ADVANCE REVIEW: A Game of Thrones #1

Cover by Alex Ross

A Game Of Thrones #1

Based on the novel by George R.R. Martin
Adapted by Daniel Abraham
Art by Tommy Patterson
Letters by Marshall Dillon
Colors by Ivan Nunes
Covers by Alex Ross and Mike S. Miller

Dynamite Entertainment / $3.99 / 32 pages

Unless you’ve been living beyond the Wall, you’re surely aware of what a hot property A Game Of Thrones is right now. Starting life as the first book in George R.R. Martin’s hugely popular fantasy epic A Song Of Ice And Fire, it has since been adapted into a critically acclaimed HBO series, for which actor Peter Dinklage has just won an Emmy.

So it’s fortuitous timing for Dynamite to bring out the comics adaptation now. After all, it isn’t as though someone just got the idea to turn it into a comic; the efforts actually began back in 2003, when the Dabel Brothers studio produced the Hedge Knight miniseries, a prequel of sorts to the saga, based on the novella by Martin. The Dabels bounced around to a number of different publishers including Image, Devil’s Due, and Marvel (where a follow-up to the Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, was produced), eventually finding themselves in dire financial straits, before being bought out in 2009 by Dynamite, which is where we find the saga now.

Interestingly, there is no mention of the Dabels on the credits page, leading me to wonder if they still have any involvement with Dynamite, or whether Dynamite has simply taken over whatever properties they had and waved the Brothers goodbye. To be honest, I wouldn’t be too broken up if the latter were the case. While the Dabels have excellent taste in fiction, and brought a lot of properties to comics that might have otherwise been ignored,, their production values always felt a little low-rent, and they were not able to afford top talent to work on the books. And that’s putting aside all the issues with lateness and unfinished projects.

So for Dynamite to be taking over a top-notch property like A Game of Thrones, it had me excited. They regularly work with top talent like Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, Alex Ross, Mike Carey, Matt Wagner, and so forth. If anyone could do this series justice, surely they could. Unfortunately, those deep resources really aren’t in evidence here. In fact, despite their absence from the credits, this still feels very much like a Dabel Brothers book. That’s not to say it’s horrible. Artist Tommy Patterson tells the story clearly enough, but his faces show a very limited range of emotion; it’s almost uniformly open mouths and wide eyes, regardless of the situation.

Daniel Abraham faces an admittedly tough challenge in adapting the story, and it’s difficult to compare such things across media. This first issue covers the prologue and roughly the first three chapters of the book; by contrast, the first hour long episode of the TV series covers the prologue and roughly the first nine chapters. Still, it feels thin, especially when judged against the rich tapestry that Martin wove in the books. Too often with comic adaptations of novels, the writer seems to look at the novel as a series of plot beats that must be hit one after another, and loses sight of the feeling the story is supposed to give the reader. That’s what happens here; it covers the plot beats well enough, but it goes through them so quickly that we’re never really given a chance to linger, and get a feel for these characters and their world.

I understand the limitations inherent in producing a series like this; you never know for sure how it’s going to sell, so committing the dollars for top talent, or allowing the story to stretch out, is risky. But given just how popular A Game Of Thrones is right now, I think those are risks worth taking. This is the kind of series that can bring new readers into comic shops; why not put your best foot forward? Now, if you’re already a comics fan and you love A Game Of Thrones, you may want to pick this series up, just to see how the story is translated to the comic medium. But if you’re only one or the other, it probably isn’t worth bothering– you’re better off just reading the novels or watching the TV series. Which makes this pretty much the definition of a missed opportunity.

Story: 3 / Art: 3 / Overall: 3

(Out of 5 Stars)



  1. I think this series is doomed to fail, after people have seen the fantastic HBO series and how close it was to the book, I don’t think this will be on people’s must buy list.

    • Maybe you’re right, a lot of things I’ve liked in the past have been canceled or failed financially because of my rare taste. But then again maybe you’re wrong because as a person who no longer has HBO (and doesn’t watch tv at all) as well as being someone who doesn’t have the time to read a novel during short commutes this is the perfect medium I’ve been waiting for to paraphrase the story. Yes it might not be what the original writer intended but I can live with that.

  2. It’s a shame this seems like a mediocre book. I actually just finished the novel last week and absolutely loved it. Now I’m waiting for HBO to put the DVD out so I can see the show!

  3. I agree with the review, but as a huge fan of the books I really can’t miss this. I have been dreaming of a comics adaptation for years. So for better or worse I am in it for the long hall. I wish they could devote a whole issue to one chapter if they have to, just really take their time and tell the story. Its meant to be a slow burn.

  4. Is this just an adaption of the novel? Because that seems rather… pointless.

    Hedge Knight was a GoT prequel series?

    • Hedge Knight takes place in the same universe, but around 90 years before the events of GoT. It’s not a prequel, but a good story.

  5. The HBO series is good, but it takes a lot of liberties and has not done a good job of showing any of the large battles.

  6. I do not have HBO, but have read all the books. I am going to give this one a whirl out of curiosity. I want to see how my interpretation of Martin’s world compares with that of others.

  7. I’ll be buying it, it has to live up against Hedge Knight though. I’ll always prefer to read a story in a comic book compared to prose any day.

    @Matt Adler, Dabel is still listed in the Patricia Briggs comics, so I think the Dabel bros only had rights to Hedge Knight.