By Ben Snyder
Matt Hawkins and Ryan Cady give a semi-interesting premise of an ancient Tenno gone off the grid who awakens to protect a small town from the botched human clone species called the Grineer. If you are not a fan of the seemingly convoluted and lore-rich game Warframe, then, Warframe #1 is definitely not for you as the first issue will leave you in a state of utter confusion. However, fans of the universe might get an enjoyable if not inventive or creative story set in the apocalyptic sci-fi universe.
My first and most major complaint with this issue is that all of its lore is lost on someone who has never played or heard of the game. While I don’t mean to offend anyone who is a fan of the game, but since Warframe was never that popular, I feel being thrown directly into the universe is a clunky move. Automatically we are expected to know what exactly a Tenno is as well as a Grineer. I am not asking for a two-issue long exposition dump, but some background information would be nice. I had to reread the entire first issue with a Wikipedia page of the game’s universe besides me so I could understand who exactly the Grineer were and what exactly a Tenno is. I doubt the average comic book fan would have the same dedication.
Besides that, the story we are told doesn’t do much to interest any new fans in the future of the series. The story picks up right after a Tenno saves a girl from the Grineer after they burned down her entire village. The nameless survivor speaks of the Tenno in an almost sacred or religious manner, which may seem a bit interesting when/if she meets the person controlling it. Also, while the Tenno is supposed to be so overpowered, I found it hard to believe that the Grineer army was supposed to be such a fearsome foe. The way the Tenno chopped through them with such ease made them seem like common cannon fodder. It also got a bit confusing who exactly was speaking when the Gineer General Captain Vor was commanding his troops. I kept getting confused which speech bubble was coming from which character. Perhaps this is a symptom of the Grineer being defunct clones of humans, so they all look alike, but I wish there were some way that Captain Vor could stand out more than the others.
Studio Hive does a reasonably decent job with the art in this issue. The battle scenes look particularly chaotic and brutal as the main Tenno slices through the Gineer army but in the scenes in which detail is required is when Hive drops the ball. Often times, I was left confused as to who got shot or who survived or who was on the ground crying, ultimately making me not even care about the characters. Another main issue with the art is that all of the character models look like bad versions of video game art, which makes sense seeing as the book is based off a video game. If a single artist drew this issue, I probably would be more lenient, but seeing as an entire studio worked on it I have to expect more and unfortunately they don’t deliver.
Warframe #1 offers a pretty boilerplate addition to a middle-of–the-road videogame. While the book is not a total failure for the most part, I simply cannot recommend it to someone who is not already a fan of the universe. If not for the pretty action scene midway through this issue, I don’t even know if I would recommend it to someone who already is a fan.
Top Cow/Image Comics