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Review: World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing Vol. 1, Dragons of Outland

TOKYOPOP Editor Troy Lewter sent my way an early copy of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING, in terms you can remember from an early interview of mine with Richard A. Knaak, it is the first volume of a trilogy titled DRAGONS OF OUTLAND, in which we learn the lore that led toward Malygos’s return to his senses from his milennia insanity and the Nexus War against the Kirin Tor and the Wyrmrest Accord.

The manga will be at a bookstore near you on June 1, 2010; but if you need a little jumpstart to get your engines going, I have written a lengthy article that mentions a few key moments of this story, without necessarily spoiling it too much. Just enough for you to get a grasp of what the first installment of this manga trilogy is about.

Without further ado, and minding a few spoilers here and there, feast my lore-hungered boys. Tip: Jorad Mace, Tyrigosa, the Nether Dragons, Deathwing and an original second war Death Knight on the loose in Outland.

If you loved the stories within Warcraft Legends, be prepared to get bewitched by World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing.

This manga trilogy is based on the two characters from the pages of WarCraft: The Sunwell Trilogy. The very same manga that spawned the likes of Kalecgos, and Anveena (known in-game at the Sunwell Plateau dungeon), Trag Highmountain (known in-game at the Argent Tournament Grounds in Icecrown) and Dar’Khan Darthir (found in-game at Deatholme in the Ghostlands, Quel’Thalas).

Like all of these characters who first were born in the TOKYOPOP manga, and appeared in-game time later during the Burning Crusade expansion, both protagonists of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING were born in THE SUNWELL TRILOGY and became quest NPCs in the Burning Crusade.

You can find both, Jorad Mace and Tyrigosa, at the Celestial Ridge in the region known as Netherstorm in Outland. To refresh your memory, Tyri (or Tyrigosa the blue dragon) gives you the quest to kill Veraku — the leader of the Nether Drakes in Netherstorm.

Her quests: A Promising Start, Securing the Celestial Ridge, and Troublesome Distractions. Ok, you got the idea. This manga gives you a prologue to their adventures in Outland, before those quests. How they got into Outland, and how they happen to learn about the Nether Drakes. That’s all in WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING.

The story by Richard A. Knaak is very fluid and packed with action in all fronts between the Burning Legion and the Alliance forces at the Dark Portal’s Stair of Destiny in Hellfire Peninsula, dragon against dragon, Gronn versus dragon, Ragnok’s forces against our heroes, and much more.

All brought to awesome detail by artist Jae-Hwan Kim: face expressions, body details, background details. The inker and texture makes this entire manga be a yummy sight. I’m not sure if the artist inked it, or Marco Paolilli, but it looks astounding. Jae-Hwam Kim’s art style and Richard A. Knaak’s writing are a perfect match for World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing. No wonder this manga took so long in the making.

Storywise, Jorad Mace comes to Outland with the Alliance forces to fend off the Burning Legion’s advancement into the Stair of Destiny in Hellfire Peninsula under the vigilance of Lord Irulon Trueblade of the Argent Crusade.

Jorad Mace continues his quest to make himself worthy and redeem his past transgressions against the former Silver Hand. The Light abandoned him long ago before the events of Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy, and he seeks to be worth of the return of the Light into his being.

On a separate quest, Tyrigossa has come into Outland hunting down a disturbance too familiar for her taste. She can’t pinpoint what it is, or how it relates to her hunches but she has come to seek it. It turns out to be the Nether Dragons. Are they friend or foe? Sadly both. Zzeraku sees her as a foe, but Valoku wishes to befriend the blue dragon.

“Wait hold it there, Medievaldragon — that name rings a bell.” — hah, I read your mind, eh? Yes, the same Zzeraku that became a prisoner of Lady Sinestra at Grim Batol in the novel World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon by Richard A. Knaak. Except, we get to see the recent past before he was captured by her. Remember Dragons of Outlands was delayed for a few years before the release of the former.

We get to see an image of Deathwing as shown in the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm concept art when Tyrigosa senses the familiar magical signature in one of the black dragon skeletons found in the Nether Dragons’ lair in Blade’s Edge Mountains.

We see the interaction of Jorad Mace and Tyrigosa with the Draenei Broken tribe of Hellfire Peninsula as allies. The first encounter between the Alliance and the draenei of the Temple of Telhamat, and the introduction of Ragnok Bloodreaver — one of the original Death Knights created by Gul’dan, still in his decaying human host.

That bears some explaining for those who missed Warcraft II. During the final throes of the Second War, Warchief Orgrimm Doomhammer ordered the Horde to slay the Shadow Council. Only Gul’dan survived because he was catatonic after his mind-melding (so-to-speak) with Medivh at the moment of his death.

