By Gene Parmesan
GeekTyrant Staff Writer
Adaptations. Just the word alone is enough to make the average person want to turn tail and run the other way. I’m sure we are all very well aware of the negative stigma that surrounds comic book adaptations of video games. Let’s face it; the majority that have been released seem to have been put for no other reason than making a buck, leaving the integrity of the original franchise in the dust.
Ubisoft intends to shatter everyone’s outlook with their first offering in the neglected world of videogame comics.
At the helm of the new tentatively titled Assassins Creed series are Eisner award nominated/Shuster award winning Cameron Stewart and Karl Kerschl, both of whom were very optimistic about the project and how it is coming along. Cameron and Karl were already big fans of the video games before being offered the job, and were excited to put their own spin on the already rich world of Assassins Creed. The two made it clear that Ubisoft has been nothing but great when it comes to creative freedom; and that, after all (paired with enthusiasm, which they have no shortage of) is the key to making a successful product. “We really get the sense that they are built on making the best possible comic book,” and that “they pushed ourselves to do something great.” Remarked Cameron.
Before I go any further, lets get this straight. The comic book storyline has no relation whatsoever to Assassins Creed 1, 2, or the upcoming Brotherhood. Ubisoft and the creators made it very clear that their goal in releasing this series is to create something that stands on its own as a comic. “We said at the beginning; this is not a video game, it is a comic. We have to approach it in a different way.” Said Cameron. So no, don’t expect the same run of the mill “origins” or “prequel” story that you are so accustomed to seeing with videogame comics. No Desmond. No Ezio. No Altiar. “We’re diverging from what people know from the games already because we’re not dealing with Desmond”, added Karl. Instead, expect to see a completely new storyline, time period, area setting, and cast of characters that truly should make this feel like a worthy addition to the franchise. With that being said, it seems proof enough that this mini-series will set it self apart from the rest of the sub-par video game pack.
As many of you have gathered from watching the teaser trailer, the story will be taking us out of the middle ages and into early 19th/late 20th century Russia, during the fall of the Czars. This period was chosen because of its rich history and interesting and unique culture (it wouldn’t be an Assassins Creed story without seeing some familiar historical figures, so keep an eye out for some big names). “We came up with a Russian story line and it fit in with some things that had been mentioned in the game,” said Stewart. To add to the authenticity of the story and art, Karl and Cameron spent some time in St. Petersburg, Russia, taking in the architecture and feel of the area, as well as seeing what buildings would be exciting to incorporate into the comic. “we have a very specific root that Orelov takes through St. Petersburg..” So they are obviously taking accuracy into concern. One of the main goals the creators have is to represent Russia accurately, they want people native to the area to read this comic and really get a sense that it feels right.
And what old Russian story setting would be complete without your bad-ass, life hardened Ruskie? Luckily for us, our wish is fulfilled with the protagonist and assassin of the new series, Nikolai Orelov. (As the art indicates, he is modeled to look similar to our heroes from the games, while being unique to his own setting.)
There are three issues slated to be released, one for each phase of Nikolai’s life. So throughout the story, we really get to experience his growth as a person, while re-living some of his experiences that turn him into such a hard dude. “The interesting thing about Orelov to us is that we followed through several years.. his early career in the assassin order, to the end of his career.. it’s a pretty interesting journey.”
Those of you familiar with the Assassins Creed story know that there is a present day character that uses a machine called the Animus; a machine that reads memories of its user’s ancestors (this is how we get to witness the experiences of our assassins). The main character of this segment of the story goes by the name of Daniel Cross, a struggling alcoholic and troubled person in general. I didn’t get much information on Daniel, other than the fact that he is connected to Nikolai. Karl and Cameron did however make it a point in saying that both characters will be equally compelling.
There is a first time for everything, even a good comic book video game. From what has been presented to me over a day in Montreal, I would say that they are taking steps in the right direction to doing just that. Cameron Stewart said, half laughing, that his goal is to create the “Watchmen of video game comics.” Here’s to hoping he succeeds.
The new Assassins Creed mini-series is slated to hit stores sometime by the end of the year. Be sure not to over-look this one.