Publisher: Basement Comics
Writer: Budd Root
Artist: Bradley Walton
Release Date: 12/1993-06/1995
Cavewoman isn’t just a cheesy comic about a scantily clad woman in a snakeskin bikini. Surprisingly, Cavewoman is very interesting and has quite the deep plot and character development that the big AAA comics usually have. Cavewoman (Meriem Cooper) was sent back in time 70 million years when the dinosaurs roamed with her grandfather to escape the government. The grandfather had built a time machine, but to time travel you had to enhance your body on a molecular level to survive the travel. They made Meriem extremely powerful, thick-skinned, and even faster.
The first six issues tell a tale of Marshville, Oregon as it gets transported back in time where Meriem is. Dinosaurs slaughter the townsfolk and Meriem must help save them. It’s a story about survival in a post-apocalyptic world. The story also concentrates on Meriem’s background origins and does a good job of getting her character across. You really grow to love Meriem and respect her for the strong and dependable woman she is. The backstory is told mainly through her diary pages that we see a little boy read in her cave. They are written from when she was a child and it adds character and depth that you wouldn’t expect from a low budget comic. There was a lot of thought and love put into this series and it shows with every panel.
With this comic being low budget; it looks the part. There is no color here and the drawings aren’t the best, but it gets across an interesting art style that sticks with the series throughout. All the characters are rather strong and the dino/human survival combo works really well here. Cavewoman is one of the better indie comics I have read in years and I plan to read the entire series.
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Release Date: 01/2009-07/2009
Locke & Key was a fantastic murder mystery and a game of cat and mouse. Never had that scenario been so satisfying in a comic. Every character was memorable and each panel actually meant something moved the story forward. I have to give the series credit for this as it’s one of the fastest moving comics I have ever read.
Head Games is all about finding another key the Lockehouse. This one allows the user to open their head and take out memories and put new ones in. It’s a very strange concept, one that is completely unbelievable, but in the world of Locke & Key, it is. The main villain, Dodge, is still trying to keep all his murders a mystery and we finally know his ultimate goal, to open the black door, but why and what’s inside is never revealed in these chapters.
There are more murders, the Locke family goes through more turmoil and strife, and the series continues to be a wonderful page flipper. The best thing about Head Games is Dodge being able to trick everybody and hide all his schemes when it’s all right under everyone’s nose. It’s hard to explain all the minor details that make this series so addictive, but I will say that Head Games could have been made better if the plot advanced just a tad more and didn’t feel so much like the first series it could have been perfect.
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Artist: Mark Robinson, Jason P. Martin
Writer: Orson Scott Card, Aaron Johnston
Release Date: 03/2010-11/2010
Most video game comics can be hit or miss depending on how strict the publisher is with the story and characters. Most video game comics are released a few months leading up to the game’s release thus restricting what we can know about the story. The Dragon Age comic series takes place leading up to and after Dragon Age II concentrating on Varric, Isabella, and Calen. However, there was an original story using the lore of the series just titled Dragon Age.
This 6 issue series explores a female mage whose village burns down due to thugs (or Templars as she thinks). While the story gets a bit emotional and we all know not much can happen in just a 6 issue series, it’s actually quite good. Most of the lore is explored in the series regarding mages and Templars and the constant struggle between the two. The art is pretty decent and I was entertained throughout.
There are three 6 issue series based on Dragon Age II called Until We Sleep, Those Who Speak, and the Silent Grove. I honestly wasn’t too impressed with these three as the writing and dialog felt a bit cheesy and not too much happened outside of finding out who Calen’s father really is and the backstory behind it. I’m not too fond of video game comics concentrating on only a few characters instead of the scope of the entire universe or world that the game is based in. It’s not to see our favorite characters fleshed out more, but for some reason, these three mini-series didn’t quite do the game justice. With that said the art is decent but not spectacular. At least not as good as the original series from 2010. If you’re a Dragon Age fan you really aren’t missing out on anything by skipping these comics.
