Friday, October 30, 2015

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The 31 Days of Evil! Today, we're finishing off this year's Anniversary Month with the second Resident Evil novel. I was scheduled to do this last Sunday, but then I found out about Resident Evil: The Beginning last week, and I had to push Caliban Cove off 'till next year.
And yes, I know I promised this review last year, but I didn't have time to get to it then.
Before we crack open this weeks book, let's go over the history of it, shall we?
The author's name is Stephani Danelle Perry, and she's spent most of her career writing Star Trek, AvP and Aliens novels, with a few one-off adaptations like her Timecop, Wonder Woman and Xena: Warrior Princess novels. As well as an original novel titled The Summer Man. Not to mention the seven books in this series.
Personally, I'm not too familiar with her work. The only real experience I have is the Resident Evil novels she's written.
I might eventually pick up the Aliens and AvP omnibuses containing what she's written for the series, but given my current workload, I really don't have the time for it.
This book was originally published in 1998 in America, (Two years after the original game and one year after the first publication of Resident Evil: The Book) which was then published in Japanese in 2004, a total of six years later! That was after the series had actually ended in America! Just... Wow. That's amazing. Just goes to show that regional delays in publication swing both ways, I guess.
They then had a second edition English version of all of the  published in 2012, with new covers for all seven books, as well as a slightly larger page-count. Since I was only able to get ahold of the first edition through the local library system, I don't know if there were any differences between the two editions, and since I don't read a whole lot of Japanese, I can't review the Japanese version of the book and see what was changed in adaptation.
From what I've read, Perry was given a copy (Or at least an outline of characters and the basic plot) of Resident Evil: The Book and told to use it as the basis for this novel. It doesn't make the transition perfectly, but I still like this book anyways. I tell you, that last-minute review of Resident Evil: The Book was pretty informative.
So, with that out of the way, let's start the review. Because I'm not done taking inspiration from Linkara, I'm gonna go ahead and talk about this cover.
Starting at the top, we see a silvered version of the original Resident Evil logo, with a red glow behind it. The tagline reads "The terrifying novelization of the bestselling videogame" that sounds a bit presumptuous, certainly, but as we'll find out, this is actually a pretty damn good book.
The subtitle, The Umbrella Conspiracy is a bit up-front with the whole... Umbrella conspiracy, but considering the fact that this novel was released two years after the original game, and a year after Resident Evil: The Book, and since we're edging up on the twentieth anniversary of the original game, it's not really a spoiler at this point in time.
Then we get to three members of S.T.A.R.S. featured, Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, and Barry Burton. For some reason, they're the only ones we can see, even though this presumably takes place after they touched down in the courtyard. Above them we see a Cerberus, a zombie, The Tyrant, and what looks like a giant eel. It can't be the Yawn, since the jaw is way too small, and its body is so much fatter than its head. But all in all, I think this is a pretty good cover.
The book starts out a little bit ambiguous, a bit like the opening of the original game. Except that it starts before Bravo Team has lifted off, as opposed to how the game started, which occurred after Bravo had vanished.
There's some hazy information about the background of the situation strewn throughout the opening. A few hints, here and there about the plot, which serve to intrigue the reader and draw them into the story.
The narration-style is third-person, and it begins from the perspective of Jill Valentine, as opposed to opening with narration from Chris, like how the game and The Book started.
They also expand upon Jill's character a bit, which isn't a bad thing. Save for the villains, and minor characters that we never actually see, the characters weren't really expanded upon inside the game.
The problem is that they've gotten a few things rather blatantly wrong.
In this version of the story, Jill Valentine is the daughter of a (presumably French) master-thief by the name of Richard Valentine. Jill was apparently his apprentice up until the point where her father was arrested and sent to prison, and she had recently moved to Raccoon City and joined S.T.A.R.S. to avoid following in his footsteps. Apparently the people in charge of S.T.A.R.S. don't care about your background, or where you got your qualifying skills.
Let's go ahead and deconstruct that, shall we? I know they didn't establish Jill as a former Delta Force operator until Resident Evil 3, but previous pieces of supplementary materiel had already established certain facts about the character.
For instance, before the game was even released, Jill had been established as the American-born daughter of a French/Japanese couple, which was why I mentioned Richard must be French earlier. Also, as established in the game itself, she and Chris Redfield had known each other for a fairly long time, as stated by Barry Burton in the beginning of Jill's story. Also as stated by Barry, he's known Jill for years too, as he says Chris is "our old partner".
Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield are about the same age, and are both presumably Raccoon City natives. This hasn't ever been established, but it makes perfect sense, because otherwise the formation of S.T.A.R.S. relies far too much on coincidence for it to be as small as it is.
I know that the canonical status of certain details in the original Resident Evil manual are either questionable or have been outright contradicted since then, but there are a few that still stand up, so please indulge me for now.
In the manual, Jill Valentine is stated to have been with S.T.A.R.S. long enough to have been able to save the lives of her team-mates on many an occasion. And then you've got the first novel, Resident Evil: The Book, which had Chris and Jill being good friends. Plus, as we've seen earlier this month, Jill Valentine was established as the Raccoon City S.T.A.R.S. team's explosives technician in the Marvel comic.
The summary on the back-cover mentions Barry Burton as the team deadeye, which the internet tells me is a term for an expert marksman. That's a perfectly fine assessment of his skills, but it doesn't mention anything about Chris Redfield's role as Alpha's sniper and sharpshooter, which is odd, since they mention it later in the book.
Also, Chris's background in the air-force is barely mentioned in this book, outside of Wesker acknowledging at one point that he's got a pilots license, and is a better pilot than Brad Vickers is. If they didn't mention it at all I could forgive leaving Barry out, but they out-right state that Chris has pictures of himself and his friends who served in the Air Force together.
Chris Redfield and Barry Burton served in the United States Air-Force together, until Barry retired, and Chris was discharged. The reasons for this aren't actually brought up in the games, but I like WildStorm's explanation, that he was kicked-out for disobeying orders on a secret mission and rescuing the crew of a crashed helicopter.
Then we get to Joseph Frost, who has quite a bit of dialogue in the book (Which is more than you can say for the games) but nary a mention of his background, role in the team, or accomplishments. Joseph Frost was Alpha's Omni-man and mechanic. He's an absolutely critical to keeping the teams weapons and vehicles up and running, as well as being a critical team-member in the field. Yeah, he died in the intro-sequence of both versions of the first game, but he was still a critical member of the team! And they don't even mention him in the blurb on the back cover.
Then we get to the novels mentions of when S.T.A.R.S. was founded. The prologue states that it was founded in New York in 1967, while the guidebook for Resident Evil Zero (And all future supplementary material) have stated that it was founded in Raccoon City in 1996, two years before the start of the first game. This is easily forgiven, since they probably hadn't established the specific year the team was founded by the time this novel was published. Honestly, I prefer the idea that S.T.A.R.S. was founded more than two years before the start of the game, it's a little more believable. However, the book specifically mentions cult-affiliated terrorism, as if the regular kind wasn't bad enough, they had to bring demons into it. Who wants to bet that Sparda was a member of the original S.T.A.R.S. team in this universe?
They also mention there being multiple S.T.A.R.S. units across the country, which is something I figured should exist anyways, since the general timeline of the series matches up to the rise in actual terrorism in the real world.
Another strange thing is the fact that S.T.A.R.S. appears to operate internationally as well, since Barry brings up a S.T.A.R.S. mission in Ecuador he was involved in. No, not an Air Force mission, a S.T.A.R.S. mission.

So, the book starts out with the always lovely Jill Valentine being late to the S.T.A.R.S. mission-briefing, while going over her back-story. She's carrying way too many files in her arms and drops a few of them. See, this is why I always make two trips, it takes less time than trying to pick up everything you dropped. One of the files contains pictures from a coroners report, and we're treated to a little bit of back-story that was lifted from Hiroyuki Ariga's Resident Evil: The Book, sans the part where Jill became the hero to Raccoon City's children.
You see, Jill thought life in Raccoon City was boring. and far too perfect to last, and she was planning on quitting S.T.A.R.S. and leaving town before Becky and Priscilla McGee showed up on her doorstep asking for help looking for their dog. Subsequently, Jill became almost a surrogate mother to the two girls. And then they got lost during a family picnic and were killed. Take your pick if it was a Cerberus, a Hunter, a Crimson Head or a regular old zombie that did it.
Seeing these pictures strengthens her resolve, and she speeds off in her car towards the RCPD building.
Meanwhile, at the hall of justice, Chris Redfield is having a conversation with another of his old friends, Forest Speyer. Forest is another character that had little to no dialogue, even in the game that was supposed to be about Bravo Team.
Forest in this continuity is from southern Alabama, and has a southern-twang. Then again, this could be true in the main universe, because we've never actually heard Forest speak, much less gotten much back-story.
Forest and the rest of Bravo are about to fly out to the forest and search for the perpetrators of the recent murders, Bravo having already been briefed on the situation at hand.
Chris then grabs a can of club soda from the vending-machine. I'm a Mountain Dew guy myself, but whatever you like I guess.
We then come to another aspect of The Book that carries over into this, and if Jill's back-story being completely different didn't tell you that these two books take place in different continuities, this pretty much seals the deal.
Chris starts thinking about his old friend, Billy Rabitson. As before, he worked for Umbrella, and wound up vanishing. Not declared dead, just gone missing.
Billy called him up and told him to meet him at the diner in town, rather than at the lake, like in The Book. But he never showed up. Chris didn't run into any monsters at the diner, he just waited there for a few hours with nothing happening.
Let me explain the mindset I was in when I originally read this book. I had just finished Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Zero a month or two before I got my hands on this novel. Naturally, I figured that the "Billy" Chris was talking about had to be Billy Coen, the Marine who was framed for mass-murder and sentenced to death before escaping captivity due to a Cerberus attack. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Apparently Billy was only conceived during the initial development of Resident Evil Zero for the N64.
The S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team spends some time talking about the Spencer Mansion, which was built by George Trevor, who was a hot-shot architect who built a lot of crazy buildings back in the sixties, before vanishing entirely after completing the Spencer Mansion.
You'll remember George Trevor as the guy who got cut from the final version of RE1, and who was later included again in Resident Evil on the GameCube.
This actually fits pretty well into modern Resident Evil canon. I wonder if Capcom actually had their ducks in a row on this, or if they just decided to copy something out of the novel.
I found Alpha's discussion of tactics, the team's Q&A, and their planning quite interesting. Gets you wondering how a Resident Evil tactical RPG would go down. Then again, I'm the guy who wants a tactical RPG spinoff of everything ever, so I'm a little biased.
A few minutes later, the team gets a static-filled call from Bravo, telling them that the chopper is crashing, and then cutting out. Wesker mobilizes Alpha Team immediately, and gets them armed for bear and ready for anything.
Then we get to Wesker's internal narration, which sets up a very different picture of the character than you would think given what we know about him now. It makes it seem like he's actually the commander of the team, as opposed being just an infiltrator and conspirator. Upon rereading this book, I started wondering if Perry had maybe been writing this book before Wesker had even been confirmed to be the villain, which would have had to been sometime in 1995.
