Dead Space Comic, #1 Free

By Jim Rossignol on January 2nd, 2009 at 4:22 pm.


The first issue of the Dead Space comic is up over at Newsarama, for free. It’s a special thing, drawn by one of my personal favourite comic artists, Ben Templesmith, and written by the excellent Antony Johnston. I believe the full piece is collected as a hardcover from Image, which you can probably get your local comic shop to order for you. AMONGST OTHER COMICS. Yes.

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52 Comments »

  1. lobsterjohnson says:

    Weird, because Warren Ellis did some sort of writing for the game itself, and now Ben drew the comic.

    Franky I’d rather have more Fell.

  2. AndrewC says:

    Yay! Great pic pick.

    I also think it ably demonstrates why the comic (for me) blows – the idea that, if you make everyone scowly, make every other word ‘fuck’ and then smother everything in blood, then you have a serious and mature work. In this way it aligns itself with the serious and mature Gears Of War and did more than anything to get me to not get this game.

    Also, the picture reminded me that i’m going to have to start thinking about NSFW again come Monday, and now I am sad.

  3. Smurfy says:

    I am instantly aroused

  4. nabeel says:

    Templesmith is one of my favourite artists too.

  5. Pags says:

    Thank God it hasn’t got that horrible voiceover that came with the trailer thing. That was cringeworthy.

    Concerning Dead Space: The Game, I’ve finally gotten to play it as I received it this Christmas and it’s consistently surprising and while it’s now flagging towards the end it’s been really entertaining up ’til now. Smart design, and definitely a better schlock-and-shock fest than Doom 3. Horrible monster design though, and the texture artists must’ve gotten bored with putting blood on everything.

  6. Dreamhacker says:

    What is this game? Some 90′s System Shock clone? I’ve never heard of it…

    ;)

  7. qrter says:

    Regarding the game, I just couldn’t get over the fact that it’s all tight corridors and then uses a third person camera. It annoyed the shit out of me.

  8. qrter says:

    I like the art, it reminds me of Dave McKean, in its scratchy-pen-and-detailed-bits-ness.

  9. Homunculus says:

    I’d like to play a game that’s set in the prelude before a horrific, sweeping event. The slowly ratcheting tension and a sense of creeping doom from narrating the events occurring in a pre-New Year Rapture, the expedition to Tau Ceti 5 or the colonisation attempt on LV-426.

    I guess it’s much easier to depopulate a place and have the player run through dumb hostiles with easily replicated attack patterns rather than try to attempt a convincing simulation of a working environment’s interpersonal relationships, schedules and reactions to having it disrupted in various ways, though.

  10. Dominic White says:

    Dunno why this is being brought up now. Fileplanet had the entire comic series in semi-animated, voice-acted format ages ago. Also free.

    http://www.fileplanet.com/109286/0/0/0/1/section/Animated_and_Comic_Trailers

    There’s also an animated film, Downfall, which begins around the end of the comics, and ends at the start of the game.

    Neither the comics nor film are particularly great by themselves, but as an extended intro to the games, they’re pretty great.

  11. Noc says:

    OH, ANOTHER COMIC. I suppose Keiron wrote this one too, didn’t h-

    Wait, it’s this Johnson fellow? Well alright. But I still don’t see what this has to do with . . . good lord, it’s a video game, too?

    Who knew?

    . . .

    On a more serious note, I preferred the comics to the pseudo-animated and voice-acted videos. The videos seems sort of forced, I think? Like they were trying to make it do something that didn’t fit the medium. The comics weren’t bad, though.

  12. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Hopefully it’s better than the cartoon movie (which was balls – thankfully I was able to borrow it rather than pay for it).

    I rather liked the game, all 8 hours of it, and all it’s many, many derivations from sci-fi monsters in space culture. A lot of reviews I’ve read for have likened it to Event Horizon or the Aliens movies. I’d also add that there’s a hefty dollop of The Thing and Virus in the mix as well.

