Written by Alex Irvine | Art by John Aggs | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
For those not in the know, Deus Ex is a series of first person computer games dating back to 2000. They all take place in the near future, in a kind of slightly clichéd dystopian cyberpunk society. To be fair, they have been pretty good, and the subject matter, cinematic style and look do lend themselves quite nicely to the comic book medium. Deus Ex: Children’s Crusade is a tie-in to the latest installment of the game series, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, due out later this year. I think Eidos’s ultimate plans for multimedia expansion can be assumed as now games, comics, books etc will come under the umbrella label of Deus Ex Universe.
The nice side of this from the comic book side is that the stories will not just be adaptations of games, but actual relevant storylines that run alongside the games, and add depth and history to the Deus Ex world. Game properties do not automatically make good comics, as many a publisher will attest to, so getting Alex Irvine on board as a writer is a great move. Irvine has a great background in not only writing for Marvel and DC, but also has written science fiction novels himself. He knows his stuff.
The background to the start of the story is a little complex so bear with me. In the Deus Ex world there was the ‘Aug Incident’, where artificially augmented individuals attacked normal people, an event engineered by the Illuminati to sow distrust and discord. Because of this, normal humans have a pretty poor opinion of the augmented (or augs, as they are called). Task Force 29 has been formed against this backdrop ,by Interpol, to combat rising terrorism. We follow Adam Jensen, the lead character in the previous Deux Ex game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, who is an aug himself despite everyone else in the squad being ‘naturals’. The squads first mission takes place in Prague, where they have to deal with a hostage situation involving not only children, but augmented ones at that.
Irvine plays with some interesting themes here, playing up the growing apartheid and division in this society, the them and us mentality. Neither the ‘augs’ or the ‘naturals’ are completely good or bad, both parts of society have their good and bad apples. As with all good science fiction, Irvine’s point is that he has comments to make about our society through the prism of the Deus Ex universe. He does it well, thought provoking but not too preachy, a perfect pitch. Jensen’s character is a unifying one in that although an ‘aug’ he works with ‘naturals’ to fight against aug terrorists and is not afraid to confront anti-aug sentiment either, even within his own organization.
Although I am familiar with the Deus Ex games and so had a reasonable understanding of the background to this series I would say it is not the easiest series just to pick up. Fans will have no problem, but to the average reader looking for something new this may be a hard sell. That’s not to say Irvine does a bad job, he tries to fill in as much background and history as he can while moving his own story forward, but it does feel a little dense at times. The art by John Aggs is very good, fitting in nicely with the writing. Some nice layouts, with muted colours, give life to this world in such a way it is almost reminiscent of the game graphics, perhaps a Deus Ex house style developing.
I need to see a little more before I can fully make my mind up on this series, but a pretty solid start. I look forward to seeing where we go next.
Deus Ex: Children’s Crusade #1 is out now from Titan Comics