Before I recieved an early copy of Archaia Entertainment’s complete graphic novel, Hawken: Genesis, I had never even heard of Hawken. Which is probably a bit sad and loses me some nerd cred because apparently Hawken is a thing that I should have known about. Forbes wrote about it! A couple of times. Seriously. When I was Google information an opinion article by some guy at Forbes popped up.
Granted, Forbes also did an article on the zombie tax law article I helped research so. Maybe Forbes isn’t quite what it used to be. (I’m kidding.)
Hawken – for those of you who don’t know – is a free-to-play multiplayer first person shooter. The game puts players in the cockpit of some very versatile mechs and they fight for dominance and resources on the increasingly dystopian planet of Illal. Some people go back and forth on whether or not they like Hawken’s pay-as-you-go scheme and any number of other little hitches. But you cannot deny that the folks who created the game love it.
And Hawken: Genesis is a surprisingly good comic for a video game tie in.
Hawken: Genesis is a prequel comic released by the folks responsible for Hawken that seeks to explain how Illal came to be as it is now. The story reads like any number of science fiction novels revolving around evil, power hungry corporations in the future. There is friendship and betrayal, corporate espionage and underhanded dealings. And, of course, a naive scientist who just wants to change the world for the better and has to watch his creations be funneled into military development instead.
Illal was developed by a number of corporations that paid in to fund the terraforming efforts and establishment of the planet’s residents, economy, etc. in exchange for a piece of the planet. While there were several companies involved there are three main ones and they are locked in a constant battle to one up the other. James Hawken – the man who ultimately invents the Hawken mechs – was a lowly researcher in one company’s labs toiling away on menial tasks while dreaming big until his friend Rion Lazlo came to bring him to another company. Lazlo used his friend to gain prominence it definitely works out for him. But at a terrible price. Lazlo betrays Hawken… and that’s not even the worst of it.
That betrayal is at the core of the dustruction of Illal.
It leads to the development of a crystalline virus that begins corrupting the planet and absorbing cities and people alike. A massive “giga-structure” of this bio-organic crystal is overtaking the planet rapidly. People are turned into crystals – the natural systems corrupted until they die – should they catch the virus. It’s all due to the developments on the planet surface and the technology that was created with the rare elements.
And yet people stay.
Illal was founded on hope. Hope for a better future. The problem is that it was also founded on divided loyalties. People might love Illal but they are also loyal to their own factions – their own corporations to whom they owe patronage – and with the resources of the planet dwindling and becoming corrupted rapidly? Conflict is inevitable. And even though everything around them is falling apart greed, corruptioon, and betrayal remain.
It’s a fantastic story. And each chapter is written and illustrated by a new team of writers and artists. I haven’t played the game so I can’t really give you much information on that or even attempt to review it. But from what I’ve seen in the comic? It’s a really engaging story. And the comic is gorgeous. I don’t know how likely it is that a gigantic cyrstalline structure is going to essentially eat a world and what not but hey. They make me believe it.
My favorite part about the comic, too, is how they cut in news reports and personnel files. You get to see the story and you get to see some of the background. You can see things as the citizens of Illal see them and you can see the characters are others see them. It adds a nice little touch and a bit of realism, too.
This comic is definitely geared at Hawken fans and while I could see it appealing to non-players, I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend it to them just out of the blue. If they were interested in the game or had played for a little bit, sure. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was lost while reading it. I didn’t need to have played Hawken to understand the story or empathize with the characters. However, I wasn’t nearly as connected to the story as a Hawken player would have been. Without the Hawken name, this would have been a really interesting story – one that would have needed to be expanded upon in another book, probably, because the ending does leave you wanting something more.
Or, rather, it leaves the non-player wanting.
Hawken fans, check out the full release of the Hawken: Genesis prequel comic on April 9th.
And keep an eye out for more Hawken related posts. In theory there is a webseries launching sometime this year and last year at Comic Con there was talk of a film adaptation. With all the mecha films that are in development we might indeed see it. Unless, you know, Pacific Rim tanks in the box office. Time will tell…