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Posts Tagged ‘comic books’

We finally got the Batman game we’ve always wanted, with the superb Arkham Asylum from Rocksteady dropping this week.  The reviews are glowing, with some lofty comparisons and even “Game of the Year” buzz surfacing.  Going back to last summer with the The Dark Knight movie, we’ve seen two projects take on the Batman license and absolutely nail it.  Great!  The only hiccup is DC’s completely missing the opportunity for comics sales.

Anyone that picks up and plays Arkham Asylum this week would be completely and hopelessly lost if they were to read any of the flagship Batman books on the shelf of their local comic shop this week.  For the love of God, Bruce Wayne’s not even Batman right now*!

Dick Grayson and... Damian Wayne are Batman and Robin

Dick Grayson and... Damian Wayne are Batman and Robin

I’m not saying they should retcon all the events of Infinite Crisis just for the sake of Rocksteady’s game, but would it have killed DC Comics to align the current story arc in the ongoing monthly bat-books with something that resembled Arkham Asylum’s continuity?  I suppose it’s a bit of the tail wagging the dog, but last time I checked COMICS were facing some serious readership issues, while games have an abundance of players.

Marvel took a lot of flack for a similar issue with the core X-Men books around the release window for the first Bryan Singer X-Men movie in 2000.  Only a few characters from the movie were active in the books at that time, and the ones that were looked nothing like their silver screen counterparts.  The House of M has since learned their lesson, and got Spidey back in black just in time for Spider-Man 3.  They even got the last few occurrences of Free Comic Book Day to coincide with the release date of tentpole summer blockbusters starring a Marvel character.

I can’t wait to see the NPD numbers on Arkham Asylum next month.  I’m willing to bet at least the Xbox 360 SKU charts in the top 3.  Too bad none of those buyers could sustain their Batman fix with a nice, tidy jumping-on point into monthly Batman comics.

*For all the lapsed comic book nerds reading this, Bruce Wayne is dead.  In the comic book sense.  As in ‘nobody every really dies in comics**’.

**The REALLY lapsed comic book nerds will recall that this phrase use to read ‘nobody ever really dies in comics except Bucky.’  But he actually came back in 2008.  So, really, NOBODY dies in comics now.

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The combined E3 game critics panel released their final winners list yesterday.  Not a ton of surprises here, but it’s interesting that EA won 4 of the 15 total awards, including Best PC Game, Best Action/Adventure, and most importantly, Most Original Game.

It’s expected for EA to win Best Sports Game, and from what I’ve seen of the new Madden, they certainly deserve it this year.  But over the last few years, it would’ve been hard to imagine them winning any awards for originality.  Yearly updates to time-tested sports franchises and crappy licensed games have been EA’s bread and butter, and I don’t think anyone would have bet on them changing strategies.  Clearly, new leadership and their radical reorganization are paying dividends quickly.  Just take a look at the breath of fresh air that is Mirror’s Edge.

Unfortunately, the best games still don’t get played without inspired marketing.  I must admit, I’m thoroughly impressed with how The House that Trip Built is promoting this year’s crop of surprisingly original IP.  Mirror’s Edge is getting a six issue comic book miniseries from DC’s Wildstorm imprint, exploring their near-future world under a police state that requires the use of runners (like the game’s protagonist) to deliver messages.  Even better, EA’s supplementing their forthcoming sci-fi survival horror title, Dead Space, with a six-book prequel series from Image Comics AND an animated, direct-to-video feature film that sets up exactly the games central set piece, a deep space mining colony, became overun with pure evil.  Check out the spooky trailer below.

While the look of the game doesn’t exactly translate to hand-drawn cell animation, direct-to-video supplements worked for The Matrix and The Dark Knight, so EA must be doing something right. With all this supplemental material beyond the game, EA has built their own Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe.  Having such fully realized worlds created as part of the development process frees EA from having to shoehorn a video game into other, licensed universes.

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