Tag Archive: video game tie-ins


Review by C.J. Bunce

They’re outnumbered and outgunned.

Last year Halo, Destiny, and Crackdown game writer and Spawn comic book writer Jonathan Goff created a comics mini-series last based on Xbox′s Crackdown 3 (previewed here at borg).  A military science fiction-action series not requiring readers to know the game, it featured some nicely rendered futurism from artist Ricardo Jaime (The Shadow).  Goff and Jaime created a future world ruled by a corporate power elite, and a city sitting on a powder keg of class warfare ready to blow.  Then the lights go out.  Literally.  Someone has taken control of power sources everywhere.  Dynamite’s Crackdown is heading to a comic shop near you next week in a complete trade paperback edition so fans of the game and sci-fi can join in on the action.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Having escaped an Assassins brotherhood training camp in his youth where his mother is killed by the villainous Maxime Torm, 17 years later–in 2017–readers meet the escapee in the new graphic novel Assassin’s Creed: Bloodstone His name is Tomo, now a young man working in a video arcade in Tokyo.  With Hajime, the man that helped him escape, Tomo is now seeking to destroy the man that ruined their lives and murdered their brethren.  The Templars are now using DNA databases to track down the remaining Assassins.  Tomo and Hajime find a lead in far off France, a doctor named Nathalie Chapman, who Tomo believes will take them to Torm and the Templars.  But Tomo hasn’t finished his training.  He is not an Assassin yet.  He poses as a doctor and is hired to work for Chapman, when he gets closer to one of her patients, a young woman with amnesia named Elisa Adler.

The Animus, Abstergo, the Helix, and Pieces of Eden, the same trippy quests back through the generations, and an expanded tale of the Adler and Gorm families spinning out of Dorison’s 2018 graphic novel Assassin’s Creed: Conspiracies mixes historical fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy.  In a similar vein as Ready Player One, Bloodshot, and Dollhouse, you’ll join Tomo on a virtual reality ride back into the past of the Gorms that takes Tomo to the beginnings of the Vietnam War.  But what will Chapman and Hajime do when Tomo tries to help Elisa?

Rich, detailed worldbuilding by Guillaume Dorison (translated by Marc Bourbon-Crook) continues the Assassin’s Creed universe beyond the video games and nine prior graphic novel stories from Titan Comics.  Assassin’s Creed: Bloodstone (the first book of a two-book series) has all the elements of the Jason Bourne saga: good action, intrigue, smart dialogue, and likeable characters.  Ennio Bufi′s artwork is gorgeous, a mix of the contrasts and shadows of Jock and the vivid, sweeping imagery of Bill Sienkiewicz.  Bufi is an artist readers can only hope to see more of.

Check out this preview of both volumes of Assassin’s Creed: Bloodstone courtesy of Titan Comics:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Usually a franchise tie-in novel or sequel will be able to serve as a standalone story to create a springboard into the story’s universe for new readers.  That’s not the case for readers of the new Gears of War prequel to the Gears 5 video game, Gears of War: Ascendance.  Author Jason M. Hough takes fans of the games on a journey back into field combat with a group of familiar characters battling close-quarters with the Swarm, with a backdrop focus on the political machinations of Coalition of Ordered Governments’ Minister Jinn and her reliance on Damon Baird and his robot army.  Unfortunately the story reads like the down day at a Dungeon & Dragon session, all about a group of characters getting from Point A to Point B, with little happening in between.

The entire novel is a set-up to bring the franchise’s first heroine to the lead position of gameplay, Kait Diaz.  The lack of development of the character is unfortunate, because it could have the potential for another alien bug fighter like Ellen Ripley, Rita Vrataski, Dizzy Flores, or Private Vasquez.  We meet Diaz following the burial of her mother.  She and her team are rescued from this planet only to return later so she can try to save a boy and a girl that she believed were dead when her group had abandoned their location.  So readers will be drawn toward her mission.  Backstory (available elsewhere) for the video games explains the significance of a special talisman she wears, yet each time it is discussed the reader is ready to learn more about it, but its purpose is ultimately skipped over in this book.  And readers don’t get to learn much about what makes Kait Diaz tick.  For that, readers will need to look to the game (which has been well-received by gamers).

So Gears of War: Ascendance is truly for fans already familiar with the game and its characters.  What a “Gear” even is, and what the opposing factions are and why, what one weapon is versus another–none of these concepts are ever explained (a Gear is a soldier, but is it an elite soldier or any foot soldier?).  The Swarm and other beasts are some kind of alien monster inspired by the Arachnid Bugs of Starship Troopers or that creature from Mimic, a kind of giant locust (it’s called the Locust Horde so I assume it looks like a locust) but all creepy like the Xenomorphs of Aliens, and telepathically connected like the hive mind of The Borg from Star Trek.  Why are they bad?  We don’t know, just as Heinlein treated his antagonists in Starship Troopers, although game players who dig in outside this novel will see they become more than that to Kait Diaz in the game.  Opening paragraphs in each section providing some backstory and setting, along with descriptions of characters would have been a welcome addition for those not familiar with the game yet.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

I reviewed the first issue of Dynamite Comics new series Obey Me last month.  It was actually labeled Issue #0, although I’m not sure why.  Tomorrow Dynamite Comics releases Issue #1, a continuation of the series.  I loved the first, zero issue.  Check out my review here if you missed it.  So does the next issue fare as well?