A guy named Trent ambushes Jill in the S.T.A.R.S. locker-room and gives her a heavily-modified handheld computer, (It's amazing how specialized technology had to be before smartphones came to be.) telling her that he's a friend to the team, and that he's loaded the thing with documents pertaining to the case before vanishing like he's the god-damn Batman.
We get some more character development on the flight out to the forest, Barry thinking about his history with the members of Bravo, Chris thinking about a fatal helicopter crash he was party to while he was in the air-force, (Maybe the one that got him discharged) and Jill thinking about what Trent told her.
Again, Joseph doesn't get a whole lot of development, but he's got a bit of personality to him, which is more than you can say for the games portrayal of him, where he was essentially just fodder for the Cerberus'.
Something that's a little strange is that Chris mentions that Forest is the pilot in this continuity. Now, they never established who Bravo's pilot was in the original game, but Resident Evil 2 and 3 showed Kevin Dooley (Who was Bravo's pilot in Zero and the remake) posing with the S.T.A.R.S. team in a picture on the wall of their office. I don't know if he was established as such, or even given a name then, so I can forgive this for now.
But, as far as the original continuity is concerned, Edward Dewey was a pilot who served as rear-security on Bravo-team. It was never actually stated whether he was their pilot, but he played a rather pivotal role in the opening of the first game. It was his hand that Joseph found in the field. We'll get to that little tidbit of story in a paragraph or two here.
They see smoke coming up from the trees, and they wonder how the chopper could have caught fire, considering that S.T.A.R.S. helicopters are supposed to be pretty much foolproof.
They get to the smoking helicopter and find that aside from the oil-fire in the engine, the vehicle is essentially intact. Aside from their side-arms and regular equipment, most of their loadout is still in the chopper.
Jill thinks that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, due to the fact that it's only been about fifteen minutes since they lost contact with Bravo. This is going to produce a bunch of plot-hiccups about the time the Resident Evil Zero adaptation rolls around, but that's something for a later date.
The team fans out to search the woods, and Joseph finds a severed-hand locked around the grip of a S.T.A.R.S.-issue Beretta. Jill and Wesker rush over towards him, since they didn't get a good look at what he found, but he's taken down by a pack of Cerberus' before they can get to him. Chris and Wesker unload their guns into the dogs, but they're too late to save Joseph.
They cease fire once they've killed the dogs, but are then set upon by the rest of the pack. Wesker orders them back to the chopper, almost as if he's got some actual concern for the lives of his team.
But, as it's gone in every. Single. Version of the story, Brad Vickers lives up to his nickname and chickens out, lifting up before Alpha can get in the chopper.
Alpha pours out hot-copper at the Cerberus pack until they manage to reach the Spencer Mansion and barricade the door.
For some reason, they mention that someone before them broke the lock before they got there. Mind you, they didn't break the deadbolt, just the regular latch. For some reason, Umbrella forgot to check the deadbolt. See, this lack of attention to detail is what caused the outbreak in the first place. At least if you're not counting Resident Evil Zero as canon.
Since we're actually getting into the meat of the game, we start seeing a lot of direct changes, as opposed to the indirect ones we've seen earlier. In order to get around the rather strange continuity issues of the original game, Perry combines the two stories, splitting the major events of the game between the two protagonists in some places, and combining them to make sure both characters experience the same thing in others.
Also, they completely ignore the fact that Chris doesn't have a gun in the game, and much for the better, because the games never actually provided a decent explanation, so why bother at all?
This is where the writing really comes into its own. Perry manages to capture the mechanics and general design of the game in such a manner that it actually out-performs the source-material in the atmosphere department. Aside from a few differences here and there, you'd almost think this was based on the 2002 remake. Even though they copy several lines of dialogue straight from the game, the horrible acting and direction doesn't carry over. Plus, a lot of the dialogue has been changed, except for some of the iconic lines.
And most of the time, whenever something strange is said, the narration of the characters mention that it's strange.
The little details are really what make this novel for me. The narration talks about the characters body-language, the intonation in their voice, and the way the character feels about the situation at-hand. The spirit of the story is kept, while removing things that would break the atmosphere. And they exploit George Trevor's eccentricity to explain not only the puzzles, but other aspects of the plot necessary to telling this kind of combined story. Since it's well-established within Resident Evil that George Trevor was pretty nuts, and that his employer, Oswell Spencer was equally eccentric when having his mansion designed, so this fits in pretty well with the canon as far as I'm concerned.
Chris investigates a crashing sound to the west of the foyer, and finds a zombie, who he then takes down with five shots, since it didn't go down too easily.
Naturally, Barry and Jill go off to investigate, leaving Wesker to stand guard in the foyer while he waits for backup, since they apparently don't have a radio on them. Never mind that there were decent radios handheld radios in the seventies, and that most police have decent radios on them at all times, apparently S.T.A.R.S. doesn't require radios as standard carry. For some reason.
Barry and Jill run into a zombie, which they kill, and the body of Kenneth Sullivan, who is depicted as having a missing arm in the book.
That's a little strange, to say the least, since his character model had both of its arms intact, even though he was missing his head. Also, I thought it was supposed to be Edward's arm they found in the courtyard, not Ken's. I mean, Ken is black, as the game shows, and the hand found in the opening FMV is obviously white, in all versions of the game. Then again, I like the fact that they found a way to tie up the loose-ends a bit, so let's just move on.
After they check all the doors and find them locked, they go back to the foyer and find that Wesker has vanished. They split up, and start searching the mansion.
Reading this for the first time, I thought that Wesker's motivations in this book were pretty decent, and looking at them for a second time, they're actually not bad. But he grabs the villain-ball a little too hard, and doesn't do things the logical way.
See, he vanishes without telling his team where he's going, and then takes a rather roundabout and bizarre approach to his end-goal.
See, Wesker was supposed to take the two S.T.A.R.S. teams into the mansion and blow it the hell up, and they weren't supposed to incur an casualties. Bravo's chopper going down was completely unplanned, as Wesker himself states.
But even now, there's no reason for him to abandon his team in this situation. He took stock of the situation, and determined that manipulating Barry Burton would help you out the most.
Or, you know. He could say that he found the master-key and code-list when you were searching the mansion. And you could explain your disappearance by saying you heard a scream coming from upstairs and went to investigate. That would easily work. His team trusts him. He could run around on his own, destroying all the evidence that attaches him to the mansion and laboratory. I mean, it's not like he doesn't have a decent amount of plausible deniability. It's not like this operation hasn't already gone belly-up, five of your team-mates are missing and possibly dead, you've been attacked by zombie dogs, and are now trapped inside a mansion designed by a lunatic. You can get away with a lot in this situation, especially considering the way S.T.A.R.S. works as both a unit, and in relation to the RCPD.
The way he brings this up to Barry is actually pretty dang stupid. Wesker's best two options in this situation would either be to stick with his team and not say anything while taking the initiative to getting ahold of evidence and destroying what points to him, or to go off on his own and destroy the evidence without raising the suspicions of his team and then make up an excuse as to where he went. Seriously. It doesn't make any sense.
Wesker takes such a bone-headed approach to this, that I wonder if someobody at Capcom said that he was being too nuanced, and needed to be more of a cackling "for the laughs" kind of villain. He could have kept his cover by looking for the key medallions himself, or by telling Barry that he'd found a note saying that there were medallion-keys scattered around the mansion and that he'd found a few keys labeled "master" and given one to Barry. And it's a shame, because I think that Wesker as a character has a lot of potential for interesting storytelling. At least in the game it was implied that Barry had found evidence linking Wesker to the crimes, and that Wesker had then blackmailed him into not saying anything about it, as opposed to just blowing his cover like that.
I've already covered the rest of the plot in previous reviews, so it'd just be redundant to go over it again. Instead, let's talk about some of my favorite moments from the book.
Thanks to this being a survival situation, the characters are forced to loot the corpses of their fallen comrades, and it's treated with the appropriate gravity. A moment that's stuck with me since I first read the book was when Chris found the eviscerated body of his best friend, Forest Speyer. You can practically feel him holding back tears upon seeing the body as he goes over how unjust the situation is, and you can practically feel the pain he's in as he's forced to scavenge equipment and ammunition from the corpse.
The book addresses a few logical flaws with the gameplay, using not just weapons to kill enemies, but brute-force as well, and not just working to solve the puzzles, but taking logical shortcuts that would make sense in real life. Yeah, it kinda ruins the pacing of the game, but it works better as a book this way.
The characters are pretty well developed over the course of the book, and I like what it does. Despite a few hiccups earlier in the story, it does actually manage to show that people lived and worked in the mansion before the outbreak. And they manage to give Wesker a few humanizing elements to his character as well. Not exactly enough to make him sympathetic, but enough that we know that he's got some kind of decent motivation. He's being paid to clean up this mess, and he wants to do as little work as possible. No, it's not exactly consistent with things he said earlier in the book, but it's at least something.
Something that I find a little strange is that the characters are a lot more foul-mouthed than they are in the games. Resident Evil was rated M, but this book came from the teen section of the library, with a teen age rating printed either on or in the book itself. I had to return the book, and I won't be able to get it back by the time this review needs to go live, so I'm just working off of notes I took last year that I'm unsure are entirely accurate.
Another odd thing is the fact that there are odd random typos spread throughout the book. As an officially licensed product based on the game that defined survival-horror, I'm sure Capcom would have wanted to take a little more care in proofreading it.
So, what did we gain from reading this book?
Well, we're introduced to an original character named Trent, who has a recurring role in the series, a few bastardized elements of Resident Evil: The Book and all in all a generally decent novel that does its job pretty well. It was a good read, and I highly recommend picking it up, if only because the flavor-text is brilliant. I would hope that the second edition fixed all the typos, but I don't know for sure whether it did or not. Wesker pretty much had no opening given in this book for him to come back to life, and the fact that he isn't killed by the Tyrant seems a bit anti-climactic, although he's still hoist by his own petard.
All in all, I liked it, and I'll probably read it again sometime. I'm gonna give it an 8.5* rating.

Thanks to everyone who's read my reviews for this years Thirty-One Days of Evil! I hope to see you again next year! Same bat-month, same bat-website!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Resident Evil: The Book

If you guys have seen some of my posts on Google+, you would know that I was planning to review S.D. Perry's Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy today. As you can tell by the title, that's not the case. Today, we're reviewing a little novel that was rather "creatively" titled Resident Evil: The Book.
Known as Biohazard: The Beginning in Japan, The Book was originally with the limited edition version of the Sega Saturn version of the first Resident Evil in Japan, as part of a compilation book titled; BIOHAZARD: The True Story Behind BIOHAZARD. It was released in 1997, and included a section of supplementary material for the game, the aforementioned Biohazard: The Beginning, and an interview with Shinji Mikami and the rest of the creative staff behind the first game, as well as sketches and concept art.
