Cards on the table I’m only reviewing this comic because a new Witcher video game was recently announced at this year’s E3 (The Witcher: Wild Hunt.) I’ve never played the games and as I don’t own a next gen console I doubt that’ll change with this latest installment but I don’t make the rules I just complain about them. As that previous sentence probably clued you in to I have no knowledge of The Witcher universe or mythology and despite reading 3 issues of his comic series that really hasn’t changed which is honestly not a problem. The Witcher comic book has been very light on any kind of required knowledge to enjoy the series and you could’ve just as easily re-titled the series “spooky house” and nothing of value would be lost.
The story so far has revolved around the titular Witcher named Geralt, who is a very basic RPG lead character sporting a mix of melee and magic based attacks. Having stumbled his way into the deadly and mysterious black forest he’s befriended a local hunter Jakob and together they’ve wandered into a mysterious and cavernous house in the mist of the haunted wood. The house itself is full of what seem like countless rooms and perilous danger as well mysterious other denizens, one of whom is Marta, Jakob’s vampirified wife…allegedly, but we’ll get into that.
I’ve spoken about The Witcher twice before in full reviews and once briefly in passing and while I initially praised the comic for its brooding and oppressive atmosphere, issue 3 was a serious let down for me as things became much noisier and less quietly creepy. That was the issue where the focus really seemed to shift from Geralt skulking through the house of mystery seeing danger in every corner and more focused on Geralt’s bro-ship with a random succubus whose name I’ve sense forgotten (she’s not very interesting.) That’s not a problem confined to issue 3 either as issue 4 has been one of the noisiest installments yet with a lot of the character’s repeating lines and tropes starting to wear very thin. Jakob, the local hunter who still pines for his mysterious vampire wife, has always been the series weakest link but he damn near breaks in this latest installment, briefly derailing the entire proceedings when he demands Geralt tell him a story of romance, it’s immensely boring and soulless. More than that his constant obsession with his now clearly evil wife is growing very dull, it’s been hinted through dialogue his wife isn’t really a vampire but something more sinister but I honestly can’t summon up the energy to care when we’ve been dealing with her for the past 3 issues. And by “dealing with her” I mean the wife character Marta just standing around at the edge of the panel looking less ominous and more vacant. Maybe if Marta felt actually intimidating it’d make Jakob’s longing to find her seem more unhinged and broken instead of whiney and annoying but either way it doesn’t help that he hits that same note in every scene.
I mentioned earlier I didn’t know anything about The Witcher game series but that’s not completely true; the one thing I do know about it is that it’s famous for having sex in the game as apparently just adding sex mini-games is enough to get your game noticed now a days (at least I hope so for the sake of my proposed Sex Pong iPhone game.) That hasn’t really been a major facet of the comic until this issue with not 1 but 2 sex scenes neither of which accomplishes anything but wasting time. The artwork is too distended and nightmarish for these to be “sexy” and beyond that all they do is help break any remaining semblance of mood and honestly not even the characters seem all that enthused with them. Both times Gerlat ends up going heels to Jesus with some lovely slice of fantasy crumpets he has the blank and annoyed face of a stripper whose not going to get paid.
Finally the only other interesting thing The Witcher comic series had going for it was the really cool and creepy monster design that managed to blend horror iconography with the kind of creatures you’d find in the D&D players handbook. Rarely do people ever blend fantasy creatures with horror monsters and I honestly wish we’d see it more often as it lends the monsters a unique flare and help elevate the proceedings to a more unique genre station. Unfortunately The Witcher hasn’t been sporting unique or cool monster design for a while and this issue is just more of the same monsters we saw in the last 3 issues.
I don’t mean to sound so negative about The Witcher as it’s not like it’s a horribly broken or deeply offensive comic, it’s just that it feels like a lazy comic. It’s a series that, before now, had enough uniqueness and creativity to make the last couple issues feel like blatant giving up. It’s still adequate at passing the minutes from cradle to grave but if you’re looking for a more unique or engaging experience there’s nothing to recommend here, this issue doesn’t even have a real conflict driving things anymore so much as it’s become a holding pattern of characters awkwardly telling “amusing” anecdotes to pass the time till The Witcher issue 5, not recommended.