In a world of superhero video games populated only with Batman and Spider-Man, it can get frustrating and repetitive for gamers who want to be super, but only have a few options to do so. The struggle gets even worse for people whose favorite comic books aren’t even a part of Marvel or DC. Indie comic book fans mostly have to resign themselves to the fact that they’ll never see their favorite characters or stories adapted outside of a comic book.
A few major indie characters have made it into the video game world, but for the most part, the money just isn’t there for an indie publisher unless a game developer wants to take a chance on a runaway hit. Here are 15 indie comics that absolutely need a video game adaptation!
15. INVINCIBLE (IMAGE)
“Invincible” is the brainchild of writer Robert Kirkman of “The Walking Dead” fame and artist Cory Walker. It follows 17-year-old Mark Grayson as he discovers his newfound powers of invulnerability, flight, super strength and speed, inherited from his father who is the superhero Omni-Man. His father explains to him when he is a young boy that they come from an alien race of explorers that had come to Earth to help mankind.
“Invincible” is a fan-favorite and often named among the greatest comic books of all time. Mark Grayson essentially has the powers of Superman, yet he remains as relatable and humorous as Spider-Man. Superman hasn’t had a great history with video games, but with the writing of Robert Kirkman keeping the character fun, along with the supporting cast of his teammates on Teen Team, a group of young heroes Mark joins, an “Invincible” video game could turn out to be, well… invincible.
14. SHERIFF OF BABYLON (VERTIGO)
“Sheriff of Babylon” written by Tom King and illustrated by Mitch Gerads could make for a very controversial video game if it wasn’t handled correctly, but the same could be said for the comic book itself. The story follows a former cop turned military contractor, Christopher Henry, during the Iraq War, just after the death of Saddam Hussein, as he trains a new Iraqi police force. When one of his recruits is killed, he’s the only person who cares to find out who killed him.
It’s a complex book with realistic, grounded characters, but more importantly, it portrays the experience of the Iraq War in a very realistic way. Almost all war-based video games currently portray war as a glorious, action-packed, mindless festival of guns, which isn’t entirely grounded in reality. Writer Tom King, who formerly worked in counter-terrorism for the CIA in Iraq, brings a poignant look at the realities of war and his experiences there, without being light on the action. It just might bring a much-needed perspective to video game action that we haven’t seen before.
13. SIN CITY (DARK HORSE)
Frank Miller’s “Sin City” is a critically-acclaimed crime-noir thriller that’s dark, gritty, violent and a lot of fun. Basically, it’s what Frank Miller does best. After the success of the “Sin City” film in 2005, a video game adaptation was actually planned and in production for a year before clashes between the publisher and developer, budget cuts and ultimately, the collapse of Red Mile, the publisher who carried the rights to “Sin City,” killed the chances of a video game being released any time in the near future.
The early concepts for the game from Australian developer, Transmission Games, were astoundingly promising though. It was planned as a prequel to Sin City primarily following Marv as he used his fists and melee props like bricks and chairs in the environment to beat down opponents in a style similar to what would eventually be in the “Batman: Arkham” games. Over a decade later, the most likely candidate for a “Sin City” developer would be Telltale Games, who have been praised for their episodic story-based comic adaptations like “The Walking Dead” and “The Wolf Among Us.”
12. DYNAMO 5 (IMAGE)
“Dynamo 5” created by writer Jay Faerber and illustrator Mahmud A. Asrar focuses on the superhero family of the deceased Captain Dynamo, who was the beloved superhero of Tower City for almost 40 years after exposure to a form of radiation granted him superpowers. The team was assembled by Captain Dynamo’s widow, Maddie Warner, who after her late husband’s death, finds that he fathered five illegitimate children, who she exposes to the same radiation that granted their father’s powers.
Each individual member is granted their own superpowers including super strength, animal shapeshifting, telepathy, laser vision and flight, among others. Together, they come to terms with the father that they never knew and the half-siblings that they’ve just discovered as they grow to become a family. Not only would a video game adaptation of Dynamo 5 allow for a wide array of different powers to play around with, but the family dynamic of the story would delight fans new and old.
11. BUSHIDO: THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR (TOP COW)
“Bushido: The Way of the Warrior” by writer Rob Levin and Artist Jessada Sutthi was a five-issue miniseries that told the story of a young boy named Kichiro in 1600’s feudal Japan, who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck after his parents were murdered by a horde of vampires. He is rescued and raised by a Samurai who teaches him Bushido, the way of the warrior.