The supplementary material was titled "George Trevor's Notes" If you'll recall, George Trevor was a character that got cut from the final version of the original game, but was later added back into the remake, and The Umbrella Chronicles.
Since the original book was never released in outside Japan, there wasn't an official translation into English. I was able to find a fan translation, but it wasn't anywhere near being complete. It just translated Trevor's Notes and the first three chapters of Biohazard: The Beginning and stopped there. There were only two copies of the original book on eBay, and both of them were fairly exorbitantly priced for something I'm only gonna read once and then stick on my shelf for the rest of time. So I found the light novel, which actually was officially released in English, and we're going to be reviewing that today!
I have to apologize for the cover. I wasn't able to find an actual scan of it, just a low-resolution photograph of the cover. So I put it together the best I could based on that photo. It's not 100% perfect, but it's close enough for my purposes.
(Insert following message if needed) This review is going to be a little short, since this book is only about twenty pages long.
Having read the S.D. Perry novels in their entirety before having read this novel, I can see that it was a direct inspiration for Perry's books. The details are slightly different, but they're pretty similar. According to, Capcom told Perry to use certain details from this book when writing her first Resident Evil book, The Umbrella Conspiracy.
According to (And their translation of The True Story Behind Biohazard) and, this book was written by Hiroyuki Ariga. I can't find any kind of information on who translated the official version of the book at this moment. Since I didn't have as much time to prepare for this review as I did for the comics and my upcoming novel reviews, I've got to rush to get the review out as opposed to talked about the background of the book as much as I would like.
Compared to the books that follow it (at least Perry's books. I haven't gotten around to the Japanese exclusive novels or the novelizations of the movies) this book is rather unique, in that it's told from the first-person perspective of Chris Redfield as opposed to the third-person viewpoint that later books would take. It actually serves to help you get into the mindset of the characters moreso than a third-person perspective would in this situation, which is something I felt that the Perry novels lacked, but I'll get to that next time.
So, this book is a lot like Marvel's first and only Resident Evil comic in the fact that it takes place entirely before the start of the game, and ends with Alpha landing in the Arklay Mountains.
That's where the similarities enough though, since this book takes us off the rails of the typical Resident Evil story pretty quickly.
Chris and a few of the other characters have their back-stories expanded beyond what we initially saw in the game, as well as having the general back-story for the game expanded upon. Although it doesn't fit into modern continuity, that's not the books fault, since the people at Capcom hired Ariga to write the back-story for the game, and then decided to completely disregard it in future installments. Because Capcom apparently does this a lot.
This is something which irritates me about a lot of ongoing multimedia franchises. Continuity is established between the main series and certain pieces of tie-in material, and then is erased by future installments of the main series, either by simple contradiction, direct dismissal, or simply by ignoring them.
We'll get into this a lot more next year when we cover further tie-ins and adaptations. I have a feeling it's gonna get pretty hairy when we finally reach the live-action movies and the Chronicles games.
So, let's go ahead and crack the book open and start the review! Spoilers inbound, since we're analyzing plot continuity here.
The Book starts out with Chris talking about how he hates being woken up in the middle of the night by phonecalls, since whenever he gets a call late at night, it's usually because someone he knows has died.
In this continuity, Chris's parents were killed in an accident, and that left him and his sister, Claire orphaned. They don't mention what age they were when this happened, so we don't know if Chris wound up having to practically raise Claire like he did in the Perry continuity.
What we do know is that in the universe of this novel, Chris had a childhood friend named Billy Rabitson, who went on to work for Umbrella after college, while Chris went into the Air-Force, where he then met Barry Burton. Absolutely no mention of Forest Speyer, who is supposed to be Chris's best friend. Mind you, I can't find anything telling me when Forest was established as such. It's definitely implied, if not outright stated in The Umbrella Chronicles, but I can't find out if it was established prior to the writing of this novel. The closest thing I can find is an offhand mention that they clicked immediately when they first met in the manual of the first game, but there's no mention of when they met. I even checked out the UK version of the manual, and the Directors Cut manual. Surprise, the UK version of Forest's bio was copied and pasted from the American manual, and the Directors Cut manual had the content of the cast bios changed almost entirely.
I asked around on social media to try and find out, even searching out a few Resident Evil fan communities to try and get an answer, but all I got was people telling me that they didn't know.
Anyways, Chris is rather perplexed by this call, because Billy is supposed to be dead, having apparently been killed in a air-plane crash with twelve other people about three months prior.
Billy insists that he's not dead, and tells the naturally suspicious Chris to meet him in Silent Hi- I mean the park near Victory Lake so he can explain what's going on in person, because he's worried about Umbrella listening in on their phone-calls. If he was worried about that, why did he call in the first place? Why didn't he just show up on Chris's doorstep and talk to him if he was that worried about it? Maybe he was calling from a payphone, who knows?
Chris hops into his Shelby Cobra and speeds off to the lake, and reminisces about his history with Billy. Billy was a straight-A student, while Chris barely made passing grades.
I'd just like to point out that up until now, the only places that actually mention Chris's history were the manuals for the game, and from what I've read out of them, they consistently state that Chris is extremely intelligent.
After that, Chris then goes on to recap the rest of his back-story, which seems to fit into the current lore of the series fairly decently.
Then Chris almost runs a woman down because he was going at well over twice the speed-limit, and he swerves to avoid her. He then gets out of his car and finds out the woman was covered in gaping wounds.
Naturally, this makes Chris a little uneasy. He hears a cry from a nearby car and dashes to his vehicle to get his Samurai Edge out. He's then attacked by what I presume to be a Hunter (Although it could easily be a massive Cerberus) and he empties his gun into it. The result is a little strange, because the book describes his bullets as bouncing off of the creature. Whereas in the game, the handgun had some effect on the Hunters, and got used pretty often (In my playthrough at least) against the Cerberus. And if it's not a Cerberus, then it doesn't make sense, because Chris later describes it as a massive dog.
Chris then investigates the car and finds a man whose body has been torn to shreds. He then radios the RCPD to come cordon off the area and waits until he hears them approaching before leaving the scene of the crime..
Naturally, this makes Chris late for his meeting, and he finds that Billy has apparently left the lake area. He searches the boathouse, the surrounding woods, and finds one half of a matching pair of necklaces he gave Billy and his fiance, Rose.
He then returns to the scene of the murders earlier, and is confronted by Brian Irons, Chief of the RCPD, who asks why Chris left the scene of the crime.
This would be a perfectly legitimate question if we didn't already know that Chief Irons was evil, and part of the conspiracy.
Chris naturally doesn't explain to him what his actual intentions were, since Irons is a massive tool, on top of being a self-righteous prat, and wouldn't appreciate his motivations even if he wasn't on Umbrella's payroll.
Apparently in this continuity the case has been going on for about six months, and the Chief is on Chris's back for not solving the case immediately.
Chris then decides to go over the back-story of the town and S.T.A.R.S. It was a small town before, but then Umbrella came to town and the population started to increase exponentially. With that, came an influx of crime and terrorism, so they decided to form S.T.A.R.S., the Special Tactics and Rescue Service, which was paid for in half by Umbrella.
Chris gives an abridged summary of events to the Deputy Chief (Who hates Irons as much as everyone else does) and then takes off back home, wondering how he was going to get in touch with Billy.
The next day, Chris shows up at the RCPD building to find Barry and Wesker having an argument. Something I really like about this book is that it doesn't make Wesker an obvious villain, and that it doesn't make Umbrella's involvement seem quite so obvious. Wesker being the main villain of the series is so ingrained in popular culture that it's refreshing to see a potentially non-villainous version of him ever now and again. The Marvel version seemed more like a reluctant participant in the whole ordeal, and he rounded up Alpha to rescue Bravo at the earliest opportunity he had. And who knows? The Wesker in this book doesn't even seem to have any kind of participation in the conspiracy. Based on his dialogue, he seems about as irritated with Iron's inaction as Barry and Chris are, he just doesn't get nearly as angry as Barry does about it.
Chris notices that Jill and Joseph are as frustrated as he is with the situation, since S.T.A.R.S. was formed as a proactive group, the kinda team that can respond to a situation quickly and efficiently. Not a glorified SWAT team.
Chris explains what happened in the road last night (Leaving out the part about Billy) and Wesker asks him for a written report. Jill then tells Chris that his story didn't seem complete, and he tells her that he's waiting for the right time to fill in the rest of the details.
Chris then goes over Jill's back-story, explaining how good she is with kids, and how she became the hero of many of the youngsters in the town. And then this whole incident started, and a pair of little girls that Jill had practically been a surrogate mother to had been killed. They'd wandered away from the family campsite, and had been found after an hour-long manhunt, mangled horribly.
Chris then goes on to mention that a city as small as Raccoon shouldn't be able to afford to be as posh as it is, with a tax-base of about 300,000. Naturally, this is all thanks to Umbrella.
Chris drives up to the Umbrella Corporation headquarters, and he describes how opulent it is. Chris BS's his way into the Human Resources office, and fails to get any relevant information out of Umbrella, except for the fact that they're not saying a single word to him about what Billy was working on. Chris heads back home and checks his answering machine. While he does so, he senses something is wrong and goes to grab his shotgun, and Colt .45. He is then promptly attacked by zombies, and barely survives, managing to drive them away before meeting Jill, who was on her way to talk to him when her motorcycle broke down.
They get into Chris's car, and he takes her to Billy's cabin to investigate. On the way, Jill explains that Irons is hounding Wesker to find out where Chris went after his encounter with the creature, and that Irons also got a call from Umbrella HR about Chris's visit earlier. Chris fills her in on the details of Billy's case, and they then head off to his cabin.
The cabin is locked, so Jill picks it open, and after some investigation, they get attacked by some zombies, and Billy shows up out of nowhere to tell them that they need to shoot for the head, as it's "The only way to kill a zombie"
Yeah, all those zombies I killed in the first game by slashing their shins would like to disagree with you, William, buddy.
Chris and Jill manage to fight off some of the zombies, but the remaining trio of undead Crimson Heads (At least, that's what they've got to be, otherwise the mentions of their claws doesn't make any sense.
Billy barely manages to tell them about the secret laboratory he escaped from, and the effects of the T-Virus before he succumbs to his wounds.
Chris and Jill escape the cabin and speed off in Chris's car, making their way to the RCPD building to tell their team-mates what happened.
This is where the possibility of continuity with the game breaks down a bit, since Richard Aiken is still in the S.T.A.R.S. office, as opposed to being with Bravo Team like he's supposed to be. I don't know if this was something changed before this book was published, but I'd doubt that, since the original printing came out a whole year after the original game hit shelves, and there are demo builds from before then that showed Richard being part of Bravo Team.
Speaking of which, Bravo Team has just vanished, and Aiken and Wesker are worried.
Wesker tells Chris and Jill that he noticed a pattern to the attacks, that they were all surrounding the old Spencer Mansion, so he sent in Bravo to investigate the mansion. That was three hours prior, and they haven't had any communication since.
