After reading (and watching) Ashley Wood's first Metal Gear Solid comic series, as well as it's sequel series, Sons of Liberty (which I never got around to reviewing... sorry), one could say that Mr. Wood pretty much has the visual style for the Metal Gear series down. Thankfuly, IDW Publishing agreed, and decided to release an artbook of selected imagery from both Metal Gear Solid comic series, as well as Ashley Wood's work from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, available for the first time in print.
First off, sorry about this one. I've had the book for about the whole summer, but because it was to be VFH's first artbook review I just had no idea how to make a write up for it. I mean, its not like a comic where you can judge the story or anything, it's just images. So, this is a different type of review than you may be used to here...
There's a lot of nice things about Ashley Wood's Art of Metal Gear Solid; of course, it's both Ashley Wood's art and it's all Metal Gear, so that pretty much makes it awesome to begin with. But in all seriousness, for a paperback book, it's printed quite nicely; I'd of preferred the stellar hardcover treatment that Sons of Liberty got, but this works.
And while the digital and traditionally made art work for the first two series is nice, the main attraction here was definitely being able to view Portable Ops' cut-scenes in still form for the first time. To be honest, after constantly looking at the MPO artwork in this book, I actually think it's some of Wood's best work in the series to date. Here's to hoping he gets hired for a Snake Eater or Guns of the Patriots series...
While the artwork in the book is beyond phenomenal, and has 120 pages full of my favorite artist drawing my favorite game series, there are parts of the book that really bothered me. The main kicker? Organization. While, more or less, the final third of the book is completely dedicated to showcasing Portable Ops, the beginning of the book is just a mess.
Yes, the artwork is beyond great, and the mix of both digital and traditional images is a nice touch, but the book constantly goes back and forth between Metal Gear Solid and Sons of Liberty artwork, and I'd of much preferred it to be divided. Also, while I understand it's an artbook, and it's basically comic panels and covers minus the words, but I wish there was some sort of description boxes (or maybe vellum sheets to not hide artwork) to say what issues/etc the artwork was from or maybe mediums used. As said, the Portable Ops aspect of the book is great, but everything else is a mysterious jumble.
Despite the jumbled mess, the artwork is fantastic, there's no denying that. If you're a fan of either Ashley Wood's artwork, or the Metal Gear series, or both, than there's no excuse not to get this. However, if you've yet to experience MGS in comic form, I suggest you find yourself some copies of The Complete Metal Gear Solid and The Complete Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty instead, and then maybe pick this book up. And while the main attraction, at least for myself, was the Portable Ops artwork finally in print, I did notice that there was some missing pieces. And quite frankly, I'd of much rather purchased a dedicated Ashley Wood's Art of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops instead, so that I would actually know what to expect.
Overall Score: 8/10