This arc sucks. I'm stating it plain and simple right here in the opening so there won't be any misunderstandings. It's terrible. It's ungodly. Every person associated with writing or quality control on this book should seriously reconsider their career choices. Other expanded universe stuff could have been saved by a good editor and/or fact-checker, but not this one. No, this one was doomed right from the start.
Before we begin, let's cover the staff for this book. Walter Simonson remains as a writer, and is joined by his wife Louise Simonson. Art duties again switch within the arc, and again changing from Jon Buran to Mike Bowden, though the former only gets to do a single issue now. Which is a shame, because the art on that one issue is actually pretty good, while Mike Bowden starts displaying more and more Liefeldisms. In the last few issues, Mike Bowden is joined by Tony Washington as a co-artist, and the two do form a good team.
We start off where the last issue stopped. Varian is telling his completely useless knights (who got taken out by a single roar) how proud he is of their efforts against Onyxia. I'm assuming that when he gets home, he's giving them all administrative jobs. He also chops off Onyxia's head to serve as a trophy, sending it and his knights home. Thargas, realizing just how little of a purpose he has in this comic, also joins them. The actual main characters go to Theramore to go sign a peace treaty with the horde.
|"So long, and thanks for making me part of the action figure line"|
And then we get to our other main plot. Yes, this arc has two, one focusing on the return of Varian and rising tensions with the horde, the other focusing on Med'an, mary sue extraordinaire. We start the plot about him with the discovery of a metal box in a small cave "somewhere between Shattrath City and Hellfire Peninsula", which contains a prophecy regarding the savior of Azeroth. This savior is Med'an, the son of Garona (the half-orcish assassin from warcraft I). After killing King Llane in Beyond the Dark Portal, she gave birth to her son, handing it over to an undead sorcerer in Duskwood. This sorcerer is called Meryl Winterstorm, an ancient and powerful wizard who turned himself undead in an age long-gone. Keeping Med'an at his hut and unaware of his true parentage, he taught the child how to control his "burgeoning power", giving him extensive knowledge of the arcane.
Which is where we run into the first problem with this book. We have absolutely no idea what the deal is with Med'an. Where does he get his power from? Why is there a prophecy about him in some random cave? How does Garona know Meryl? These questions are never answered, and the same goes for the dozens of others any reader of this book would ask themselves. Anyway, the prophecy is sent to a forsaken sorceress, who gives the information to her master, who sends a few soldiers to attack Med'an. Meryl demonstrates that his brain has slightly rotten over the years, when he thinks the attacks are horde forces despite the fact that we clearly see a night elf with them. Before he can do anything, Garona pops up out of nowhere, killing the soldiers before vanishing, with the implication that she's spent the last few years watching over her child from a distance.
We return to Varian, who now hates orcs and thinks that any attempt at a peace treaty with them would be stupid, because an orc killed his father. Which is why he tried to make a treaty with them before he was kidnapped and... oh, wait, that makes no sense at all. No, what happened here is just a blatant personality retcon to increase tensions between the horde and the alliance. Ugh. Well at least it's only one character.
We cut to Orgrimmar, where they've retconned another personality. Meet Garrosh MK II. In The Burning Crusade, he was the leader of the Mag'har. However, he loathed himself due to the legacy of his father, Grom Hellscream, who played a major part in the corruption of the orcish race. In the end, Thrall showed him Grom's last moments, where he killed Mannoroth, which inspired Garrosh to become a better chieftain rather than dumping all his duties on the player. That was Garrosh MK I. Garrosh MK II hates the alliance, is an idiot and considers Thrall a pussy. And... that's pretty much it. He actually manages to be more two-dimensional than the paper on which he is printed. Also, the majority of the orcs now want to go to war with the alliance and think Thrall has grown weak. Because what warcraft needs is more poorly motivated conflict between the horde and the alliance.
Also, Garrosh and Rehgar are Thrall's main advisors now. Yes, his advisors are a bloodthirsty idiot and a slave-trader. Guess Rehgar isn't the only one who has been snorting sacred shaman herbs before making hiring decisions.
|ORCISH SPIT BATTLE!|
Broll Bearmantle is too powerful for the plot of the next few issues to work, so he's quickly written out by being summoned to a meeting between druids to discuss Teldrassil.
When Garona vanished, she had actually been captured by her attackers and taken to Ahn'qiraj. Once again, people in the comic travel across the world in a matter of hours. The attackers turn out to be twilight's hammer cultists, and the leader of the cult is revealed: Cho'gall, first of the ogre magi and chieftain of the original twilight's hammer clan. Hold on, I thought Cho'gall died during the second war at the hands of the black tooth grin clan. Last we saw him, he had two axes sticking out of his chest. Sure, he's got a scar there in this book, but it seems weird that Rend and Maim didn't bother to check whether an enemy chieftain was actually dead.