Chris and Jill fill Wesker in on the entire situation. Billy, the zombies, the dogs, the T-Virus, and the faked plane-crash.
Wesker says that it's crazy, but it makes perfect sense. So he rounds up Alpha Team, arms them to the teeth, and sets out for the mansion in force to bring Bravo back.
All in all, this is a very good novella, and it's well worth reading if you can find it. It's just a shame that it was never given a proper conclusion. It stands on its own as a unique version of the Resident Evil story, and if it was part of an ongoing series as opposed to a one-shot light novel, I'd gladly pick up more books in the series. But, as we'll see, this is a trend with the Resident Evil books.
Now, does it fit into either modern, or then-current continuity? Unfortunately (Or fortunately, depending on your perspective) that's a no on both counts. There are a few members of the in-game Bravo Team listed as members of Alpha Team, Wesker seems like he's a good-guy in this continuity, and finally, Alpha goes into their situation with far too much knowledge for the events of the beginning of the game to realistically happen to them. I wouldn't believe that anyone from Alpha would have died in the ways they did in the opening FMV of the original game. Plus, we don't even know if Brad is still a coward in this story.
So, all in all, this was a great book that was let-down by the fact that it was never given a conclusion.
Then again, if it had, there's a possibility it could have gone completely off the rails. But we'll get to that when we review the Code: Veronica and Zero Hour books.
In the end, I give this short little book a 10.1* rating. Next time we see each other, I'll be concluding this year's 31 Days of Evil with what I was scheduled to do today, S.D. Perry's Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy!

Monday, October 19, 2015

WildStorm's Resident Evil #1: Part 4 (Finale)

Okay! We're wrapping this up today! This is the final story in WildStorm's Resident Evil #1, and it's called Raccoon City: R.I.P. Let's crack it open and finish this up so we can move onto the first novel before the month is up!
We open to what might be the Spencer mansion exploding with a KA-BOOM!
In the upper-left we see a helicopter whose blades seem to have been stopped rotating. I can't really tell, since they don't have any movement lines around the blades. Also, there's no rear-rotor on it either, which leads me the believe that maybe this chopper is just crashing.
Then we move down the page and see a glowing green vial floating in the air near the water. So yeah, this can't be the Spencer mansion. It's too close to the coast.
Moving onto page thirty-five, we see a man sitting in his home watching the news. For some reason, the newscasters dialogue is presented in narration boxes instead of word-balloons, which makes it seem like the newscaster isn't actually talking, just sort of thinking the script.
The man watching TV gets up to get a glass of water, and we see that his hands are covered in blisters.
Then we cut to him sitting in a chair, and we see that he's obviously in the latter stages of zombification.
The news report says that the "industrial accident" was contained and that the reports of the cities water-supply becoming contaminated are false (Yeah, right)
He then goes on to say that Raccoon City health-officials have reported an outbreak of a new strain of the flu (See previous comment) and tells the citizens to report to their doctors if they see any of the symptoms. Almost-zombie dude decides he needs to go downtown to see his doctor even though his speech is obviously starting to fail him.
He then steps out in front of a car driven by Ada Wong and nearly gets run-over by her. She swerves to miss him, and front-ends a tree. She gets out of the car and asks him "What the hell?" quite naturally. She notices that his skin is inflamed, and he reaches out at her. She shoves him away, and pulls out her pistol, blowing his head off. But, for some reason, we also see blood pouring out the back of his torso, despite the fact that we clearly see Ada aiming at the guys neck.
On the next page, William Birkin (Not looking like anything like he did in Dangerous Secrets) is just finishing up on his synthesis of the G-Virus before Ada bursts in and demands to know what's going on. She demands to know where John is, but Birkin apparently doesn't know. He tells her that the G-Virus is finished, but she's more worried about heat from S.T.A.R.S. Birkin tells her not to worry, since Brian Irons is on the Umbrella payroll, and is telling the media nothing's wrong.
Some guy in the vents says out-loud that he needs to get out of there. They don't specify whether or not he means the town, or just the lab.
Moving onto page thirty-eight, the guy climbing around in the vets walks into a bar and asks for a drink, telling the bartender to get out of town. Then, some zombies burst through the window behind them, and the bartender pulls out a shotgun and blasts them with it, while the reporter hightails it out the back-door.
He shows up at Kendo's Gun-Shop (From Resident Evil 2 and 3) and walks in, probably looking to buy some firearms. A guy who looks a bit like Steven Seagal crossed with Randolf Mantooth (Not something I'd like to see, I like Randolph Mantooth the way he is) buys a shotgun with a few boxes of shells. George (No, that's not his name in the games, he's supposed to be named Robert) hands him his purchases, and mentions that he's sold more in a single day than he has in the rest of the year.
The guy buying the gun mentions that he's fixed the electrical grid at the local zoo and heads on home to lock himself in and sit tight until the zombie apocalypse blows over.
Stevetooth gets into his van and realizes he's almost out of gas, so he pulls into a gas-station with an ad for Raccoon City Cigarettes above it. Also, looking at the architecture, I can tell that Raccoon City is supposed to be New York. Considering that one of the games all but confirms that Raccoon City is on Manhatten Island, this essentially confirms my theory that Raccoon City is a made-up version of New York, NY. Then again, they sometimes try and say that it's a small town in the midwest, I'm not entirely sure what Capcom's official position is on the subject of the location of the city.
Whatshisname wonders where the attendant is like this is the '50s, and speak of the devil, the zombified attendant sneaks up behind him and shoves the gas-pump down the guys throat. The cigarette the guy was smoking falls to the ground and ignites a pool of gasoline, blowing up his van, himself, and the zombie. See people, this is why those signs tell you not to smoke, because of Zombie Sneak Attacks.
A fat trucker chomping on a Hershey's bar sighs in relief that he didn't get blown-up, but then gets attacked by two zombies.
Okay, first question. The zombies were at least four feet away from him, and he's only a couple of feet away from his truck. Why didn't he just make a mad-dash for the truck and lock himself inside? Resident Evil zombies aren't that fast, and even fat Bob here should be able to get to his truck and lock himself inside!
Second question. On the very next page Leon Scott Kennedy, is shown to be a couple of feet away from them. Therefore, he could have pulled off a shot or two at the zombies without hitting Bob, and gotten their attention long enough for Bob to get into his truck. Then he could have killed both of the zombies, and saved someones life! The question I have is this: Why didn't he do that? He's a decent shot, and he's got two guns to his name right now!
Thus, we wrap up the final story in this issue. Something I'd like to comment on is that occasionally, out of nowhere, some panels in the comic just don't have backgrounds. Also, the exploding building at the beginning of the story is never explained, we never get to see how Ada managed to get to Birkin's lab, there's no way in hell that those two zombies could have smashed through that window (I've accidentally walked into plate-glass windows before, and they don't break that easily) nobody seems too perturbed by all the zombies running around until they're mere inches away from them, and for some reason, Leon looks completely different than he did earlier in the comic. Granted, he looks a lot better than he did earlier, but it's still not consistent.
That's the problem with this comic, they've essentially slapped four short comics into a single book. They have three different art-styles in this book, and that leads to a lot of inconsistent art.
For instance, Leon in Dangerous Secrets was wearing body-armor as part of his uniform, his undershirt was fairly loose on him (As opposed to the tight compression shirt he was wearing in the game), and had the RPD (Not RCPD for some reason) initials placed fairly low on his abdomen. In Raccoon City: R.I.P. he's entirely unarmored, his undershirt looks a lot more like it did in the game, and the R.P.D. initials are centered on his pectoral muscles. Both versions are missing Leon's elbow-pads, the badge on  his shoulder, and his fingerless gloves.
This story is okay, I suppose. The problem is that it's got nothing to do with the events of the first game.
This is an issue with the comic as a whole, since it seems to spend way too much time setting up Resident Evil 2 instead of adapting the plot of the first game. This story is kinda cool to read, but it would do a lot better as part of a Resident Evil 2 comic, as opposed to being in a comic based on the first game. In the end, I give this story a 6.2* rating. It's good, but I don't see a whole lot of point to it. It's ten pages of setup for Resident Evil 2, when they could have just spent that same amount of time on the plot of the first game.
This problem is actually present throughout the entirety of the comic. While the first and second stories were perfectly fine, and actually pretty entertaining, they don't really serve any purpose. This is a forty-three page comic based on a twenty-hour game, with only fourteen pages dedicated to the actual plot of the game! And even that is heavily summarized!
They spent an entire page yammering about how they wanted to make something entirely new, and yet they wind up borrowed heavily from the Marvel comic, be it names and plot-points, or bits of the artwork. Then they spent two pages on an interview with Shinji Mikami that would have taken up a single page had they not filled the margins with their rushed-out sketches of characters removed from the final game.
Now, while I liked the interview, it's still two pages taken away from the story of the comic.
Funny how they spend so much time setting up their Resident Evil 2 comic, but ignore so much of the plot of that game!
Yes, I know that this comic came out shortly after the release of Resident Evil 2, and comics usually have several months of lead-time before publishing, but this was an officially licensed product. These guys should have had access to the actual game!
I know that Resident Evil 2 went through a lot in its development process, and I know that they scrapped a few builds before finishing it, but there was a demo of the finished game put out in '97 with the Directors Cut of the game, they could have done a little bit of fact-checking even if they didn't have direct access to Capcom personnel and Capcom's story. Granted, it's possible that they didn't have that kind of access, but considering they claim they did have direct access on the very first page of the magazine, I'm not sure if they have any kind of excuse for this kind of story disconnect.
Yes, some things might have changed from the time they got their information to the time the game went gold, but I know for a fact that some things didn't change, even from the earliest stages of development. Leon Scott Kennedy was an RCPD officer in the earliest build of Resident Evil 2 that I could find, commonly referred to as Resident Evil 1.5. His character model didn't even change between 1.5 and the finished build of RE2. This comic refers to him as a member of S.T.A.R.S, which would be perfectly fine if they'd bothered to removing the R.P.D. initials from his shirt, and adding a S.T.A.R.S. emblem to his shoulder.
You know, they could have even made S.T.A.R.S. into a national organization if they'd bothered removing the "Raccoon City Police Department" from their emblem!
So, the magazine is inconsistent between the art and the writing, it's inconsistent between the different stories, the art ranges from really good to stuff that looks like the artist accidentally turned in their first-draft sketches instead of the finished product.
Not to mention the fact that they get oh-so-much wrong as far as the visual-design goes. A lot of the monsters in this comic are oversized, and the artists seem to have a weird fascination with drawing characters that have been disemboweled.
Also, the opening authors note says that we'll get a peek at the "Original Japanese character sketches for Resident Evil 2." I don't know if there are pages missing from my copy of the comic, but the only sketches included in this magazine are ones done by Carlos D'Anda of the characters that got cut from the first game, as opposed to the second one!