Absolutely.

I was surprised the series is video game tie-in–it comes from the Obey Me PC/console game from Error 404 Game Studios.  The story is playing out as a solid supernatural fantasy, with superb writing by Mario Mentasti, artwork by Ben Herrera, and eye-popping colors by Emmanuel Ordaz Torres.  Each issue is a chapter you don’t want to end, following a badass super(natural)hero team of Vanessa and Monty, a girl and her dog.  Of course, she isn’t the typical girl and he isn’t the typical dog.  Vanessa is a bounty hunter tasked with hunting down souls contracted to the devil, and Monty is the hound assigned as her partner.  Only in their next case readers will learn even more about Monty’s potential.

 

As with its first issue, look forward to some amped-up action and dialogue that will be loads of fun for mature readers.  It’s quickly becoming a favorite from this year’s comic book releases.

Take a look at this preview of Obey Me, Issue #1, courtesy of Dynamite Comics:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Sometimes the implementation of an idea goes well beyond the idea itself.  That’s what I found with the new Dynamite Comics series, Obey Me.  The catchy title and great covers drew me to this first, and I’m a sucker for a story that stars a hound dog.  I’m also a fan of the movie Crossroads, a 1986 film written by John Fusco that features an old man who sold his soul to the devil.  A kid comes along (played by Ralph Macchio) who bargains for his life, and the result is a true American classic, steeped in mythology and blues.  In Obey Me, a young woman bounty hunter is tasked with hunting down a mob boss who has broken his contract with the devil.  She is joined by a talking hellhound–a familiar of sorts–and must go through several bodyguards to get to her target.  Along the way through some mouthy dialogue and murderous camaraderie, the pair–the woman is Vanessa and the dog is Monty–create a goofy brand of chemistry.  The plot sounds a little strange, but the first issue arriving in comic book stores tomorrow provides a heckuva fun story.

Obey Me blends two of my all-time favorite off-the-wall comic book series:  It has the irreverent humor and unusual talking characters of Felipe Melo, Juan Cavia, and Santiago Villa’s The Adventures of Dog Mendonça & Pizzaboy, and the equally strange, irreverent, and unusual series God the Dyslexic Dog from Brian and Phil Phillipson and legendary artist (and this year a Will Eisner Hall of Fame nominee) Alex Niño.  Plus there’s the Talking Dog.  Obey Me writer Mario Mentasti provides a familiar foundation, but look forward to some amped-up action and dialogue that will be loads of fun for mature readers.  Artist Ben Herrera and colorist Emmanuel Ordaz Torres find the perfect balance of comic book situations and blood, fire, and damnation.  Best of all, the team of Vanessa and Monty is all badass, making the book a must for your comic store pull list.

 

I was surprised this story is a tie-in to a PC and console game called Obey Me from Error 404 Game Studios.  It’s better than your average video game tie-in comic.  The game is a one- or two-person “top-down 3D action brawler” coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC later this year.  Here is a preview of Issue #0 of Obey Me, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment, and the trailer for the video game:

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Halo, Destiny, and Crackdown game writer and Spawn comic book writer Jonathan Goff is backing up this past weekend’s release of Xbox′s new Crackdown 3 with a new comic book series.  Dynamite Entertainment′s Crackdown Issue #1 arrives in comic book stores tomorrow, a science fiction-action book not requiring readers to know the game.  With artwork by Ricardo Jaime (The Shadow), the creators unlock a future world ruled by a conglomerate of world governments and the corporate power elite.  When four major gangs cease their conflicts to conspire against the law, it′s up to The Agents to destroy each new threat the gangs bring their way.

The Agents are part Colonial Marines, part CIA Special Ops, gung-ho, cocky, and probably over-confident.  They are led by a Guy in the Chair giving commands called VOA (not Voice of America, but Voice of the Agency).  The heroes and villains are new for the comic, all interacting in the common backdrop of the game environment, a mega-city new to the franchise called San Reno, up against a new element that blacks out the city and leaves The Agents without any resources but their wits.

Natália Marques provides those Tron-esque, futuristic colors.  Jaime’s colorful sci-fi visuals are very much the stuff of kids animated action shows, but the language and cops vs gangs narrative and language is for mature readers.

Here is a preview, courtesy of Dynamite:

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