Review by Frank Plowright
Having introduced his wizard detective Harry Dresden to comic readers in the prequel Welcome to the Jungle, Jim Butcher moves on to the adaptation of his first Dresden Files novel, which is split over this and the following Maelstrom. Dresden occupies a world where supernatural creatures and magic exist, but most people are unaware of this, and he’s occasionally taken on as an investigator by the police, which is where Storm Front opens. The hearts have been ripped out of a copulating couple, one of whom was a gangster’s bodyguard, and the police need some help. Unfortunately, those acting as watchdogs for the supernatural community consider Dresden may be responsible, and he’s already on a warning. Simultaneously, Dresden is hired by Monica Sells to look for her missing husband.
Welcome to the Jungle wasn’t the prequel treat it was intended as, but Storm Front is far better. Butcher’s now sharing the writing with Mark Powers, adapting his original plot, and the object of that was to be an introduction to Dresden, his world and his enemies, and The Gathering Storm works on that score. In many ways Dresden is the typical down at heel private investigator, but what makes him different is that he knows his magic. Given his trenchcoat and some attitudes, comparisons with John Constantine are obvious, but Dresden’s personality is far more engaging.
Still very early in his career, Ardian Syaf hasn’t mastered laying out a story for visual appeal. He rarely deviates from a head and shoulders view with little background detail, and it doesn’t make for interesting pages. It’s quite the relief when early in the second chapter Dresden talks with a faerie, meaning Syaf actually has to draw a full figure and some background. Aware that he was dealing with stock supernatural characters in the novels, Butcher ensured there was something different about them, and Syaf brings that out well, with a hideous vampire and an anything but cute faerie.
The final chapter is a desperate battle well plotted, but considering it’s only taken us to the halfway point of the adaptation, perhaps leading toward some cliffhanger would have been more advisable. Both parts of Storm Front can also be be found in paperback as the first Dresden Files Omnibus, along with the subsequent adaptation of Full Moon and the earlier Welcome to the Jungle.