So, in the end, this comic is pretty disappointing. It's a glorified clipshow with a handful of details that don't really need to be here. If they'd spent the length of the comic actually adapting the plot of the first game, or at least part of the first game, then maybe they could have had a more coherent story. If this had been a bi-monthly comic instead of a quarterly one, they probably would have been able to adapt the first game in its entirety, tell their background story, and set up Resident Evil 2 without having to cram it all into a single magazine.
In the end, it's not a very good comic. The individual stories (Except for the third story) are alright, but this isn't what I'd expect from a Resident Evil comic.
All in all, I'll give it a 4.9* rating. It's below-par, the writing is inconsistent, and while I liked the stories, it didn't do what was expected of it. Namely, adapting the plot of the first Resident Evil. This whole comic just seems like they wanted to retell what the Marvel comic did their way and then rush to set up their Resident Evil 2 comic. Odd, since this comic was released quarterly, and wouldn't see another issue for at least two months.

So, that concludes my review of the first issue of WildStorm's Resident Evil series. We'll get back to it later on in the month if I can get through the first Resident Evil novel quickly enough.

Friday, October 16, 2015

WildStorm's Resident Evil #1: (Part 3)

Hello everyone! Welcome back to the WildStorm Resident Evil reviews!
Last time, we analyzed the plot and artwork of the second story in the magazine, "Who are these guys?" (And in case you want to find it, here's the review of the first story)
On the pages between the end of "Who Are These Guys" and the start of todays story, "Dangerous Secrets" there's an interview between Shinji Mikami, the creator of Resident Evil, and someone from WildStorm about the design of the original game, as well as some content that was cut from the final product. I say "someone" because it doesn't actually tell us who's conducting the interview. They just use the initials "WS"
Anyways, the interview is pretty interesting for someone like me, who's interested in game design, as well as the Resident Evil series. Mikami talks about how he wanted to make a game that could both scare the player and be enjoyable as well.
He also mentions that his inspiration for the zombies as the main antagonists in the game was George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.
Mikami mentions that the American version of the game was made much harder than the Japanese version because they wanted rental copies of the game to not be beaten during the rental period.
Looking back at my playthrough of Resident Evil, it didn't exactly take me a single day to beat it. Eventually I'm gonna go back and play through the original game and the remake on the harder difficulties for the sake of putting together a better playthrough for my channel.
Mikami also mentions that there were two characters that wound up being cut from the final game. One was a man with an infrared scope in place of his missing eye and a pair of automatic shotguns strapped to his back. There's a drawing of him on the second page of the interview by Carlos D'Anda, which looks like someone took Barry Burton and combined him with Albert Wesker and Cable from The X-Men. This is an example of pretty good '90s artwork, but that's just because he looks like Cable. Mikami mentions that this character was eventually refined into Barry Burton.
The second character who was cut was a lanky comedy character, who was intended to contrast with the horror of the game. Considering how comedic the final version of the game was, I have to wonder how his comedy would have been written. I wonder if the intentional humor would have been as funny as the unintentional comedy.
The drawing of this character looks like a mashup of Forest Speyer and Kenneth Sullivan, with a few elements of Barry and Chris thrown in for the hell of it. I don't like the drawing of him as much as I liked the other. Neither of them are particularly well-polished, but the inked outlines on this drawing look sloppy, and the coloring is a bit muddy.
Let's move on from these pages and dig into the third story; "Dangerous Secrets"
We open to a full-page spread of what I assume is supposed to be the S.T.A.R.S. office in the RCPD building. We can see four of the five (Technically six, but we won't see Wesker again until Code:V) surviving members of the team gathered around a large table. Fortunately, all of the characters look more like their concept art than they did in the last two stories. Jill's arms are still a little too slender for the level of training she's supposed to have, but at least she's not as off-model as she was in the last story. Also, they seem to have four massive flat-screen TV's attached to the ceiling. One shows the smoldering remains of the mansion, another shows the approximate blast radius of the self-destruct charges, one just has static, and the last monitor shows the heat-signature of the burning forest.
Something weird I noticed is the art. This and the last story were both penciled by the same person, Carlos D'Anda. All three of these stories so far have all been inked by the same person too, Mark Irwin.
The thing is that everyone on this page actually resembles their in-game counterparts, including Jill. For the most part, this carries through the rest of the story (aside from some coloring issues) and it's just kind of strange that Jill looked so terrible at the end of the last story.
The narration captions let us know that this is the main debriefing room at S.T.A.R.S. headquarters, two days after the surviving S.T.A.R.S. members escaped the mansion.
First things first, this looks nothing like the conference-room from the RCPD building. Second, we repeat the problem of the first story where the members of S.T.A.R.S. are wearing their combat gear even when they're inside their own headquarters and off-duty. It's like they haven't changed out of their gear in three days.
Chris is taking charge, and mentions that it's his job to make sure that nothing like the mansion incident ever happens again.
Excuse me, but who put you in charge? Wesker's presumed dead, and Chief Irons has it out for the S.T.A.R.S. members. I know S.T.A.R.S. is supposed to be independent from the RCPD, but who exactly appointed Chris the head of this S.T.A.R.S. team? I'm not averse to Chris leading the remaining members of S.T.A.R.S, but I'd just like to know who put him in charge and how the command-structure of S.T.A.R.S. works in this continuity.
This whole story is essentially a summarized version of the game. Narration from Chris explains that a week ago, they got a request from the RCPD for them to help in the investigation into the recent rash of brutal murders.
Bravo was sent in to investigate the forest, but their chopper  broke down, and they had to make an emergency landing. Rebecca mentions that they survived the crash, but were immediately attacked by the Cerberus's in the area. Naturally, they booked it out of there and took cover in the mansion. Once inside, they split up to secure the area.
This contradicts modern canon quite a bit, since they didn't go directly to the mansion, instead finding a Jeep overturned in the woods with a pair of dead MP's in it. Rebecca was caught on a train and met up with Billy Coen, but anyone who's played Resident Evil Zero knows that. But as far as then-current canon goes, it fits perfectly. Then again, Resident Evil Zero is barely canon anyways, so it doesn't really matter.
Rebecca questions the loyalties of Enrico because he was the one who told them to split-up. That's incredibly unfair, but that's also beside the point, so let's move on.
Chris's narration boxes mention that they lost contact with Bravo, and so Alpha was sent in. They don't mention that Brad panicked and flew off in their helicopter after Joseph was eaten by the Cerberus, just that Chris, Barry, Jill, and Wesker made it to the mansion intact. Not mentioning the fact that Alpha was attacked shortly after they landed makes you wonder why they went to the mansion, especially since Chris mentions that they didn't know Bravo was inside the mansion.
Before moving onto the next page, we're going to look at the art on this page, page twenty.
The first panel shows a newspaper with a dead hiker on the front page. He appears to be surrounded by intestines, but it seems like there are too many around him to actually fit into his body. Also, we see Carlos D'Anda's name on the newspaper for some reason. Is that supposed to be the name of the hiker? I don't know.
The second panel is showing Bravo's chopper from below as they fly into the forest. This looks pretty good, aside from the incredibly out-of-place smoke drawing. It looks like something made of plastic, rather than a plume of smoke coming out of the chopper.
The third panel shows Rebecca sitting in a chair, talking. This panel is fine, aside from the white outline of Rebecca's glove against the table, which makes it look like it's not supposed to be there.
The final panel on this page is supposed to show Chris, Jill, Barry and Wesker running into the mansion, but we only see three of them clearly to tell that they're actually the S.T.A.R.S. team, but we see five figures on this page, including the three people who are clearly S.T.A.R.S. members, which doesn't really make sense. Maybe one is a zombie.
Moving onto the next page, we see Chris standing behind a zombie who's eating Kenneth's intestines. Chris's narration captions mention that fact, and then Jill says that she heard a scream from upstairs (No she didn't, because the only sounds they heard in the game were gunshots from the west-wing of the mansion.) and decided to investigate. She found the body of Forest Speyer with his eyes gouged out by birds.
The first of the three panels on this page shows the zombie eating Kenneth, as I mentioned before.
Here's the problem. In the game, the zombie was chewing on Ken's throat, and hadn't torn out his guts.
First off, what's the obsession with drawing intestines sprawled out around dead bodies? There always seem to be more intestines around the bodies than the human body actually has.
Second, in the game, Ken was lying on his back. In this, he's sort-of laying on his side. He's also got a massive chunk out of his skull for some reason. Another thing, how did that zombie manage to rip through Kenneth's Kevlar vest? Those things can stop bullets and knives, but not the teeth and nails of a rotting corpse? And yes, later on in the comic they actually confirm that their S.T.A.R.S. vests are made of Kevlar.
Also, Kenneth is missing the S.T.A.R.S. lettering on his shoulder emblem. Remember that, it's gonna come up later.
Moving onto the second panel on the page, Jill looks kinda sleepy. Considering what she's been through, I wouldn't be surprised if she hasn't had much sleep the last two days.
The final panel on the page shows Forest getting his eyes ripped-out by the birds. This panel is fine, but the problem is that Forest was leaning up against the railing of the balcony in the game. But in the comic, he's lying on his back.
Page twenty-two is a little strange. The narration captions are the same color as Chris's, but the comic cuts to pictures of Jill's eyes between the panels, implying that she's the one who's narrating right now. But if she was, wouldn't the boxes be a different color? Also, why are Chris's narration boxes yellow in this comic? His vest is green, and that's the color one would normally associate with him. Either that, or the brownness of his hair, but then again, everyone's hair is brown in this.
Whoever the hell is narrating this says that they found Richard Aiken after being bitten and tried to save him, but he died in their arms. This panel makes me wonder how exactly he managed to survive his encounter with the Yawn when he was halfway into its mouth.
As they went through the Spencer Mansion, they ran around, killing monsters and then eventually found Enrico Marini in the caverns below the mansion, but Wesker shot him dead before he could tell them anything more than the fact that there was a traitor in S.T.A.R.S.
Chris says that with the evidence found by himself, Jill, and Barry, he was able to piece together what happened at the mansion.
It's pretty much note for note what the plot of the game was. Wesker was a plant inside S.T.A.R.S. by Umbrella, and Umbrella wants to create supersoldiers, so they set up their laboratory inside an old mansion in the middle of nowhere because nobody really gave a damn about that area of the forest.
Umbrella discovered the T-Virus, and found out that exposing certain humans and animals to it caused them to become either zombies like most of the humans and the Cerberus's or just massive creatures like The Yawn or The Neptune.
Chris (Or whoever is narrating this) says that it creates the perfect soldier. "Mindless... Fearless... Deadly... And easily disposable."
No, they're not. For one thing, they're impossible to control, and for another thing, the zombification was an accident. Even back in the original game, they didn't know what it was going to do when it was applied to different forms of life. It caused The Neptune and The Yawn to have massive growth-spurts, and Plant 42 metamorphosed into a massive predatory monster. And lest we forget, a strain of the virus also turned Wesker into a death-defying superhuman.
Chris goes on to say that apparently Umbrella wanted to test the effects of the T-Virus on humans, and sacrificed their own researchers for the sake of that.
