You probably forgot about it in all the shaman-loving, melee-hating, troll-centric patch fever, but World of Warcraft #1 came out in comic book stores Wednesday. For those of you without access to the book -- or maybe those who want to know the story without carrying around a giant GEEK! GEEK! sign -- I've summarized the plot and characters here. Spoilers follow beyond the cut, so beware!
Our story begins with a caravan heading through the wasteland of Durotar. The orcs of the caravan run a successful business fighting gladiators in the arenas of Azeroth, but they've just lost their prize champion at Dire Maul. Suddenly, they see a lone, unconscious human on the banks of the Southfury River. The survivor is quickly approached by a crocolisk, and it looks like he's about to become dinner when he rears up and begins fighting the massive reptile. The orcs, true to their business, start betting on the winner. Their boss, an orc known as Rehgar, comes out to tell them to get a move on when he sees the human's struggle and joins in the betting.
The man is strong and agile, and eventually kills the crocolisk with a little help from Rehgar. Rehgar asks the man his name, and the man replies that he can't remember anything. Ah, amnesia, the greatest copout ever. Well, we've gotta give this guy a name, and all I know about him so far is that he uses a spiky club, so we'll call him Spike. After Spike tells Rehgar he doesn't know his name, Rehgar smiles and Frost Shocks him into renewed unconsciousness. The orcs throw Spike into a cage. Since Spike might be an army deserter, Rehgar feels confident enough to use him as his new gladiator without worrying about Alliance revenge.
Spike awakes a few hours later in his new cagey home. His companions in captivity introduce themselves as Broll Bearmantle, a night elf druid, and Valeera Sanguinar, a blood elf ... probably rogue. It's so hard to tell with blood elves. While we're at it, Spike looks like a warrior. Valeera tells Spike that they're going to Orgrimmar to become gladiators, and that Broll is one already. Broll and Valeera immediately start fighting, which takes up, like, half the book. Basically, Broll sees Valeera as an untrustworthy, betraying, magic junkie blood elf, and Valeera sees Broll as a weak, subservient wuss.
Spike tells Valeera that she's too young to be a gladiator, and she spits back at him that she was old enough to survive on her own after bandits killed her family. She survived the bandits and the Scourge, but was caught and thrown in jail after trying to steal a shaman's talisman. Reghar bought her from the jail and took her for gladiator training. Broll and Valeera bitch some more about each other's allegiances, which seems to last until the caravan arrives in Orgrimmar.
In the Orgrimmar arena (so THAT'S what it's for!) Reghar tells Valeera and Spike that he'll help them channel their inner fury into fighting prowess. They start off by having Valeera and Spike fight Broll. After Valeera taunts Broll about the size of his staff, Broll shifts into bear form and they have at it. Spike, however, stands on the sidelines and refuses to fight. Another gladiator team -- a tauren, a troll, and an undead managed by a goblin -- watch Spike and wonder what he's up to. They plot to fight Valeera and Broll so that they won't be well enough to win the Dire Maul tournament.
At night, Spike, Broll and Valeera huddle around a fire in a dungeon cell. Broll says that they'll never become a team, since Spike won't fight and Broll and Valeera just want to fight each other. Valeera tells Spike that Rehgar picked them to be gladiators since they reminded him of himself in some way. She also tells Spike that his amnesia seems to be caused by dark magic. Broll offers up an orc meditation remedy, and Spike has a brief flash of memory -- he's a child, alone in a burning and collapsing city. It's hard to tell what city, but the obvious guess is Stratholme.
When he comes out of the fugue state, Valeera and Broll fight for a while ("You're addicted to magic!" "Yeah, well, you sleep all the time and let the women do the work!") Broll lays into Valeera about the blood elves joining the Horde, and she becomes extremely angry. As the other two sleep, Valeera broods about being betrayed by Garithos, siding with Illidan, and being magic-addicted since birth. The next day, she decides that Rehgar, not Broll, is her true enemy, and that she'll kill him when she gets the chance -- but she still has a plan to show Broll up. She casts a spell (possibly Mana Tap/Arcane Torrent) on him.
As our heroes prepare to train in the arena, the goblin-managed 3v3 team shows up and tells them to get off the field. The tauren, troll and undead all seem to be warriors and rogues, which is a really terrible arena composition. Actually, Rehgar's team is a warrior, a rogue and a feral druid. Has anyone considered finding a healer for these groups? The troll calls them "nature luva, coward and turncoat", which sets off Valeera's temper. She stabs the undead and the teams get to fighting. Valeera holds up pretty well against what Broll calls her new Horde allies, but Broll is having some issues -- he can't shift into feral forms, and as a feral druid, he's pretty much useless. Valeera realizes that Broll's problems are from her spell and runs to save him from the tauren, who easily smacks them both out of the way.
Meanwhile, Spike whacks off the hand of his troll opponent, chops off the undead's head, and stabs the tauren in the shoulder. Valeera runs up, hugs Spike, and thanks him for saving Broll. If Valeera and Broll don't hook up by the end of the comic, I'll eat my hat. However, Broll is mighty pissed about Valeera draining his energy, and it looks like they're about to fight again when they're faced with a new opponent. Rehgar has brought in what looks like a twenty-foot orc to test his team.
The huge orc heads over to kill Broll when Valeera runs at him screaming. The orc breaks Valeera's arm and throws her into the corner. Spike pulls out his sword and tells the orc that the elves are under his protection, like, way to be arrogant there. Spike tells the orc to throw away his sword or die, and as the orc and Spike get to fighting, Rehgar grins, knowing that he's set up a great arena team.