With Ana making her recent debut into Overwatch, she’s become one of the central players in Overwatch’s fall and resurgence. In her intro comic, Legacy (written by Andrew Robinson and art by Bengal), we’ve seen the pivotal moment of her fall, and now, in Old Soldiers, Ana once again takes center stage as we’re given hints to things to come for Ana, Soldier 76, Reaper and the Overwatch cast overall.
Blizzard has taken the multi-media approach to updating players and fans of Overwatch the lore and story pushing the narrative forward. Previously, we’ve seen the stories of individual heroes and the moments between the original Fall of Overwatch and the Recall issued by Winston. Pharah gave us insight on the existence of God Programs and the original hints to the presumed tragic end of Ana Amari, McCree took us on a train ride full of Talon mercenaries playing by Blackwatch’s old playbook, and now Old Soldiers brings us into what we can assume is almost present day, as Soldier 76 enters Giza in search of old ghosts and answers.
Michael Chu takes us into a present narrative following Soldier 76 infiltrating a compound aligned in some regard with Reaper (and perhaps Talon by extension). Chu tackles a different kind of comic in Old Soldiers which puts it in a different category than any of the previous comics in the Overwatch Library. Rather than being a solo/duo story, this comic feels more like a prelude to a team book. Old Soldiers, for the most part, is less of a Legacy story, and more akin to Junkrat’s and Roadhog’s comic, Going Legit.
We’re treated to an immediate story focusing on building the events of present day Overwatch, rather than establishing the background history of the organization and the heroes within. Old Soldiers, in a sense, is ‘getting the gang back together’ when one of the gang wants the other two dead. Reaper makes his first comic debut, Ana comes back from the shadows, and Soldier 76 finds out the hard way not to enter the objective zone alone.
Bengal, also credited for his work on Legacy and DC’s Batgirl and The Joker: Endgame, brings the story together with strong visuals akin to what fans and players are accustomed to in game. Reaper in particular stands out as excellently portrayed. Where Ana and Soldier 76 are seen in hard, distinct lines, Reaper is a blend of smoky brushes and stark, solid highlights. It’s not easy articulating the kind of mechanics seen in game, but Bengal does well to capture the fluid movement and shifting presence of Reaper in few panels.
While Old Soldiers gives readers a much desired reunion between – arguably – the Big Three in Overwatch mythos, the pacing of the story causes the reveals to fall flat.
Comics, in general, run about 23-25 pages, giving the readers, writer and artist enough time to capture the flow of the story and weave into the next entry in the series. Overwatch comics fall into an unfortunate limbo; at most, the comics reach about 10 pages and stand alone in a series that wants to build up into a greater story. Previously, this set up worked well for one shots focusing on specific characters, but Old Soldiers feels more like a prelude to greater work. Old Soldiers has the feel of something wanting to be the first issue to a comic series, but doesn’t reach the sweet spot of setting the ground work to build upon.
In particular, the reunion between Ana and Soldier 76 feels rushed and exposition, rather than an organic meeting between two old friends, both presumed dead.
Only so much can be done in so few pages, and the while some stories do this well, Old Soldiers feels just short of hitting a resonating note.
Old Soldiers sets the stage for things to come in the Overwatch world. While Old Soldiers is an imperfect prelude into things to come, it still stands as a good entry into what lies ahead for Overwatch. The major players are put into motion, alongside teases to the long speculated hero, Sombra. In true Overwatch fashion, the comic is sprinkled with hints towards future content and foreshadowing for new threats on the horizon. Soldier 76 is recruiting, and it’s only a matter of time before we see what kind of war looms over the horizon.
Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s John Roshell, Jimmy Betancourt, and Albert Deschesne