by Anthony Rosen Prototype as a video game is an easy sell. You play an amnesiac that wakes up in a morgue with mysterious powers and the propensity to stumble upon great big government conspiracies and shady scientists. Your body is a witchblade that produces plenty of stabbing and slicing weapons, not to mention the ability to leap tall buildings and crush the pavement underfoot with the ease of the Hulk. As a comic though, it becomes a bit tougher to make that sell.
Much of the problem has to do with conveying the somewhat complicated nature of Alex Mercer (our protagonist) and all that’s happened to him in a succinct way that also dovetails nicely into this new story. There’s a lot of ground to cover and a lot of intricacies to convey before any reader would be able to really grasp the big picture. So although the amount of back-story provided is necessary, it does drag down the issue as promises of what's to come saunter in towards the back end.
In the meantime though, there’s some gruesome dismemberment to tide you over (if that’s the sort of thing you’re into) and the book stays quite faithful to the nature and tone of the game.
The problem is that the issue suffers from first-issue-in-a-miniseries-itis...
I swear that's a real term, look it up.
Anyway, with Prototype, there’s a lot you need to know and only so much space in this first issue for you to learn it. Alex is an anti-hero/ex-scientist who has been infected with some strange virus that mutates his body and allows him to turn it into all sorts of pointy, sharp things and assume the identity of anyone he’s killed. And that’s only scratching the surface. There’s plenty of secret government cover-ups, betrayals, and devastation, but this comic does it’s darndest to convey the most important bits that occurred during and after the first game so that readers can dig right into this current story. All that recap may turn off returning fans, but thankfully by the end of the issue the exposition has come to an end, and it looks like the action the series is known for is ready to take the driver’s seat.
That load of exposition is an answer to the problem of transplanting video game protagonists to another medium. While not systematically true for all video game characters, much of the connection and attachment to any protagonist in any video game depends on player control and interactivity; sensibilities not easily reproduced in other mediums. Much of what you learn about Mercer in the first game is obtained through organically interacting with the game-world, but comic books demand a different sort of compulsion for readers to empathize with the tale at hand. So ultimately it’s an inescapable conundrum, in that readers unfamiliar with the game world need the amount of exposition provided here, while fans already in the know may be put off by the amount of recap they have to sit through. However, the promising hints of where the series is headed should catch their eye.
TL;DR: If you’re new to the Prototype series, you might want to wait for a few more issues to come out before you try jumping in. If you’re an old hand, the series looks like it may live up to the gory action and thrilling destruction the first game reveled in.
Prototype 2 is written by Dan Jolley (who also wrote the video game) with art by Paco Diaz. It's published by Dark Horse as one of their new digital exclusive titles. You can purchase it through Dark Horse Digital or on your Android or iPhone for 99 cents.
A review PDF of Prototype 2 was graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher.
Anthony Rosen prides himself on two things: his beard and his comic book collection. He once ate a tablespoon of nutmeg on some bad advice from a friend. He hasn’t been the same since.