Comic Review: Mass Effect: Redemption #1


Mass Effect: Redemption is a four-part comic miniseries set in the Mass Effect Universe. ‘Redemption‘ takes place shortly before the events of the video game Mass Effect 2, an upcoming action role-playing video game under development by BioWare, and set to be published by Electronic Arts. The comic is published by Dark Horse Comics and is written by Mac Walters, who was a lead writer for Mass Effect, with scripting by John Jackson Miller, and art by Omar Francia, both of whom have previously worked on Star Wars related comics

The Story

(slight spoilers)

Prior to the plot of the ‘Redemption’ comic series, Mass Effect protagonist Commander Shepard is on patrol in the Terminus system, when his ship, the SSV Normandy, comes under attack from an unknown assailant. The ship suffers extensive damage, forcing the crew to evacuate in escape pods. Shepard is the last to escape the ship before it is destroyed completely, but eventually asphyxiates and dies while drifting through space. That’s the official line anyway, however, Shepard’s friend, Liara T’Soni doesn’t believe that the Commander is dead, and sets out to find out the truth.

We pick up the plot shortly after the disappearance of Commander Shepard. Liara T’Soni has journey to a remote space station called Omega, which is carved from an asteroid in the Terminus  systems, far from Citadel control. Her mission: find evidence that Shepard is still alive. On her hunt for the truth, she encounters a Drell stranger in a bar, named Feron, who claims that Shepard is not dead, but is actually in stasis, and claims he can take her to his location. Before they can get far though, they are attacked by a group of Blue Sun mercenaries, working on behalf of The Shadow Broker, who want to know why Liara has come all the way to Omega on the hunt for a dead man. Before they can give an answer though, another group joins they fray, and takes out the Blue Suns. This new group are the Cerberus, a pro-human paramilitary organization, who share Liara’s goal of finding Commander Shepard.

Liara finds herself brought before their leader, The Illusive Man, who explains to Liara that Cerberus is interested in finding Shepard, because he is one of the greatest examples of humanity, whether dead or alive. However, The Shadow Broker is also after Shepard, and has made a deal with the bizarre race know as The Collectors, who also want Shepard’s body, for some nefarious reason. Now Liara and her new Drell friend, Feron, must race against time to find the body of Commander Shepard, and save him from a fate worse than death!

The Rating

I’ll admit at this point that as a Mac user, and the owner of a Wii, I’ve not had the chance to play Mass Effect, but I really want to check it out at some point, because I’m a huge fan of Bioware, and loved their previous games like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: KOTR, and Jade Empire. In preparation for this review, I did a little back reading on the Mass Effect Universe, but nothing major, just a quick scan of the Wikipedia article for Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. This is all it really took me to familiarize myself with the setting of this story, and I’d say that I didn’t really feel lost at all while reading the issue. Many of the characters in this story are new to the Mass Effect Universe, and so having played the first game is not absolutely essential to its enjoyment. Therefore, I would say that this is appropriate for any fan of science fiction stories to pick up and enjoy, without feeling like they are missing something essential.

This casual reader friendliness is due mostly to a great plot and script by Mac Walters & John Jackson Miller, who don’t overload the story with references to events past, and don’t bog down the reader with masses of continuity. Miller crafts a script that feel very star wars-esque in nature, set aboard a space station in the outer reaches of the galaxy, filled with all sorts of bizarre alien races, and rival factions. It’s a very action/adventure driven story, but has a great balance between the action scenes, and the plot development. The different alien races and factions are all explained quite well within the context of the story, and I was never left feeling confused as to who was who, and what was what. The plot, involving the whereabouts of Shepard’s body is well-laid out, and sets the scene for the rest of the series, which will involve Liara and Feron trying to rescue Shepard’s body from The Shadow Broker. This comic had its work cut out for it, in the fact that fans know that Shepard is alive and well in the Mass Effects 2 game, and so obviously he isn’t really dead, and his body is recovered in some way. The challenge for the writers in the face of an inevitable conclusion to the series, is to keep readers on their toes, and to introduce lots of twists and turns to keep things interesting. This first issue very much succeeded in this respect, and sets the series off to a very good start.

The artwork on the issue is by Omar Francia, who has previously worked on Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Legacy title. His artwork here is pretty similar in style to his work on ‘Legacy’, which works really well in bringing the Mass Effect Universe to life. All the alien lifeforms look amazing, and very much like those in the games, his action scenes are all choreographed nicely, and he does a great job of drawing Liara’s biotic power. I think fans of the game will be very happy with how these comics look, as he’s stayed quite true to the game designs, while imprinting some of his own style on the pages.

Mass Effect: Redemption #1 is a great start to an intriguing miniseries. The story stays true to the plot of the video games, while at the same time introducing fans to previously unseen locations, aliens, and enemies. Fans of the game will find this ‘missing chapter’  essential reading, but casual readers will also find a lot to enjoy about this great comic series. ‘Redemption’ is a fun action/adventure series that fans of sci-fi of all shapes and sizes should find enjoyable. Definitely worth checking out!


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