If you’re like me, then you’ll have no doubt heard of a little game called Dishonoured. Ok, I lied it’s not a “little” game. In fact, I truly believe that Dishonoured was an absolute breath of fresh air to the gaming industry at a time when FPS games were looking all too repetitive and dull. The fantastic news is that the folks at Bethesda and Arkane Studios have seen fit to grant us lowly townspeople, not just with a HD remake of the original game for Xbox One, but indeed a sequel as well. What a time to be alive! So you can imagine my excitement grew even larger at the news that Titan Comics were bringing out a Dishonoured comic to expand even further upon the lush and bountiful mythos created in the first game. Stop it Bethesda, you’re spoiling us.
Titan Comics are getting quite the name for themselves, in that their catalogue of books consists mostly of TV show, film and gaming comics. Seriously, head to their homepage and you’ll see they offer everything from Doctor Who to Dark Souls, with no bounds to what they are willing to offer (I’m referring to the Penguins of Madagascar book). Now while it is widely agreed that the degree of quality can vary from book to book, I wouldn’t allow that to put you off from picking this up if you’re given the opportunity. Written by Gordon Rennie, with artwork by Andrea Olimpieri, Dishonoured #1 follows the story of Corvo Attano 12 years after the events of the first game. Corvo is looking to secure his legacy as an apprentice, while at the same time getting dragged into a mystery dredged up from his past.
[FYI THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD]
Dishonored #1 starts exactly as you would want it to in my opinion – Corvo laying into the Dunwall City Watch, much as the player did all those years ago in the game. These first few panels serve as a simple statement: Corvo has still got it. While the comic takes steps to imply that Corvo isn’t getting any younger, it’s a nice touch to see he can still hand it to the lowly grunts like he used to. This was also a fantastic way for Andrea Olimpieri to show off his beautiful art style in a fully-fledged action sequence. The colours are fantastic and the fight is well choreographed as Corvo easily dispatches each member of the attacking group, all whilst passing judgement as he goes. Gordon Rennie also uses these opening panels to give the reader a little insight into Corvo’s mental state at the time. As he is breezing his way through the guards, Corvo touches on his devotion to protecting Emily (the Empress from the first game) and his belief that if any of the City Watch lay a finger on him, then she is no longer safe.
It turns out, the opening fight sequence was no more than a simple sparring match for Corvo, as he is on the lookout for a potential apprentice for him to teach all of his tips and tricks to. In a beautifully poignant couple of frames, Corvo likens the continual degradation of Dunwall Tower to that of his own, pointing out that Stonemasons have to pass down their skills, otherwise they are lost, and that is exactly what he intends on doing.
The story moves on, as Corvo dons his infamous mask and outfit and takes to the rooftops in an almost vigilante-esque fashion. He touches upon the fact that he tries not to use his abilities (those of the ‘Outsider’) in front of people, and also seems to accept the fact that in using the Outsider’s abilities he becomes less human. While I agree that Corvo’s abilities were always fantastical, I’m not really sure where Rennie is going with his “less than human” statement. The entire first game is based around a very human story of redemption and revenge, all in the name of saving a little girl. Just because Corvo has gained his abilities from the ‘Outsider’, I don’t really agree they make him “less human”.
Eventually Corvo ends up following a thinly veiled trail of breadcrumbs to the Old Port District, a region fans of the game will surely remember. Here he encounters the faction who have taken up the reigns of “primary antagonist” since the close of the first game. Upon discovering they hold a hostage, Corvo ends up intervening to save the boy’s life, who he unknowingly recognises. Unsurprisingly, the boy escapes and Corvo’s attention is redirected to the “Tallboy” which is setting everything it possibly can, ablaze. The resolution to this particular fight scene did make me chuckle, as I remember how badly I struggled against this foe in the game and yet here Corvo’s allies dismantle it in record time. As the fires rage on, Corvo and Cottings (potentially Corvo’s new apprentice) come to the conclusion that someone is supplying Dunwall’s criminal underworld with contraband, potentially to invoke open war. I seriously hope there’s a deeper story than that to it, otherwise that’s just too easy.
However, in the final few panels of the book we are treated to a look at potentially the main antagonist for the series, as she reveals her reasoning for luring Corvo to the mysterious boy in an attempt to keep the Royal Protector preoccupied. As strategies go, it’s not a gloriously original one, but it easily outlines her as the antagonist of the story…for now.
The one thing that strikes me throughout this entire book, is that it is goddamn beautiful. Seriously. The art style is detailed in every panel to allow the story to move along smoothly and it definitely seems that the same care and attention is applied to the smaller panels as it is the larger ones. The use of colours really makes the action scenes pop, while the quieter moments truly keep to the style set by the game. It’s masterfully done. Similarly, the story is an intriguing one. While we know Dishonoured 2 is set 15 years after the events of the original game, Dishonoured #1 shows us what Corvo is up to just before the second game kicks off and it will be interesting to see if anything from the comic ties in with the new game. Now, I said the story was intriguing, I never said it was wholly original. The whole “bad guy tries to distract good guy in an effort to pull off evil master plan” is a tried and tested method of storytelling and it holds up in issue 1 here. I do hope however that Gordon Rennie has some sly tricks up his sleeve moving forward, otherwise this story runs the risk of devolving into a basic villain tryst.
So would I advise people to go out and buy Dishonoured #1? Hell yeah I would. I genuinely believe this book has a little bit of something for everyone. There’s the obvious element that fans of the game will obviously fall in love with this book in the way it looks and feels authentic. There’s also enough of a story and exposition to keep people who don’t even know who Corvo is, entertained. It may even convince them to go play the game. The book looks stunning and my only issue with it is that it too short. But that is just a result of it being so good that I wanted more. I suppose I’ll have to wait like everyone else.
So if you’re looking for a good (albeit short) read and fancy delving back into the streets of Dunwall, then you could do a lot worse than Dishonoured #1.