Publisher: Archaia Black Label
Reviewed by: Joe Mossman
Adhesive Games, the makers of the free-to-play, mech-based FPS game HAWKEN have taken an interesting approach with their intellectual property, one that will probably appeal to the more impatient, cut scene-fatigued gamers among us. The game itself handles the big mech-suits blowing the crap out of each other (as it should), while Archaia Black Label’s HAWKEN: GENESIS graphic novel anthology takes on the job of fleshing out character and backstory.
First, a quick word on the game. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but after watching a few gameplay videos I think I might already be halfway to a full-blown addiction. For an indie game with a relatively quick development cycle, it looks, sounds (and appears to play) better than some of the hyped mega-releases of the past couple of years. Set on the industrialized, depleted colony world of Illal, where corporate clans fight over dwindling resources, as well as a newly discovered geological element, the Hawken universe seems to be one in which there really isn’t any clear distinction between good and bad…everybody’s just out for money. Which makes it a perfect backdrop for stories about greed juxtaposed with personal honour.
GENESIS #2 is suitably grim. It’s short (only nine pages) and the story is pretty straightforward: two mech “jockeys” are escorting a cargo truck full of some unknown commodity when they’re ambushed by two rival mechs led by the reckless Hontero. What hooks the reader isn’t so much the reasons behind the fight or the nature of the cargo, it’s more the subtle suggestion of the deeper motivations behind the jockeys and their warring clans (told through simple swatches of dialogue between the tired, cynical pilots). So while the issue is short and the story somewhat thin, you never really feel it’s shallow; there’s definitely more material there for Archaia to tap.
There’s also Bagus Hutomo’s beautiful art. Done in a style that falls somewhere between CG graphics and watercolor painting, Hutomo creates a very eye-pleasing contrast between the crisp, metallic right-angles of the mechs and machines, with the arid canyon where most of the story takes place. There’s also an authentic, war-correspondent feel in the facial expressions and the battle scenes. Check out the image on the last page, where three weary pilots relax atop a mech on what appears to be a picnic blanket, one reading a paper while another drinks a beer (my favorite image, in that it tells almost as much of a story as all the pages that preceded it).
GENESIS is only just beginning to show promise; I do sense some real story potential in the shoot-first character of Hontero.