Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DmC Devil May Cry: The Chronicles of Vergil (Comic)

It seems that when a video game is to be released or has been around for a while, there will be a comic made to tie into it. The release may be digital, print or even a print collection of digital material, but creating a comic is a way of creating exposure for the game as well as a golden opportunity to expand on its events or world. Today, we will be looking at a comic created by Titan Comics to tie in with DmC Devil May Cry subtitled as The Chronicles of Vergil. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at the hardcover collection of the print material, which spans a total of two issues. While there are comics such as the ones for Uncharted or Ratchet & Clank which manage to expand on the universe of the games they are written for, The Chronicles of Vergil manages to fail in this endeavor.

While I do try to provide my own synopsis for the stuff I review, I'm going to let the cover blurb take care of it this time if only because it does a better job of explaining it than I could come up with. "In a world controlled by demons, Dante is humanity's last hope. But Dante is lost, imprisoned far from the human world. Accompanied by Kat, a human psychic, Dante's twin brother Vergil must now attempt a rescue." Of course, the basic premise is nothing unless you can execute it well, but Chronicles of Vergil decides to go about this very sloppily.

To begin with the writing, done by Izu, the time-scale is a little screwed. It opens with a scene from the game that isn't entirely accurate (more on that in a bit), but then it jumps to one year later, followed by "Today", then two two-day time skips before finally ending with three months later to tie into the game. I'm still a bit confused by when exactly this is supposed to take place, because not only does it start with a conflicting scene that's clearly supposed to be lifted from the game, but then it has the gall to just drop a "Today" on the reader as if that's when the comic takes place. I still want to know: what is this "Today?" Is it the year 2013? Is it when I live at this exact moment? Is it Tuesday? There's no context to help out, when what they could have done instead was start off with something that says something like "One year earlier" and then gradually moving it forward to make the opening of the game "Today" so that it would make more sense.

The cover of Issue 2.

Then of course we have plenty of continuity issues to deal with, even just between pages. I decided to actually replay a bit of the game that events in the book are lifted from, to make sure that I wasn't imagining things, and found that for the opening, the environment and dialogue doesn't really quite match up, especially since it's implied in the game that Dante and the Succubus demon had just seen each other for the first time, not a year before it was meant to happen. The ending shot of the comic is another story, since not only are the situation and dialogue seemingly rewritten from scratch, since they don't synch up at all with the game proper, but on top of that it's shown to be nighttime when in the game it is clearly daytime; what makes it most baffling is the fact that the comic still has Dante as just waking up and commenting on his hangover (in the wrong place, mind you). I'm sure there are more, but these were the most blatant to me.

As for the aforementioned errors between pages, I mean this as in they were not native to the game or trying to recreate scenes. For one thing, it's established at some point that Dante is no longer in Hellfire Prison, which looks like it's made of ice, but then Vergil and Kat figure this exact same thing out later even though a man inside already told her. Then, when Vergil defeats a group of Onyx guards, they establish, or rather guess, the grouping of their spirits as the true form of the Onyx. Later however, they guess that the same demon is actually the body of Hellfire and that the prison itself is alive, even though they said the exact same thing earlier when Kat somehow figures out that the Limbo version of the prison is a living organism when she hacks into its brain to find out where Dante is. Confused? Then we're in the same boat.

The sloppy storytelling however can also be blamed on the pacing. This book was only two issues, but I felt that they could have expanded it to three, or at most four, in order to establish little details such as how Kat is able to figure out everything she can do despite being knocked out for two whole days, how she knows that Vergil will lose his humanity from using his Devil Trigger and how she gradually seems to know more about Hellfire than Vergil despite only being conscious for maybe an hour or two. Everything moves a bit too quickly and the sudden romance between Kat and Vergil comes right out of nowhere before being erased from their memories; if you're just going to undo it at the end, why even bother?

But what is a comic without the art? Well, the work of Patrick Pion is pretty much the saving grace of this miniseries, but only to a point. You see, the backgrounds are phenomenal and very well rendered. It really captures the feeling of both the Human and Demon worlds as well as Limbo, with great detail and art that is great to look at on its own thanks to the pencil look. I can see that they must have planned out where everything is in relation to each other to lend a greater authenticity to it. The colors by Digikore Studio help out well, with a good color palette that matches the contrast of dull and colorful present in the game, which I like. The problem however is that sometimes Pion's inking is a bit weird. It looks all right in some shots, but in others it distorts the facial proportions a bit or makes characters look older than they really are. Mundus, for instance, looked about 40-something to me in the game, but in the one shot of him here he looks more like an old man due to being over-inked. Trying to name more specific examples would make this go on a bit too long, but I think you get the idea.

This should give you an idea of what I mean.

One last thing: the lettering. I think that both the dialogue and caption boxes are either a little too small or contain text that is itself a little too small, since in some cases there is plenty of white space around the text. I don't know if that's because another translation needs that much room, but it just feels like such a waste.

For lack of better words, this comic sucks. There is an interesting idea here, being the introduction of Vergil and Kat into the world of DmC, but the execution is very poorly done. The pacing is too quick, the story is rife with continuity errors, even within itself, and there are plot threads introduced that either go nowhere or are completely inconsequential to the whole thing. Patrick Pion's art is the only thing that saves it, but it doesn't carry the weight of the whole thing and doesn't prevent me from comparing it to the Mirror's Edge comic. It's a bit better than that effort, in fact it's kind of an inverse of quality, but just because it's better, that doesn't mean it's good. If you really need more DmC, then by all means read it, but I think even fans like myself will be struggling to find something to enjoy.

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