Back in the 1980s those tuneful New Zealand songsters Split Enz sang "History Never Repeats" while millions of 80s teens were playing Dungeons & Dragons and reading terrible black and white comics. Well, sometimes history does repeat, and today millions of former 80s teens are back playing Dungeons & Dragons and listening to Split Enz on their Spotify playlists while binge-watching entire seasons of Game Of Thrones. What they aren't doing is reading those comics, because those comics are long out of print, and also because they're awful.
Here we go with one of those bad boys, I think I saw "Talonz" open for "Midnight Skeletonz" and "Crucial Edge" at the all-ages skate-metal night down at the Masquerade? It's been a long time. Anyway what we got here is some airbrush, we got a dragon, we got a wizard, we have fire and magical puffs of smoke, I think I saw this on a pinball backglass at the bar in the Masquerade that I couldn't get into because I wasn't 21.
And hey! Two full pages of exposition explaining the entire world of Talonz and promising us adventure and giving us the thoughts of a character we're about to meet. PUT SOME OF IT IN ALL CAPS FOR EXTRA EMPHASIS. This is the comic book version of that story you get from the guy on the sidewalk about how he needs fourteen dollars and seventy-eight cents to get to Bridgeport to see his kids, every one of these comics has some sort of pompous over-explanatory info-dump promising us thrilling excitement, interdimensional tyranny, brave heroes, and that painstakingly typeset logo we'll no doubt come to cherish.
Well, we're off to a good start here with lightning and pointy mountains and a brave warrior thundering on his mighty steed past a nice Gothic font suitable for fantasy comics or official documents from the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht ordering your entire unit to the Eastern front.
Those pesky flying dinosaurs are no match for brave elfin steel. And they are called "daxyls" which is but one of the fascinating fantasy-type words you'll need to have memorized to enjoy this story.
Okay, you rolled a 7 and killed the daxyl with your +12 sword. Roll again. All right on the road ahead you see some tree trunks across the path and three Mercenaries Of the Xol. Yes, that's how it's pronounced. Do you stop, or do you curse them for forfeiting their humanity by aligning with devils? Roll a D12. Oh, bad luck.
"Feasting upon your black hearts" is something a "Rojec" might do. Got it. I'm keeping notes.
Look that's the thing about mercenaries, you can pay them enough to make them want to kill for you, but you can't pay them enough to make them want to die for you (John Cale reference). Those guys did their job, they made the roadblock and waved their swords around, what more do you want?
Our guy - whatever his name is - our guy is certainly "hurt badly... arrows!" He's wounded enough to start babbling incoherent nonsense. Surely "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" isn't going to be the actual name of a real character in this story?
Okay we need a panel where it looks as if this new character, this running pouch-delivery character, where it looks as if he's seeing something important or yelling something or shocked by something, and yet that shocked expression panel can't actually tie into any sort of narrative purpose. Can you make this happen, Talonz?
Never before in the history of comics has the tension of "knocking or not knocking" been rendered with such overly cross-hatched finesse.
And with this page Talonz gives us the final piece in the Dungeons & Dragons collection, the chesty fantasy maiden, delivering prime fantasy dialogue like "The master plans strategy for... a conflict!" involving "forces that mere mortals as we could never understand!"
Wait, look, this is it, this is "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" himself! He's a big, polite dragon. Why isn't he named "Talonz?" Is there even a character named "Talonz" in this comic? Now I'm starting to feel taken advantage of.
Yes, we know our brave rider, whoever he was, sacrificed his life to deliver this pouch and we should probably honor his sacrifice and get around to opening the pouch, but the characters seem to be on a roll with lots of chunks of exposition about how surely the Xol cannot stand against the combined might of the Rojec here in Agama, so that pouch can wait.
But enough of these things. Give "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" the pouch and watch him try to open it with his giant dragon hands. This should be amusing.
"May the winds of joy bear you swiftly to the spectral lair" sounds to me like a fancy way of saying "may the bird of paradise fly up your nose" but hey, who am I to question the wisdom of "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" when he's discussing his brother "O'Varin Zo'Bahl?"
