Vol. 4 finally saw this series start to live up to its potential as the crew of the Quin Zaza tangled with an arrogant, high-class dragon researcher, and a legendary dragon in that order. This volume doesn’t have the same level of excitement or adventure, but it does broaden the scope of the series in some appealing ways. It starts off by wrapping up the business with Brno as the researcher joins the crew for a meal, and we find out that Vannie is all right. Which is something no one should be surprised by; though, I do hope we learn more about her past after the glimpses of it that we get here.
Then it’s off to the trading city of Harley as the crew gets to enjoy some much-needed R&R. There are the expected scenes of shopping and goofing off that you’d expect to see from a cast this large and they’re just fine as they are. The real meat of this encounter comes from following Mika, Takita, and Yoshi to a remote cafe as they search for some decent grub. Not only do they find it, but they also come across someone who knew Mika back before he was a quirky dragon-hunting savant. Cujo Landau was tough and ornery enough to put up with Mika back when he was just quirky, even if it’s immediately clear that the one-legged drunkard has had a hell of a life since those days.
It’s fun to see a two-man draking team, especially when half of it is Mika back when he was just “quirky.” These sequences help flesh out his character a bit, and even play off some elements introduced earlier in the series. There’s also a decent enough mystery set up at the end as to how Mika and Cujo survived their encounter with the Tenth Angel. Even if it’s clear that this tale of the past is just prologue for what’s coming next, it’s well-executed setup that manages to draw me further into the series as a whole.