    I agree with Pags that the creature design was bad, although I was reasonably disturbed by the babies-with-tentacles thingies. Not sure why a mining vessel had a room full of cryogenically stored babies on it though

  13. Helm says:

    I feel the karma blacklash looming while I type this. Bad form of me to post about comics here for the first time and have it to say that Templesmith is as far as I can tell a very bad comic artist. He’s no bad at drawing, he just seems – from the pieces I’ve read so far – to not understand (or if he understands, to not care to apply) how comics work and how to visually convey sequences well. Perhaps he’s gotten better as of late though. McKean, to whom he owes a lot as far as photoshoppery goes, is quite better than him at making pretty pictures into stories.

    I didn’t like Dead Space Janitor a lot either. Oh man, just another negative post on the internet… let me try to turn this around somehow…

    I like a lot of other comics and videogames!!

  14. Pags says:

    I guess it’s much easier to depopulate a place and have the player run through dumb hostiles with easily replicated attack patterns rather than try to attempt a convincing simulation of a working environment’s interpersonal relationships, schedules and reactions to having it disrupted in various ways, though.

    Plus you can’t leave audio tapes lying around with people screaming and saying ‘what the hell is going on’ in some cliché attempt at exposition.

  15. Nick says:

    It was cool when System Shock did it though…

  16. Sunjammer says:

    I’m sort of opposed to this whole idea. I was really looking forward to Dead Space, but for me all the extra materials (prequel movie, comics, weirdo website) actually ruined the plot of the actual game for me. There was so much “spoiler free” information available before i’d even begun playing i felt like there were no actual surprises for me to be had.

    I wasn’t surprised by anything in the game in terms of story. I was consistently surprised by the kind of spaces they’d put me in, and how some of the combat scenarios wound up playing out, but the game has a “twist” near the end that’s obvious to anyone that’s had even a slight gander at the comics, and that pisses me off; I don’t understand why EA would want to compromise the mystery of their game’s plot to such an extent. There are things in this issue of the comic that i’m loathe to discuss here because i still consider them game spoilers. Because that’s the kicker; Dead Space on the 360 is one of the best games i’ve played this year for sheer visceral impact and polish. However, beyond a nasty alien-style undergoing current of “this is rape” throughout, it’s not scary in the slightest , and this comic goes a long way to ensure that. For shame.

  17. Flappybat says:

    I gotta agree with Helm. I think it’s mostly the inking (or lack of it) putting me off.

  18. Pags says:

    I was consistently surprised by the kind of spaces they’d put me in, and how some of the combat scenarios wound up playing out, but the game has a “twist” near the end that’s obvious to anyone that’s had even a slight gander at the comics, and that pisses me off

    This.

    It’s a great game in terms of level design and it’s excellent at breaking up the action with some imaginative setpieces that don’t feel all too forced; it’s like what CoD4 would be if it had been based on Event Horizon instead of those Royal British Army commercials.

    Unfortunately, the underlying story is a little weak and more than a little derivative; it just doesn’t make sense for EA to draw attention to the game’s major weakness. I know it’s a new age and games are all about packaging extra media (despite the fact that boxed copies, besides special editions which are just too expensive, are becoming increasingly lacklustre) but to me it doesn’t make sense to base a comic on a part of the game that is never all too prevalent or interesting anyway.

    Still, I suppose it doesn’t matter too much as I can’t imagine there are many people who’d buy the game on the strength of the comic or the animated film anyway.

  19. Sunjammer says:

    Well i have to admit i wanted to know what the marker was, but i was mostly interested in their sci-fi world really. We get so little new sci-fi IP that ISN’T set on It’s Like Earth Only It’s Not Earth, where bald space marines jump through exploding space fighting generic aliens that speak growling english that i’m ready to leap, frothing at the mouth, at anything that attempts to build something that’s a little more contained. I wanted to know how they did planet cracking, how the mining worked, what unitology was, the notion that you were fighting with power tools (turns out you don’t, unless you’re ready to call a machine gun a food processor and a flamethrower a toaster). I love the OCD of grabbing logs and piecing together a story from details. I was just really ready to get into a new, believable sci-fi world with a consistent logic to it. That the gameplay turned out to be so damn polished was just a lovely surprise.

    Which makes it all the more rotten that the majority of the “exposition” happens in the comics and what little exposition is in the game still doesn’t really explain a lot. I wound up wanting more, but not for the good reason.

    But i will still recommend Dead Space with all my heart. If for the sound design alone. Bloody hell.

