Rise to Infamy in Gears of War: The Rise of Raam #3
Gears of War is a franchise that has fascinated me for quite some time. It was really the perfect storm. Gears of War was a game that combined science fiction, post-apocalyptic horror, fantasy, and military existentialism. During the early 2000s, many of these genres were at their peak popularity in video games. Halo had made waves in the gaming community just five years prior to Gears of War’s release. Games such as Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Fallout 2 had maintained their popularity since the ’90s and early 2000s. Even the board game Warhammer 40k had maintained a notable fan-base since the 1980s. Gears of War seemed to combine many of the themes present in those popular properties. It had established a war-torn planet with a vast history and an even greater mythology. Gears of War: The Rise of Raam #3 further builds upon the series mythology.
IDW Publishing gained the rights to create and publish Gears of War comics sometime in July last year. The first issue of the new series from IDW was released in January of this year. It was the first time since DC Comics had released a series of Gears of War comics starting in 2008. IDW’s Gears of War: The Rise of Raam, is a prequel event set before the first game. The Rise of Raam #3 is the third installment in four part miniseries that details Raam’s rise to power.
Previously, Lieutenant (Vold) Raam and his Vanguard have desperately tried to hold the line of the Outer Hollow. The Locust War is with the Lambent, a group of mutated creatures that have become exposed to Imulsion. However, that war has begun to turn inward as the threat of civil war rises. Raam and an outcast monk (Kantus), Skorge, made plans to gain an audience with Queen Myrrah in order to turn from their futile war in the Hollows and lay waste to humans above ground.
Gears of War: The Rise of Raam #3 picks up where issue #2 left off. A massive horde of Lambent has stormed the sacred Temple of the Hollow. Raam and Skorge, after holding off what they can of the Lambent, finally gain an audience with the Queen. During the meeting, Raam explains his true intentions to the Locust Council and the Queen. Afterward, the old General (Uzil) is demoted and Raam quickly rises from Vold to Uzil and is tasked with rallying the troops to storm the surface of the planet Sera. Not only does the Rise of Raam act as an origin story for General Raam, but also as an origin story for many of the Locust monsters that players faced in the first Gears of War.
So far, and especially in Rise of Raam #3, Kurtis Wiebe’s writing is phenomenal. There is not a lot of exposition even though this issue is dialogue-heavy. The story is tightly-knit and there is not a lot of room for too much exposition. The actions and dialogue of every character make perfect sense and never seem out of place. The story and writing are very faithful to the original game. There was only one glaring issue that I noticed and that was at the beginning of the issue. One of the characters states, “[This is] [t]he death knell our of people.”
Max Dunbar’s artwork is highly detailed and stays faithful to the original character designs from the first game. The artwork itself reminds me of G.I. Joe or even older Star Wars comics. Dunbar’s art not only fits the tone, but also manages to maintain an aesthetic that was common in comics during the early 2000s. Jose Luis Rio’s colors further enhance Dunbar’s fitting aesthetics with a fairly simple and matte palette.
The Rise of Raam #3 leads to a grand climax in the expanded Gears of War universe. Each panel keeps up a consistent pace, which will keep readers on the edge of their seats even during lulls in the action. The entirety of this series takes place from the perspective of the Locust, making it a unique addition to the Gears of War franchise. Once this particular series is over, I could see fans reading this before replaying the first game. Furthermore, I believe several other comics based around the Locust could tell compelling stories and be very successful.