In the lead, up to the release of Quake Champions, Titan Comics have once again teamed up with Bethesda Softworks to publish a new comic based on a video game franchise. The question on everyone’s minds is most likely the same: how does this combination of Quake and comics work, and is it good? The truth is, it’s simply average as it’s narrative and setting doesn’t lend itself well to becoming a standout comic in the world of comic books or anything more than an easily forgotten issue. With this in mind let’s look at why I feel Quake Champions #1 lands itself right in the average zone!
Quake Champions opens with a ‘story so far section’ that gives a small amount of detail about the past two decades of our nameless marine’s life that could have easily been condensed into one sentence: “a two-decade long deathmatch.” Simply put, having a ‘story so far’ section in issue #1 that attempts to allude to this being a continuation of the previous Quake games feels unnecessary, especially as it’s a tie-in to a famous first person shooter franchise.
The story opens with our nameless marine fighting through a slurry of different opponents all with the exact same objective, kill the marine. The comic attempts to give the feeling of a deathmatch without any of the interaction and it simply feels odd. Throughout each bout, we’re treated to small slivers of the marine’s backstory that is nothing short of a cliché involving the death of his fellow marines and being separated from his loved ones for an extended period. The characters that show up throughout the story lack any sort of personality or charm, feeling like they could be replaced with any sort of anthropomorphic creature or robot, and the story would have no changes at all.
Though the death matches aren’t all bad, as we near the end of the issue we’re met with an opponent that shows some personality yet the issue ends, leaving us not with the thought of ‘what will happen next?’ but, ‘when will we have an actual story?’ Unfortunately, as with some other video game tie-ins, the writing falls on the short side, lacking in any kind of depth or characterisation. Bland characters are simply thrown into the story in an awkward attempt to show some progression in a series that hasn’t exactly aimed to provide a world in which to build a story upon, and this is the main issue.
Quake is a multiplayer arena based FPS game and prides itself on providing the players with an intense, fast-paced shooting experience against others. At this moment, I feel that it was a poor choice to make a comic out of a series where characterisation and world building is not a priority, and with comics such as Overwatch we’ve seen that with good world building and lore it is possible to make an excellent comic out of an arena based shooter. Quake Champions #1’s story isn’t awful, it’s simply average. It lands itself in the average because it doesn’t really try to do anything remotely interesting or risky with cardboard characters, a shallow plot, and a rent-a-protagonist who could be placed in any game or comic as a guest character and no one would even notice.
The art of the comic provides some interest to the reader, providing some gory moments during the deathmatch bouts and backstory. The details on the characters don’t look like anything out of the norm but are drawn well, supported by excellent colouring and shading. Shading is also applied well when it comes to the backgrounds. Environments feel large and imposing to the reader. However, the reader rarely glimpses the environments, as during most of the deathmatch bouts the background is nothing more than a coloured, hazy mist that lacks any such detail displayed in the previously mentioned environments. Most likely a stylistic choice to allow the reader to focus on the characters, I personally found it distracting and it left me wondering why there was any point in creating such interesting environments if they aren’t going to be shown in much of the comic.
It also feels like they have missed part of the point of Quake. Environment is important to the sense and feel of the battle. Overall, Quake Champions #1 finds itself sitting in the average category. It’s not awful but it’s certainly not very good either, lacking in any real story or characterisation. It’s a hollow comic that lacks anything for the reader to care about as the battles lack any real impact as no time has been spent building up any of the characters. The art provides interesting visuals for the most part yet, during the critical deathmatch bouts, fails to draw-in the reader by placing them all in a hazy coloured mist that fails to make use of the well-drawn environments. The issue isn’t in the writing or art, however, but deciding to make a comic about Quake in the first place, leaving this comic nothing but a marketing strategy better left on the shelf.
Quake Champions #1
Written by Ram V
Art by Alan Quah
Colors by Komikai Studio & Feat. Sean Lee
Letters by Rob Steen