Years later, Kichiro discovers a plot by the vampires to murder his foster brother who is now the Shogun, leader of the samurai. The vampires attack and kill Kichiro’s adoptive father, and later attack his brother’s wedding. Kichiro and the Samurai kill hundreds of vampires along the way, and the miniseries ultimately culminates in a bloody all-out war between the vampires and Samurai. It’s full of action, intrigue and character development that would make for a spectacular video game. Look, if a “Vampires vs. Samurai” video game isn’t a sure-fire recipe for success, then nothing is.
10. SUPREME (IMAGE)
“Supreme” was created by Rob Liefeld, whose name you may recognize as the creator of X-Force, Youngblood and of course, the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool. Supreme was originally conceived as an egotistical Superman archetype until Alan Moore retooled him as a tribute to Mort Weisinger’s Silver Age Superman, which was a much more optimistic work than Alan Moore was generally known for. Supreme possesses all the abilities of Superman, which he gained after exposure to a meteorite containing the alien element “supremium.”
A video game adaptation of “Supreme” would likely bear a lot of resemblance to Superman, because the characters are so similar, and while Superman has not historically fared well in video games, Supreme has the advantage of not being weighed down by the long-standing mythos of Superman, and would have the freedom to portray the character as a little more arrogant and fun than Superman’s rigidly noble personality.
9. WITCHBLADE (TOP COW)
“Witchblade” was a popular comic series that ran for 20 years. It followed a New York detective named Sara Pezzini, who finds a supernatural, sentient gauntlet called the Witchblade that grants her magical powers and aids her in fighting supernatural evils around New York. The series spawned a critically-acclaimed TV series on TNT, an anime, a manga series and a novel, but for some reason was never adapted into a video game.
The “Witchblade” gives Sara super strength, an enhanced healing factor, the ability to produce energy blasts and the power to reanimate the dead. It can also form itself into weapons, full-body armor or even wings that allow Sara to fly when the need arises. A new “Witchblade” TV series was announced for development with NBC in January 2017, so there may be some renewed interest in the property soon, which could hopefully lead to a video game in the future.
8. SAVAGE DRAGON (IMAGE)
“Savage Dragon” is one of the longest-running ongoing comic book series still being published today, and after 25 years, it’s still being written and drawn by its creator, Erik Larsen. It’s reached 222 issues as of this writing and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The comic follows superhero Chicago police officer “The Dragon,” a large green-skinned humanoid creature with super strength, stamina, durability and an enhanced healing factor.
At the beginning of the series, Dragon wakes up in a burning field in Chicago with no memory of his past. After the murder of a prominent Chicago superhero, Dragon joins the Chicago police department to battle mutant criminal supervillains that terrorize the city. “Savage Dragon” was adapted into a short-lived animated series in 1995, and as of the latest issue has moved up its rating to 18+. The character has evolved from a green-skinned hero helping out the Chicago PD to a multiverse-hopping cosmic protector and everything in between. A video game could be pretty much whatever it wanted and still remain true to the source material, the only requirement being that Erik Larsen be involved in its development.
7. BLOODSHOT (VALIANT)
“Bloodshot” is yet another comic book title for which a video game adaptation was announced, but eventually canceled. The comic book follows Angelo Mortalli, Bloodshot, a former soldier whose bloodstream was injected with billions of microscopic nanocomputers that give him super strength, speed, agility, stamina and reflexes, as well as the ability to heal quickly from injuries, interface with nearly any form of technology and shapeshift his body.
Valiant Comics was purchased by the video game studio Acclaim entertainment in 1996, and a number of its characters were retooled to make them more easily adaptable to video games, including Bloodshot, so the hope for a future video game is still out there. This, coupled with the fact that a “Bloodshot” film is currently in development at Sony Pictures, could mean that the character will soon be well-known to mainstream audiences, and the demand for a video game adaptation will skyrocket.
6. TANK GIRL (DARK HORSE)
“Tank Girl” was created by Jamie Hewlett, who would go on to co-create the band “Gorillaz,” and Alan Martin while they were in college as a mini-strip in their fanzine “Atomtan.” It went on to become a symbol of female empowerment in punk rock culture in England and was even used in the march against Margaret Thatcher’s “Clause 28,” which condemned homosexuality. “Tank Girl” spawned a novel, multiple limited series and even a critically-panned film in 1995.
The series follows Rebecca Buck, who lives and travels in a tank through a post-apocalyptic wasteland Australia as she undertakes bounty hunter missions for a shady organization before being declared an outlaw for her sexual inclinations, substance abuse and failing to deliver colostomy bags to the incontinent Head of State in Australia. The comic is often surrealist, stream of consciousness, irreverent and weird… in the best way. Though the 1995 film was a failure, “Tank Girl” requires a medium that can allow itself to be more abstract than Hollywood would ever allow. To really get a video game right, it would have to be given to an indie game studio that wouldn’t be tied to a strict narrative or conventional plot.
