Harry Dresden’s life hasn’t been an easy one—his parents died while he was young and Harry spent the better part of his youth in the foster care system before being rescued by a man who saw the potential for power in him. He mentored Harry in the Laws of Magic and the White Council, a group monitoring magicians around the world and ensuring they don’t go rogue. He also tried to turn Harry into his willing slave, eventually forcing Harry to kill him in an act of self-defense.
By using magic to kill, Harry violated the White Council’s First Law. Harry was granted a strict one-strike-and-you’re-out form of probation and spent most of his adult life with a Warden—the police of the magical world—breathing down his neck, just waiting for him to slip up and break The Laws of Magic again.
Fast forward several years: war breaks out between The White Council and The Red Court of Vampires. Following an attack which killed a goodly number of Council members and most of The Wardens, The White Council became desperate enough to draft Harry Dresden into service. The decision didn’t thrill Harry either and he liked it even less when he was promoted to regional commander after his first battle as a Warden.
Still, Harry’s never been one to shirk his duty when the fate of all humanity is at risk. Harry finds himself leading a trio of rookie Wardens on a mission to retrieve several members of The Venatori Umbrorum (a scholarly organization assisting The White Council in the war) from a safe-house in rural Iowa. However, it quickly becomes apparent that their mission has been compromised and The Red Court is lying in wait. Worse yet, the safe-house protects a secret that could bring about the end of the world for humans and vampires alike.
Set between the novels Dead Beat and Proven Guilty, it’s no surprise that War Cry perfectly captures the spirit of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels. Butcher co-wrote this story with writer Mark Powers, so Harry’s voice is perfect throughout the story, as are the personalities of the few returning characters. There are a number of nods to the novels, but great care is taken to make sure this story is accessible to new readers, thus turning these references into Easter Eggs for long-time Dresden fans.
I wish the artwork would have measured up to the story. Carlos Gomez is a wonderful artist when it comes to action sequences, but in this case, the characters often look disfigured or off-model. A few of the character designs are questionable, especially two of the female Venatori Umbrorum members dressed like sexy librarians with tight skirts and blouses.
Worse yet, there are some things in the artwork that don’t make sense within the context of the universe. For example, the background of Harry’s apartment reveals a remote control, when it’s a key part of the lore of the Dresden Files universe that modern technology and wizards don’t mix. In addition, the final page spoils the identity of a major villain, whose role in the events of the books isn’t revealed until several volumes later. This may be forgivable given that this book was likely aimed at long-time Dresden Files fans. Yet it still seems like a glaring flaw if this book was meant to lure any comic fans into reading the complete series.
War Cry is rated T+ for teens and up. I would suggest it be aimed at older teens, given that some of the bloodshed and violence involving impaled vampires is rather graphic—one particularly gruesome image being of a female vampire taking a sword through the back of her head and it emerging out of her mouth.
Dresden Files: War Cry
by Jim Butcher and Mark Powers
Art by Carlos Gomez
Dynamite Entertainment, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: T+ (16+)