Comic Review – Borderlands #5: Tannis and the Vault Pt. 1

  • Writer: Mikey Neumann
  • Illustrator: Agustin Padilla
  • Colorist: Esther Sanz
  • Letterer: Neil Uyetake
  • Editor: Tom Waltz
  • Publisher: IDW

In Borderlands #5: Tannis and the Vault Pt. 1, we are introduced to the insane but brilliant Patricia Tannis, a scientist who studies the Vault — the axis that Borderlands revolves around. Outside of the familiar characters and locals, the comic’s story unfolds much unlike the game. Characters meet in different areas under altered situations, and with slightly altered abilities. As such, I have to treat this comic as a separate entity.

As mentioned, we are introduced to Patricia Tannis, who is attempting to solve the mysteries of the Vault. The Vault just so happens to be a container of great treasure, at least, that is what is believed (those who have played through the game, feel free to react accordingly). Tannis realizes that the Vault is actually activated every 200 years as opposed to every 600 years, due to the Vault Key being split into three pieces. After we find this out, however, we get next to nothing more about Tannis or the Vault, we just get the Vault Hunters, Roland, Lilith, Mordecai, and Brick being sent after Sledge, a huge psychopath covered in metal armor who can… deflect bullets with his hammer (what!?).

Other than that, Tannis has a small exchange with Claptrap, a small robot that has a “sentient artificial intelligence with a propensity for petty narcissism.” The only real deep feedback we get for Tannis at all is when she yells at Claptrap about hating human interaction and telling Claptrap that magic does not exist. When the little robot tells her she is terrible and runs off, Tannis questions why people hate her for telling the truth, and so she decides to have another sandwich because “sandwiches never yell” at her. After that, the Vault Hunters meet Sledge, who attacks them while they’re inside Marcus’ bus, and then the comic ends with the battle starting.

We get very little insight into Patricia Tannis, and the few things we do get, either seem to lack in context or were perhaps explained in earlier issues. For example, when Tannis screams at a wall thatBorderlands fourth pic has giant red letters asking “WHERE IS THE VAULT”, with a web of papers and strings attacked to them.

Those who haven’t played through the original Borderlands game might be wondering how a brilliant scientist could be reduced to talking to inanimate objects. However, how Tannis’ psyche became so trashed is not shown here. This is a shame, especially for a comic called: Borderlands #5: Tannis and the Vault Pt. 1. Tannis is what drew me to the comic, she one of the most complex characters in the Borderlands universe. Her trials and struggles are some of the most engaging things about the world of Pandora, and to reduce her to a footnote in her own comic is frustrating.

The other changes are interesting such as Marcus now being a taxi for the Vault Hunters, when they used to go everywhere themselves (how much are they paying this guy?) Another change is a person named “Tate” who seems to be comatose. I wish this comic explained that a little more, so I could care as much as Claptrap does. Sledge being able to reflect bullets back is new (and would be supremely irritating if actually implemented in the Borderlands game).

The art for this comic is, sadly, nothing to write home about. There are hard lines everywhere, much of the background looks very geometric, and faces are very hard-edged and box-like. The rule of the art in this issue is gritty visuals. Darkened and shadowed areas look… very black, like a shadowed sandwich looking akin to moldy bread (below). The body designs of every character are largely unchanged, except for a slight modification to Brick’s hair.Layout 1

This comic has potential, if only for the fertile ground of the world of Borderlands itself. I will keep through with it because I want to see more of Tannis and hopefully, more of her psychoses and characterization in the coming issues.




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