“Based on the Best-Selling Video Game Franchise,” DC’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution has one aesthetic advantage over its recently initiated DC Universe Online Legends comic in that it doesn’t fool around with characters established in the pre-game era. Set in 2027, the game spin-off posits a future where biotechnology has progressed to the point where “augs,” humans who have been cybernetically augmented, have become prevalent. Our series lead, Adam Jensen, is a former cop who has had over fifty per cent of his body replaced by mechanical parts. “You’re a man, Jensen, not a machine,” one of his colleagues states after our hero has successfully rescued a kidnapping victim. “Kinda hard to tell these days,” the hard-case Jensen replies.
Our hero works as security chief for Sarif Industries, the mega-corporation responsible for making augmentation more accessible to masses. Opposing Sarif are anti-aug groups — moderate Humanity First and the more violent terrorist group more sinisterly self-named Purity First — as well as a variety of underworld types wanting a piece of the biotech action. First ish of the “mature readers” comic, timed to be released with the newest variation of the Deus Ex video game, opens with Jensen saving the niece of Sarif’s founder from some way nasty types in Juarez, Mexico, and ends with a Humanity First demonstration being violently disrupted by an aug who thinks nothing of forcing his arm through the head of an on-camera TV newsman. In between we’re given background on the ideological conflict that’s fueling all this brutal conflict — including a reflection by Humanity First founder William Taggart on the psychological trauma being experienced by augs like our surly hero.
Writer Robbie Morrison slathers on the hard-boiled attitude — Jensen is the type of hero willing to use a thug as a body shield when the bullets start flying — and artist Trevor Hairsine clearly gets a charge out of drawing flying bodies. How close this lean little dystopian tale is to the actual game I couldn’t say, though as a stand-alone piece of genre work, Deus Ex Human Revolution moves in a brisk no-nonsense fashion that gets the job done. If we must have comics based on video games (and considering the state of the American comic book industry, I don’t see publishers shying away from ‘em any time soon), this is probably the way to go.