The Dresden Files: Storm Front, Volume 2: Maelstrom - Jim Butcher, Ardian Syaf, Mark Powers Harry Dresden: The only openly practicing wizard in Chicago

This is volume two of the graphic novel adaptation of the novel, Storm Front. To copy my synopsis of the book/volume one:

"Harry Dresden is the only practicing wizard in the Yellow Pages and often works with the police on their "paranormal" crimes. One day, Lieutenant Murphy calls him up and presents him with a crime scene: two dead bodies, killed in a most brutal and obviously unnatural method, which some are trying to blame on Harry. Meanwhile, Harry is also hired to find the missing husband of Monica Sells."

To elaborate on volume two:

Harry Dresden has just saved himself from a demon who was attacking him and Susan. He continues to balance his two jobs: working on the murder of Tommy Tomm and Jennifer and finding Monica Sells' husband. Another person dies, and Monica abruptly withdraws her request.

As with the novel and volume one, I really enjoyed our protagonist, Harry. I love his cool powers, but I also like how he isn't overpowered. He can't just conjure anything or repair any situation with a wave of the wand. He often uses the mediocre to get him out of tough scrapes, which is far more interesting. Also, he has his share of weaknesses: he's terrible with women, he's grumpy, he overworks, he passes out when he's tired, he doesn't tell Murphy the whole truth and thus puts her in harm's way. Definitely a character I like.

Again, I like the world Dresden has created. In the graphic novel, I got a better grasp of how the magic worked, what was possible, what wasn't and what the magic looked like (the "Third Eye" scenes were creepy!) I mentioned that in the book, it was somewhat unclear, but I can definitely say that is not so here. I wasn't confused one bit.

The story is excellent. I love the blending of urban fantasy with mystery and Butcher writes it well. Although I am not a big fan where two seemingly disparate cases connect in the end, I thought it was well-done and interesting. The action is superb! Graphic novels are best when showing action scenes and this one is no different, and definitely uses the medium to the fullest. But there was also quite a bit of emotion and heart, such as when Dresden talks with Sells' daughter.

Now, onto the art. For the first part, the art style is basically the same from volume one: good, but somewhat sketchy around the ladies. Harry Dresden didn't look 100% like what I expected, but I liked it. The ladies, not so much. They all seemed to be cut out of the same cloth, with the same pointy chins, same face shape, etc. (this is particularly weird when you consider that Karrin is a blond, with I thought curly hair, Bianca is a sexy vampire, and Susan is a Mexican). However, in the second section, it's like a different artist took over and made the art style more like Anita Blake: softer, more varied ladies, but Dresden looks fairly feminine in some scenes, and there are tons of flecks on the page (getting rid of the clean quality of the previous artwork). I wished they hadn't switched; I preferred the more "edgy" look (yes, even if the ladies all looked the same!).

As for the rendering of the written word into the comic, I found for the most part it was good. I whipped through this book quickly, but I did take a short break to notice that Harry's inner dialogue was all over the page. While I adored the graphic novel as is, I think some of the text could have been cut out to lead to a more impactful visual imagery.

As with volume one, I closed this graphic novel feeling satisfied. The story was brilliant (as I knew it would be), but the new medium was REALLY put to good use. The characters are great, the action superbly rendered, and even if the art isn't what I wanted, it wasn't grotesque. If you like Dresden, you definitely need to check these out.