START YOUR ENGINES, friends, as we hit the road again with Taako, Magnus and Merle, the beloved agents of chaos from the #1 New York Times Bestselling books The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins and The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited.
Our boys have gone full-time at the Bureau of Balance, and their next assignment is a real thorny one: apprehending The Raven, a master thief who’s tapped into the power of a Grand Relic to ransack the city of Goldcliff. Local life-saver Lieutenant Hurley pulls them out of the woods, only to throw them headlong into the world of battle wagon racing, Goldcliff’s favorite high-stakes low-legality sport and The Raven’s chosen battlefield. Will the boys and Hurley be able to reclaim the Relic and pull The Raven back from the brink, or will they get lost in the weeds?
Based on the beloved blockbuster podcast where three brothers and their dad play a tabletop RPG in real time, The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal has it all: blossoming new friendships, pining for outlaw lovers, and a rollicking race you can root for!
I love these!! And I don’t know what the eff is wrong with GR but my damn read/rated books aren’t going through or going through at weird times if they do!!! Can we just not have a normal ending, GR! I’m about I’ve this site and it’s bullshit!!
When I first heard that the podcast was being turned into a comic book, this was the act I was looking forward to most. (The Stolen Century is my other favorite, but that’s a couple years away.) I’m happy to report that seeing the battle race on paper was just as awesome as what I pictured in my head. What I didn’t expect was how well done the Hurley and Sloane relationship was presented. TAZ story has tugged on heartstrings in the past, but their story resonated more than the rest. When you add in Merle and the Director’s conversation about the human spirit, the especially sharp comedy, and all of the race and tower action, this is a chapter that is... wait for it... firing on all cylinders. Worth the wait, right?
Like the first two books, PttM has all the advantages of a wild, improv’d, hilarious story AND the benefit of knowing how it all ends so they can polish it all up, fix their mistakes a little sooner, and sow all kinds of wonderful, devastating foreshadowing for those of us who already know the endgame. The first glimpse of [redacted]? The first convo with [also redacted]? Carey Pietsch’s art is so vibrant and expressive and I adore all of the little details and easter eggs. The facial expressions, the gestures of support, the pep talks... y’all, this found family has my whole heart and getting to experience this story again from the beginning and watch them come together again makes me very happy.
Ugh, I just wish we didn’t have to wait a whole year between books.
What's good about these adaptations is that the crew's able to retroactively tweak details from the initial podcast to maintain both a tonal consistency AND fix narrative flubs that were unintentionally bad.
What I'm saying is, Hurley and Sloane's story was done even better in this volume than in the audio files, and I'm so glad this exists. --- There's a preview of this comic in Entertainment Weekly that relays that one scene. You know the one.
Merle, you scalawag, talking to vines like that.
My heart's a-flutter and excited to read how this one's adapted.
We're getting to the point in the Bureau of Balance story where it makes sense to do some changes and foreshadowing and just generally make it worth reading the graphic novels when you already know the story. There are a few panels that are definitely Clint being clever ()
For some reason, I was less of a fan of the art in this volume than the previous ones, but I can't explain why, I don't think Carey made any major changes. The extended upper lip style was maybe more emphasized, which I don't like. She does a great job with a very visual action sequence during the race, so maybe I'm just feeling crabby.
In the other volumes too, I have been annoyed that some of my favorite moments have been cut, but as much as I want a million page book hitting every single joke, that's not what an adaptation is. Clint has experience writing for comic books and knows what works in this different medium and how to hit different plot beats for something you could read in a single sitting rather than listen to over the course of months. Some of the edits are to NPCs to make them more defined characters instead of Griffin doing a voice (losing some of Angus' snarky lines in Rockport made me sad, but that early Griffin thought he was not going to be recurring and didn't need to differentiate his personality etc so I get it). A comic isn't a comedy podcast so you don't need a joke a minute. As we get deeper into heavily plotted arcs, we lose some of the out of character fun of the graphic novel (we barely see DM Griffin) and I hope we get more of that next volume, I really do enjoy it.
I'm really pumped for Crystal Kingdom, you guys. I think this arc will play to the strengths of the graphic novel over the podcast (for all except the music, at least).
Really fun and I love what they've done in adapting in. This one is probably my least favourite of the three so far. In some of the combat I found that things became somewhat cluttered and confusing. Otherwise high quality.
In this book, we’re exploring the trope of the Big Race. In order to reclaim their next artifact, Taako, Merle, and Magnus must first defeat its wielder in vehicular combat. Naturally, the track is filled with improbable machines and drivers, and anything goes when it comes to eliminating one's opponents.
As with previous adventures, although the situation and characters are presented with a nod and a wink, the actual events of the tale play out fairly straight. Most of the ongoing humor comes from the banter and the asides from the DM. It's not as manic as, say, Dork Tower, but it's still lots of fun.