Anyway, the twilight's hammer wants to manipulate Med'an for their own ends. Obviously, this means leaving him behind in Duskwood and taking Garona instead. After all, if they had taken Med'an, they could have started using him as a weapon right away, and Garona wouldn't have been able to give all this wonderful awkward exposition. In the end, she gets controlled through a mental override that was implanted when she was born and is sent to kill Varian at the Theramore peace summit. Hold on, it was decided less than a day ago that there would even be a peace summit, and the only people who know about it are the main characters from the previous arc, as well as Jaina, Aegwynn, Thrall, Garrosh and Rehgar. So who exactly told the Twilight's Hammer?
We cut to the horde delegation preparing to leave for Theramore. Obviously, they're taking Garrosh along, as this is a delicate situation, Garrosh is an overly aggressive idiot with no diplomatic abilities, and he's already planning to attack Theramore and wants to see it from the inside to assess its defenses. Why should that stop him from going? Also, WHY IS EVERYONE IN THIS COMIC SUCH A DAMN IDIOT?
Cut back to Theramore, and there is a heart to heart converstion between Aegwynn and Valeera. Aegwynn reveals that Valeera is a descendant of Relfthra (mentioned in cycle of hatred as a member of the council of tirisfal during aegwynn's time and mentioned in my review of that book as having a stupid name). Valeera then reveals that she knows about the council of tirisfal because she uncovered some secret documents as a child. Well, those are two ridiculously coincidental events that contribute nothing to the story. Seriously, why are these in the comic? Having contrived coincidences as part of the plot is bad enough, but this is having contrived coincidences for the sake of having contrived coincidences. Also Valeera no longer uses fel magic, because she now hates all darker forms of magic. Obviously, this means she now draws power from the sunwell or is considered a high elf, and oh wait, I'm trying to apply logic to the mess that is blood elf lore, never mind.
And we're rejoining Med'an, who beats up a worgen because the comic was a page too short. He then overhears a forsaken messenger informing Meryl that Garona is attacking Theramore. This forsaken messenger was apparently spying on the twilight's hammer. Obviously, with a horde spy aware of the plan, it means that no one in the horde is aware that there is going to be an attack. Ugh. After hearing the news and overhearing Meryl say that Garona is his mother, Med'an runs off to save her. Also, Med'an has shamanistic abilities. Obviously, you can easily pick those up when living with an undead sorcerer in human territory.
In Theramore, where horde and alliance parties meet, Rehgar and Valeera reveal that they've never heard of the battle of mount hyjal and have no idea of the history between Thrall and Jaina. You'd think that a battle where the mortal races saved the entire world from annihilation and defeated one of the three most powerful demons in existence would be well-known, but apparently not. For Valeera it can be kind of forgiven, but Rehgar has worked intimately with both Broll and Thrall, heroes of that very battle. How did this never come up?
The two parties are going to the parley unarmed. This parley takes place in the middle of Theramore Keep. Which means that they're still surrounded on all sides by armed alliance soldiers. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: everyone in this comic is an idiot.
Actually, it seems that there is one person in this comic who isn't an idiot; young anduin wrynn. He decided that during a ceremony where both sides agree to put down their weapons, he'd actually start putting down his weapons rather than just staring at the other side.
|I really feel sorry for the poor kid, having to deal with all these people|
Also, because the comic was two pages too short, Med'an fights a kraken. At the peace conference, things are going well, as everyone's too busy giving awkward exposition, and forgetting stuff from the first arc. For example, Varian no longer remembers he had help from within the horde with breaking free, and Valeera and Rehgar forgot that he'd sold her before Varian and Broll escaped. It's been less than twenty issues, with the same writer still working on the book, so how the hell do these kind of errors slip in?
After the meeting, with the two groups walking back to the docks, Rehgar blames Garrosh' age for his recklessness. While we don't know Garrosh' exact age, we know that he was already capable of fighting during the invasion of draenor, which would put him, at the very least, in his thirties during the events of this comic. Considering that he's being contrasted against Thrall (twenty-seven at the very oldest), that's just silly.
And then Garona is ten feet away from Varian on wyvern-back, flying in to kill him. Theramore must have the most incompetent guards in history if they didn't see her coming. Though I'm also wondering why Varian didn't hear the wyvern wing-flaps at that range.
After Garona, the rest of the twilight's hammer agents join the attack. Since the attack consists of both horde and alliance races, who attack both parties without qualms, Garrosh naturally thinks this is an alliance plot to kill Thrall. Because he's an idiot. Varian isn't much better though, as he assumes that, because Garona is involved, Thrall must have been the leader of this attack! Because... Because.... Because Varian is an idiot and the writers couldn't bother to think up an actual reason. You can't see it, but I'm facepalming. Facepalming oh so very hard.
The battle sequence is still going on, as everyone present is still being an idiot. Varian still thinks Thrall is behind it, despite the fact that he can clearly see four gnomes in a gyrocopter with the attackers, and he can see Garrosh and Rehgar being attacked. Also, where are the Theramore guards during all this? It takes place in the middle of the damn keep, and there is no sign anyone besides named characters is involved.
