Originally scheduled for December but arriving in mid February, this mini-series serves to give readers added insight into the events leading to those in Resistance 2. However, a simple story arc that offers little or no character development and several jumpy panel transitions tarnish what could have been a quality effort. Never mind, but there is more to say.
The comics’ primary story concerns Sergeant Capelli, the gung-ho-beanie-wearing-jerk from Resistance 2 (who somehow manages to be an ounce more endearing here), and several members of Sentinel team Alpha as they undertake their first mission against the advancing alien menace. In short, a US army base in Alaska – housing experimental weapons – has gone dark, so Alpha team are tasked with accessing the site, rescuing any personnel they find and recovering the weapons.
What does deserve some praise is the lead story’s artwork, which is drawn by the fabulous, Ramón Pérez, and coloured by Tony Aviña. From creaseless army vests to wall-pinned battle maps, to the chiselled faces of officers and the chaos of battle – detailed characters and objects, drawn with a stylish Americana-vibe that feels immediately reminiscent of the pulp comics and WWII recruitment posters of the 1940s, with warm colours. The duo have really outdone themselves. Issue #1’s dogfight over Alaska and the first-half of issue #5 are two of my personal highlights.
With the PSP version, Resistance: Retribution, released in March 2009, the mini-series’ second plotline provides the direct prelude to James Grayson’s European tour of duty. At the hands of artist, C.P. Smith, once again, the visuals are drab at best (a fact that is extenuated further alongside Pérez’s art). There’s lots of F-words, B-words (and even the forbidden C-word) thrown in to cheapen… I mean ‘authenticate’, the Brit-filled serial. Full of tragedy and self-deprecating angst, but unfortunately, none of the gutsy risk-taking and over-the-top machismo of Grayson’s handheld persona.
Mike Costa (the writer for both stories) seems to have had his hands tied with regards to the canon and timeline, which has amounted to very stiff storytelling and throwaway characters. There are some good hooks (such as the Chimera crossing into Alaska via a frozen ice bridge), but essentially what you have is a skirmish that’s only thinly related to events in the video games.
Another problem is that parts of the story just don’t feel like they’ve been edited together very well. Case in point, in issue #1 Capelli is having a private conversation with another officer. Turn the page and suddenly he’s approaching a different blonde-haired guy, who he then assaults in the next panel. The transition from one scene to the next is so jarring because the original conversation never actually seems like it is tied up – it just ends abruptly. Issue #3 increases the story’s sense of urgency when a new character, Dr Robert Oppenheimer, fills the team in on the real situation. The finale is quickly ruined in issue #6 though, as the narrative perspective moves from present to past tense – wrapping things up rather hastily too. Apart from Capelli, Warner and the doctor, none of the other characters are very memorable. While comics are pressed for space, I think the primary story could have been told far better if they’d chosen to focus solely on it – rather than splitting the comic in two and still plastering it with ads.
Then, there are the canonical plot holes. The story takes place in January 1951 and features spinner (bug-like chimera that are part of a new conversion process) and the human-sized cocoons from Resistance 2. Now considering that the Chimeran virus has only just made it to Britain, and the all-important conversion-halting events of Resistance: Retribution haven’t even taken place yet – and I’ve followed the timeline reasonably closely – it seems highly unlikely that this story arc should contain such elements. Furthermore, part of the plot is devoted to recapturing an experimental atomic bomb. However, in the Resistance novel (circa July 1951) it states that the US army is yet to create successful atomic weapons. Though Insomniac has taken tremendous care with the canon, cracks and inconsistencies are beginning to show.
Even with Pérez’sgorgeous art, there just aren’t enough meaningful chucks in this mini-series to make it a significant part of the Resistance universe.