After the first Dead Space comic and in spite of Downfall, I was excited for more tie-in content. There is a decent span of time between the two games, so setting something in that time sounds like a great idea. Even though Ignition wasn’t great, it filled in some good plot details for Dead Space 2. What Dead Space: Salvage tries to do is give you the story of the Magpies, a group of illegal salvagers, and their discovery of the drifting Ishimura, the ship that the first Dead Space was set on.
Salvage is written by Antony Johnston with art by Christopher Shy and the worst thing they could have done to the comics is get rid of Ben Templesmith. Not just because he’s one of my favorite artists, but because Christopher Shy’s art doesn’t suit the series or comics in general well. Johnston’s writing could make up for it, if you could read it, but whoever decided on a handwritten styled font in colors that sometimes fade into the background and frequently don’t have any sort of clear indication of who is saying the words don’t do the text any justice.
It’s also unfortunate that the plot just wasn’t that exciting. I have no idea who the Magpies are and I don’t really care. There are so many of them that none of them have any real discernable personalities, not that it’s easy to tell who is who because of the art, but the story of a group of salvagers that happen to find the drifting Ishimura has no real effect on the overarching plot of the series and as a result, not only did not not really care, but simply looking at the panels was a turn off.
So this is how the government found and cleaned up the Ishimura, having a group of salvagers get attacked by necromorphs first isn’t any sort of fascinating story that justifies a six issue story. I found the most interesting part the scrapping machine, not that it’s ever explained beyond, extracts scrap into giant metal balls then other ship picks them up. I already knew that the marker makes people crazy, though it has apparently split into thousands of fragments but they never explain how or why.
Shy’s artwork does have a very interesting style to it. What it looks like is really cool concept art. What no one realized is that concept does not make a good comic. Everything has a blurry, photoshop filter look to it that makes characters incredibly hard to distinguish. Action scenes have no sense of movement or, well, action too them. Even the iconic Dead Space imagery isn’t well suited. Weapon lines and the iconic Rig lights with the segmented health bars blur into obscurity.
At a certain point, the art can genuinely ruin the experience for you. Christopher Shy’s art just doesn’t work for the comic and, since there isn’t anyone else credited as the letterer, I have to blame him for the awful text. Antony Johnston’s writing remains at the same quality from the first comic, but the plot itself has seriously suffered. I just didn’t care about some random salvage operation that found the Ishimura before the government got to it and cleaned it up so you could visit it in Dead Space 2 and making those events incredibly hard to decipher because of the art only makes it worse.