Weekend Entertainment: Dead Space Salvage
Publisher: Titan Books
Set between the events of the first Dead Space game and the anime film, Dead Space: Aftermath (or for those who are only familiar with the games, Dead Space 2) this stand-alone graphic novel tells the story of a group of miners known as the Magpies. Whilst transporting parts to their ship the crew happen to come across the USG Ishimura – for those of you who are familiar with the Dead Space games you’ve probably already guessed what happens next. The Magpies eventually discover the Necromorph threat on-board that slaughtered the crew and fight to survive, whilst Earth Government are also present trying to locate the marker that started it all.
The story is nothing new. It is essentially about a crew who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. At first I couldn’t have really told you if there was a main character in particular. I mean, despite how intricate and suited the art is, even the character bio’s at the beginning didn’t seem to keep me in check with who was who. The narrative itself doesn’t help to bring much personality or character to the crew members, or even much decent conversation for that matter. The fact that it has to explain who each character is beforehand almost tells you this ahead of reading. Stefan Schneider is the only name that sticks with me following the closing pages, and that is because he is the only character to have any major “screen-time”.
As Antony Johnston wrote the original game’s dialogue I was hoping this story would have been written rather well. In fact, an early moment where one of Earth Government’s high officials is demanding they retrieve the Ishimura sets the scene for certain expectations by the end. Instead this was left unresolved and didn’t bridge the gap to the second game at all. Instead it focuses on Stefan Schneider, the lasting name who I have dubbed ‘main protagonist’. This of course wouldn’t have been a problem if his crew had been in any way interesting, rather than just being an excuse to get in Earth Gov’s way in retrieving the marker.
The only thing I thoroughly enjoyed in this graphic novel was the art. Christopher Shy has done a brilliant job here – his style not that dissimilar from the work of Ben Templesmith, known for 30 Days Of Night and Silent Hill. It is dark, moody, rough, blurred; faces of characters almost look real, and at times can look like cut-outs, leaving an edgy touch. The detail in the Necromorphs is fantastic, and use of silhouetting is a nice touch. It can however look so dark and muddy at times that when something fast happens within the story it’s hard to tell exactly what is going on. It is definitely a particular style that suits the name of Dead Space very well. If the story and characters matched the art this could have been something great.
What’s even more interesting is the wording – rather than being inside a visible speech bubble, it is placed around characters in a scribble-esque style that goes hand in hand with the rest of the art. This being said it can sometimes make it harder to tell which character is saying what, especially when the positioning is a little off. But this isn’t too much of an issue, and sometimes there are scribble lines going from one paragraph of writing to a person’s mouth, thus indicating who is actually speaking.
As a work of art this graphic novel excels. I am such a big fan of Ben Templesmith that Shy’s work, being so much like it, instantly held me. The wording itself is well suited too but the placement of it, combined with the confusing times where the art is not clear to the story let it down only slightly.
For fans of the series who want to see some well drawn Necromorphs, this is what you’re after. Failing that there is simply no need to go here. Although the Ishimura is involved it certainly doesn’t bridge a gap between the first two games.
As a simple art book this would have probably been better. In fact to someone who isn’t familiar with the Dead Space series this would probably be more interesting, but to a fan you are just left wondering what the point in it actually is since we’ve seen a similar story done better before.