StarCraft: Scavengers #1-4 Review
I have been an avid reader of all Blizzard properties that come to books and comics. I had a lot of expectations knowing that BlizzCon was in the horizon. In my opinion, Dark Horse Comics didn’t deliver a satisfactory story in StarCraft: Scavengers #1-4. I will explain in my review below.
Jody Houser is a known writer in DC Comics and Marvel Comics with Justice League of America: Road to Rebirth, Supergirl, Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation, Amazing Spiderman: Renew Your Vows (2016-2018), and Spider-Girls under her portfolio… to name a few.
“After years of terrible warfare, a paper-thin ceasefire is all that stands between terrans and their erstwhile alien adversaries, the enigmatic protoss and the savage zerg. But peace can be a prison for those who wish to make their fortune in the Koprulu sector. All it takes is one ship, one daring crew… and everything could change.”
The summary contains spoilers. You are warned.
The story starts aboard the Kel-Morian scavenger ship: The Magpie. Caleb is a young engineer. Caleb and Kyra are friends, and he joined the Magpie crew just recently. Caleb is the main character of this story.
The Kel-Morian scavengers led by Captain Theban have ventured into Terran Dominion space to scavenge a derilict protoss ship that within hours is going to plummet out of orbit into the uninhabited planet below. The goal is to scavenge protoss technology and fuel cells for an enigmatic patron in the UED (United Earth Directorate).
The Dominion and the Protoss have a treaty, and any ship coming to this sector in space is in violation of the treaty. The Magpie crew know this, but still ventured into this salvage mission because the rewards are worth the risk. Once the protoss ship crashes into the planet, all evidence of their presence in the sector is gone. Or so says the captain to his crew.
The crew hasn't had a good year in terms of profit, but the captain is offering double the share to those who agree to embark into this salvage mission. All members volunteered.
Caleb joined the crew thanks to his friend Kyra, but she was not completely truthful to what the gig was about. The captain and Kyra kept the true goal of the mission hidden from Caleb.
Caleb's skills were welcomed after the loss of the previous engineer Jonas and his crew. They needed to fill the role for this mission.
From the get-go, Kyra knows that the Magpie's captain has been paid by the UED to salvage the protoss ship.
Flashback: Caleb and Kyra are shown as kids running through a farmer field. Later as teens, Caleb is repairing a vehicle next to the farm.
I have a problem with how the story is told. We don't know the name of the uninhabited planet. We don't know the name of the derilict protoss ship. We don't know the name of Caleb and Kyra's homeworld even during the one-page flashback. Don't even know why there was a flashback, as it's not explained.
All I can assume is that Caleb, who was leaning against the wall at the moment of the flashback was thinking about Kyra. Maybe he is in love, and she doesn't know yet.
Another problem is too much freedom in making up vehicles, weapons, and uniforms that are not known in the canon. The protoss ship doesn't resemble anything I am familiar with. The strange spacesuits can be ignored under the excuse that these are Kel-Morian scavengers.
Orry and other crew members find a sealed door. After opening it, an intense light blinds them. They aren't sure of the source, but Orrin detected movement within the chamber. The crew is slashed to death by an invisible assailant.
For a first issue, it was a bit bland but understandable. It ends in a cliffhanger. But obviously, any StarCraft fan would immediately assume it is a Dark Templar.
Note: Scroll up to continue reading the summary of Issue #2.
Orry, Vince, and Chase were gutted by the Dark Templar. Captain Theban attempted to contact them through the comm link to no avail. This disturbed him and alerted the crew to be on their guard. In the meantime, the Captain, Kyra, and Caleb kept searching the ship. The Captain had told their crew they had come to gather any kind of protoss technology they could find, but in reality the UED had asked the Captain to collect a specific item: a power core.
Sharon runs to the remaining crew members to alert them they were not alone, but she is pulled into the shadows and slain before another crew member: Gene. The Captain rallies the remaining crew members and prepare to abandon the protoss ship. Gene informs something he couldn't see killed Sharon, and request to hunt for the assailant. The Captain disagrees, and wishes to leave.
