So, yesterday, I read and reviewed Episode 0 of the End of Nations comic. I was… let’s say, not particularly impressed with it. I like the idea of gaming franchises extending beyond the game into t-shirts, fiction, et cetera, but I typically expect that, if this happens, the quality will be good. Usually (almost always, as is the case with Magic: the Gathering fiction) the quality… doesn’t meet expectations. This is disappointing to me, as a consumer and as a fan of a large variety of media properties.
However, sometimes, persistence and optimism pay off. And thankfully, this is the case with the End of Nations comic #1, entitled “Resist.”
Plot Overview (no spoilers)
This novel continues the story that began in Episode 0. This is no great surprise, but in my last article, I had theorized that the series might try to show slice-of-life type stories from across the entire planet, giving mere glimpses into the post-apocalyptic havoc and the depredations of the Order. Turns out, I’m at least partially wrong: the main story of the series appears to follow the life of post-American Shane Barrett, once homesteader in the blasted wastelands of what was once Idaho, now fighting against the Order of Nations (not as a member of the Shadow Revolution, nor of the Liberation Front, incidentally: I was wrong on this point, as well).
Without going into too much detail and giving too much away, I actually found myself getting into the story and empathizing with the plight of Shane Barrett and his fellow revolutionaries. I also felt that the story is no longer trying so hard to jam itself into the 23 pages each episode is given. In Episode 0, I found the first couple pages very confusing, and found myself having to reread them to make sense of what was going on. Now, it is possible that this confusion was either my being obtuse, or an intentional choice by the writer, but honestly, I doubt it.
I freely admit that I’m not the brightest bulb out there in the world, but I feel that most people would at least agree with me that the opening pages of Episode 0 weren’t a cohesive and engaging narrative. Episode 1 turns this around: the entire novel is easy (and, in this author’s opinion, interesting) to follow. This time, I found myself rereading the entire comic out of enjoyment rather than confusion.
Again, trying to extract info without giving the plot away too much, we see stealth/adaptive camouflage capabilities on tanks and other ground vehicles, and some aggressive use of a variety of vehicles, including Barrett’s personal buggy (pictured left) which seems vaguely familiar to those who have seen EoN screenshots. Actually, most vehicles thus far pictured are vaguely familiar to those of us who have followed the game’s development: I’m sure people who have played previews or know more about the units than I do could actually name some of them.
There’s not too much new to say here: the art style is very similar to that of the first one: Yvel Guichet makes a comeback to illustrate this one, as well. There’s some interesting inconsistencies, or artistic contrivances, that I noticed this time around. If you take a look to the image on the left, you’ll see that the linework for this hand is a little rough, and the shadow isn’t completely blacked out: in fact, it looks a little like pencil. In some places, though, even on the page that I extracted that image from, you see much cleaner lines that look like pen. I’m not sure if this is intentional or if it’s simply the result of having a relatively small art team on this project: either way, it doesn’t detract from the experience (for me).
The color work is just as good, if not better than it was in Episode 0. There’s a more full, realistic color pallet used in this novel, though each page usually seems to be dominated by a single light color: green, orange, or blue. In keeping with the somewhat somber mood of the plot, colors are mostly muted, and most of the bright colors come from emitted light, be it from weapons fire, comm equipment or explosions.
All in all, I think that Episode 1 is worlds better than Episode 0 (though Episode 0 gives a lot of context to the story, and if you’re going to get Episode 1 then you should certainly read its predecessor). I give it 4 stars out of 5, with the knowledge that I’m not a big comics fan, and don’t have a lot of mainstream comic books to compare this with. However, I think that the story is solid, and fans of EoN will find it worth the $3.
One last thing: there’s an interesting thing on the last 2 pages of Episode 1: the introduction to what I can only assume is a parallel storyline, entitled “Home Front.” It is also written by Ricardo Sanchez, but is illustrated by Mike S. Miller instead of Yvel Guichet. It’ll be interesting to see how this side-story develops over the next 3 episodes…