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Video Games to Comics: Why So Many Lately?

The hot trend of the moment or how business will be done from here on out?

 A new Mega Man monthly starts next month adding to the long list of game comics.

I normally would have a “Comics to Video Games” article ready for you folks right about now (and don’t worry I’m working on the next one), but I was reading an interview the other day with Ian Flynn, a writer best known for his current run on the Sonic the Hedgehog series published by Archie Comics, and found out he’s going to be the main writer behind a new monthly Mega Man comic book series.

This latest video game series from Archie Comics comes out in the beginning of May and it will chronicle the Blue Bomber’s run through his nearly dozen games, starting with Mega Man 1 playing out across the first four issues, and will answer the big questions, like how no one was able to figure out when Dr. Wily was up to no good. It’s not like he had ten giant skull shaped fortresses built. Oh, wait. Hmmm. Also, I wonder if there will be any mention of Mega Man Soccer in an annual or something.

Anyway, this got me thinking about the flood of both monthly and limited series comic books we’ve seen in recent years based on video games. City of Heroes, Halo, inFamous, Gears of War, Prototype, and even DCU Online, which of course is a comic based off a video game based off of comics. So what’s with this sudden influx of video game based comics at our local retailers?  == TEASER ==

Now, comics based off of video games are nothing new. After all, Sonic, has had his own ongoing series for nearly twenty years now. But to see so many new comics based on games is a little off putting. An idealist might say comics are simply being used as tools to help flesh out stories that can’t be fully told in a 15-hour game. But what if they are really being used just as promotional items to bolster game sales instead? Or are comic companies trying to jump on the bandwagon of a popular game franchise in the hopes of making a profit, knowing that the key comic book and video game demographics are one in the same? Or maybe it is a little of all of the above?

Can ongoing video game comics also hurt the base franchise as there could be unintentional limits placed on the game developers? There would have to be constant communication between both the game developers and the comic book writing and editorial teams in order to ensure that what is being done in the comics isn’t radically different from what is happening or going to happen in sequel video games upon their release.

      Marcus Fenix's fate is being decided by a whole stable of writers in various media.

If Josh Ortega kills off someone in the Gears of War comic, he had better let Cliff Bleszinski and Karen Traviss know so that person doesn’t show up in Gears of War 3, otherwise there are going to be some mighty ticked off Gearheads out there. And what if Cliff had planned on making that character a major player in the Gears universe? How much say does the original game creators have when it comes to forwarding the plot of a comic that is being looked at as canon? It just seems that adding more moving parts to such a complex and detailed story might come off as limiting from a creative standpoint, especially while the main series is still really ongoing and even while just trying to flesh out previously mentioned references from the original property (like the Pendulum Wars for Gears).

 Mega Man 3 was my personal favorite of the original series.

And this brings us back to my inspiration. Mega Man. Does doing a comic that follows, for the most part, a story we already know lessen the mass appeal of a comic? Why should I read something I’ve already played through several hundred times? Can you really flesh out a character that much with a few thought bubbles while it’s blasting another foe into oblivion? If anything, it might take away from those original gaming experiences, especially from the old NES days, where the player was left to their own devices to fill in gaps in a protagonist’s personality and whatnot. So are original stories that add to and build on top of already existing canon the only real option in that case to ensure a profit will be made and to protect a property?

Despite this, does every new video game need a comic book? I read the six-issue limited series for Prototype and I felt what I got from that comic was not worth the price I paid as a lead in to the actual game. In fact, the comic ruined the game experience some as it spoiled a lot of the game’s surprises. The same goes for the Gears of War comic. Some issues have been great, but I didn’t need a one-issue back-story on Tai. I don’t need a character that is dead to be fleshed out. It just reeks of trying to turn a quick buck if you ask me. It dilutes the potential of building the franchise naturally and feels very forced in some cases.

 A novel, limited comic series, and video game, Shadows of the Empire was released in 1996, even though it takes place in-between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

But I really don’t mind franchises diversifying, and actually enjoy seeing new adventures with my favorite characters that continue the story beyond the original product (you should see my Star Wars expanded universe novel collection). I do feel that there should be some sort of criteria before a franchise is expanded though like with a game based comic. Wait until the main story, in most cases nowadays the story being a trilogy, is complete before you start filling in the gaps. Imagine if a comic or novel like Shadows of the Empire in Star Wars, which takes places between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, had been released in 1981, right between Empire and Jedi. I think that it coming after the fact made it much more powerful and interesting. Similar to the games Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST. They were better stories because the universe had already been fully established and then writers went back to fill in the blanks.

So what do you guys think? Are you fans of video game based comics? Are there too many out there flooding the market? What should be the criteria for a game based comic to be published? And how much creative freedom should the writing and editorial teams have with long established characters like Mega Man? Will you buy the Mega Man monthly upon its release? Let us know with comments below!

34 Comments
Posted by Deranged Midget

I've read the two volumes released of the Gears of War comic being the incredibly die hard fan of Gears that I am, and I actually enjoyed it. A main character in the comic actually has been integrated into the third game and I am excited to see how it turns out. I find that both sides feed off each other to create something both gamers and comic readers can both enjoy.

