Making The World Safe: Kris Oprisko talks "Metal Gear Solid"

How many of you can remember the "Metal Gear" game on the NES?

Presumably not too many.

But how many of you know of "Metal Gear Solid," the breakout stealth series that was catapulted to fame on the Playstation 1 & 2?

'Nuff said.

This September, IDW Publishing brings fans of all ages a series based on "Metal Gear Solid," with unprecedented media support and a devoted creative team. After acclaimed work with television properties such as "The Shield" and "CSI," fans are expecting a lot from this video game adaptation and writer Kris Oprisko spoke to CBR News about the series and prime some new fans on the basics.

"'Metal Gear Solid' follows the adventures of Solid Snake, the world's foremost infiltration expert," explains Oprisko. "He's a guy who is trained to do the black ops no one else will touch. The comic series follows the story line of the original game, in which Snake must infiltrate an Alaskan island overrun by a genetically-enhanced terrorist group. His mission: to find and rescue two hostages as well as ending the terrorist threat-a threat that includes the specter of a nuclear strike.

"Snake is the main character. He's a tough guy who is the best in the world at what he does. He can be inserted in the most dangerous of situations without back-up, support, or even weapons and still find a way to get the job done. He's got the stealth skills of a ninja coupled with elite military training.

"In the comic series, he's aided by a team that he keeps in contact with using a specially designed radio. This team includes his former commander Col. Roy Campbell, genetics expert Naomi Hunter, and technical whiz Mei Ling.

"The villains, especially the 6 terrorist leaders, all have unique strengths and attributes. These will be revealed as the series progresses."

If you've never played the games or think they're not fun then, well, don't tell that to Oprisko. We warned you. "People that don't like the games must not have ever played them," smiles Oprisko. "To my mind, 'Metal Gear Solid' is, flat out, the best video game of all time. But even if readers are not familiar with the games, the storyline contains all the elements that make for a gripping read: the tension of stealth infiltration, the periods of frenetic action, and an intricate storyline that unfolds with plenty of twists and turns along the way."

Luckily for Oprisko, he's been involved with IDW for some time and appealed to the series creators- literally- to be on the series. "I'm a huge fan of the game, and I feel that it's an honor to be working on this project. Since it's inception, IDW Publishing has tried to forge relationships with companies whose work we respected and were fans of. Because of this, we were able to work with Konami previously on a series based on their 'Silent Hill' games (the 'Silent Hill: Dying Inside' trade paperback will be released in August) as well as developing our 'CVO: Covert Vampiric Operations' title into a Konami video game. We then put together a presentation for Hideo Kojima, the mastermind behind 'Metal Gear Solid,' which he liked!"

In the press release from just a few weeks ago, IDW's promotions department compared "Metal Gear Solid" to "Lord Of The Rings" in terms of epic nature and devoted fans. "In the specifics there are many differences, but the main point of comparison is the epic nature of the adventure," explains the "MGS" junkie. "Just as Frodo's world hangs in the balance based on his actions, so to does our world depend on Snake defusing the threat of nuclear annihilation to survive. The comparison in the press release also is meant to draw a parallel with the runaway success the 'Lord of the Rings' has been for movies: in video game terms, 'Metal Gear Solid' is a similarly huge title in terms of popularity and sales."

But that fan base can have a potential downside: rabid, dogmatic adherence to the already completed storylines. Many fans may not want to see the right storytelling of the "Metal Gear" games affected and Oprisko is glad to assuage any concerns. "First I'll say that the story in the game is already a great one, and I am not trying to change the elements that made the game so popular. At the same time, the comic genre is different than that of video games, so there are things I can do with pacing to draw out the tension. And although I won't be making up anything whole cloth, I will from time to time expand on scenes that may be alluded to in the characters' dialogue but do not appear in the game itself."

So, Oprisko isn't trying to reinvent everything you know about "Metal Gear" or needlessly deconstruct the series, which begs the question: what is he trying to do? "Pure and simple, it's to make a comic great enough to live up to the incredible high standards that the game has established. The artwork that Ashley Wood has been producing for this series has been nothing short of incredible, and we can't wait to share it with the world. Plus, we want to show the video game fans who may not be into comics what they've been missing!"

The games are chock full of stealth and surprise thrills- the very elements that made them a worldwide phenomenon- and Oprisko says that putting Solid Snake into similar situations isn't hard. "As I've mentioned, the pacing of comics lends itself to periods of tension broken up by action sequences, so it's been a really good fit. The biggest challenge I've had thus far was how to include the wealth of background info imparted at the start of the game across while at the same time keep the action moving along."

While the video games carry a strong them of responsibility, for one's own actions and one's responsibility to the world, Oprisko said he's focusing on making "Metal Gear Solid" a kick ass action book. "All aspects of Snake's character will be explored throughout the comic series. However, the main thrust of the series will always be focused on the down and dirty action."

With Ashley Wood the artist on "Metal Gear Solid," Oprisko couldn't be happier to have the acclaimed artist on the team. "Ash has been a long-time and valued contributor to IDW Publishing since its inception, and he'd even previously done some work for Konami on their Contra video game. When we decided to put together a proposal for Metal Gear Solid, the only artist we thought of to bring this project to life was Ash. He's a brilliant artist, and brings to this project a love of video games in general, and Metal Gear in particular. Kojima-san was already a fan of Ash's work, so that definitely helped in getting this project off the ground!"

With a sizeable fan base and passionate creators, Oprisko admits that IDW expects big things from this series. "We certainly hope to see big numbers, and we are doing everything we can to get the word out both in the comic world and the video game press. We feel we've produced something very special with Metal Gear and hope the fans agree!"

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