Review – Warframe #1 (Image Comics/Top Cow)

Publisher: Image Comics (Top Cow)
Story: Matt Hawkins, Ryan Cady
Artwork: Studio Hive
Release Date: 4th October 2017

Full disclosure before we begin: I haven’t played the video game inspiration for this latest Top Cow comic release, nor have I even heard of it.  That’s not a slight, as I’ve never been much of a gamer, but I can’t help but feeling that my lack of prior knowledge may be precluding me from getting the most out of this new series.  That said, Image is marketing this as being both for die-hard Warframe fanatics and curious first-timers, so I thought I’d at least give it a look.

The story is, well, pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a free-to-play online shooter.  An over-the-top villain and his army of faceless minions doing battle with a seemingly unstoppable, sword-wielding and frustratingly mute ninja warrior (or “Tenno”, to be accurate).  There’s also something about ancient technology, and a blinded woman who this particular Tenno seems to be intent on keeping safe, but aside from that, this is all very much ‘video game cut scene 101’, which unfortunately leaves the comic itself as a fairly flat, uninspired read.

Whatever way you slice it, there’s nothing in the story that really stands out.  Nothing remarkable or eyebrow-raising at all.  And while I don’t doubt that the experience of actually being that seemingly overmatched Tenno while you hack and slash your way through evil soldiers in a beautiful ballet of death would make for a pretty damn exhilarating video game, it really doesn’t work all that well as a comic.  We have no reason to be invested in our leading man, other than the fact he looks cool, so the entire book instantly becomes a wholly visual experience, utterly devoid of any sort of investment in the characters.

Fortunately, in that respect, Warframe most definitely delivers.  The visuals, provided here by Studio Hive, are fantastic, with a rich, painted style that really helps to bring the fluid carnage of the battlefield to life. The action scenes are fluid and dynamic, and if this were simply a book entitled “the Art of Warframe”, then I’d be one happy customer. Sadly, as pretty as the pictures undoubtedly are, there’s still no real investment in what’s actually happening, which makes it all a fairly superficial reading experience.

Ultimately then, while I’m sure die-hard Warframe fanatics will get a real kick about seeing their beloved FPS getting the comic book treatment, the comic itself is, unfortunately, a little on the flimsy side.  Perhaps once the story kicks up a gear and we get a genuine sense of character development from our leads (or ‘lead’, as I think the Tenno is about as developed as he’s ever going to get at this point) it’ll be a more enjoyable read, but as things stand now, it’s difficult to really recommend this one.

Rating: 2/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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