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starcraft frontline volume 3 review

WARNING: The following review contains major spoilers for the manga in question.

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War-Torn

Synopsis:

On a UNN news broadcast, Kate Lockwell reports on the Zerg attack on Maltair IV, discussing the story of Senator Corbin Phash and his son Colin, who’s psionic potential was hidden from the Dominion. The Dominion attempted to turn public opinion against the Senator, but public support for the Senator continues to grow. Kate Lockwell is joined by Greggor Altman, a representative of the Dominion, who reminds UNN’s viewers that the boy’s psionic abilities are a danger to himself and others if left unhindered, and that everyone should report his whereabouts to the Terran Dominion. Meanwhile, Senator Corbin Phash speaks to Minister Jorgensen, leader of Umoja, in order to seek out asylum within the Umojan Procetorate. Colin is hiding on a backwater moon called Gohbus with Mr. Ballenger, his protector. A terraforming tragedy on Gohbus forced the colonists to take refuge on their moon’s military outpost, living in squalor and filth. Gohbus’s crust is barely holding together, and the Gohbus moon will be hurled out of orbit once the planet explodes.

Randall , a Dominion Wrangler, tracks Colin and Ballenger to the moon and is forced to use lobotomized Zerglings to sniff out Colin. The Zerglings have a collar on them that will explode at the touch of a button, and the Zerg that are loosed on the Moon’s civilians is made to look like a random Zerg incursion so that the Dominion can’t be implicated. The Wrangler tracks Colin and Ballenger to the neighborhood they are hiding in. Colin forces his thoughts deep down in order to avoid detection by the Zerg, but the Wrangler attacks him with a Psi Screen, an expensive piece of equipment used to pacify psychics. Ballenger takes Randall down and attempts to escape with Colin before they are ambushed by Zerg. Ballenger gets killed protecting Colin, but a Reaper squad flies in and saves him. Meanwhile, Randall wakes up and sees that a Zergling is coming for him. He attempts to blow up the Zergling’s collar, but it doesn’t work. Colin is captured and taken to the Ghost Academy, with the UNN acting as if disaster has been averted and the boy was saved. And deep within the recesses of the Umojan Protectorate, Senator Corbin Phash vows that he will expose the Ghost Academy for what it really is – something that Minister Jorgensen claims he can help him with.

 

starcraft frontline volume 3 review

Review:

“War-Torn” continues where “Weapon of War” left off in Frontline Volume 1, and the writing/art has much improved in the process. At first, it was strange seeing Kate Lockwell, a character from another Frontline story “Newsworthy”, depicted differently by the artist. Lockwell appears different in the Wings of Liberty single player demo as well, so now we shall have three different renditions of Kate. The artist of this story should find better ways to distinguish his characters: Kate Lockwell looks too similar to Macy from “Ghost Story,” and a random Marine named Smith looks too similar to Chuck Tyrosine from “Ghost Story” as well. The story also has a possible plothole. The studio holo-cast is dated June, 2500, which is during the events of the original StarCraft, but we see a Reaper squad in this story, and the new art style of Hydralisks in the previous story. Regardless, the story is engaging, and is an improvement over “Weapon of War”.

Story - 8/10
Art - 8/10


Do No Harm

Synopsis:

Templar Muadun, from Frontline Vol 1’s “Why We Fight,” has retired his rank as a Templar and has dedicated himself to nurturing the Alavash, a plant that grew on Aiur alongside the Protoss which enhances one’s connection to the Khala. Muadun’s friend, Azimar, attempts to dissuade him from this path, but in the end leaves Muadun to himself, who is later captured by a Protoss-human hybrid dubbed Gestalt Zero. Gestalt Zero is a Terran Ghost that is augmented by Khalai nerve appendages and whose mouth is stitched up. Muadun wakes up in the clutches of Dr. Burgess, a stereotypical madman scientist. Muadun is restrained, with his skull cracked open to expose his brain and a neural inhibitor implanted into his cerebrum.

Dr. Burgess cuts off Muadun’s nerve cords and implants them into Gestalt Zero, who, augmented with Templar-grade nerve cords, as opposed to Khalai caste nerve cords, performs at 187% combat effectiveness of a Ghost and above a level 7 Psi Index. Dr. Burgess claims that humanity’s victory in the psionic arms race is ensured, and he sends Gestalt Zero on missions in which he always returns victorious.

