"Dead Space: Salvage" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Titan Comics
Written by Antony Johnston
Illustrated by Christopher Shy
2012, 128 Pages
Graphic Novel published on February 5th, 2013
In many ways, Dead Space reinvented the survival horror genre in video games when it was first released in 2008. The game follows Isaac Clarke as he struggles to make his way through the spaceship USS Ishimura while battling deformed creatures called necromorphs. It was scary and tense and I never played it in the dark. EA has since expanded the franchise with two more games and has filled in some of the gaps between them with comics. Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith provided a prequel to the first game and Johnston returned to write Dead Space: Salvage, a tale set between the first and second titles.
Salvage doesn't pick up with Isaac Clarke or any of the characters from the first game. It does however feature the USS Ishimura in a big way. A group of scavengers known as the Magpies stumble upon it and try to pick through the abandoned spaceship for spare parts. Of course, the place is riddled with necromorphs, so you can probably guess what happens next. Additionally, the government is searching for the Ishimura for some reason and there's a weird religious angle that flows through the story that distracts from the main plot.
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The idea of a group of would-be pirates finding the remains of this spaceship is fun on its own. In the wrong hands, this could be a terrifying weapon of sorts. Imagine dropping a box filled with necromorphs on an unsuspecting enemy. I guess that's why the government is so interested in this. They seem to be doing a crap job finding and containing this threat.
The Magpies are pretty forgettable. They're not much more than cannon fodder. As with the first graphic novel, Salvage starts out with a brief rundown of the cast of characters. This is never a good sign. Even this information isn't enough to make me care about any of them.
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The story is lacking and Christopher Shy's artwork doesn't help. He's capable of some absolutely gorgeous images, but his work doesn't translate well to action. A lot of Shy's art looks as if he took old photographs and added to them. The result is a very stiff layout. Even when characters are supposed to be running for their lives, they appear to be posing as if waiting for the artist to paint them. Many of the character shots seem like they're cut out of a larger image and pasted onto the background, like a strange collage.
Dead Space: Salvage doesn't add much to the overall mythos that began with the first game. If you were dying to know what happened to the USS Ishimura after playing the original Dead Space, you'll get an answer. Otherwise, I'd only recommend this if you're a diehard fan of the franchise.