Monday, July 19, 2010

Top 5 SF Graphic Novels Based on Computer Games

List by Paul

Science Fiction… wonderful, big and scary… as it should be. And reading it, (as one New Zealand columnist recently observed) is nothing less than an experiential version of mountaineering: “I do it partly for the workout, and partly for the view.” Ah yes, the view. Whether manufactured in the fertile imagination of the reader, via CGI-charged products delivered in Panavision for film fans, or through menacing pixilation procreated by gaming corporations, the visual remains a potent force in science fiction.

At their best, graphic novels are a medium that perfectly conveys the scale, beauty and power of these imaginary off-worlds, where often the minutiae of our species must contend with challenges that dwarf our paltriness.

The following 5 graphic novels represent visually stunning offshoots of global gaming phenomena, each adventure a computer game derivative employing some of the best illustrative art and storytelling that this literary form currently offers. Enjoy the view. And send me a postcard when you get there.


“If we’re not war pigs, we’re just common “most wanted” scumbags, and I for one am never going back to the hell-hole they dug me outta!”

Think “The Dirty Dozen” in space. The War Pigs are offered an amnesty in return for killing an enemy of the Dominion: Jim Raynor. Smart characterisation through back-story accounts for each member of the War Pigs elite, reveals their personal motivations (and hell) fuelling their revenge or redemption. Good enough that I actually formed opinions about who I liked and disliked in this troupe. And the visual storyboard keeps the excitement levels on ‘Extreme’.

Keyword: Whump!

Mass Effect: Redemption

“They grow ‘em large in your neighbourhood, don’t they?”
“And they grow them stupid in yours.”

Loyal officer Dr Liara T’Soni is on the trail of her Commander who disappeared after a surprise attack on his ship. And so is every other malevolent sonofabitch in the lawless universe because, well, Commander Shepard had ‘special qualities’… for a human. Nasty pieces of work including ‘The Collectors’, ‘The Shadow Broker’, hit man Tazzik and Blue Suns assassins pose considerable obstacles for our heroine… but curve hugging outfits and some kind of defence/attack technique called “Biotics’ means T’Soni can handle herself pretty well when confronting space scum. I enjoyed the slightly complex broker ship and motivations between the warring factions even if the total effect was perhaps a little underwhelming.

Keyword: Kressshh!


“Tell me a story, sergeant. Tell me a story, and for God’s sake it better be a barn-burner. It better be the greatest Goddamn story ever told. Because sergeant, you are so f**ked now only Jesus Christ himself could unf**k you.”

In the early 1950s an army of brutal creatures broke out of Russia and conquered Europe in a matter of weeks. The Chimeran virus infected humans transforming the victims into more of the plague. Now a group of American soldiers, who were made immune to transformation through the horrifying experiments of Project Abraham must infiltrate a conquered Alaskan base at Fort Anchorage to recapture humanity’s most powerful weapon before the Chimera do: the Hydrogen Bomb. Holy Oppenheimer! The stupidity of humans once their DNA has been compromised and they morph into flesh devouring mutants ensures a high body count and great cannon fodder for Alpha Team as well as providing great, tense visual entertainment.

Keyword: Graaaaa!

Dead Space

“This is Sergeant Abraham Neumann, Planetside Security Office. Badge number BC-60284-MA. We Are f**ked.”

Two words: Ben Templesmith. Yes, the tentacle-obsessed maestro himself (of ’30 Days of Night’ fame). That alone should prepare you for the masterfully menacing visual delivery of what is, ultimately, a galactic rendition of the traditional horror house tale. This time the location is the distant mining colony of Aegis VII… and a particularly bad place to be. But a great place to visit in this graphic novel. Templesmith’s trademark colourisation, shadowing, facial expressions, mood-setting, and conveyance of movement are all perfectly relayed here.

Keyword: Boo!

Gears of War

“And nobody be a hero – heroes don’t last long out here.”

Quite the contrary old chap, I’m afraid; this graphic novel is chock full of heroes… and bravado and bigger guns and even bigger, nastier aliens spilling out of every page. This is Marcus Fenix and his bunch of bad asses, Delta Squad, after all. These guys don’t exfoliate… they exterminate! So I don’t need to say much else, right? And every testosterone-empowered-frame fits perfectly with the legendary overt machismo of the Gears of War universe. The gonads on these guys are so large they could easily be mistaken for low orbiting moons. This is military SF at its finest and SF art perfection. And c’mon… it’s got Marcus Fenix!!! This is an absolutely gorgeous visualization… er, but not ’gorgeous’ in the towel-snapping-frisky-blokes-in-the-shower-just-having-fun-kind-of-way. Oh no. More like your chiselled-jaw-steely-focused-I’ve-got-superior-firepower-hardcore-soldier-and-I’m-gonna-give-ya-such-a-sucking-chest-wound-youre-gonna-be-cryin’-for-yer-Mama-bigtime-kind-of-way. That kind of ‘gorgeous’.

Keyword: Boom!

No comments: