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Review: ANTHEM – Strong Alone, Stronger Together

Thanks to  Dark Horse for providing a copy of ANTHEM – Strong Alone, Stronger Together for review!

This new Dark Horse title is based on the multiplayer action role-playing video game by BioWare and published by EA that was released back in February of this year.  I have played this game religiously (might do a review on it, but not here), so I was very excited to see that a comic had been written to get us up to speed on what happened prior to the start of the game.  The game does provide some background, but not enough to fully comprehend the state of the planet and humanity’s struggle to survive.

Our story follows Jani and Kismet, children who met under terrible circumstances and formed an unbreakable bond.  

Kismet was just a boy when the strider he was on was ambushed… Scars were to blame.  An almost immortal insectoid species, Scars do not think or care about the havoc they wreak as they are merely scavengers.  Although their physical body can be killed, they do not actually die. Instead, their “soul” returns back to their own and is essentially recycled into a new “body”.  

Yarrow, a Freelancer comes to Kismet’s rescue and takes him to his new home, Fort Tarsis.  Freelancers like Yarrow are adventurers who wear exosuits to defend humanity from Scars and other threats beyond the city walls.  

When Kismet arrives at Fort Tarsis, Jani’s grandmother takes him in and that is where their adventure begins.  The comic then takes you through multiple years, following the two protagonists of our story. Jani is strong-willed and thick headed; only thinking about how she can become a Freelancer and leave the safety behind the walls of Fort Tarsis.  While Kismet, constantly struggling with his fears of leaving the city walls becomes a Cypher, humans who are able to communicate mentally over long distances and assist the Freelancers in their missions. And although they go their separate ways for a time, their bond remains strong.  

Many years pass.  Jani has become a Freelancer and Kismet a Cypher.  There have been struggles, but it all led up to the final moment; to complete a contract and find out if the rumors are true regarding a military group called the Dominion and if the rumor of war is truly coming.  Everything seems calm and quiet in the beginning, but things go terribly wrong. Kismet finally deals with the fears he has tried to suppress and Jani becomes the strong Freelancer she has always wanted to, but at a cost.  Lives are lost, but in the end, those who survive now truly understand the meaning of, “Strong alone, stronger together.”

Although the story of these two is not as exciting as some of the other characters in the game, it provides an enjoyable backstory.  Be prepared to have your emotions give you whiplash though. Right out of the gate you are thrust into loss and sadness. This is a quick read and well written and although you get a description of the antagonists of the story, I wish it provided just a bit more backstory.  I hope that the next episodes have this, as I would really like to hear more about the Dominion and their reasons for the choices they made.  

Definitely give this a read, especially if you have, or plan to play the game.  It will at least fill in some blanks that the game apparently felt the need to leave out.  

ANTHEM – Strong Alone, Stronger Together will be released on August 13th.

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