There is definitely an ongoing storyline, so you’d best start with volume one if you have a choice. Recommended!
I remember this series of episodes as some of my very favorite from the whole TAZ Balance arc, and I feel like the comic is really finding it's feet as well. There are a ton of great action sequences, the jokes are there, and some beautiful and emotional slash pages. It's still really hard for me not to compare each page to my memories of listening to the podcast- I think that whichever version (pod or comics) a person experiences first, that version will probably always be their favorite.
At this point this graphic novel series can do absolutely no wrong because I just love it so dang much. I’ve never played D&D and probably never will but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of this adventure! Our three main characters are just so hilarious and idiotic and loveable that it’s impossible to not enjoy riding along on their adventures. Plus the story is just wildly interesting and only gets more do with each new addition to the series, I seriously can’t wait to see what comes next! And the illustrations are just so freaking stunning, I’ll absolutely never get over it. The colours on some pages in this one literally had me gasping when I saw them, they were just so gorgeous! I really can’t recommend this series highly enough, I’m just such a huge fan of it.
This was everything I wanted it to be and more. Petals was already one of my favorite arcs, so getting to re-live it in this format is such a treat. I loved how the graphic novel dives so much more into Sloane and Hurley’s relationship, and the ending is absolutely stunning.
I endlessly struggle with figuring out how accessible these are to folks who don't listen to the podcast? Truly not sure if/how it translates. But also, that's on those people. I love the podcast and these books are a fun treat!
The fun continues. This time we have a fantasy car chase with dangerous contraptions and crews, old and new friends, and for the first time, a bittersweet love story. Another new element is a hint of an overarching sinister mystery and some moral to the story. Don’t worry, though, most of it is fantasy action and adventure, nerdy jokes, spiced with the occasional meta-injections from the DM. The art is fun, cute and very action-driven. Occasionally I gad a hard time telling what was going on because we had three crazy vehicles crammed in a small frame or the action was ambigous.
This is my kid’s favorite series, and for good reason. One if the best current graphic novel series out there. It is both nice, silly and entertaining - no violence, no hard issues, not much thinking, but not dumb, either. And I think the series is just coming into its own, so I am looking forward to the next one.
3.5. This was...fine? I didn't connect to it the way I expected to. The Petals to the Metal arc was one of my favorites when I was listening to the podcast, but the way it translated to this medium didn't super work for me. Part of it might be a reading during quarantine effect, of course, but the characters and the action just came across as a bit flat to me. I feel like they're trying to balance how the characters were in the podcast (a bunch of assholes a lot of the time) and making them more traditionally likeable "good" characters, and it ends up muddled and empty.
The extra 0.5 is for the lesbians, which I did appreciate.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*
The third installment, based on a Dungeons and Dragons podcast run by three brothers and their dad. This adventure follows three unlikely heroes... Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior. This time, they must defeat The Raven, a talented thief using the power of a Grand Relic to wreak havoc on the city of Goldcliff. They must work together with Hurley, a battle racer in order to stop The Raven before its too late.
I loved the first two installments of this graphic novel and his third one did not disappoint. I love these good boys, and I can't get enough of them. Takko is still as sarcastic as ever and Merle was hilarious in this, dirty talking to plants of all kinds. Magnus is still the epitome of a golden retriever in human form and of course, still my favourite of the three main characters. This featured new characters to fall in love with, including (but not limited to) Hurley, Sloane, and Garyl (A FREAKING UNICORN)! I loved Hurley and Sloane's relationship, and I was so invested in it while reading. The battle race was really cool and I loved those panels. The art and how expressive these characters are is still one of my favourite things about this series of graphic novels. I always find myself examining the panels trying to find all the little easter eggs in each picture.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who needs a good laugh. I'm so excited for the fourth installment!
I absolutely love The Adventure Zone podcast and have thoroughly enjoyed the previous installments in the graphic novel adaptation but Petals to the Metal just didn't quite land for me. For starters, this has got to be one of my least favorite arcs in the Bureau of Balance campaign (or possibly the most -- it's been a while since my last listen) as its tonally very different from what came before.
The graphic novel version of Petals to the Metal was fine but was missing the same sense of joy as others in the series. This is definitely due at least in part to the source material, which is a lot more combat/action focused than previous arcs. That said, I did notice that some of the much-needed moments of levity and laughter were cut from Petals to the Metal. On the art side, I'm incredibly impressed with Pietsch's illustrations of the hectic atmosphere that pervades the back half of the story. These panels must have taken forever to do and it's clear that a lot of care went into them.
Overall, I will definitely pick up the next book in the series when it comes out as I knew heading in that this installment was unlikely to dazzle me in the same way that its predecessors did.
Unsurprisingly, the McElroys and Carey Pietsch have done it again--adapting an incredible podcast into a graphic novel that stands on its own two feet, able to be completely separate from the source material while honoring it in all the right ways.
