This review of World of Warcraft: The Dragons of Outland Volume 2 – Nexus Point is of the spoiler-free variety (since most of this lore is known).
It’s not uncommon for a sequel to of a piece of media to pick up where its predecessor left off. In Nexus Point, the second (and likely final) installment of the The Dragons of Outland trilogy, writer Richard A. Knaak takes it to the next level. The manga picks up exactly where Shadow Wing left off, with Ragnok Bloodreaver baring down on the portal with the Dragonmaw clan army backed by mind-controlled nether dragons. Jorad Mace and his broken friend, Warrith, are hot on Bloodreaver’s heels. Meanwhile, Tyri, the blue dragon, discovers a shocking revelation.
Well, discovering that the nether dragons are spawned from Black dragonflight eggs mixed with arcane energies from Draenor’s destruction would have been shocking. Had we not learned about it ages ago. Scheduling issues took the wind out of the story’s sails for me early, and the book never fully recovered.
The story thread of Ragnok and Jorad battling it out in front of the Dark Portal felt incredibly forced. Their struggle, which is a visual treat from Jae-Hwan Kim, appears to have been created just to precipitate the nether dragons escape to Azeroth, where the real tale begins. Or to show off Kim’s talents. Being back in Outland felt odd, yet refreshing for the early part of Nexus Point. Then the reader is thrust to the icy shores of Northrend and the magical leys of Coldarra, where little happens. Truthfully, the tale could have revolved around Tyri and her two nether companions, Zzeraku and Valoku. Everything else was fluff, indirectly leading them to their greater purpose without any interesting character development, unknown details or revelations by those that played second fiddle.
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Kim’s work generally flourishes under Knaak’s writing, and the opening of Nexus Point was no different. A devious cover, encompassing battles, detailed faces and backdrops, fully-drawn panes, Dragonball Z displays of power, it was all there. You’ll once again find yourself in awe of his talent. Until it becomes dragon-on-dragon battles, then confusion sets in. Without any dialog to key the reader to the sides of battle it became difficult following who was dominating whom. Kim attempted to distinguish the factions using shading techniques- darker for the corporeal blues and faint shading for the phase-shifting nether beings – but it was only partially successful. Double takes will be required.
It’s unfortunate that the swan song for the Tokyopop-Blizzard union turned out to be a bit of a dud. Knaak normally provides fantastic dragon-based storyarcs with Kim’s venerable artistic touches accentuating the story’s potency. Not so for the dream team’s most recent penwork. The story’s focal point was robbed of its impact by scheduling conflicts. Even if we forgive this hiccup, the tale did not have the legs to stand next to Shadow Wing, let alone The Sunwell Trilogy.
World of Warcraft: Dragons of Outland Volume 2 – Nexus Point is available now. It’s unlikely that the untitled Volume 3 will ever see the light of day given the recent news. But there’s plenty of other fantastic stories to get your mitts on.