In the meantime, Dr. Burgess decides to test the Khala by sitting Muadun alongside another Protoss who has had its eye sliced out. Burgess tortures the Protoss such that Muadun can feel its pain as his own, and, unable to withstand such an atrocity, Muadun conjures up a Psionic Storm which destroys all the hardware in the room. Muadun breaks free of the metal restraints, but is pacified by Gestalt Zero. Later, back in his cell, Muadun realizes that the neural inhibitor cannot restrain his powers, and he calls up a Psionic Storm yet again, disabling the entire block. Gestalt Zero is sent to pacify the Protoss again. Muadun is killed, but not before he uses the Khala to implant his mind within Gestalt Zero. The Protoss, heeding Muadun’s psionic summons, warp in right above the base over where Burgess is conducting his experiments and, overrunning the human defenses, burn the entire base down. Gestalt Zero finds Dr. Burgess and kills him. Gestalt Zero’s mouth is unstitched, and he returns to the Protoss base as he grabs a leaf of the Alavash plant. Thus, Muadun’s place in Protoss legend has been assured.

 

starcraft frontline volume 3 review

Review:

Josh Elder, writer of “Why We Fight,” has no doubt produced the best stories in Frontline. This one however, was also the most shocking. The experiments done on the hapless Protoss was difficult to watch, but redemption was found when the Protoss returned for their comrades and burned the Terran base to the ground as the cruel Dr. Burgess was impaled on the end of a Psi Blade. A little quirk in the art is that though Protoss are supposed to be over 9 feet tall according to the original 1998 StarCraft box, at the end, Gestalt Zero is nearly one half the size of a Protoss when usually he is depicted as being slightly shorter than a Protoss in the rest of the manga. These are the kinds of things that a manga should clarify, not make more confusing. Nonetheless, this little quirk takes virtually nothing away from the story, and there are many scenes which look extremely stunning, such as Muadun’s last Psionic Storm, with his eyes glowing and nerve appendages flying back.

Story - 9/10
Art - 8/10


Last Call

Synopsis:

Starry Lace is a lounge singer at Sour Moon bar on the backwater mining post of Meteor Station. Ulrik, a Kel-Morian diplomat, stopped by the bar and got himself into a fist-fight with a mercenary. Starry saved Ulrik from getting pummeled further by getting on stage and singing. Afterwards, the two met up in Starry’s apartment where Ulrik mentioned Zerg sightings in nearby orbit, which elicited old memories from the singer. Starry was a singer in Tarsonis City when the Zerg attacked. As she was running away from the swarm, a Zerg Queen injected a parasite into her temple that does not show up on any full body scans.

After Ulrik left, Richard, a Dominion Colonel whom Starry has a relationship with, returned to Starry’s apartment and explained his troubles. Kel-Morians dug up a Xel’Naga artifact and he is supposed to retrieve it, which is becoming increasingly more difficult because he doesn’t know who he should talk to about it. Starry spends another night with Ulrik and asks him whether he is here for the Xel’Naga artifact, which he is. Starry then concocts a plan to have Richard and Ulrik meet so that they can resolve this issue. As Starry leads Richard to the meeting ground, the two start to question their relationship, but not before Ulrik arrives and they exchange the artifact. Unfortunately, the Zerg were interested in the artifact as well, killing both Richard and Ulrik. Starry wakes up later in a hospital, still under the thrall of the parasite which infested her on Tarsonis.

 

starcraft frontline volume 3 review

Review:

“Last Call” offers a good look into the Terran civilian’s life in the StarCraft universe, but apart from that the remainder of the story isn’t very appealing, lacking the typical action found in StarCraft: Frontline novels. The Zerg parasite that does not appear on scanners is quite interesting; any human could potentially be a spy for the Zerg swarm. Yet, it seemed unusual for anyone to be infected by the parasite during the Zerg invasion of Tarsonis. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason why the Zerg Overmind would have required human spies at that time. The purpose of the Zerg incursions into Terran worlds at that time was solely to gather genetic material. It was also somewhat odd seeing the new style of Zerg Queen appear in the flashback to the StarCraft timeline. Strangely enough, the new Hydralisks in this story were more reminiscent of the Hydralisks from the original game than the new style seen in StarCraft II. It didn’t seem that there was any kind of focus on accuracy and continuity. Yet, “Last Call” still offered a good look at current diplomatic intrigue between the Dominion and Kel-Morian Combine.