And then Med'an jumps in, throwing lightning bolts everywhere. Med'an kills several attacking twilight's hammer soldiers, and stops Varian from striking down Garona, telling him she's under a spell. Of course, Varian is an idiot and attacks Med'an. The twilight's hammer then abduct Med'an. Naturally, when Varian sees this, he still thinks the twilight's hammer, Med'an and Thrall were working against him.
|And the award for dumbest character in fiction goes to...|
Actually, I think that award is going to have be shared, since Garrosh still believes that the alliance is behind the attack, despite the fact that the two main targets were clearly Varian and Anduin.
Then again, Varian Wrynn is giving orders to Jaina Proudmoore, ordering her to hand over Garona for execution, despite the fact that, literally a sentence ago, Proudmoore reminded him that he doesn't have jurisdiction over her or Theramore. Why are Varian and Garrosh going to get promoted to supreme dictator for their respective factions again?
Varian does have something of an excuse. Garona was the one responsible for his father's death. So it's understandable that, in the heat of battle, he would kind of go stupid. However, after the battle, he should have been able to look at all the facts and realize that, no, the horde isn't behind the attack. Especially since he knows that Garona belonged to the Stormreaver Clan, which never joined the horde.
Luckily, Jaina Proudmoore is actually sane and prevents fighting from breaking out between the horde and the alliance. Thus, the horde go back to Orgrimmar and Varian back to Stormwind, having accomplished nothing. Valeera is the only main character to stay in Theramore, joining Aegwynn and Jaina in trying to get information from Garona.
This issue serves as a prelude to Wrath of the Lich King, with scourge forces attacking both Stormwind and Orgrimmar. This also serves as an end to the Horde vs. Alliance subplot. Yup, the main story of the last few issues is getting dropped completely, and the characters that were part of that plot are only going to get a few more appearances, none of them connected to the remaining main story.
Let's look at that main story. In Theramore, Jaina, Aegwynn and Valeera are trying to uncover Garona's memories through a complicated magical ceremony. Wait, Valeera? Truly, there is no better person to join in intensive magical counterspelling than an untrained blood elf thief! Meryl Winterstorm chooses this moment to drop off into Theramore, freezing two guards that are trying to stop him before casually strolling into Jaina's private chambers, telling her he means no harm. Apparently, it's just that easy. Did no one see the undead wizard flying in on his gryphon, jumping off and freezing two guards? It's especially silly since a big point was made during the negotiations about Theramore being unassailable, yet everyone constantly keeps dropping in and doing whatever the hell they want.
It's then that Meryl's backstory gets revealed. He was one of the founders of the order of Tirisfal, and later got mortally wounded during the troll wars, surviving as an undead. Please note that the order of Tirisfal was founded after the troll wars were already over and apply hand to forehead. Maybe you should have actually gotten someone affiliated with warcraft to do the editing? Or an actual competent editor in general?
|Don't tell me I have to explain the 'a/an' rules...|
While we're at that panel, what the hell is Jaina doing? Last panel, she was having a normal calm conversation, then she suddenly strikes a combat pose and uses a spell? What spell is she even supposed to be using?
Med'an gets a few pages because he is supposed to be the focus of the arc. He gets thrown into C'thun's old corpse, while Cho'gall again reminds us of how important he's supposed to be. Guys, if you're going to keep giving Med'an scenes that aren't connected to the plot, could you at least give him some personality?
Garona, her mind freed from Cho'gall's spells, reveals that Med'an was taken to Ahn'Qiraj, and Valeera and Meryl teleport over there. Yes, just the two of them. Despite the fact that Meryl says that teleporting over there will drain him. Why isn't Jaina coming along?
Rather than teleporting just outside Ahn'qiraj, Meryl instantly takes them to its very heart. Naturally, with Meryl being drained by teleporting, he can still take on an entire room of enemies. Also, Valeera keeps throwing knives at people. Considering her outfit, and the fact that we never see her carry more than two knives, her orifices must be positively bursting with weaponry.
Within the ancient city, Valeera is cutting down Med'an as Meryl encounters Cho'gall. Naturally, Cho'gall knows Meryl, since we needed another ridiculously contrived coincidence that adds nothing to the story. Cho'gall takes down Meryl with a quick punch, before turning his attention to Valeera, who is carrying Med'an.
The battle for Stormwind continues, as the artist makes a blatant mistake, drawing goblins as part of the reinforcements from Ironforge rather than gnomes. On their ends, Thrall and Jaina one-shot their respective necropoli, because that way, we can create a whole bunch of new plot holes about why they don't use those abilities more often.
|Just your average pilots from Ironforge|
The race for most idiotic character continues in Ahn'Qiraj, where Cho'Gall is determined to prove himself the least capable fighter in existence. He stands about three feet away from Valeera when he confronts her, yet he doesn't do anything when she calmly puts down Med'an, walks over to Meryl and starts draining his power.
