If you’re a regular reader here at The Rhodes Review, then you know that I’m a HUGE fan of the Mass Effect series. When I heard that there were comics that expanded on the ME Universe, I knew I had to read them. I was especially excited to hear that the ME Writers were in close collaboration with Dark Horse. Now, while I did read the first two, I hadn’t caught up on all of them yet. Then, the Mass Effect Library Edition Volume 1 came out. It contains all 4 of the multi-issue ME comic series that Dark Horse has released so far: Redemption, Evolution, Invasion, and Homeworlds. It also includes all three of the short comics released so far: Incursion, Inquisition, and Conviction. Finally, there’s also a sketchbook included from Artist, Omar Francia. All of that was packed into a 417 page hard cover book!
It’s time to catch up! I review all of the comics below…
Redemption is a prequel to Mass Effect 2 starring Liara T’Soni.
(Disclaimer: I may be a bit biased in writing this review, because Liara is my favorite character in Mass Effect. I love that blue beauty!)
Redemption takes place after the Normandy is destroyed by the Collectors at the beginning of Mass Effect 2. Shepard was basically killed in that battle, but he/she was rebuilt/resurrected/revived by Cerberus. It took Cerberus 2 years to rebuild Shepard. That leaves quite a gap to fill in. A lot happened to Shepard’s closest friends in that time. This comic fills in some of those gaps and answers some questions. How did Liara get into the information business? How did Cerberus get a hold of Shepard’s body? Redemption answers those questions and more!
I really loved this comic. From the art to the story. I’m not an expert in comic art, but I found the artist’s style to be beautiful. I felt like they perfectly captured the essence of the games. What I do know is story and the story was awesome. It’s the story of the power of friendship. How far are you willing to go for you friends (and/or lovers, depending on your Shepard). Liara is willing to take on the Shadow Broker and the Collectors to try to rescue her friend, Shepard. She’s even willing to team up with Cerberus, of all people! I really love seeing Liara’s dedication seen and not just inferred. She tells Shepard about the story in The Shadow Broker DLC, but she doesn’t really want to get into the details. This is a great companion comic to Mass Effect and I highly recommend it!
Rhodes Rating: 94/100
Evolution is a Mass Effect prequel starring The Illusive Man aka Jack Harper.
Evolution takes place in the year 2157, which is 26 years before the first Mass Effect game. The comic begins at the end of the First Contact War. Just in case you need a reminder, the First Contact War was the brief (3 month) war between the Humans and Turians that occurred after they first made contact with one another. The Humans were about to activate an inactive mass effect relay (314), when the Turians intervened. Their intervention method was to shoot first. It’s not the best way to make first contact with an alien race. The Turians would go on to occupy a Human colony, Shanxi. And Shanxi is where this comic starts. The Turians attacked Shanxi because it was the closest Human colony, but their interests evolved when they got there. Turian researches discovered a strange artifact on Shanxi. But what could it be? Is it dangerous? That’s where the Illusive Man comes in, though he isn’t quite the Illusive Man yet. He is Jack Harper. A Specialist for the Human Alliance. It was his job to find what the Turians were up to, before it was too late. Harper does catch up with Turians, finds the artifact, but at what cost? The artifact will change his life forever. Evolution will take you many places that the games never took you: Shanxi, Arcterus Station, Palaven. There are even some familiar faces for fans of the game. Read Evolution and discover the birth of Cerberus!
What an adventure! I really loved Evolution, because it explores a different time in the Mass Effect universe. And what a time period to explore! What a tense period that would have been for Mankind. They finally discover that they’re not alone in the universe, and they are attacked. Now, you don’t see much of the war in Evolution, but the Human-Turian conflict is at the very heart of the story. Things have cooled down a little by 2183, but things are very hostile between the two races in 2157! I also really enjoyed seeing what made Jack Harper become The Illusive Man. It wasn’t just one thing, but a series of events that was the catalyst of the transformation. By the end of the comic, I really understood why he created Cerberus. As far as the art goes, Evolution was just as beautiful as Redemption, but I’d say the tone was a bit more serious. Perhaps a darker color scheme? Whatever the case, the artistic tone went along perfectly with the tone of the story! Looks like they’re 2 for 2. Another great Mass Effect comic that I highly recommend!
Rhodes Rating: 96/100
Invasion is a prequel to Mass Effect 3, starring Aria T’Loak.
Invasion takes place between Mass Effect 2 and 3. There has been an increased Cerberus presence on Omega since Shepard disabled or destroyed the Collector Base on the other side of the Omega 4 Relay. Omega and the Omega 4 Relay is basically Deep Space Nine and the Wormhole. To control Omega, is to control the entrance to the Gamma Quadrant…er…the Galactic Core. This means that Cerberus and Aria T’Loak have forged an uncomfortable trade agreement. Aria hates Cerberus, but selling them supplies for their journeys to the core means profit. The peace doesn’t last long, though. One day a Cerberus vessel shows up at Omega, with mysterious new enemies aboard: Adjutants. Cerberus has lost control of their Adjutants test subjects and this ship was only the first! Aria and the people of Omega will have to team up with Cerberus, if they have any hope of stopping these powerful creatures. Can Aria trust Cerberus and their General, Oleg Petrovsky? Will she be able to save Omega?
Invasion was another awesome comic, expanding on the Mass Effect universe! It goes as a perfect companion to Mass Effect 3, and more specifically, the Omega DLC. If you’ve played the Omega DLC, then you know the answer to the questions I posed. The Omega DLC is about taking back Omega. Invasion is all about how Aria loses Omega, and it’s a thrilling tale. I’m fascinated with the two feuding minds at work here. General Petrovsky thinks he’s a genius, but he’s not as smart as he thinks he is. Oleg is book smart for sure, but Aria is both book smart and “street” smart. I would say that Invasion isn’t quite as deep as the first two comics, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting. The one thing that they did show was how determined Aria is. She’ll do anything, literally, for Omega and it’s people. Aria is all tough on the outside, but I think deep down (WAY deep down) she’s a softy. That’s just my opinion, though. Invasion makes 3 for 3! Will the last comic be as good as the first three?
