Mass Effect: Foundation Volume 1 graphic novel review

Is the Mass Effect: Foundation comic-book too ambitious for its own good?

The Mass Effect comics have always done a good job of fitting around the narrative of the games whilst adding to it, but none have ever been as ambitious as Foundation.

A 12 issue series featuring guest appearances by every major character, it’s the story beneath the story of Mass Effect. There are two strands here, one featuring guest appearances by existing characters and the other following a character introduced in the wonderful Citadel DLC as they interact with your old crew.

It’s a clever idea, allowing Walters to explore stories hinted at in the games as well as break some new narrative ground.

It often works extremely well too. The opening story, set on an asteroid mining facility three years after the First Contact War is essentially Mass Effect noir, exploring the foundation of Cerberus and the underside of human society. It’s a remarkably nasty, tight story that introduces the lead in a genuinely surprising way.

Likewise, the issue focusing on Ashley Williams is a really impressive character study, providing context for a character viewed by some as a belligerent carbon bigot in the original game. Only the Kaidan Alenko issue falls a little flat here, partially because it’s a story that Kaidan actually tells in the game and partially because this is the only place the art falls apart a little bit. Parker and Francia do great work throughout but Kaidan’s biotic showdown gets lost in a flurry of motion lines and blue clouds of energy.

The star here though, to the surprise of very few, is Urdnot Wrex. Everyone’s homefrog gets a chance to absolutely shine in his solo issue and by shine I mean cause lots of damage. On the trail of the same person as the series lead, Wrex stomps, punches, explodes and banters his way around the Citadel as only he can. He’s completely without front, utterly unconcerned with anything resembling tact and utterly charming.

We even get an old school Mass Effect 1-style elevator conversation with him. The script’s great too, Walters contrasting Wrex’s methods with the subtle approach to great, often very funny, effect.

Later issues look set to feature Miranda and Jacob, Mordin, Thane and every other major NPC from the games and honestly I can’t wait. This is a confident, fun series that provides welcome insight into some dearly loved characters and if you’re a fan, this is an absolute must, if nothing else for the Wrex issue.

Thanks to for the review copy and for being a nice place, generally.