We then get a massive dose of idiocy, as Cho'gall states that there is a demon inside of Valeera. The only point where that could have happened was with the spell of the blood elf warlock in issue nine. However, after that encounter, she suffered from fel magic withdrawal, which is rather impossible if you actually have a source of fel magic inside of you.
We then get a massive dose of idiocy, as Cho'gall states that there is a demon inside of Valeera. The only point where that could have happened was with the spell of the blood elf warlock in issue nine. However, after that encounter, she suffered from fel magic withdrawal, which is rather impossible if you actually have a source of fel magic inside of you.
Even with the extra power taken from Meryl, Cho'gall simply knocks over the empowered Valeera. Apparently, she forgot she wasn't a mage and couldn't do anything with the drained magical power. However, Med'an has come by and has started healing Meryl and Valeera. With the kid standing right next to him, Cho'gall naturally starts weaving a complicated spell, rather than just punching Med'an. Valeera interrupts him, and Cho'gall then focuses on her again, completely ignoring Med'an. For some reason, Cho'gall is completely obsessed with getting Valeera to release her demon, despite the fact that he isn't actually aligned with the burning legion. Releasing the demon would only make his job harder.
Valeera unleashes the demon, a dreadlord named Kathra'natir, who manages to hold off Cho'gall for a bit. Naturally, Cho'gall is happy about this, because he is incredibly stupid. Also, Meryl knows Kathra'natir, because Louise Simonson has a contrived coincidence fetish. Walter Simonson's fetish remains Deus Ex Machinas, which we see when healing spells from Med'an fully restore the magical capabilities of Meryl, who teleports them out. However, when they've gotten to freedom, the demon inside Valeera breaks out, planning on possessing Med'an.
The whole possession thing doesn't work out, and the demon enters Meryl rather than Med'an. You know, with everything that's been going on, I've completely forgotten to really introduce Med'an.
This is Med'an. I know absolutely nothing about the kid other than him being the son of Garona and Medivh. I'm not even sure about his appearance. Even when drawn by the same person, he constantly keeps shifting physical ages, appearing anywhere from Anduin's age to a young adult. Supposedly, he has physical characteristics of Aegwynn and Medivh, which is what lead Meryl and Aegwynn to realize his parentage, but he's rarely drawn with characteristics of either. Other things that keep changing are whether or not his eyes have pupils, the shape of his pointy chin thingies and the colour of his hair. Actually figuring out what a character is supposed to look like before putting him in a comic is for chumps. You may have noticed that Med'an also has a number of characteristics found in neither humans or orcs, with his forehead bumps and pointy chin thingies.
The reason for that is that Garona is now revealed to be an orc/draenei hybrid, rather than an orc/human hybrid. Just look at her many draenai characteristics
Okay, she has no draenei characteristics at all. But lets be fair here. Garona's origin hasn't made sense since the warcraft I timeline was retconned to the point where a full-grown hybrid at the time of the first war impossible. And it's not like the old horde had any access to artificial aging magic and... oh wait, they did. And Garona's main purpose in Warcraft I, where she was the viewpoint character for the manual, was that she could better understand humanity. As such, this retcon makes absolutely zero sense. Also, if Med'an is an orc/human/draenei hybrid, what's with his forehead bumps? Those look nothing like the forehead plates of a draenei.
Meanwhile, Garona has escaped from Theramore, retreating to Onyxia's Lair. While she's sleeping she's found by a draenei vindicator named Maraad, who is actually her uncle. He reveals Garona's parentage to her, and explains that he's been looking for her ever since he learned of her existence. Naturally, this has lead him to Onyxia's Lair, because that's the least likely location for her to be found. Let's do the contrived coincidence dance! It involves applying your palm to your forehead.
Also, Aegwynn mentions to Meryl why Med'an has shaman powers. It's because he is of orcish descent. Yes, that's the only explanation we're getting. The fact that orcs still need to study shamanism before getting any fancy powers is never addressed. The fact that Garona is also of orcish descent and has no shamanistic powers is never addressed. The fact that we've seen orcs without shamanistic abilities is never addressed. I'd like to note that this book had both an editor and an assistant editor. HOW DID THIS EVER MAKE IT TO COMIC?
Aegwynn and Meryl scry for the location of Garona, finding her in Onyxia's Lair. Wait, if scrying is so easy, how come they needed to break Garona's memory barriers to find Med'an? Actually, I'm reminded of something else: Broll destroyed Onyxia's Lair in issue fifteen. With a lot of mistakes in previous arcs, I could point to the editor not being a blizzard employee and not really having a grasp of warcraft lore. However, this is just a blatant, easily spottable continuity error. And it won't be the last.
