From Pixel To Pen: 13 Great Comics Based On Video Games

by Robbie Key on Feb 28, 2018 at 03:40 PM

We love getting lost into the mythos of a beloved video game franchise. While feature films and television shows typically falter in adapting stories from our favorite titles, comic books often deliver justice to expanding a video game world's lore, further enriching the experience without holding a controller. Here are 13 great comic books that give due diligence to their namesakes.

Assassin's Creed by Titan Comics
Current number of issues: 14 to 23
There are countless stories to tell through sundry eras in Assassin's Creed's macrocosm, which have successfully carried over into the comic medium. Titan Comics' ongoing Assassin's Creed series, along with the Templar issues, in particular stand out above other AC comics with quality writing and aesthetics that explore periods the games have yet to touch upon, including the California gold rush, Salem during the witch trials, and Spain in the early 1500s. Assassin's Creed also manages to make the modern-day moments far more engaging than its video game counterpart, which is an accomplishment in its own right.

Dragon Age: Magekiller by Greg Rucka and Carmen Carnero
Number of issues: 5
BioWare might be known for its excellent storytelling in its games, but many of the comics based on its franchises are equally compelling. Set before and during the events in Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dragon Age: Magekiller follows Marius and Tessa Forsythia, a two-person mercenary group hired to, well, kill mages. You can tell it's passionately written by author Greg Rucka, who wrote numerous Eisner Award-winning comics for Marvel and DC and once said, "I'd cut a throat to get into the Mass Effect and Dragon Age universes" in an interview with Kotaku. Magekiller is a lovingly weaved tapestry amplifies what makes Dragon Age's mythos so wondrous.

Halo: Fall of Reach by Brian Reed and Felix Ruiz
Number of issues: 12
Over the span of three arcs, Marvel's Halo: Fall of Reach comic - adapted from the novel of the same title - details the events that ultimately lead to the inevitable defeat of numerous Spartans on Reach, a forerunner planet that's the second-most human-colonized world. The first, Boot Camp, focuses on Master Chief's childhood and the training he undergoes to become a Spartan. Covenant, the second, goes through the early days of the Human-Covenant War. The final arc is the big battle on Reach. The story visually lends itself well to the lore and helps further expand Halo's dense universe. It gives interesting insight to things gamers have wanted see in a Halo title for years, such as Master Chief's origins.

The Last of Us: American Dreams by Neil Druckmann and Faith Erin Hicks
Number of issues: 4
Spinning off The Last of Us' Left Behind story DLC, The Last of Us: American Dreams shows a portion of Ellie's upbringing inside the quarantine zone and how she met Riley, a girl who is a major influence in Ellie's life. The comic is essential to the franchise and serves as an excellent but tragic compatriot to the original game and Left Behind. American Dreams is also the only comic on this list written by its game's lead writer, Neil Druckmann, and his work shines on each page.

Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice by Valve
Number of issues: 4
Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice is a canonical comic that takes place before and during the events of the first game's downloadable content, The Suffering. Its story reveals the Survivors' journey through hordes of the undead at a military base. Each of the four issues is titled after each one of the game's playable characters. The most enjoyable part about this comic adaptation is seeing how each survivor first encountered zombies - one of which is brutal - and how the characters have grown in that time. It's also a nice companion story that leads up to the events of The Passing DLC, where the survivors from the first and second Left 4 Dead games cross paths.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past by Shotaro Ishinomori
Number of issues: 12
Originally appearing in Nintendo Power magazine in the early '90s, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past mostly adapts the story of one of the all-time best Zelda titles but with some unique alterations. Oh, and Link talks which is always weird. These changes might feel jarring to those who know the game's every pixel, but the slight tweaks to the story combined with the way it blends comics and manga with nostalgic '90s artwork gives A Link to the Past a fresh outlook Zelda fans will enjoy. This comic also marks one of the last works by Shotaro Ishinomori, who penned several popular manga, including Cyborg 009 and Kamen Rider.

[Up Next: A blue blur throwback, stories from the Milky Way, two Italian brothers who do actual plumbing, and more round out these awesome comics.]

