By Marty Mulrooney
Dead Space: Liberation is a graphic novel written by Ian Edginton (Victorian Undead) with art by Christopher Shy (Soul Stealer). Recently published in the UK by Titan Books, this graphic novel serves as a prequel to the events of Dead Space 3 (both were released in February 2013). The story follows Earthgov Sergeant John Carver as he fights religious fanatics and terrifying ‘Necromorph’ monsters in a desperate bid for survival that will determine the fate of mankind.
Dead Space: Liberation is simply beautiful to look at. The large panels (many featured as single or double page spreads) are gorgeous works of art that see Christopher Shy upping his game from the previous Dead Space graphic novel (Dead Space: Salvage). The story begins on planet Uxor, with Sergeant John Carver helplessly watching in horror as religious fanatics attack the Marker site where his wife works.
Rushing to rescue his family, he is attacked from all sides by horrific monsters before being captured by Jacob Danik, leader of the Unitologist group known as ‘The Circle’. They fruitlessly torture Carver for information – yet despite his reserve, records reveal that his wife is Marker scientist Dr. Damara Carver. They also pull up a home address, enraging Carver as he realises they mean to harm his wife and son. He escapes just as there is a perimeter breach…
Carver returns home, but it’s too late. He is greeted with a scene no husband or father should ever have to face. After dealing with the reanimated Necromorph corpses of his family, he puts a gun beneath his chin and gets ready to pull the trigger. A hidden transmitter halts him just in time – the voice on the other end of the line? Ellie Langford from Dead Space 2.
The main plot follows Carver, Ellie Langford and the highly trained Captain Robert Norton as they fight against the odds to use Dr. Carver’s secret research to find a ‘Master Signal’ which, if located, could prove to be the key to destroying all of the markers – and the Necromorph virus – once and for all. The basic but effective story sets the groundwork for the traditional Dead Space formula of bloody space battles and moody, brooding horror leading up to an explosive finale.
As previously mentioned, Christopher Shy’s artwork is beautiful here – one moment at the beginning of the book is particularly effective, with a crashing spaceship on planet Uxor shown reflected within the anguished eye of Sergeant Carver. The Dead Space video games always managed to make even the most horrific locations and situations seem visually appealing and this graphic novel more than does the franchise justice. The story by Ian Edginton ties in with Dead Space 3 nicely and the graphic novel as a whole serves as an authentic, believable prologue.
Dead Space: Liberation won’t win any awards for storytelling, but for fans of the video game series upon which it is based, it offers a gorgeous vision of the Dead Space universe. Sergeant Carver is given a satisfying backstory and the events shown lead nicely into the events of Dead Space 3. Fans of the Dead Space video games should definitely check this out – newcomers would be better off starting elsewhere. The most enjoyable, focused and well-rounded of the Dead Space graphic novels.
8 OUT OF 10
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space by Antony Johnston and Ben Templesmith (Graphic Novel)
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space: Salvage by Anthony Johnson and Christopher Shy (Graphic Novel)
GAME REVIEW – Dead Space 2: Limited Edition (PlayStation 3)
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space: Martyr by B.K. Evenson
BOOK REVIEW – Dead Space: Catalyst by B.K. Evenson
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Sonita Henry (Ellie Langford, Dead Space 2)