Valeera, who overheard Aegwynn and Meryl, heads for Onyxia's lair. Naturally, she arrives there before the person capable of teleporting. Everyone knows that a journey of several hours is shorter than instantaneous transmission. Also, she was followed by Med'an. Garona, who didn't know that Med'an had been rescued, flees so she can attempt to free him from Ahn'qiraj herself, leaving Maraad behind to hold off Valeera for a while. In the air, Garona instantly meets Med'an, who tells her that Valeera was succesful in freeing him. Naturally, Garona doesn't bother to tell Maraad that he doesn't have to beat up Valeera, because everyone in this comic is suffering from massive brain damage. Instead, she flies to Ahn'qiraj, because she has no reason to fly to Ahn'qiraj anymore and wait, what?
Maraad, Valeera and Med'an go back to Theramore. Also, it turns out that Maraad was the one who freed Garona, rather than her freeing herself. The comic did a really poor job at conveying that. However, this just raises a new question. Did the theramore guards just not pay attention to the giant blue alien paladin bashing open the prison? Maraad is drawn absolutely huge, being wider than Valeera, Meryl, Jaina, Aegwynn and Med'an put together. At this size, he wouldn't even fit inside the door to Valeera's prison. How did no one notice him? Maraad freed Garona because he got a vision that Garona would help avert a catastrophe. Obviously, this means he's free to enter the strongholds of his allies and bash open their prisons. No need to check why the person was in prison in the first place. And again, how did Maraad just randomly stumble upon Garona?
Anyway, Aegwynn comes to the 'obvious' solution for dealing with Cho'gall. They need to form a new council of tirisfal, but with representatives from all forms of magic rather than just arcane magic. Okay, first of all, thanks for ruining the ending narration of Warcraft III by bringing back guardians. Second, I'm pretty sure that magic in the warcraft universe doesn't quite work like that. After all, if it did, why wouldn't there have been priests, wildhammer shamans or elven rangers on the original council of Tirisfal? The ritual to create a guardian involves each of the casters performing it using a spell to transfer their power. However, spells are not transferable between magical disciplines in the warcraft universe. The guardian-creation spell is an arcane spell, so only those trained as mages should be able to perform it.
Even aside from continuity, reintroducing guardians is really, really stupid. There is a reason that most powerful casters in the warcraft universe have important roles within factions. It's so that they can't actually be out in the field, helping people, leaving more work for the player. The guardian is essentially a super-adventurer, free to travel around the world and protect the various mortal races. If there is a guardian, why wouldn't he be there during the fight with Malygos, the exploration of Ulduar or the battle of Icecrown Citadel?
While Aegwynn, Meryl and Jaina are busy selecting new members for their council, Med'an decides that being a master of both arcane and shamanistic magic isn't enough for him, as he also starts studying the magic of the holy light. What, he didn't get those abilities naturally because of his draenei and/or human heritage? It literally takes him just a few seconds to start casting his first spell. This is just ridiculous.
In an example of why this comic is so hated, the trio decide to invite a gnomish engineer to the council. Because the ritual of the guardian can apparently transfer the power of gadgetry now. Why would you even need an engineer on the council? The engineer can just construct stuff and give it to the guardian! No need to transfer his engineering powers. Whatever those are.
Cho'gall then sends a faceless one to attack Theramore. It's a long fight scene that exists solely to show off how powerful Med'an is. Considering this ridiculous power of his never gets explained and Med'an is completely undeveloped as a character, I doubt anyone cares.
Also, Cho'gall's plan gets revealed. He is planning to use Med'an to destroy the bonds that are shackling C'thun and unleash chaos into the world. Hold on, isn't C'thun dead? And wasn't he already unshackled before he died? Speaking of which, did no one bother to actually secure C'thun's corpse after his defeat in Ahn'qiraj? You'd think that the dragonflights and cenarion circle would be rather interested in not giving anyone access his body and place some defenses on it.
The adults of the group are planning to send Med'an to outland to protect him from Cho'gall. Also, when I say adults, I mean physical adults. Med'an is older than both Valeera and Jaina after all. Actually, that makes a lot of the scenes in the book really uncomfortable, as they keep treating the twenty-seven year old like he was just a kid. In this case, they do so by keeping the identity of his father from him in order to protect him. After all, if Med'an knew his father was Medivh, everyone would hate and loathe him, since everyone in the warcraft universe is a mind reader, and Medivh never redeemed himself by helping to save the world. My forehead has a palm imprint on it by this point. However, before they can dump Med'an in the relative safety of Outland, he is contacted by the spirit of Medivh, telling him to come to Karazhan. Again, the ending to Warcraft III:
Medivh: "As for me, I came back to ensure that there would be a future. To teach the world that it no longer needed Guardians. The hope for future generations has always resided in mortal hands. And now that my task is done, I will take my place amongst the legends of the past."
Medivh is gone. He's dead. He is a person post-mortem. He is not to appear in your comic unless you are involving time travel. Same goes for guardians. Having Medivh involved in your empowerment of the new guardian? That's just an overkill of stupid.
Now Med'an has found out that he is the son of Medivh, and hates himself for it. Because at no point Medivh redeemed himself by helping save... I've already done this bit, didn't I? Med'an and Maraad enter outland, where they both give awkward exposition regarding random stuff. Seriously, why do we need exposition on auchindoun, or the path of glory? Oh right, because otherwise we might have time to develop Med'an. Never mind.
