Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher
CLASSIFICATION: If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, or the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter comic books, then The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle will be perfect for you. Like those, Welcome to the Jungle boasts a fun mix of fast-paced supernatural action, humor and a dash of mystery/thrills. This graphic novel in particular is pretty tame in the violence/language department and is suitable for teen readers and above.
FORMAT/INFO: Welcome to the Jungle is 160 pages long and since it collects the entire 4-issue miniseries, the graphic novel is broken up into four Chapters. The graphic novel also includes an introduction by Jim Butcher, a Cover Gallery showcasing the covers provided by Ardian Syaf and Chris McGrath, and Concept Artwork by Ardian Syaf with notes by Jim Butcher. The story is self-contained and occurs immediately before the events of Storm Front.
October 14, 2008 marked the North American Hardcover publication of Welcome to the Jungle via Del Rey/Dabel Brothers. The cover artwork was provided by Chris McGrath.
ANALYSIS: I’d been looking forward to the graphic novel release of Welcome to the Jungle for two main reasons: 1) Because I’m a huge fan of the Dabel Brothers, whom I’ve been following for years now. And 2), because I’ve wanted to read The Dresden Files for a while now and thought the graphic novel was an excellent starting point, especially since it’s a direct prequel to Storm Front, the first book in the series. So was it worth it? Well, let’s just say that after finishing the graphic novel I had to immediately start reading Storm Front, which I absolutely loved.
Now, having read Storm Front, I can safely say that the graphic novel authentically captures the spirit and tone of the book, including Harry Dresden’s ‘everyman’ attitude and sardonic wit, supernatural elements that are both familiar and creative, and a plot that places Harry in impossible situations, not to mention a little mystery that takes an unexpected twist or two. Plus, Murphy, Carmichael, Bob the Skull, Mister, Harry’s blue beetle, and his money problems all show up as well which was cool, but I do wish the graphic novel had talked a little bit more about Harry’s past — especially regarding his parents — and the Doom of Damocles.
Of the actual writing, I guess reading all of those comic books really paid off, because Welcome to the Jungle felt like it was written by a veteran. Granted, the graphic novel lacks the depth offered by an actual book, and doesn’t come off quite as edgy or emotional as Storm Front did — in fact, the graphic novel seemed to embrace its humorous side more — but I thought the writing was well-paced and efficient, with my only complaints being the little recaps at the beginning of the first couple of “chapters” and the numerous wisecracks.
As far as the art, Ardian Syaf doesn’t really dazzle the reader with a distinctive style — not like Adi Granov, Ben Templesmith or Dave McKean — but he is consistent and more than competent, backed by outstanding inking that really brings the pencils to life.
CONCLUSION: Welcome to the Jungle is not going to redefine the comic book industry, but it looks great, and more importantly, is a lot of fun to read. So whether you’re a long-time fan of Jim Butcher, curious about The Dresden Files like I was, or just in the mood to read about an ass-kicking wizard, then Welcome to the Jungle is the place to be. And if you end up liking this, then keep an eye out for the Dabel Brothers’ adaptation of Storm Front.