Gul’dan pleaded Orgrimm for his life, and offered an army of dead risen human knights holding magics to counter the Alliance’s mages. What Gul’dan didn’t tell Orgrimm was that these human corpses would be risen as hosts for the spirits of the slain Shadow Council — thus creating the original Death Knights, of which Teron Gorefiend was the first, and Ragnok Bloodreaver one of them.

It is wildly rumored by lore fans that this Ragnok might be the same mentioned in the novel World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden. So far, I can’t confirm if that’s true yet.

Ragnok Bloodreaver wishes to become the new master of Outland, and plans to conquer Azeroth as well. Obviously, he is not aligned with Illidan nor the Dragonmaw Clan. He seeks to destroy Illidan and all his forces in the Black Temple with the use of the Nether Dragons, employing the services of Kadavan, a mercenary Ethereal who uses his magical technology to hunt down and capture the behemoths. Ragnok is even assaulting the Dragonmaw Clan to steal the Nether Drakes controlled by them.

Ragnok has his own cadre of Fel Orcs, probably stolen from Hellfire Citadel’s surroundings and some of the Dragonmaw are threatened to be killed by the Death Knight if they disobey or fail his orders, following him unquestionably.

Comparing both MAGE and SHADOW WING, I feel more inclined for the latter. It’s well executed with a lot of action, mystery and drama. The pacing resembles much what some of us are accustomed with comic books from panel to panel interweaving plot after plot from different points of view.

I can’t wait for volume two to come out. Expect World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing Volume 2: The Nexus Point on November 2010. And the third part somewhere in 2011.

Don’t go thinking “Meh, this is a wannabe non-canon story” because you are wrong. Most of what Knaak writes is outlined to him by Blizzard Creative Team, and he fleshes out, then the developers add the story and characters into being in the MMO. It’s canon. The TOKYOPOP editor Troy Lewter, who sent me a copy of this manga a month before it goes into bookstores (on June 1) wrote an afterword located near the final pages of this manga.

There Paul Morrissey and Troy Lewter thank the people behind this story, including Richard A. Knaak, Jae-Hwan Kim, and the Blizzard Entertainment’s Creative Development Team: Jason Bischoff, Joshua Horst, James Waugh, Micky Neilson, Evelyn Fredericksen, Samwise Didier, Tommy Newcomer, Cameron Dayton and the thundergod, bourbon cowboy, father of Warcraft lore hmself — Chris Metzen. Did I miss any title? (chuckles) Ok. All-seeing and loved VP of Creative Design too, but that be the lesser of his titles before his loyal fanboys — myself included. He’s up there along with the legends: Stan Lee, H.P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, and many others loved by fans of Fantasy and Sci-fi genres. Ok. Enough boot-licking. Koff.

Get your copy of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING. You won’t regret collecting the trilogy. It looks very promising, and dare I say rival previous WarCraft manga in lore and awe.

This is the missing story that gaps World of Warcraft: Night of the Dragon and the Nexus War. From this trilogy comes the truth behind Malygos’ cure and decision to start an all-out war against the Kirin Tor and the Wrymrest Accord.

And from the picture of Deathwing as seen in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm’s concept art, dare I say we will learn more than we could possibly guess as a tie-in with the upcoming expansion? You bet.

Check out the preview images of WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOW WING.

Don’t forget to participate in our Blizzplanet giveaway of this manga and the giveaway at Wow.incgamers

EXTRAS

The first volume of the manga takes us to Hellfire Peninsula, Dragonmaw areas in Shadowmoon Valley, and Blade’s Edge Mountains.

Lord Irulon Trueblade – is one of the characters who led the incursion into Outland to fend off the demons from accessing Azeroth during the Burning Crusade in this manga. You can find him in the Howling Fjord at Valgarde currently in Wrath of the Lich King.

Lord Trueblade oversaw Jorad Mace’s progress to redemption, but initially gave him more humbling tasks to do such as helping with the construction of their outpost.

Amaan the Wise – from the Temple of Telhamat in Hellfire Peninsula appears in the manga with a convoy of Draenei to introduce his people to Lord Duron, Commander of the Alliance Forces at the Stair of Destiny in the Dark Portal, Hellfire Peninsula.

The Broken – (Krokul in draenei old tongue)

Warrith – leader of the Broken in Hellfire Peninsula, and father of Valwar.

There is reference to how Gruul and the Gronn killed the black dragons at Blade’s Edge Mountains as revealed in World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal.

Some of the creatures we see in the manga are:

Gronn
Wrathbringer
Shivan (six-armed demoness)
Felguard
Nether Rays

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003 posting news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Next-Gen MMO, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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