Since 2016, a steady stream of tie-in comics has been released that act as a companion piece to the hugely successful trilogy of Dark Souls videogames. In amongst the various four-issue miniseries and anthology comics, there have been many tales that expand this dark and mysterious universe. Now, Titan Comics have released a hefty compendium of everything so far, just in time for Christmas. We have previously reviewed many of the individual issues, but we are now going to take a look at the Dark Souls Complete Collection.
This collection gathers up all issues released for Dark Souls: The Breath of Andolus, Legends of the Flame, Winter’s Spite, Tales of Ember and The Age of Fire. The Breath of Andolus, The Age of Fire and Winter’s Spite are all four-issue storylines whilst Legends of the Flame and Tales of Ember are two issues each. These two however feature anthological stories that do follow on from each other.
First up in the collection is The Breath of Andolus, released just before Dark Souls III was unleashed to the world. The Breath of Andolus is literally the dying breath of the wyrm king Andolus that will bring life back to Ishra once again, like it has done previously before. However, after his death, he would be unable to breathe new life into the world again when the time is needed.
The comic is concerned with following Fira and Aldrich, a female warrior and her companion. They have taken it upon themselves to find the three artifacts needed to revive Andolus; a dragon’s tooth, a sword made from Andolus’ bones and the armor of the Phoenix King.
The adventure of Fira and Aldrich is extremely well drawn with tons of variety in the enemies they face. And there are a lot of them, the action is relentless, and you worry that the two of them will never get a moment to catch their breath.
Next up is Winter’s Spite that, like The Breath of Andolus, features the work of writer George Mann and illustrations by Alan Quah. This four-issue run released directly after the conclusion of The Breath of Andolus but is a separate tale.
This time, we meet Andred of Ithvale, who is held prisoner at the start. Andred isn’t bothered about saving the world or anything that grand. A great warrior, he has only been beaten in combat once. And the person that bested him stole his precious sword, the Pyreblade. Andred travels the world to a place known as Winterspite in order to track down his personal adversary and rightfully get his sword back. First though, he needs to escape his prison.
Winter’s Spite is another combat heavy miniseries but tells a much slower tale. Minor spoilers inbound, but it isn’t until halfway around the second issue that Andred actually manages to escape, and he is then straight away sent on a diversion away from his primary quest. Admittedly, this is a far less grand tale in comparison to The Breath of Andolus, but it feels dragged out in comparison.
The final longer tale in the collection is The Age of Fire. And, depending on who you ask, it could either be a canonical or non-canonical prequel to the first Dark Souls videogame. Ironic really, as it is the most recent comics released in this collection.
The action starts in the very first panel as a war between Gods and dragons’ rages on. Gwyn, who many will recognise as the final boss of Dark Souls, kills a dragon before immediately being taken by another. Arkon, leader of the Silver Knights and main protagonist in this miniseries, sees this happening but is powerless to help. Arkon is then attacked, but quickly saved by Artorias who kills the approaching dragon. Gwyn then reappears, sees a dead dragon next to Arkon and bestows the title of Dragonkiller to Arkon. Arkon never reveals the truth.
The Age of Fire continues exploring Arkon’s descent and subsequent running away from his past. Then comes a finale with an instantly recognisable character that ties the comics neatly into the beginning of the first Dark Souls game.
This miniseries is written by Ryan O’Sullivan and drawn by Anton Kokarev. It is a dramatically different artstyle from the previous comics, but still gorgeous to look at in its own way.
Finally, we have Legends of the Flame and Tales of Ember; each are two issues long that feature a dozen short stories between them. There is an overarching story involving an unkindled settling down by a bonfire to hear some stories told by an old woman and her cat. The stories told within this are all separate from each other but help flesh out the world that little bit more. Even the PVP aspect of Dark Souls is given some backstory in these anthologies.
There are a couple of extras hidden away at the back; a short bestiary of some of the monsters of Lordran and beyond and a very interesting script to strip section that gives a brief insight into how comics are produced. I was expecting to see the covers of each issue intersperse the individual comics, but they are not present in this collection. Instead, they have their own separate book which is a bit disappointing to not have them included here.
If you’ve read any of the comics featured in this collection, it’s a tough recommendation to anyone other than collectors. Had there been a few more extras included – though what is in there is very good – it would make more sense. If you are a fan of the games though but haven’t read any of the tie-in material, this complete collection is a brilliant way to catch up on everything in one go.
Huge thanks go out to Titan Comics for providing access to the Dark Souls Complete Collection. Check out the Titan Comics website for the Dark Souls: The Complete Collection graphic novel; especially if you are looking to pick it up for yourself. .