Review: Mass Effect: Foundation (#6)

MEFND6Cover Mass Effect: Foundation by Mac Walters (Writer) and Matthew Clarke (Artist).

Mass Effect: Foundation is a series of thirteen comics that explore the back stories of the companions encountered by Commander Shepard, the hero of the video game series Mass Effect.

In the previous issue, Miranda and Jacob set out to collect intel regarding the whereabouts of Commander Shepard’s body. Issue 6 picks up that story. Miranda is captured and Jacob is wounded. The plucky street kid from the last issue comes to the rescue, providing Jacob with a place to rest up, information on the whereabouts of his partner and the weapons to pull off a rescue. Her assistance costs a little more than cash. The Batarian thugs are holding her aunt as well.

Jacob gets to play the hero in this issue. Miranda, the damsel in distress. She doesn’t do distress well. In this particular instance, however, there are too many names to take, so she has to sit back and wait for rescue.

The story is all action and reasonably satisfying for it, especially as it’s a matter of all’s well that ends well. If you’ve played the Mass Effect games, that is not a spoiler. I did get the sense Mac Walters wanted to give Jacob a chance to shine. Might be too little, too late, though. The game is done and no amount of back story and previous heroics is going to make him more interesting. Then again, with the more details of his recruitment to Cerberus, he might flesh out a bit more in game.

What really lets this comic down is the art. It’s not bad art. The proportions are great, anatomy is spot on. The Batarians are really well-drawn, the panels convey action well enough. What’s missing is emotion. The faces are a bit simplified at times. The most disappointing aspect, however, is that Jacob still just doesn’t look like Jacob and Miranda doesn’t look like Miranda.

Mass Effect has an almost, no, a verifiably rabid fan base. There is a tonne of fan art out there. Comics, too. A good number of them have better depictions of all the companions. Still, as a dedicated fan of the non-rabid variety, I will continue to read these comics. Jack’s ‘Foundation’ story is coming up and that is one I do not want to miss.

Written for and originally posted at SFCrowsnest.

Review: Mass Effect: Foundation (#5)

20466 Mass Effect: Foundation (#5) by Mac Walters.

Miranda recruits Jacob to Cerberus by offering him a mission he can’t refuse: collecting Shepard’s body from the edge of the galaxy. They travel to the Terminus system to deal with Batarians. We all should know right there things are going to go awry.

This is an interesting installment in the series because it deals with the backstory of more than one character. We have Jacob’s induction into Cerberus, his and Miranda’s interest in finding Shepard, Kai Leng being all jealous at the beginning (he didn’t get the coveted mission) and TIM being his usual, charming, complicated self. There is also a good slice of action and a hint of plot that will take us beyond a single issue of the comic.

I didn’t get to know Jacob any better. He’s as uninteresting here as he is in the game. I know, poor Jacob. But not every character can be compelling. We need some to just sit back and reflect the glory of others. Miranda’s interest in Shepard is…interesting. I assume it’s a scientific thing, but for players who romanced her, more could be read between the lines. Perhaps.

Agent Rasa’s involvement serves as another introduction, but this time the entire comic seems to take place in the past, rather offer a glimpse of it. I assume this is because Rasa is a Cerberus agent, and so in place for this foundation story.

I did enjoy the story in this comic. I also liked the way many of the panels highlighted expression and directed the action. The story and art flowed really seamlessly from place to place. But Miranda didn’t look quite like Miranda and there were some instances where I thought Jacob had been swapped out for Mr. T., but with more hair.

The cliffhanger ending means I will be looking into the next issue, but I do wonder if my attachment to all things Mass Effect plays a greater part in me continuing to read this series. Probably, but I imagine the comics were created to take advantage of just that. It’s not that the stories aren’t interesting. They are. I think where the series feels off to me is Agent Rasa. I get that she’s a unifying element, but I’m not convinced she’s necessary. As a fan, I’d be just as happy to sit down and read through an ordered series of prequels.

Written for SFCrowsnest.