I’m still riding the coat-tails of the Resident Evil 3 remake (Capcom, 2020) with my retrospective on Resident Evil: The Official Comic Magazine, a five-issue comic book released by WildStorm back in 1998 to 1999 that filled in events between, during, and after Resident Evil (ibid, 1996) and Resident Evil 2 (ibid, 1998) to flesh out the Resident Evil lore outside of the videogames.
We’ve already seen how issue one used four stories to tell a recap of Resident Evil and interludes between that game and its sequel, and how issue two reduced the stories within to three while expanding the page count and revolving entirely around the events of the sequel. Issue three, released in September 1998, keeps the three-story format but also reverts to telling interludes and side stories to the main series videogames.
The first story, “Wolf Hunt” (Adams, et al) takes place before the events of Resident Evil and revolves around Jill Valentine going undercover at Racoon City College after some particularly gruesome murders take place there. Barry Burton accompanies her as back-up and she is soon attacked by a wolf-like creature. She immediately kills it and the story ends with the strong implication that it was actually a werewolf.
This was basically a nothing story and really didn’t add much to Jill or Barry’s backstories or personalities beyond showing them working together before resident Evil. It s interesting to see Albert Wesker giving them orders and showing life in the Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) before the Tyrant-Virus (T-Virus) outbreak but, ultimately, it could have just been any story and supernatural elements shouldn’t really be involved with Resident Evil.
WildStorm finally introduce the Licker in the second story, “Danger Island” (Oprisko, et al), in which a couple find their island vacation ruined when a capsule containing the creatures breaks open on the island, releasing both them and the G-Virus upon the populace. Stan and Leslie (the aforementioned couple) soon find themselves beset upon by all manner of gigantic mutated creatures mutated by the G-Virus, in particular a massive eel that ensures that the Lickers don’t get a chance to actually do anything.
Stan is eventually able to kill the eel and, though he and Leslie are injured, they survive (using herbs to ease their wounds) and manage to call for help, only for William Birkin to show up and (it’s strongly implied) execute them to keep Umbrella’s secrets. This story focused more on the variety of mutated bio-organic weapons (BOWs) players can encounter in the Resident Evil videogames. There’s only one zombie, shown very briefly, ensuring that the story can focus entirely on the G-eel that relentlessly pursues Stan and Leslie. It’s a shame that the Lickers weren’t given more focus as the story could easily have been about them hunting prey using the island’s forestry as camouflage but it did provide a bit of a look at Birkin’s despicable character (even if he wasn’t really much of a hands-on kinda guy in the videogames).
The issue ends with “Dead Air” (Adams, et al) which is not only the first in a multi-part story (a first for the comic) but also a direct sequel to side stories seen in the last two issues. This story sees Chris Redfield, Barry Burton, and Jill (looking a lot like Chris’s sister, Claire, for some reason), travel to London after the events of the first game. This is interesting as, while other stories and the videogames had eluded to Chris travelling to Europe to investigate Umbrella further, I don’t believe it was ever stated that he went with his old partners, at least not before Resident Evil 5 (Capcom, 2009).
As you might expect, a T-Virus outbreak occurs once they’re in the air, forcing the characters to have to battle them without their usual weapons. Amidst the outbreak and the desperate situation, Jill realises that she’s beaten the infected pilot into mush, leaving the plane hurtling through the air in a downward spiral.
This story opts for the more close-quarters combat players can come to expect from Resident Evil’s claustrophobic environments but we’ve yet to actually battle an outbreak on a plane before; there was that outbreak on the narrow cabins of the train in Resident Evil Zero (Capcom, 2002) but the closest the series has come to exploring an airborne outbreak was in the opening scenes of Resident Evil: Degeneration (Kamiya, 2008), which is a bit surprising really.
After issue two only included a brief artist’s gallery, issue three features another interview with Resident Evil producer Shinji Mikami, though it’s decidedly less interesting as the last one as he mainly dodges questions about Resident Evil sequels and talks about his childhood. In the end, issue three is a lot weaker than issue two but, between “Danger Island” and “Dead Air”, there’s some decent action/horror to experience here. Starting a multi-part story on issue three rather and issue one was an…interesting idea as, usually, continuous stores are used by comics to entice readers into buying the next issue. I guess the strength of the Resident Evil brand was enough that WildStorm felt they could wait a few issues before trying to do sequential stories.
Did you ever read the Resident Evil comics published by WildStorm? Would you be interested in the series receiving a reprint as the collection is currently out of print? Do you have a favourite piece of ancillary Resident Evil media? Drop a comment below and come back next Tuesday for my rundown of issue four.