International video games developer and publisher Capcom has entered into the world of webcomics.
With Bionic Commando Rearmed, an enhanced remake of the 1988 Nintendo Entertainment System video game, and a Bionic Commando sequel both on the way to Windows PCs, Xbox 360 and PS3, Capcom is producing a Bionic Commando: Chain of Command webcomic with veteran comic book writer Andy Diggle (Hellblazer, The Losers, Batman: Confidential, Green Arrow: Year One) and artist Colin Wilson (Star Wars, Point Blank, Judge Dredd). The story fills in the 10-year gap between the first NES game and the upcoming next-gen sequel. The first three pages debuted on the official Bionic Commando website on March 12, and a new page added every Wednesday.
Rotate through the pages of the webcomic to the right.
All 32 pages of the webcomic will eventually be collected and printed as a comic book that will be given away for free to those who pre-order the game. The cover is illustrated by the legendary Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), and Capcom is giving away the Dave Gibbons cover as a poster at next week’s Comic-Con International in San Diego next week.
We spoke with Diggle about the webcomic project and his involvement with the new game.
Newsarama: How did you and Colin get involved with the Bionic Commando: Chain of Command webcomic?
Andy Diggle: I was originally approached a couple of years ago by Capcom producer Ben Judd, who wanted me to write a "proof of concept" prototype game level to convince the high-ups at Capcom that a Bionic Commando game would kick ass. So I flew over to Stockholm a few times to meet with Ben and the development guys at Grin. Once the prototype level was finished and the full game got the green light, I figured my work here was done... until Ben invited me back to put together the promo comic. Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in...
I'm editing the comic as well as writing it, which means I got to cherry-pick my creative team. And as a lifelong fan of Colin Wilson's amazing Rogue Trooper artwork, I knew there's no one who draws near-future military hardware like him. He was my number one choice for the book from day one, and was thrilled when he agreed to do it.
NRAMA: Were you already a fan of the Bionic Commando games then?
AD: I must confess I'd never played it until I went to Grin!
NRAMA: So, Chain of Command is actually a sequel to the 1988 video game from NES, which first introduced the game’s protagonist, Nathan “Rad” Spencer, and it’s a comic tie-in to the upcoming Bionic Commando game, right?
AD: Yeah. The new game is set ten years after the original NES game, and Chain of Command is set right in the middle of that "missing" decade. It's a pivotal moment in Spencer's life that shows how he went from being the clean-cut, can-do hero of the original game to the bad-ass loner anti-hero of the sequel.
NRAMA: As I understand it, there is also another game, Rearmed, which is actually a remake of the NES game. How closely connected, if any, is Chain of Command to Rearmed?
AD: Prior events are touched upon briefly in the comic, but you certainly don't need to be familiar with the game to enjoy the comic. The comic is specifically intended to introduce new readers and new players to the world of Bionic Commando, so everything you need to know is laid out for you.
NRAMA: For those who came in late, can you tell is more about Spencer, the Master-D Mission and Joseph “Super Joe” Gibson, who’s now Supervisor: Joint Operations Executive of T.A.S.C.?
AD: In the original 1980s NES game, "Super Joe" was a top agent who was captured by the neo-Nazi "Imperials". Bionic Commando was sent to rescue him before the Imperials could use their stolen plans to resurrect their infamous leader "Master-D", who bore an uncanny resemblance to a certain Austrian-born dictator of ill repute. At least, he did until his head exploded at the end of the game!
NRAMA: You’ve also introduced Forge, Shrike and Jayne Magdalene to the Bionic Commando mythos. Can you tell us more about them?
AD: Nathan Spencer always believed that he was the first bionic soldier -- his nickname "RAD" being short for "Research And Development Subject 1". But he discovers there were earlier, less successful bionic test subjects who have been kept under wraps for years -- and they've gone AWOL. Their code-names are Forge and Shrike, and Spencer is assigned to take them down.
Jayne Magdelene is another bionic agent, and Spencer's partner on the mission. They trained together, and fought side-by-side many times over the years, but their relationship has always remained strictly professional... for now.
NRAMA: As it is, the webcomic is updated every Wednesday and 20 pages are published online so far. There’s 32 pages in total, right?
AD: That's right. You can find the web-comic at www.bioniccommando.com, updated every Wednesday.
NRAMA: And these would eventually be collected into a printed comic book, right?
AD: Yeah. Bionic Commando: Chain of Command is a 32-page one-shot promo piece which is running online at the official Bionic Commando website, and we'll be giving away free, exclusive limited edition printed copies to people who pre-order the game. It's quite separate from the Devil's Due comic series, which will come out afterwards and will be sold through comic stores.
We'll also be giving away free Bionic Commando posters at the San Diego Comic-Con, featuring exclusive artwork by Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen. Hopefully Dave will be on hand at the Capcom booth to sign a few posters on the Saturday afternoon, in between all the inevitable Watchmen hoopla.
Capcom will also be also giving a big presentation on the game from 5 to 6pm on the Saturday of Comic-Con, where I'll be speaking about my involvement with the project.
NRAMA: Anything else that you’d like to add about your experience?
AD: As one of the lucky few who got to play the prototype level at the Grin studios in Stockholm, I know first-hand how much fun it is to play. Personally, I can't wait!