In Ahn'qiraj, Meryl teleports to Garona. However, he's having some trouble controlling his magic, both due to the demon he absorbed from Valeera and the events related to Malygos in WotLK. We finally learn the full prophecy as Cho'gall, for no reason, recites it within earshot of Garona and Meryl.
"When the child of the three realms becomes as light, the ancient power will be released. The earth will tremble, the seas will rise up in answer, and all will be madness. A new day will dawn, bringing with it chaos or peace..."
Cho'gall's interpretation of this is that Med'an will weaken the barriers between the elemental planes and Azeroth, allowing the old gods to once more command armies of elementals. Also, this chaos will somehow release C'thun or something. That entire part of Cho'gall's plan still makes no sense to me. Also, you may notice that this sounds really similar to Cataclysm, something which I'll address when we cover that.
Cho'gall's plan to accomplish this is to simply kill Med'an. Wait, what? He had already captured Med'an! Why didn't he simply kill him back then? Sure, Med'an hadn't 'become as light' yet, but Cho'gall doesn't know that Med'an has light powers at the moment either. Cho'gall must really want that idiocy prize.
Meryl decides to add another sub-plot to this mess, as he sends Garona to recover the base of Atiesh from somewhere in Ahn'Qiraj. Atiesh was one of the legendary weapons in WoW, and was the former greatstaff of the guardian. The questline to rebuild it was amongst the most nonsensical in WoW. For example, Kel'thuzad apparently handed out splinters of the staff to random minions. And Brann Bronzebeard once carried the base of the staff into Ahn'Qiraj for no reason, after which it was eaten by C'thun. It's only fitting that this comic borrow on the dumbest parts of the game. Though, even then, I have to ask: did no one bother recovering the base back when they killed C'thun?
Here, Jaina and/or Aegwynn (it's not clear who, Jaina is telling it at the beginning, Aegwynn is telling it at the end, but there is no indication of a switch of narrator anywhere in the middle because the writers are incredibly incompetent) gives exposition about the guardian of Tirisfal to the members of the new council. However, the exposition is completely wrong, as she states that the guardian remained in magical contact with the council and returned her power after every battle. If that were the case, it would have been impossible for Aegwynn to run off and give the power to Medivh, since the members of the council would know what she had done.
I should probably state who the members of the new council are: Jaina Proudmoore, Hamuul Runetotem, Broll Bearmantle, Rehgar Earthfury, High Priest Rohan, a gnome engineer named Krank Axeljink, Maraad and a scryer diviner named Dalynnia Wrathscar. So yeah, we mostly get characters from the comic, as well as Hamuul and Rohan, two NPCs from the game who had a notable backstory, but never did anything in the games themself. I guess Blizzard didn't want to risk any of their actual important characters in the fall-out of this comic. Oh, and I nearly forgot those two characters who were never seen before this. Guess who will die in the comic? It's a shame too, because I really wanted to see the powers Krank and Dalynnia would provide to the guardian. Seriously, what is a diviner?
And here we get into the dumbest part: The council decides to make Med'an the guardian. Med'an, throughout this comic, had achieved absolutely nothing. He's spent more time in this issue talking to Khadgar than he's ever interacted with the people on the council. And mind you, this is before they learn of the full text of the prophecy, so their plan is to empower and send in the one person whose power Cho'gall needs for his evil plan. It's like they're taunting the reader with how stupid everyone is.
A'dal turns up for a single panel to give advice to Med'an. Basically, his advice is this: "Y'know that choice you have to make about whether or not to answer your father's summons to Karazhan? Yes, you have to make a choice. Choose wisely." A font of wisdom, A'dal ain't.
Maraad brings Med'an back from outland. Gosh, going there was so incredibly important to the story! There is no way we could have cut that out and give any of our characters some time for development.
Speaking of underdeveloped, Med'an runs off on his own to go to Karazhan. He was inspired to do this after hearing about his father from Khadgar. Of course, he could have heard the exact same thing from Garona, but that would mean having Med'an interact with a main character, and would have deprived the writers from an excuse to waste everyone's time by having a section in outland.
To run away, Med'an decides to just go the simple way and teleport himself to the middle of Karazhan. How does he even know where to teleport? Last I checked, he had never even seen the tower, let alone a floor plan. He's really damn lucky he didn't teleport into a wall or a floor.
