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Apostasy

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The subject matter of this article does not take place in the "real" Half-Life and Portal universe and is considered non-canon.

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Apostasy
Author(s)
  • James D. "BrashFink" Brandt
  • Brad Pyott
  • Allan Evans
  • Michael K. Clements
  • Richard Boisvert
Language

English

Publication date

2005

Pages

154

Apostasy is an online graphic novel[1][2] created by James D. "BrashFink" Brandt[3] based on the first-person shooter Half-Life 2 and created using the Half-Life 2 physics-manipulation sandbox modification Garry's Mod.[3] Initially announced on February 26, 2005,[4] the first issue, The Dawn Shall Rise, was released on April 12, 2005.[5] The series lasted for six issues, including a prequel #0 issue, The Misbegotten Vassal, with the last issue being released on October 11, 2006.[6]

Background[edit]

James Brandt got the inspiration for Apostasy after playing Half-Life 2 and learning of Garry's Mod's existence from the G4 television show The Screen Savers,[4] later recruiting his friend and frequent co-writer Brad Pyott to assist in creating the story and outlining the entire series.[7]

Initially targeting an April 1, 2005 release date,[7] the first issue was eventually released on the Steam Forums[5] on April 12, 2005. Two days later, Brandt was invited by Michael "jian" Clements to join the Garry's Mod comics website PHWComics (later PHWOnline),[8][9] where all subsequent issues would eventually be released.

Originally intended to be around 10-12 issues long,[1] Apostasy was concluded with issue #5, Advent of Incursion. James Brandt would later indicate diminishing returns and a desire to focus on other projects as the reasons for concluding the series early.[10]

Synopsis[edit]

Introduction[edit]

Set in the days prior to the events of Half-Life 2 and the arrival of Gordon Freeman,[11] Apostasy follows three main characters in City 17 and the Coast up to the events of the Half-Life 2 chapter A Red Letter Day.

#1: The Dawn Shall Rise[edit]

Mark Meriwhether, a citizen under Combine rule assigned to "Municipal Services", arrives by train to City 17. At the City 17 Trainstation, he witnesses an armed citizen be subdued by a Combine Soldier and taken away towards the Nova Prospekt train.

At the Coast, Jack and his brother Billy, two mercenaries employed by the Resistance, observe as a rebel outpost is attacked by Combine forces. Afterwards, they try to hijack an APC, but are attacked by a Combine Gunship and are forced to escape in their buggy. Jack successfully escapes into a highway tunnel but Billy is killed in the process.

At the City 17 Sector 14 trauma ward, Doctor Galena Noland tries to help an injured citizen who draws a lambda on the wall with his own blood and hands her a key, telling her to look for the symbol and that Doctor Kleiner will know what to do. Civil Protection enter and take the man away against Galena's wishes, who is left wondering if there isn't something someone can do as she looks at the lambda and the key in her hand.

#2: Overwatch[edit]

Mark wakes up from a dream of his childhood by the noise of Galena moving furniture into the apartment of citizens who were relocated off-world due to being guilty of apostasy. Mark helps her move and they get acquainted, but when Galena asks him what he does for the city, Mark brushes her off and leaves in a hurry.

Meanwhile, Jack is mourning his brother when Zombies corner him in the tunnel. As he dispatches the zombies, a Headcrab takes hold of his late brother's body, forcing Jack to put him out of his misery. He drives to New Little Odessa, where Colonel Odessa Cubbage barters for some rockets. Jack promises to deliver the rockets by sundown for triple the price; however, when he makes his way into his hideout, Jack finds out it has been raided by the Combine and the rockets are gone alongside the rest of his stash.

At Galena's apartment, she hides the key she was given and makes her way to work, where she asks a Vortigaunt by the name of John if he knows of a doctor by the name of Kleiner. John tells her Kleiner worked at Black Mesa with "the Freeman". Galena asks if he has any idea where Kleiner is today, but John tells her Kleiner's fate is unknown and to try the doctor in office 365 who worked at Black Mesa, Judith Mossman.

Elsewhere, Mark makes his way to City 17 Municipal Services, where the Head Administrator of Overwatch, Allister Tenenbaum, welcomes him and other conscripts to Civil Protection. Later, as he gears up, Mark meets his new partner, Barney Calhoun.

#3: Mission: Omega[edit]

Galena asks Doctor Mossman about Doctor Kleiner. Mossman asks where she heard that name and Galena tells her about the patient that drew a lambda in his own blood, to which Mossman reacts in shock. Galena leaves empty-handed after Mossman evades her questions; Doctor Mossman then contacts someone on the radio saying she might have found what they were looking for.

In the Coast, Jack arrives at New Little Odessa and tells Odessa Cubbage about the raid. Cubbage offers to spare a day or two's worth of rations, then offers Jack an opportunity to join the Resistance, which Jack declines. Upon Jack asking for an advance, Cubbage reveals that recently-learned information has prompted the Resistance to develop a contingency plan they call Mission Omega. He then tells Jack a Combine storehouse they discovered in the canals should have the rockets they require. Jack initially rebuffs the idea of raiding a Combine storehouse, but upon hearing Cubbage's offer of two weeks' rations, he takes it, leaving the buggy behind and taking a ride with Cubbage. Odessa Cubbage takes Jack to the Vortigaunt Camp and points him towards the sewers, where Jack comes across an Ichthyosaur.

