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Comic Book / The Adventure Zone

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It's the Adventure Zone!

The Adventure Zone is the graphic novel adaptation of the fantasy-RPG podcast of the same name, written by the McElroy Brothers (Justin, Travis, and Griffin) and their father Clint, and illustrated by Carey Pietsch. The novel roughly follows the podcast's first campaign, The Adventure Zone: Balance, with minor changes and legally necessary name alterations. The story follows human fighter Magnus Burnsides, Elven wizard Taako, and Dwarven cleric Merle Highchurch as they take a job from Merle's cousin, Bogard Stoneseeker, to deliver supplies to the nearby town of Haverdale. When the delivery goes south, the three adventurers track down Bogard and find themselves embroiled in a conflict larger than they expected.

The first arc, Here There Be Gerblins, was released in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim, including several weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list (much to the glee and surprise of the McElroys). The second arc, Murder on the Rockport Limited, was released July 16, 2019.


The graphic novel contains the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Carey Fangbattle, Boyland and Brad can be spotted in the cannon hanger at the end of Here There Be Gerblins, though in the original podcast Carey and Boyland don't appear for another three arcs and Brad for even longer. Carey is also named in Murder on the Rockport Limited as having discovered Leeman Kessler's dead body.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In the GN, Barry Bluejeans is the one responsible for Bogard's outrage. Regardless of his intentions, this makes him look worse than his original characterization in the podcast.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In Here There Be Gerblins, Taako displays some uncharacteristic initial discomfort with killing and seems irritated (rather than amused) by Griffin's joking assertion that the goblins he killed were innocent. Magnus and Merle spend some time trying to alert the citizens of Haverdale to the growing flames, rather than immediately running for cover. And ultimately, all three are genuinely dismayed by the obliteration of Haverdale, rather than treating the entire ordeal as a joke.
  • Adaptation Distillation: several things are removed during the transition from podcast to graphic novel, most likely for timing and pacing issues.
    • Renee the Jackhammer Robot is absent, and instead it is Taako, via Merle, who knocks Spider Bryan into the pit.
    • The entire scene with the slavers/scavengers is removed. Because of this, it is Barry who incidentally enrages Bogard rather than Kurtze, the young orcish boy the adventurers rescue from the slavers.
    • In the podcast, the three adventurers spend several weeks at the Bureau before the events of Murder On the Rockport Limited. In the novel, they receive their second mission the same day they are inoculated, and their roommate Robbie/Pringles goes unseen, as he's simply not in the room when they arrive (although much of his stuff is).
  • And the Adventure Continues: the three adventures have been hired and inoculated by the Bureau of Balance, and suddenly are able to understand the previously-censored words. The Director stands in front of the Voidfish, ready to give them a proper introduction to the Bureau.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Griffin appears in the graphic novel as the Dungeon Master, the same role he filled in the original podcast, which all the characters acknowledge as an omnipotent rule-master. He serves the same role as a Dungeon Master would in a standard game of D&D, by offering difficulties on challenges, telling the heroes what skills they should use, and providing suggestions and commentary. The first book lists one of his proficiencies as "Podcasting", a reference to the original format of the story. And to top it off, he literally breaks the walls of the art, as every panel he appears in has his arms or head poking out of the panel and into the white space between.
    • When reintroduced to Carey in Murder on the Rockport Limited, Magnus remarks he remembers her from "the first book." He also mentions that they'll remember Graham... only to say later that "in 8 pages" they'll just remember him as the "Juicy Wizard".
    • Angus McDonald says that they were so distracted in page 75, that they didn't notice Jenkins executing his plan.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: a strange, recursive version of this trope. In one episode of the podcast, Clint mentions that they should get the brothers' "little play friend", Lin-Manuel Miranda, to guest star on the podcast.note  During the press tour for the first graphic novel, Miranda filled in and played Taako at a reading in New York when Justin was unable to attend.
    • In-Universe Griffin states that if they were ever to make an audiobook, Yahvvie would be played by Kelsey Grammer. He also supplies that Barry Bluejeans looks like the exact midpoint between John Goodman and John Stamos: Tom Arnold.
  • Dungeon Master: Griffin reprises his role as DM from the podcast, although in a reduced form, essentially offering suggestions, rules, and, most commonly, commentary on the goings-on of the heroes.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When Magnus says the whole town is destroyed, Taako starts ranting about how they've seen destroyed towns before, nothing that a fundraiser can't solve... And then they get out of the well, and realizes that Haverdale wasn't destroyed. It was glassed.
  • Fastball Special: Taako uses Mage Hand to launch Merle at Spider Bryan, knocking both of them into the pit.
  • Foreshadowing: Chapter 8 of Murder on the Rockport Limited makes it a lot more apparent that there's something going on behind the Director and the Red Robes.
    • When Lucretia is doing her welcome speech for the adventurers, she turns around, realizes who they are, and pauses for a bit before continuing.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Murder on the Rockport Limited, as the Director and Killian tell the boys about the circumstances leading up to their mission, they roll out a grid mat and pull out a batch of miniatures.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Merle has nearly talked Bogard down, until Barry tries to take the gauntlet, which causes Bogard to lose control.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the podcast, real-world Motel 6 spokesman Tom Bodett is a character in the Murder on the Rockport Limited arc. The comic refers to him solely as "Thomas", though one of his proficiencies is listed (per the real Bodett's catchphrase) as "leaving a light on for you".
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Taako learns that the Bureau of Balance has acquired none of the grand relics before they came along, he calls out the Director, saying that the organization is too confidential for him to trust the organization. He calms down after Killian says his name.
  • Properly Paranoid: Taako freaks out when he learns that the Bureau of Balance has obtained zero grand relics without them and wants to learn more about what the Director is keeping secret for them. At the time, it seemed a little hostile from his part, but people who know the full story would know that he has a lot more to be mad at her considering what she was keeping away from them.
  • Sequel Hook: the first novel ends with the words "The Adventure Continues in The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited!".
  • Shirtless Scene: There's a panel that's simply the boys changing into their outfits, exposing Magnus's detailed chest and also showing a bit of Taako's as well.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The podcast began with most of the trappings of the Dungeons & Dragons 5e Starter Kit and continued to use Faerûn as its setting after that. As such, it features the unauthorized use of many trademarked terms, meaning some names had to be changed for the comic adaptations:
    • Merle's cousin Gundren Rockseeker becomes Bogard Stoneseeker.
    • Yeemick, the gerblin who tries to overthrow Klarg/G'nash (see below), becomes Yahvvie.
    • Klarg the bug/hugbear becomes G'nash.
    • Phandalin becomes Haverdale, and Wave Echo Cave becomes the Cavern of Dangling Death.
    • The city of Neverwinter is renamed Eversummer.
    • Averted, intriguingly, with Fantasy Costco, which is still named as such.
    • Garfield is an interesting case: the podcast maintains deliberate ambiguity over whether he's "the lasagna cat", and the comic edges in favor of this by giving him a visibly orange hue and protruding ears under his robes.

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