The art is, as always, fantastic. Carey is extremely talented and I always look forward to seeing how she will translate an audio source into images. The jokes are amazing too! There were some new ones created just for the graphic novel that made me laugh out loud, and some classic gags (Merle dirty talking to plants and Magnus being ass out in front of God and everyone, for example) that stayed in. I loved how they made the relationship between Hurley and Sloane crystal clear, and changed the ending in a really beautiful and poetic way.
This was the point in the podcast where I realized, "Whoa, this is something special," and for that reason, Petals will always have a special place in my heart. As always when I read and review these, I highly recommend listening to The Adventure Zone on whatever podcast platform you prefer, and read the graphic novels too! They're all a joy.
These characters are fully realized creations in the best adaption yet*. Still a few places that I wish were more fleshed out. Carey's artwork is stunning and so effectively simple on places that I'm in awe. A lot of fun panels that will be fun to compare to later books. People who were concerned about the ending change shouldn't have worried. It wasn't the fix I thought it would be but this works so so well. The cutest couple. 😭
The amount of time it took me to finish this graphic novel is... sad. Considering I own it and listen to the podcast. I really love the humor of the McElroy's, they never cease to make me smile. And the art is always on point in this graphic novels, which helps the plot.
I love, love, love this series so much. They're doing such a good job adapting it from the podcast, keeping just the right things, adding and changing things around when the story needs to be tightened or some mistakes were made during the improv (unburying the gays directly for example) plus the super meta humor and god, the art?? Carey Pietsch is so talent!! Also can we appreciate the ramping up of the gay to 11 in this book?? Not just Sloane and Hurley but also Taako??? Being super gay way before his love interest shows up? I love that! (That being said, I'm literally so excited for the next installment because!!! Carey Pietsch Kravitz design!!!!!!!!!)
This is undoubtedly one of my favorite arcs in the podcast. It's exciting, fast-paced, and it's where the story really starts to sink in. The Graphic Novel was, ironically enough, my least favorite of the series so far. The story pre-supposes that you're familiar with the source material and the illustrations are a bit muddy. I still enjoyed it quite a bit, but I think some of the energy and charm of this arc was lost in translation.
Okay, this graphic novel is BY FAR the best one out of the current four released in the series. I don't know why I waited up until now to read it, but boy was that a mistake. I swear to god Carey and Clint put their whole souls into this GN because it was SO. GOOD. So far I feel like this particular installment of the series was the most well-done one yet. This arc was shortened perfectly–in some of the GNs I've felt that they left out big/fun parts of the original podcast episodes, but the parts that were taken out in this one weren't important enough so that the story never felt like there was something missing. There was a great balance of scenes from the podcast and new scenes added by Clint and Carey, ESPECIALLY with Sloane and Hurley. In the podcast, they have a super ambiguous "friendship" that's kind of overlooked, but in this GN they have a full-on Killing Eve-style romance. It's extremely good. Like, c'mon, a wanted criminal and the militia lieutenant trying to apprehend her becoming infatuated with each other and falling in love? You know that's my shit. Their scenes together are so much more meaningful (no offense Griffin) than they were in the podcast, and it made me love their characters even more than I already did. There was also a lot of fleshing out of Taako, Merle, and Magnus' characters that I really liked. They tend to be a bit apathetic in the podcast, and there's a big attempt to make them more empathetic to their surroundings while still being morally grey which I appreciate. And don't get me started on the amount of FANTASTIC foreshadowing they drop in. It's always super clever and tasteful when added in the books, and you probably wouldn't even notice it if you didn't listen to the podcast. Long story short, this graphic novel said enemies to lovers wlw rights, and I'm SO here for it.
The third arc of The Adventure Zone "Balance" storyline has finally been adapted.
Petals to the Metal sees the boys make it to Goldcliff where the Gaia Sash is being wielded by a mysterious thief known as the Raven. The sash gives the wearer the ability to control nature, so we finally get Merle's chance to shine now that he's a devotee of Pan and levelling up his Druidic abilities. The real action comes once Hurley, someone familiar with the Raven, comes into play and leads the boys onto a... battle...wagon...race...
The bulk of what I remember about this particular story arc was the battle wagon race and being somewhat bored with it. That carried over to the graphic novel. It just wasn't that exciting for me, listening to the action so seeing it in comic book form was likewise fairly Eh. The artwork, likewise, didn't do it for me as much as it did in previous installments. While it wasn't really rushed, the color palette was all kind of blending together for me. I was also annoyed with the Raven's beak - raven beaks are a lot thicker than crow beaks and she was leaning far more crow in my mind.
I know, pedantic gripe.
On the other hand, the ending was an improvement as many people have noted. Likewise, there were some good moments with Taako and some decent foreshadowing for what will be all too soon cropping up if the series continues.
So, not a bad read. Just still something that strikes me as more for fans of the podcast than comic only readers - but this whole series has kind of been that.