When you're putting out a licensed spin-off comic based on anything - but particularly games - there are three basic approaches you can take when it comes to grasping around for your readership.
1) Put out something that is good in and of itself and stands up as a worthy piece of fiction without the license to hold it up.
2) Put out something that furthers the plot of the game/film/TV series so that completists will have to buy it in order to see the complete picture.
3) Do neither of the above and hope that the license is strong enough to prop up the sub-par product.
Mass Effect: Redemption
goes for option 2, a move that's a little unsatisfactory when so far. It's plotted by BioWare senior writer Mac Walters. So, in terms of Mass Effect
lore, the comic has definite credibility. Fleshing out Walters' vision is John Jackson Miller (the Knights of the Old Republic
comic) on scripting duties and Omar Francia (Star Wars: Legacy
) on art chores.
The series fleshes out the events leading into Mass Effect 2
. The first issue sees (SPOILER WARNING FOR THE OVER-SENSITIVE) Dr. Liara T'Soni on the hunt for the body of Shepard, who is either dead or very nearly dead (we'll give you clue - he's in ME2
) and currently lurking in stasis somewhere. Through the course of the issue we bump into Miranda (trailered here
) and the Illusive Man, and... well, not a lot else happens, really.
It's all very functional. The script is serviceable but not particularly interesting (except for a bar-room conversation with an Elcor - that's kind of fun).
The pencils do the job and move the story along, but do little to elevate the whole thing beyond being a fairly utilitarian extension of the game's plot (I did, I have to confess, want Liara to be a bit sexier in that blue, alien funny-shaped head way that she has).
The plot is not vastly exciting, given that there's not a lot of dramatic tension surrounding Shepard's condition come the end of the series. It has enough interest you if you're a serious ME
fan, but little more. It's not helped by the fact that you just know
that any important details that pop up will be covered by ME2
Frankly, by the end of the comic all I really felt was that 15 minutes had gone by. Part of me feels like I shouldn't be giving the comic such a hard time, since it's only on its first issue, but there will only be four in total and the fact that it's only the first issue doesn't mean it costs you any less.
If you're a serious Mass Effect fan, buy this. There's nothing horribly wrong with Redemption and it will tide you over until ME2 comes out. If you're not already sporting an erection in anticipation the game's January 29th release, however, you can live without this.
SPOnG Score: 64%
If you still haven't made up your mind, there's a preview up here
Mass Effect: Redemption
supplied for review by OK Comics