5. SAGA (IMAGE)
“Saga” by writer Brian K. Vaughn and artist Fiona Staples has been described as a cross between “Star Wars” and “Game of Thrones,” and comparisons have been made to grand fantasy epics like “The Lord of the Rings.” The story follows a husband and wife, each from one side of two warring extraterrestrial races, as they’re hunted down by both sides and try to care for their newborn daughter.
Fans and critics alike have fallen in love with the series and many have called for an adaptation to the screen, but creator Brian K. Vaughn dismissed the idea, saying that he wanted to create something “way too expensive to be TV and too dirty and grown-up to be a four-quadrant blockbuster.” However, both those restrictions are easily remedied with a video game adaptation. A “Saga” game with an open-universe element similar to the “Mass Effect” series would almost certainly be a massive hit with the collected editions of the book even outselling the mega-successful “The Walking Dead” and winning 16 different awards from various organizations in the five years it’s been in print.
4. THE BOYS (DYNAMITE)
Garth Ennis is well-known for his sexually explicit, ultra-violent, critically-acclaimed work in comics like “The Punisher,” “Ghost Rider,” and his own creation, “Preacher.” “The Boys” was another creation by Garth Ennis that he promised to “out-Preacher Preacher.” The story is set in a world of superheroes, where the supers are often corrupt in their celebrity status and dangerously reckless with people’s lives.
It follows an elite superpowered CIA unit whose job is to monitor the superhero community and put a stop to anyone that causes trouble. “The Boys” is in development at Paramount Pictures with Adam McKay signed on to direct, and it’s been reported that Seth Rogen and Eric Kripke are developing a TV series adaptation for Cinemax. A lot of interest is soon going to be generated over “The Boys,” and an ultra-violent video game that tasks the player with killing superheroes would be massively fun and something that we’ve never really seen in a game before.
3. THE ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN (IMAGE)
“The Astounding Wolf-Man” is another brainchild of “The Walking Dead” and “Invincible” creator Robert Kirkman with art by Jason Howard. It follows billionaire CEO Gary Hampton, who is attacked by a werewolf while on a vacation with his family. Gary chooses to use his newfound werewolf powers to be a superhero despite being afflicted with an evil curse. Initially, he can’t control himself in his werewolf state, even going so far as killing a man on his first night.
Gary is later confronted by a vampire named Zechariah who helps him control his new abilities. Even after gaining control of his wolf form, he still has times when his transformation is triggered and he kills someone. A video game adaptation of “The Astounding Wolf-Man,” should maintain that element of wild berserker rage that Gary has to fight against, at least at the beginning, making you kill innocent civilians before you slowly become a hero, protecting the city.
2. HARBINGER (VALIANT)
“Harbinger” is another Valiant title that was rebooted to make the characters more easily adaptable to video games after Acclaim Entertainment bought the company in 1994. However, even with the rebooted comic series written by Joshua Dysart and illustrated by Khari Evans ending in 2014, Acclaim has yet to actually use the characters in a video game. Sony Pictures acquired the rights to “Harbinger” with plans to develop a film that will later crossover with the “Bloodshot” film to create their own interconnected cinematic universe.
The book follows Pete “Sting” Stanchek who develops extremely powerful psionic abilities, including telepathy, telekinesis and mind control. Sting contacts the Harbinger Foundation run by Toyo Harada, the first Harbinger, who built a multinational corporation with the ultimate goal of taking over the world to protect people from themselves. When Harada has Sting’s best friend killed, Sting decides to recruit other Harbingers to create an army against Harada. A video game adaptation would need to include elements of recruiting the Harbingers, as wells as fighting off Harada’s goons and eventually culminating in a battle royale between Sting and Harada, just as the series ended.
1. THE MERCENARY SEA (IMAGE)
“The Mercenary Sea” by writer Kel Symons and illustrator Mathew Reynolds, was a title canceled before its time in 2014. The independent comic book market can be a cruel and unforgiving place for even the best of books, with production delays and low sales leading to the series’ end after its eighth issue. “The Mercenary Sea” has a strong fanbase that has continued grow since its cancellation, with even legendary comic book writer, Ed Brubaker, praising it.
The story follows ex-bootlegger Jack Harper and his crew of mercenaries and treasure hunters as they go up against spies, pirates, soldiers and headhunters searching for the next big score that will keep their stomachs full and their ship afloat. The adventure aspect is similar to “Indiana Jones,” and the premise has been compared in many ways to the “cancelled-before-its-time” masterpiece, “Firefly.” Fans would love a proper conclusion to the series, and a video game would be a great way to take it to the next level.
Which indie book would you like to experience as a video game? Let us know in the comments!