Mass Effect: Foundation Volume 1 by Mac Walters
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The first issue of the Foundation series plays it safe. We get a few backstories for Kaiden, Ashley, and Wrex, set just before the events of Mass Effect 1. There’s a narrative thread that ties all of these stories together in the form of a Cerberus agent that was involved or at least adjacent to the events of the first game, though she never appeared in the game itself.
I’m conflicted on this book. I enjoyed the art style, with its bold colors and clean look. And it was fun to see more of some of my favorites, particularly Wrex. On the other hand, revisiting the events of Mass Effect 1 . . . again . . . makes the universe feel small to me. It reminds me of how the Star Wars expanded universe had to focus on every single aspect of the things that appeared in the movies, and only rarely deviated enough to create entirely new stories and scenarios. I feel like that’s happening here as well; it’s been a very long time since we dealt with Saren the renegade Spectre.
While it’s nice for a bit of nostalgia, there are absolutely no surprises in store aside from learning a bit about Rasa, the Cerberus agent. We know about Kaiden’s biotic school troubles. We know Ashley loses her squad. It’s a prequel story that just checks off the bullet point that it’s supposed to hit.
Foundation Volume 1 plays it safe, and while it doesn’t commit any blunders or flaws (the action is engaging enough and the characters act and sound like their video game versions), hewing so closely to the foundation (heh) of the first game leaves very little room to grow. I’m not sure who would really relish a book like this; even as a completionist and lore nerd, I found it to be rather unnecessary.