Resistance Vol. 1
Writers: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Mike Costa
Story Consultant: John Garvin
Artwork: C.P. Smith, John Paul Leon, Ramon Perez, and Kody Chamberlain
Letters: Wes Abbott
Colors: Smith, Tony Avina, and JD Mettler
Original Series Covers: Smith
Cover: Rodrigo Ribiero and Grant Hollis/Insomniac Games
Publisher: WildStorm/DC Comics
Collecting Resistance #1-6 and Resistance 2 #0
Insomniac Games' entertaining first person shooter series Resistance series has never been a game shy on ambitious scope; as the first game begins, the entirety of Russia and Europe has been taken over but the Chimera, and the series' first hero, Nathan Hale, finds himself up against the Chimera's attack on the United Kingdom. With the second and third games, the series moved to America, with the fate of the country and eventually humanity as a species at stake. And with an ambitious scope comes a lot of backstory, from tie-in novels to the Project Abraham ARG. So it was only natural that comics would eventually enter the fray.
Abnett and Lanning are terrific scribes and no stranger to media tie-ins, but there's really not enough that Insomniac has provided them. We find out why, specifically, Shepard reacted to the Project Abraham drugs so horrifically, but he's not a particularly deep character, or even a sympathetic one, so his mutation into the horrific Daedalus feels like the story of a jerk becoming a bigger jerk. C.P. Smith (WildStorm;'s The Programme) and John Paul Leon (Earth X, Black Widow: Deadly Origin) handled the Abraham and flashback sequences respectively, and Leon's art in particular is very pleasing. Overall, however, there's not much here to make you regret not getting the collector's edition.
The main story in the miniseries, and the bulk of the collection, is taken up by the debut mission of what would become Sentinel Team Echo, the group that accompanies Hale in the second game, and includes such familiar faces as Joseph Capelli and Benjamin Warner, The miniseries' main and backup story, are both written by Mike Costa. Costa's no stranger to military comics, as he's been writing G.I. Joe: Cobra for IDW the past few years and the new Blackhawks for DC. Art is provided by Ramon Perez of Deadpool Team-Up, Dazzler, and War of Kings: Warriors fame.
Taking place in early 1951, Sentinel Team Alpha is sent on a top secret mission to the Anchorage, AK base, currently under siege by the Chimera. They're sent to retrieve plans for a secret weapon and the scientist who's been working on it, a man by the name of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Or as Team Alpha's commanding officer simply puts it, "The bomb, gentlemen. The Chimera have captured the bomb."
When dealing with alternate history scenarios like Resistance, addressing possibly game changing parts of the setting that would affect the plot is the perfect job for tie-in media. The story helps answer the "what about nuclear weapons" part of the story, as well as resolving why the Chimera didn't invade the U.S. directly from eastern Russia.
The story of the Anchorage incursion is compelling and well written. Capelli and his fellow soldiers aren't given exactly deep characterization, but in a way that works to the story's advantage. Despite their value as members of Project Abraham, Sentinel Team is essentially on a suicide mission. One of the story's best moments is how Costa has one of the soldiers narrate the action but has him brutally cut off by Chimeran lasers in mid-sentence. It happens before his name has even registered with the others, underscoring how interchangeable the men are, despite the vital work they are doing.
Resistance, despite the weapon wheel pryrotechnics, has always been, in terms of tone, an exceedingly bleak series, sometimes making Gears of War look like, well, Ratchet and Clank. With Tony Avina's bleak colors, Ramon Perez's art, while not particularly distinguished, depicts the action well, and Costa's written lots of gunfire and explosions for him to draw. His illustrations of the "stinks" eschew the more detailed looks of the games for a more gross, marshmallowy look that are still freaky and threatening. Perez's takes on the Chimeran ships are pretty amazing. One thing that stands out is the design of Capelli; he's got his facial scar and is significantly taller than his fellow men, and it illustrates how he chafes against his superiors, and is a bit of a hothead but he eventually becomes the hero that would take over the series from Nathan Hale.
Costa is also wrapping up a two year run on Transformers, and one of the questions his run asked was what happens to a group of beings who are thrown into a constant state of war? How does that break a person, or a robot in that case, down? As part of the run, several Autobots and Decepticons completely throw up their hands and leave the conflict entirely, because there's nothing left in the tank. Resistance asks similar questions. At the end of the story, Capelli and his men have completed their mission, but their victory is Phyrric, and the Chimera's continues. The story ends with an image of Capelli sitting alone, a warrior who's survived but has little reason to fight. Reading this story actually gives more poignancy to Capelli's game arc, as seeing the hell of being in Team Alpha makes you realize how much that mitten he's carrying in the third entry means to him.
The rest of the book is taken up with the backstory of James Grayson, the hero of the series' PSP entry, Resistance: Retribution. Players of that game may remember the rather blunt opening scene where Johnny executed his brother, Johnny, who had been mutated by the Chimera. Costa's story concerns Johnny's life from the day the Chimera invaded earth up to the moment he put the bullet in James' brain. While exploring the Chimera occupied UK isn't a bad idea, exploring it through the eyes of James Grayson is.
There's not much to the story of James Grayson before Retribution. Their dad was in the RAF. He died fighting the Chimera. Johnny joined the RAF too. After he's father's death Johnny wanted no part of military life. But he joined the army eventually. Then he quit. Then Johnny yells at him. Then he joins again. Eventually he learns what it means to be A True Solider. In the original miniseries, this story was tedious in chunks, read all at once it's a chore. James, like Shepard, isn't likable and his arc is unremarkable. It's not helped by the art by Smith and BloodRayne artist Kody Chamberlain. It's dark and atmospheric, but not very compelling or at times clear. (Smith's artwork in particular elicits a "huh?" more often than not) Both artists have interesting uses of color, but that's about it. Considering how skillfully done the Capelli arc is, Costa's work here is a disappointment.
You ever eaten an Oreo cookie, and the middle tasted so great, but the chocolate cookies didn't taste that great, and in fact you look in the mirror when you're brushing and they've totally gunked up your teeth? Resistance Vol. 1is like that kind of Oreo; it's a good, action packed Alaska story sandwiched by two uninteresting side stories featuring characters who, as developed by Insomniac, aren't really star players as compared to Joseph Capelli. To hardcore fans of the series, and Joseph Capelli in particular, I would definitely say give it a read; for casual fans or everyone else, I'd proceed with caution.