While Umbrella is the kind of company I'd expect that from, the mansion incident was almost certainly an accident in the original game, and an act of malice by someone who had been betrayed by the Umbrella Corporation in modern continuity. Yeah, the higher-ups at Umbrella did their best to keep the researchers sequestered after infection and also tried to cover everything up afterwards, but the initial outbreak wasn't done on purpose. It wasn't in Umbrella's best interest to infect their research team. And yeah, they should have handled the outbreak better if they really wanted to keep everything under-wraps, but they didn't really know the capabilities of what they were working with. Yes, Umbrella is pretty cartoonish, but they weren't nearly that dumb. The fact of the matter was that the original outbreak was an accident, but some people suspected it was done on purpose. It turned out that it was, but the person who started the whole thing wasn't actually working for Umbrella at the time. Mind you, I tend to prefer to think that Resident Evil 0 doesn't exist, since it serves only to raise questions that are never answered.
Chris goes on to say that he found a letter in the mansion written by John Fay, who was the main character of the second story in the magazine; "Who are these guys?" that confirmed that John had been exposed in that manner.
Yeah, no. I know this could happen either way in the game, but in the comic Jill was the one who found John's office, and Chris was nowhere to be seen.
Chris goes on to say that once humans got exposed and escaped (Completely glossing over the Cerberus's that were running around and who, might I remind you, killed Joseph, one of Chris's teammates) and started terrorizing the area around the town. This narration box is over a picture of a pair of Hunters ripping and tearing some huge guts. Here's the problem. The Hunters aren't actually human. They're part human, but they weren't originally human. They're formed from mixing human DNA and reptilian DNA together and exposing  the resulting life-form it to the T-virus. Also, before we move onto the next panel, let's talk about how big the Hunters are compared to the pile of bodies we can see to the left. Yes, the Hunters are supposed to be large, but they're not bigger than human-beings. They're shorter than Jill is in the game!
Here, we can clearly see that they're bigger than the T-002 Tyrant. They're possibly bigger than the Nemesis is! They're also chowing down on some intestines! Gotta love the taste of bowels!
Also, they have weird splotches all over their skin for some reason. Which doesn't make any sense, because the Hunters weren't rotting corpses.
Moving on, Chris mentions that he guesses that Umbrella wanted to test the effectiveness of their T-Virus enhanced supersoldiers against the best of the best. Well, that's sort of true. They wanted to test out the effectiveness of the Hunters, and the Tyrant. But above all else, S.T.A.R.S. was supposed to be the cleanup crew. Umbrella was using S.T.A.R.S. as damage-control, unbeknownst to them. The problem was, they weren't able to completely scrub the mansion of all evidence before they had to send in S.T.A.R.S. because of public demand, which was why Wesker had to handle the evidence cleanup on-site while S.T.A.R.S. was inside the mansion.
Then they go on to reiterate the issue of Bravo being "inexperienced" and being used as the warmup to the main event. Yeah, no. Bravo was just as well-trained as Alpha.
Chris goes on to mention that they discovered Wesker's betrayal the hard way, after finding that Jill was locked up by Wesker.
Before we move on, let's analyze the art. Since I've already covered the Hunters on the first panel, let's skip to the second one.
It's a picture of Chris leaning against the table, holding his right arm out. For some reason, his right hand looks too small for his arm. Not to mention the fact that his mouth looks like he's whistling, rather than talking. Then we come to the S.T.A.R.S. patch on his left arm. First off, the patch is golden-brown, rather than blue, like it's supposed to be. It's almost never colored properly in this story. And the stars in the center of the emblem look nothing like they're supposed to. Plus, the lettering is all derpy. We'll see more of this in the rest of the story.
The next panel is a good drawing of the T-002 Tyrant in its stasis tank.
Then we move onto the fourth panel, which shows a view of Bravo's helicopter from below, with zombies all around.
Then we get to the final panel on the page, which is Jill in the cell. Jill essentially looks fine, but the wall is covered in splotches for some reason.
Then we move onto page twenty-five. They poke a little fun at the non-canon status of the game, since Jill and Chris remember two different versions of events. One where Chris rescued Jill, and one where Jill rescued Chris.
Chris found Rebecca (With no explanation as to how) Chris and Rebecca headed for the control-room, where they met Wesker, who unloaded his pistol into Rebecca. Rebecca pipes up on this page, and her narration boxes are green. That doesn't make any sense, since her vest is white, and that's what people remember about her. Green should be Chris's color, as I mentioned earlier.
Chris then says that Wesker dragged him into the control-room, where he saw the T-002 Tyrant for the first time. Wesker then woke up the Tyrant and got stabbed through the chest by it.
The first panel shows Chris and Jill talking to each other. Chris's face and body look fine, but the patch on his shoulder is black now, instead of bronze like it was in the previous panels. It's at least competently drawn this time (Except for the stars in the center) but it's missing the RCPD lettering in the circle around the stars.
Jill essentially looks fine in this, aside from the fact that the shape of her mouth doesn't really match the expression the rest of her face is making.
Then we get to the second panel. Ideally speaking, Jill and Barry should have been with Chris and Rebecca in the final showdown if they wanted to combine the Jill and Chris halves of the game. Otherwise, it doesn't make any sense for Chris and Rebecca to be the only ones that confront Wesker.
Then we get to the third and final panel on the page. Wesker is getting stabbed through the back (which isn't accurate since he was stabbed in the chest in the game) and for some reason, everything he's wearing here is colored teal, rather than the dark blue and black that it's supposed to be. Also, the Tyrant looks a lot bigger than it's supposed to be in this shot.
We move to page twenty-six, which is a full-page spread of Chris firing... Something at the oversized Tyrant. I know it was pretty big in the game, but it wasn't this big. Plus, judging by how its torso pinches in towards the center, its lower body is completely out of proportion with the rest of it! Not to mention the fact that its skin is entirely black, when the T-002 Tyrant in the game was grey.
Then we get to the... Thing Chris is firing. He doesn't look like he's holding any of the guns from the game. The narration captions imply that Chris is firing a .10 Gauge shotgun into it, but he looks like he's just holding an oversized pistol, or possible a tube of toothpaste.  Also, there's an arc of what appear to be muzzle-flashes across the lower-right of the page, but only the one centered on the barrel of the not-gun is actually aiming at the Tyrant. Both of the others seem to be poised to hit the walls and floor.
Also, the whole room has a red filter over it, as well as the Tyrant. I know it's supposed to be a warning-light, but looking back at my playthrough of the original game, the room the Tyrant was in wasn't flooded with red light. It wasn't even like that in the remake. It's a shame that they're only mentioning Chris as the one who beat the Tyrant. I know he's the teams sharpshooter, but it's not like the rest of the team weren't capable of fighting it. If they were combining the two stories, they should have shown all four members of the team fighting it.
Moving on to page twenty-seven, we see on the first panel Rebecca's face has been squashed, and for some reason, Jill's hair has turned blonde. Also, Jill's face isn't looking that good either.
The second panel is the first mention of Brad "Chickenheart" Vickers in the entire story. He's communicating with Chris over the radio from Marvel's Resident Evil comic (Again, why isn't it just the handi-talk from the game?) and telling him that he's coming in to extract them. Jill still looks blonde, and Brad's voice appears to be coming out of the microphone of the radio.
Chris grabs a flare from the box on the roof and fires one into the air to signal Brad. For some reason Barry isn't mentioned, nor does he make any appearances on this page.
On the next page (A full-page spread) the Tyrant (Which is finally colored properly, if not sized correctly) bursts through the helipad. The narration boxes say that Chris was tossed into the air, but the art just shows him resettling his footing. His shoulder-patch is golden now, and his left-hand is all wonky. Also, if you look at Jill closely, you can see that the waist of her pants extend out by several inches. And I don't mean like her ridiculous hourglass stomach from the cover, I mean it looks like the artist took a chunk out of her back. It could be rubble blocking the rest of her body, but the grey spot doesn't overlap with her pants at all, and we can see her shirt bunching up. It just looks weird. Then we look over at Rebecca and see that her neck is tiny.
Chris keeps rambling about the Tyrant being extremely dangerous and the ultimate soldier, blah blah blah.
Chris (And presumably the rest of the S.T.A.R.S. team, but they're neither mentioned, nor shown in this panel) unloads his ammo-stockpile into the Tyrant (Which is black again for some reason)
Chris mentions that the Tyrant took a few swipes at him, but he managed to get away. Chris mentioned on page twenty-six that one swipe of the Tyrant's claw could have taken him out. I know I wasn't playing the game on hard mode, but even then, Resident Evil protagonists can usually survive at least one hit from the final boss without dying. I just figured I'd bring this up since I feel like this is a contradiction.
Brad tosses a rocket-launcher down to Chris in the next panel, which leads me to wonder who's flying the helicopter, since it's not hovering at a level angle. The third panel on the page shows the rocket-launcher landing on the helipad near Chris. It looks like his wrist is broken is this page, and he's making a weird face. Chris picks up the rocket-launcher and blasts the Tyrant to pieces with it.
Looking at the fourth panel, Chris seems to have grown a massive jaw, and cracking out an action-movie oneliner. "Game Over"
Yeah, it's a funny line, but Chris was never supposed to be a wisecracking action-hero. That's Leon's job!
The fifth and sixth panels show Chris pulling the trigger on the launcher and the missiles launching.
The final panel on the page shows the Tyrant... Glowing? It looks like what happens when you defeat a monster in The Legend of Heroes: Trails In The Sky.
Page thirty shows Chris, Jill and Rebecca climbing into the chopper, which appears to have shut off its rotors. I know that otherwise we would barely be able to see them, since this is an overhead shot, but why couldn't it just be a side-view of the chopper? This makes it look like Brad landed the chopper, turned it off, and they waited for the blades to spin-down before getting in. Which doesn't make any sense, since they've apparently only got seconds until the mansion explodes, despite never mentioning that they or Wesker set the self-destruct sequence. Also, Barry is still not here, even though he shows up on the third panel of this page.
Also, there appear to be hiragana characters on the door to the chopper. It doesn't make any sense. I know this is based on a Japanese game, but A) They're American police, B) This is an American comic C) this chopper didn't have Japanese on it in the game to my knowledge, and D) This is supposed to be the S.T.A.R.S. emblem, which is both in English, and blue! This emblem is obviously white on black!
The next panel shows them flying away from the exploding mansion, and no signs of Barry running out of the mansion. Yet, as we've seen earlier in the story (And in the next panel) we see Barry Burton alive and well. Chris says that they were safely away when the mansion blew (Even though they supposedly only had seconds left) and that they lost too many good soldiers that day. Yeah, don't bring up the fact that your best friend who you'd known almost all your life was killed, just make a generic statement about all of the dead S.T.A.R.S. members. This is weird. I can't figure out at what point they established that Forest was Chris's best-friend, but what he says doesn't seem to be in-line with the exhaustion and pure despair that they were going through at the time. It seems like a rather soul-less thing for someone to say, especially since these people were friends of his. But, then again, it's hard to think of anything profound when you're grieving over the loss of your friends.
