When the first Dead Space video game was released, it brought me back to the first time I played Resident Evil on the Playstation. A dark, moody tale that kept me on the edge of my seat, I felt danger lurked around every corner. The story itself wasn’t overly thrilling to me, but the game itself was a blast to play and had me hooked from the moment I popped the disc in. Its sequel, Dead Space 2, was more of the same for me. Ho-hum in terms of story, but excellent gameplay kept me hooked. So, when offered the opportunity to review several comics based in the Dead Space universe, I jumped at the chance to learn more of the backstory of this world.
The first graphic novel, simply titled Dead Space, is a compilation of six issues that serves as a prequel to the first game. The story revolves around two characters, Neumann and Cortez, members of a colony that discover a strange relic that causes the people of the colony to behave strangely. Some are seeing the ghosts of dead relatives and other bizarre hallucinations while others seem to be losing their minds altogether.
The first major plus for this book, in my opinion, was artist Ben Templesmith’s incredible artwork. While not everyone’s cup of tea, his style is a perfect fit for the Dead Space universe as anyone knows who has read 30 Days of Night, his most famous work. You know he’s got what it takes to set the eerie mood for a book such as this. As I progressed through the story, I couldn’t help but find myself anxious to see how his interpretation of the necromorphs would come out, and I can honestly say that he did not disappoint!
It feels like ages since I’ve played the games and I wish they were more fresh in my mind, because I can tell there are a lot of references that I should be picking up, but I’m not. That said, for anyone who really loved the games as much as I did, you will love getting the added depth this story brings to the franchise.
The second book, Dead Space: Salvage, takes place in between the first and second video games. While I enjoyed the story, I could not get over the fact that I found it incredibly difficult to figure out who was who due to the artwork. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of Christopher Shy’s artistic style (He also goes by the pen name Ronin.), as it’s very much like Ben Templesmith’s work and fits the horror genre beautifully, but I’m the kind of person that lets small things like that get to me. I shouldn’t have to be trying to figure out who is saying what by small distinctions in their clothing. I did, however, enjoy the “no talk bubbles” style for the dialogue in this book. The scratchy font and lack of bubbles taking up the panel adds realism and depth to this very dark world they are trying to portray. Overall, with my small nitpicks aside, I found this book enjoyable, but it didn’t grab me as much as the first book did.
The last of the books I received was Dead Space: Liberation, which I found to be the weakest of the lot, and it takes place between the Dead Space 2 and Dead Space 3 video games.
I haven’t had the chance to play the new game yet, but I’m familiar with the fact that the game introduces a new co-op player, John Carver, to aid Issac, and that this story serves as a prequel to what happens to John’s loved ones. He joins up with Ellie Langford (from game 2) and Captain Robert Norton to help solve the clues John’s wife left behind. The artwork is the same as Salvage, with Christopher Shy returning as artist, and while I wasn’t as invested in this book’s story, I have to give credit where it’s due. There is a lot less dialogue in this book compared to the others, and while I had a hard time distinguishing between characters in Salvage, here it actually helps to tell the story. If you’re a die-hard Dead Space fan, I assume you’ll be picking this up regardless, but as a casual fan, I found it to be lacking.
As a whole, the comic series was surprisingly well done. Most video game crossovers with, well . . . with anything really, don’t really go over so well, but the Dead Space graphics novels do a great job (for the most part) of expanding on this universe and help flesh out the mysteries and horrors of its world.