Caleb suggests they return to the ship to pick weapons, then come back to search for the missing crew to find out if they are still alive. However, at the Magpie, the door is locked. The Captain uses an override device to unlock the door. Inside, they find out the bridge is sealed and the door is jammed from within. The Captain asks Caleb to find a way to open the door.
The plan is to decouple The Magpie from the Protoss ship before it falls through the atmosphere, then take care of the mysterious assailant who seems to have come onboard the Magpie. Or so they thought. The door opens on its own, and a flash grenade rolls before them, blinding them.
Captain Barlow enters the room along other Dominion marines. She demands the Magpie crew to surrender. They are all under arrest.
Note: Scroll up to continue reading the summary of Issue #3.
Overview: "Terran scavengers are trapped between Dominion forces and a malevolent entity lurking in the shadows of a derelict protoss ship."
Gene opened fire, and all heck broke loose. In the crossfire, a Magpie crew member got shot on the face, another got shot on the shoulder. Captain Theban lowered his weapon and surrendered. Asked the team to do the same.
The Dominion captain looked at Caleb and noticed he was just a young guy. She chose him for interrogation to find out who the Magpie crew was and why they had violated the protoss/dominion treaty.
Caleb explains they had come to salvage the protoss ship, but that their illegal operation shouldn't worry her now, but the assailant they had encountered aboard, as he suspects it is now aboard the Magpie.
The Dominion marines entered the protoss ship to corroborate the allegued assailant story. They found the gutted corpses of the Magpie crew.
The marine read the protoss logs, and while he couldn't decipher much, he discovered the protoss ship was a prison ship holding a single Nerazim prisoner. A heretic or worshipper of something who enjoyed the slaying of other protoss zealots.
Captain Collins, another marine, was tasked with sealing the Dominion ship's door, but the Dark Templar killed him, and entered.
Caleb is escorted from the interrogation room back to the prison cell. The marine pushed him to his knees, but Caleb uses the momentum to push the marine off-balance, falling hard on his back.
The crew killed the marine, and gathered weapons to confront the unsuspecting marines by surprise. They ambush the marines, but not before one of them pushes a button that shoots a laser at the Magpie ship, destroying it.
Kyra goes berserk and shoots Captain Barlow on the chest, then stomps her boot on her face three times.
Caleb sees this in horror, and gets a flashback each time Kyra stomps her boot on the Dominion captain's face. The daydreams of a loving Kyra in their childhood, and of gratitude for helping him leave the farmer life to join the Magpie crew... the image of the person he thought he knew and loved in secret... gone. Replaced by a blood-thirsty and vengeful murderer.
Captain Theban asks Grace to pilot the Dominion ship. They no longer have the Magpie, but can drive the Dominion ship back to their homeworld. They no longer have the protoss technologies scavenged, but at least they still have the power core.
An eerie voice interrupts the captain. They look back in horror as a Dominion corpse talks to them.
Note: Scroll up to continue reading the summary of Issue #4.
Captain Theban confirms the marine is dead, but he is still speaking. It is the dark templar talking telepathically through the marine corpse. This is such a red flag for me. This is not telepathy. This is not mind control. You need a brain for that. Otherwise, we are talking about a supernatural ability, which to my knowledge is not canon in StarCraft -- except for maybe Amon.
The Captain reveals the UED wants the protoss power core to use the technology against the protoss. Grace protests she was not told they were doing this salvage mission for the UED, and demands an explanation. She wouldn't have volunteered. The Captain shoots her in the chest.
Caleb suggests they should seal the bridge and open the hatches to expulse the assailant. The Captain doesn't think that would kill a protoss, and decides to go all out gun blazing instead. Gene is stabbed by the dark templar from behind, and the Captain is decapitated.
Only Caleb and Kyra remain alive. The dark templar declares she only needs one of them alive to pilot the Dominion ship. Kyra doesn't blink and offers herself as the smart choice. Caleb surrenders and asks the dark templar to choose Kyra.
The dark templar asks Kyra to eliminate Caleb. Kyra turns around and points her rifle at Caleb. The dark templar stabs Kyra from behind. She chose Caleb for his malleability, and apparently the dark templar enjoys other people's pain. Maybe even tastes it? There's something definitely odd with this non-traditional dark templar.
