Video Games That Need Comics

With a slow but steady incline in the relationship between video games and comic books, it's difficult to keep our minds from speculating the possibilities. We've seen a regular flow of game-based comics for years now, from the good (Assassin's Creed: The Fall) to the awful (Modern Warfare 2: Ghost), but there are a number of franchises that would benefit from lending their name to a comic.

We put on our nerdgasm hats and thought long and hard about not only the game franchises we'd like to see in comics, but also the dream writer/artist teams that would make them shine. Some of these picks have seen comics (or manga) in one form or another in the last couple of decades, but none with results that have adequately quenched our thirst as super nerds.


Dream Team: Grant Morrison & JH Williams III
We realize that your mind was probably just blown, so we'll take a moment for you to pile your brains back into your skull.

Ready to continue? Grant Morrison's ability to string together a centuries-long sci-fi narrative is a key component to being the right fit for an ongoing Fallout comic books series. Fallout would benefit from the same ethereal concepts that Morrison peppered throughout his runs on Batman, Final Crisis, and his expansive Seven Soldiers of Victory maxi-series. Instead of focusing on the action scenes and more immediate threats as a game would, Morrison's Fallout could further explore the themes behind the 1950's culture that bizarrely combined optimism with a very real threat of nuclear destruction. That's not to say we wouldn't want to see the expected action set pieces within the Fallout comic universe, but Morrison would add a layer to the book that other writers would be unable to achieve.

The inclusion of Williams on art duties would serve to underscore Morrison's penchant for building a multi-tiered narrative. Our vision for Williams on Fallout would combine his work from mainstream superhero books like Detective Comics with his more experimental work in something like Promethea. In the latter series especially, Williams' satirical "Weeping Gorilla Comix" is an example of how the artist could work within the confines of the established Fallout art design. Put in the hands of these two creators, a Fallout comic could become one of the most compelling comics in the industry, licensed or not.

The Legend of Zelda

Dream Team: Bill Willingham & Peter Gross
Being that the Zelda games are essentially retelling after retelling of the same exact story, what's to say a comic book couldn't hold yet another, albeit more fleshed-out, telling of Link's quest across Hyrule?

With fantasy comics' sorcerer supreme Bill Willingham at the helm, the two-dimensional participants of The Legend of Zelda could become something so much more. Though the comic would have to be finite, Willingham could build a series that holds "The Hero of Time" legend as a center piece for the world's mythology, similar to what we saw in Wind Waker. From there, the Fables scribe would have enormous opportunity to create new races, characters, locales, and weaponry. While Link's quest is traditionally contained within 20-30 hours, a comic has the ability to diverge greatly from the main quest while keeping the overarching plot alive. Think of it like this: a side-quest to attain a key that's required for the next step of Link's journey could be turned into a three issue arc of the ongoing series that introduces an intriguing new race to the Zelda canon.

Similar to Willingham, artist Peter Gross has defined his career with the fantasy genre. As one of the forces behind the acclaimed Lucifer series and now co-creator of The Unwritten, Gross has shown his ability to render all types of art styles. Particularly with The Unwritten, a book that changes between real-world locations and a Harry Potter-esque fantasy land at the drop of a dime, Gross confirms that he would be an inspired choice for a comic based on Zelda. His art would infuse Hyrule with a much-needed sense of emotion that would work in conjunction with Willingham's words to create a fully realized universe. Ocarina of Time may be headed to the 3DS, but Nintendo is still a ways from making its characters as three-dimensional as its visuals.


Dream Team: Joe Hill & Ben Templesmith
It takes a skilled writer to make horror comics genuinely creepy. There's a very delicate balance needed between words and visuals to make a horror comic appealing, and unfortunately most can never find it. With Locke & Key, Joe Hill has made our skin crawl while building a large cast of characters that stand out in a different ways. His resume may be limited, but we've got faith that Hill could make a BioShock comic work like no one else. Taking the established themes that BioShock has created and giving them new life – be it in Rapture, the upcoming Columbia, or someplace new entirely – it could be a highly successful venture for everyone involved. It's important to remember that some of BioShock's most terrifying elements don't involve Splicers or giant drills. There's just as much horror in listening to Andrew Ryan monologue as there is out-running a Big Daddy. Hill's ability to show the mental deterioration of the human mind in a character like Locke & Key's Sam Lesser is a skill that could be applied here.

BioShock the game also gets a whole lot of mileage out of ambiance and art design. In comics, Ben Templesmith is a master of atmosphere and strangeness; a perfect fit for BioShock. The combination of art deco and utter chaos sounds like it'd be a welcome home to Templesmith, responsible for the effective Dead Space comic book from 2008 and of course, 30 Days of Night. With Hill's habit for subtlety and Templesmith's more outward approach to visual horror, that difficult balance between writing and art would be found.

Red Dead Redemption

Dream Team: Jason Aaron & Dale Eaglesham
Rockstar video games are prime candidates for comic book crossover, mostly because they all feature a vast array of characters with long histories never fully explored in the games. Last year's Red Dead Redemption houses more interesting characters than we can count, not the least of which is Mr. John Marston himself. Jason Aaron's achievements in managing such a huge cast in Scalped as well as the simple ability to write badass, violent characters makes him our choice to tackle a Red Dead comic. The opportunities are endless. The comic could explore Marston's history as an outlaw, Jack Marston's further adventures, the shady dealings of Nigel West Dickens, or even just finding out why the hell John despises Uncle so much. Alternatively, Aaron could be set loose to create an original character that interacts with various characters from the game, making way for an altogether new story within the context of established events; not far from what Dark Horse has done with Star Wars.

