Tokyopop provided a copy of Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 for review. I have been awaiting this volume for months with a lot of enthusiasm because Chris Metzen is the writer of one of the stories. It’s titled HOMECOMING. Basically it is a backstory tie-in with Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. We were invited to play the Single Player back on July 17, and fans could play the single player demo at Blizzcon 2009. Those who were able to may have experienced and interacted with Jim Raynor at the Joey Ray’s Bar in Mar Sara the first three missions.
The story in this manga starts with Jim Raynor crossing the streets of Mar Sara on his Vulture hovercraft unit and arrives to a ruined house. On the ground there’s a secret vault that opens up after he enters the password. It contained, within, a box that held his Marshall badge, a photo of the Heaven’s Devils with Tychus Findlay in it, the Heaven’s Devils insignia, and more importantly … his wedding ring. You can see all of this in our recent preview scans.
The story is very nicely told shifting from the present to the past, back and forth. We get to see flashes of Jim Raynor’s past with his pregnant wife, then back to the present as Raynor browses through his box of memories. The artwork is great, except for some inconsistencies between young Raynor and old Raynor. And a bit of a puzzle … why is Jim Raynor getting letters from the Confederates, instead of email or a video transmission? If Jim Raynor is a Marshall in the story, why is he not bald-shaved following military protocol like we met him in Starcraft. Oddities in continuity. Constructive criticism aside, let’s move on to the juicy highlights of this story.
There is a fast-forward scene with his child playing, and a conversation with his wife about their future together. The Confederates sent a letter to Jim Raynor to inform him that his child’s tests revealed some potential psi-abilities and want to train him off-world.
Jim Raynor opposed that decision, but his wife wanted the child to serve their people and sorta have a brighter future than his dad … did that stung his pride as a backwater Marshall. Shortly after the Confederates took the child off-world, Raynor was informed that his child tragically died in an accident. Year, right. Those dirty backstabbing treacherous lying @#$%. Overall, I enjoyed the short story … I see some interesting potential twists in the mind of a man of ideas: Chris Metzen. Did Jim Raynor’s child truly died? Did the Confederates secretly trained the child into a Ghost? If so, after the Arcturus built the Terran Dominion and took over the Ghost Program … what could have been of him?
I’m not sure if I am reading the signals correctly, but here is my take on this:
A. An unknown brand-new character
B. Agent Devon Starke (Ghost # 25876)
C. Is he among the Starcraft Ghost: Academy cadets?
C. Drools …. protoss/human hybrid: Gestalt Zero (former human)
I see some drama coming our way throughout the three episodes of StarCraft II. The manga story by Chris Metzen wraps up at the Joey Ray’s Bar where we see how the Mar Sara Marshal badge ends up strapped to the wall in-game, and a report by Kate Lockwell plays in the background. Here we see Raynor taking his first glass of alcohol, and we learn why he stubbornly persists on his fight against Arcturus and his Terran Dominion.
The story was too short, and could have explored other aspects of Jim Raynor’s past, such as a more in-depth view of the Heaven’s Devils team, and those outlaw stuff Raynor did in his young years prior to marrying. At least just a mention. I guess we will have to find out on April 6, 2010 when Pocket Books launches Starcraft: Heaven’s Devils by William C. Dietz.
A little backstory or mention of the Zerg invasion, the destruction of the infested Command Center that got him arrested by the Confederates, his liberation by Arcturus Mengsk and other stuff could have served to stretch the story a bit longer than what we got, but I am optimistic that Chris Metzen’s story had two specific goals: to see what the ghosts tormenting Jim Raynor are, and my personal interpretation of a possible plot hanging in the air … did the Confederates say the truth about Raynor’s son? Did he truly die? Will his son play an important role in the game, and later climax revealing out of nowhere X character is his son?
This manga doesn’t really answer any of those questions. As far as I read, Jim Raynor did never see a corpse. He simply read a letter saying so. He took it for granted to be true. And we know you should never trust a Confederate, as they manipulate the info for their own deceptive and secret agenda. Will this plot find out its way into any of the three episodes of Starcraft II? Or in a Starcraft II novel maybe? In a Starcraft: Ghost game? Hmm .. that’s worth a thought. More on the next Starcraft: Frontline Vol. 4 stories as I read them. For now, get your hands on this final volume of the Starcraft: Frontline series, and if you can, collect the other four volumes. They have very nice plots that tie-in with the single player — as you can hear straight from Chris Metzen in our video interview.