BioWare and DarkHorse have recently announced a massive hardback omnibus that will collect every single Mass Effect comic series. It boasts to be over 800 pages with extras and all that flair ideal for catching the eyes of the hardcore Mass Effect fans, especially the lore fans. I am such a lore fan, as I’ve read all of the Mass Effect novels (even that super terrible book by William C. Dietz) and every comic, including the comics distributed on Free Comic Book Day.
Several of these comics are quite fantastic, quite a few are meh, and others contradict previously established lore. When a series is good, it’s absolutely fantastic. And when one is bad, well, it’s a complete waste of time. Kind of like the last Mass Effect game. Before you dive into the world of Mass Effect comics, let me clear the air as to which series are worth your time.
The first series I highly recommend without a doubt are Mass Effect Redemption and Mass Effect Evolution.
In Mass Effect 2, Collectors destroy the Normandy and Shepard doesn’t evacuate in time. Cerberus eventually picks Shepard up and brings the legendary hero back to life. The player and Shepard both eventually learn that it was Liara T’soni who gives Shepard’s body to Cerberus after preventing the Shadow Broker from getting his hands on it. Redemption tells this story of Liara’s, including how she met Feron, when Cerberus came into the picture, and even how Aria T’loak was involved in recovering Shepard’s body.
Redemption doesn’t bring any new lore into the picture, but it paints a lovely background story referenced in the second game. It helps that the story is action-packed as well and fits very much into high action found in Mass Effect 2.
Evolution is perhaps one of my favorites out of the whole bunch simply because it does add lore. It helps that it is an incredible ride as well. If you’ve ever wondered why the Illusive Man has glowing eyes or how he became the Illusive Man, well, Invasion has you covered.
The comic goes deep into his anti-alien racist agenda and provides insight as to why he does some of the things he does in Mass Effect 2. It also helps explain his crazed downfall in Mass Effect 3. Readers will even learn his original name.
Next on my recommendation list is Mass Effect Homeworlds. Homeworlds is a four-issue mini-series where each issue can be read standalone. Each issue features one Mass Effect 2 character and tells a bit of their backstories and their connection to, well, their home worlds. If you’re only interested in one or two characters, there’s definitely not a need to read the rest of them or even purchase them. Characters featured include Garrus Vakarian, Liara T’soni, Tali Zorah, and James Vega.
Mass Effect Foundations is entertaining, but it’s mostly okay. Remember the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3? Well, if you wanted a backstory into Rasa, how she became involved in the Shepard clone project, and how she’s the Forrest Gump of the first game, then hey, you’ll probably love all 12 issues of this series. In my experience, the first couple of tales were entertaining, but then it got old really fast with how Rasa just happened to be at every major event in the first game in the background.
The next two I disliked because I didn’t care about these backstories. In Mass Effect 3, Shepard has an opportunity to run into Aria T’loak at a bar and hear her tale about being run out of Omega by Cerberus. Invasion tells this story, which never really felt that important overall. You could argue that Redemption isn’t that different, but with Redemption, we learn everything that happened to Shepard’s body before Liara gave it to Cerberus. Invasion only tells readers an outcome we already knew. Incursion and Inquisition are one-off stories that don’t impact lore in the slightest.
Last, we come to Mass Effect Discovery that attempts to lead into Mass Effect Andromeda with a bit of a backstory to Kantros. As much as I liked Kantros in the game and in Mass Effect: Nexus Uprising, this added very little to the lore. In fact, there are stark canon conflicts between it and Nexus Uprising.
If you haven’t read the comics yet but were planning to, save your money and look into the recommended series first. You’ll thank me later.