Mass Effect has a plethora of comics that have been published, the Foundation series being the latest (and ongoing!), by Dark Horse comics. For the uninitiated, Mass Effect is an action-RPG sci-fi trilogy by Bioware, which has achieved well-deserved success. Commander Shepard is the character you play as (male/female with full customisation of features, as is the norm with Bioware), and the clever thing Bioware did is this: they struck that sweet spot between role-playing games and first person shooters: enough conversations, decisions, personality evolution and character control to quench the hardcore gamer’s thirst without delving into incessant exploration, armour items like rings and amulets and belts and charms, or “loot”. The video game series also pays homage to science fiction classics; veterans will chuckle at references to Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, The Matrix, etc. The bonus: the series is one of those Haley’s comets in which the sequels actually match up (maybe even exceed) the original. Here’s a nice cutscene from the prologue in ME3 (soundtrack: Leaving Earth):
The first issue of which was published in July 2013, Mass Effect: Foundation is set in the same universe which fans will be intimately familiar with, and follows the story of an unknown agent tracking down a man named Roth, who seems to be linked with Cerberus operations. This person seems to be a highly adept, female version of Sam Fisher whose style of execution is Hitman-like: surgical.
The setting is an old mining facility, so don’t expect much, apart from intense action, which makes up for more than a dozen pages! Along her way, Samantha Fisher decides to come to a child’s rescue, who ends up being a pretty useful party member.
Mac Walters, the lead writer for Mass Effect 2 and 3, is naturally well-versed in the lore of the ME universe, and thus a perfect choice as a writer for the Foundation series. As is the case with first issues, you don’t get much to digest, and are pretty much left in the dark with a cliffhanger ending, but the journey is quite captivating, specially so because of the references. Familiar names such as the Arcturus Station, Barla Von, and the Shadow Broker (nostalgia kicking in yet?) pop up and give you vague hints about which direction Walters is taking the series in.
Omar Francia and Michael Atiyeh – the artwork team – have done an amazing job with realistic models and human forms, and a lot of dynamic action. The lines are less intense and clearer than usually seen in Dark Horse comics, which is pleasing to the eyes. The detailing and environment will seem lifted right out of the video games, though the colours are mostly tinged with muted reds and browns, which is understandable given the setting, in any case.
The end of the issue begins the probe into Cerberus (which is always interesting) and introduces one of the main characters of the series, along with a grim climax that leaves the reader wanting to know more.