The folks over at Oni Press and IDW have really given us something special with this series! The 4 issue limited, written by Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Zub, with Troy Little on art, Leonardo Ito doing colors, letters by Robbie Robbins combines the world of Adult Swim’s hit show with the expansive history and culture of Dungeon & Dragons. And boy do they do a great job!
To set it up briefly, Morty’s peers are obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons, the bus ride to school has them all gushing about it, the libraries are full of it, the halls are littered with kids talking about which McElroy Boy they’re gonna hook up with (and, offensively, none mention Clint?!?). So, Morty does what Morty does and after a few missteps of his own enlists the aid of his grandpa Rick to teach him the ways of the dungeon and the dragon.
What follows over the next four issues is an incredibly charming, in-depth study of 45 years of Dungeons & Dragons through the eyes of the Rick & Morty family. It’s not just a fantasy mashup with the dragon ampersand thrown on it, which is perhaps the easiest, most low-effort way to make a crossover. Instead, the series weaves through the different editions (minus fourth, natch) and teases out what defined the game in that era. Looking at the way characters are built, the styles of play and the groups who play it. Grognards, min-maxers, and finally role-players are all represented, playing their version of choice and with no real judgment being thrown any which way (again, aside from fourth edition). Different folks play different editions but they all have fun and they all enjoy themselves.
Grognards, min-maxers, and finally role-players are all represented, playing their version of choice and with no real judgment being thrown any which way (again, aside from fourth edition). Different folks play different editions but they all have fun and they all enjoy themselves.
The story doesn’t skip on the heart either. As the adventure takes a bend for the more narrative and character drive, the Smith family flourish as their in-game characters and build toward a great climax that doesn’t just dwell on the titular characters but gives others the opportunity to shine. The unlikely hero of Jerry, the doofus dad is the best example. While in the show and other media he is usually deployed as the butt of jokes, Zub and Rothfuss get to show just what makes D&D special, the ability to be someone different, someone that is better than you are, more heroic, more charming — or to be a tough as nails ranger with a grim backstory!
As I said, not just a fantasy adventure, the book is complete with representations of rules and mechanics for D&D, pages dedicated to Challenge Ratings, Skill Checks , damage dice and more abound giving the constant framework of the Game. It’s really rad how those simple words in scroll work can do so much heavy lifting.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a book with this pedigree is as good as it is. Acclaimed fantasy author Rothfuss and award winning comics writer Zub (who has a number of comedy fantasy books himself) tell a story worth reading, whether you’re a Rick and Morty or D&D fan, or both. It really is a love letter to the entire community and culture of the game, with deep cuts and nods to many of the things that make Dungeons and Dragon’s the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game, or at least, the one that brought so many of us to the table.