Welcome to Cover Girl. Each month, we gather a team of WWAC contributors to analyze a new and notable comic book cover featuring a woman. This month Wendy, Angie, Melissa, Jameson, and Laura discuss Sachin Teng’s cover for Dragon Age: Deception #1 from Dark Horse Comics.
What is your initial reaction to this as a piece of comics art?
Wendy Browne: My initial reaction is that I need to read this right now. Dark Horse has been putting out some beautiful covers for their most recent Dragon Age series, and this one is already high on my favourites list. That said, beautiful cover art often leads me to ruin, with interior art that doesn’t always hold up to the hype the cover creates. And yet, I keep falling for it…
As someone who loves the Dragon Age series, it also inspires lots of game-related recollections and speculation. I am intrigued by the intricately designed weapons encircling the flower in her hair and want to know how they fit into the story. What is her connection to the weapons? Is she a fighter who uses any or all of these weapons herself? Will I get to play with these weapons in the next game? I’m also curious about where she is from. Dragon Age features societies that mirror our history, and her hairstyle makes me believe that she’s got some involvement with the Orlesian Empire, which automatically means intrigue and, well, deception. I am all about The Grand Game, especially after reading The Masked Empire by Patrick Weekes, which reveals that Empress Celine is more than just a delicate flower in big fancy dress.
Angie Wenham: My first thought was: I didn’t realise there was another series coming out. Oh my god, oh my god I need this. My second thought was: this feels like the story will be about political intrigue (maybe Orlesian?), and I am here for it.
It’s a beautiful cover, and I particularly like the surrealness of the composition. The weapons circling the main figure make me wonder about her connection to them. I’m not sure if she is perhaps the creator or wielder of the various swords, bows, and staffs, or if they’re meant to indicate she is at the centre of some kind of danger.
Most of all, I love the detail on the weapons. I’ll be interested to find out if their use on the cover is purely symbolic, or if they represent an actual cache of weapons, or perhaps their owners?
Laura Stump: My first thought on seeing this gorgeous cover is that I need to fire up the Xbox and play Inquisition again. Those love interests aren’t going to romance themselves, you know! Unfortunately, her amazing hair also has me flashing back to the masquerade mission and the not awesome uniform the game stuck everyone in. They were almost criminally out of place compared to the sea of gorgeous finery on display in Orlais.
Nearly every weapon puts me in mind of a different companion, from Morrigan with the wooden staff at the top to Sera with the bow at the lower left. However, I don’t recognize the woman behind the weapons. Who is she? Is she Orlesian? Is she disguising herself as Orlesian in an effort to infiltrate the court? Or has she been sent to infiltrate the Inquisition, the Chantry, or another group altogether?
Melissa Brinks: Every time I see one of the covers for the Dragon Age comic I feel an intense pang of guilt because I haven’t read any of them. To be honest, part of the reason I haven’t read any of them is because the covers are so gorgeous that I’m afraid the contents won’t live up to my expectations. Because this pretty lady surrounded by weapons is extremely my shit, and what if the comic isn’t exactly what I want out of it?
As a piece of comics art, I think it’s incredibly successful. It gives you a sense of what to expect, and like Laura, I get the impression that she’s either Orleisian or trying to look Orlesian. The wheel of weapons both suggests that she has a variety of tools in her arsenal and that she knows how to use them. I want to know her! I want to know her very badly! I am sold on this comic!
Jameson Hampton: My initial reaction is that, before I find out anything else about what this woman is actually like, I want to play her as a D&D character. I would roll her as a rogue diplomat, with poison capsules in her earrings and daggers hidden all over her person. Is the reason her wig is so big for fashion, or is it because she’s hiding something in there? I love her.
In all seriousness, this is a gorgeous piece of art. The style and the colors are impeccable and really capture a certain fantasy aesthetic that I’m totally drawn to. The fact that my first thought was that I wanted to roleplay as her speaks to how captivating it is, particularly since we are talking about a video game series where some characters are playable!
What do you think the artist is trying to achieve?
Wendy: With “Deception” as the title of the book, and knowing what I do about Dragon Age, I feel that the artist is successfully portraying a woman surrounded by mystery and violence. The weapons have so many connections, from assassins to mages to Templars to rogues, all of which have been involved with various levels of intrigue.
Angie: Intrigue, if nothing else. The cover seems to contain clues rather than clear statements. The pomp and grandeur of the main figure’s outfit and wig contrasts with the weapons surrounding her, implying all may not be as it seems. That she is at the centre of it could mean she is also at the centre of danger, perhaps the instigator or target of it. Maybe she is an assassin or a bard? There’s a calm calculation to her expression that wouldn’t be out of place in The Grand Game or The Crows.
Laura: The danger hidden behind even the most beautiful facade in the world of Dragon Age. Whether you’re wandering a forest and find yourself face to face with a terrifyingly angry bear or navigating the Orlesian palace only to find yourself confronting assassins in silks and fancy fripperies, you’re not completely safe anywhere in Thedas. In fact, some of the most welcoming faces conceal the most danger.
Melissa: I think everybody else hit it right on. Thedas is a dangerous place, no matter who you are or who you appear to be. This definitely suggests The Grand Game to me, as Angie mentioned, which really appeals to me as a reader. I found the Winter Palace mission fascinating, and I really want to know more about the deception and intrigue of the Orlesian court, and this cover suggests that that’s exactly what we’ll find in it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Dragon Age series of video games, what impression does this cover give of what the games might be about? If you are familiar with the video games, what character does this cover inspire you to romance right this very second?
Wendy: Since Solas and my elf are on a break, my thoughts go back to Orlais and machinations of The Grand Game. I would like to believe that this lovely lady has somehow made her way into Empress Celine’s bed chambers for some political intrigue and mischief.
Angie: I adore the Dragon Age series, particularly the romances (I maintain that Dragon Age is a dating sim, but with fighting added in). The cover makes me want to romance Zevran: there are hints of danger and mystery, and to me that’s always been the playful elven assassin.
Laura: I’m with Angie on Dragon Age being a dating sim with combat, which I had never managed to articulate before. Something about the cover tempts me to try a playthrough of Inquisition romancing Vivienne or a return to Origins to woo Morrigan. I blame Madame de Fer’s regal bearing and Morrigan’s dress during the masquerade.
Jameson: I’ve never played Dragon Age, so my only familiarity with it comes from knowing people in the fandom, and I would definitely agree that I’ve gotten the sense that romance is very important to it! That said, my instinct is not to pair this woman up with anybody. She looks like the kind of character who would romance her enemies and then kill them in their sleep. I think everyone who’s interested in her should be a little frightened of her as well.
Melissa: Can I romance her? Is that an option? She might kill me, but I could also write some pained poetry about watching her from across the ballroom floor beforehand. Remember me fondly, friends.