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Mass Effect Volume 4: Homeworlds by Travelling Man

Mass Effect

Volume 4: Homeworlds

Written by Mac Walters, Patrick Weekes, John Dombrow, Jeremy Barlow and Sylvia Feketekuty

Art by Eduardo Francisco, Chris Staggs, Gerry Brown and Omar Francia

Colors by Michael Atiyeh

Letters by Michael Heisler

Published by Dark Horse Comics

£12.99

I’m a relative newcomer to the Mass Effect universe, and am, in fact, a backseat MAKO driver on Marguerite’s epic playthrough of all three games. So far it’s taught me two things; that the MAKO is the single most evil to steer vehicle humanity has ever created and that this is an insanely detailed, intricate and yet somehow still accessible universe. This latest volume of the tie in comic, focusing on four characters, demonstrates that accessibility beautifully.

All four stories here are about family and what they do to us, and for us. The opening James Vega story, written by Mac Walters, cuts between James anxiously checking for the status of his family post-Reaper invasion and his last few nights as a civilian. Walters’ script neatly balanced a gleefully goofy action sequence with moments of quiet, even poignant reflection and Eduardo Francisco’s burly art manages not only to emphasize James’ impressive build, but also his fragility. James is one of the few characters running away from his family and that brings a real humanity to his story.

Tali is the subject of the second piece, set just before you meet her in the first game. Where James is running from his family but can’t quite look away from it, Tali has voluntarily stepped away from her family to help make everyone’s lives better. The Quarians are a fascinating race, nomads driven off their home world by the synthetic lifeforms they created, and the story by Mac Walters and Patrick Weekes does a great job of exploring their odd combination of defeatism and pride. However, it’s Jeremy Barlow’s script that really elevates this piece as he explores how badly Quarians are viewed by the other races, how dangerous even a single Turian can be and the strength of Tali’s familial bonds. For James, family is something to stand away from, for Tali it’s the foundation of everything about her life and, if needed, her death. Chris Staggs’ supple, curved pencils are the perfect choice for this story, giving it a convincingly alien point of view and the sudden stylistic changes at a couple of points also work extremely well.
Next up is everyone’s favorite former C-SEC operative. Garrus’ story, plotted by Mac Walters and John Dombrow and scripted by Jeremy Barlow opens with the unflappable Turian in a desperate position, pinned down and outnumbered. Cutting between his past, his clashes with his father, and his present, the story explores Garrus’ mindset in surprising, and emotional, detail. We see everything that made him who he is; the disciplinarian father, the endless training, the burning need to put that training to better use than C-SEC would let him and, of course, the consequences of his decisions between the first two games. Ironically, given how taciturn the character is, the final pages of this story are the most poignant in the book. Convinced he’s seconds from death, Garrus calls his father and the two Turian men bond in a way which is equal parts heroic and heartbreaking. It’s a great story, with a great ending and it’s worth picking the book up for this alone. Gerry Brown’s burly, expressive artwork sets a suitably dark, noirish tone that fits it perfectly too.

Liara is the subject of the final story as she gears up to help the war effort in Mass Effect 3. Unlike the others, Liara is still in the shadow of her family and this story shows her starting to move beyond that, defining her role in the war on her terms. Sylvia Feketekuty joins Mac Walters on plotting and Jeremy Barlow returns once more for a script which takes Tali from Thessia to a Hanar tomb and her starting objectives in the third game. Tightly plotted and with beautiful, highly detailed artwork from Omar Francia, this story ends the book as strongly as James’ story opened it.

Homeworlds is a smart, character-driven collection of one-shots that provides insight into four of the franchises’ best characters as well as neatly slotting into established continuity. Whether you’re an experienced Spectre, or a rookie like me, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here.

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