Issue #4 ends with Caleb piloting the Dominion ship. The dark templar right behind his seat.
Then the promo for StarCraft: Soldiers #1.
The name of the dark templar is never mentioned. The destination where she wants Caleb to fly either.
Note: Scroll up to continue in the Characters tab.
- Captain Nero Theban
- Captain Barlow
- Captain Collins
NOTE: Scroll down to continue reading this article.
I was expecting some kind of StarCraft II: What’s Next tie-in comics that would lay the background story in preparation to whatever game, expansion, or DLC content pack Blizzard is working on. To a degree we got a couple teases, but not enough material to get hyped about.
It took 4-issues to reveal two things:
1. The Kel-Morian Magpie ship’s crew was hired to retrieve a power core from a derelict protoss ship that is a few hours away from falling through a uninhabited planet’s atmosphere.
2. The UED (United Earth Directorate) hired the Magpie crew.
That is everything that is relevant in the entire story. Nothing else matters. Why? Read the brief spoilers below or skip.
All the characters that appeared in this mini-series die, except for Caleb and the Nerazim dark templar.
What was the point of this mini-series?
The plot also has a few cringe-worthy moments. For example, when the crew stops responding through the comm link, the captain orders the surviving members to retreat back to the Magpie ship. Caleb, a inexperienced young crew member, suggest they return to the ship to gather some weapons to find out if any of the missing crew is still alive. A crewmate praises his good idea. I rolled my eyes back, hard. They enter an alien ship with no weapons, and they know they are illegally entering Dominion space in a restricted zone. Dominion forces can show up any time, but they leave all their weapons behind in their ship.
In another scene, Caleb is escorted from the interrogation room aboard the Dominion ship to the prison cell to join the Magpie crew. The marine pushes Caleb, and he lands hard on his knees. Without any combat experience, and both his hands in handcuffs, he spins around and with a smack of his handcuffed hands he hits the marine on his legs and the marine lands hard on his back. I don’t think it is that easy to do that to a Marine armored-suit just with bare hands. It is just not realistic. I could totally dig if Caleb turns around and hits the marine square in the jaw with the broad metal handcuffs, and knocks him out. Lot of armor, but no helmet? I’d go for it.
We barely know anything about the female Nerazim dark templar other than she was held prisoner in the protoss prison ship. She enjoyed killing a bunch of zealots, and she is an heretic and worshipper. However, after finishing all 4-issues, I still don’t know the dark templar’s name, her goals, or her past.
Of Caleb, all I know is that he is a young mechanic and engineer. The homeworld name is never mentioned. I don’t know if he is from Earth or from a Kel-Morian Combine world. He is a farmer. Kyra was his childhood friend, and platonic love. Kyra helped him join the Magpie crew, leaving behind his farmer life. That’s all.
At the end of the 4-issues, I don’t know what the purpose of the comics mini-series was. The only hype here is: Kel-Morian Combine and UED might be featured in an upcoming StarCraft II content. Yet, there is no guarantee that’s the case. This could just be a self-contained story instead of a tie-in.
For example, the DC Comics/Wildstorm StarCraft series featured the War Pigs. Mostly none of the plot was a tie-in with StarCraft II. Except, you can hire the War Pigs at the Hyperion’s bar, and they make a cameo in Legacy of the Void.
The protoss ship doesn’t look like anything I have seen before, which makes me wonder what’s up with continuity. The only explanation I can muster is that because it is a prison ship, with only one prisoner, the artist took the liberty to craft his own vision of the protoss ship.
Overall, in terms of visuals, the artist Gabriel Guzman and colorist Michael Atiyeh made a very pleasant job, and I would definitely like to see more.
Plotwise, I really don’t know how to review this mini-series without sounding disrespectful, other than I feel disappointed. Maybe I am too demanding on the quality of canon material and the story development expected from a Blizzard Entertainment licensed comics.
I will definitely check out the StarCraft: Soldiers ongoing series, but I will be very vocal if things don’t get drastically better and start to tie-in with the StarCraft: What’s Next content.
Dark Horse Comics plans to launch an ongoing series titled StarCraft: Soldiers. The first issue (Kindle) is slated to launch on January 23, 2019. You can pre-order it now for $3.99.