"Dead Space: Liberation" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Titan Comics
Written by Ian Edginton
Illustrated by Christopher Shy
2013, 112 Pages
Graphic novel published on February 5th, 2013
After the insanity of two Dead Space games, it was time to share the fun. Isaac Clarke can't be the only one to contain the crazy. That's where Earthgov Sergeant John Carver comes in with Dead Space 3. Team up! Before we get there, Titan Books has released a prequel entitled Dead Space: Liberation to fill in a few details of Carver's background and show how he got to the starting point in the latest video game.
While stationed on planet Uxor, Carver witnesses a group of Unitologist (think Scientologists but more violent and somehow crazier) fanatics attacking the Marker site where his wife is currently working. Things get crazy and Carver's wife and son turn into Necromorphs, which he has to personally put down. Needless to say, he's pissed. He joins up with Ellie Langford, a survivor from a previous Necromorph outbreak, and Captain Robert Norton to discover the truth behind the Markers before the Unitologists can stop them. Oh, and there's a ton of Necromorphs floating around. It wouldn't be a Dead Space story without them.
The religious angle of Dead Space has never really sat well with me. I get the idea that the Marker is supposed to be some sort of artifact for Unitology akin to the likes of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I don't understand where they come from or why they're so important. The believers are so adamant about obtaining and protecting them that they lose their shit and start killing people, and that's before the deformed creatures come out. I guess it could be argued that the Markers drive these people to insanity because whenever one shows up in these stories, people go crazy.
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Unlike the previous graphic novels in the series, Liberation deals with a major character from one of the games. This helps because pushing Carver on us with Dead Space 3 out of the blue could be a little annoying for some gamers. It's not like Isaac Clarke (the protagonist of the first two games) was Mr. Personality or anything, but you knew what you were getting into with him. Carver is given every reason to want revenge and to put the hurt on lots of people, including the Necromorphs.
Unfortunately, he's the only character that really stands out in this title. Langford and Norton don't add much and there's a slew of faceless Unitologists that are all pretty interchangeable. This makes it difficult to understand what Carver is running from / trying to stop. At least with the Necromorphs, the enemy is pretty easy to identify.
Artist Christopher Shy returns to Dead Space with Liberation after also handling the art on the previous title, Salvage. His work has improved since then, so it's a bit easier to tell what's going on. The action scenes are still a little stiff at times as many of the characters look like they were taken from photographs and then altered to fit within this world. Shy has a very unique art style that translates well for big, beautiful images, but not as much for fast-paced battles.
The Necromorphs are like something out of a nightmare, but they're often rather blurry or covered up in some way, making them hard to distinguish. Carver really stands out as a cool looking character. His suit glows red in certain areas, such as the eyes. There are a few awesome panels where he's walking away from a stack of bodies with those eyes burning brightly.
Dead Space: Liberation adds a bit more to the overall mythos of the games. It serves as a decent primer for the third title. As with the previous graphic novels, diehard fans will enjoy it, but casual fans will be less interested.