Some time ago DC announced that they would be doing away with the monthly World of Warcraft comic series. Following the end of the series a short mini series was released, Curse of the Worgen, to coincide with the release of the Cataclysm expansion and the introduction of the Worgen as a new playable race. This mini series marked the end of individual comic issues in the World of Warcraft Universe. Future comic entries would be released as full stand-alone graphic novels. Pearl of Pandaria is the first book to be released in this format, and it makes for a great start.
Pearl of Pandaria is being released to coincide with World of Warcraft’s newest expansion Mists of Pandaria. Mists of Pandaria is the fourth expansion to be released for World of Warcraft since the game was released in 2004. The expansion brings to the game a new continent to explore replete with new enemies, dungeons and raids. It also introduces a new class, the Monk, and a new race, the Panderans. The Panderans are unique in the fact that they are the only race in the game which can be either Horde or Alliance depending on the player’s choice.
Pearl of Pandaria tells the story of Li Li Stormstout, niece to the famous Pandaren Brewmaster Chen Stormstout whom you see gracing the cover to the left. Chen Stormstout is a bit of an oddity among the reclusive Panderans. He was the last Panderan to actually leave Pandaria to go explore the world outside. He has been sending letters of his exploits to his niece Li Li, and the same wanderlust is beginning to build in her. When the letters stop coming and Chen is presumed missing Li Li takes it upon herself to go and rescue her uncle. What follows is a fun and entertaining read filled with some memorable characters. Li Li makes for a good protagonist. She’s a really spunky, no-nonsense youngster, which is an archetype I usually dislike, but works quite well here. She’s very likeable and you find yourself quickly rooting for her. We get to see flashbacks of many of Chen’s adventures, and also see Li Li caught up in a scheme involving a goblin alchemist, a fel orc blademaster, and a naga sea witch. The story is accompanied as well by some really great art.
The style is very cartoony, but it works perfectly. Warcraft’s graphical style has also been very cartoony as well. The characters are well designed and very expressive. The backgrounds and environments are great as well. When the story is taking place in Booty Bay, it looks like it was lifted right from the game, which is a fun treat.
Aside from being a fun and entertaining story, I found the book to also be a great primer for the expansion in general. The book does a great job of introducing the reader to Pandaria and the Panderans that inhabit it. You learn about their history, their culture, and their motivations. When I played the game and finally arrived on the continent of Pandaria I felt that I was already quite well versed in the goings on of this new land. I think I’ll like it there.