Review – Mass Effect: Invasion Issue 1

This week's New Comics Day features the premiere issue for Mac Walters' upcoming comic series, Mass Effect: Invasion - featuring Underworld Queen Aria T'Loak responding to an incoming threat from the Cerberus research facilities beyond the Omega-4 Relay. Thanks to the folks at Dark Horse's New York Comic Con booth this past weekend, we managed to get our hands on Issue 1 a few days early. Should you include this book in your next Wednesday bag?

Mass Effect: Invasion Issue 1
MSRP: $3.50

Setting

Invasion picks up some time after Drew Karpyshyn's final Mass Effect novel, Retribution, and relies on the events of the novel series somewhat for context. Despite some tension between Aria's criminal network and The Illusive Man's Cerberus, Omega has become a necessary supply hub in Cerberus' research plans beyond the Omega-4 Relay, creating a mutually beneficial arrangement. Until, of course, a mysterious element of the Reaper army begins invading the space station from beyond the previously unmapped section of space. While Aria must repel this invasion and protect her city, she must also contend with a brewing Cerberus plan to bring her rule to an end.

Story/Writing

I had been critical of the writing in previous ME comics in the past. However, after reading issue 1 of Invasion, it's clear that Mac Walters' comic writing skills have improved vastly, and Invasion is a much tighter piece so far than Redpemtion or Evolution. To butcher the writing idiom, there's more show, and less tell. Action and developments are handled more from the panels themselves and less through speech bubbles, and the dialogue itself does a much better job in reflecting the personalities of the speakers.

The story of Issue 1 hints at a brewing Cerberus operation to undermine the security of a major travel hub, and Walters has promised to show some of The Illusive Man's descent into madness throughout this story. And the teasings are there. We see an Illusive Man that's more combative with Aria than previous iterations, and a plan in the works that seems to undermine Cerberus' Modus Operandi of subtle manipulation.

Based on this issue, Invasion is shaping up to be a nice addition to the Mass Effect lore.

Art

Art remains slightly inconsistent, though it also has improved from previous iterations. The gratuitous curve shots from Redemption are, thankly, gone, and Invasion paints a more accurate atmosphere of Omega than previous attempts. However, postures still seem a bit stiff in some panels, though in others the stiffness is missing, and instead shows some very powerful angles.

So, what's the verdict?

If you're a Mass Effect fan, you're probably dying for more stories to tide you over until next spring. Thankfully, Invasion is shaping up to be a great addition, taking a look at a character who felt a little under-developed in previous iterations. Keep your eyes on this story, if it continues along this path it will be a strong chapter in the ME lore.