As a reviewer for CBR, I try my very best to look for some new stuff every now and again. When I saw Lee Moder was coming back (or at least when I discovered Moder was on my radar again) I decided to look a little deeper. Then I learned that he was working on "Dragon Prince" with Ron Marz. "I've enjoyed some Marz tales before. I'll give it a go." Add in the fact that this book is intended to be an all ages read, and I was hooked. Well, hooked enough to review the first issue at the very least.
The concept is almost tailor-made for the movie industry as comics have become the gristmill for the studios' bakery. The concept is this: dragons have been all but hunted to extinction. Those that do remain are brutally pursued by a Dragon Hunter who wields the magic of the dragons he has slain against those he seeks to destroy.
Marz sets the stakes high, but not so high as to cause critical hypertension for the reader. The excitement is there from the first page, due to Marz's brisk pacing and concise storytelling. At some junctions, it almost feels as though Marz may have told these tales as bedtime stories to his children, just as Aaron's mom shares her craft with her son. My only concern with that particular piece of characterization, however, is that if Aaron's mother, April, has been published telling tales of dragons struggling against dragon hunters and magi, why have they not found her before? Of course, Marz has a trio of upcoming issues to address that.
Moder comes in and breathes life into the characters, giving them space and dimension, weight and purpose. It also helps that his page layouts are airy and visually attractive. Details are there when they need to be, but Moder has not brutalized any pencils just to have detail for detail sake. Additionally, Moder has crafted the characters in a manner that makes them seem regal and human at the same time. Given the plot to this first issue, it would not surprise me much at all to see any one of these characters sprout wings and become a dragon.
The coloring, however, is a little over the top in some spots, as I found myself distracted more than once when highlights in characters' hair seemed almost like subcutaneous spotlights rather than reflection. The coloring is not without its merit, however, as the eyes of the dragons depicted herein burn with a fire struck from their soul.
The story, while intended for all ages, certainly caters to the teen and tween crowd. I wouldn't necessarily give this to my eight-year-old (only because she'd be awestruck to read the three-letter word for a donkey) but my eleven-year-old is excited to read it.
Personally, I think Marz (with seemingly silent partner/cover artist Jeff Johnson) and Moder have found a story with resonance and appeal. While this series is only slated for four issues, I sincerely hope it takes on more. To make a comparison to a recent review, while "Sub-Mariner: the Depths" plumbed the limits of decompression, this story hits the ground running and offers sufficient background for the next issue, all the while providing a pretty fun read.
The combination of Marz's writing and Moder's linework is akin to the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. This story is candy for the comic reader's mind, as there is no Skrull nor end of the multiverse to be seen anywhere.
(You can read a preview of "The Dragon Prince" here at CBR.)