Dead Space: Liberation gives the backstory of Dead Space 3’s new playable co-op character John Carver and exactly why he’s tangled up in Isaac Clarke’s web of insanity. While that sounds interesting, after Salvage I can’t say I was too excited for another Dead Space comic. They also managed to get the now only remaining good part of the comics, Antony Johnston, and replaced him, at least, with another good writer, Ian Edginton, who has worked on everything from Batman, to Judge Dredd, to Alien Vs. Predator. I don’t know what those responsible for these comics see in Christopher Shy, but it completely eludes me.
When I look at a single panel of a trade and I can’t understand what is happening, it could be my fault. When I look at an entire page, pages even, and I can’t decipher the action then it stops being my fault and the blame rests solely on the artist. I don’t know if Ben Templesmith was just too expensive or he called everyone’s mother a whore or what, and while I mean no disrespect to Shy, his art is simply ill suited for the task at hand. The art should be half of what makes a comic great, and when it’s almost unintelligible, the whole product suffers.
As an artist, if you don’t get the iconic elements of what you’re trying to illustrate right, wouldn’t you consider that a failure? Just as in Salvage, Shy can’t seem to grasp that the lights on the rig are segmented bars. Sure, he may get it in extreme close-ups, all one or two of them, but it isn’t even right on the cover. I don’t know why it bothers me so much. Maybe it’s because that’s the one thing I can actually understand in these messy panels and I want it to look the way it’s supposed to.
It’s even worse when it’s the characters themselves. Salvage benefited from a story with characters we have never seen before. Liberation’s two main characters are Ellie Langford and John Carver, and even with Ellie’s strange redesign in Dead Space 3, Liberation’s versions of both, and main bad guy Jacob Danik, look nothing like their counterparts in the games, which, you know, are the actual main entries in the series. I despise calling art bad, but I find it hard not to here. It’s inexcusable.
Ian Edginton’s writing is in a giant, uphill battle against the terrible art. Again the font chosen is this strange handwritten style that often lacks appropriate attribution lines or is in strange colors that don’t contrast enough with the background. When I have trouble reading a comic, something has gone horribly wrong. What I could read was well great. From what little I’ve played of Dead Space 3 at this point gave me the clear message that John Carver is an asshole. Now I know exactly why he’s an asshole and I can’t say I blame him.
Just as the first Dead Space comic did a great job of tying into the first game, Liberation does tying into Dead Space 3. If the powers that be want to make any more Dead Space comics, they need to drop Christopher Shy. He is bringing down the written aspect and turning the plots into hard to follow messes. This series is trying to bridge the mediums and when it has the good stories that these mediums ask for, it deserves better treatment than this.