The Brothers in Arms story is always growing, and the latest addition comes to us in the form of a comic book penned by Brothers in Arms writer Mike Neumann. I asked Mike some questions about the comics, which are sure to appeal to those who love the BiA story, those interested in WWII, and fans of comics in general. Gearbox has paired with Dynamite Entertainment to release this graphic novel series, and you can visit their site for more information and for pre-ordering the comic! Read on for Mike's answers.
How did the idea for a BiA comic come about?
Mike N: Well, we had been tossing around the idea of taking the Brothers in Arms universe into different mediums for a while. A set of graphic novels just seemed like a logical step. We took the idea to a few different comic shops but Dynamite was the company who got excited and wanted to do something outstanding. It was pretty much a no-brainer at that point.
Why should fans of BiA pick this up?
Mike N: Because they're always asking for more story, and this is almost overload in that capacity. I approached these very differently from the video games. There’s room to breathe here.
What’s always been the most interesting for me writing the games was showing what the soldiers were like before the war. The story of a soldier, to me at least, is who he was, and how much of that he loses or evolves over the course of the journey. In the games we caught glimpses of Baker and Hartsock, and these were tiny glimpses. With the comic I can spend an entire issue on just one person. There’s more information about Hartsock, as a person, in the third issue than the entirety of Earned In Blood.
So, as this series evolves and leads up the release of Hell's Highway (which is an absolutely monster-sized story) I think the audience, as a whole, will have a much greater understanding of the soldiers around them when they pick up the new game.
I guess you could think of it like the Animatrix, only as a cohesive story with actual pay-off. Actually, scratch that, it's nothing like the Animatrix.
What characters will we see in the comic?
Mike N: I'll just say Allen and Garnett first. They have no shortage of panel-time in this story. Let me say it's been an absolute joy to dive into their characters again. Not to mention how interesting it is to get into who these two guys were before the war.
Obviously Baker and Hartsock, but at times in very different lights than we're accustomed to. Corrion and Mac. I also introduce a character named Gideon, who is the medic in Hell's Highway (who is not part of the gameplay, before you guys get excited and start posting that "mikey said theres a medic in hellz highway and he heals u all the tiem 4 real!")
The biggest surprise for the fans is probably that Risner is the central aspect of the first arc. We didn't really sell tell that story so grandly in Hill 30, mostly because we didn't have a lot of game time to tell it. There's a whole lot of story that never got told about who Risner and Baker were in high school and even before that. The first issue opens at one of their High School baseball games which I've been wanting to get into one of the games since, pretty much, forever. It's a lot harder to convince an art team to create an entire baseball stadium and baseball uniforms and a whole bevy of animations for what amounts to a minute of screen time. Maybe we'll make a BiA baseball game someday.
Set up the story and setting for us a little.
Mike N: It very closely mirrors the events of Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood. The battles and locations should have a familiar feel to the people that played the first two games but the story extends out way beyond what was told before.
The first issue is a 32-page issue about the D-Day drop into Normandy. That's almost a double issue, in terms of length. There is so much going on that we couldn't fit it into the normal 22 page format. I don't want to spoil where we go after that. Some of that is a surprise.
What was it like writing for the comic book format?
Mike N: Pretty natural, actually. It's a bit harder because the writer is so much more responsible for the pacing of the issue because the dialog has to be placed into specific panels. Luckily I had both David Wohl (my editor) and Davide Fabbri (the artist) helping me out with pacing in a few key areas. Davide is just a monster with the pencils-he's always adding insert panels and splitting up panels so that the pacing is better. They're veterans and they deserve a lot of credit for why this book is awesome.
Can we expect to see the BiA story continue to expand?
Mike N: You bet. It's no coincidence that the story has already been on TV, books, comics, and video games. People reacted to the story of Matthew Baker and the search for his missing men. It was something so different at the time (when the first game came out). A lot of the other war games were just ramming a bunch of nameless characters into a orgy of explosions and expecting people to react. Brothers in Arms has always been about telling the story of brothers in war - it's about their victories and losses.
Hell, maybe we'll have a TV show about Baker and his men someday.