Med'an instantly runs into the spirit of Medivh, because this entire comic series has been absolutely terrible in building any sense of wonder, suspense or mystery. Medivh tells Med'an his backstory, though he very noticeably left out the parts that were given in Cycle of Hatred, a book which the comic has referenced several times. Here, it is made very clear that Medivh is dead, and the thing we saw in Warcraft III was a spirit, rather than a full-fledged resurrection. In the middle of all this crap, it's nice to see an actual good idea. Then, to renew my everburning hatred for this comic, Med'an suddenly wears completely different clothing for no reason.
|Because this seems like a practical battle outfit, doesn't it?|
And then Medivh reveals that he created this spirit to transfer all of his knowledge to Med'an. This is the exact point where Med'an shifts from a questionable character to a mary sue. We've barely seen him interact with any of the characters, yet they all belief in him and want to make him the most powerful person on the planet. He's got all these major family connections and a heritage that gives him super powers, but he doesn't have any personality of his own. And now he just gets handed the knowledge of one of the greatest mages to ever live?
Actually, lets look at that again. Why did the spirit of Medivh choose to contact Med'an only now? Why not contact him in any of the preceding years? The only reason I can think of is that Medivh somehow knew about the prophecy and contacted Med'an when it was about to come to pass, but in that case, why wouldn't he inform anyone of its contents? He was flying around everywhere in Warcraft III, so I'm sure he could have squeezed in a visit to Meryl or Garona somewhere in there.
The council agrees to empower Med'an as the guardian, because his mixed heritage makes him super awesome. Because that is totally how race works! People of mixed ancestry are simply superior. Okay, not to get into the whole racial debate, but I hate all of the clichés regarding people of mixed races, both for actual races and fantasy races. Believe it or not, most people of mixed ancestry are just people. They do not have a magical connection to some aspect of reality or something, nor are they naturally torn between different cultures. My romani ancestor has not given me the ability to read the future, dance exotically in flashy clothing and/or give dramatic exposition in horror movies. All I got was fabulous hair. In fantasy, you have a little more leeway with the setting, but there has never been any indication in warcraft canon that the universe somehow favors people of mixed ancestry. There is more to a character than his ancestry. Let me rephrase that: There is more to a well-written character than his ancestry. Med'an, on the other hand, is defined entirely by his.
Also, Krank died somewhere in this issue, blown up by his malfunctioning machine. I'm pretty sure that this death and the entire character was intended to be comedy relief, which fails utterly because the guy wasn't funny. At all.
And the story thankfully and mercifully draws to an end. Jaina leads the council of tirisfal to a completely protected bubble of time and space where nothing will be able to touch them. The reason for this is a blatant retcon regarding the way the power of the Guardian works.
Meanwhile, Garona is pilfering through C'thun's corpse. Because it's not like the twilight hammer would guard that or anything. And it's not like it's been established that touching the old god induces maddening whispers. She finds the base of Atiesh somewhere inside of him, corrupted by the powerful demonic magic that roamed through Medivh.
Med'an then teleports in to fight Cho'gall. You know, with all the teleporting everyone has been doing in this comic without ill effect, I'm starting to wonder about all the times they didn't teleport. Med'an and Cho'gall fight for a bit, using really flashy magics. Cho'gall keeps targetting Meryl and Aegwynn to distract Med'an, and, like idiots, the two don't teleport away so Med'an can focus. Naturally, Cho'gall has all the powers of C'thun at his command, because C'thun is dead and imprisoned and is therefore free to fully project his power!
Shifting from stupidity to stupidity, Garona brings the base of the staff to Meryl, who had earlier said that Med'an could instantly remove all fel corruption. However, now we get an incredibly convoluted plan instead, asMeryl offers himself as a conduit for the power of the staff, so he can channel it through the pathways forged by the council, thereby bringing it to Med'an to purify! Maybe I missed something here, but why not just hand it to Med'an?
Speaking of those conduits, the demon inside Meryl now uses those to travel, escaping from Meryl to drain the power that the council is sending to Med'an. Because that's totally how being a guardian works! It's not like the power of the guardian has always been treated as a one-time transfer, and that is how Aegwynn was able to run off while maintaining her power or anything. Oh, wait, that's exactly how it worked. The book even gave us exposition about Aegwynn's past. How exactly did the writers miss the exposition they themselves wrote? Or are we supposed to think that the previous council kept channeling magic to Aegwynn and later Medivh for several years after she'd run off?
Actually, this entire guardian thing bugs me more and more. The previous books were always vague on how the ritual worked exactly, but here we see it in full detail, and it takes about twenty seconds with no need for any material focus or reagents. So why don't they use it more often? Why not create an entire squadron of guardians? Why hasn't the cult of the damned made Arthas a guardian yet? Or the illidari Illidan? Considering the fact that the council never made a new guardian after Aegwynn ran off, I always thought that there was a limiting factor in guardianship of something, like the ritual being performed with a unique artifact, most probably Atiesh, that can only be connected to one person at a time. However, it's just a temporary power transfer here, which makes absolutely zero sense.
The demon distracts the council, even killing that one scryer lady. Oh no, I cared so much about her, the way she never showed any personality! Actually, I take that back. She's shown more personality than Med'an, Meryl or Maraad, simply by having an odd smile at times. Plus, she has ample cleavage. Why is it always the good ones that have to die?
|R.I.P. Magistrix Whatever Her Name Was|
And we return again to the whole Atiesh thing. Remember what was said three pages ago, about Meryl channeling the power of Atiesh to Med'an? That is no longer canon! Instead, Meryl drained the fel energy from Atiesh in order to purify it. Admittedly, that makes slightly more sense. However, how the hell do you have a retcon about something you brought up in this very issue? Are you actually trying to produce a bad comic now?