This is why people hate these things. Say you're sitting around reading this thing and somebody comes up and asks you what you're reading. Are you going to say "Well, this is a comic book about how a dragon named "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" just was delivered the dragon heart of his dragon brother "O'Varin Zo'Bahl" and it takes place in the fantasy world of Agama where the Xol are battling the Rojec, and.." Hell no, you aren't going to babble all that nonsense. You're going to say "Uh, nothing" and you'll shove the comic book under the seat cushion of the sofa and turn on the TV and watch Billy Joel begin his ill-fated romance with Christy Brinkley on MTV. That's what you'll do.
I know the text says "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" here is adding his brother's dragon heart to his own dragon heart giving himself 2X the dragon heart power, but what it looks like he's doing is applying some sort of dragon deodorant/antiperspirant giving himself 24-hour dragon protection against dragon wetness and dragon odor. That's what it looks like to me.
With this panel, we've kicked the fantasy role playing dialogue up two or three notches. Any time people start talking about "as is my destiny" that means you're in for a two or three minute montage of people sharpening swords, saddling horses, dramatically riding out through the castle gates, a few long shots of rutted dusty dirt roads amidst countryside carefully framed to avoid power lines or billboards. What I'm saying is, you can safely go to the rest room.
"Battle dream?" This insane unicorn-horn dragon had a BATTLE DREAM? That must have been AWESOME! Why not show us the battle dream instead of pages and pages of pointy-eared babblers whining about Xol and Rojec and curses and devils? BATTLE DREAM NEXT TIME, COMIC!
I bet you thought we weren't going to see any more daxyls in this comic, even after they were carefully introduced and named. Well, you obviously need to read more terrible fantasy comics. Meanwhile "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" here will start zapping them out of the sky while the artist makes "pew pew" noises during both the pencilling and inking stages. Look we aren't drawing these things to NOT make "pew pew" noises, I can assure you.
Are YOU a dragon whose interactions with impotent minions lead only to inane chafing? Well, there are several products on the market, including gels and sticks, but I prefer good old fashioned baby powder to solve my inane chafing problems.
(heavy metal guitar intensifies)
Aw man the evil black wizard warlock sorcerer, who may be Xol, or may be OF the Xol, well, that no-nose dude has a Rojec Heart! And that would be bad news, I think, if "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" didn't have two of the things already. Blast him with 2X the Rojec Heart power, "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri!"
These two guys are gonna talk each other to death or what? Less gabbin', more blastin'! There's a Ms. Pac-Man down at the arcade I could be playing instead of reading you, you know!
So the big question I have here is, did they draw this panel first and then decide to use it for the cover, or did they draw the cover and then just sort of write the story around it? Could go either way, I guess.
Yes, scaly one! The "fanny pack" is that vital fashion accessory no self-respecting Black Wizard would be without!
And with a scintillating burst of mystical forces beyond our comprehension, "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" is blasted across the dimensions onto the set of "Top Gun," or maybe "Iron Eagle," or if we're lucky, "Iron Eagle II."
The pilots of the 33rd Fighter Wing of Air Education And Training Command's Nineteenth Air Force aren't known for their Rojec-knowing expertise, no.
"Gold 3 is down! Repeat, Gold 3 is down! Am changing perspective to resemble plane on Air Force Recruiting Pamphlet artist had lying around the studio and taking evasive action! May actually join the Air Force to prevent having to draw any more of these comics! Over!"
It's the 1980s so you can destroy all the expensive fighter planes you want, but you have to show the crew parachuting away to safety. This was mandated by the "GI Joe Ruling" of 1986, which also required the use of robot duplicates, stun beams, and "it was all a dream" endings.
And just when it seemed like we were going to get a comic book version of the classic Toho flying monster vs jet plane epic "Rodan," "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" vanishes in a burst of screen tone and we are left with a nicely typeset "to be continued" and lots and lots of questions. First off, will there ever be another issue of "Talonz" (apparently not) and will we ever learn how to pronounce "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" (no) and lastly, who are these people gracing the back cover?
Staff Blonde, Asian Martial Arts Guy, and Tink R. Belle stand ready to hide their feet, which I am told are hard to draw, behind that ubiquitous Talonz logo and whet our appetites for Talonz, which here in the 21st Century means a chain of nail salons, not dragon-filled fantasy adventure. Who are these people and why did this comic waste page after page on people running up stairs, dragons babbling about the destiny of all who live in Agama, and trash-talk rap duels between dark wizards of Xol and "Lord O'Capetal Ka'yri" when it could have given us the adventures of these people? I'm willing to bet there aren't any apostrophes in *their* names.
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