Comic Book Review: Anthem #1
As they said, Anthem is a game that has been highly anticipated, and it is right around the corner. It only makes sense that this would also be a game where they are willing to chance creating a prequel comic for. It is also bold that at the same time this is a comic for a game that hasn’t released yet. Most times with books like this it will come after the release of said game or movie, but this here shakes things up. Probably in a good way too when those looking forward to the game can have a better opportunity to understand what they are jumping into.
Understanding what a Freelancer is seemed to be the strongest focus of this issue. This was one of those stories where you were following someone faceless in a suit. Freelancers have a face to their name and voice. Not to mention personality which goes a long way to helping you connect with the role they play in this world. Some may look at these guys high-tech, hand-crafted, uniquely powerful suits of armor and think what is the difference between them and everyone else in a suit like that. However, from the start they were breaking the mold through more interaction than running lone wolf. Normally I don’t like stories where the hero has to play babysitter to a kid, but this wasn’t leaning too much into the cliche. Especially when there was someone a bit older like Jani who provided a sense of enthusiasm about the way this world works without being in the way too much.
It’s hard to fully say is this prequel comic is welcoming to new readers or players. The story of Anthem is fairly straightforward, but nothing that gives you too much to go on until you have played the game yourself. As they explain it, “On a world left unfinished by the gods, a shadowy faction threatens all of humankind. The only thing that stands between these villains and the ancient technology they covet are the Freelancers.” So when you jump into this first issue, there wasn’t too much of that expanded upon, though at the same time it didn’t hurt that they weren’t trying to make a bigger story than needed. To some level, just understanding what a Freelancer is was probably the best way to assure that readers are prepared.
Does it make readers excited for the upcoming game? You get some insight through the story provided, but ultimately it doesn’t do too much for your investment in the bigger picture. You don’t know the direction the story might take with these main characters, and pay-off tends to be key for the value of a prequel. I mean, will we see that Freelancer again? These kids? What exactly is this setting up? It wasn’t a bad story, but it was hard to pinpoint exactly what we were supposed to learn in terms of the bigger picture.
Where this book does not disappoint is in the quality of artwork. It’s always a wonder if the interior art for a book based off of something licensed will have effort put into it. More so when said story is one and done. Fortunately for us, the art team of Eduardo Francisco and Michael Atiyeh were just right for a story that balanced some action with a lot of personal engagement. Atiyeh’s colors I am familiar with for books like this and there was nothing to worry about when it came to the bold and energetic colors he put into this world to make it pop. As for Eduardo Francisco, this was my first taste of his work and appreciated the effort he put into the intricate designs to these suits, while at the same time getting into detail with the world around these characters. Two things matter a lot with Anthem visually, and it is the Javelins and world. Both stood out in this first issue. Now where they can always improve with the second issue is the same effort also going into the human characters. For about half the issue it looked great, though you can see where some features were beginning to fade by the end. Consistency is also key from start to finish.
For the sake of collector’s value, that is probably the best way that I could recommend picking up Anthem #1. They probably could have chosen a story that better eased you into the story that would begin February 22nd. That might change with the second issue, but this is what we have right now. This might actually be one of those books where you will have to read it twice once you actually play the game to better appreciate what unfolds within these pages.