Friday, May 26, 2017

Review - Mass Effect: Discovery #1 (@DarkHorseComics)


"...we found a hostile surprise waiting for us when we touched down."

Life throughout the galaxy largely depends on what alien race you've managed to upset for whatever reason. And there's a lot of that in the Mass Effect series as players delicately balance tough choices with alien political relations. In Mass Effect: Discovery #1 from Dark Horse Comics, making those decisions drives the story. The issue is written by Jeremy Barlow (story by Barlow and John Dombrow), illustrated by Gabriel Guzman, colored by Michael Atiyeh and lettered by Michael Heisler.

A young Turian military recruit goes undercover in order to infiltrate the mysterious Andromeda Initiative and ultimately retrieve a scientist who's made a potentially devastating discovery.

Steeped in the Mass Effect universe is Barlow's story in Mass Effect: Discovery #1. Tiran Kandros is a young Turian determined to learn more about the mysterious Andromeda Initiative and Barlow does a great job of slowly building up the larger story. The issue focuses primarily on Tiran as the focal point of the narrative and it gives the issue room to breathe by funneling interactions with new characters through Tiran. Barlow understands that the Mass Effect universe is vast, but Mass Effect: Discovery #1 doesn't feel overwhelming to new readers unfamiliar with the territory. The issue is pretty straightforward in terms of its approach overall and by the end it's fairly clear to the reader what the stakes are and who the players are.

Guzman's artwork feels big because of his artistic approach. The characters' looks will look readily familiar to fans of the Mass Effect universe--everything from Tiran's Turian build to the haunting visage of a Geth head for instance. The panels are laid out atop empty gutters which allows Guzman to focus more on the characters and their actions. Guzman also pays particular attention to physiology in the character; even though they're all aliens that doesn't mean they can't look natural in their poses and movements. Atiyeh's colors are darker and set a somewhat grim tone for the story itself.

Mass Effect: Discovery #1 is an interesting first issue that plays out like a side-mission in a Mass Effect game. Tiran is seeking out answers for both himself and a larger initiative and it's likely the results won't be pretty. The story by Barlow and Dombrow seems well-thought out so far and promises to hit all the Mass Effect high notes. Guzman's artwork is sound and does a great job of conveying the Mass Effect look to the reader. Mass Effect: Discovery #1 definitely has appeal to fans of the games, but it's also accessible enough to new readers and reads like a good science-fiction book.

Mass Effect: Discovery #1 is available now.

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