Pathfinder: Origins #1 (Comics Review)

Last year, writer Jim Zub began and wrapped up his six-issue Pathfinder: City of Secrets mini-series, which dealt with his cast of characters finding themselves at the heart of some really bad trouble in the city of Magnimar. Demons and the like were involved of course, not to mention a changeling that really messed up the group at one point, but the heroes all got out of it well enough. While not among my favourite comics of the year, City of Secrets was definitely a decent mini-series, and one that I’d recommend, especially since it is new reader friendly.

Pathfinder: Origins however, is not so new reader friendly. This new mini-series from Dynamite, with the first issue released last week, delves into the histories of the characters from City of Secrets before they all came together. The first issue deals with the mercenary Valeros and here we see a part of his mercenary life. Sadly, while I had some high expectations of this comic, it proved to be a dud with the story being all over the place and the art being little better most of the time. Very disappointing read.

As great as Pathfinder: City of Secrets was, Origins proves to be that much not-great. The opening pages give you a not-so-needed brief of what happened in City of Secrets and then Valeros abruptly decides to launch into a history of how he came to be with the group, though the actual narrative doesn’t cover that, more of how he is this awesome fighter who can get out of any jam. And even then, it turns out that he had help from another mercenary, someone who was a fair bit better than him actually.

The key thing here is that you have to go along with the dumbness of it all. Writer Erik Mona utilizes far too many cliches in his writing, and he doesn’t give us an actual origin at all, more a particular story about Valeros and his fighting prowess. That really isn’t an origin, not for me. If we had come to see how Valeros became a warrior, or even a mercenary, then that would have qualified, but not this. You have to suspend some disbelief over how crass some of the narrative transitions are and there were times when I felt as if I was reading something written by a complete amateur, rather than a writer hired by one of the leading comics publishers.

And the thing is that we learn absolutely nothing about Valeros that we didn’t already know from City of Secrets, albeit maybe that he likes his drinks a little too much maybe and that he is a boor when drunk. That isn’t the mark of a great, or even a good, comic to me. Certainly not one touting itself as an origin story. This is as far as you can get from being an origin story.

Erik Mona also wraps up his story very perfunctorily at the end, kind of like how the old fairy tales wrap up with a “happily ever after”. That is utterly boring. The meat of the story was unconvincing enough, and the ending was even more. Maybe the writer is trying to set up some new arc for Dynamite’s Pathfinder franchise given what happens with Amiri, the female mercenary befriended by Valeros in this story, but to be honest, it is unexciting and cliched and totally boring.

Not something that I would want to read, given the kind of writing we had here. This was pretty much a boring RPG story about fighting demons and little else.

Tom Garcia is the artist here with colours by Mohan, letters by Marshall Dillon and the cover by Stjepan Sejic. As you might expect from my review above and that last name in the art credits, the cover for this comic is the only really good thing about it. Stjepan gives the pride of place in the foreground to Amiri, set in an awesome “bring it on” action pose while Valeros looks on. The internal art was rather disappointing too. With Garcia’s pencils, it is often really hard to make out whether a character is male or female, and this is more troubling when you consider that both Amiri and Valeros have pretty much the same type of armour and the same colours as well. The only difference between them is Amiri’s ogre-sword, compared to the knife and sword combo used by Valeros. There are also lots of mistakes in general consistency throughout the comic, that made this an even more disappointing read, such as the size of Amiri’s sword changing, or the random disappearances and appearances of characters from/in certain scenes.

Very, very disappointing.

Rating: 2/10

More Pathfinder: (City of Secrets) #1, #2, #3-6.

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