The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal, by Clint, Griffin, Justin and Travis McElroy and illustrated by Carey Pietsch

Cover for The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal. From left to right, Merle, Taako and Magnus are leaning against the front of a battlewagon. Merle is holding the adamant spanner, Taako has the umbra staff and is twirling a ring of keys and Magnus is tossing a D20. In the top left corner, Griffin McElroy in a gaming headset waves a checkered starting flag. 
The snapchat caption reads: "Hell yeah, here we go."

I really adore the Adventure Zone graphic novels. They’re a really fun supplement to the Balance Arc of the podcast. Though it’s hardly required to listen to the podcast to read the graphic novels. There’s no additional information to be found in the graphic novels save for changes made due to the adaptation process. 

For example, Wizards of the Coast LLC, the company behind the game Dungeons & Dragons, has copyright on things like place and spell names in the game. So in the graphic novels the town of Neverwinter has become Eversummer, and other things like that. For me the biggest tragedy was losing the name Klarg. However, some of the other changes, in my opinion, improve the story.

If you aren’t familiar with the Balance Arc of The Adventure Zone, the three main chucklefucks, Merle, Taako and Magnus, are recruited by the Bureau of Balance to retrieve seven dangerous artifacts to save the world, but there are other secret goings on too. “Petals to the Metal” is the third act of the story, and our heroes converge on the town of Goldcliff looking to retrieve the Gaia Sash. 

I really love the art for these books, it’s expressive and stylized in a way that is really fitting for each character. Since The Adventure Zone started out in an audio only medium, the fandom surrounding his has an absolutely huge range of ways that each character is drawn, so cementing one look for the graphic novel had to have been a challenge, and I really appreciate that they’ve included other art in the back of the book that shows different takes on the characters. 

In the panel Magnus slams open the door to the Director's office declaring "I want to  report that one of your vendors is selling tainted unicorn dick!" 
The Director has a rather shocked and exasperated expression the introduction card for her reads: "The Director; Race: Human; Class: Director; Proficiencies: managing clandestine organizations, keeping secrets, being patient with pains-in-the-ass (pain-in-the-asses?)"
The snapchat caption reads: "I have a lot of feelings about how expressive the art is for both comedic and serious scenarios."

In this book, I was particularly struck by how Captain Captain Bane was drawn. I don’t think I’d ever imagined him particularly clearly, but it was definitely nowhere near the tender eyed beefy o’ burley we got. I’m definitely not complaining though, I really love what was done with Captain Bane in the graphic novel. Because podcast as a medium doesn’t really allow for concurrent storytelling and interactions between NPCs in D&D can get weird, because it’s just the DM talking to themself, we didn’t initially get a huge amount of relationship development between Captain Bane and Lieutenant Hurley, and it was really nice to see more of Captain Bane throughout, especially considering how his character ends the book/act.

Two comic panels.
The first is a shot of an empty finish line, there are some vaguely drawn characters in the bleachers. 
The second panel is a close of up three figures in the bleachers, the two characters in the background are leaning forward eyes wide in anticipation. The character in the foreground in Captain Captain Bane, a man with a large square jaw and chin, bushy brown mustache and swept back collar length brown hair. He is looking through binoculars and appears very concerned. His speech bubble reads: "C'mon Hurley..." 
The snapchat caption reads:  "I love how much more we get of the Hurley and Bane friendship in this."

Lastly, I do want to talk about Hurley and Sloane, our tragic antagonist. They were a lesbian couple from the moment they were introduced, however, in the podcast it was predominantly subtext. In the timeline of things I think this was where Griffin, the DM, was beginning to sort through adding queer characters into the show. The book makes it explicit, they were girlfriends before Sloane was corrupted by the Gaia Sash. 

Furthermore, as I mentioned before this was written at the beginning of the gay character learning curve for the boys. So in the podcast Hurley and Sloane fall pray to the Bury Your Gays trope. Hurley is mortally wounded and Sloane turns them both into a tree. Learning from his mistakes, Griffin brought back Hurley and Sloane as dryads in the Balance arc finale “The Day of Story and Song.” The graphic novel takes that one step further and makes explicit that it is Sloane’s intent to turn them into a dryads in order to save Hurley’s life. By the end of the book, while Tres Horny Boys don’t know that Hurley and Sloane are alive, we the audience get to see Hurley and Sloane as the dryad protectors of Goldcliff. All in all I think it’s a really beautiful fix to what was initially the ignorant usage of a bad trope. 

Full page, Hurley and Sloane standing next to each other, smiling and blushing in the first panel, and looking determined in the second. Hurley is the halfling on the left with short light pink hair (with tufts on the tops of her feet) and Sloane is a half elf with long black hair. Their skin is brown and lined to look like wood, they both have flowers in their hair. 
The snapchat caption is in rainbow bubble letters and reads: "Resurrect your gays."

One, uh, “warning.” There are three pages of Merle (played by the McElroy father, Clint) seducing some vines. It’s not NSFW or anything, but it’s an experience I think one might want to be prepared for is all, especially if  you’re coming in having not listened to the podcast. In conclusion:

Merle, a dwarf with brown skin and white hair and beard, stands in a pool of water while yelling at the Gaia Sash, a grey sash that appears to be woven together from vines. His speech bubble reads: "I don't need your help to fuck an onion!"
In the background, Taako, Magnus, Captain Bane, and other members of the Goldcliff militia stand around watching the scene in confusion.

“Petals to the Metal” as well as the previous two books, can be found here.

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