Have you read the news about a live-action How to Train Your Dragon film? If you haven’t—well, now you know. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea. Generally speaking, I’m not the biggest fan of animation to live-action films. Honestly, the best medium to translate animation into is theatre. Look at the success of The Lion King on stage, maybe even look at Frozen on stage. Heck, look at all the anime with stage-play adaptations! It just makes more sense, don’t you think? But all of that is a talking point for another day. Right now, we’re focusing on Riders of Berk: The Legend of Ragnarok. This is the fifth installment in the Dreamworks Dragons comic series.
There’s something in the water that’s stirring up trouble. Dragons of Berk are not at ease, and mythic tales swirl around the island. Meanwhile, Hiccup continues to train the many dragons at his disposal. This time, it’s a Changewing. Simon Furman comes back to pen the script alongside Jack Lawrence’s artwork. This time around, I read the physical copy of the comic rather than the digital version. I wanted to see if it’d make much of a difference. It is for sure a smoother experience, but the story and themes remain all the same. There’s a heavy focus on metaphors to do with myths and legends. As usual, Hiccup narrates and this time, his narration is full of puns and allusions to Berk and the tall tales people tell across the island.
All that poetic wording aside, one of the things I appreciate about The Legend of Ragnarok is the presentation of relationships. It’s always the little things that make the characters blossom. I love how well the friendships and dynamics are subtly portrayed through the art and text. There’s a scene of Tuffnut pulling Fishlegs away from danger without being told to do so. This is just a constant reminder of how strong the dragon riders’ bonds have gotten. I love Astrid staying on guard as Hiccup goes off and endangers himself training another dragon. Then there’s Snotlout and his sarcastic remarks toward our hero. My favorite is Alvin and Stoick fighting side-by-side. Some things can’t be forgiven—sure. But these two also prove that certain bonds transcend even treachery and forgiveness.
I also really appreciate all the callbacks they make to the main series. From the twin jokes to the way Fishlegs spouts specific dragon stats when faced with a new creature – parallel to his role in the first film. Actually breaking down a dragon amid danger; that’s something not even the films after nor TV series have done since. It’s a very welcome callback. Then there’s Hiccup and his never-ending lack of self-preservation when it comes to training dragons. I mean, he is the guy who came face-to-face with a Night Fury and decided to train it. So, it’s no surprise how far our hero tends to go. But it’s everyone’s exasperation with his antics that make it so worthwhile. Not to mention the fact that in Race to the Edge, they refer to Changewings as one of the dragon species Hiccup has difficulty training.
Lawrence is back this time around, which is always a welcome change. Whether it’s he or Iwan Nazif, the visuals for this comic series never fail to impress me. Of course, we can’t forget about Digikore’s work on the colors. Even in a physical copy, they remain just as vibrant and lovely. I particularly love the mix of black, dark-scaled maroon and fire palette on Hookfang. It’s such a pretty color story for a stoker-class dragon. I also really love how Lawrence uses the water to transition from scene to scene.
From more dragon lore to a full-circle ending; The Legend of Ragnarok has everything one can ever hope for in this Dreamworks Dragons series. It even has Mildew having one tiny ounce of self-awareness! That’s kind of fantastic, actually. It’s a shame we’re nearly done with the Riders of Berk collection, with only one more to review. But fear not, there are still Defenders of Berk and the comics post How to Train Your Dragon 2. So, just hold on tight and stay tuned for more!
We’re reviewing every single comic from the Dreamworks Dragons series every month in anticipation of the How to Train Your Dragon 2’s ten-year-anniversary. If you love animation and dragons, miss this 2010 classic, and want more of the dragon riders; you may want to check back in every now and then for the rest of the series! You can pick up a copy of The Legend of Ragnarok on Waterstones. Let us know what you think of Dreamworks Dragons on our Instagram or Twitter!
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