Moving onto the third and final panel on the page, for some reason, Rebecca knows that Barry was the only person other than Wesker who knew that Umbrella was controlling the mission. Perhaps some kind of reference to the first comic? They make so many.
Chris says (I think he's supposed to be asking, but he says it with an exclamation point instead of a question-mark) "How could you!" which doesn't make any sense. For one thing, Jill was the one who found out that Wesker was manipulating Barry, while Rebecca was holed-up in the mansion with Richard.
Question, why was Barry never brought up until now? They seem to have only adapted Chris's half of the game, which doesn't make any sense. Barry is never actually seen in Chris's story, and is presumed dead, even in the best ending of the game!
Likewise, Chris and Barry both survive in Jill's story, but Jill never actually met Rebecca in her story. So that raises the following questions:
One: Why is Barry saving Jill is never brought up? It's one of the most iconic moments in the game.
Two: Jill seems to be remembering a different version of events than Chris, so why isn't she bringing up her version of the story? It seems like it might be pretty good fuel for some kind of Silent Hill tie-in, or at the very least they could have brought it up.
Three: Why didn't they just make Rebecca the one in the cell? It would solve almost all of the problems with the story. Cut out Rebecca, put her in the cell and have Barry in her place until the final battle.
Also, the S.T.A.R.S. emblem on Barry's shoulder is white with a black circle in the center with what appears to be more Japanese lettering on it and little yellow dots instead of actual, you know, stars. I'd try to translate the text, but the resolution is so low I can't tell what symbol is which.
Chris then grabs Barry by the vest and begins yelling at him about betraying them. Even though, considering how the timeline of these events had to play out, he would have had to be present when Jill found out about what Wesker forced Barry to do. If you don't remember how it played out in the game, let's recap.
Wesker forced Barry to help him destroy evidence and manipulate the S.T.A.R.S. members that were still alive into staying away from places with evidence that connected Wesker to the events related to the mansion incident. Jill found out about this right outside the room with the Tyrant in it, and considering this seems to be some combo of the two possible stories in the game, Chris should have been present when that happened. Then again, the timeline in this story isn't exactly the most consistent. I'll give the games this, the story at least made sense. The first game might not be anywhere close to canon, but it was still fairly easy to piece the timeline of events together. At least I thought it was easy. In this, since they're telling a combined version of the story, you're left wondering which events happened in the story and which didn't.
Jill grabs Chris around the shoulders and tells Barry to fill the team in on what he told her.
Before we move on, I want to address the art on this panel. Chris looks pretty old in this panel, partially due to all the lines around his eyes, nose and mouth. He also looks way too angry for the amount of shock he should be in right now.
Jill looks fine, but then we move to Barry's shoulder, and we see that while the S.T.A.R.S. patch is essentially the right color, all of the letters have been replaced with wingdings and the stars in the center have been replaced by a Triforce. Also, for some reason, Barry's beard ends abruptly right next to his ear. I know it was like this in the original concept-art, but that doesn't make it any less strange.
Moving onto the second panel, we see that the yellow narration boxes have now become Barry's. Which doesn't make any sense, because Chris was using them earlier, and since Barry's vest is red, that's the color his boxes should be. Not that this story has ever made any sense with the coloring of their narration boxes.
On page thirty-one, Barry tells them that he knew Wesker was working for Umbrella, but he didn't know they were working on military experiments, as he (Like John Fay from the second story) was under the impression that Umbrella was conducting disease research. When he figured out that Wesker wasn't harmless, he was going to turn him in, but then Wesker threatened Barry's family.
Barry goes on to say that he was able to find some information on the G-Virus, despite Wesker's efficient covering of his tracks, and says that the G-Virus makes the T-infected stuff they fought before look tame by comparison.
He then goes on to say that the G-Virus is transmissible from host-to-host, rather than being airborne like the T-Virus was.
Moving onto page thirty-two, we see Chris pulling up a picture of William Birkin on one of the oversized monitors. For some reason, Birkin has a respirator on, even though he didn't wear one of those in Resident Evil 2, and he wasn't bald. Also, for some reason, Chris's S.T.A.R.S. patch is also showing a triforce now.
Chris mentions that they've received orders from headquarters telling Barry and Rebecca that they're being reassigned, and that he and Jill are supposed to report to the agency psychiatrist and await future orders. Naturally, Jill objects to this, and Chris says that they shouldn't sweat it, since they can use their downtime to investigate the European headquarters of the Umbrella Corporation.
Chris then goes on to say that their caseload is being shifted onto a single person who's driving into town right now. One Leon Scott Kennedy.
We'll get to this in a minute. Let's address the artwork on the pagee. In the first panel, Chris's hand looks a bit distended, and the text on his S.T.A.R.S. patch is just random squiggles, in addition to the "stars" being triangular.
Barry looks like Billy Blazes with a beard in this panel, and then we don't have much in the way of art problems that I can find until the third and fifth panels. In the third panel, Barry appears to be squinting, and his mustache looks more like someone stuck a rectangular piece of cardboard stuck to his upper lip.
Then on the fifth panel, Jill has inexplicably turned blonde again, and Chris and Jill are way too close in this panel for how they're posed. Perhaps the blonde hair is some kind of foreshadowing for her appearance in Resident Evil 5, or maybe the colorist just messed up. I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that it's the latter.
The final panel on the page shows Leon driving into town. Hmm, what kind of vehicle is that? Why, it's a muscle-car!
Think back to the opening of Resident Evil 2. What kind of vehicle was Leon driving? Yeah, a Jeep. That's literally the first thing you see in the game!
We then move onto page thirty-three. The first panel shows Leon getting out of his car to shoot a zombie in his way. Notice how he's got an RCPD uniform on instead of a S.T.A.R.S. one, which directly contradicts what Chris said on the last page. Not to mention the fact that Leon was a rookie-cop who was coming into Raccoon City on his first day. That was literally something he mentioned in the beginning of the game, no matter which order you were playing the discs in!
Also, S.T.A.R.S. were supposed to have left town for a month or so by the time Leon and Claire arrived.
Speaking of Claire, she's riding into town right now too.
The art is decent upon first glance, but looking at Leon's jawline, his chin and jaw are both massive. And then we get to his gun, which is massive compared to the gun he had in Resident Evil 2. This pistol looks like it's supposed to be held by a Power Rangers action-figure from the '90s. This is especially strange, considering that, aside from his massive chin, he's actually pretty well-drawn. The rest of the art on this page is fine. Chris sitting at the table thinking about his sister, and Claire is riding into Raccoon City on her motorcycle.
So, this concludes the third story in the magazine. Honestly, it's not as good as the other two. There are constant issues with the timeline of events, the artwork shifts from really good to really crappy from page-to-page, and the overall story doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Also, most of the blood and gore is intestine related. Just... Why?
Then there's the fact that they spent fifteen pages telling us everything that happened in the game and setting us up for the Resident Evil 2 adaptation instead of spending it actually adapting the story of the first game in a coherent manner.
All in all, due to the timeline issues, the pacing issues, the fact that it's entirely told in flashbacks instead of real-time, and the constant issues with the art bring the final score down to a 5.4* rating. I'll see you soon with the final story; "Raccoon City: R.I.P."!

Friday, October 9, 2015

WildStorm's Resident Evil #1 (Part 2)

So after the last review, I figure I should try and make this one a little more concise.
If you haven't read the last review, you probably should, since this is part two. I'll link you to it here.
Anyways, we open to a page depicting a white-haired balding man sitting at a desk in a tiny laboratory office. Apparently this is supposed to be Ada Wong's boyfriend, John Clemens (Here known as John Fay). You'd be forgiven for thinking that he's supposed to be younger than this, but apparently he just went grey young, and started losing his hair as a result of T-Virus exposure, as we'll see later.
The story in this section is told entirely though John's letters to Ada, and I really like that. It was done in the games, so it might as well be done in this.
The story starts out with John telling Ada that they're seeing some unexpected effects when the T-virus is introduced into different subjects. FO some it increases their strength and healing abilities, but for others, they begin to deteriorate. He thinks he can correct the problem, and hopes he can use this work as a breakthrough in cancer research.
He mentions that he's been bugging Albert (Gee, guess what his last name is?) to give Ada security clearance, and says that meeting her completely changed his life. I know another guy whose life was changed when he met Ada Wong, but that was more of a coincidence than anything else.
H talks about how he used to work for the government, but everything was too slow for him, so when there came an opportunity to work for The Umbrella Corporation, he jumped on it.
Before we get to the rest of the story, I'd just like to mention that the art on these first two pages is really good. I especially like the detailing in the silhouetted panel on page eight. That and the presentation of everything else on these two pages just looks great. John is looking at some old pictures of his life while his letter to Ada is shown at the top of the panels. It captures the lonely and oppressive atmosphere of the game quite well.
Page nine is a full-page spread of two scientists in an operating theater working on a Cerberus, which is locked inside a glass box. It seems like only one of the scientists is doing anything on this page though. Also on this page, the narration style shifts from writing a letter to a scientific report.
They mention that the Cerberus has seen continued signs of physical deterioration after being dosed with the T-Virus, and that's it's starting to show signs of unprovoked aggression, and they've had to administer a lot of sedatives to keep it calm.
Then on the next page they switch immediately back to the letter-writing style of narration. Just as the Cerberus wakes up and breaks out of the glass box it's being held in.
John's letter to Ada mentions that despite the physical deterioration gave way to unexplained increases in strength and aggression, as well as a decrease in brainwave activity. It then goes on to say that the Cerberus escaped the lab and was lost in the forest.
On the next panel, John seems to be losing his hair, and is almost suffering from Youngbloods disease (That's what people call it when a characters eyes are entirely white)
He mentions that he's come down with some kind of flu, and he's starting to show the negative effects.
This is why I said that he looks like a young man who just went grey. Part of that is because his face looks like that of a young man, and the fact that me says that his body is showing the results of the stress he's under.
On the next page we see a figure who might be John looking into an aquarium with a giant shark in it (known as Neptune if you've read it's in-game file, or if you look at the monitor in the upper left of the panel) and the narration mentions that the Neptune has shown no negative effects from the T-Virus until right now, even though it was administered over two months ago.
Today however, the Neptune has started showing physical deterioration, and has been losing a lot of skin.
John wonders why it's taken the Neptune so long to be affected by the T-Virus when other subjects have shown almost immediate effects.
The next page has John telling Ada that he's gotten scared, since a lot of people in the compound have been expose to the T-Virus, and that he's starting to feel paranoid about his situation. Has he been infected? Who are these strange security officers watching over him and the other researchers?
And finally, he wonders what exactly the T-002 is, since he's apparently never seen it. This leads him to the idea that he's been tricked into working on bioweapons instead of cancer research. Which is in fact, 100% true, if you've been following the series.
