The 10 best comic books based on videogames

Everyone knows that videogames don't translate very well to movies, but what about comic books? Being the big old nerds that we are, we've spent plenty of ink (erm, pixels) singing the praises of games that got our favorite comic-book properties just right (or not), but what happens when you adapt in the other direction?

Well, you've got a ready-made group of fans for starters. There's such a big crossover audience between games and comics that an amalgamation of the two is far more likely to find success than, say, an RPG-based interpretive dance. And if there's genuine love for the property, the results can often be well worth a read for followers of either medium.

At the very least, they've got to be better than the infamous Doom comic.

Above: Even in a “best” list, there's always time to rag on this classic pile of dung. Now for the actual good stuff… 

Metal Gear Solid

Deserved a comic because: Hideo Kojima's ongoing quest to become the King of All Media saw him not only packing the MGS games with convoluted movie references (Twins? Blue Velvet?? Titanic?) but packaging a full-length backstory-enhancing novella into Metal Gear Solid 2. If you're going to move into readable supplements, fella, at least put it down on paper so we won't be tempted by the Start button.

Above: Shoot terrorists or read fake news items: the choice is yours 

Made the transition by: Laying down a fairly conventional adaptation of the games' stories on the page. Barring a couple of extra scenes that don't add much and a couple of edits that don't detract too far, the Metal Gear Solid comic is the Metal Gear Solid games with a much lower difficulty curve.

Why'd it work? Professional adaptation-scripter Kris Oprisko's script is serviceable if unremarkable, but the real treat here is Ashley Wood's vivid artwork. If the military precision of the Metal Gear Solid games can seem hollow, Wood's art fleshes the little details out and lends the characters new life… even if that means sacrificing the (really, somewhat inexplicable) Solid Snake/Snake Plissken connection.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Deserved a comic because: As the media would assure us, The Legend of Zelda is, in fact, really rad. Around the time of Link to the Past, the games' stories really started to come into their own, layering in time travel, secret identities, and an overarching narrative to rival Lost for its fan-vexing intricacies. If they could make a comic where Mick Jagger meets Batman, a Link to the Past comic is mandatory.

Made the transition by: Of course Link to the Past was far from the first time Zelda crossed media. The Zelda cartoons of the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, having won fans with their vision of Link as a hippy-haired dickwad, made the leap to comics form by conjuring up new and increasingly stupid adventures for Hyrule's favorite son. The Link to the Past comic turned this around by refusing to let American studios touch the adaptation until translation time.

Why'd it work? The Link to the Past comic was the first time the Zelda IP got into the hands of authors who weren't obviously embarrassed to be writing about Zelda. Where previous comics had poked fun at the game's elements in favor of their own, far stupider embellishments, LttP author Shotaro Ishinomori gave more page-time to bit-players like Agahnim and Link's uncle, as well as a Link who was emo before it was cool to diss emo.

Above: Preach all you want, but who's going to save him? 

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  • american101 - April 7, 2010 8:15 p.m.

    I bet money eventually halo will have its own comic book since there are ahelluva lot of fans.
  • olliemcparland - April 6, 2010 12:34 p.m.

    well i never played these games or read the comics so i am ost in all of this article
  • Spybreak8 - April 2, 2010 7:18 p.m.

    Atlantis and Indiana Jones! oh man sold!
  • Kytl - April 2, 2010 3:12 a.m.

    what about Pokemon Special? it embodies what Pokemon is and shows that Pokemon won't turn you into a mindless zombie who begs their mother to make Pikachu soup like the anime does. basically it just blows the anime out of the water, and then takes aim with a sniper rifle and fires 50 explosive bullets that are also made of silver so that the anime becomes completely eradicated. and then it summons Alucard and RAEPS the anime
  • Personamanxx - March 31, 2010 8:22 p.m.

    Speaking of Videogame Comics. Is anyone planning on buying the "Dragon Age" Comic?
  • Conman93 - March 31, 2010 7:43 p.m.

    The Kingdom Hearts comics are pretty good and very random at some points. I saw the dead space ones in Extraction and they were pure WIN!
  • Personamanxx - March 31, 2010 7:34 p.m.

    Surprised that The current Mass Effect Comic was not mentioned. I reckon it's because it's not finished yet. As for the Halo Comic.... That can indeed be counted as a Graphic Novel. Or at least an Anthology Graphic Novel. The Four Stories were originally printed in that One Hard Cover book without being released as indidvidual Issues. Yes it is Still a Comic book, but the Term Graphic Novel can apply in it's case. ...... Also why did you not mention the many Halo Miniseries's that Marvel has Published? I mean there's been Three (At least) Seperate series not Including the Graphic Novel. Just Saying. Im far more of a Comic geek than a Gamer.
  • DriveShaft - March 31, 2010 7:24 p.m.

    The best still look pretty horrible x] I'm surprised you didn't even bring up Kingdom Hearts comics, it was the first thing that came to my mind.
  • romensuarez - March 31, 2010 7:09 p.m.

    What happened to the Resistance and Brothers in Arms comics? they were actually pretty good.
  • flamboyant_pinata - March 31, 2010 6:51 p.m.

    Jesus! No mention of Pokémon Adventures? You should be ashamed GR.
  • jakmac - March 31, 2010 3:41 p.m.

    what about modern warfares ghost comics
  • BornToLose3 - March 31, 2010 3:31 p.m.

    God I remember having the Link To The Past Comic, loved it so much. This makes me wanna dig it out and read it all over.
  • Blitztank - March 31, 2010 12:07 p.m.

    Surprised to see that the Doom comic wasn't added here. Just look it up on google and you should find it.
  • Mainman - March 31, 2010 9:39 a.m.

    I have to agree with Tingler about StC; a mix of staff per issue meant a healthy balance of lighthearted/serious stories (but still sensibly simple), it faithfully interpreted the Mega Drive/Genesis games while providing some welcome backstory (Sonic/Robotnik's origin), and the changes it DID make were extremely interesting (Super Sonic is cast as a demonic alter-ego, there's an entire army of Metal Sonics, etc). The bad news is that the later issues were forced to carry increasing amounts of reprints by the publisher (Egmont Fleetway), a practice which killed the publisher and took the comic with it. The good news is that it was so popular, fans have been producing a semi-official webcomic continuation for 7 years, and it's not half bad!
  • philipshaw - March 31, 2010 9:18 a.m.

    Must check out the MGS comic, the Dead Space comic was cool, it was on the disc of Dead Space: Extraction
  • Guardian88 - March 31, 2010 5:50 a.m.

    hay what about Kingdom hearts? And the other Zelda mangas?
  • Chapmoin - March 31, 2010 5:01 a.m.

    @Darklinkinfinite: I, Tom, the writer of this piece, thank you for your correction and apologize profusely for the oversight. Rest assured the offending writer (again, me) is deeply chagrined.
  • darklinkinfinite - March 31, 2010 4:48 a.m.

    There's a mistake in the Dead Space entry. The direct-to-dvd movie was Dead Space Downfall. Dead Space Extraction was the Wii game, which had its own one-shot comic book tie in by the same people that did the first.
  • The_Tingler - March 31, 2010 4:29 a.m.

    The UK's 'Sonic The Comic' was far superior to the US version. And it occasionally had a side-comic on Chuck D Head from Decap Attack.
  • soren7550 - March 31, 2010 2:26 a.m.

    Surprised to see that Modern Warfare:Ghost didn't make the list. I'm not however surprised to see that Perfect Dark: Janus' Tears wasn't mentioned (seeing as I must be the only person on the face of the planet that has read that & the novels by Greg Rucka, which is a right damn shame because all of them are quite excellent.)