Rooted in the blood-stained Greek myths, God of War has slashed through three main video games and two others for cell phones and the PSP, and now he’s found a new battleground: comics.
God of War tells the story of a human warrior and former servant to the Gods, who challenged the gods of Mount Olympus after they caused the death of his family. This man, Kratos, goes up against all the Greek gods and the numerous mythological beings they put between him and his mission. But in this new six issue comic book series, we discover the origins of Kratos and what made him the god-conqueror he would become.
And penning these scripts is none other than comic industry legend Marv Wolfman. Wolfman, who made his name writing , creating Blade for Marvel and doing a acclaimed sixteen year run on , is an avid gamer – and claimed God of War as one of his favorites even before he got the job. In fact, he sought it out.
With the first issue of the God of War comic series in stores now and God of War 3 video game still fresh in people’s hands, we talked with Wolfman about the series and his own video game passions
Newsarama: So Marv, how'd you get involved with writing God of War, Marv?
Marv Wolfman: God of War 1 & 2 happened to have been my favorite video games; I'm a huge mythology fan and the game story, which begins with Kratos trying to commit suicide only to have the Gods prevent it, drew me in immediately. As I played the game the story became stronger and stronger as the history of Kratos' family slowly revealed itself. Add to that the gameplay itself was fantastic and imaginative. I then learned that there was a possibility that WildStorm might be doing a God of War comic and I campaigned to get the writing assignment. This was something I very much wanted to do.
Nrama: So will this tie in with the upcoming third God Of War game?
Wolfman: No. The story has a few references about the third game, but it takes place in two different times; the first, when Kratos was younger, immediately after his daughter was born, and he was very much a Spartan soldier, and the second just after he comes the God of War, between games one and two. The two stories weave together, shifting back and forth; what happens in the past directly affects what happens in the later time period so we see events in the present only to discover how they were part of Kratos' earlier life and we see events in the past that give different meaning to what is going to occur later on.
Nrama: Can you tell us more about the story?
Wolfman: The story feels very much like the God of War game with huge stakes and plays up the mythological aspects of Kratos' existence, but we take advantage of the comics medium by concentrating not only on the action but on Kratos' personality, life and his loves. Kratos is a hard-edged warrior and we learn a lot more about how he became what he is now. In the early story, the Greek Gods, as they tended to do, decide to toy with the mortals just to see which Gods' champion was the better warrior. To force their human warriors to unwittingly play their games they create a life and death scenario for them; for Kratos, the current God of War, Ares, does something terrible to his newly born daughter. This also gives us information as to why Kratos was so obsessed with what happened to his family in the first game. In the present storyline we see that events and characters from the game itself play out with new meaning.
Nrama: For this comic, you're not adapting one of the video games but telling stories about the lead character Kratos' past. Was it hard to craft an origin story with so many other elements, ala video games, hanging on it?
Wolfman: No, because the game story is so powerful. I very much wanted to play off what they had done in the game but bring out new aspects of Kratos' life. Because games, by their nature, can't pause to tell long stories, except for the short cinematics, I had the chance to play with Greek myths as well as use real Spartan culture to reveal more of the character than is possible in a constantly moving game. Comics and games are very different even if we go over the same ground, so I could use the ability of the comic to slow down action to take time to develop character and background in a way that is very different from the game yet compliments it completely.
Nrama: God of War has its roots in Greek mythology, and we've seen you hit on Greek myths before in comics such as in Teen Titans. Is this a favorite subject of yours?
Wolfman: As I said earlier, it most definitely is, and the fact that I've used it so much in the past demonstrates my interest. I love the idea that we humans created these Gods with incredible powers to be high over us but then we also gave them huge faults, egos, lusts and angers. The Gods were early religion, but as humans we couldn't even make our Gods perfect as we created them in our own faulty images. And the Greeks, by making them not perfect, gave themselves room in order to explain all the problems man had to face.
Nrama: Comic veteran that you are, how do you think the character and world of this video game fits into the comic book medium? God of War is known for its monstrous and over-the-top fights. Taking this to the comic form - what's the key in getting it right?
Wolfman: Because I tend to think in pictures, my scripts are filled with huge over the top battles; the kind that so intrigued me in the games. But I pushed to use different myths than we saw to make this story different; so we see, along with several familiar ones, different Gods and different locations from the games. The battles are certainly informed by what we've seen in the games, so we do see Kratos climb mountains and use his chains and rail against beasts, but we also can see him sit around a campfire with his men to take time to think about his wife and child. My scene descriptions were pretty detailed so the fights were all carefully worked out.
Nrama: Why do you think this game, and this character, has proven so popular?
Wolfman: We have a powerful character in Kratos, physically and emotionally. And the game is non-stop in a way most games aren't. We go from one incredible scene to the next, and battle stories are immediately followed by strong strategy play. On top of that, for a mythology buff like me, the visuals and concepts are mind-staggeringly great. The folk at Sony who do the game give us big, big visuals in order to emphasize scale.
Nrama: And just to prove your gaming cred to the pessimists out there, what's your gaming set-up?
Wolfman: I currently have a PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and a Wii. I began gaming way back in the dawn of time with far too many quarters thrown into machines, then at home with a Colecovision, a Commodore and more. I played games on my computer; everything from to to to and many, many others I can no longer remember. I'm not the world's best player so it takes me a long time to finish a game, if indeed I do; they've got to keep me intrigued (which God of Wardoes as I quickly finished both 1&2 and am eagerly awaiting game 3 which I beta tested a bit of). Because I love playing but am not super-great at it, I play only at normal or beginner mode but to date have not played any games in multiplayer mode because I frankly don't want to be shown up by an eight-year old with much faster reflexes and a lot more time to play.
Nrama: And lastly - the video game has spawned two sequels. Would you be up for doing more stories about Kratos and God of War?
Wolfman: I'd love to. He's a truly great character.