What You Missed In The Mass Effect Comic Books

What You Missed In The Mass Effect Comic Books

Everything is better with comic books. This is a universal truth, and it’s doubly universally true for the Mass Effect trilogy. Between digital comics and Dark Horse’s series, Mass Effect series scribe Mac Walters and some excellent artists and writers have added magificent layers of depth to the series you’ll never see unless you read.

Video games, as free-form and massive as some of them may be, are nearly as restricted as movies are when it comes to telling a story. Screwing around with different perspectives, telling side-stories that aren’t completely neccessary to the main plot — that’s where novels and comic books excel. Printed fiction is the perfect way to flesh out characters as well. Odds are if you do go through all of these series, you’ll come out the other end with a deeper understanding and appreciation for your favourite character.

Case in point… (there be spoilers ahead!)

Mass Effect: Redemption

Four-Issue Series, Published January – April 2010 by Dark Horse

Writers: Mac Walters, John Jackson Miller

Artists: Omar Francia, Daryl Mandryk on covers

Chronology: Takes place before the events of Mass Effect 2

What You Missed: Liara T’Soni being a complete bad arse, the introduction of the dashing Drell Feron.

How did Cerberus get hold of Commander Shepard’s remains after the dreadful incident at the beginning of Mass Effect 2? How did timid Asari scientist Liara T’Soni become a hardened information broker? What’s with the guy she’s trying to save in the Lair of the Shadow Broker downloadable content? It’s all in this series.

If you have any feelings for Liara at all, read these books. Just look at her up there atop this post. That’s just one of many moments in Redemption that had me vocally cheering, drawing strange looks from fellow Starbucks patrons.

Mass Effect: Evolution

Four-Issue Series, Published January – April 2011 by Dark Horse

Writers: Mac Walters, John Jackson Miller

Artists: Omar Francia, Daryl Mandryk on covers

Chronology: Pre-Mass Effect 1

What You Missed: Only the entire origin story of the Illusive Man, Cerberus’s shadowy leader, and an appearance by the Turian Saren Arterius, who goes bad in a big way in the first Mass Effect.

Before he became the galaxy’s most powerful space racist, The Illusive Man was a dashing action hero by the name of Jack Harper. He’s a mercenary with a heart of… well, not gold, but he has the capacity to care. Evolution tells the story of how that all went to shit.

Hanging out with someone that shouts things like, “Die, Skull-Faces!” is enough to make anyone spend all of their time in an incredibly expensive planetarium and smoke his life away.

Mass Effect: Invasion

Four-Issue Series, Published October 2011 – January 2012 by Dark Horse

Writers: Mac Walters, John Jackson Miller

Artists: Omar Francia, Daryl Mandryk on covers (sensing a trend?)

Chronology: Between Mass Effect 2 and 3

What You Missed: The opportunity to see Omega pirate queen Aria T’Loak in action and not want to strangle her with your bear hands.

Omega is infested with husk-like zombies called Adjutants, and the biggest bitch in the entire unirse demonstrates exactly how she came to power on the station. In just about every game-based situation, Aria is a pain-in-the-ass at best, making the player feel helpless in the face of her absolute power. Invasion gives us a little taste of that power, and I like it.

Seriously, whoom!

Mass Effect: Homeworlds

Four-Issue Series, Published April – August 2012 by Dark Horse

Writers: Mac Walters, Various Bioware Writers

Artists: Various

Chronology: Various

What You Missed: Intimate moments with James Vega, Tali’Zorah, Liara T’Soni and Garrus Vakarian

A four-issue limited series that should have been a much larger series. Aside from Liara T’Soni, the companion character selection didn’t fit my tastes. Where’s my Subject Zero issue, or my 80-page Urdnot Wrex adult graphic novel? Still, if you like these folks, here’s more of them.

These four series, along with the digital comics and novels, feature enough background information and character insight to fill another three games. Your homework assignment? Procure and read all of them before Mac Walters’ 12-issue Mass Effect: Foundation series launches this summer. Good luck.

It’s Mass Effect Week at Kotaku. All week long, we’ll be revisiting the last five and a half years of galaxy-saving heroism, cross-species romance and awkward dancing.


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