14th Mar2013

‘Dead Space: Liberation’ Review

by Phil Wheat

DEAD SPACE: LIBERATION
Written by Ian Edginton | Art by Christopher Shy | Published by Titan Books | Format: Hardback, 128pp

The third in the series of Dead Space graphic novel tie-ins, Dead Space: Liberation once again is drawn by Christopher Shy, who took over artwork duties in the previous book, Salvage, however this time round Dead Space “worldbuilder” Antony Johnston, who – besides penning the first two graphic novels – worked on the script and story for the original video game and the Wii follow-up Dead Space: Extraction, is not in the authors chair.

This time writing duties fall to fellow Brit comic writer and author Ian Edginton, whose name many may recognise from his work in 2000AD and my personal favourite: the awesome Victorian Undead mini-series from Wildstorm. Interestingly, Dead Space: Liberation is not Edginton’s first foray into video game tie-ins, having penned Zool Rules: the Alien Ninja from the Nth Dimension back in 1994!

Essentially a prequel-come-side-story to Dead Space 3, this time round the action takes place after the events of the second video game and follows Earthgov Sergeant John Carver whose wife and son are attacked by fanatics trying to liberate the Marker site where she works. Racing to solve the clues his wife left behind, Carver teams up with Ellie Langford, survivor of an earlier Necromorph outbreak on the Sprawl, and EarthGov Captain Robert Norton. Together they unlock deep secrets about the Markers in an epic adventure that will determine the fate of mankind.

Once again Christopher Shy’s artwork is the big draw here. Less comic-book artwork and more nightmarish vision of hell, Shy’s style is perfect for the Dead Space universe, succinctly matching the fright-filled atmosphere of the video games. In fact Shy’s interpretation of the famous Necromorph’s surpasses those found in the game, with a much more visceral and truly “otherworldy” appearance to them here than in the game. Sadly Shy amazing visuals are not matched by the story, which is much more of an international interdimensional espionage tale than a horror one, featuring governmental conspiracies, human and non-human monsters, and no Isaac Clarke… Well unless you count the final page of the book. That’s not to say that Dead Space: Liberation doesn’t have a decent story – it does. It’s just that you can tell Edginton hasn’t spent as much time in the world of Dead Space as Johnston – Edginton’s is much more a matter of fact story than one with emotional investment a la the previous books (especially the much more human tale of Dead Space: Salvage).

Despite only featuring a brief appearance of video game hero Isaac Clarke, Dead Space: Liberation is without a doubt aimed squarely at fans of the franchise and those in particular who’ve lapped up the in-game storyline(s), but for those not totally engrossed into the world of Dead Space this third book could feel a little confusing and cold.

Dead Space: Liberation is available now from Titan Books.

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