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.