Moderator
Edited by DH69

only read gears and mass effect. both games leave a lot of important info in the shadows, and the comics/books shed a bit of light on those spots

Posted by JairamGanpat

idk but all I have to say is I loved Assassin's Creed: the Fall

Posted by strangeling

Merchandising and cross-marketing, it's the way of the world.

Posted by blaakmawf

I think each should be evaluated on its own merits.

Posted by JediXMan

Shadows of the Empire is a bad example. There are multiple adaptations of that series.

That said, comics are becoming more accepted.

PS: You also missed Mirror's Edge, one more game turned into comics.

Moderator
Posted by zombietag

old school video games to comics = fun and nostalgic


new video games to comics = seem more like gimmics...
Posted by rockstarskywalker

I want to see more video game to comics. I'm liking the Mass Effect comics.

Posted by HailHydra

as long as its a good story and clever art i'm all for it.

Posted by Ston3face

There is a sad lack of original idea creation in Hollywood.

Posted by Emerald Dragonfly

All I can say that this is a great shame to exploit comic industry in that way. By that we can see how much has comic industry degraded. If I see that some publisher works on... "comic books" based on videogames, my opinion of that publisher changes much. In a bad way (for publisher).

Posted by HellionVulcan

To cash in on the video games popularity obviously but i've never read a video game turned comic .

Posted by Amegashita

  Because it's probably easier to get someone to draw and write a comic based on an extension of a story, than it is to produce a game just to tell that story.  Convenience is key here.

Posted by shaolin_martian

i guess for the makers of that kind of comics, its all about getting profit from the popularity of the game going on and on the readers side many of them just can't get enough of the game's universe that they resort on the comic as they wait for the game's sequel

Posted by Eyz
Money money~

I gotta admit, I kina liked the Mirror's Edge mini from a while ago.
Posted by KasadyCarnage

Because Gears of War is beast.
Posted by The Mighty Monarch

Most of them seem to me like they're just trying to cash in, especially since nearly all of them are just 6-Issue miniseries. If it was an ongoing I'd be more inclined to believe it was fleshing out the story or retelling it in a different form of media, like what this Megaman one sounds like. I DID get the Mirror's Edge and God of War comics, but I REALLY liked those games, or at least Mirror's Edge had a nice visual appeal to it. I think for some of them it'd be cool to see them fill in an expanded universe, like if there were 'lost adventures' for Ratchet and Clank, that would make sense and not ruin the games.

Posted by Caligula

most of the new ones aren't all that terrible.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Never have been much of a fan of video games turned into comics, with a possible exception being the upcoming Arkham City release.  Still, if there's a market for such things then I say they should be successful.

Posted by TheShame

I thought Chance from Fallout New Vegas: All roads was quite a good tie in

Posted by Kid_Zombie

All about the money and cross advertising. Dont forget all the comics based on movies like "Jennifer's Body". They do it to advertise the products.

Is this bad? Sure sometimes, not always. I've personally never read a comicbook based on a video game, but i have watched the uncharted motion comic which was awesome, so that was a good way to do it, and it told a story that takes place before the first game. Sometimes with Games also, not everybody plays videogames but are huge fans of star wars and want to know the story of the force unleased, they can pick up the Trade and get the story without having to play the game. So its another way to reach more people with your products.

As for old games, personally i would like to see a serious take on the world of Mario Brothers, well not serious, but something not nessisarly aimed at kids, i would check that out, as for mega man, sure we played the NES games, but the 12 year old whoes buying these comics never did. So maybe he wants the story from the old games?

Posted by ReverseNegative
@JairamGanpat said:
"idk but all I have to say is I loved Assassin's Creed: the Fall "


That's cause Assassins Creed is awesome.

 

BTW, of-topic, but I heard a rumor of a video game based off Batman: Hush being made after Arkham City.

Posted by frsty13

Personally, I like how the .Hack series did things.  I'd rather have a full anime / manga / long comic series whose story is developed in alongside that of the game.  Short series are gimmics, overly long series like Pokemon are milking a cash cow, and so are comics made after the game is a success.

Posted by NightFang

I see it as their trying to market games on other medias.

Posted by mk111

I really don't mind game-based comics as long as they are handled well.
Posted by Sydpart2

The God of War comic was awesome and worked really well IMO, I'd like to see more of that stuff

Posted by dewboy01

why not its everything we need.
Posted by gingerpenny

I dont think its that bad. I havnt got a chance to read the inFamous comics but the same guy that wrote the game is writing the comics, I dont see how that could go wrong. Plus I'm a big Angel tv series fan and I've read some of the Angel comics and enjoyed them.

Posted by Death Certificate

I liked the mini comic in ninja gaiden sigma 2. I don't think video game to comic should be an issue as long as it pulled off well.

Posted by DKing_CiCADA
@mk111: agreed
Posted by EdwardWindsor

Its a mish mash market right now lots of comics being made into games and games into comics. Alot of people out their are trying to merge the two markets and build bigger franchises.

Posted by weaponmaster

2 words: Fan Base.
Posted by TheSheepHerder

I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of them.

Posted by bringdeath

One word MONEY!