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REVIEW: RWBY #1 Adapts the Hit Anime Series at a Breakneck Pace

RWBY 1 cover

Note: This review covers the first two digital chapters of DC Comics adaptation of RWBY by Marguerite Bennett, Mirka Andolfo and Arif Prianto.

One of the most popular anime series on the air today is Rooster Teeth's RWBY, and DC Comics has just launched a comic book adaptation of the fantasy series. Starting as a digital-first series, with ten-page chapters being released every other week before being collected in print monthly starting this October, the opening chapters hit the ground running to recap the series and its colorful characters for readers who may not be familiar with the property.

Written by Marguerite Bennett and illustrated by Mirka Andolfo, RWBY takes place in the fantasy world of Remnant, which is divided into four kingdoms. Plagued by monsters known as the Grimm, the Kingdom of Vale trains gifted youths to become Huntresses and Huntmen to do battle the destructive creatures at a special school known as Beacon Academy. The story follows four young women, Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long, Ruby's half-sister, to form Team RWBY, the acronym standing for the colors each of the one women are represented by.

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With such an immersive, expansive setting populated with distinct, charismatic characters, Bennett has limited real estate to introduce readers who may not have watched the anime series to the world and its colorful cast. As such, the first chapter moves at a breakneck pace to introduce the various characters, their relationships, and the world of Remnant all within ten pages. Having said that, the story itself is relatively easy to follow along with and Bennett makes the fantasy world fairly accessible to new readers, but established fans may have hoped for a little extra time with some of the characters and more breathing room for the story.

This is remedied in the second chapter, which focuses more on the interpersonal dynamic within Team RWBY and, more specifically, the effects of recent trauma on one of its core members. There has always been a bright empowering quality to RWBY, and Bennett certainly plays up that angle with the eponymous team but isn't afraid to mix in a little darkness to the proceedings. Chapter one sets up the world of RWBY, and Bennett really lays the groundwork for the story she is telling within the anime property in chapter two.

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Andolfo, with colorist Arif Prianto, add a visual vibrancy that is comparable to the anime series but clearly its own look as well. Immediately recognizable in relation to previous depictions, with clear manga influences, Andolfo's artwork hews closer to a more western-oriented art style while retaining the designs from the series; this is a fairly accurate translation of the anime's look. Similarly, RWBY has always been noted for its bold, distinctive color palette -- it's right there in the title -- and Prianto more than delivers across the board to give Andolfo's line work an additional visual boost.

After previously working together on DC Bombshells, Marguerite Bennett and Mirka Andolfo are a great team to bring the world of RWBY to comic books. Faithfully set within the world of the anime series, the creative team has created an adaptation that is perfectly accessible for the unfamiliar, if a bit hurried due to the trimmed page count due to the digital release schedule of the series. Once the story begins to click into place with its second chapter, however, the creative team truly finds its own voice as they delve deeper into the colorful world established by the Rooster Teeth series.

RWBY Chapter One is available now, and RWBY Chapter Two is set to be released on Sept. 11, 2019.

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