Funny how something labelled as a “versus” really shows great coordination between both sides.
That’s basically the whole story here, if you like Dungeons & Dragons & Rick & Morty… then it’s a good comic, as one would expect from a story penned by Patrick Rothfuss, fantasy author and famed D&D player with the PAX team, occasional guest star on Critical Role, and he’s a standy-up DM like me. Jim Zub co-penned the piece and has a back-catalogue of D&D comics under his belt.
We kick off with a slight exaggeration of how the wheel is turning, in which Morty is surrounded by nerds all openly talking about their D&D adventures, which happens a lot around me for some reason but I don’t think that happens so frequently to other people. So he gets into D&D because there’s a beautiful woman involved, which doesn’t usually happen but it’s happening an awful lot more lately. So begins the first geeky-as-hell joke where he thinks the best place to start is first edition, and that’s the tip of one nerdy as hell iceberg… and kind of a thesis statement for the rest of the story.
Rick is way into his old school dungeon crawling, adventurers gather, work the numbers, get treasure and go home happy. The surprise is that Jerry is the ambassador to the new school, heavy on the narrative, have fun with the character creation, and has no objection to bards. It becomes a journey about how to have fun, and the importance of winning in order to have fun (it’s not very, actually a lot of the fun stories involve someone dying or getting gruesomely injured), and we ultimately land on a happy ending because of course we do, and no prizes for guessing which side our authors land on.
But hot damn this is full of nerdy jokes! Seriously I don’t think I laughed particularly hard at anything other than the deeply nerdy stuff like Morty thinking First Edition was a good place to start, or a list of D&D “cheats” like Noclip, See Through Walls, and “That Pat Rothfuss Bullsh*t” which… requires way too much explaining but is so much funnier because you know Rothfuss demanded that the phrase appear somewhere in the comic before agreeing to write for the project.
We also indulge in a fantasy that Rick & Morty are perfectly disposed to explore, alternative worlds where we can play out the fantasies that we create every day, especially if that world is controlled and manipulated by a benevolent demigod that wears the face of a bunch of famous Dungeon Masters and filled with creatures lifted straight from the pages of the Monster Manual! Oh, and a reason why I but comics by collected volume rather than by issue? In the back of this one there’s a bunch of famous pieces of D&D art reimagined with R&M content, the statue of Moloch having its jewelled eyes pried out, replaced by a garblovian, the Eye Hole Man furiously riding a beholder made me laugh louder than I am accustomed to, and the image of a mind-flayer about to devour Rick’s mind is too perfect.
Which… is amazing, for a fan of both. And yeah, I’m sure there’s a huge overlap in that particular venn diagram, but I find myself wondering how niche this must be if it’s making me laugh like an idiot. But you know you have to be really smart to read Rick and Morty comics.