I got my copy of the new Penny Arcade book in the post this morning, Epic Legends of the Magic Sword Kings. It not only continues their tradition of great but incongruous titles (starting with their first volume, Attack of the Bacon Robots) but brings together all of their comics from 2001 in one neat package, complete with some extra artwork and some of the best news posts.
I’ve been a fan of PA for some time – I can put my introduction to their oeuvre somewhere in the first book, circa 1999 – but, as with The Simpsons when watching the early seasons on DVD, it’s hard not to look at the older stuff with a more critical eye. Not only does it not look as good as the new ones but the writing isn’t as sharp and the characters haven’t yet found their niche.
Same thing here. The first book was good but it wasn’t until near the end that the pieces were all falling into place. This book is where things start to feel right. They of course have the endless source of material that was the early PS2/Xbox/GameCube conflict and the end of the Dreamcast (*sniff*), but it also helps that it doesn’t look like it was drawn by a GCSE art student.
They already have the next two books, titled The Warsun Prophecies and Birds Are Weird, in the pipeline, but this one gets the thumbs up from me. There are some really classic strips in there and for gamers it provides a handy chronicle of what seems like an age ago.