The most accurate/inaccurate comic book games

The Most Accurate Ever!

During the early ‘90s, as comic-book sales were at an all-time high, both DC and Marvel decided to launch massive “event” storylines featuring "big changes" that couldn't be missed... meaning fans had to buy dozens of comics to keep up with the story. Two storylines were so big that they got games based not just on the characters, but on those specific stories, making them some of the most rigid-to-the-source games ever.

The Death and Return of Superman

Everyone who was alive in 1992 remembers the "death" of Superman (Superman Vol. 2, #75) and the media blitz that followed, mostly because the public felt burned to learn what comic fans have known forever: no one ever stays dead in comics. In fact, Kal-El wasn't even dead; technically, he was in a death-like supercoma which he eventually healed from while entombed in Metropolis. Yeah, we know, lame. Anyway, the insane popularity of the stunt led to a beat 'em-up based on it.

Above: Superman versus his greatest enemies, horned mutants 

Even though Superman played like Final Fight character, despite the fact that he is both faster and stronger than God, the Death and Return game ably recreated the storyline. From Supes’ fight with the lame underground mutants and his death on the streets of Metropolis, to playing as each of the four new Supermen, the destruction of Coast City and the renewed Superman's defeat of his cyborg imposter, the only thing missing was an overpriced chromium cover.

Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage

By 1993, Spider-Man comics were symbiote-crazy. Venom was Spidey's most dangerous and popular villain, but was on his way to becoming an anti-hero, while an even-more-evil "son" of the alien suit - named Carnage - surfaced in Amazing Spider-Man #360. The first Carnage story was insanely popular and only three issues long, so obviously a 14-part, three-month-long story would be even better, right? Instead, it proved that for Spider-fans, there can be too much of a good thing.


Above: A pixel recreation of a panel from Spider-Man Unlimited #1 

A year later, the gargantuan story got the royal gaming treatment in the form of a brawler by the same name, with the box using art from the comics, including Spider-Man penciller Tom Lyle's work. Inside the distinctive red cartridge, the attention to detail was even closer, as it followed the plot fairly closely. Not only were many of the story interludes scenes taken directly from the pages, but - as you played through with either Spider-Man or Venom, the support characters you could call upon had all appeared in the comic, making this probably the only videogame that will ever feature Deathlok.

The Games of Tomorrow

Just because something hasn’t come out yet doesn't mean comic geeks can't judge its accuracy ahead of time. Here are two upcoming games, which we’ll judge based on what we know so far about them.

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2

The long-awaited sequel to the massive Marvel dungeon-crawler is just a month away, and it looks to be a bit closer to the source material than its predecessor. It covers both the Secret War in Latveria that got Nick Fury fired, and the Civil War event, including the disastrous super-fight in Stamford, CT that killed 600 people, which in turn led to the conflict among the heroes. Just like in the comics, players choose whether to work with Captain America and rebel against governmental authority, or work with Iron Man and the law.

Of the announced characters, most fit right in, save for Thor and Hulk. The real Thor was MIA and replaced by a clone, and Hulk was enjoying being ruler of an alien world (really). But with the ability for nearly every character to work on one side or the other, there are bound to be discrepancies with the canonical events in the books. So far, though, it looks like it's on the path to continuity correctness.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

This one has a ton of positive buzz behind it, and the more we hear, the more it sounds like the real deal. But as far as the status quo of the comics is concerned, it couldn't be farther off, the main reason being Bruce Wayne has been dead for months. Well, sort of. The long version is that he was hit with the Omega Sanction by Darkseid in Final Crisis #6, which is not to be confused with the Omega Effect. The Effect is instant destruction, while the Sanction is the "death that is life," as Darkseid describes it. It's more like an unending purgatory wherein the soul is trapped in horrible possible lives, though it does leave a corpse, which is why most believe Bruce Wayne to be dead instead of trapped in a cosmic limbo.

Above: The Omega Sanction at work in Final Crisis #6

So aside from having the undead Batman for a star, it feels a little off from the books in other, smaller ways. Probably because, from what we've seen, the design seems to take the lead less from the comics and more from a small film called The Dark Knight. Bats' costume looks more real and battle ready, like the movie version, and the Joker has the dingier look of his recent film counterpart. What are the developers thinking? Sure, they seem to be making a kickass Batman game, but at what cost, gentlemen? At what cost?

Aug 11, 2009

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  • 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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