My first favorite multiplayer video game growing up was 007: Goldeneye for the N64. For hours on end my friends and I would sit in front of the television and play until either our fingers or our eyes bled. Rocket launchers, golden guns, and proximity mines were all the rage, the only real rule we had was no one could play as Oddjob because he was so short and could easily dodge headshots. Yes we were fans of 007, but the main reason we played was for the sense of camaraderie and one-upping each other on the digital battlefield.
It wasn’t until Super Smash Bros. when shit got real. It was one thing to have a franchise with the same characters fighting one another, but to suddenly be able to play as different characters from multiple franchises was utterly mind-blowing. It almost felt illegal to play Samus against Pikachu, as if a lawyer was going to burst through the door at any moment and cease the tomfoolery. Thanks to Nintendo, it was actually possible to settle schoolyard bets of who could beat who in a fight.
In recent years, Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph achieved the same amount of success in allowing video game character crossovers to happen when select studios gave permission to use their characters in the same universe, much like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did for cartoons back in 1988.
Of course comic books have also had their fair share of company crossovers, but only on rare occasions did they actually feel worth the hype. Why not combine two ideas and have the comic book medium serve as the foundation of video game crossovers? Tomi Hanzek must have thought the same thing, and as a result we have his comic series Multiplayer from TH Studios.
While the characters aren’t officially licensed, it’s fairly obvious in some instances who the characters are modeled after. At the same time it doesn’t feel like a spoof or parody by any means, for Hanzek is a talented storyteller and actually has a grand plan in mind. We follow infamous archeologist Heather Graham as she discovers a long-lost civilization only spoken about in secrets, with a doomsday clock ticking until the return of a demon king by the name of Durrok who will annihilate all life on Earth. A mysterious hero from the past is catapulted through time into the present to deny Durrock of his victory, and along the way is joined by a skilled fighter from far-off Japan, Heather Graham, and her sorceress friend Samantha.
I really enjoyed this first issue, for Hanzek has multiple good concepts brewing in the initial issue alone. While I’m not much of a video gamer nowadays, I did appreciate the several little Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the issue that other actual gamers would no doubt enjoy. Hanzek’s art style was pleasing to look at, and somehow balanced the overall look and feel of the shared universe no matter what video game franchise the characters originally hailed from.
If you like video games, if you enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph, and more importantly if you love good storytelling, I highly recommend you pick up Multiplayer #1 over at ComiXology for only 99¢. Tomi Hanzek has succeeded in creating the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen of video games in the medium of comic books, and as a result it makes for one hell of an entertainingly awesome read.