  20. Pags says:

    Oh the sound design. There was a moment in the game where I was walking along about to go through an open door when it slammed shut and there was the whole ‘Psycho’-esque violin stab; damn near crapped myself.

    I do agree that there was plenty in the world that could’ve been interesting; it would’ve been cool, for example, to see a training movie on the use of the plasma cutter. Incidental stuff like that which Fallout and Bioshock did really well would’ve done a whole lot more for atmosphere than a comic where everyone needs to exclaim that everything is fucked.

  21. Sunjammer says:

    Still on the sound tip; How about that room that basically sounds like you’re strapped to the underside of a particularly broken, wildly out of control subway car, coupled with insane lighting and smoke. For no reason. That room was amazing, i wanted to get the hell out of there as soon as i could, there was just no way being there was safe. Moments like that are examples of how intensely Dead Space wants you to feel unsafe. Those dudes didn’t get anywhere near enough rewards for their work this year.

  22. Kieron Gillen says:

    Helm: What stuff have you read of Templesmith? His growth as a storyteller via Bloodsucker Tales with Fraction has been enormous.

    I mean, if you don’t like – say – Fell, there’s nothing I can point at which would change your opinion, but if you’ve only taken in his earlier stuff, you should re-look at him.

    KG

  23. Gap Gen says:

    While we’re on the subject of comics, are there any good stores in Oxford? I thought there was one on the top of St Clements a while back, but I haven’t seen it when I’ve been there recently…

  24. Pags says:

    @Sunjammer: Yes! It did have some great lighting to enhance the effect, but it was still a great example of how capable they were at changing environments into something very unsettling. The early levels were also really good at invoking a great sense of claustrophobia; something that games which have me shooting at monsters in tight corridoors have consistently failed to reproduce since the early days of Doom (except that crazy game I think Jim linked to not too long ago with the flashing, moving walls and procedurally generated cubic zombies with smiley faces).

  25. Stijn says:

    what, a post about comics but it’s not kieron writing it but jim rosggineo?

  26. Del Boy says:

    I think I speak for everyone when I say Jim should change his name to Jim Rosggineo.

  27. l1ddl3monkey says:

    @ Sunjammer and Pags: Couldn’t agree more, first game I’ve played for ages where 5:1 was actually used to good effect and I kept turning round in my chair, y’know; just to check.

    Interesting trivia: the sound that sounds like “you’re strapped to the underside of a particularly broken, wildly out of control subway car” was a recording that the sound engineer made of part of his train ride to work – apparently it’s the El (I assume that’s short for “elevated” – never had cause to ask anyone) in whatever city the developers office is in and this is the noise inside the passenger cabin when it goes through an enclosed area. He said it was the most horrifying noise he had ever heard (I guess he was right).

    I only know all this cos I was sad enough to watch those developers diaries they kept putting out (the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star trailer hooked me fairly early on).

  28. Noc says:

    “Jim Rosggineo” sounds like his evil twin.

    Goatee ++

  29. Helm says:

    Keiron: 30 days of night, a Silent Hill comic and I think that – atrocious, I’m sorry – Metal Gear Solid license was also his work? That’s the pieces I’ve read, often begrudgingly so (friends who liked Templesmith used to shove new issues in my face just to see me steam) I also read this comic book linked above and there are so so so many inconsistencies with character placement, flow, either everything is jumping around, changed too much, inconsistent and visually distracting or everything is very still and the same for the whole page (unwanted ‘copy paste’ photoshoppery effect), which is what Templesmith seems to have been doing from the moment I’ve noticed him so I can’t exactly say he’s gotten better for my tastes.

    I have not red Fell because I generally steer away from Warren Ellis – more bad karma here I guess… – not because I don’t like his ideas, they’re certainly brilliant more often than not, but because the scatterbrain way in which he develops stories usually (though not often) leaves me wanting more from the narrative when I’m done. I mean he sneaks in so many little things he’s currently interested in but should I be excited because he mentioned black metal here and James Joyce there during the course of an otherwise standard movie-comic deal? That’s not why I read comics for and granted that’s not *all* he does but it is distracting and not to a pleasant effect for me. The pop-culture reference thing is a bigger discussion. All that being said I do remember enjoying Planetary/The Authority at the time I read these things, but then again I was what, 10 years younger?

