So, the new Dark Souls comic has released. It’s been a while between drinks, I know, but let’s not delay any further because things are starting to get interesting in the series. Watch out, spoilers ahead!
If you recall, the last issues ended with, admittedly, a slight shock. Our protagonist, Fira, was slain by the Everlord. If you’re at all familiar with the video games, you’ll know that death is a fairly large part of the Dark Souls Universe, but still, we were a little concerned about Fira’s fate. As Issue #3 opens, we realise that Fira is indeed dead. But she’s not gone; she’s hollowed. Plagued with the hollowed curse, Fira continues her quest. However, her sanity is under threat. As time ticks on, her hollowing furthers and she loses more and more of her humanity.
She reunites with Aldrich, finding him held captive by a witch servant of the Phoenix King. After slaying Aldrich’s captor, Fira converses with the scryer, who reveals that the witch made him do unspeakable things. The two continue through the castle, and Fira, in a bout of compassion, frees the prisoners held there. Aldrich urged Fira against this decision; instead, imploring her to leave the castle. After a prisoner reveals the location of Karamas – another foe that Fira must slay – Aldrich admits that he was withholding this information. And we don’t exactly find out why. Perhaps he has some ulterior motive, or perhaps he is merely traumatised from his time in captivity. Regardless, he doesn’t hesitate to fess up when Fira presses him.
Aldrich then narrates the story of a baron who was cursed by a monster he slayed. This baron now lives in his own sort of purgatory, his features altered to become monstrous, burning slowly, over and over again. We’re told that each time his body burns, he is reborn – only to burn again. It quickly becomes clear that this baron is the Phoenix King, from whose clutches Fira saved Aldrich.
Fira and Aldrich confront the king. If you remember, in the previous comics, Aldrich and Fira were searching for three relics. The Phoenix King has the third of those relics: the Dragon Scale Armour. There’s a lengthy dialogue between Fira and the King where they speak of hollowing and the deep and other Dark Souls buzzwords and the fight is both aggressive and violent; both parties seem particularly motivated. When Fira ends up trapped in the King’s clutches, Aldrich saves her. There’s a brief moment of respite, before Fira, standing over the baron’s dead body, accuses Aldrich of withholding more information. He shoots her a suspicious gaze. The comic ends with our heroes collecting the three relics. They speak of their journey, and gaze out of window at a venerable view – one that is foreboding of the challenges yet to come.
The latest issue of the Dark Souls comics totally embodies the spirit of the games. But it’s also exactly what we’ve seen in the previous issues. True, Fira and Aldrich couldn’t proceed until they’d gathered these relics, but the series is missing detailed characterisation. The massive and terrifying enemies are an integral part of the Souls brand, but the boss battles aren’t as rewarding in these stories as they are in games – obviously because we don’t experience the challenge in the same way. I can’t say too many bad words about the series, or this issue in general, because it’s definitely been amusing, but now that these relics have been collected, I think it’s time for a change in formula. I’m aching for some different quest types, and some more of those series-trademark views.
With the first part of the adventure completed, I think it’s time to start getting to know Fira and Aldrich and shed some light on these characters. I know they’re hiding some interesting secrets, but don’t keep us waiting too long for the reveals.