Writer: Mikey Neumann
Illustrated by Agustin Padilla
Publisher: IDW Pulblishing
Synopsis: In this prequel to the popular video game, we’re reintroduced to the planet of Pandora and the Borderlands universe. Four Vaulthunters arrive in the mining town of Fyrestone, in hopes of gleaning information that will lead them to the planet’s only known vault and the riches that come with it.
Borderlands: The Fall of Fyrestone is a more or less by the numbers team oriented action yarn from IDW, written by Mikey Neumann and drawn by Dustin Padilla. The formulaic feel, I think, is a result of the subject material and not necessarily a lack of creativity. With that said, the book probably won’t impress anyone outside of the Borderlands faithful.
Issue number two opens up with a brief flashback to Pandora, and more specifically Fyrestone in it’s prospecting days. My guess is we get this little peak back into history in order to give a little perspective in terms of present conditions. Once Pandora was promising and untapped potential; now, not so much.
The team—Lilith, Roland, Mordecai and the cyborg Brick—are the prototypical team of roughnecks. Each has a checkered past, that instead of serving to round each character out, only seems to reinforce the stock action story vibe. There’s the ex-soldier with who turned his back on the military that made him, the wise-cracking comic relief, the tormented, yet powerful woman team member, and of course the muscle.
The bright spots come from the exchanges between characters, particularly the machine-stiff dialogue of Brick, a welcome break from the overall melodramatic atmosphere. Neumann lets the characters speak for themselves, effectively, even if their stories (and personalities) aren’t all that interesting.
Padilla’s artwork is the book’s one true redeeming factor. The Rough edges and brooding shadows serve to ground you as a reader in the reality that Pandora is not a planet for the timid or the hygiene conscious. While not quite as eye-popping as the video game visuals, the art is good, really good.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the action scenes as well. They’re good as well, if not a little outlandish, and the fight between the Vaulthunters and one particularly nasty planetary inhabitant is rendered to great affect.
Unfortunately, great art and action alone doth not a great comic make. Borderlands suffers from the strangle hold of licensed material and the need to appeal to an established fan-base. I suggest you steer clear of this one unless you’re some sort of masochist.
By Adam Cadmon
Follow Adam on Twitter: @K1NG_OF_J4CKS