Mass Effect: Foundation by Mac Walters, Tony Parker, Omar Francia, Matthew Clark, and Garry Brown
Number of issues: 13
To say Mass Effect has a wondrous, fascinating, and believable universe filled with endlessly enthralling characters is an understatement bigger than a galaxy-wide Reaper invasion. In one of nearly a dozen comic series that helps develop BioWare's masterful lore, Mass Effect: Foundation mostly follows Rasa, aka double agent Maya Brooks from Mass Effect 3's The Citadel DLC. The journey details how she first joined Cerberus and eventually betrayed them. Foundation is an exciting look at how Rasa - who also assembled the dossier for Mass Effect 2's suicide mission - encounters some of the series' most iconic characters, including Thane, Wrex, and Jack. Some issues shift the focus away from Rasa, however. For example, issues five and six offer a riveting look at how Miranda Lawson and Jacob Taylor recovered Shepard's body.

Metal Gear Solid by Alex Garner, Kris Oprisko, and Ashley Wood
Number of issues: 24
The story throughout the Metal Gear franchise is nothing short of wacky brilliance, but its content can often be overwhelming. The Metal Gear Solid comics do a commendable job condensing the narratives of the first and second MGS games, making things much easier to digest by allowing the readers to take in events at their own pace. What makes these adaptions further exhilarating is illustrator Ashley Wood's gorgeous artwork, which perfectly mirrors Metal Gear artist Yoji Shinkawa's signature style. These comics are best enjoyed when sitting inside a cardboard box with a pack of cigs.

Mirror's Edge: Exordium by Christofer Emgard, Mattias Haggstrom, Robert Sammelin, Erix Persson, and Henrik Sahlstrom
Number of issues: 6
Mirror's Edge: Catalyst might not be heralded by critics, but it has an awesome prequel comic. Faith, who is trying to rise in the ranks as a runner, gets entangled with a crime boss named Dogen, who offers her jobs from delivering packages to stealing tech. Upon completion, Faith will receive long-lost art made by her now-dead mother, an important figure in the freedom movement. The two Mirror's Edge games are mostly about pulling off sick stunts, but Exordium fleshes out Faith's character, and provides insight into this fascinating world where people utilize parkour to rebel against a militaristic society.

Sonic: Genesis and Sonic: Mega Drive (on Archie Comics Android and iOS app) by Ian Flynn, Patrick Spaziante, and Tracy Yardley
Number of issues: 6 and 1
The Sonic: Genesis and Sonic: Mega Drive comics celebrate Sonic's 20th and 25th anniversaries, respectively, and are mounds of fun for fans because they're both throwbacks. Genesis features Sonic reminiscing about events from the original game. Mega Drive is a one-shot comic in which Sonic, Tails, and Amy work together to stop Dr. Eggman from assembling a new, powerful robot with mystical items called Ancient Gear. Both comics have nice visuals and give readers who grew up with Sonic a sense of nostalgia.

Super Mario Adventures by Kentaro Takemura
Number of issues: 6
Another Nintendo Power magazine original resurrected from the early '90s, Super Mario Adventures follows, you guessed it, Mario and Luigi as they try to, you guessed it again, rescue Peach from Bowser's clutches. It sounds like the typical Mario plot. In fact, it contains hints of Super Mario Odyssey's story where Bowser tries to force Peach into marriage. The lighthearted writing and dialogue between characters, from Mario and Luigi working with Toad and Yoshi to Bowser introducing Peach as his minion's step-mom, make this an incredibly fun read for Mario fans of any age. Bizarrely enough, the comic also briefly shows Mario and Luigi actually working as plumbers.

Team Fortress 2 by Valve
Current number of issues: 26
With the wild but lovable cast of characters that embody Team Fortress 2's classes, there's bound to be some interesting stories to tell. As it turns out, there are a couple dozen whimsical tales. Since May 2009, Valve has cleverly used free digital comics as a way to give the game single-player-like narratives with anthological stories. Some uniquely share details on in-game updates such as new abilities, weapons, or skins, while others provide backstories to the world's crackpot characters - both original to the comics and playable characters - and how they came upon their primary weapons.

The Witcher: House of Glass by Paul Tobin and Joe Querio
Number of issues: 5
The world of The Witcher is filled to the brim with mesmerizing, fantastical, horrifying wonders, and The Witcher: House of Glass excels at bringing those components to a comic. House of Glass follows Geralt on a standalone adventure with his newfound mate, Jakob Ornstine. The two must figure out a way to escape both the House of Glass - a structure in the Black Forest near Caed Dhu - and Ornstine's undead wife. The issues reveal a gripping tale that slowly unfolds the mysteries of the house's numerous rooms and monstrosities. The only thing that would make this comic more complete is a naked Geralt on a unicorn.

Let's hope these writers and illustrators inspire future artists to bring out the best of more gaming franchises.

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