to come?
(A closeup for the next World of Warcraft comic is shown)
Linkara (v/o): The cover for issue 3 is a little bit better, but not by much. We have Conan and Antlers Elf riding on the back of a giant blue bird while it fights a Chimera. The painted style really works here, and I've got no complaints.
(The comic proper begins)
Linkara (v/o): We open to a splash page with lots more exposition for the previous issue.
Narrator: The gladiatorial trio, owned and trained by the Orc Rehgar Earthfury, leaves as the newly crowned champions...
Linkara (v/o): "Rehgar Earthfury"? These are like rejected Star Wars names.
Linkara: At this point, I would just like to point that I'm changing my name to "Awesome McBadass Powerfist".
Linkara (v/o): While the people continue to shout out plot points for no particular reason, we see this masked fellow stalking our heroes. Strangely enough, this man bears a striking resemblance to another Wildstorm character named Grifter. So apparently, Grifter plays the game, which seems to work for him, considering he's got more pouches on him than a Rob Liefeld sketch. Antlers Elf is sad that they have to leave Valeera behind and say that he accepted Rehgar's ownership of him because he trusts him.
Croc-Bait: You're saying you had a choice about your service to him?
Broll: We--all of us--have choices.
Linkara: Apparently, I've been misled about the concept of slavery. It's all about choice and certainly not about losing your ability to make choices to someone else.
Linkara (v/o): While Antlers Elf tells Valeera they'll come back for her, Valeera is skeptical about their chances and decides to break out herself. On board the dirigible, the two gladiators discuss the possibility of going into the Pools of Vision to try to restore Conan's memories. How dramatically convenient. Isn't this exactly what you think of when you think World of Warcraft? Emo warriors who lost their memories? I always thought it was about leveling up, completing quests, and getting annoyed at that one boss who just won't die, despite the whole party at him. I must have been playing the wrong game. Meanwhile, Grifter reports to a silhouetted figure about discovering Conan. He gets some money for his efforts, and the silhouetted figure tells his servant to kill Grifter after he– (gets a look at said servant) DUDE! Okay, seriously, man, you live in a world with magicians and sorcerers! They can do something about that face!
Narrator: In central Kalimdor, on the northwestern plains of Mulgore, lies the Tauran capital, Thunder Bluff. Led by the mighty chief Cairne, of the Bloodhoof clan...
(Cut to footage of Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
Old man: Get on with it!
Tim the Enchanter: Yes, get on with it!
Army of knights: Yes, get on with it!
(Back to the World of Warcraft comic)
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, more exposition about scenes we saw not two pages ago, as Rehgar arrives to buy a Tauran for his gladiator team. He also requests to have the gladiators go into the little memory pools, although why the hell he cares is anyone's guess. The Tauran warns them that there is some sort of cave elemental that's loose in the area, so it'll be dangerous.
Linkara: Since when has (makes "air quotes") "cave" been an element?
Linkara (v/o): Back with Valeera, she steals a Wyvern, some kind of lion thing, and tries to escape with it – under the cover of daylight, on a big flying thing that will have a hard time navigating inside a forest, with her captor right behind her. Yeah.
Narrator: The late afternoon sun rims the mesas in gold as Magatha and her Grimtotem clan watch Lo'Gosh and Broll cross the span to Spirit Rise and follow the path to the Pools of Vision.
Linkara (v/o): That was all one sentence, by the way.
Croc-Bait: These caverns are... astonishing, Broll.
Linkara (v/o): Well, they're mint-flavored, I guess. The two sit in the pool in a pose that makes me think they're sitting in a toilet, and Elf Antlers explains...
Broll: We sit and stare into the water... and ask the pool for revelation.
Linkara: (looking at paper cup) Huh. Answer unclear. Ask again later. (looks at camera, shrugs, then drinks from the cup)
Linkara (v/o): The two start having flashbacks, with Elf Antlers continually seeing images of his daughter mixed with images of Valeera, while Conan sees visions of a wife and son. All is not well, though. (dramatic music plays) A hand sifts through the water, and Elf Antlers awakens to find something wrong.
Broll: Lo'Gosh! Get out of the water!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, our cave elemental has finally arrived!
Narrator: Its voice is the voice of an avalanche. If there are words, Lo'Gosh does not speak its language... at least not its vocal language.
Linkara: (as Lo'Gosh) You killed my mother. You killed my father! You killed my people! You took my father's sword! (makes a babbling-like roar)
Linkara (v/o): So, using the brilliant strategy of... um, hitting it, the cave elemental is defeated and Conan explains to Elf Antlers that he's going to be leaving, since he apparently has people who need him as well as a son. Later, they're brought to the tent of Hamuul, another Tauren. There, he explains the legend of the Ghost Wolf that Conan is apparently named after. It, of course, takes a full page to explain it, so I'll just sum it up: Wolfie dies, comes back as a guy who keeps on helping people out. There, done. Hamuul gives Conan a gift. (it is a feather)
Hamuul: Take it as a token of my thanks for destroying the elemental that disturbed our pools of vision.
Lo'Gosh: I am... honored.
Linkara: Ooh, a feather. Thanks. Why would I want gold or my freedom when I've got a feather? (raises his fist in the air) Huzzah.
Linkara (v/o): No, apparently, the feather can glow, and it summons a Hippogriff to come pick the two up. Meanwhile, Valeera catches up with the group and spots them escaping, but has to hide when she spots Rehgar sending goons after them. However, he knows that Hamuul had a hand in letting them escape and doesn't really care all that much if they're recaptured.
Rehgar: I knew this day was coming. A man is truly a prisoner only as long as he agrees to remain one.
Linkara: Oh, so slaves and convicted criminals are only where they are because they want to be.
Linkara (v/o): And so our comic ends with Silhouetted Person instructing an assassin to murder Conan, but to do it subtly. Yes, because dead people are just so inconspicuous.
Linkara: (holding up both comics) These comics are just lame.
Linkara (v/o): The exposition is tedious, the characters are pretty one-dimensional, and the dialogue is forced and overly melodramatic.
Linkara: In the end, you'd get more enjoyment shelling out the fifteen bucks a month to play WOW than you would the $2.99 you pay for either issue. (throws comics down, gets up and leaves)
(Stinger: A panel of the comic is shown again, showing Rehgar addressing Broll and Lo'Gosh)
Linkara (v/o): (as Rehgar) Oh! Hey! We won again! This is good. But what is best in life? (as Broll) The OpenStep, a fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair. (as Rehgar again) Wrong! Conan, what is best in life? (as Lo'Gosh) To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.