When a group of freelance miners find the abandoned USG Ishimura in deep space, their once-fortunate luck turns into a catastrophe. With the Earth Government racing to reclaim the ship and an army of Necromorphs wreaking havoc on board, do the miners have any hope of surviving?
Greetings to ill and sun-dried,
Today, I present Heather Royston’s second review of a graphic novel based on the game Dead Space, again written by Antony Johnston, but with Christopher Shy taking over on art duties from Ben Templesmith. But enough of my yakking, let’s turn things over to Heather!
Signed in human blood,
Sean Lee Levin
Dead Space: Salvage takes place between the events of Dead Space and the animated movie Dead Space: Aftermath. It concerns an illegal salvage crew that happens upon the ship Ishimura. They board the ship with the intention of harvesting as much scrap as possible, and escaping before they are captured by the government ships that have been gathering in the area. Whilst aboard, they realize that The Marker must still be in the hold somewhere and is worth a fortune. As they search, some of the crew start to experience psychotic outbursts, the same as the colonists from the original Dead Space. They separate, trying to isolate the affected while also locating The Marker and anything else that can be sold as scrap. The Ishimura is then invaded by The Oracles, who are also after The Marker. Their priority is clear: nothing will stand between them and what they seek. Then, all hell breaks loose in true Dead Space fashion.
Antony Johnston once again does a fantastic job weaving the story of the salvage crew. The characters’ motivations were clear, the dialog was realistic, and the story flowed without a hitch. My only confusion with the book was exactly where in the timeline it takes place, but a cursory Google search cleared that up quickly. Being from the mind of someone so deeply involved in the creation of the Dead Space universe, I have no doubts that once I start playing the games (soon, I promise!) and get into the rest of the material (such as the animated Aftermath), all the pieces will fall into place. I’m getting the feeling that the world is quite large and involved and I look very forward to exploring it.
I was not familiar with the artist, Christopher Shy, before this book, though I have heard of him under his occasional pen name of Ronin. The cover art for the book had already grabbed me; the undefined lines and use of blurred colors are already a style I’m drawn to. I’ve learned the hard way, though, that a fantastic cover doesn’t always mean the same quality inside the book, so when I opened it and got a look at the pages, I was blown away. Shy draws his people with near photo-realistic faces, and makes amazing use of his colors to convey tones. The results are amazing. There were one or two places where I had to really examine a panel to see what happened, but that is usually a good thing, forcing the reader to really take in the art. Several times, including a page of a woman being killed by a Necromorph (this was actually the first time in the book you get a good look at that sort of thing and the impact was incredible) and a single panel of a gloved hand grasping a ledge, I just stopped reading and drank it in. It was just beautiful. I see no letterer credited, so I assume that Shy lettered the pages himself, and I love what he did with it. A non-traditional format is used, instead the dialog is written directly on to the pages with only a faint line pointing towards the character speaking. Different colors are used depending on if a character is on the page or on a comm. I don’t usually say this sort of thing, but I really liked the fact that it looks like handwriting on the page rather than typed words. It enhances the fact that the characters are speaking; I think typed style font would have been too cold for this type of art and it definitely would have taken away from the aesthetics.
Final Thoughts:Dead Space: Salvage is a great standalone story in between the games that opens up the universe beyond, and shows the impact of the events on a greater scale. It’s not just CEC, the government, and the Unitologists who are affected. However, it doesn’t feel so much like a “one and done” kind of story as it does just a piece of the larger tale, especially since it seems to end with a lead-in to the next story. Still, I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the original Dead Space story. I’ve one more Dead Space graphic novel in my stack, as well as what seems to be shaping up to be a very special treat that I can’t wait to share with you all. I give Dead Space: Salvage 4 out of 5 tentacles.
Heather Royston – Assistant Editor/Reviewer