Pathfinder: City of Secrets #2 (Comics Review)

Dynamite’s new Pathfinder series City of Secrets got off to a fairly decent start last month with its opening issue and it presented a very different kind of fantasy tale to most others you see on the shelves. Sure, Pathfinder is one of the older tabletop fantasy setting, but it also has quite a few unique things and writer Jim Zub played on that uniqueness for this new issue. I found the pacing and the dialogue to be a bit problematic, not to mention some aspects of the artwork as well, but I did like it enough to continue on with the series, largely because Jim Zub is one of my favourite writers in the industry.

Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1 was a good jumping-on point I felt and that was one of the more encouraging aspects of going into the second issue this week. We see the cliffhanger from the first issue resolved here, even as the larger mystery of the murders in Magnimar is explained and developed, plus some of the more individual stories of the various characters are delved into. The second issue is quite a bit better than the first issue, in both the main aspects, story and art, so that’s a good sign moving forwards for this series.

The new issue picks up from where the last one left off, with Merisiel and Kyra ambushed by some thugs while the former prays in the ruins of her faith’s temple in Magnimar. A fast-paced and intense action scene follows, after which we get a most interesting twist that affects the development of the character arcs for both these ladies. There is some nice introspection and reflection on the backstory of both of them, and that was nice to see since it provides incentive to read the previous series and also deepens their personalities.

Moving on from there though, we delve into the main story with Kasadei of the Magnamarian City Guard approaching Seoni and Valeros to help her with the spate of murders in the city. The targets have all been followers of Sarenrae and thus Merisiel becomes the bait to draw the killers out, which is what the second half of the comic is all about. The cliffhanger that results is not something that I was able to pick up on however, for it seemed to suggest that the killer is someone important from the previous series, but I’m withholding judgement on that, until this particular subplot plays out further.

The general characterisation for the main and supporting cast was better this time around, as was the dialogue, but the latter still feels a bit off. I’m still not sold on that as yet, largely because Kasadei’s dialogue feels so very formal. And Merisiel’s dialogue in return was similarly off because it was too melodramatic. And that’s the problem here I think, Jim is going a bit overboard with the drama and the melodrama, and that could use a bit of cutting back on. Otherwise, this was a fairly cohesive issue.

And as for the pacing, there was a much focused story this time around since there were only three locales of importance and the flow between them was natural and uninterrupted. We still see that Ezren is essentially cut off from the group on account of his meeting with the local Pathfinder Council and his friends not bothering to leave word for him to join them later on, but that’s a small negative I feel. It adds to the humour as far as I’m concerned, especially once he starts getting drunk, and then he’s just hilarious.

On account of the art, it was largely the same as before, though there were some good improvements nonetheless. For one, the characterwork is better, since last time I had problems with the body proportions on some of the characters, and the general expressions were better as well. But the art still feels a big rough, once you factor in Ross Campbell’s colours. There’s an unfinished and unpolished quality to the artwork that I can’t quite shake off. But at the same time, the action scenes were great, especially right at the end and Leandro Oliveira builds up the visual tension and anticipation really well, so that is something.

A better issue than the last one, certainly.

Rating: 8.5/10

More Pathfinder: #1.

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