Atiesh's base has now been readied for use. However, they need to get it to Med'an. Rather than shouting "HEY MED'AN, WE GOT A STAFF FOR YOU!", they send Garona to bring the staff to Med'an and then send Valeera to help Garona. However, it isn't enough, as Med'an has been weakened by the demon attacking the council, leading to Aegwynn sacrificing her life to channel the energy of her life-prolonging spells into Meryl, who then channels it into Med'an. Wait, I thought that the demon was blocking the pathways? Plus, Meryl isn't even part of the council, so how can he just freely join in their empowerment? If it's just that simple, why didn't Aegwynn transfer her power directly?
This buys enough time for the council to fight back the demon, and for Med'an to grab the staff. This instantly restores the staff to its full power, because it's not like Atiesh had other parts that were important. Using the power of the staff, Med'an then kills Cho'gall. Finally, the comic ends at Aegwynn's funeral, who gets buried in Karazhan, because placing someone's body in a place that prevents their spirit from being at rest is such a good idea. Thanks for the final facepalm. And then all the events from the comic were completely ignored in future warcraft products. HURRAY FOR HAPPY ENDINGS!
Do I even need to tell you my overall opinion on this comic? It was absolute garbage, unable to get even the simplest things right. The fact that this book actually made it to print says more about the lack of quality control at both Blizzard and DC Comics then I ever could. It makes it clear just how little they cared.
Story: The story is garbage. There's like thirty sub-plots in this book, many of which I left out because they just didn't go anywhere. For example, in the beginning of the arc, Aegwynn was setting up Valeera as having some sort of big role to play in all of this. She didn't. The subplots that actually do go somewhere are always terrible, filled to the brim with plot holes and contradictions
In addition, we know absolutely nothing about the backstory of the main plot. Cho'gall is our main villain, but we still have no idea how he and his clan came to be in service of the old gods and the elemental lords. His entire plan revolves around some prophecy that came right the hell out of nowhere. The fact that the box was found in outland only raises more questions. We don't know anything about the connection between Garona and Meryl. We know nothing about Maraad's life. We know nothing of the conflict between Meryl and Kathra'natar. We don't know how Meryl and Cho'gall know each other. We don't know how Cho'gall knows about Med'an or where he lived. We don't know why that random forsaken spy owed Meryl enough to give him the spying info. We're just supposed to blindly accept all these facts and not think about them, despite the fact that the entire story runs on these things.
And then there is the sudden and jarring shift that happens in issue twenty, where the main plot of the comic is dropped to go focus on Med'an. Why did the Horde vs. Alliance stuff and the Med'an stuff have to be shoved together like this? The stories don't gel at all. If you really wanted to, you could just have two terrible comics running at the same time.
Characters: The characters are garbage. This arc introduces us to several new characters without giving us any reason to care about them. I couldn't tell you a single thing about the personalities of Meryl, Med'an and Maraad. Meryl and Med'an are the most problematic, because their backgrounds should give them so much story opportunities.
Meryl has been alive since the founding of the first human kingdom, having been living as an outside observer for the entirety of human civilisation. Doesn't he have any interesting thing to say about his experiences? How did he become friends with Garona? Has he ever interacted with the human nations in his thousands of years of living? How much has culture changed from his perspective?
Med'an has lived without companionship in the darkest part of a forest for twenty-five years, knowing about the world, but never allowed to see it. Hasn't he missed companionship? Did he never wonder why he wasn't growing up? Or why he had to live isolated from everyone? (actually, I'm still wondering that myself. Why not move to one of the horde cities?) There are so many chances to give his character some development, but they're never acted upon. Even the connection with his mother is never explored, as we never see them take the time to have an actual conversation. Instead, they just keep heaping new powers on him and making everyone regard him as a savior, thinking that will get the reader interested. Hint: it didn't. Med'an is amongst the most hated characters in the warcraft franchise, despite never appearing in any of the games, or even in any medium other than this comic.
Art: The art isn't garbage. It's actually pretty decent. There are a few odd quirks though, several of which I pointed out. One thing I only barely touched on is the ridiculous size at which some of the men were drawn. Sure, tauren and draenei are supposed to be big, but Broll is also drawn with a shoulder-width that is at least four times as big as that of Jaina. On the other hand, human men (except meryl) are at least twice as wide as women in this book, so who knows what's going on with that. Still, the art is a lot better than this book deserved. Stick figures are better than this book deserved.
Frankly, I couldn't think up a warcraft comic this bad if I tried. This arc is not just the worst of the comic series, it is the worst thing in the expanded universe. I would call it the worst thing in the warcraft franchise, but Cataclysm still manages to beat it due to sheer scope.