The most accurate/inaccurate comic book games

It's tough being the biggest comic nerd in the office. For instance, when a new Green Lantern film is announced, everyone wants to know the very detailed reasons why Hal Jordan's one-time weakness to yellow is no more. Then I have to educate everyone about the original Green Lantern - Alan Scott - and his weakness to wooden objects. Still, I secretly enjoy these moments, as I push up my glasses with one finger, take a deep breath and say, "actually, it all started in Green Lantern Volume 3, issue 50..." and go from there.

Above: Yes a wooden bat defeats one of the most powerful heroes alive 

So as a tremendous comic geek, I've played a parent's basement full of comic book videogames, and even the best of them still leave me with some minor annoyances every time they mess with established continuity.  As I whine about these errors to whoever comes near me first, I add them to the list in my head, one day hoping to let the world know these errors or applaud the unsung heroes who got their mythologies right. Today is that day.

Let's make the criteria clear right now: this only covers games based on comics, and doesn't include games based on movies based on comics, or games based on TV shows based on comics. TV shows and movies already take heavy liberties with their source material; never mind how far the games stray. Plus, those games have a 90 percent suck rate, as opposed to comics games' 60 percent. And before you accuse us of repeating ourselves, we know we did something like this a few years ago, so we're just going to skip over the five games in that great feature.

Recent Offenders

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

This game was a bit underrated at release, but play it now and you'll see where Prototype got some of its ideas. But Web got its own ideas from some comics at the time, mostly the Venom Bomb story from Mighty Avengers #7-11, in which a ton of symbiotes, not unlike those Spider-Man and Venom have worn, take over New York by attaching to and controlling the citizens, including some of the super-powered ones. Though that story didn't really have Spidey in it, it instead starred the team of Mighty Avengers that opposed Spider-Man’s own team, the New Avengers.

Above: Inspiration taken from Venom Bomb tie-in New Avengers #35 (though this didn't actually happen in the comic) 

But Web of Shadows’ plot had one big inaccuracy: the relationship between Peter Parker and his wife, Mary Jane. While it admirably took elements from older Spidey stories, such as Mrs. Parker's revulsion to Pete wearing the black costume (as established in Amazing Spider-Man #300), or her friendliness with Spidey's teammates, like Luke Cage, there was still quite an elephant in the room. Or more accurately a demon, since by the time Shadows came out, the Parkers had been magically divorced by an archfiend from Hell ten months before.

Yes, our hero, the everyman of Marvel Comics, made a deal with Mephisto - a lord of Hell - to make his marriage never happen in order to save his dying Aunt May, who is about 102 and has nearly died 73 times before this incident. This all happened during the conclusion to "One More Day" in Amazing #545, and the result was a new timeline with a Spider-Man who had never been married. So, despite many of the choices in the game hinging upon Spidey being true and good to his wife, those results had already unhappened nearly a year earlier.

Above: Trading a hot wife for an ancient aunt was not one of Spidey's smartest decisions 

But Web of Shadows has some cute continuity trappings that attempt to make up for that big gaffe. Spider-Man's connections with his fellow heroes, particularly with New Avengers Wolverine and Luke Cage, ring true, and in a fight with Wolverine you basically play a comic book quiz to prove your identity. Plus, the architecture of Marvel's New York is pretty well done, enabling you to swing past the Stark Tower’s current design, as well as buildings for the Rand and Kronas corporations – owned, respectively, by Iron Fist and the Red Skull. Now, if only the devs had realized Eddie Brock hasn't been Venom since Marvel Knights Spider-Man #7 three years earlier...

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and Justice League Heroes

In fall 2006, gamers were given the choice between two Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance clones starring superheroes, one in the DC Universe and one in the Marvel Universe. Ultimate Alliance won the day in the end, both critically and popularly, mostly because it was a better game and featured double the playable characters. But did Justice League Heroes win the battle for accuracy?

Above: To be fair to DC fans, the League would win a fight with these guys pretty handily

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance existed in this weird reality, in which most of the characters’ standard outfits matched those from the Ultimate Marvel comics line, while their personalities were basically the same as their “normal” counterparts. Meanwhile, the main enemies being the Masters of Evil, as led by Dr. Doom, doesn't work either, as any historian of the house of Von Doom knows he works alone. Add to that the inclusion of a Dr. Banner who has yet to become the Hulk, and you've got a plot that is way off base.

Meanwhile, Justice League Heroes was pretty close to the semi-current squad. The line-up was the same core as seen in Grant Morrison's stellar run of JLA #1-41, with Zatanna thrown in to have at least one other woman on the team. Plus, they faced many villains from the Morrison years, such as the Key (#8-9), Queen Bee (#35-40), and the White Martians (#1-4). Add to that the unlockable, recently resurrected Hal Jordan, and you've got yourself a pretty accurate game.

Above: JLH gets some minuses for having the gray-haired Hal (left), which everyone knows was symptom of being slowly turned by the Parallax entity, right? 

However, Ultimate Alliance was the real winner in just how much it dove into the Marvel lore. Whether it was the multitude of unlockable costumes from all over its heroes’ careers, the single-player missions that delved deeper into each character’s mythos, or the fact that you could make specialized teams based on classic line-ups, it had a lot more respect for the characters underneath it all than Justice League Heroes could dream of. Better luck next time, Just Fools League! Bwa-ha-ha-ha.


  • pikachu2000 - August 13, 2009 6 a.m.

