- Video Games
- About Us
The original Mass Effect video game series from BioWare and Electronic Arts is one of the most beloved and critically-acclaimed games series. However, some may not be aware but there have also been numerous Mass Effect tie-in comic books published by Dark Horse since the debut of the series. Some directly link to the comics while others explore earlier times with auxiliary characters. All were written or co-written by Mac Walters, the lead writer of Mass Effect 2 and 3.
Now with the recent release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, a new video game that takes place well after the original game trilogy, Dark Horse will be releasing a tie-in comic for called Mass Effect: Discovery. The first issue of Mass Effect: Discovery comes out May 24th. So let’s look all of the previous Mass Effect comic book series and rank them.
Contains spoilers for the original games and comics. There are no spoilers for Mass Effect: Andromeda or Mass Effect: Discovery
The comic Mass Effect: Conviction is set prior to the start of the Mass Effect 3 game. It is a 8-page one-shot that follows James prior to his arrival on the Normandy to work with Shepard. Perhaps this is a personal grudge, but James is probably my least favorite character in the original ME trilogy, due to his machismo, meat-head persona. Plus, the developers pushed James hard onto the player in that game. This story does nothing to change my mind about James, and is pretty forgettable overall.
The four-issue Mass Effect: Evolution has a very interesting premise: how did the Illusive Man, the mysterious head of the human-first shadow organization Cerberus, become who he was? Set during the First Contact War between humans and Turians, Mass Effect: Evolutions shows us the how the Illusive Man became more than human. However, like in the Star Wars prequels with Anakin Skywalker, sometimes learning too much about an enigmatic villain takes away from the character. Also, the writing in this series, especially the dialog, is a little over the top.
“He Who Laughs Best” was for a time hard to find because it was a part of a Dark Horse Free Comic Book Day issue in 2013, and not included in the compendium Mass Effect Library Edition Volume 1. However, it has been included in the Mass Effect Omnibus Volume 2, which came out in February. This story is set prior to the trilogy of games, about how Joker became the pilot of the Normandy. It is a fun story, but Joker isn’t quite as witty as in the games, and it does have a somewhat cliché ending. Still, I liked it.
Mass Effect: Inquisition is a short but effective little mystery that connects to a plot from the original games in an intriguing way. The 8-page story follows Captain Bailey during an investigation sent his way by Councilor Udina. Bailey rises to the rank of Commander and takes charge of Citadel Security due to the events of this comic. Inquisition is a good tie-in to the games, shows us Udina’s earlier machinations, but feels abrupt in pacing while also limited in its development. This is one that probably would have benefited from being a longer story.
Mass Effect: Homeworlds is a four-issue series in which each issue is a separate story focusing on one of the characters from Mass Effect 3: James, Tali, Garrus and Liara. This series is a bit inconsistent – some of the issues are strong (such as the ones on Tali and Liara) while others are less effective. I like the premise of Homeworlds, showing the crew on their own planet, but having each issue be essentially a one-shot makes the stories feel less epic than I would like from a Mass Effect series.
While some of the lower comics on the list could use more space to expand their stories, it is not totally necessary to have a large page count to tell a good story, as evidenced by Mass Effect: Incursion. This 8-pager is set on Omega and spotlights Aria T’Loak, the Asari who runs the underworld on the planet. However, Incursion gives Aria and her mercenaries and hooligans a chance to be heroic in opposition to The Collectors. Aria is a great side character from the Mass Effect universe and it’s cool to see her being a badass. Incursion also features some short but effective action/battle scenes, and hints at the larger mission of The Collectors during the ME game trilogy.
There is no denying that Blasto: Eternity is Forever is a goofy comic. However, its strangeness is actually pretty appealing. The fifteen-page is also a pretty deep cut from the Mass Effect universe, centering on Blasto, the Elcor actor whose movies would show up as in-world advertisement in the original trilogy of games. Blasto: Eternity is Forever tells a story set in a “Blasto” movie, so it is a pretty meta comic. However, the tongue-in-cheek nature of the comic is a big benefit, as it plays with the tropes of action movies and Blasto comes across like a sci-fi James Bond. This is also in the Mass Effect Omnibus Vol. 2 and is worth reading.
Mass Effect: Invasion is sort of a companion to Incursion – in spirit and setting rather than specific story. This 4-issue series takes place during the story of the Mass Effect 3 game and centers on the Cerberus attack and invasion of Omega. Again, Aria T’Loak is a central figure and shows bravery and leadership that make her revered on Omega. She has good opponents in this series in Cerberus General Petrovsky, a devoted student of military history, and his ruthless aid, Colonel Ashe. Invasion is a good example of the ways ME comics can flesh out some of the dramatic moments that the games did not have time to do.
Although many of the Mass Effect comics deal with minor elements of the games, there are some examples of the comics dealing directly with key plot moments from the games. In the game Mass Effect 2, the intro shows Commander Shepard essentially killed during an attack on his ship The Normandy. Then the Illusive Man brings Shepard back to life to work for his shadowy organization Cerberus. Mass Effect Redemption is a four-issue series that chronicles how The Illusive Man acquired Shepard’s body in order to bring him back to life. Liara T’Soni and her associate Feron have to go through a number of dire situations in order to get Shepard’s body. Mass Effect: Redemption is a suspenseful story that effectively links up to a pivotal moment in the games.
Mass Effect: Foundation is by far the longest ME comic series published (so far) by Dark Horse. The thirteen issues tell a sprawling yet linked story that, as the title implies, link up to the certain foundational aspect to the Mass Effect universe. There is a mix of new, interesting characters and familiar faces from the games. Additionally, it connects to an important part of “The Citadel” DLC story. So Mass Effect: Foundation is an entertaining story that also will appeal to ME completists for its deeper associations. Hopefully, Mass Effect: Discovery turns into a comic on the level of Foundation.
Although the Mass Effect comics will appeal mostly to fans of the video games, I think there are a number of comics in here that are also worth reading even for those who haven’t played all of the Mass Effect games and DLC stories. What do you think? With which of these choices do you agree or disagree?