The Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver comic is a single-issue promotional comic book, collaboratively published by Top Cow and Eidos Interactive in October 1999 as merchandise associated with Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. It was the first of two such publications, the other being the 2004 Legacy of Kain: Defiance comic. Writers and artists from Top Cow were credited for its production, adapting concept art and renderings provided by Eidos.
The comic serves as a brief prequel to the game, starring the vampire Raziel in a story shortly prior to his execution, as he encounters a mysterious entity who forewarns him of his impending journey. Notably, it makes direct reference to some of the material Crystal Dynamics were forced to excise from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in order to meet their deadline, including the character of the Priestess and the events at the Pinnacle of the Silenced Cathedral.
In an unidentified area in the events of Soul Reaver, the vampire Raziel reflects that it has been a millennium since he, the Council, and Kain began to subjugate Nosgoth and enslave humanity. He feeds upon what appears to be a human female when he realizes something is wrong; her Blood is neither that of a mortal nor a vampire. The woman identifies herself as a construct of the elder gods, sent to deliver him a prophetic warning. She intimates that Kain's empire is nearing its demise, that the immortality of vampires entails that souls are stuck in limbo, and that the balance between life and death has been compromised.[Soul Reaver comic]
The entity comments on Raziel's wings, noting that his pupation has surpassed Kain's. She alleges that Kain will prove jealous, and will rend the wings from Raziel's back before casting him into the Lake of the Dead – however, Raziel will live on, reborn as a reaver of souls. Enraged, Raziel denies the construct's portents as treachery poised to turn him against his brethren, and attacks her, decapitating her with his claws. Her disembodied head, now grotesquely deformed, remains sentient, and continues to taunt him. She predicts that his brothers Melchiah and Zephon will devolve into warped monsters, and that Raziel will murder them, consumed by fratricide.[Soul Reaver comic]
She states that Raziel will kill the High Priestess of the Vampire worshippers, and that the bells of the Silenced Cathedral will ring out across the land. Encouraging him to unveil the secrets of the ancients, she urges him to embrace his future. His patience exhausted, Raziel throws the construct's remains into a nearby fire, rejecting her claims and reaffirming his allegiance to Kain. He does not fear his master, as he is one of the few in Nosgoth who knows Kain's truth: that he, and all vampires, were once mortal. With this in mind, Raziel departs to meet the Council at the Sanctuary of the Clans, where he hopes to share in Kain's vision for their destiny.[Soul Reaver comic][Soul Reaver/1]
Development and releaseEdit
The Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver comic was released in October 1999, shortly after the game itself shipped. Its production was made easy thanks to previous "advance work" between Core Design, Eidos, and Top Cow on a series of Tomb Raider comic books. The Legacy of Kain publication was always conceived as a "one-shot deal", but series director Amy Hennig of Crystal Dynamics commented that "if interest in the game continues to be strong, it's not unreasonable to think that there may be more comics in the series. If so, the team and I would definitely love to collaborate with Top Cow on any future developments". A sequel did eventually materialize in the form of 2004's Legacy of Kain: Defiance comic.[Defiance comic]
Most of the "prophecy" panels in the comic are based on "signature shots" from the game. Top Cow's David Boller, the primary artist, "hadn't drawn many monsters" prior to his work on the project. He felt that "it was fun to work from the concept art Eidos had sent [him]", considering that "the challenge is to adapt the 3D renderings of the game in a style that is acceptable to the comic book audience". Some pieces of his monochrome line art for several pages were revealed prior to release in a "preview edition" for the Tomb Raider comic series, while other samples were published on his personal website.
As the comic was produced before Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was finalized, it contains a number of overt references to content which was cut from the originally-conceived design plans for that product's final chapters. Among these are a rare depiction of the deleted Priestess character, a mention of her Possess ability, hints that Raziel would conclusively confront and destroy Kain, and the planned epilogue involving Raziel's eradication of Nosgoth's vampires at the Pinnacle of the Silenced Cathedral.[Soul Reaver/Cut content] Time constraints entailed that none of these components could be produced and included in the finished game.
Although this is the first of Top Cow's contributions to the series, it is not the only Legacy of Kain comic which appeared in 1999. Another, the Vorgeschichte, was featured in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver - Das Offizielle Lösungsbuch, released that year.[Soul Reaver strategy guide (Eidos)] Comic book writer and artist Joe Madureira had also previously illustrated Raziel in his fan-art cover for March 1999's PlayStation Magazine.
- The mention and depiction of elements excised from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in the comic arguably renders its canonical status questionable. No references are made to its story in any subsequent Legacy of Kain media. However, it is considered an official production, and no statement casting doubt on its validity has ever been made by the series' producers.[Soul Reaver comic] As such, for purposes of presentation, the Legacy of Kain Wiki considers it fully canonical unless this stance is officially challenged in the future.
- In terms of in-universe chronology (but not in terms of release order), the comic provides the first (and earliest) depiction of the Soul Reaver era. Raziel identifies the time period as a millennium after the raising of the lieutenants, appears with his fully-fledged wings, and mentions his impending meeting with the Council – therefore, the comic is set very shortly before the introduction to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver takes place.[Soul Reaver comic][Soul Reaver/1] It is unclear where the comic's story transpires, but Raziel's Clan Territory is one possible setting.
