Mass Effect: Redemption #1
Writer: Mac Walters, John Jackson Miller
Artist: Omar Francia
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
From: Dark Horse Comics
It's a formula that more comic book publishers seem to be going towards, and in greater numbers than ever. Take a beloved video game (preferably a proven franchise), adapt it as a comic, and watch the orders roll in! Many video game comics have taken the "prequel" route, especially when looking at a single-game book. With the second game in the Mass Effect franchise on the way, Dark Horse took a different route, providing a sequel to the original's story that ties the games together. We'll call it an in-betwee-quel.
The built-in audience, fans of Mass Effect who plan to buy Mass Effect 2, will find plenty to like here. The visual style of Francia plays great in this world, offering detailed alien lifeforms with nuanced expressions, similar to those found in the game but unique to the comic book medium. The confines of a space station do lend themselves to a drab and generic background, but the character work and action make up for any solid-color spaces seen in some panels. All the designs are very clearly of the world of Mass Effect, and that's obviously one of the most important goals to reach with a book like this.
Having Mac Walters, the game's writer, paired up with John Jackson Miller, is a great fit for the book. Miller is no stranger to playing in someone else's sandbox, with the Knights of the Old Republic comic on his resumé. Walters lends the instant authenticity, and the unique approach of having the desire to say more with these characters than he can in the video games. What comes out is a book that follows a few basic and common storytelling tropes, but presents it in a unique enough way to keep the reader going. The air of mystery is a bit slow-building, with an opening sequence that probably goes a page or two too long, but fans will see and hear names of characters they'll instantly recognize.
For the elusive "new reader," the book still offers a strong space-saga styled story. At heart, this is a mystery that is ripe for team-ups, double-crosses, and has death looming over the players' heads from the very start. The themes of the comic are a bit less "mature" than those in the game, as well, so this is a way for younger fans to get into the world before getting into the games.
This book is definitely geared toward fans of the game(s), but is definitely accessible enough for others. Overall, it seems to be telling a familiar style of story with unique elements and characters that shine no matter the medium.