EXCLUSIVE: Marshall Discusses "Prototype 2" Digital Comics

2012's gaming season is upon us, and players everywhere can look forward to all sorts of great experiences over the next few months. Among them is Activision's highly anticipated sequel "Prototype 2," which focuses on a new protagonist: Sgt. James Heller, a cop with superhuman abilities who butts head with the hero from the original game.

To celebrate the release of the upcoming game, Dark Horse announced this morning that it is working on a three-issue digital comic that ties in with the "Prototype" universe, featuring a storyline that bridges the gap between the two games. Set to release across a three month period (starting in February), the story is written by game writer Dan Jolley and features artists Paco Diaz, Chris Staggs and Victor Drujiniu.

In order to get a better insight as to what we could expect from the "Prototype" comics, we spoke with editor Dave Marshall in an exclusive interview. Marshall explained how Dark Horse and Activision came to work together on the project, the relationship Dark Horse had with "Protoype 2" developer Radical Entertainment in creating the perfect story and what fans of the original game can expect from the series. Mutant limbs popping out of the ground, anyone?

CBR News: Dave, how did the partnership between Dark Horse and Radical come about?

Dave Marshall: We saw the "Prototype 2" demo at San Diego Comic-Con and were blown away. The kick-ass monster designs, the white-knuckle action and, most importantly, the compelling story immediately struck us as fertile grounds for a crazy-fun comics series.

How closely did Dark Horse work with Radical to assure that the tone for the comics was properly aligned with the original game and its upcoming sequel?

Dan Jolley, comics scribe extraordinaire, wrote "Prototype 2," so we knew exactly who we wanted to write the comics. No one knows the story of "Prototype" better than Dan, so for the comics, he gave us three stories that influence and inform some of the juiciest bits of the game.

How, exactly, are the books structured? The first focuses on the original game's anti-hero, Alex Mercer, while the third one focuses more on the sequel's star. But part two focuses on an entirely new group of characters, right?

The series has three stories, each told in two parts. This February, "The Anchor" follows Alex Mercer, the protagonist from the original "Prototype," on a quest to find his humanity after the events of the first game. Then, in March, "The Survivors" takes three new characters through New York City -- now New York Zero (or NYZ) -- as they try to escape the Blacklight virus-infested landscape. Lastly, in April, "The Labyrinth" introduces Sgt. James Heller, the all-new protagonist of "Prototype 2," on a mission as a U.S. Marine, before the events of the second game.

What prompted the decision to tell the tale from an outside perspective in "The Survivors?" Who stars in that?

In "Prototype 2," NYZ is a like a character in and of itself. It's been carved into three zones -- Red, Yellow and Green -- because of the outbreak, and each zone has been impacted by the virus in different ways. In order to give a voice to the city, and the people trapped within it, with "The Survivors," Dan shows the events leading up to "Prototype 2" through the eyes of Conrad, an NYPD detective; Marcie, a college student; and Ami, a young boy. Together, they'll face horrors previously unimagined in an attempt to escape the city they once called home.

Each chapter features the work of a different artist -- Paco Diaz, Chris Staggs and Victor Drujiniu. Did the "Protoype" reality Jolley created give them a lot of room to be creative with their art?

The visual world of "Prototype 2" is a comics artist's paradise. A city under siege, outrageous creatures and lots of action. With so many toys in the toy box to play with, it was easy to tell Paco, Chris and Vic to run wild with their stories.

Is the plan for these Dark Horse comics to be digital only, or will there be an eventual print collection by the time the game ships in April?

Initially, the comics will be available exclusively at digital.darkhorse.com and through the Dark Horse Comics app on iOS and Android. However, Dark Horse will be collecting all three stories in a hardcover releasing this summer.

Finally, coming from your perspective, what is it about games like "Protoype" and "Mass Effect" that makes them the right candidates for comic book adaptations and expansions?

Video games and comics travel in similar genres -- action/adventure, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, etc. -- so its natural that they would make great source material for each other. In addition, one of the things about games that I think are great for comics is the amount of time and energy developers put into narrative world building and visual design. When Dark Horse sits down with a game like "Prototype 2," it's a virtual feast of original designs, richly realized settings and unique concepts. There's enough material to make a hundred comics, let alone one.

The comics hit digitally starting in February while "Prototype 2" hits stores this April for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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