Saturday, July 11, 2009

Forgotten Realms: Issue 4 – The Hand of Vaprak (Part 4 of 4)

The comic begins with Priam Agrivar dying.  In fact, the only thing keeping him alive seems to be his need to recap the last three issues. 

I just love the image of Vartan's soul screaming. Luckily for him, the cavalry from last issue has arrived to bring him back from the brink.  A quick lay on hands from “healing potion” administered to him by Dragonbait and Agrivar is back on his feet.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much they can do for the petrified elf.  Alias is anxious to keep going, but Agrivar demands some answers.

I am not a bard, but I was made by one! After some prompting by Dragonbait, Alias tells the story of the hand. She explains that a young Elminster fought a young Gornak and severed his hand.  Unknown to Elminster, the troll-god Vaprak had caused Gornak’s hand to become the legendary ogre’s paw.  While Elminster was studying the strange magic in the hand, he accidentally unlocked its power.  Unable to destroy it, Elminster hid it away in a “safe” location.  Unfortunately, it was recovered by the Realms Master crew and set loose again.

Meanwhile, Captain Omen is undergoing “enhanced interrogation techniques” at the hand of the Ogre Mage.  Gornak attempts some form of life draining effect, which backfires and causes him immense pain.  Captain Omen reveals he is dying from some form of incurable (and painful) disease.  The pain Gornak felt is simply the pain he feels every day.

The Ogre Mage decides it may be time to simply kill Omen when the cavalry arrives (twice in one issue!).  Gornak quickly hits the red-hot Minder with a cone of cold, incapacitating her.  He also conjures an earth elemental to slow down the group.

Earth Elementals, when you absolutely have to take down every MotherF***** in the room. Alias takes on the elemental, but is unable to fight it effectively without magic.  Agrivar defends himself from Ishi, but he is unable to get past her either.  Using his brain, Agrivar realizes only Captain Omen can put an end to this and tells everyone to focus on freeing him.  Since the elemental is in-between the group and the captain, Dragonbait chooses to toss the halfling over it.

Halflings are graceful.After a somewhat undignified landing, Foxy finds himself face to face with the Ogre Mage.  He tosses a dagger and misses… on purpose.  In reality, Foxy was aiming for Captain Omen’s bonds.  Omen shoots Gornak in the back with some handy magic missles, then uses a dispel magic to free Ishi from Gornak’s influence.  This allows Agrivar to get close enough to cut loose the Hand of Vaprak from Gornak.  Cutting off the hand causes an explosion of white light.

Don't go into the light!Agrivar and Dragonbait both reach the hand at the same time.  However the real problem turns out to be that the whole tower is collapsing because the earth elemental dissolved when the hand was removed, taking some structurally important parts of the tower with it. Omen teleports Agrivar and Dragonbait to his ship while everyone else scrambles for an exit.

Captain Omen reveals that he can open a portal to the Demiplane of Fear on his ship.  This is how Omen gets rid of the artifacts he discovers.  After some doubts from both Agrivar and Omen, Agrivar tosses the accursed thing into the abyss.

I just made that name up.

Man the coloring on Minder was awful this issue. Alias, Ishi, and Foxy barely make it out of the tower before it collapses.  Minder doesn’t make it out in time, because she had gone back to retrieve the petrified elf.  Luckily, her iron body protected them both.

Back at the docks, everyone ties up loose ends.  Vartan is returned to flesh.  Alias declines Agrivar’s offer for them to join the crew and reveals to Priam Agrivar that Dragonbait is also a paladin.  Foxilion decides to use the “Juggernaut Solution” take care of Gornak, commissioning a fountain to be built over his body.

or at least Frenemies? Perhaps most importantly, Ishi apologizes for attacking him while charmed.  She reiterates the Player’s Handbook text that a charmed individual cannot act against her creed and will not attack a friend.  However as a fighter who barely knew Agrivar, neither stricture applied.  Agrivar suggests that the easiest way to prevent that from happening again is for them to become friends.



  1. How old is Gornak?  Elminster is about 900 years old at this point, yet he still had brown hair when he first fought Gornak.
  2. I thought Jeff Grubb did a great job of introducing us to Captain Omen’s illness in this issue without it seeming forced.
  3. Jeff Grubb also dropped a major hint as to Minder’s identity in this issue by having her exclaim “By Clanggedin!”. 
  4. I thought it was humorous that both Captain Omen and Elminster dealt with the artifact the same way, by chucking it somewhere where “no one would ever find it”.  This is not a flaw in the story, since most wizards are arrogant enough to assume their hiding place is the safest.
  5. Considering how much time was spent setting up the Realms Masters Crew’s artifact hunting mission and their artifact disposal method, it seems ironic that they spend almost no time artifact hunting in later issues.
  6. Rags Morales’ art was great as always, but man were there a lot of coloring issues this issue.  Minder’s colors were completely off for most of the book.
  7. I liked the reasons why Ishi was able to attack Agrivar while charmed and Agrivar’s solution to the problem.