I feel like a lot of people don’t understand exactly how intertwined most of pop culture is. Prime example, obviously, would be the Avengers and the MCU, but a lot of stuff crosses mediums other than movies. Video games are a staple for many folks my age and younger and the emergence of a smaller platform like cellphones have made fertile ground for RPG’s and other games. I only mention the cross medium aspect because when I was asked to review some comics from Shades of Vengeance I didn’t realize that they were accompanied by games.
Of course the first thing I did was read a couple of comics from Shades of Vengeance; Counting Down From One, and Blue Shift: Frenemies. Both comics bring something different to the table and I was torn on which one to review but after going to Shades of Vengeance website and seeing what they were all about I quickly realized that there was much more than just a comic review in store. As I said, Shades of Vengeance crosses games with comics and I feel that this is important for a few reasons; it gives the games a certain amount of free publicity, and as the comics do the same for the games they both reach out to two audiences. This happens a lot in comics, the property licenses and such, like GI Joe and Transformers being made at IDW. What this does for both toys and comics is a scratch my back I scratch yours agreement that seems to really do well for all parties involved. What Shades of Vengeance has done is cut out the property licenses and created both themselves; no middle man, no licensing problems, no paying out, and all the plus of cross advertisement and money making.
I read two completely different comics; Era The Consortium Counting Down From One, and Blue Shift Frenemies. Both comics are unique in their own way, meaning they have different art style and completely different characters and plots. Counting Down From One has a bit of a more common art style while Blue Shift has a more pastel painted look to it. Blue Shift is about a speedster and is highly serviceable as a comic and Counting Down From One follows a group of time travelers as they arrive to their destination.
Blue Shift’s speedster element is intertwined with her quirky and witty personality as she navigates life with an alter ego that can move really fast. This comic hits all of the speedster notes and incorporates the idea of the empowered which I’m guessing is the basis for the RPG and is this world’s version of super powers. There appears to be an unlimited amount of powers but in this comic we have a speedster, teleporter, electric powers, and what appears to be a super bad bad guy with necromancy powers. I enjoy the super power element to this comic because they don’t rely on the powers to move the story, it’s important to the story, but the character development is what’s really takes center stage. I’m very curious how this comic plays out within the both the comic and the RPG.
Counting Down From One is a comic that’s much more up my alley, a Sci-Fi tale set in a world visually similar to stuff like Warhammer or Warframe. I love the Sci-Fi stories that are based on other worldly colonization and space stations, it’s a fertile ground for creativity and visually stunning character design. Although what I said is true, the world is ripe with potential, there are no aliens and the writing for Counting Down From One is what really drives this comic. It starts with time travelers coming back in time to stop an evil leader but it quickly shows itself to be as much an exploration of the intellectual idea behind time travel and messing with linear time as much as it is a typical Sci-Fi story. In the end it made me think a lot about not only the ideas of the Consortium world but the implications of actions throughout the comic universe as well as what that would mean for game play in the RPG world. At the end of Counting Down From One I was invested in the idea behind the comic and was more than intrigued on where the story was going.
Both comics are connected to the RPG’s; Counting Down From One is connected to Era: The Consortium, while Blue Shift is connected to Era: The Empowered. Shades of Vengeance has about eight RPG games and two card games, all of which are fairly different from each other so there is a lot of room for growth within comics that are connected to the worlds being built through the RPG’s as well as the RPG’s themselves. Clearly these have been made with passion and love for the world’s their building, but don’t just take my world for it, here is a quote from creator Ed Jowett.
“The history we are able to include in a Core Rulebook is a broad, sweeping representation of history. We love these universes, though, so we wanted to tell more stories within them. We have a long-time pro on our creative team, who wrote for several of the large companies in comics for years, and we decided to put that together to make a new dimension to storytelling for the events of the universe.”
If you enjoy RPG games or just want to read some comics checkout Shades of Vengeance at their website, Blue Shift and Counting Down From One are available digitally through their website and Comixology.