Blizzard recently sent me a review copy of the upcoming graphic novel Pearl of Pandaria. I must say I was not sure what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised by what came in a deceptively thin looking book. Written by Mickey Neilson, auther of the Ashbringer comic, several short stories in the WoW universe, and co writer of the Curse of the Worgen comic series, and illustrated by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway, whose artist credits span more universes than I could count.
Pearl of Pandaria tells the story of Li Li Stormstout, niece of the legendary hero Chen Stormstout. She ventures from Shen-zin Su, the Wandering Isle, in search of the adventure that the letters from her uncle were full of, following the legacy of the first resident of the giant turtle, Liu Lang. In her travels, Li Li is accompanied reluctantly with Strongbo, her uncle’s long ago best friend, who Li Li’s father sends after she leaves in the middle of the night, and who is a gloomy storm cloud to her adventurer spirit and excitement of discovery.
In her travels, Li Li is stalked by mysterious agents in search of a powerful artifact, the Pearl of Pandaria. While we find out little about the Pearl itself, we get the chance to follow the exciting adventures of Li Li and Bo as they follow clues in search of the mysterious whereabouts of Chen Stormstout. This leads to the confrontational peak of the story.
The story is very well told, and the art is a style I have not seen before from any of the Blizzard graphic novels or comics, which usually followed more typical art styles. However, I think the style really fits with the new isle of Pandaria, and look forward to more stories and perhaps more art in this style in the future.
There were a few things in the story that confused me, as the placement of events and characters put the passage of time in this novel and placement in the timeline a bit fuzzy, though I would guess it was before the Nightmare war found in the Stormrage novel. I still enjoyed the story, and loved the retelling of encounters with Chen from several characters he met in his time, from the ones covering mass consumption of alcohol, to the ones where Chen is his usual kick arse self. A thoroughly fun read!
The Pearl of Pandaria graphic novel releases September 25th. Look for the interview of the writer and artist of this novel on episode 310 of All Things Azeroth.