John mentions that he couldn't live with himself Ada was infected by something he'd worked on, and he ends the letter by telling Ada that he loves her.
Again, the art on page twelve is pretty good. The problem is that they've recycled a lot of it from previous pages in the story. Most of background is taken up by repeating panels of varying size that are all copied and pasted from the first page of the story. This really doesn't make a lot of sense, since at maximum, they'd only need one monitor taken up by the feed from that angle. Plus, this is the 90s, so I'm pretty sure they didn't have flat-panel televisions that big back then.
There are also quite a few feeds that they couldn't possibly be getting all at the same time. There's the picture of John at his desk from the first page, the one of him in the mirror, the one of him operating on the Cerberus, and finally, the picture of John monitoring the Neptune in its aquarium. That one is especially strange, since the monitor it's being displayed on is well out of view of the two security technicians.
It'd be nice if they had some original stills for the security monitors that had nods to the stuff in the game instead of just re-using a bunch of artwork from previous pages in the story.
On page thirteen we see that John's body has been deteriorating heavily. His fingernails are cracked, and one of them has fallen off. And his skin's not looking too good either. They seem to be portraying T-Virus infection fairly accurately to how it was laid out in the game.
The narration confirms that John has been infected by the T-Virus (As anyone who played the game knows) and he apparently knows that Ada isn't infected. He tells her to collect all of the evidence in the compound and take it to the press after she's activated the self-destruct sequence to prevent the monsters inside from escaping and infecting the city.
 He tells her that all the locks can be opened by the security system, and that it can be accessed by using his name as the username, and her name as the password. He fails to mention that the security room can only be accessed by finding about ten or fifteen keys and key-like objects to open up all of the doors around the compound, and the fact that all of the keys are scattered round the mansion and underground laboratory, or the fact that some of them are guarded by deadly monsters or traps.
As his final words, he tells Ada that if she finds him zombified, to kill him herself.
The last panel on page thirteen is one of Eve, in the garden of Eden, holding an apple. This is the lightbox painting from the game, and it's got the password from the game right on it too. It looks pretty nice.
Page fourteen shows the now zombified John at his desk, attempting to write one final letter to Ada as flies buzz around him. A *SMASH!* sound is heard from behind him, and the camera shifts to show Jill Valentine silhouetted in the doorway, holding a shotgun.
Page fifteen is a little strange. We'll get to the art in a bit, but the first thing that really stuck out to me when I first read the comic was the arrangement of the panels. The first one is a full -body shot of Jill holding a shotgun and ejecting a smoking shell from the chamber, implying it's just been fired. The next panel is a low shot of the room, showing Jill's right hip and her Beretta in its holster in the foreground. The background is John looking scary, but begging Jill to help him. Jill then levels her shotgun at him (Holding it in one hand rather than in both, like she did in the game) and firing.
The final panel doesn't make any sense. It's a picture of Jill holding her shotgun at John's head and firing, but John is on the ground, and Jill is holding her shotgun at point-blank range, even though she was at least six feet away from him in the previous shot.
Now, let's talk about the art. They've got the general look of Jill down, but it's very exaggerated. Her face doesn't look much like Jill. For some reason, she's wearing dark-red lipstick even though Jill didn't wear lipstick in the game. Then there's her shoulder, it looks like a ball-joint, especially compared to her tiny arms. As I've said before, Jill Valentine is a former Delta Force operator, and her arms shouldn't be this tiny. My arms are bigger than hers are here. And I'm no expert, but I'd bet that Ronda Rousey is stronger than I am.
Then we get to her massive shoulder-pads. I've never quite understood why Jill wore this harness and shoulder-pads instead of a regular Kevlar vest like the rest of S.T.A.R.S. Rebecca has one, so why not Jill?
Anyways, while her shoulder-pads were in fact fairly large in the original art for the game, they didn't look nearly this bad. I don't know if it's just how she's drawn, or what, but they just look oversized here. Plus, she's supposed to have a collar coming up behind her neck. Again, I don't know what purpose this is supposed to serve, but that's what it's supposed to do.
Moving on down her body, we see that her forearms are wrapped up in bandages and her gloves look like they're made for MMA fighting and not tactical SWAT combat.
Take a look at Jill on page five compared to Jill on page fourteen, and break this down bit by bit.
First off, her gloves are too thickly padded compared to both her previous appearance in the comic, and her official artwork. She did have padding on her wrists, but it wasn't nearly that thick!
Plus, the padding on the back of her gloves is both thicker than it was on her gloves on page five, and thicker than it is on her official art. Yes, it's still fairly thick in the actual artwork, but I'm comparing the size of her gloves to the size of her arms here, and that makes her gloves way too big.
Plus, her gloves are supposed to be fingerless, but they're not, as shown on her left hand in the first panel, and on her right-hand in the third panel.
Next we get to the shotgun, which doesn't look a thing like it did on the cover, or in the game itself. The body is okay, if a little too fat, but the slide is absolutely huge. So much so that it physically can't be used!
I don't mind '90s artwork normally, and I really like a lot of Rob Liefeld's old designs from his early days (Cable is one of my favorite characters from the X-Men series) but this just looks dumb. The slide looks like a lightsaber handle instead of the slide on a shotgun.
Then we get to Jill's waist. Fortunately she doesn't have the hourglass stomach she had on the cover, but she's got about three belts in place of that. She's got her regular belt, and her utility belt like she does in the original art, but Carlos D'anda (The artist on this story) has added another belt for her gun. Granted, it's nice to see that she's actually got a holster in this story, unlike everyone in "S.T.A.R.S. Files" and that it's on the right leg, unlike the cover, but the fact remains that having three belts like this looks kind of odd.
Also, the flap on her holster is massive in this shot, but on the next panel it's soberly proportioned. The holster itself looks weird. I've seen police-issue sidearm holsters, and they don't look like that. Not to mention the fact that I actually own one that I regularly use for costumes. Now, I could be wrong. There could, in fact, be holsters like this in existence, but I've never seen them.
The fact remains that the holster is way too big for her Beretta, and the flap on her holster is way too long. The flap on my holster is pretty long too, but it has Velcro on it to hold it out of the way of the user. This holster on the other hand doesn't. It also doesn't appear to have a catch that's easy to release.
Moving onto the second panel, her holster actually looks like it's made to hold a gun. This panel is fine.
The third panel however, is back to the weird artwork of the first panel. I forgot to mention this when I was talking about the first panel, but now is as good a time as any to address it. Jill beret looks dumb in this panel. First off, it looks more like a chefs-hat that got a little wet than a beret. Second, it's way too big. Third, in this panel, Jill's upper torso looks massive, her shoulder-pads are bigger than ever.
Fourth, I've fired a shotgun, and you DO NOT want to try and fire something like that one-handed. Yes, Jill is a former Delta Force operative. No, that doesn't matter. In this comic, Jill's arms are tiny, and firing a shotgun like that would break her arm. Even if her arms were more muscular, it would still be dangerous to fire a shotgun like that. Plus, nobody actually fires their shotgun like that in the game.
Funny thing, in this panel the shotgun looks more like an oversized pistol (NERF Recon CS-6 anyone?) than a shotgun.
Now we get to Jill's gloves in this scene, where we see that the pad on the back of her right glove is missing altogether. Also, it looks like she was drawn with a clenched fist, and then someone drew the shotgun on a different layer above her hand to make it look like she's holding it.
This can also be seen in the first panel, since it doesn't look like her index-finger is actually on the trigger, it looks like her right hand was drawn on a layer above the shotgun, since the placement of her index-finger is such that it would have to be located somewhere inside the area the trigger-guard occupies. Part of that is the thickness of her gloves, part of that is perspective.
The fourth panel on page fifteen is just the same artwork as on the third panel, but shifted into orange and with a muzzle-flash layered over the shotgun.
The final panel is the strangest, since as I stated before, it doesn't actually fit.
In the previous panel, Jill was holding the shotgun straight out from her chest at the approaching John. And while he was stumbling, he was still standing up when she fired her gun. In this panel, John is on the ground, and Jill is firing her gun at the floor. It's possible she could be firing the shotgun twice in quick succession, but there's no transition panel. No shot of her ejecting the spent shell, and no shot of John on the ground crawling towards her. This is why I said that the full-body shot of Jill on the left of the page looks like it's not supposed to be the first panel on the page. But even then, we're still missing a few transition panels.
The background on the fifth panel is just a grey on black gradient with "BOOM" over top of it. Jill and John are black silhouettes against that background. Then we get to the muzzle-flash from Jill's shotgun, which is the single most out-of-place piece of art on this page, because it doesn't look like it's coming out of the barrel, more like it was layered on top of the silhouettes. The previous muzzle-flash actually looked like it was supposed to be there, and not like it was just a piece of stock imagery that got stuck in for no reason.
Now we get to something which bugs the hell out of me. John is obviously still functioning on some level if he can speak and write, which is much more than what most zombies could do at his level of infection. That means that there could possibly be some way of curing his T-Virus infection and bringing him back to normal. Yes, it would take a lot of medical care. Yes, it would probably take a while, but it's still POSSIBLE to cure someone of the virus in Resident Evil. John was audibly begging Jill to help him. He wasn't threatening her or just moaning like the other zombies in the game do, he was begging for mercy!
Now, while this didn't happen in the game at any point in time, since John was zombified beyond return and probably wound up being killed like the rest of the zombies in the game, in this continuity, John wasn't trying to attack Jill. He was leaning against his desk and begging for help!
Yes I know that he told Ada to kill him. Yes, I know that most zombies don't act like this, and that it doesn't really make much sense for him to be able to beg for his life considering that most of the zombies didn't have any of their higher brain functions intact, but that doesn't change the fact that Jill Valentine blew the head off of a man who was begging for help! This just baffles me. It's cruel, it's out of character, and it doesn't make sense on any level. It doesn't make sense why Jill would kill him since he posed no obvious threat (Even in the situation) and it doesn't make any sense for him to still be able to form speech at this point in time.
Page sixteen is a full-page spread of Wesker watching Jill on a security monitor. Jill wonders aloud who the zombies are, and Wesker is picking up his gun, which he has apparently laid on the table for some reason. Another monitor in the background shows the Tyrant in its' stasis tube. Thus concludes the second story of the comic.
All in all, I liked the comic, and until the end, I liked the art a lot too. The problems with the story stem from the re-use of all the previous art in the comic on page twelve, and the badly-drawn Jill Valentine on page fifteen. As far as storytelling goes, I really like the narrative, and aside from a few little things, it fits into the existing canon perfectly fine (Probably because it was almost certainly adapted directly from John's letters in the game itself)
Unfortunately, since this story is essentially copied and pasted from the game with a few details changed, it doesn't win many points for the good writing. It gains a lot of points for its good artwork, but winds up losing a lot of those points when it introduces Jill Valentine, since she's so poorly drawn. That and the shot of the security center is my main point of contention with the art.
In the end, it's a good story, and it's a welcome addition to the magazine, despite its flaws. I give it an 8.1* rating. I'll see you soon with part three!