Publisher: Digital Webbing
Release Date: 12/2005-2009
BloodRayne hasn’t received the attention or props it deserves. The video games were mediocre but they contained great characters and a memorable story. Rayne is one of the most recognized and sexiest video game characters ever created. Why has there been no BloodRayne 3? Majesco has been having financial problems for as long as anyone can remember. A PSP game was canceled and a 3DS game was as well. The last game, BloodRayne: Betrayal, was a 2D platformer but received low sales. To satisfy everyone’s bloodlust for Rayne Digital Webbing released 26 issues of BloodRayne that ran for a good 3 years and ended in 2009. The series has a fantastic story and really shows Rayne’s weaknesses and strengths. However, the series falls flat in the art department.
With mostly one-shots, BloodRayne does surprisingly well for itself. Rayne is trying to uncover the truth behind the Brimstone Society, an ancient secret cult that set out to kill all vampires and mythical creatures that endangered mankind. There is deception, deceit, betrayal, and mistrust running through the whole series. Just when you think things are going one way they greatly shift to another and it keeps you reading and tearing through issues.
The three mini-series are great as well. Plague of Dreams is all about Rayne’s half-brother who’s threatening the world. Red Blood Run is set in China where a secret cult is harvesting young women and turning them into vampires. This is where the story makes the biggest twist and the climax starts. The final mini-series, Tokyo Rogue, has an interesting encore/sub-plot of the years after the events of the original Brimstone Society drama. It doesn’t directly tie into it, but there are elements that point to it. The writing is very good despite Rayne’s battle taunts being a bit cheesy. I loved the characters and got attached to many of them.
The art was inconsistent throughout the entire series. Several issues looked downright ugly with disproportionate anatomy, Rayne looking like a man in some issues, and her body shape constantly changing. Some issues looked brighter and more vivid while others lacked any detail at all. This is a crying shame because Rayne is a gorgeous woman and deserves the best attention in drawing her. I liked the various outfits she was in, but the art just really threw the series off.
Other than the art issue BloodRayne is a great series for fans and non-fans alike. If you never played BloodRayne I suggest you try to after reading these comics, I know I want to dive back in and sink my teeth into the first game.
Publisher: WildStorm/DC Comics
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
I went into this not expecting much. I was half-way through the first issue when it suddenly grabbed my attention. This series plays out — and could be translated to — a full on game. The Gods (Hades, Ares, Hermes, Poseidon, Helios) are bored and make a wager. They find the strongest clans in the world and make something disastrous happen. The Barbarian King’s father is stricken with illness, a female clan suffers starvation, and Kratos new-born child with Lysandra, Calliope, is born with a deformity. The Spartan law is that an ugly baby is thrown out at sea. Lysandra’s mid-wife tells them of a tale about the Ambrosia of Asclepius that can give eternal life and bring back the dead. They both beg the Spartan King to let Kratos bring back this Ambrosia for the King himself and a sip for his baby.
That’s one freaking awesome story. That right there is a premise to a whole new God of War game. As the series advances the Gods start cheating because Kratos is obviously winning. He slays large strange beasts, avoids natural disasters, and has the King’s army following him. The series does a good job showing the hot-headedness of Kratos and his selfishness. The Spartan general ends up giving him a lecture on this, we also get some insight on the Spartan ways and how cruel they were. Several times Kratos almost becomes defeated, but we all know the ending here.
The art was a bit disappointing. It’s very murky and washed out with black. There’s some realism here, but it doesn’t exactly fit the game’s art style. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes I didn’t. There were a few mistakes like when he had a flashback to his childhood. Kratos is drawn with the ashy skin and red markings, but he didn’t get that until after he slew his family. In Ghost of Sparta, Kratos is seen with normal skin as a kid, so there were some screw-ups with the lore here. This series was made towards the tale-end of WildStorm Comics life, issue 6 was done by DC Comics after they absorbed WildStorm. At least the comic is gory and there’s a lot of violence like in the game. While the art may be iffy, it does have an excellent atmosphere of darkness and constant betrayal.
