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Comics and Games: Good Stories Are Hard To Find

Our televisions screens are filled these days with comic book heroes like Supergirl and The Flash.  But while some are busy bringing characters like Joe, Iris and Wally West into our living rooms, others are trying to adapt stories from comics and games to other mediums – with limited success.

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Across the media spectrum of television, films books and games there is a never-ending demand for quality stories; so much so that it has become common practice for media publishers to seek content from sources outside their own spheres.

But do today’s media publishers have the insight and experience to pull off these kind of content acquisitions?

There is mounting evidence that while games like Batman: Arkham Asylum can be faithfully adapted from their comic book source materials, the reverse might not necessarily be true.

Call of Duty is one of the most popular and well-known gaming titles to come about in the last ten years; however, even the content and demographic similarities have not been enough to see the Call of Duty story become credible on the pages of comics outlets.

Kenny Coburn over at ComiConverse recently gave a fairly harsh critique of efforts to see the title crossover to the comics genre.

Dark Horse Comics has recently released the first two issues of a new series, inspired by the Call of Duty: Black Ops III video game. Unfortunately, it fails to capture any of the aspects that make that game good and instead, focuses on building around one of the worst parts of the series.

The difference between the story being told in Dark Horse Comics’ Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Call of Duty: Black Ops III the video game, are – at first – startling. The main difference between the two, and really what is at the heart of the story being told in the Call of Duty campaign, is how the value of life is portrayed. In the video game, the value of life, and who decides how each individual life should be valued, is a key driving force in the narrative.

The problem, of course, is that publishers from different media don’t always have the best grasp of the cultural factors and make a story popular within another medium.  In such cases, adaptations can come-off looking like cheap remakes, as they obviously have in the case of the Call of Duty comic book.

As Coburn writes, the core values that make the story so popular among gamers haven’t been translated effectively through the comic adaptation.

The complete disregard for a life being senselessly taken in front of them goes in stark contrast with the world the video game has created.

The world’s demand for storytelling will never cease, but the trend of adapting content for different media may find itself to be a passing trend. What will save publishers from landmines, like what happened with Call of Duty, is a deeper understanding of the industries from which there are acquiring their stories.

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