    I could try the Fraction book because – see, good karma!- I like Fraction! But this Dead Space comic isn’t encouraging.

  30. Ploddish says:

    Did I read the same comic as those claiming there were spoilers in it?

    The comics seemed to contain only backstory, and nothing more. I really can’t see how they’d spoil the plot twist at the end. While it was obvious something of that caliber was going to happen, it wasn’t hinted at all in the (animated) comics, as far as I can remember. Perhaps this is just my awful memory though…

    Also, I rather liked the monster design. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    The music was rather splendid also.

  31. Kieron Gillen says:

    Helm: The MGS comic was Ashley Wood, I believe. There’s enough overlap in the style to explain the confusion. And, yeah, the other two are early Templesmith – 30 days was his real debut and the Silent Hill adaptation comes just before Bloodsucker Tales where wrestling with the 8-panel grid really helped him develop as a storyteller.

    (He’s always had other merits above and beyond as a storyteller, but that’s a different question – there’s a reason why your friends liked him and he’s one of Jim’s favourite comic artists.)

    While I liked Bloodsucker Tales, if I were to pick up any Templesmith, I’d flick through the first trade of Fell. I think it’s his strongest work, and probably Ellis’ recent strongest series too.

    (To be honest, I’m not sure what you’re specifically talking about with the Ellis, especially the Joyce/Black-Metal reference. You say a “standard movie comic deal”? Are you talking about Dead Space*. In which case, it’s by Antony, not Ellis.)

    KG

    *Which I haven’t read – it’s loading too slowly on my PC for some reason. Newsarama hates me.

  32. Helm says:

    Ah yes, Ashley Wood. I’m sorry.

    Well of course there’s reasons for my friends and Jim to like Templesmith. Different tastes and all, I’m not claiming to be right for me, right for you, right for everybody. I could pick any page from the comic linked in the original post and point out specific visual storytelling inconsistencies and other things I would consider flaws but that wouldn’t change that he still gives something else to the people that like his work.

    I’ll check out Fell if you think it’s good, though in fear of Ellis.

    I’m sorry for creating confusion with the term ‘movie-comic’. I don’t actually mean comics that are movie tie-ins, I mean comics that, to paraphrase James Cameron, aspire to ‘be like little movies’. Where the pace and the content and the everything just screams ‘Hi, I am a tv show at best and I want to be a movie when I grow up’. Comics for me are a very different medium to film and when they’re just treated like easy-to-budget-blockbusters I rapidly loose interest. Warren Ellis, I think even he would agree he’s done comics that feel like movies/shows. Check out the ‘Global Frequency’ series for a good example of what I really don’t want from Ellis. Incidentally that’s where the Joyce and/or black metal thing occurs if memory serves.

  33. Sunjammer says:

    Ploddish there are hints in the comic to things that are occur in the game, though the game treats them as though they are great mysteries for you to solve. The comic basically primes you for stuff that otherwise would be deliciously weird.

  34. malkav11 says:

    I would probably have liked to read the comics in their original format, but when the animated versions have been available free for ages, the free availability of only the first issue doesn’t seem terribly relevant.

    And while I wouldn’t count them anything particularly special as comics go, they do a decent job of telling some interesting backstory to the game. Shame about the animated movie which had little to add to the story and was very poorly made.

  35. Jeremy says:

    What, did Jim get left to tend the store while everyone’s still piss drunk?

    My roommate’s currently playing this on the 360. All I hear are screams from the game, then him swearing at whoever’s talking on the radio. Sounds fun.

  36. Muzman says:

    Templesmith doesn’t get writer credit on 30 Days of Night, only the prequel.
    The artist on a comic usually has some input, particularly on an indie, but I still let him off the hook for his ‘local lad made good’ cred.

  37. Lunaran says:

    This comic is 90% Alien/s.

    Then again so was the game.

  38. psyk says:

    Well I got to say I like the animated film thought it was a decant watch and as for the comic oh noes it shows us what the monsters are and explains what happend to the crew its blasphemy they must not tell us anyhting that is going to happen they must not show us what the monsters are.

