God of War #1
Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Published by WildStorm
Review by Lucas Siegel
There is, ostensibly, a story to the God of War videogame saga. The games see Kratos, a Spartan Warrior, take a path of revenge through the Gods of Olympus, starting with the titular Ares and working his way to Zeus himself. The plot and story, however, serve as bridges for ever-growing over-the-top action sequences and setup to insane battles with massive monstrosities.
As such, it may not seem like the ideal candidate for a spin-off comic book. After all, if the main appeal to a character and his exploits is making him fight insane battles against impossible odds, how can that be translated into a purely outside perspective? The answer, it seems, is with predictably mixed results.
The art of Andrea Sorrentino is gorgeous. It's moody, and dark, and portrays Kratos in a much heavier way than in the games. Gone are bright and flashy visuals of the videogame, replaced by a constant sense of pain. It serves to ground the story in a much truer emotional stance than in the games, which is important. From page one, which jumps us into Kratos's story post-the first game, it's clear that this is Kratos at his very darkest.
The story itself jumps between that after-game-1 "present" and the long-ago past of Kratos growing up in Sparta and meeting his wife and siring his child. The implication of Kratos's early life was given in the games, with minimal detail to provide motivation for his larger story. Here, it's given in painstaking detail, with elements that fans of this sort of story have seen repeatedly in stories like , in the games themselves, and countless other pop culture references to Sparta and its warrior culture.
There is the hint of a battle with a massive monstrosity, and there are scheming gods in the background of both parallel stories, but there is a disconnect here. Without thinking to yourself "I'll be the one tearing that god in half" or "I can't wait to tame that flame beast and use it to massacre those generic enemies," it's hard to care much about Kratos's next step. Ultimately, this story will end the way it ends; with any prequel, or especially a lost "middle" tale, the difficulty at making it suspenseful at all increases exponentially. Here, the background story carries less emotional weight and instead feels like it's to carry emotional weight.
Setup is of course necessary, and even more so with a licensed property, but chances are, this book isn't going to be read by many that haven't played the games. Chop out a couple of those middle "past" pages, let the book carry the same frenetic pace of the game, and you'd have a solid first issue. As it stands, this is just another game comic, not yet fit to sit on Mount Olympus. There's potential, and with the setup largely out of the way, the next issue could still surprise, and will be worth checking out before a final verdict is reached.