Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Duke Nukem: Glorious Bastard (Comic) - Glorious Indeed

Coinciding with the release of Duke Nukem Forever (it only took them 14 years), IDW Publishing announced the release of a 4-issue mini-series starring Duke, entitled Duke Nukem: Glorious Bastard. Normally we try to avoid such words, so this may be the only time you will ever get to see the word "bastard" this many times in one post on this blog, albeit within a particular context. I would also like to mention that, though this came out last year, I got to reviewing it this late because the comic finished its run before we decided to add licensed video game comics to our repertoire. Getting back on track, one would wonder how well the character of Duke Nukem could be translated to the comic book medium, as well as the many qualities the games are known for. Well rest assured, since even on the printed page, Duke is just as kick-ass as ever.

First, let's get to the story, written by Tom Waltz. In 1945 Germany, three escaped prisoners (the French Elise Plewmann, the British Major General Conner Sean, and the African-American Corporal Flip Henry), are battling against Nazi forces who are working with an alien force called the Vril-ya, lead by the evil Maria, who takes the form of a hot human female. Right now the soldiers need a miracle if they wish to stand a chance against the Nazi/Vrillerinnen forces. Cue Duke Nukem in the present day, who, after "taking care of" some members of a mass harem in his mansion, is visited by an elderly Elise Plewmann, who tells him that he is needed in the past in order to ensure the future. Initially the prospect of Duke time traveling seemed frustrating after experiencing three particular games, but this comic managed to pull the concept off better.

In my opinion, Tom Waltz nails Duke Nukem. Everything he says sounds like something Duke would say (I could even imagine Jon St. John's performance), and everything about his personality remains intact. His one-liners are also very funny, as they should be, and he takes many an opportunity to drop a pop culture reference (including a particular phrase that is now associated with him) or a sexual double entendre. As a further display of Duke's badassery, there's a hilarious scene near the end involving Adolf Hitler, showing that the reason he committed suicide was because of Duke, who even calls him a "pussy" for it. That's not to say the villains and supporting cast aren't written well, as they get a decent amount of characterization in the screen time they have. The escapees that get assistance from The King are also shown to do something, and aren't just there to stand on the sidelines and praise him.

Next comes the artwork, with most covers (IDW comics usually have multiple covers, including retailer incentives) provided by John K. Snyder III and interiors by Xermanico. John K. Snyder III presents an interesting take on Duke Nukem, providing a sketchier, more geometric look while showcasing how awesome he is. Most of the total events on all of his covers actually happen to an extent, but in any case they seem to do their job. Snyder III's covers also feature a phrase at the bottom in white text against a black frame, which I think helps to solidify the tone of Duke Nukem. Xermanico's interiors, including the first issue's cover B that I have in my possession, fit perfectly with The King's universe. Everything looks just right, including the appearances of the aliens that Duke Nukem fans are familiar with, and while the comic gets pretty gory at times, it isn't overly gory, rather sticking mostly with blood to display Duke's carnage. This, combined with the adult language in the dialogue, maintains the M-Rated atmosphere of the games and ensures that this definitely is not a comic you should be showing to your kids.

In conclusion, Duke Nukem: Glorious Bastard is a solid Duke Nukem product. Admittedly, it doesn't have much depth as far as the story is concerned, but that has never really been an issue with Duke Nukem before, so why should that stop here? The artwork is actually pretty good and is drawn fairly realistically, but just enough so that it matches the tone of the games. If you have an interest in picking up this comic, I would suggest you go in having played at least one of the games first (just so long as you avoid the ones developed by n-Space). Otherwise, there's plenty of Duke for everyone (aged 17 or older).

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