Dark Souls Comic Won't Capture What Makes the Game Great

Dark Souls Comic Won't Capture What Makes the Game Great

Titan Comics has announced a Dark Souls comic, but it may miss the mark.

Dark Souls III is coming on April 12, 2016, but it won't be the only project Souls fans can pick up. According to IGN, Titan Comics has announced a Dark Souls comic series, planned for launch on April 6. The series will be written by George Mann and drawn by Alan Quah, with variant covers by Joshua Cassara and Macro Turini. There's no information on whether Dark Souls is ongoing or limited.

This is not new ground for Titan Comics, who have taken the licensed comic publisher crown previously owned by Dark Horse Comics. The company currently publishes series based on Assassin's Creed, Doctor Who, NBC's Heroes, The Blacklist, and Kung Fu Panda, and has series based on Penny Dreadful on the way.

I don't know much about the quality of the work Titan Comics publishes. It must be solid because they're hip deep in Doctor Who comics and fans seem to be responding to each series. I've been keeping up with the Assassin's Creed comic series, but it's firmly "okay" at best. The writing tells a story and the art illustrates that story, but it feels like it falls short of previous Assassin's Creed comics, like The Fall and The Chain by the team of Cameron Stewart and Karl Kerschl.

There's a general problem with adapting games over to a static medium like comics, because you lose one of the bigger features of gaming: interactivity. This can be overcome in certain adaptations because the characters themselves are so strong that a series can move forward. While the Tomb Raider comics by the aforementioned Dark Horse miss that feeling of exploration or the tension of combat you'd find in the Tomb Raider reboot, the character of Lara Croft is easily relatable.

Outside of the gaming medium, Assassin's Creed misses the thrill of parkour and the kill, but Ubisoft has been able to use the comics to expand the universe. Given thousands of Assassins and their ancestors, Ubisoft gives creators a freedom to explore interesting eras of history that the publisher isn't tackling anytime soon. Whether it's the current Assassin's Creed comic exploring Salem during the witch trials, or the upcoming film covering 15th century Spain, AC adaptations have a ton of space to work with.

In contrast, the primary strength of Dark Souls is the gameplay and the challenge, which is something that can't be replicated in the comic. For previous games in the series, the main character is you, a blank avatar customized by the player character. The decisions made, for good or for ill, are your decisions.

That's not to say Dark Souls doesn't have interesting lore and characters, but it tells those stories in a different way. Outside of certain NPCs, most of the real story exists at the fringes. It's small things that you see and read, hints and vague concepts that make complete stories if you put in the effort. It's the kind of story I love to explore, even if the game's don't hook me. (I jumped deep into the lore of Five Nights at Freddy's for this reason.)

A comic is unlikely to tell those stories the same way and in place of your character, the creators will have to make up their own avatar for the adventure. That could lead to a Dark Souls comic that's merely a pale imitation of the fan-favorite property.

Are there ways this could work? Sure. The creators could tell the story of one of the existing characters in the universe, explaining how they end up in their game status quo. They could also dive deeper into the world itself, illuminating further dark corners or showing its fall into decay. The best expanded universe creations tend to do this, giving additional detail on existing characters, organizations, or worlds.

While the Star Wars prequels talk about the Clone Wars and you see them briefly, the cartoons were able to go into great detail. You got to see the lives of Clone Troopers and Anakin's slow fall made much more sense. The best Halo novels didn't cover the same events as the games, they covered the hidden time before or after each major title. Titan's Doctor Who comics give you new adventures for older Doctors whose actors have left the series for other projects.

The Dark Souls comics need to add to the world of Dark Souls III, not just present it again. One of the covers show a character that looks like Alva the Wayfarer, so perhaps this series is a tale of that character's past or future adventures? That's a solid track for the series to take.

Either way, here's hoping that Titan Comics finds the right angle for this series. This is an opportunity and it would be a shame to waste it.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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