mireex1The term ‘exordium’ derives from Latin and simply means ‘beginning’. Much has been said regarding 2016’s Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and whether it was a sequel, prequel, or complete reboot? One thing has to be said though, to fully understand the game in whatever state it is in the Mirror’s Edge timeline, without the full Exordium, will prove difficult.

For the uninformed, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a first-person action-adventure game with a huge emphasis on freerunning/parkour. Players take on the role of Faith Connors, recently released from prison, trying to come to terms with the dystopian regime in the city of Glass. How she got into prison is the main theme in the 6-issue miniseries called Mirror’s Edge Exordium.

Physically, the TPB (trade paperback) is extremely well presented. The front cover is a gloss and matte combination; the matte finish on the white background that fits in well with the colour scheme of Glass itself and the gloss is the striking image of Faith front and centre. The back also has the title embossed running lengthways. It certainly feels like even if you had purchased the 6 single issues separately, this would be purchased to complete the set.mireex1p2

Inside the covers, it does not share the same aesthetics. It’s worth noting firstly that halfway through the run the artist changes completely, creating a stark contrast between the first half and the second half, not least for Faith herself. Personally, I prefer the look of her in the second half. This is despite the fact that her eye tattoo seems a lot thinner and less defined than it has been in every other instance. And for something as iconic to the whole Mirror’s Edge lore, it just doesn’t look right at all. But then in the first half, the overall standard is just a little bit lower. You can see where corners have been cut by looking at characters’ faces, especially in the background. It’s no secret of the time constraints on release dates for comics, and clearly the aim for this miniseries was to be wrapped up before the release of the game (sadly however, the game got delayed a couple of times during the run of Exordium) but it should never impact on the overall quality and in this case it certainly looks like it has.

What the artwork does get right most of the time is the appearance that Faith and co. are in a hurry. Speed can be a tricky thing to convey in a static image but in this TPB with a central theme of parkour, the artists have done a decent job when the characters are moving at speed.mireex1p3

A comic can only do so much with pictures, without the words/speech the story is tough to follow. And for the most part, it’s written surprisingly well. The pacing is absolutely spot on for the story, which coming into this was a big concern as it’s something that most self-contained story arcs regularly fall short on. Not everything is left until the final issue; there are little peaks of excitement throughout the issues. There is obviously a big climax as with any story, but the build up to it doesn’t feel padded out. It flows naturally. But the pace is only half the battle, the story itself needs to be up to scratch. Thankfully, this is not a problem.

The main Catalyst game focuses on the bubbling under-current caused by the conglomerate Krugersec basically trying to control everyone. ‘Runners’ are a group of individuals that refuse to conform to the corporations and live in hiding. Rather than Exordium build on this notion, it instead has its own plot that keeps away from any real mention of the dystopian society. It builds upon Faiths first meeting with Dogen, one of the crime bosses within the city of Glass. mireex1p4

Dogen is a major supporting character within the game, so to get background information on how he acquired a certain piece of artwork key to Faiths’ childhood is welcome. Faith is then given a seemingly simple task to complete in order to claim back the artwork. Along the way, Faith meets a few other major characters from the game including someone called Beatrix. Their meeting is brief enough that it may not even seem like it warrants a mention, however, its inclusion is vital to understanding the last side mission in the game. This chance meeting and the narrative surrounding Faith and Dogen are both key elements to being able to fully understand the game itself, and indeed vice-versa.

I was a bit disappointed though that there was one key character here in the miniseries that is not mentioned once in the game, but maybe that would be taking the reliance of the TPB to understand every aspect of the game too far.

mireex1p5As well as the story, there were a couple of instances where a bit of humour was injected, and they came off quite well. The TPB (and game) are both very serious in their themes and storytelling, so these little quips involving toilet paper and seagulls (not related) helped break things up ever so slightly in a way that was appreciated.

This is by no means a bad TPB, and for any collector would be a worthy addition to the bookshelf. Exterior wise, the presentation really is exceptional and looks so much better than most other TPBs that simply re-use an issue cover. Inside however, the art really did let it down. It looked rushed and the overall representation of Faith wasn’t that great aesthetically. The story and the pacing are both excellent though and do help redeem the overall package. But it is tough to recommend either the TPB or the game without also recommending the other as they feel so integral to each other, and being able to fully understand what is going on. This is something that will please a lot of people, finding other mediums to enjoy games they have invested time in. But for those that don’t, they will be missing out on something integral to the newly revamped Mirror’s Edge universe.

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