Borderlands, Vol. 3: Tannis & the Vault ReviewMay 12, 2015
The world of Borderlands is quite unique. Not only are the games amazingly stylized gun-porn murder simulators, but they have a great sense of dry, dark humor that you’ll find yourself laughing maniacally as you eviscerate enemies with acid grenades that also implode and then explode.
Add in a slew of highly rated and beloved games (into which I’ve sunk hundreds of hours) and it’s no surprise that Borderlands has found its way into the world of comics. For fans of the Borderlands universe, there’s been a lot to love in IDW Publishing’s Origins and The Fall of Fyrestone tales about the original Vault Hunters from the first video game, and the most recent tale of Tannis & the Vault adds to that series.
However, instead of focusing mainly on the Vault Hunters (and Claptrap), Tannis & the Vault tells us about the events that led to Dr. Patricia Tannis being a permanent (and unlikely) resident of Pandora. This is a story that I was very excited to explore, because not only is Tannis prominent in the first two Borderlands games, but I simply love her antisocial behavior and biting personality.
So, does Borderlands, Vol. 3: Tannis & the Vault match the humorous tone of the games while staying true to the universe gamers have come to know and love? The short answer to this is, yes; most definitely yes.
For those who aren’t the “TL;DR” type, here’s the long answer.
While I personally prefer the Vault Hunters from Borderlands 2, I did not find it hard to love the personalities of the originals as they shown through on the page. If Borderlands isn’t making you laugh while blood and dismemberment is at hand, then it’s doing something wrong, and fortunately for fans the laughs are abundant, with plenty of little nods to the video games.
The one thing that was a bit disappointing was the lack of cell-shaded artwork that the series is well-known for. Granted, I’m no artist myself, and the difficulties of translating that cell-shaded look to comic panels may make the endeavor infeasible, if not impossible. Still, it’s a minor disappointment that did not sway my love for Tannis & the Vault Hunter.
In fact, after I got over my initial disappointment, I was able to appreciate the dark look and feel of the artwork that perfectly reflected both the humor of the games and the deadliness of Pandora. I was also amazed at the translation of character personalities to print. The writing was well-done, and clearly showed that Mikey Neumann did his Borderlands research before putting pen to paper.
There were no questions about whether Brick was still a psychotic punching machine, or if Roland was going to be all machismo and leader-y. And fans of Claptrap (which should be everyone because come one, what’s not to love?) will be thrilled to know that the fast-talking CL4P-TP unit makes a loud and sarcastic presence.
Finally, there’s Dr. Tannis and her story. Anyone familiar with Borderlands knows Tannis has a penchant for being a bit…weird, even by Pandora’s standards. Antisocial, facetious, and all-around aloof outside of her obsession to find and open The Vault, Tannis is one of my favorite minor characters. I think it’s because she makes the rest of the characters feel almost normal when they’re around her, and a part of me feels bad for the brilliant scientist.
And this story just added to that feeling of sympathy for poor Dr. Tannis.
Without giving too much away, in the middle of Tannis helping the Vault Hunters in their search for the infamous alien Vault of Pandora, we’re regaled with her origin story – how she, a scientist with the Dahl corporation, found herself alone, battling to cling to just a sliver of reality. It’s a great origin story for a character who I personally didn’t receive enough appreciation in the games.
As a fan of the Borderlands series and universe, I have to say that I was very pleased with Borderlands, Vol. 3: Tannis & the Vault from IDW Publishing. While the collection itself can work as a standalone, it does help to be acquainted with the previous storylines as they build on one another. Still, if you’d prefer, you can certainly enjoy the third collection all on its own, and if you’re a fan of Borderlands, you won’t be disappointed.[Images via IDW Publishing]