Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is one of our most anticipated releases of 2016 and if you’ve played previous Deus Ex titles, then you should be just as excited as we are. However, with the release of Mankind Divided still a while away – courtesy of its delay earlier this year – news about the franchise has been in short supply and I’m sure I speak for most of the series’ fans when I say that we’re well overdue for a fix. Recently, Deus Ex: Children’s Crusade has entered the market as a five-part comic series filling the time gaps between the events in Human Revolution and the upcoming sequel. And I’ve been able to satiate my Deus Ex cravings by sinking my teeth in to the first issue.
As Children’s Crusade is the successor to Human Revolution, this article may contain spoilers. So if you haven’t played Human Revolution, come back later!
Following the events of Human Revolution – specifically the Aug incident – human/Aug relationships are strained. There’s a heavy cloud of discontent hanging over the events of Children’s Crusade, and the world has resorted to a state of apartheid in which the augmented and non-augmented occupy totally different areas. Extremists have become vocal on both sides of the augmentation argument, and terrorist activity has reached dizzying heights. In response to these threats, Interpol has assembled Task Force 29 with the goal of discouraging terrorist activity.
Children’s Crusade begins with Adam Jensen’s initiation to the team. As the new guy – and a heavily augmented one at that – Adam needs to establish his rapport, to earn the trust of his team. In Adam’s narration – a sort of internal monologue – there’s a definite concern for the opinions of his teammates. He speaks of proving his worth and gaining their respect, in a way that’s fairly uncharacteristic of the Adam Jensen we’d seen in the past. True, Human Revolution gave players almost total control of Jensen’s personality, but no-matter-what his demeanour was fairly aloof. Maybe the comics are putting a different spin on the character, and trying to add some extra ‘humanity’ to a previously stern character, or perhaps this is an initiation into the Adam Jensen that we’ll see in Mankind Divided. Oddly, towards the end of the issue, Jensen begins exhibiting more of the calloused behaviour we know and love. So, it’ll be interesting to see how things progress as the story furthers.
With regard to the comic’s ending, it seems safe to say that this series will take a dark turn. In short, Task force 29 discover a warehouse full of abducted children. We’re lead to believe that these children have been unwillingly augmented and we see some top-tier cruelty from the terrorist group. Jensen and the rest of the team seem genuinely affected by what they see, yet, media-personality and round low-life Titus king seizes the opportunity to direct hate towards the augmented. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that Alex Irvine and John Aggs are covering some rather topical issues. And they haven’t pulled many punches in this first issue.
As far as the artwork goes, Children’s Crusade stays true to the graphic novel format. While the covers and character profiles feature CGI character models and scenes, the Deus Ex world appears in a typical comic book format. So if you’re one for realistic and decadently detailed artwork, this probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of more traditional comics – like I am – then this will go down a treat. The comic also features propaganda-esque advertisements: some vilifying augs, others promoting peace. For me, these ads were a definite highlight. In keeping with the adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, they said things about the state of the world that Adam’s Jensen’s narration never could.
Children’s Crusade #1 definitely gives us an insight into how the world changed following the events of Human Revolution. It’s a welcome exploration of the aftermath of a tragedy, and a clever introduction to the conditions we’ll be experiencing in Mankind Divided. I’m hoping that the story actually ties in with the upcoming game – even if the tie-in isn’t super obvious.
As I said earlier, I’m glad there’s finally some action on the Deus Ex frontier. I’ll definitely be keeping up with the remaining four comics in the series, so check back with us and I’ll keep you in the loop.