Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Gordon Rennie
Artist: Andrea Olimpieri
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Cover: Fabio Listrani
Following the assassination of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, the kidnapping of his daugher Princess Emily, and being framed for the crime, Royal Protector Corvo, was forced to embark on the extraordinary quest to save his daughter, clear his name and restore order to Dunwall. Being gifted with supernatural powers by the shadowy Outsider, Corvo took to the shadows to achieve these goals. Now, twelve years later and having succeeded in attaining these goals, Corvo continues to act as Lord Protector for the now Empress Emily Kaldwin and works to secure her reign. However, Corvo’s abilities are about to be tested and a new conspiracy is brewing in the Town of Dunwall.
Dishonored #1 doesn’t really bridge the gap between the first and second games as much as just serve as a prequel story to part two. Readers who haven’t played Dishonored will not get much in the way of a recap beyond a short blurb on the first page. This issue depicts the beginning of Corvo’s search for an apprentice. As he begins to realize that he is getting old and Emily will need someone to protect her when he’s gone. Thus Cottings is introduced, a new character to the series that interests Corvo and displays skills that lead him to believe he has found his potential apprentice. Rennie also introduces Corvo’s new antagonists who seem to know exactly who he is and what he’s capable of. This is huge for the narrative as Emily had been the only person thus far that was aware of Corvo’s abilities. It may be that these new antagonists set in motion the events of Dishonored 2 and if so I hope that Rennie can manage to keep them interesting until it’s release.
A big takeaway from reading Dishonored #1 is that we get to see what Corvo is thinking. It was for this reason I personally enjoyed getting some insight into him. He is an incredibly mysterious character, even to the player in the first game. His brilliance in strategy, fighting and tactics are finally being fleshed out and it’s interesting to see, through his own thoughts, where his near fanatical devotion to his daughter takes him. Also it looks as if Rennie is going to give us the backstory on Corvo which the game severely lacked. Hopefully, though this the events of the previous game and beyond will be fleshed out for readers who are experiencing the world of Dishonored for the first time.
Artist Andrea Olimpieri depicts the world of Dishonored in a gruff and gritty style. He really manages to sell the feeling that Dunwalls underworld is a den of thieves and degenerates where death and danger is constantly in the air. Olimpieri’s style relies heavily on shadows and bold black strokes and would fit easily in a black and white noir book. It may however, turn off readers who prefer the cleaner style of the mainstream publishings of the Big Two as it does seem to cover up or distort things like character expressions. This is especially apparent during action sequences.
Ultimately, Dishonored #1 leaves me feeling a bit disappointed. I think the problem with this issue is that it takes way too much time setting up the arch. It’s like a slow grind of a thriller where you’re waiting for that first heart pounding moment only for it to come at the very end of the film. The story doesn’t start to get interesting until the final pages. While this makes me want to want to read issue 2 it also leaves me apprehensive as well. Dishonored the video game was an incredible experience. The commitment to player freedom may have been its biggest and most compelling attribute but it was also a tense game, required your full attention, and constantly kept you on your toes. The story was also really compelling. It made me feel for the protagonists and revile the antagonists, the betrayers, and the underworld players all trying to assert their control. This issue just didn’t hit nearly the same levels with me. At best the reveal at the end of the story was the most compelling thing about it. Who knows what will happen going forward and maybe i’m wrong for feeling this way about Dishonored #1.