- Several lines in the comic are partially adapted from dialogue in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, most significantly including Raziel's opening monologue in the game, and the term "redeemer and destroyer". Furthermore, the comic contains the only in-universe mention of the phrase "legacy of Kain" thus far.[Soul Reaver comic][Soul Reaver]
- The "witch" character identifies herself as a "construct of the elder gods" (plural). Her description of Nosgoth's souls and their stagnation closely mirrors the Elder God's speech regarding the Wheel of Fate. It is unclear if these points are intended to mark her as a servant of the singular Elder God, or an independent group of "elder gods".[Soul Reaver comic][Soul Reaver/1] Retroactively speaking, it is plausible that she is an agent of the Hylden, who could perceive the time-stream, and who frequently sent time-traveling Demons and Revenants to assail Raziel.[Soul Reaver 2/9][Defiance]
- In its own right, the comic establishes some facts which are never explicitly touched upon in the games themselves:[Soul Reaver comic]
- For unclear reasons, an entity or number of entities – presumably capable of viewing the time-stream – sent the construct to Raziel to inform him of his destiny.[Soul Reaver comic]
- Raziel was accurately forewarned about his execution and some of the seminal events of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, but chose not to heed the advice offered. He was inaccurately informed that he would slay the Priestess and make use of the Silenced Cathedral's true purpose – the failure of these particular events to come to light may be attributed to his free will.[Soul Reaver comic]
- The vampire Raziel is capable of distinguishing human and vampire blood, a point which could be taken as evidence that there is a certain amount of cannibalism going on in Kain's empire – with the human populace sufficiently diminished that vampires have begun feeding on each other.[Soul Reaver comic]
- According to the construct, the other members of the Council unanimously fear and loathe, but respect, Raziel. However, this is not necessarily true, given that she misinterprets, or attempts to mislead Raziel on, Kain's motives for executing him.[Soul Reaver comic][Defiance/13]
- Locations distinctively illustrated include the Sanctuary of the Clans/Pillars of Nosgoth, the Lake of the Dead/Abyss, and the City.[Soul Reaver comic] Given the presence of Melchiah, Zephon, and the Priestess, the Necropolis, the Silenced Cathedral, and the Undercity presumably comprise the backgrounds for their respective panels.[Soul Reaver/2][Soul Reaver/6][Soul Reaver/City] The statues shown behind Raziel as he tries to feed on the construct are also reminiscent of those seen in the game's main menu.[Soul Reaver]
- There is a high-quality Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver rendering of the wraith Raziel impaling a Melchahim vampire featured as a pull-out poster inside the comic.[Soul Reaver comic]
Unlike the Legacy of Kain: Defiance comic, the Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver comic does not include a credits page.[Soul Reaver comic][Defiance comic] Its cover art features the signatures of Top Cow artists Joe Benitez, Matt Nelson, and Joe B. Weems V, and the first page of its German localization identifies Matt Hawkins as responsible for text and David Boller responsible for artwork.[Soul Reaver comic] The website ComicBookDB.com includes a more comprehensive list of contributors:
- Writer/Text: Matt Hawkins[Soul Reaver comic]
- Penciller/Artwork: David Boller[Soul Reaver comic]
- Inker/Artwork: David Boller[Soul Reaver comic]
- Colorist: Matt Nelson
- Editors: Richard Bennett Lamas, David Wohl
- Cover Artists: Joe Benitez, Matt Nelson, Joe B. Weems V[Soul Reaver comic]
No Crystal Dynamics personnel are credited as having been involved in the production, although the later Legacy of Kain: Defiance comic does thank Amy Hennig and the Legacy of Kain: Defiance development team.[Defiance comic] Of the Top Cow staff who worked on the Legacy of Kain series, only Matt Hawkins receives a credit in both comics.[Soul Reaver comic][Defiance comic]
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Features: Interview: Soul Reaver's Amy Hennig at SegaWeb (by Craig Hansen)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 For Mr. Daniel Cabuco at the Eidos Forums (by Vampira), post #34 (by KainPainter)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Comic Books at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ The Priestess at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ Possession at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ The Final Battle with Kain at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ The Pinnacle of The Silenced Cathedral at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ Opening the Sounding Pipes at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ Soul Reaver Response at GameSpot (by Chris Johnston)
- ↑ Soul Reaver at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ SR Comic GERMAN version? at the Eidos Forums (by Ber), post #4 (by Ardeth Silvereni)
- ↑ PSM #19 at Comic Art Community
- ↑ The Priestess (The High Priestess of the Vampire Worshippers) at Dark Chronicle (by Marie Tryhorn)
- ↑ Question and Answer with Jen, Richard, and Kyle at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Question and Answer with Amy Hennig at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ The Undercity and The Temple at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ Comic 2 (Soul Reaver 1) at Legacy of Kain.de
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (1999) - #1 at Comic Book DB