Writer (s): Ian Edginton, Christopher Shy
Art: Ben Templesmith
Following the events of Dead Space 2, Sergeant John Carvers wife and son are attacked by fanatics trying to liberate the Marker site where she works. Racing to help, Carver teams up with Ellie Langford, survivor of an earlier Necromorph outbreak, and EarthGov Captain Robert Norton to unlock deep secrets about the Markers in an epic adventure that will determine the fate of mankind.
Some years ago Electronic arts began a program to fill out the fiction around their franchises before they had even begun in the form of animated movies, smaller downloadable titles related to the fiction and graphic novels. Dead space was one of these, with an animated movie of it’s very own called Dead Space: Downfall and a graphic novel simply titled Dead Space, released shortly before the first game in the series.
For this first graphic novel they wisely enlisted the artistic talents of Ben Templesmith, the man responsible for the unique and striking look of the original 30 Days Of Night trilogy. His style lent itself exceptionally well to the graphic nature of the images required for that novel, being slightly cartoonish in the inked outlines, but having the shading and colours be very realistic and vivid. This feels as though this is an important point to make as, in Dead Space: Liberation there is felt very strongly the influence of that particular style, but this may not really be a good thing.
That’s not to say that the book is not well drawn. It’s certainly lovely to look at and is, from an artistic standpoint, quite brilliant. However, very often entire pages can become something of a confusing mess in which the narrative becomes completely lost. It often feels as though the desire to imitate and improve upon the art style from the original novel is hampering the story telling here, though that’s not the only thing hampering the story.
As a narrative this feels very much in service of something larger, which of course it is. Events just seem to happen one after another in a sort of checklist of we need to find a way for these characters to get to the place they are going to be in the game but also throw in some abstacles. As a result it is very hard to really care about the characters involved. Carver, who features heavily in Dead Space 3 as the co-op character and is the central character here, is essentially a generic hardened soldier who behaves like every marine in every movie ever. And instead of developing as a character he just has a life-ruining tragedy thrown at him to make it seem as though he has depth. He doesn’t.
Many other characters from the game feature here also, but again it is mostly just to tie them in to the game. One character even show’s up out of the blue with no explanation and has one line, which consists of her saying her own name as if to say “I’m here now too!”
All in all, I’d say that this book has some really pretty pictures and if you are really in to Dead Space’s fiction then there might be something for you here, but ultimately the story here is hurriedly and clumsily told, much like the game it sets up. All in all it’s a disappointing end to a franchise I previously had a lot of time for had at one time considered to be among the best of this console generation.