Review: 'Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin' takes away everything good about the Dresden Files booksA comic review article by: Riagain27
The Dresden Files is a series of urban fantasy novels by Jim Butcher that ended up growing to massive proportions. The franchise includes the series of novels -- 14 as of this article with the next one on the horizon --along with 14 short stories, 3 novellas, a tabletop game line, and a comic series. The series as a whole can be summed up as "a smartass, genre-savvy wizard does his best to protect the innocent within a very dark world through the use of increasingly awesome methods and enough snark to choke a whale while enduring beatdowns and disabilities that would leave less determined people in a bed for days, all while running his mouth off at and about anything and everything."
You may have noticed in that summation I kept going back to the fact that the main character apparently never shuts up. This is important because not only does it provide most of the humor within the franchise, but also because it is considered to be the main character's defining characteristic along with a driving need to help others. This graphic novel does not have that characteristic. It gets the second one down perfectly, but the first and more obvious of the two is completely absent. I read through this book multiple times just to make sure I didn't miss anything, and I didn't laugh even once. This story is missing the soul of the main character and through that, its own soul as well.
Even taking that out of the review, say for example you have no familiarity with The Dresden Files at all and thus not aware that Harry is supposed to be cracking wise all the time, the story is put simply boring. The reader is led to believe at first, along with Harry, that he is investigating a werewolf killing of a man named Talbot (I see what you did there), but the actual perpetrators are given away by the title. A ghoul and a goblin are responsible for the recent string of killings within the Talbot family - what a twist! I would have never expected a ghoul and a goblin to be involved in a story called Ghoul Goblin.
The rest of the story is similarly bland and uninspired as we go through the motions of predictability; almost no one trusts Harry despite the fact that people are dying in horrific ways and obviously supernatural stuff is happening' the people Harry is trying to protect seem bound and determined to die; a seemingly fringe character turns out to be a major antagonist; and a character that practically screams "more than they appear to be" turns out to be just that.
The final cap to this mess is a contrived ending wherein Harry is only able to triumph due to the interference of another supernatural entity that only appears in the final act. I know that Jim Butcher's name comes first on the writing credits of this story but I highly doubt that he was actually the one who put this together.
On a happier note, the art is pretty good. The covers included in the book are awesome, and the first time we see Dresden in this story is a 3 panel of him drowning followed by a full page spread of the Creature from the Black Lagoon dragging him underneath Lake Michigan. Ardian Syaf, the cover artist, has been known to be a good artist for quite some time; while interior artist Joseph Cooper is currently not a well-known name that can easily change if he keeps up with work like this.
Cooper's Dresden looks spot on for a younger version of the character (the story takes place between books 2 and 3, when Harry is about 25-26) and even though she only appears for one flashback panel, series regular Karrin Murphy is likewise given the same treatment.
Unfortunately, good art can't save a boring story. While I'll admit that almost all of Jim Butcher's books about Harry can be described as formulaic, this is usually easy to overlook and actually embrace due to the fact that the main character recognizes the cliches right along with the reader and is often the first to remark remark on the absurdity of it all. Without that, though, there isn't much to much to make you want to pick up this book.