Story - 6/10
Art - 7/10


Twilight Archon

Synopsis:

The story begins with Rihod and another Protoss on a Mothership observing a species on a planet as per the dictates of the Dae’Uhl. Rihod claims that the Protoss are the species’ students, just like he is the student of Lekila, a Protoss female with whom he trained in the Templar school in Velari. Lekila is still training and enjoys teaching her students, as well as learning from them.

Meanwhile, on Aiur, the Templar school in Velari comes under attack by Zerg. Lekila leads her students away as Rihod races back to Aiur to aid in its defense. Rihod decides not to risk the Mothership once he learns that Aiur is being evacuated and goes in a shuttle. Lekila and her students have to fight their way through many Zerg to reach safety. Lekila has her nerve tendrils cut and can no longer connect to the Khala or sense any of her people, thinking that they have all been slain. Rihod barely stops Lekila from killing herself with a psionic storm from grief, and they return to Shakuras. Lekila is attended to a Dark Templar healer named Tyrak, where she grieves over her loss of the Khala. She tells the healer not to touch the devices on the remainder of her appendages, as they are there to stop the energy bleed. Lekila and Rihod are later sent on a mission to recover the Kassia crystal from the lower temple at the Velari school, which only Lekila knows now how to navigate. The Kassia crystal was believed to be used by the Xel’Naga to benefit population growth on Aiur, and it can also be used for the opposite effect. The Protoss eventually find the Kassia crystal, but Void energies are needed to actually retrieve it, which Lekila is forced to use. In order to save the Protoss ship waiting for them to get the Kassia crystal back to their people, Rihod and Lekila merge into a Twilight Archon. The merging created a mushroom cloud explosion, and the energy was seen from high orbit, as if it was a massive hurricane.

 

starcraft frontline volume 3 review

Review:

An interesting thing of note in this story is that it reveals that the artwork showing the Protoss standing on floating dais on is actually the interior of a Protoss Mothership. We also see what are perhaps new, crescent-shaped, Protoss ships. In addition, the Xel’Naga temple on Shakuras was shown to have a strange four-legged device sitting atop its shield, vaguely resembling a Xel’Naga artifact. However, the story does have a possible plothole: as soon as the Velari school discovered that the Zerg were attacking Aiur, they were ordered to evacuate within an hour. An entire StarCraft campaign spanned from when Aiur was first attacked to when the Protoss were ordered to evacuate. The high contrast art style in this story looks great. The downside is that it makes things hard to distinguish on many panels. Each StarCraft: Frontline artist has a different style for drawing Protoss. The Protoss females in this novel had faces that seemed a bit too round, and the males had strange facial patterns with ornaments on their chin seemed out of place. However, the Protoss bodies were arguably the best so far! The Protoss looked amazing in their power-suits, especially when they turned on their shields.

Story - 7/10
Art - 8/10

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starcraft frontline volume 3 review

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Conclusion:

The Frontline series of StarCraft comics are improving – of that there is no doubt. However, there still needs to be more attention on continuity. Among other things, drawing the new style of Zerg units (i.e. Queen) in the time of the original StarCraft is unnecessary – it is basically a retcon that serves no purpose especially when we could assume that the Zerg evolved over the years. Nevertheless, Blizzard and Tokyopop have produced awesome comics for StarCraft fans. We eagerly await the next volume. Here is a preview of what’s in store:

Chris Metzen, Blizzard Entertainment’s Senior Vice President, Creative Development, brings you a never-before-seen story of Jim Raynor’s past that leads directly into the highly anticipated videogame StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty…

Colin Phash is inducted into the Ghost Academy while his father Corbin runs for his life from which Colin is to become…

A sneak peak at StarCraft II’s repaer unit in a tale of revenge that explodes across the StarCraft universe and invites the wrath of a protoss dark templar…

A brave team of protoss dark templar face down an ancient evil threatening to envelop the Koprulu sector in madness…
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