If you’ve read any of my past posts, you may have heard me reference the Dead Space games. And if you have, then you already know how much I love those.
You see, it’s not only that the games are great in themselves, but the world they create. It’s a futuristic world, in space, full of government conspiracies, alien theories, religious crusades, and horror filled drama. And a world such as this one, is always open to the storied surrounding these games.
Titan Books brings us this exact thing, with three graphic novels. And between the art, storytelling style, and events that take place – they not only fit into the Dead Space universe perfectly, but they somehow manage to carry the same horror that the games included.
Their first one, the self titled Dead Space, is actually the collection of the 6 original comic issues (and an extra chapter, Extraction), that were initially released from Image Comics, during the time the first Dead Space game came out (2008). Bound into one graphic novel, they are now served on a platter as one book. Written by Anthony Johnston and drawn by Ben Templesmith, it tells the story of the events that take place right before the first game. Something not done very often, the tory is told almost like a film; jumping from one scene to another and letting the story unfold and progress from each point of view. This helps show how the “infection” spreads between the colony and the spaceship itself, and everything starts falling apart.
The art itself has the form almost as if it was a storyboard sketch. This makes the story more “cinematic” and adds a little… “chaos” to the image, which in turn lends the feeling to the horror of the story. This actually also happens to be the only negative aspect of this book… sometimes the images are a little too sketchy; a little too chaotic. The scribbling/blurry effect that created the mood in some scenes, made me wonder what on earth was going on in others.
As a whole, if you’re not familiar with the game and story, you might find yourself lost and unsatisfied. But if you are a fan, then its a fun read, and a great filler to its universe.
The second book, Salvage, is also written by Anthony Johnston. This story takes place between the first and second game, and follows a number of spaceship crews that fall upon the remains of the infamous spaceship, Ishimura. This story is more autonomous, which in turn makes it more interesting. Unlike the first novel, which tries to “fill in the blanks” to the Dead Space story, this one stays strong on its own – like an unrelated mini survival story. This one captured me even more, as I feel you did not need to know the Dead Space story to understand it (though it helped make some scenes more dramatic if you did).
The artwork for this one is by Christopher Shy, who has this intense “realism” to the characters faces. Seriously, I can’t figure out if he’s used actual pictures as a blueprint to photoshop and draw upon, or if he’s actually that good. This leads an increased element of terror. It also happens to have a similar blurry and chaotic style that Templesmith had in the first novel, but this one is much better used to its advantage.
This story was a fun read, and brought about the feeling of terror as you followed the characters fight for their lives. In fact, it seems one of the character has the “possibility” of being in other stories, and this book left me hoping for more.
The third novel, Liberation, takes place right before the 3rd Dead Space game, and tells the story of Dead Space character, John Carver. This one is written by Ian Edginton – art once again by Christopher Shy (who continues his eerie blend of blurry/chaotic and photorealistic images).
John Carver is actually the 2nd player in the third game, when played in co-op. Having played the game, I already know that this character has had a backstory, and being able to read it now was pretty fun. In fact, this particular novel seems to have taken the best of the first two. It holds strong as it’s own story, but is also a pleasure to read for someone who has played the games and can see the connection. Shy’s artwork has even been kicked up a notch, as he has gotten more comfortable with the work, and this shows clearly in the book. I found myself looking at some of the pages, lost in horror of what was going on.
Titan Books has put their quality into the “books” themselves, with their clean and crisp, glossy pages. They have also included for all three, galleries of the particular novels artwork in the back of each book, which is also another positive add on.
Overall, all 3 books are great, especially if you’re a Dead Space fan. Salvage and Liberation seem to feel more original and unique, making them even better the the first.