It’s a short series but it does the game justice. If you love God of War these six issues should be in your comic collection. The story is so great that it can stand as a standalone game.
Publisher: WildStorm Comics/DC Comics
Release Date: 12/2008-08/2012
I didn’t really have high hopes for this comic series. Comics are a good avenue for video games because you get a new story along with visuals. The first mini-series wasn’t all that great. The art was good, but the story was very average and just felt like a piece of a level from the game. There were a couple of comics after that that focused on Jace which is a character I didn’t really like. These issues felt pointless and I feel sorry for anyone who wasted $4 on them. The second mini-series — Barren — was excellent with fantastic art and an awesome story. It also brought out a darker side to the franchise that wasn’t seen in the games. Using a run down the facility to capture and rape girls to create babies to keep humanity running. Delta Squad goes in and tries to save them, but there is a constant love/hate thing going on and it was very gripping.
After this, the series went into some one-offs with Jace again and I didn’t like them. The third and final mini-series was Dirty Little Secrets which led up to the ending of Gears of War 3. Karen Traviss wrote the comic this time around except the artwork was terrible. It was washed out and the character design was inconsistent with the whole series. There were some character tie-ins to the Gears novels, so anyone who’s read those will finally get to see what these characters look like such as Trescu, Mathieson, and a few other Garasnaya people. The story was pretty gripping and it got into the heads of Adam Fenix, Chairman Prescott, and Hoffman. Of course, by now everyone knows how Gears ends, but this is still a great insight.
Interestingly, WildStorm dropped the series shortly after the Barren mini-series and DC Comics picked it up. I don’t know if it wasn’t profitable anymore — I highly doubt the comic series sold very well. After the switch to DC, the artwork went down the wayside yet the stories were a little better. Seeing as the series only ran for 24 issues (2 years) I’m guessing after Gears of War 3 they didn’t expect it to sell. It went on for quite a while as most video game comics are only one mini-series long. If you are a hardcore Gears of War fan I recommend at least picking up the last two mini-series. The series went through some ups and downs, but it was solid for a franchise that mainly focused on shooting things.
Publisher: WildStorm Comics
Writer: Joshua Ortega
Artist: Liam Sharp
Release Date: 09/2009-10/2010
While Hollow was a huge disappointment and felt completely unnecessary the writers and artists at WildStorm seem to have gotten the hang for the series. Barren is full of twists and exciting new characters, and surprisingly, a bunch of female ones. Delta Squad gets a new female Sargeant in their squad, Alex, and they are sent to a destroyed city called Jilane to find any survivors. The distress beacon was somehow activated there, but it’s actually a plant where they capture and rape women to reproduce. This is a very dark series and even dark for Gears of War. Things like rape and torture usually aren’t talked about in the games outside of the Locust.
For some reason they are still sticking with Jace as a main character. Nobody likes him, he’s boring and uninteresting yet he’s still here. There’s even a sex scene in the series with Jace and one of the female survivors. It’s very shocking but a good move for the series comics. Throughout the 5 part series Liam Sharp’s art brings the story to life and it feels like they have the series under their belt. There’s a lot of action and suspense, each comic ends on a cliffhanger, but thankfully I didn’t have to wait until the next month to read what happens next. Cliffhangers are important in comics because it keeps the reader coming back every month.
Barren just really shows the darkest part of humanity and how the emergence of Locust effected everyone. It also shows the softer more humane side of the COG and Delta Squad. They save children and women, but it also shows that the best among us will sacrifice themselves to save the masses. This comic series is just rock solid and I hope this continues further into the 24 part Gears of War comic run. If you don’t want to read them all just get #9-14 and enjoy beautiful artwork, solid writing, and tense action.