This week the Dishonored franchise is coming to comics, courtesy of Titan Comics. And unlike some other gaming related comics, Dishonored #1 never seems to assume that its audience isn’t familiar with this world. In fact, it throws readers right into the thick of it, with a splash page that greatly resembles the POV of the player in the first Dishonored game.
The biggest notable difference between the comic and the game is that writer Gordon Rennie kept readers inside the head of Corvo Attano throughout the issue via his thought captions. In the game, Corvo wasn’t nearly as chatty, nor did he share his thoughts with the players. Rennie’s take on the character gave him some interesting perspective. Corvo recognized that he lost some of his humanity during the events of the first game. But he wasn’t particularly bothered by that, since he was given magical enhancements that let him avenge the death of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin. The only thing that drives now Corvo is a desire to pass on all that he’s learned before he becomes too old to fight.
This story starts twelve years after the original Dishonored game, as Corvo recognized a potential successor in Cottings, a young female warrior in the City Watch of Dunwall. We didn’t actually learn much about Cottings in this issue, but artist Andrea Olimpieri excelled with the action scenes, particularly during an early sequence in which Corvo fought Cottings and other members of the City Watch. As a character, Cottings was under-served in this issue. But if she goes on to become the apprentice that Corvo so desperately wants, then it’s likely that she’ll get more of a spotlight in later issues. We’re curious to see if Corvo intends to pass on his supernatural abilities to her as well.
Olimpieri seemed to use a lot of double page spreads throughout the issue, but the fight scenes really captured the flavor of the first game. However, Olimpieri does seem to have some problems drawing distinct human faces with emotions. When the book wasn’t in fighting mode, it was a bit of a chore to read because the artwork just wasn’t sharp enough to carry the narrative. Olimpieri has a knack for sequential storytelling and an interesting visual style, but his artwork is definitely missing some of the fundamentals of form and perspective.
It’s a little too early to pass judgment on the villains of this story, as we only get a fleeting glimpse of them in the closing pages. It’s enough to say that the enemy knows who Corvo is and they’ve successfully placed the bait in front of him. Whether they are aware of all he can do remains to be seen. It’s a classic trope in comics for a hero to be unable to use his powers without blowing his secret identity. Corvo has one of those moments in this issue, but it felt fresh because the setting was so different from our world.
For the uninitiated, Dishonored #1 does a good job of establishing Corvo and the city of Dunwall. Despite some solid action sequences, the artwork does need some work. Comics are a visual medium, and the visuals of this issue occasionally disrupted an otherwise enjoyable narrative.
RATING: 2.5 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
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Images: Titan Comics