As a true test of a good jumping-on point, I dove straight into Warframe #1 without ever playing (or really knowing anything about) Warframe the video game. However, Warframe the comic is one of my favorite issues this week. The entire issue reads like an extended video game cut scene, which is the perfect aesthetic for a game-based comic. This introductory issue may have convinced me to download the game, which is a good sign for longtime fans of the game, who will probably be very excited about this interesting series.
Ryan Cady and Matt Hawkins elevate this story from an easy nod to a popular game and an established universe to a really good, well-rounded comic. I can’t speak to the accurate portrayal of the individual characters, but the characters and the world seem well-developed and intriguing. The issue includes just enough exposition, expertly woven into the developing action of the plot, for new readers to jump into this universe alongside longtime fans of the game. The forward momentum in this introductory issue is constant, but the words are few. The consistent pace makes up for the lack of superfluous words by introducing different characters and conflicts that are already beginning to intertwine by the end of the first issue. If this pacing and subtle mystery continues throughout the upcoming issues, this will certainly be a standout comic series, as well as a stellar companion to the game.
The art is amazing. It embraces the realism and intricacy of science fiction and digital video game art, while incorporating a painterly style that brings a deep, nuanced feel to the book. The coloring is dark, but that lends itself to the mysteries of space and war, rather than feeling too dark or muddy. The standout aspect of the design is the dynamic panel layout. Panels overlap and characters escape the confines of their panel outlines, which makes each page feel fresh and inventive. Larger scene-setting views couples with close-up action shots and inset panels of individual characters enhance the action and tie together the different perspectives and characters. The lettering is a bit jarring. The letters seem large and a little intrusive compared to the detailed art, but the stylized balloons and varying colors and shapes enhance the video game feel of the comic.
This was a great comic, which is not always the case with licensed or pre-established material. While I have not played Warframe, this seems to be an interesting, character-focused drama that would enhance any video game universe. As a reader unfamiliar with the source material, this is a great introduction to a series that feels true to its science fiction roots. The dynamic characters and slow, steady world-building are enough to hook new readers into picking up the second issue.
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