Rhodes Rating: 90/100
Homeworlds is a bit different than the previous 3 comics. All 4 issues in the comic carry the same general theme of Homeworlds, but each one features a different character. Issue 1 features James Vegas, Issue 2 features Tali’Zorah Nar Rayyah, Issue 3 features Garrus Vakarian, and Issue 4 features Liara T’Soni.
James Vega’s Homeworlds Issue takes place at the beginning of Mass Effect 3 and before Mass Effect 1. It starts out with Vega on The Citadel right after the Reapers invasion of Earth. Vega is trying to check up on his Uncle and his Father back on Earth. This triggers a flashback to Vega on Earth, before he joined the Marines. In this flashback, the reader learns all about Vega’s family and why exactly he does join the Marines.
I liked this issue. It wasn’t my favorite, but I did like finding out more about Vega’s past. Between Homeworlds and Paragon Lost, I’ve learned a lot about what makes Vega tick. This was a good issue!
Tali’Zorah Nar Rayya’s Homeworlds Issue takes place right after the beginning of Mass Effect 1. In this issue, Tali has just started out on her Pilgrimage. She was planning to travel to Illium, but makes a detour to investigate a Geth presence in the Crescent Nebula. It is there, she learns of Saren’s betrayal and that information is dangerous. Tali is chased across Council Space by Saren’s Agents. Will she get the information to the right person in time? I think you know the answer, but it’s all about the journey!
What a way to start off your Pilgrimage! I liked Tali’s issue much better than Vega’s. Learning the back story on how she got the information about Saren was pretty cool, but be warned, there are some pretty sad moments in this one. One such moment is Tali losing her naivety. Leaving the Flotilla for the first time causes Tali to learn a lot of lessons the hard way about how the Quarians are treated by the other races. It’s sad, but not as sad as the ending! The only complaint I had for this issue was the artistic style. I didn’t love it.
Garrus Vakarian’s Homeworlds Issue mostly takes place during Mass Effect 2. Garrus aka Archangel is making his last stand against the mercs of Omega. He’s held them off so far, but he’s alone and thinks that his death is inevitable. Garrus’ life starts flashing before his eyes. He starts thinking back to how he got to where he is and to his conflict with his Father. He flashes back to his childhood, his times at C-Sec, and building his Archangel Team on Omega. The flashbacks serve a purpose and there is resolution at the end of the issue.
I thought Garrus’ issue was better than Vega’s, but not as good as Tali’s. It was nice to learn a little bit more of Garrus’ backstory, but I wish I could have seen more. Maybe they’re saving his adventures for a spin-off game?
Finally, Liara T’Soni’s Homeworlds Issue takes place between Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. Liara has just recently taken over as Shadow Broker and is using her newfound resources to search for a way to stop the Reapers. She will travel to Thessia (Home) for a bit, but most of the issue takes place on Kahje. Kahje is the Hanar Homeworld. Will she find the Prothean data she needs at the bottom of the Hanar Ocean?
I really loved this one. It was definitely my favorite issue of the Homeworlds comic. Part of the reason is for taking Liara to Kahje. To get to see where the Drell and Hanar live for the first time was really cool. Also, I made it clear at the beginning of this review that Liara is my favorite character in Mass Effect. So, naturally, I love seeing more of her. She did some badass stuff in Redemption, but she’s really come into her own in Homeworlds. She’s not the reserved scientist that we met in Mass Effect 1 anymore!
All in all, Homeworlds was a great comic. It had mostly really good stories and art. It’s another great addition to the Library!
Rhodes Rating: 91/100
Incursion is a prequel to Mass Effect 2, a short comic, and stars Aria T’Loak. In it, she discovers that the Collectors are abducting Humans on Omega.
This a nice, but short, introduction of Aria. They should have known better than to screw with Aria! That’s the only rule of Omega!
Rhodes Rating: 87/100
Inquisition is a prequel to Mass Effect 3, a short comic, and stars Captain Bailey. This comic tells the story of how Captain Bailey becomes Commander Bailey.
I liked this comic, but it left with me more questions than answers. Read it and you’ll see what I mean. I now know why Bailey was so hesitant to talk about his promotion to me in Mass Effect 3. Anyway, it was still interesting to see more of Bailey and see how he became a Commander!
Rhodes Rating: 85/100
Conviction is a prequel to Mass Effect 3, a short comic, and stars James Vega. Vega has been hanging out at Omega since the events of Paragon Lost and he is quite lost himself. He gets into a pretty big bar fight, but someone rescues him. Who could it be?
This was another pretty good short comic. I especially liked the ending. It was nice to connect the last dot in Vega’s history.
Rhodes Rating: 85/100
Omar Francia Sketchbook
Omar Francia is the main artist for the Mass Effect comics and he shares his sketchbook at the end of the Library. It’s very cool to see how the comics evolved from sketches to the final product! I included one preview sketch, but you’ll have to buy the book to see the rest!
I can’t think of a better comic (collection) to be the first comic review here at The Rhodes Review! I loved every single comic included! One thing I really loved was the notes at the bottom of each page from the artists and writers. They provide lots of cool insight! Mass Effect Library Edition Volume 1 (Hard Cover) is a must own for all Mass Effect fans. That’s the bottom line. I can’t make it any clearer than that.
Rhodes Rating: 94/100
Mass Effect Library Edition Volume 1 is NOW AVAILABLE!
You can buy it here: Dark Horse