The good thing about having low expectations is that it's hard to get disappointed. It turns out, however, that I didn't have to set my expectations so low... the Ashbringer comics are a very good read from start to finish, particularly for readers who play World of Warcraft. In fact, that might be its one caveat -- the Ashbringer limited series is a decent read for the average reader but truly shines for players, who are familiar with the story and recognize the characters.
Fans of lore will appreciate reading the story of Alexandros Mograine, even though most lore nerds will already know it. The real treat of the comic is the wonderful work of Tony Washington, who colors over Ludo Lullabi's pencils. The colors are done in a painterly style, complementing or enhancing Lullabi's art better than the traditional ink and colors of his initial run with the Varian Wrynn story arc. This isn't a knock on Sandra Hope's inks or Randy Mayor's colors, but Lullabi's art in the original series was sometimes somewhat sparse in detail. This isn't the case in Ashbringer, where Lullabi draws some breathtaking panels, and in the spaces where he leaves empty spots, Washington takes over. The result is one gorgeous comic that is an unmistakeable emulation of Joe Madureira and Christian Lichtner's pencils + Painter collaborations.
It's not quite Madureira-Lichtner just yet, but considering JoeMad produces comics at a rate of one every decade or so, Ashbringer is a pretty good substitute. That might seem like an unfair assessment that does Lullabi and Washington a disservice, but Ashbringer is worlds better than the World of Warcraft comic which indicates that Lullabi is only getting better. Fans of veteran colorist Washington can also check out some of his other work, which are astounding, as well.
Story-wise, Ashbringer benefits from a well of preexisting lore instead of having to shoehorn a new character into canon and the game world. There are also little nuggets that should make a player smile, such as the appearance of many characters you'd find in Old Hillsbrad, Scarlet Monastery, or Light's Hope Chapel. Even Zabra Hexx, the Troll Priest from DC Unlimited's line of World of Warcraft action figures, makes an appearance. The story's pace feels a little rushed at times, however, a consequence of trying to cram a lot of lore in just four issues.
The weakest part of the comic is also ironically one of the more enjoyable ones, where Darion Mograine leads a charge into Naxxramas. It is a silly mission in game terms -- a mere handful of heroes go in and try to take on a raid instance, ending as a player might expect (you guessed it, pretty much a wipe). But even though it drives the story forward and is actually necessary, this part of the story felt a little like an excuse to tour Naxxramas. Players will recognize and enjoy the cameos, though, and many will even relate to what the protagonists go through and smile.
The painted covers by Chris Robinson sweeten the deal, as well as the token bonus sneak peeks into the penciling and coloring process. The latter could've used more pages with bigger images, but we'll take what we can get. Ashbringer is a good read with gorgeous art and should be on every comic book nut and World of Warcraft players' bookshelf.