This April, a new Dungeons & Dragons comic book series arrives from IDW – Dungeons & Dragons: Evil at Baldur’s Gate – and not only features one of the Forgotten Realms’ favorite settings, but also beloved characters from the classic Baldur’s Gate PC games, Minsc (and his miniature giant space hamster, Boo). The five-issue series is written by current Marvel Avengers scribe Jim Zub, who is no stranger to writing top-notch fantasy comics; his own Skullkickers series, Pathfinder comics, and a few D&D series that preceded this one. We caught up with Zub, who shed a little more light on what the new series is about.
GEEK: So, it’s probably indicative of my personal blinders, or perhaps the fact that there are so many comics out there today, but – even though I’m a huge Baldurs Gate fan – I didn’t realize that this is not the first Baldur‘s Gate comic, and you’ve done several before. Is this new series okay as a jumping-on point for new readers, or would you recommend seeking out past volumes first?
Jim Zub: It’s true, we’ve had three D&D mini-series before this. Legends of Baldur’s Gate was our first one, introducing the cast and bringing Minsc (and Boo) into the current Forgotten Realms. Shadows of the Vampire was our second mini-series, where the group was pulled into Ravenloft, the nether realm of gothic horror. Our third mini-series was Frost Giant’s Fury, depositing our party of adventurers in the frozen north and sending them up against giants and dragons.
This new mini-series, Evil at Baldur’s Gate, is a focused look at the character cast. Each issue spotlights one of them and gives more insight into who they are and what drives them. It’s a good place to jump on, even if you haven’t read the previous minis.
Minsc, unless I am mistaken, is the only star of the classic video games to make the leap to the comics series. (Well, okay, Boo too . . . but kind of a package deal, yeah?). Did you play the PC games? Expansions? The new/relatively new Beamdog refreshed versions of them? If so, how have these PC RPG experiences shaped your interpretation of the world of BG? And which other PC game BG characters might you like to take a stab at writing at some point?
I was (and still am) more of a tabletop RPGer than an RPG video gamer, though I did play the Baldur’s Gate PC games and was a fan back when they were originally released. I haven’t had a chance to play through the new versions, but someday when my schedule isn’t crazy I hope to.
In the Forgotten Realms timeline, the Baldur’s Gate video games took place over 100 years ago compared to the current day, so most of Minsc’s old companions are either dead or very old. He and Boo were able to cheat time thanks to a magical curse and now they have a new group of friends to find evil and kick it in its puffy posterior.
For which property do you find you are more able to flex your creativity – Avengers or something like D&D?
Dungeons & Dragons is a much broader world where the setting and characters aren’t as clearly defined, so it’s a place where I can get a bit more creative. The Marvel Universe is a phenomenal sandbox to play in, but it definitely has more rules that need to be adhered to as well.
Fantasy is such a great genre, but there is just so much out there not to my taste, I find it hard to sift through. You’ve really become a go-to name for fantasy-related properties, from some of your creator-owned stuff to Pathfinder and beyond. What are the fantasy books, comics, or other media that you are currently enjoying? Help us out!
Sam Sykes’ The City Stained Red is a great pulpy violent fantasy romp of a novel. I really enjoyed it. Birthright and The Realm are sharp fantasy comics. The Battle Chasers RPG game has been a fun Final Fantasy-esque throwback and I wish I had more time to enjoy it right now.
Thank you, Jim Zub! The series arrives in April, and each of the five issues features work by a different artist – respectively Dean Kotz, Steven Cummings, Harvey Tolibao, Ramon Bachs, and Francesco Mortarino, with Max Dunbar on covers. We will be waiting anxiously to check them out but, in the meantime, The City Stained Red may be a good way to bide our time.