Thursday, December 20, 2012

God of War (Comic) - Not Even a Change of Publishers Can Stop the God of War

As hype for God of War III increased, it was announced that the publisher Wildstorm, whom we have discussed before, would do a 6-issue bi-monthly (in this case every other month) tie-in comic, simply titled God of War, its release coinciding with that of the game. This is a comic I read as it was coming out, although it was also through this comic that I witnessed the downfall of Wildstorm; in the back of issue 5, there is a letter stating that the Wildstorm universe was not only going to end, but also be rebooted (this may have been foreshadowing DC's New 52 relaunch, which includes Wildstorm material), but even then I was genuinely confused when I noticed that issue 6 was released by DC, which I took to mean that the larger company ate Wildstorm. Anyway, this review marks the third time I have read this comic, twice through DC's trade paperback collection, and while it isn't perfect, it's still one heck of a comic.

The story of the comic, written by Marv Wolfman (you may know him for DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths), takes place simultaneously before and after the first God of War, each following Kratos as he seeks the Ambrosia of Asclepius, a plant that possesses magical healing powers. In flashbacks to the past, we learn more about Kratos' past, including what lead to pivotal events in his life presented in the first game's flashback sequences. After a few readings, I still believe Marv Wolfman captures the spirit of God of War quite nicely, with text boxes resembling the narrations present in each game and the dialogue feeling natural, especially Kratos', whose dialogue sounds like exactly like something he would say. On top of this, Wolfman seems well-researched with God of War and Greek mythology in general, providing a rather interesting plot twist in later issues of the comic. However, both times I read this as a whole, I noticed a couple of continuity errors, though they are entirely isolated to the dialogue; one instance has Kratos remembering a bit of dialogue a little differently than when it was first spoken, and the other involves the dialogue from one character changing slightly between the end and beginning of the last two issues. In addition, the story assumes you are already familiar with God of War, evidenced by the very first page, so it's best to play the first game at the least before reading.

Next is the artwork. The covers for each issue were provided by Andy Park, a concept artist for the God of War series, and they are simply gorgeous. Mostly they do display something that will happen in each issue, but each cover is still epic and badass in their own right, being something you might tempted to tack to your wall. The interiors by Andrea Sorrentino, however, are another story. I'm not saying her art is terrible, but it could have used a little fixing up before being published. If I were to describe it, I would say it's sort of like Schrรถdinger's artwork: simultaneously well-done and poorly-done; on one hand Sorrentino's art is very good, with a photo-realistic art style that fits the atmosphere of the games it is based on, along with character designs and locales appearing as though they were ripped straight from them; on the other hand, they can be considered bad because they appear, as others have put it, muddy, making it difficult at times to make out what exactly is going on, including telling the difference between past and present. In this case, you may have to read the book a few times before you are able to see all the nuances of the artwork and fully appreciate the effort that went into them and tell where the team intended a transition; once you are able to tell, the comic becomes better as a result. If I were to compare Sorrentino's interior art here to those of other Wildstorm comics discussed on the blog, I would say they are somewhere between the spectacular Ratchet & Clank interiors (clear and distinct) and the god-awful Mirror's Edge interiors (scratchy and incomprehensible).

Overall, the God of War comic is a must-read for God of War fans. The writing is amazing and stays true to the God of War atmosphere, but the visuals, while matching the style of the games, seem to have needed a little bit of polishing up before release. Aside from that setback, the book is a fantastic read and is definitely worth your time. What has fascinated me about the God of War series is that it has (so far) been able to tell an excellent, mature story without resorting to heavy swearing, and this book continues the trend. However, even with the art the way it is, it still gets pretty visceral, and with some of the creative choices made in this comic, I would suggest following what the book itself suggests and make sure you are the right age (in the Mature crowd) to be reading this comic.

I would like to get to the rest of the God of War series at some point, so let's hope the world doesn't end tomorrow before I get a chance to do so.

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