Story/ Art: Shane Davis
Inks: Michelle Delecki
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Publisher: Image Comics
Gaming and comics live on completely different planets. There’s been some valiant efforts to have those worlds collide with Injustice from DC being on the top of that list. For the most part publishers fall flat with gaming-to-comics titles because they don’t understand that each of these worlds have their own language which has to be translated and introduced to the other. This is what sets Axcend, by Shane Davis, apart from gaming-to-comics books and brings two different worlds of story together.
Axcend is the story of a troubled youth named Eric Morn. Your average angsty teen with a short attention span and a passion for the escapism of video games. His personal family troubles are compounded when a mysterious video game Trons him into a brutal digital world of deathmatches and capture the flag where the trophy is your opponents head.
The strength of Axcend is how clean and efficient this world is rendered. A book thematically centered around gaming should have images that push the boundaries of static images and here they’re nearly broken. If you’re a fan of larger than life two page spreads… Axcend is well worth the price of admission. Shane Davis is on top of his game in these pages with spreads that shouldn’t be possible by artists who aren’t robots. Michelle Delecki’s ink work brings a needed depth to the line work. There’s a noticeable difference in the weight of the real world versus the digital one. These characters are also some of the most interesting designs you’ll see all year. Rainn, Mourn, Dog they all look like characters you’d create in a customize game mode. Even though we don’t quite get enough of it in the set up; the very world of this game is intriguing enough to bring you back for issue two.
Where Axcend has a little bit of work to do is in the dialogue. Eric has potential to be a character worth caring about, but if he’s to be more relatable to gamers then he needs to talk like someone who’s buried himself away from the sun and spends hours on Twitch. When you read through this first issue, at times, it’s hard to differentiate him from the static characters. Some small tweaks could easily round out the character without compromising the path of the narrative.
Ultimately, Axcend is like any great video game; the reward ends up being worth the frustration. In a week full of tremendous comics, Image manages to have a stand out line up of great books compared to the big two. Axcend more than holds its own in that line up. Its first issue sets up an interesting comic book story predicated on the immersive language of gaming.