Mass Effect: Redemption

Mass Effect: Redemption
Mass Effect: Redemption Cover
Publisher Dark Horse Comics
Issues 4
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In Mass Effect 2’s opening minutes, Commander Shepard’s ship is destroyed and our hero is tossed lifeless to a desolate planet. After a quick title sequence, Shepard is revived in a state-of-the-art facility and the game kicks off properly. The period of Shepard apparently burning up in the planet’s upper atmosphere and then looking as good as new is quickly brushed upon but there are bigger aliens to fry in the galaxy.

For the curious fan trying to put the pieces together, or just experience everything BioWare has to offer, a series of comics were released by Dark Horse. Mass Effect: Redemption details Liara’s rescue of Shepard’s body from the Collectors and the Shadow Broker, and its delivery to the Illusive Man at Cerberus.

Published as a set of four and kicking off in early January 2010 before Mass Effect 2 was released, Redemption also serves as what is, at this time, a series of six comic books covering a wide range of characters and locations in the universe. I plan to cover them all before the release of Mass Effect 3, but let’s start with the first one.

I’ll admit straight away I’m not a comics reader, sure, I’ve read the essential graphic novels such as Watchmen, 300, and The Killing Joke, but I’ve never been a weekly or monthly follower. Growing up in a small town with no shops doesn’t help, but I’ve never been that interested in the superhero mythology.

So the questions of how good the art is and how effective the full-page spreads are mostly bounce off me uselessly. As a student of the Mass Effect series, however, I can say that Liara’s outfit is kind of ridiculous and she’s been super-sexualized AND turned into a bad-ass all at once. Remember when you discovered Liara in Mass Effect? She was a quivering scientist that trapped herself in her own panic room to escape some bad guys. When speaking with her it was obvious she looked down more microscopes than gun barrels, but in Redemption she’s almost a super heroine herself.

I can buy that she emotionally and psychologically hardened herself during the events of Mass Effect and after Shepard’s death, but now she’s knocking out Turians in one hit and sniping mercs with her pistol from 100 meters out. Couldn’t she still just be that super intelligent, century-old yet naive Asari we all know and love? It’s an interesting character decision and one that kind weakens her, in my opinion.

Mass Effect Redemption Liara Kicking Butt

We also spend some time with Miranda, who mostly just looks frumpy and oddly out of place among the cast of aliens. The weirdest thing is she looks almost nothing like actress Yvonne Strahovski (Miranda was voiced and modeled after the Chuck star), which makes me wonder if they didn’t have the rights to make her look like the actual character outside of Mass Effect 2? Kind of perplexing, though the Illusive Man doesn’t look much like Martin Sheen in the comic, either, so maybe it’s just the art style.

The final main character is Feron, a Drell (Thane also hailed from this amphibian-like species), who, through a series of semi-confusing backroom deals, is actually something like a quadruple agent (as in double, triple, etc.). I couldn’t explain it if I tried, so I won’t bother.

For people like me who played Mass Effect 2’s big DLC, Lair of the Shadow Broker, before reading Redemption, Feron should be a familiar face. You rescue him in the Shadow Broker’s hideout after he was captured in the Redemption comics. The game seems to indicate that there was quite a bit of history between Liara and Feron, or at least something romantic brewing between them, but I never caught that on the page.

Mass Effect Redemption Miranda

Whether you can accept the character differences or not, the actual story of Redemption is entertaining. The remains of Shepard’s body are the most sought after hunks of carbon in the galaxy, and the story gives the race and fights over it enough weight to be believable. The Collectors desperately want the body for reasons that are purposefully left vague because that would be a giant Mass Effect 2 spoiler, and they recruit the Shadow Broker to do their dirty work. Liara wants the body because Shepard was her close friend, and Cerberus essentially uses her because they want to bring our hero back to life.

Mass Effect Redemption TazzikThe stakes are laid out in the first issue, and the second and third are mostly just filler to introduce characters like Aria, for Feron to betray every other person in the galaxy, and for Liara to show off her new butt-kicking skills. The fourth book provides a complete, satisfying, and mostly surprise-free wrap up of the story that bridges those few in-game minutes between Shepard’s death and resurrection.

The lingering question the series leaves is: where’s Tazzik? As the Shadow Broker’s right-hand Salarian man charged with bringing Shepard in, it’s kind of bizarre this character wasn’t made into at least a major enemy in Lair of the Shadow Broker. Which leads me to believe that either Taz has been dropped altogether (most likely), or with how things shook out after the DLC, he may well be a playable character in Mass Effect 3 (wish fulfillment).

And yes, I keep bringing up Lair of the Shadow Broker for a reason, because in some ways Mass Effect: Redemption serves as a better sequel to that particular piece of downloadable content than Mass Effect 2 itself. Everything from the Shadow Broker to rescuing Feron means that if you’re a fan of that pretty awesome piece of bonus content, that Redemption is well worth the read.

And while the comic is a decent way to tell this story, I can’t help but imagine how great this would have been as its own piece of downloadable content for Mass Effect 2. Imagine controlling Liara as you rescue Shepard’s body from the Blue Suns, Shadow Broker, and Collector agents. It could have been pretty magnificent.