Monday, October 31, 2016

Resident Evil #2: Caliban Cove (S.D. Perry)

Resident Evil
Like the WildStorm comics, the S.D. Perry novels eventually delved into original content to pass the time between the releases of the video-games. Since Resident Evil 2 was still yet to come out, and these books were likely written several months before the game went gold, Caliban Cove takes place between Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2. Not in the way that it would actually patch up the big gaps in the plot between those two games. Just a book that fills the time between the release of The Umbrella Conspiracy and City of the Dead. At the very least it sort of cleared up where the hell Rebecca went.
Taking a quick look at the cover, we see Rebecca chambers running towards the camera with a gun in her hand. Tilted off to the side as if she'd had no training with it at all. I know she was recruited out of college to be their medic, but she was given enough firearms training to know how to hold her gun properly!
In the background we see a lighthouse shining out over what I presume to be the titular cove. Edited into the background we see the S.T.A.R.S. logo, a cerberus, and the head of a Tyrant.
The prologue starts us off with articles from the Raccoon Times "detailing" the destruction of the Spencer mansion and the dissolution of the Raccoon City S.T.A.R.S. team. This latter hackjob is enough to tell us that the city council and the police commissioner are all on the take of The Umbrella Corporation. In it, city councilman Edward Weist (Sounds like the name of a Bond villain) asserts that the S.T.A.R.S. team was hopped up on drugs and alcohol while they went on their mission to handle the cannibal killers. Despite the fact that that would be incredibly easy to disprove with a single drug-test for every member of the team. I mean, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Brad was on something, but the rest of the team? Considering Jill was something of a local hero, Chris an Air-Force ace, Barry the friendly neighborhood gentle giant and family man, and Joseph the cheerful mechanic. This is the last group of people I would expect to be doing drugs and alcohol on a rescue-mission!
Even the Bravo team consisted of a kid genius, a dude known as the single most levelheaded guy in the world, a mild-mannered landscaper with a Ph.D. in Chemistry, two well-disciplined snipers and a leader described as having impervious mental strength doesn't sound like the type of group to not handle things professionally. Either they pulled off a great spin-job on this, or the residents of Raccoon City are really, really dumb.
Anyways, Barry Burton has taken up the role of commander of the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members (Sans Brad who has skipped town) and they meet up with David Trapp, the captain of the Exeter S.T.A.R.S. branch. He informs them that he's learned about some corruption of the S.T.A.R.S. higher-ups. Namely the fact that the New York Headquarters has tabled the investigation at the behest of Umbrella, that they've forced the founder and face of the organization, Dr. Marco Palmieri out of his position and taken direct control of the assistant director, Kurtz. Trapp has assembled a team of his own from the few people he can trust in the Exeter division, and has come to Barry to ask Raccoon City's team for help in infiltrating and dismantling the Umbrella installation in Caliban Cove, Maine. Unfortunately, the only one to come along is Rebecca Chambers. The other members of the team elect to stay behind and try to handle whatever they can.
Before they split up, Trapp and Jill cross-reference their Umbrella information and find that they were both given similar information from a guy named Trent. Rebecca notices a name she recognizes on the list of Umbrella researchers, a biochemist named Nicholas Griffith who vanished after being busted for unethical experimentation. Barry calls up a few of his S.T.A.R.S. buddies to try and get Trapp some backup. Chris tries to get in contact with some friends in the FBI so they can possibly take down Irons, but Barry's house is attacked by Umbrella's operatives. As they fight their way out, Captain Trapp kills one of them, and finds out that he's Captain Jay Shannon, head of the Oklahoma City S.T.A.R.S. branch. The team takes refuge in the abandoned house of Brad Vickers, and from there Rebecca and David get on a private plane to Exeter, and from there to Caliban Cover with the rest of Trapp's team.
On their way to the facility, their boat is destroyed, and they are set upon by a squad of zombies armed with machine-guns. The team gets captured, two of their members infected with the T-Virus, but Rebecca, Trapp and another member of the Exeter team escape. They're rescued by Captain Blake and the Philadelphia S.T.A.R.S. team, and leave.
All in all, this wasn't a bad book by any means. It was tense, well-written and overall a decent addition to the Resident Evil storyline. It's also leaps and bounds above the Wildstorm comics of the same era. However, it's still not quite as good as Resident Evil: The Book. If we could have seen more from this series as written by Hiroyuki Ariga, it would have probably flowed a lot better. Perry seems to take more pages to tell less story than Ariga does, which is a shame because there's a good story to be told here. Not that she doesn't do it well in this book, mind. Since she was working with original material and not adapting a ten plus hour game into a single book, it feels like there was far less left out than in The Umbrella Conspiracy. Despite the fact that that book adapted the game fairly well, it was still a bit unfocused and leaned more on telling rather than showing for certain details. This book leans more heavily on demonstrating exactly what's going on for the sake of tension. While there are a few additions that are somewhat absurd on the surface, like the gun-wielding zombies, that concept would be brought to a head at the hands of one of the most memorable monsters of all time. None other than rocket-launcher wielding Nemesis T-Type. So yeah, I can buy zombies armed with M-16's.
Finally though, we come to this books continuity. Like the comics, this book was written well in advance of the development of Resident Evil 3, and as such doesn't fit in to the alterations that game made to the timeline. Resident Evil 2 mostly focused on the effects of what happened after the virus got out, and had less effect on the characters from the original game than Resident Evil 3 does. But that's something to get into next year when I cover that game. It's been two years since I reviewed a Resident Evil game, and it's about time I get back to the things that made me start it in the first place.
All in all, I enjoyed this novel quite a bit more than I enjoyed the WildStorm comics. While there are going to be plot issues later on in the series, there's still plenty in this book to enjoy if you wish to read it.
In the end, I give Resident Evil #2: Caliban Cove a 7.9*. I'll see you guys on Sunday with... Something. I don't know at this point. Probably Bomb on Basic City, or I could finally finish up my Fire Emblem Awakening review.

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