Dead Space: Liberation–graphic novels as video game tie-ins

Dead Space Liberation

Electronic Arts was at the cutting edge of video games back in the 1980s.  Today’s EA provides games with stunning 3D level immersive experiences.  In 2008 EA released a very different and modern third-person shooter, science fiction horror survival game called Dead Space.  Dead Space was big, selling more than 2 million copies.  In the game, players followed along literally over the shoulder of Isaac Clarke–named for science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.  Clarke was as an engineer on an interstellar mining starship called the USG Ishimura, where he found himself stuck with some undead creatures called Necromorphs in a setting straight out of Ridley Scott’s Alien.  The February 2013 release Dead Space 3 brings along with it a new graphic novel series tie-in: Dead Space: Liberation

Dead Space

In 2008 EA also ventured into graphic novels, publishing a comic book series prequel collected in the Dead Space graphic novel, now available in a trade edition from Titan Books.  Written by Antony Johnston–the same writer who scripted the dialogue for the video game–with art by Ben Templesmith, Dead Space is a mixture of sci-fi horror dread and the real-world workings of a ship like you’d find in Prometheus or 2001: A Space Odyssey. When a team encounters the first of what would be three giant alien “markers,” a dwindling religion surfaces among the ship’s crew.  Crew members begin going through changes with cult-like effects resulting in all sorts of gory deaths, all consistent with the Dead Space gaming universe.  It’s violent stuff, very similar to Mike Huddleston’s artwork in his Strain comic book horror series, but this should appeal to the 2 million players of the underlying game on either Playstation 3, Xbox 360 or Microsoft Windows.  The first of three graphic novel books, it is by far the best.

Dead Space Templesmith art
Ben Templesmith’s art style from Dead Space.

Also available and timed with the release of Dead Space 3 along with the original Dead Space graphic novel trade edition is the second graphic novel series trade edition of Dead Space: Salvage, originally released in December 2010.  Dead Space: Salvage was written by Antony Johnston with artwork by Christopher Shy, but this time new series artist Shy dispensed with the more traditionally drawn comic book approach and instead offered a painted, photo-real horror style that has the look of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum, complete with the dark and dank spaces you hope you never have to visit in the real world.  Shy’s style is a bit like what we reviewed in Archeologists of Shadows, as far as its incorporation of photographic elements, but far darker and less fantastical.  Again it has the horrific space monstrosity zombies from the video game and original graphic novel.  As the story goes, if Dead Space was Scott’s introduction to the doomsday experience in Alien, Dead Space: Salvage is Ellen Ripley’s second encounter with the ship in Aliens.  The novels rely heavily on extensive gritty dialogue, all consistent with a doomed crew on a claustrophobic vessel.  Dead Space: Salvage has the look of the film Prometheus and continues the sense of dread up to the point of the horror genre’s requisite “all hell breaking loose” scenes.

Dead Space Salvage
Christopher Shy’s art style from Dead Space: Salvage.

The new release Dead Space: Liberation is now on bookstore shelves, and it provides a story bridging the events of the Dead Space 2 video game and the new Dead Space 3 video game.  Ian Edginton serves as story writer, and Christopher Shy returns as series artist giving a cohesive look to the prior installment Dead Space: Salvage.  This third book follows Earthgov Sgt. John Carver as he desperately tries to locate his wife and son, attacked by religious zealots at the third “marker” site where his wife works.  He teams up with a woman who survived an earlier Necromorph outbreak attack and a ship’s captain to follow clues left behind by his wife.  Following along the analogy of the Alien franchise, here the Dead Space franchise finds its Prometheus, revealing even more about these 2001: A Space Odyssey monolith-inspired swirled spire markers.  Dead Space: Liberation, and its two previous graphic novels, offer many opportunities for fans of the video games to expand their gaming experience.  The novels and games can be found at bookstores, gaming shops and online at discount pricing at

C.J. Bunce

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