Mass Effect: Redemption #1
"Redemption, part 1"
the spring of 2009, my editor on Star Wars: Knights of the Old
Republic at Dark Horse, Dave Marshall,
approached me with the opportunity to bring the Mass Effect
video game universe to comics for the first time. I was well aware of
Mass Effect, the hit video game by Bioware, the same folks that
designed the first KOTOR video game; I
liked its military SF look and feel. So I didn't have to be convinced
-- and with KOTOR
wrapping up and space in my schedule before other planned projects
ramped up, I was able to dive in pretty quickly.
Mac Walters, the lead designer at Bioware, provided the plot for the story in "Redemption," making it a true part of the Mass Effect universe, bridging the first game with its late January 2010 sequel. Mac and the Bioware team provided lots of background on the Mass Effect universe, as well as visuals and information from the unreleased game, for use by myself and artist Omar Francia, who had previously worked on Star Wars: Legacy.
The process for this issue was fairly new for me; while I had scripted Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull based on the movie story, all the dialogue came from the film, so I was limited to deciding which scenes to depict and how. Here, I had more discretion in my role, putting lines in the character's mouths and determining how to bring the plot to the printed page. Mac and Bioware were working along with us the entire time, making sure everything we came up with meshed. Particular care was taken in the handling of Commander Shepard's character; as with the KOTOR comics and Revan, the story accommodates the reader's past decisions as a player.
The result is a Mass Effect story that's integrated with the game universe -- while also having something of a different feel from the game, novel, and cut-scene video content that's out there. Comics share a number of storytelling techniques with other media, but there are also some unique to it. In comics, for example, the (usually) white space of the gutter between panel borders provides a pause in which any amount of time may pass; where a film or video game cut scene might show how characters or a ship get from point A to point B, comics stories are just as likely to handle transitions more abruptly, diving straight into the next sequence. (In film, the equivalent would be a lot of "smash-cuts" -- as jarring as it sounds, but commonplace in comics.)
Comics -- and particularly the ones of the past -- are also more likely to spread dialogue across action scenes, such as while characters are running or engaged in battle. Modern comics don't do as much of that, but the curious static-while-active dynamic does still allow comics to convey information in different places.
So the feel may be unique to comics, but it's all Mass Effect -- and as the story goes along, readers will find that there's a lot of detail layered in that has to do with other things going on in the video game world.
- A five-page preview of this issue appears in Star Wars: Knights of the Old
Republic #48, also scripted by me.
- Our colorist, Michael Atiyeh, had
worked on the Star
of the Old Republic series; our cover artist this issue
did the cover
for several KOTOR issues as well.
- Omega appears in the Mass
Effect novel, Ascension.
descriptions were greatly
helpful in crafting the look of the place in this issue. Omega is
essentially the flip side of the Citadel, which is seen in the first
game -- not a safe place to visit!
- In Mass Effect writing, the
various species are described in lowercase, just like humans; in
comics, of course, everything's uppercase!
- The batarians first
appeared in the downloadable content (DLC) "Bring Down the Sky." They
don't think much of people with less than four eyes, as
- The elcor are probably my favorite species from
the first game; they're so expressionless that, as Feron notes, they
have to tell you the subtext while they're talking!
debuting here, is portrayed in the second game by Yvonne Strahovoski,
who's both the voice actor and the physical model for the character.
Illusive Man depicted in this issue is voiced by Martin
Sheen in Mass Effect 2.
Now if we can only get him to an audiobook reading of
his comics role here!
- A variant-cover version of this issue appears in the Collector's Edition version of Mass Effect 2, the video game from Bioware. Also by Daryl Mandryk, the cover features Feron and Liara. With a lot of copies of the video game out there, that makes this issue one of my most heavily-circulated works to date.