    You want inaccuracy? Try playing The Incrediable Hulk for the SNES. Here is this big bad boss, The Leader, standing near the edge of a cliff, standing there doing absolutly NOTHING just waiting for you to uppercut his ass off the cliff and that's it. No defense, no resistance, no balls. No villian worth its salt would just stand there and get his ass kicked like THE LEADER did (that's even more of an insult that you are called "THE LEADER" of all people). Show me a page where this kind of BS ever happened. This kind of crap will never happen in the comics, ever.
  • Felixthecat - August 12, 2009 12:37 p.m.

    Very good article, kudos.
  • yobro03 - August 12, 2009 12:03 p.m.

    I played the demo for arkham asylum on pc and have to say it looks and plays great. I'm not too fussed about all this comic canon crap
  • metalgatesolid - August 12, 2009 11:47 a.m.

    Im confussed. So is Bruce Wayne dead? Here in England the newspapers said Wayne dies fighting his father who faked his death is now a crime kingpin. Or something like that.
  • Seabread - August 12, 2009 9:36 a.m.

    *yawn* how boring. dont you think this article is a bit redundant? i mean, you know how long it takes for a game to be developed. how can they possibly stay up to date with canon if comics are being released during development? this is like me coming back to this article in a few years time and saying "hey, you forgot about this game or that game". i could have sworn i heard an interview that said Batman:AA had taken influence from the comics and not the films.
  • TheWebSwinger - August 12, 2009 8:31 a.m.

    It's like you wrote this article specifically for me. I salute you, Hank Gilbert.
  • BurntToShreds - August 12, 2009 6:08 a.m.

    I would play a beat 'em up based on Blackest Night, the current DC event. Blackest Night is basically: Black Lantern rings are given to dead people (Mostly superheroes), making them intelligent zombies. Fighting zombie superheroes would be so awesome.
  • rafa_slash - August 12, 2009 5:28 a.m.

    Damn, and i thought anime was convoluted as fuck!
  • H311DUCk - August 12, 2009 5:04 a.m.

    Good Aqua man's here "Aqua man go get batman!"
  • Harmon20 - August 12, 2009 4:18 a.m.

    I had a feeling that the new Batman game would stray from the comics. But at least the creators are coming up with something semi-original, right? And besides, I think being able to be the predator/detective that is Batman, in a really great game mind you, is reason enough to let the lack of canon slide a bit. You can definitely tell there is rip-offs from the Dark Knight movie, but it also makes Batman seem a little bit more realistic. At least to me, anyway. But this is all my opinion on this.
  • Defguru7777 - August 12, 2009 2:50 a.m.

    What about Ultimate Spider-Man? I demand a follow-up article!! LOL I don't read many comics. I usually get the compilation books (Wanted, Ultimate Spider-Man, Halo: Uprising).
  • uz_mike222 - August 12, 2009 1:14 a.m.

    @norid: i doubt it dude but i don't know, could happen or not happen at all. @Hexer: Dude, i own a newly released issue of the new Star Wars Comic series: Invasion, a couple of comics based off of a fantasy book series and a preview for Max Brook's The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. and if your in San Diego and Comic Con is going on, get a F***ing pass and get your ass in that convention center. you'll find a lot of comics that are not about super heroes in tights. But good article Henry, you should have a feature or at least something that pits between you and Brett in a comic Trivia event. that would be great for this Week of Geek
  • brazmanoqk - August 12, 2009 1:10 a.m.

    Honestly, who cares if it's faithful to the comic book stories? The reason so few media crossovers are good is that they require different things to be effective so who wants a crap but faithful game instead of a great game with discrepancies? And wasn't Arkham Asylum already in development for a long time by the time Dark Knight was revealed?
  • norid - August 12, 2009 12:45 a.m.

    hmmmm will Marvel Utlamate 2 feature the death of Carptian America? Oh and bout time somebody mentioned why Hal went gray
  • Ravenbom - August 12, 2009 12:39 a.m.

    Actually, I'd like to point out that fairly recently a graphic novel, iirc, called "Joker" took the a lot of the Nolan design for the Joker. I only played the demo, but I really liked the compromise between comic Batman and Movie Batman with emphasis on Comic Batman. I think post-Crisis they'll take the chance to update the character designs a little.
  • Yeager1122 - August 12, 2009 12:37 a.m.

    oh i meant to say dont read comics not dont read articles.
  • dweller - August 11, 2009 11:47 p.m.

    Spider-man chose Aunt May over Mary Jane?!! Glad I've been out of the Spider-man comic loop for a while.
  • LeeCarvallo - August 11, 2009 10:49 p.m.

    You can't blame Web of Shadows for ignoring One More Day. Everyone hates One More Day. Spider-Man didn't recover in terms of quality until Joe Kelly's run.
  • lovinmyps3 - August 11, 2009 10:38 p.m.

    @Hexar YOU'VE NEVER READ A COMIC BOOK!?!?! What is wrong with you?! Didn't you have a childhood?! You need to go out and get a comic RIGHT NOW!!! You can't judge a material saying it's just about "men in tights" when you've never read one!
  • lovinmyps3 - August 11, 2009 10:33 p.m.

    I always thought Brett was the biggest comic nerd there. I guess not. And also you shouldn't knock points off Arkham Asylum for having an "undead" Batman. They started the game before Bruce Wayne was killed and I don't think people on the team were saying, "Oh fuck! Bruce Wayne is dead now we gotta wait for the comics to bring him back before we release our game!" I liked the article though. Nice job Hank "Motha-Fuckin Tank"!!

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