It's a GameSpot-Comic Vine team-up as we get gamers and comic fans to assess titles based on Mass Effect, Gears of War, God of War, Halo, and the NES-era Nintendo lineup.
The world of comics has turned to video games for inspiration for decades, from DC Comics' Atari Force up until today, when nearly every AAA franchise seems to spawn its own adaptation. Now that Comic Vine is under the same roof as GameSpot, it seemed like a natural next step to team up and tackle the question of whether these adaptations are worth the paper they're printed on.
To that end, Comic Vine editor-in-chief Tony Guerrero and GameSpotters Brendan Sinclair and Caroline Petit read through a handful of comics based on some of the biggest names in gaming: God of War, Gears of War, Mass Effect, Halo, and in a throwback decision, the Best of the Nintendo Comics System. Guerrero then wrote up his assessment of the titles from the perspective of a comic fan, while Petit (in the case of Mass Effect) and Sinclair wrote up their impressions coming more from a gamer's perspective.
Do gaming's biggest franchises lend themselves to comic adaptations? Are the stories and characters worthy of carrying their own series? Can these comics be enjoyed by the heavy and casual gamer? Here are our takes:
Master Chief is as laconic as ever in Uprising.
Marvel, hardcover, $24.99
Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
GameSpot's take: When I first picked up Halo: Uprising, I was curious how the comic book would fill its pages with a mostly silent protagonist like Master Chief. As it turns out, writer Brian Michael Bendis side-stepped that conundrum by giving Master Chief a secondary role in the book. Set between the events of Halo 2 and 3, Uprising tells a mostly self-contained story about a pair of civilians in the luxurious resort town of Cleveland (this bit of sci-fi puts the emphasis on the latter half of that duality), and how they try to survive a Covenant invasion. Meanwhile, Master Chief appears for sporadic action sequences that focus on his being a badass and the Covenant grunts being terrified of his Reaper-like inevitability.
Halo fans will no doubt recognize much of this universe, as artist Alex Maleev packs in a wealth of detail true to the shooter series. From the doors on Covenant ships to the armor and armory of Master Chief, Uprising properly approximates what Bungie put into its games. And when Maleev has to go beyond what appears in the original Halo trilogy, he produces images that don't seem incompatible with Bungie's universe (with the possible exception of female lead Myras Tyla, a heavily tattooed Lady Gaga-like pop singer). Some readers might decide Maleev actually puts too much detail into his art, as the abundance of lines gives virtually every panel of the comic an exceptionally grimy, gritty look. That lends itself well to images of Cleveland under siege or Master Chief's battle-scarred armor, but some settings like the ordinarily gleaming Covenent ship interiors are given a far different character by a surplus of soot.
While the trappings and world of Uprising are very much reflective of the Halo universe gamers know, the story itself is only loosely tied to the franchise. This same story of two survivors on the run from an invading force could be told in any number of sci-fi universes with minimal changes, and the Master Chief subplot is little more than an unrelated montage of him whipping alien ass. It's a solid and entertaining story for interested readers; it's just not intrinsically Halo.
Master Chief plays a role in Uprising, but the story focuses primarily on this pair of survivors in the aftermath of a Covenant attack on Cleveland.
Comic Vine's take:
There's no doubt that even comic book readers that don't know anything about the game would have an idea what to expect. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev have successfully collaborated on several projects at Marvel. Paring the two on a video game comic was odd and enticing.
I won't go into the stylistic difference in the art here and the graphics from the video games. The gritty nature of Maleev's art fits in with the main focus on the story. We're in the middle of a war. Sci-fi usually varies between having a brand new/sterile feel or being worn down from some apocalyptic event. Halo: Uprising shows a future on its way from the former to the latter. Bendis immerses us right into the action. We see there's a conflict and the plot of the story will introduce us to our unlikely hero, a concierge at a hotel in Cleveland that is attacked by an army of Covenant shock troops. We do see Halo fighters but they are the secondary characters. It would be easy to assume the comic would focus more on Master Chief or actual soldiers but that isn't the case.
Pulling the story away from the fact this was meant to be inspired by the games results in a pleasant story. There is action and suspense. The characters are developed and the story makes you want to know what will happen next. Having played the game a little, this wasn't what I thought the comic would be like. Bendis and Maleev are good here even if the story isn't quite the greatest project they've collaborated on before. You can jump in and enjoy the story. There might be a little bit of confusion as to how it relates to the game but there is enough story and set up for this to stand on its own.