Fenris–the beloved character from Dragon Age II–makes his comic debut in Dragon Age: Blue Wraith. We speak to the creative team behind the continuation of BioWare’s dark fantasy epic.
As rumors of the eagerly anticipated Dragon Age 4 continue to mount, it could still be a while before we find out what happened to the elven apostate, Solas. However, in a new three-part comic book series from Dark Horse Comics, the future of Thedas is explored after the events of the Inquisition.
Ahead of the release of Dragon Age: Blue Wraith, we caught up with authors, Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir and artist Fernando Heinz Furukawa to find out what’s in store for readers.
Can you give us the lowdown on Blue Wraith? Without the spoilers of course.
CW: DRAGON AGE: BLUE WRAITH is about Francesca Invidus, who was introduced in DRAGON AGE: DECEPTION and is now traveling with a group of Inquisition Agents even though she’s not really one of them. With her country under invasion by the Qunari, she leaves the group to try and track down her missing father, which brings her into conflict with the notorious Blue Wraith, who has been freeing slaves in Tevinter and has developed a reputation as a mage hunter and killer.
Who are the key characters in this story arc?
ND: Francesca is a young mage whose power has never been acknowledged by her family, because she is naive and uses it in ways that brand her as foolish. The Blue Wraith is Fenris from Dragon Age II who has grown since then, but still has a fairly aggressive response to slavers and the Tevinter mages who make up their ranks or support them. And Vaea is the lead from DRAGON AGE: KNIGHT ERRANT, who tries to get Francesca to join her group full time, so she finds herself caught between the two.
CW: And there’s a Mabari named Autumn who is traveling with Vaea and has to decide what her role will be from here on out.
With such a diverse cast of characters in the Dragon Age universe, how did you decide to focus on Fenris? Was it a difficult choice?
ND: Fenris was a favorite of ours from playing the Dragon Age games. We’ve played DA II a lot of times, and he’s the most common love interest (with Merrill a close second).
CW: We tend to pitch ideas to BioWare that function regardless of which characters we’ll get permission to cameo. But Blue Wraith was always designed to be our Fenris story. He’s not a cameo here – he’s one of the leads.
What exactly is Blue Wraith? Is this linked to Fenris’ lyrium markings?
ND: Yes, it’s definitely connected to the markings. The Blue Wraith is Fenris’ nickname. If you stalk slavers and kill mages in the process, you turn yourself into something more than a man. So, he’s sort of like a vigilante in the Imperium, and he has taken the name they gave him as a badge of honor.
CW: Fenris’ powerset in Dragon Age II was called Lyrium Ghost, and that was our first proposed nickname for Fenris. But Ghost is not a term that’s used a lot in the world, and Wraith just sounds cooler. And the markings glow blue and so we thought Blue Wraith had a catchy ring to it.
When it comes to working with a big corporation such as BioWare, that has already created the characters you’re writing about, how much freedom do you have, both in the writing and the design?
CW: They are great collaborators. When we started for Knight Errant, the BioWare team told us the tone or type of story they were looking for, and suggested areas of the lore to explore. Then we pitched ideas to the Dark Horse team for feedback, and when those were ready, they went to the BioWare team. They picked the stories they liked, and we talked, and we honed in on the story idea that became KNIGHT ERRANT. At that point, we started discussing which established characters we could work into the story.
ND: The later miniseries, like DECEPTION and now BLUE WRAITH, were pitched as follow-ups to KNIGHT ERRANT. We did revisit some of the other ideas the team liked from our first batch, but only ones that fit after KNIGHT ERRANT or could be retooled to fit. In the case of DECEPTION, we switched the location, and Dorian’s involvement became possible, so we asked to use him. In the case of BLUE WRAITH, the idea was always a Fenris idea, and we found a way to tell a story that stars Fenris but also fits into the larger tale we’ve been tracking through the previous miniseries.
FHF: For the character designs, the guys at BioWare and Dark Horse send me all the reference I need. With that and the detailed descriptions that Nunzio and Christina send me, I can start to work. I have a lot of freedom with the designs on the new characters like Ser Aaron, Vaea, Calix and so on. With the established characters from other stories, I have to make them the more recognizable, so that can take a little more time. Like the design I did for Fenris—it was based on an older design, I think.
What’s been your favourite part working on the Dragon Age comics?
CW: Playing in the world of Thedas. We’ve played the Dragon Age games so often, and the world is one we have huge attachment to, so writing stories that fit into the lore, and creating characters to explore the world is something that we’ve been really excited about.
ND: I think creating characters like Vaea, Aaron, Calix, Olivia and Francesca (and Autumn the Mabari of course) and putting them in contact with people like Fenris, Varric, Dorian, Sebastian and even Alistair… that’s been a huge thrill for me. These characters that exist in Thedas mean a lot to us. And we’re very proud of the ones we created, and to have them interact, side by side, with the companions from the games, has been great. Getting to mix in the characters created by Greg Rucka in MAGEKILLER has been fun too, because it makes the whole thing feel like it’s part of one giant tapestry that includes all of these stories as well as the games.
FHF: The possibility of participating in this vast and beautiful universe! I have to admit that I never played a Dragon Age game, but fear not! I have done my research on the franchise (read the lore, watched videos, etc.) and it has been an amazing experience so far. I discovered why this is such a beloved IP and why it has an amazing fanbase. So, I hope that I don’t disappoint anyone. I promise to play the games when I have some free time!
The comics themselves are quite short runs. Where would you like go to next with the series? Which characters would you like to work with?
CW: We have plans beyond BLUE WRAITH, but nothing that is confirmed. The safest way to talk about it is to say there’s one longer story at work here, from KNIGHT ERRANT through to BLUE WRAITH and hopefully beyond. We do know where it’s going, but until it’s 100% confirmed that it will be happening, we can’t talk about it. Plus, it could change – stories always evolve from when you conceive them to when you get that chance to write them.
ND: Both in terms of a possible follow-up miniseries, and anything even further… we’ll just say we’d write stories about Thedas for as long as BioWare and Dark Horse let us. There are other places we want to visit (love to do a story in the Deep Roads, or explore the Emerald Knights, for example), and characters we want to write (Scout Harding, Zevran, Velanna & Sigrun… so many!). And there’s a LOT more we can do with some of these characters we created too.
FHF: I really want to continue drawing Vaea and Ser Aaron, they are two characters that have grown on me. So, I hope we can continue working with the story of those two until the end.
Dragon Age: Blue Wraith hits the shelves on January 15, 2020. For more information head over to the Dark Horse Comics website.