Hey there, and welcome to another edition of our games column, Pixels and Panels. As you’ve no doubt seen by our coverage here, the worlds of video games and comic books are more closely intertwined than ever before. This column will explore comic book video games and explore games that make the leap the other direction and become comic books. We’ll track the trends, give you some previews and reviews, and explore every side of the transition from Pixels to Panels and back again.
Writer: Mike Costa
Art: Ramón Pérez and Tony Aviña / CP Smith
Wildstorm continues their venture into videogame comics this month, with another shooter adaptation. We’ve been enjoying Gears of War, based on the popular Xbox 360 exclusive shoot scary monster types game, and that good will lent high hopes to Resistance, based on the popular PS3 exclusive shoot scary monster types game. Unfortunately, it seems almost everything that GoW got right, Resistance got wrong.
Now, this isn’t an altogether bad comic. In fact, there’s a very strong possibility that when this story is complete, it will wind up being a pretty good read. The problem here is the comic’s complete assumption that every reader is fully up-to-date on the world of the game. The alternate reality tale has an alien invasion hitting Europe in the early 1950s, in place of the World War II that never happened. As such, technology has had a much more gradual growth since World War I, leaving the people of Earth massively ill-equiped to fight off a full scale invasion. The back-up brings the reader somewhat up-to-date on this status quo, but that’s the last six story pages; it is baffling that there wasn’t at least a cursory recap page, or simply swapped placement, putting this shorter tale in front. Granted, these comics are geared toward fans of the games, but it should still be treated as a stand alone comic book first.
That back-up story, illustrated by CP Smith, captures the look and tone of the games much more closely than the front section as well. However, the front introduces the reader to several more characters, whose tales we’ll be following. A fun, fast, and very nicely drawn dogfight kicks things off, followed by a long camp conversation and a big reveal.
That camp conversation, unforunately, took me completely out of the story. It honestly took willpower to get past it and just move on. The conversation itself wasn’t necessarily bad, however the military accuracy was atrocious.
The military unit being shown here is noted in dialogue as being Army. The servicemen are called “Soldier” which is unique to the Army as well (Marines are Marines, Navy are Seamen, Air Force are Airmen), doubling up that assertion. Now here’s a little Army 101 for those not in the know on rank structure. A “Sergeant Capelli” is having a conversation with “Lieutenant Murphy.” Being addressed “Sergeant” implies he holds a rank of E5-E7: Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, or Sergeant First Class. Their talk is about the actions of a Master Sergeant, which is E8, the next level up in the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) rank structure.
Still with me? Good. The first mistake comes when the LT tells Sgt. Capelli “Those bars you have mean something.” NCOs don’t wear bars, they wear chevrons. Officers, namely Lieutenants and Captains, are actually the only ones who wear bars. Next, this E5-E7 (it’s not specified) Capelli goes to confront Master Sergeant Wallce, his superior. He angrily calls him “Sergeant Wallace” which while not unheard of, is a bit disrespectful. He then proceeds to hit his superior and yell at him, telling him the way things are gonna be. MSG Wallace addresses his inferior NCO as “sir” and doesn’t fight back. If you call an Army NCO “Sir” he’ll at worst tell you off, or at best tell you he “works for a living,” as commissioned officers are the ones addressed by that honorific.
Now, that scene could have worked perfectly fine if it was the Lieutenant chatting with the MSG. However, from the build and the impressive scar on the left side of his lips, the drawing is clearly of Capelli. Maybe this is just a page long art gaffe, or maybe it’s just not checking with any kind of military consultant. Either way, for a former soldier, it took me completely out of the story.
This turned into a bit of a rant, but the point needed to be made. I should note that the art by Pérez is quite nice, with great facial expressions. A somewhat sparse background in most panels isn’t a bad thing- this is a training camp and these people are at war, so there wouldn’t necessarily be a lot out there anyway.
This issue is setup without the first story block, which is a bit confusing, but the general idea of this world is still strong enough to allow for the story to turn out strong itself. I understand the desire to jump into the story with it already happening, it just seems a bit too far of a jump. We don’t have to wait long for the next issue, it comes out next week, on the 28th. Hopefully reading both back to back will be easier for a newcomer to this world. And hopefully, they’ll talk to some Army folks for the rest of the series.