Rick and Morty vs Dungeons and Dragons #1
Writer: Patrick Rothfuss & Jim Zub
Artist: Troy Little
Colorist: Leonardo Ito
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Review by Evan Maroun
It was a little over a year ago that a close friend of mine invited me to join a Dungeons and Dragons group he regularly played in because they had an empty spot that was ready to be filled. I had never played before, but I have heard him talk about it with a hearty fondness–as one of the highlights of his week even. I was hesitant at first, unsure if I was ready to dive into this game that many have referenced whenever referring to the nerdiest of the nerdy things. It also required a weekly commitment, which I was unsure if I could make. Well, I said f**k it and gave it a shot. A year and one character later (RIP Maddox, the half-elf Gunslinger), I still play weekly with the same local band of misfits.
So when I heard Rick and Morty vs Dungeons and Dragons was set to be a mini-series, I was initially more struck by curiosity than by excitement. Rick and Morty is so wild that it can basically go in any direction, but unusual comic cross-overs often leave a lot of room for error and can feel unbalanced. At the same time, they also allow for some unexpected stories we wouldn’t otherwise get.
Rothfuss and Zub make a few things clear in the very first few pages of this book. The first being that they are definitely long-time fans of DnD–knowledgeable of the culture and various iterations of the rules like nobody’s business. They even give a shout out to Critical Role and a couple other popular groups within the community. They also know a crucial thing upon set-up: that one of the best parts of DnD is talking about what happened in DnD! This provides the perfect narrative catalyst to get Morty interested in the game when he overhears the near-demise of a classmate’s party on the bus.
So while it is clear that the writing duo knows a thing or two about the game, how do they fair when it comes to handling the actual characters of Rick and Morty? Well, they handle them damn near flawlessly. I never once thought that their voice strayed from that of the show, even down to their brand of humor–which other writers have had trouble nailing down in the past. Rothfuss and Zub make the two properties mesh with an astounding ease. Seeing Morty sitting on his bed and frustratingly trying to understand DnD by wading through its dauntingly dense rules and jargon, was how I, and how I imagine many others felt when first getting into the game. Then you have Rick representing a veteran DnD player that comes with its own number of gags.
As far as art goes, Troy Little and Leonardo Ito replicate the show’s overall look here with a high degree of success. It’s when Rick and Morty find themselves really taking on the classes of characters in a new locale that you can tell they are having the most fun. Little does a great job by filling up panels with details and making the world feel as fully realized as the show. DnD lore is full of the wild and the macabre, and, for fans, seeing the duo interact in this world of fantasy is just plain fun. That’s not to take anything away from memorable places likes Blips and Chitz which look just as you remember from the show. Move over, Roy: A Life Well Lived. There is a more exciting and less depressing game in town. The book reads easily and Robbins adds to the very animated actions of the pair with the lettering–he had a lot to do here, with at least one sound effect per page, often times more.
I also would like to give a little mention of the variant covers, of which there are many. A few are pretty clever (especially, the one by Troy Little himself with Morty’s Rogue character sheet.)
Verdict: Buy it!
On Twitter, Jim Zub described the series as a “Love letter to Table-top gaming,” and, as far as Rick and Morty vs Dungeons and Dragons #1 goes, it is very easy to see that. Rather than overshadow the characters, creative team’s passion for the game shines through Rick and Morty’s antics. This is one campaign you’ll want to be on board for.