Storm Front and Welcome to the Jungle, by Jim Butcher

When it comes to pulp fiction, I think shorter is better. This is why I’ve always liked Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, but I love his graphic-novel reworkings of the same material. The original books feature a lively mix of violence, fantasy, and humor, but the graphic novel adaptations have boiled those attributes down, making the violence gorier, the fantasy more colorful, and the one-liners more pithy.

Of the two titles Random House have released thus far, one is a faithful adaptation of Butcher’s first novel, The Dresden Files: Storm Front, and the other—The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle—is a original story written exclusively for comics. Both stories center on Harry Dresden, a perpetually down-on-his-luck wizard working in downtown Chicago. Unsurprisingly, there’s not much of a demand for modern-day wizardry, but Harry ekes out a living from the odd P.I. job, and assisting the Chicago PD with some of their weirder cases.

The graphic novel version of Storm Front covers the first section of the original book. As the story opens, Dresden picks up two seemingly unrelated cases: the cops hire him to look into a murder involving victims from both a supernatural brothel and the local mafia, and a distraught wife asks him to look into the disappearance of her husband, who seems to have been dabbling in sorcery. Welcome to the Jungle is a standalone story, focusing on the mauling death of a security guard in the Lincoln Park Zoo. While the cops are leaning toward blaming one of the animals (“The gorilla did it.”), Harry is convinced that the manner of the man’s death—not to mention the behavior of some of the zookeepers—proves that supernatural forces were afoot.

While it’s nice to see a graphic adaptation give sufficient weight to its source material*, being forced to wait for one more book (maybe even two?) to finish the story started in Storm Front is frustrating. Random House has this series on a brisk every-four-months release schedule, but readers fond of immediate gratification might want to hold off until the first storyline is completely out. Meanwhile, they should definitely check out Welcome to the Jungle, which offers all the trademark Dresden Files fun—smackdowns of and by evildoers, combined with a healthy dollop of self-deprecating humor—in a tidily wrapped-up package.

*As I am currently suffering through Marvel’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which they have condensed down to about 150 pages of low-budget art and dumbed-down dialogue, this faithful adaptation came as a particular delight.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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