Dale Eaglesham's involvement would be icing on that sweet, sweet tumbleweed cake. Eaglesham has few rivals in mainstream comics that can tell a story as cleanly as he can, in addition to creating memorable splash pages and effective figure work. By definition, he's a well-rounded comic book artist. With so many characters and events happening in these pages, Eaglesham's distinctive characters and settings will help to keep the reader on track.

Plus, we'd be able to look forward to a zombie-infused Halloween annual co-written by Robert Kirkman. In our dreams, that is.

Sly Cooper

Dream Team: Peter & Bobby Timony
The Night Owls is easily the most charming property to come out of DC's Zuda Comics, and the aesthetics that the Timony Twins established there could be perfect for a Sly Cooper comic book. The relationship between the various characters in Night Owls is comparable to the interactions between Sly, Murray, Bentley, and Carmelita. With the The Night Owls, the Timony Twins found that hard-to-reach place between innocence and charm. There's no real vulgarity, there's no violence, there's no sex. Yet, it's still enjoyed by fans that typically read The Punisher and Preacher. Taking that approach to Sly Cooper is just what a comic version would need, all the while expanding the franchise's character set and giving the team new things to steal.

The cartooning style of Night Owls would carry over to Sly as well, using thick line work and simple, bright colors to replicate the style of the video games. The Timonys have a great handle on the classic comic strip format, but a Sly Cooper comic could give them a chance to stretch their muscles into long-form storytelling. And hey, if Ratchet and Clank can have their own mini-series, why not Sly and company?


Dream Team: Gail Simone & Darwyn Cooke
A character like Nathan Drake has endless potential in various mediums. The comparisons to Indiana Jones aren't unwarranted. He's an adventurer that has adventures; it's what he does. There's always an artifact to uncover, always a cliff to leap off of, and always a villain in the background orchestrating nefarious deeds. He's even got the ever-present female companion that adds a flirtatious layer to even the most dire of circumstances. Gail Simone is used to balancing team books with Secret Six, Welcome to Tranquility, Birds of Prey, and Gen13 all under her belt. With Uncharted's Nathan, Sully, Elaina, Chloe, and other characters that might be created, Simone's knack for playful banter whilst scaling the walls of enemy compounds and the like would work perfectly for Uncharted's tone. Simone is a character-centric writer, a requirement that can sometimes get lost in games-to-comics adaptations, particularly with a franchise that relies so heavily on the character performances.

Meanwhile, Darwyn Cooke's recognizable style meshes with the pulp adventure throwback that the Uncharted experience offers. While other artists may be able to provide a more realistic approach to the Uncharted world, Cooke's classic style would infuse the comic with the spirit of the adventure comics of the past; something key – if often unmentioned – to the success of Uncharted.


Dream Team: Greg Rucka & Chris Sprouse
Samus Aran suffers from the same problems that the Hyrule crew does: totally awesome character designs and gameplay with an underwhelming amount character development in over twenty years. Greg Rucka is known for his ability to develop characters; in particular, characters of the female variety. Renee Montoya (The Question), Batwoman, and Wonder Woman all reached new heights under his pen. His creator-owned works like Whiteout, Queen & Country, and Stumptown all feature varying female leads. He's a perfect candidate to add some depth to one of Nintendo's icons. Samus is a great looking character with an appealing sci-fi hook, but there's plenty of room for storytelling improvement in her world.

To help with bringing Metroid to life would have to be Chris Sprouse, co-creator (with Alan Moore) of Tom Strong and recent contributing artist to Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. As he's shown with Tom Strong, Sprouse has talent with the acting of his characters as well as giant robots, alien creatures, and explosions. Not only that, but Sprouse is able to shift his trademark style to something completely different should the material require it in the form of an alternate reality or new planet. Much like Tom Strong visited alien worlds and parallel dimensions, we imagine a comic book Samus would be handling similar duties in her effort to take out Space Pirates.

Grand Theft Auto

Dream Team: Brian Azzarello & Daniel Zezelj
Just like its Old West brethren, Red Dead Redemption, a Grand Theft Auto comic book series has near infinite possibilities. GTA has over a dozen iterations that span 50 years (don't forget GTA: London 1961!), which a comic series could pull from while exploring the various inhabitants of Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City. Of course, there are tons of comics out there that explore seedy underbellies of metropolitan areas, so a writer that can set their sights on the required mash-up of crime fiction, comedy, and satire that the GTA series holds is essential. Few are better suited for a GTA comic book than Brian Azzarello, a writer that's proved his chops in this genre with things like 100 Bullets, Joker, and Filthy Rich. However, it's the satire and humor elements that make GTA unique as a property, so Azzarello's work on Doctor 13 can't go unnoticed. In Doctor 13, Azzarello crafted an uncharacteristically light-hearted affair that unites a bunch of DC's canceled characters. Azzarello's GTA series would meet someplace in the middle of his published resume, to great success.

GTA is as much about sheer violence as it is lampooning the crime genre, so reuniting Azzarello with his Loveless artist Daniel Zezelj is a natural choice. Zezelj's chaotic line work is greatly suited for street-level tales. It would provide the series with the necessary grit that the games are missing in their presentation. That said, if the series were to jump from decade to decade, the art would have to reflect the time period, just like Vice City reflected the 1980's and San Andreas the early 1990's.

Grand Theft Auto has a reputation for its violence, sure, but often overlooked is its dedication to crafting detailed characters that are often never seen for more than 15 minutes in any given game. A GTA comic book could perhaps do some justice to those creations.

Source: Joey Esposito, Video Games That Need Comics, IGN Comics, 8 February 2011