Ubisoft’s Far Cry franchise possesses a curious history in terms of how its narrative has evolved throughout each game. The first two, while top-tier sandbox fps games, were relatively light on story, letting the action and highly flammable environments take the lead. When Far Cry 3 came out in 2012, the franchise discovered its true identity: signature sandbox gameplay with a deep sense of narrative complete with an iconic villain, Vass Montenegro in this case. This is the format subsequent games adhered to and it’s what Dark Horse’s new Far Cry comic sets out to celebrate.
Far Cry: Rite of Passage #1, written by Bryan Edward Hill and illustrated by Geraldo Borges, sets out to establish the father/son relationship that seems to be at the center of Far Cry 6, the newest yet-to-be released entry in the franchise, in which a dictator named Anton Castillo tries to prepare his son Diego on the day of his thirteenth birthday for the things he must do when he grows up.
Issue 1 tries to establish a lineage of villainy for the Far Cry universe and it starts with Anton telling his son the story of Vaas Montenegro, a man that represents a kind of aspirational but cautionary tale about how morality can shackle power. Vaas’ trajectory is laid out like a triumph of self-determination that led to self-destruction after underestimating the challenges he met during the third game’s story.
The way Vaas’ story is laid out positions him as an imperfect example to follow, but an example nonetheless. The setup works beautifully as Anton’s narration comes off as an extension, in weight and tone, of the narrative trailer Ubisoft released for Far Cry 6. As of the writing of this review, details on the actual game and its characters are scarce, so Rite of Passage is a much needed look at what FC6 might end up being about, especially for fans.
Anton is played by Giancarlo Esposito in the game and the comic manages to capture the measured intensity the Breaking Bad actor brings to the character. Borges gets Esposito’s likeness most of the time and it helps the reader see the trailer and the comic as both being part of a whole. The same goes for Vaas, who is played by Michael Mando in FC3. His likeness is also a highlight and helps differentiate the two Far Cry stories from each other.
Hill’s script succeeds in creating an environment that isn’t just a mere transfer of the game into the comics page. He’s not afraid to lean heavy on narrative at the expense of action. Rite of Passage isn’t a retread of past games nor is it a giant action set-piece. It’s all character development and character study. Hill goes out of his way to give Far Cry ‘s villains the attention they deserve.
The remaining entries of Far Cry: Rite of Passage will each take on one of the main bad guys from parts four and five of series. The next issue will focus on FC4’s Pagan Min, with Joseph Seed being the focus of issue #3.
Seed presents the possibility of controversy as his characterization in FC5 responds to American gun worship and cult politics. Previous villains feel distanced enough from the American experience that they can be taken as foreign threats in foreign lands, thus a reflection of crime and corruption elsewhere. Seed casts a more complex reflection of American behavior and the country’s relationship with fringe groups. Issue #3 has the potential to really explore some dark themes.
Far Cry: Rite of Passage is an ambitious character study of bad people. Hill and Borges treat the subject matter with the seriousness it deserves while also celebrating Far Cry’s rogues gallery. It’s a strong companion to the game series and even deepens our understanding of the sandbox world Far Cry presents gamers with. Hill and Borges make it a treat to get up close and personal with evil men.
Writer: Bryan Edward Hill Artist: Geraldo Borges
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh, Letters: Cover: Matt Taylor
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0
Recommendation: Buy and make sure to brush up on your survival skills.