  39. Sunjammer says:

    It feels utterly retarded to be able to talk about this without it being termed spoilers but alright then, since that’s apparently EAs game. It’s the whole ghost thing. I would have liked to not be aware of how widespread that phenomenon was on the colonies before the game throws me into this world and expects me to have real hope that Isaac’s girlfriend is actually alive and not an apparition. And that is the ONLY case of ghosts on the ishimura during gameplay too. The comic book blows a small detail to the victims’ psychosis into a huge THING that the game paradoxically tries to be coy about throughout.

    To put it differently; the comic doesn’t have direct spoilers, but it prepares you mentally for every twist the game has to offer.

  40. phuzz says:

    Not sure why a mining vessel had a room full of cryogenically stored babies on it though
    One word.

    Snacks.

  41. Heliocentric says:

    Actually i can think of a half dozen reasonable reason for having a bunch of babies.

    Stem cell samples for each crew member from identical clone foetus for growing replacement limbs/organs. Is the most obvious answer, perhaps spacers tend to breed rarely as a result of not wanting to bring their children into a hostile environment but regardless a steady flow of young staff are required to allow for replacements and to allow retirement and promotion. So steadily the babies are brought to life and after growing up transition into crew members.

    Also the cheapest 10000 person colony pod has 10000 tiny people.

  42. Tei says:

    My brother has buy this game, and I have started to play just now. The lack of control for FOV make me mad, the TPS perspective is ugly but combined with the wrong FOV is terrible anoyong. The controls are unresponsive, and I don’t see a quicksave option, seems theres some strange “save the game here” that break my inmmersion on the game.
    ARRGGH. Other than it at terrible stupid consoley problems, I am just playing it. What I don’t really like is that thing “you play in tiny rooms separated by other tiny rooms with a door” and “I will spawn monsters behind you”. I am actually tempted to uninstall it, and install Doom3 again…

  43. Sunjammer says:

    Tei your inability to appreciate what is on offer is depressing

  44. Jeremy says:

    I dunno, all of those seem like major things that would ruin a game for me.

    screwy camera, check.
    3rd person only, check.
    sucky save options, check.

    Nope, not getting this one.

  45. qrter says:

    Stem cell samples for each crew member from identical clone foetus for growing replacement limbs/organs.

    Surely it would be easier, less costly and take less room to just take along stem cell samples themselves, already extracted from said identical clone foetuseseseses?

  46. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Or actual foetuses, rather than what look like babies of three or more months age.

    I did wonder if they might be clones for spare parts al la Michael Marshal-Smith’s “Spares” (the basis of which was stolen and made into a pile of arse by the writer of The Island), but if you lose an arm in a mining accident would you realistically have a little baby arm attached and wait 14 years for it to grow to adult size? Actually I suppose that’s better than no arm at all…

    Maybe it’s some sort of cryogenic nursery for really, really lazy parents?

  47. Ploddish says:

    Spoilers in this post!

    The fact that you find out other people are seeing people in the comics means nothing, because Kendra says she sees her brother during the game. There’s also a clear difference between the ghosts in the comic (as in, they’re ghostly), and your visions, so there wouldn’t be any reason for you to doubt that you’re seeing Nichole until you get on that crashed ship. The twist pertainig to this, I believe, is precisely *why* they’re happening.

    It’s also probably a reference/stolen from Solaris.

    It doesn’t prepare you for the “actual” plot twist. That whole Kendra thing. I can’t see how it would, anyway.

    But I get the feeling I like this game a lot more than I really should :P

  48. Pags says:

    It doesn’t prepare you for the “actual” plot twist.

    No, the inner-cynic does that job just fine :)

    But I get the feeling I like this game a lot more than I really should :P

    Yeah, with the EA Redwood Shores moniker attached, it really feels like a guilty pleasure.

  49. Christian Otholm says:

    Everytime I come here and people discuss comics, I am infuriated. Templesmith is awesome. Dave McKean is a good designer, but a terrible storyteller.

    And Anthony Johnson writes the excellent Wasteland, so not a bad word against him either.

    PS. The Island ripped off Parts: The Clonus Horror.

  50. mac says:

    Warren Ellis? From Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds and Grinderman? You mean THAT musician?

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