Back in the city, Mark chases and interrogates citizens as a Civil Protection officer. At the end of their shift, Barney tells Mark of a Combine Soldier who went rogue and committed suicide. Meanwhile, Galena decides to investigate the key she was given and sneaks into the Trainstation, where she finds a lambda graffiti in a locker. She unlocks it and is shocked to discover the contents inside. She hastily makes her way out of the Trainstation and heads towards Mark's place, where Mark is being offered untainted water by Barney. Galena asks Mark for help and kisses him just as Overwatch declares she is wanted for questioning at the Overwatch Nexus; unbeknownst to the two of them, the G-Man watches from nearby.

In a special prelude to issue #0, the citizen that handed Galena the key is revealed to be Mikael Roitto, a rebel who smuggled the contents of two suitcases into City 17 for Doctor Kleiner.

#0: The Misbegotten Vassal[edit]

At the City 17 Citadel, a Combine Soldier, Subject 5187-4A, is awakened from storage at the same time as Mikael Roitto awakens from a dream of the Seven Hour War. Seeing security tightening in the city, Mikael decides to stash the suitcases in the Trainstation, while Subject 5187-4A is deployed by Combine Dropship to the Trainstation's Nova Prospekt platform.

Mikael finds a locker in the Trainstation and stashes the contents of the suitcase within, then tries to escape but is caught by Civil Protection. He's taken to the platforms where a train from City 19 is about to arrive. Subject 5187-4A is summoned just as Mikael is patted down; Mark observes as Mikael tries to fight in desperation and is immediately knocked out by 5187-4A.

As he is taken to the Nova Prospekt train, Mikael manages to knock 5187-4A down with a shovel and kill the other Combine Soldier, then escapes. As 5187-4A regains consciousness, he regains self-awareness and is alerted by his onboard artificial intelligence that Overwatch is on the way, then given an escape route.

Armed with a Pulse Rifle, Mikael manages to sneak through the city thanks to an alert drawing Civil Protection away from checkpoints. As Civil Protection officers locate the rogue Combine Soldier, 5187-4A resists arrest and takes them down, leading to Civil Protection chasing him down and ignoring Mikael's escape.

Mikael makes his way into an apartment building where a citizen asks him what is going on. Coincidentally, 5187-4A crashes into the building and knocks Mikael down with a shovel, then kills the citizen.

A Combine Elite squad is sent in to apprehend 5187-4A, who tries to put up a fight but is successfully captured. Meanwhile, a Civil Protection officer locates a wounded Mikael and, unaware of his rebel status, calls two citizens to take him to the trauma ward in Precinct 6.

Later, at Nova Prospekt, two citizens are examining 5187-4A when he comes to and knocks them out, then kills a Prison Guard. Upon seeing his unmasked face, an horrified Subject 5187-4A takes his own life.

#4: Outbreak[edit]

Jack makes his way towards the Combine storehouse in the canals and sneaks in. He locates an ammo crate, but is flanked by Civil Protection and has to fight his way out. A grenade knocks him down and destroys the way in and out of the city, after which Manhacks are sent after him. Jack disposes of them and moves on.

In City 17, Civil Protection catch Galena and find her key. Knowing what the Combine will do to her, Mark snaps and kills the officers. Galena thanks him for saving her just as Barney comes out of the apartment. He takes Galena and a dizzy Mark to the rooftops, but not before Galena recovers the key to the locker. Barney reveals he works undercover with the Resistance and that he gave Mark untainted water to see if he could trust him. Alyx Vance finds them and takes them to Kleiner's Lab, where Galena tells Alyx everything.

Doctor Kleiner tells Alyx they must get to the locker tonight. Alyx helps Galena sneak back into the Trainstation; Galena leads Alyx to the locker, where she finds Gordon Freeman's HEV Suit.

#5: Advent of Incursion[edit]

After getting a vision of the G-Man warning him to ready himself, Mark comes to in Kleiner's Lab, where he interrogates Doctor Kleiner before being jumped by Lamarr, after which Doctor Kleiner introduces himself.

Elsewhere in the city, Alyx and Galena carry two suitcases containing the HEV Suit through the city, narrowingly being caught by Civil Protection in the process, and Barney is questioned in the Overwatch Nexus about his role in the shooting at the apartment building.

In the canals, Jack fights his way out and takes a moment to rest just as a Hunter-Chopper approaches.

Back at Kleiner's Lab, memories of the past before the Combine occupation flood Mark's mind as the effects of the Combine's water toxins fade. As Kleiner explains the changes in the passage of time and the Moon's orbit, he is interrupted by a call and is shocked to find Barney and Gordon Freeman on his screen.

Unreleased issues[edit]

While no further issues of Apostasy were ever released, with the series being considered done, James Brandt would later reveal how the remaining issues would have played out:[10]

  • Mark joins the Resistance just as Gordon Freeman causes chaos in City 17;
  • Jack returns to Odessa Cubbage to deliver the rockets that would later be used by Gordon Freeman to take down a Gunship;
  • Mikael is freed in Nova Prospekt thanks to Gordon Freeman's actions;
  • The four main characters converge in New Little Odessa, where Mark inspires the rest to continue;
  • The series flashes forward to the events of the Battle of City 17, when Jack sacrifices himself for Mark and Galena.

Reception[edit]

Apostasy was heavily influential upon release, with a positive reception from both the audience and gaming media.

Only days after release of issue #1, Apostasy was featured on G4's "Attack of the Show" Episode #5061[12] and referenced in Slashdot.[13] 1Up later put Apostasy first on a list of "The 12 Wonders of City 17".[14]

Chris Livingston, author of Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman, stated that Apostasy was the reason he decided to do Concerned[15] and called it the "godfather" of comics created with videogames,[1][16] with issue #072 of Concerned directly homaging Apostasy.

In 2022, Rick Lane of PC Gamer called it "probably the most professional Half-Life 2 comic ever made".[17]

References[edit]

External links[edit]