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January 25, 2011

Touring the Cosmos: Soldier Zero #4 and Mass Effect: Evolution #1 Reviews

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Written by: mike
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This week we have a double header at Touring the Cosmos! We will be taking a look at Dark Horse’s Mass Effect: Evolution, and BOOM!’s Soldier Zero.

Mass Effect is arguably one of Xbox 360’s greatest games. Meant to be a trilogy, it features Commander Shepard and an entire universe of diverse characters, planets, and ideals. One such ideal is that of the Illusive Man and his faction, Cerberus. He believes that humanity is the only species that counts, and will wipe out anyone and anything that gets in his way.

Soldier Zero continues to be a spectacular offering from BOOM! Studios. Paul Cornell and Javier Pina bring us the story of Capt. Stewart Trautmann, as he deals with his newly found powers and the repercussions it has on his life, and the rest of the universe.

Mass Effect: Evolution #1

Story: Mac Walters
Script: John Jackson Miller
Artists: Omar Francia and Manuel Silva

Like I said before, Mass Effect is HUGE. I mean from the action figures, to the fan fiction, to the comic books, it has garnered itself a massive following. One of the key elements that make a sci-fi opera as epic as this, is that the universe is as big as the following. When fans jump into the Mass Effect universe, they are put into a place where the history and intrigue are endless.

Mass Effect: Evolution provides a look into the story of the mysterious Illusive Man. The story of the Illusive Man has only recently become one of the more popular dramas of Mass Effect, and Evolution will hopefully give fans some answers.

Humanity is at war with the Turians on the planet Shanxi. The Turians believe that humanity has not earned its place among other species, and seek to send them back to their own galaxy. Humans have other plans in mind, and thus begins the First Contact War.

The story does not take readers back to day one in the Illusive Man, or “Jack’s,” life, but thrusts into the First Contact War, when humanity first discovered life beyond our galaxy. Jack is part of a covert team, meant specifically to get the dirty work done. Sometimes government and military are limited by protocol, but Jack and his team are limited only by imagination. When Jack realizes that the Turians on Shanxi are not really fighting, but looking for some relic on the planet, he and his team decide to get to it first.

Usually when a comic comes out and it is related to a video game, they are kind of uninteresting and bland. More recently though, comics are being used as a medium to bridge gaps between releases or fill in stories that may not fit into a game. I think this is a great tactic, as long as the comics stay true to form, and avoid being boring and irrelevant. Evolution has done exactly that. Mac Walters, who was the lead writer of Mass Effect 2, has done what he always does best by bringing us an engaging story in the present, with lots of promise for the future. You can feel the hate between humans and Turians, which brings a lot of tension. I was hooked as soon as I started reading, right down to the end.

As soon as readers open the pages, they are treated to some really detailed and colorful art that carries throughout the entire book. I was actually pretty shocked and pleased at how amazing the art is in this. There were very few panels that lacked detail, and the colors complimented the feel of a “sci-fi” read. I can’t say that I am too familiar with Francia and Silva’s work, but after this I will definitely be on the lookout for more work by them. I was not confused by which character was which, even when it came to the Turians. The close-ups were really well done as well, with plenty of emotion being put into the facial expressions.

I have to say that I will read any story involved with Mass Effect. The fact that I am finally going to be able to read something about the Illusive Man excites me even more.  The writing kept me interested and the art was top-notch. I have little doubt that Evolution will be an amazing read from start to finish.

Cover by Trevor Hairsine

Soldier Zero #4

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Javier Pina

When it comes to sci-fi epics, who would have known that all it would take was BOOM! Studios teaming up with Stan Lee. It’s really quite a simple formula, and now that they are together, we have Soldier Zero!

I have to say (again!) that I am a huge fan of the three new titles that BOOM! has put out with Stan Lee. They hit sci-fi, drama, action, and space-faring adventures with a very fresh and inviting look. Soldier Zero, the first of the the three to be released, is shaping up to be quite the read.

This issue picks up right where #3 left off, with Stewart and his symbiotic suit in the midst of battle with a similar-looking alien. We learned from last issue that the suit that controls Stewart may not actually be as good as he seems, and probably hasn’t been telling much of the truth. After a lot of action and a nice twist at the end, Stewart’s problems have only just begun.

I have enjoyed Cornell’s storytelling a lot. At first I thought that he was forcing some awkward moments, but I realize that those were just actually how the characters were, awkward. Now that the story has moved along, a lot of the action scenes have some great inner dialog between Stewart and the suit, and the awkward tension has disappeared. The fact that the symbiotic suit is the foil to Stewart also makes very a fun read. They have very differing values, and you can see that this will either make for a great relationship, or a bad break up.

Javier Pina’s art has also been top notch. His action scenes have been really great. It’s actually a huge treat to see all the various powers in action, and, for the most part, the poses and positions that the fighters take. There were two panels where the positioning of characters seemed a little strange, but other than that everything was really well done. I also would like to give Trevor Hairsine credit for that cover. The background colors and look are great, really adding a sci-fi/cosmic feel.

Like I have said a thousand times before, I am enjoying all three of BOOM!’s new titles. The Traveler, Starborn, and Soldier Zero have all made great impressions on me, and I will definitely be in for the long haul. One last important note though, keep tabs on the writing team, it may be changing soon….

Mike Parente


One Comment

  1. Billy

    Soldier Zero sounds good. 😀

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