Review:  Deus Ex Universe: Children’s Crusade #5

Machines DO bleed… By now you’re probably all familiar with the niche video game series Deus Ex but for those uninitiated few, it focuses on the ever so slightly disturbing (but quite awesome) concept of body augmentation through cybernetic enhancement and its implications on the world.  Titan Comics thought they would take this rather promising with the potential for deep, compelling storytelling and milk it for all it’s worth through bland, cartoonish artwork and dialogue so dull and lazy I almost fell asleep (and that was during the action scenes).

I just don’t know what Alex Irvine was trying to do here. He projects no depth into this world, it feels lifeless, staid and boring.  There is no nuance or subtlety to the character dialogue as we watch our special forces team wade into a hackneyed hostage situation, which serves as the focus of our story.  Their mission is to rescue the man leading the charge against augmentation, if they can only save him from the clutches of his augmented and quite ridiculously insane son, of course.  There are sections of this book that need to be seen to be believed and I do not mean that in a good way...

DEUS_5_COVER_A“But James, what about the art?”

“The covers look fantastic!  They almost leap off the page!”

Indeed!  What about that art?!  For all the promise of a dystopian, cyberpunk future on the cover, we turn the page onto drab, cartoonish panels with little action and no originality.  The occasional rendering of Jensen, our cybernetic hero, looks pretty good but the rest just look too silky smooth, there’s no texture, no grit!  It doesn’t bring this sci-fi world to life.

I’m honestly so frustrated with this book I could cry. I’ve always been fascinated by the Deus Ex universe. Not only has it been the focus of many successful video games, it has inspired a whole host of YouTube creators to produce some excellent fan videos in its honour.  Unfortunately, that same passion and enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be on these pages.

There is no satisfying conclusion to this five-part story and the final cliffhanger (if you can call it that) is just not that interesting or original.  And if the characters just don’t feel real, how can we empathise with them?  How can we take the next steps into the unknown with them as their story unfolds?

I’m no naysayer, I wanted to like this book, I really did, but honestly I just couldn’t find much to enjoy here.  Actually, that’s a lie. I did quite like the dystopian propaganda posters at the end of the book, they were fun…

I would save your money on this issue and put it towards a sweet augmentation of your own some day instead, it might be a better investment...

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Deus Ex Universe: Children’s Crusade #5
Writer: Alex Irvine
Artist: John Aggs Colorist: Marco Lesko
Publisher:  Titan Comics
Price: $3.99
Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital