Ubisoft's video game franchise "Brothers in Arms" is the highest rated WWII action franchise to date, and Dynamite Entertainment has teamed with the games publisher to bring the character-driven war drama from game consoles to comics in May. Mike Neumann, who has written all of the "Brothers in Arms" video games, is co-writing the new miniseries with veteran comics scribe David Wohl ("Witchblade," "The Darkness"). CBR News sat down with Neumann to get the mission briefing on "Brothers in Arms."
Developer Gearbox Software, for which Neumann serves as a writer and cinematic director, created the "Brothers in Arms" game series. "We at Gearbox had been talking about taking our story into different mediums for a while," Neumann told CBR News. "It had come up more than a few times, but didn't hold any real water until Dynamite came around and things started to heat up."
David Wohl was brought onto the project as editor, to help translate the story from the game platform to the comics page. "David comes with a lot of experience for how to put together a good book and what makes a good story," Neumann said.
"Brothers in Arms" is inspired by the true story of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment that was dropped behind German lines on D-Day. "The stories in the books are based on the stories from the game, but expanded immensely," Neumann explained. "The first game focused on Sgt. Matthew Baker and his search for the men of his unit. The game takes that story and lets each issue breathe life into the existing battles and characters."
The structure of the games doesn't allow for much exploration of the characters' back-stories prior to the war, and that is an area Neumann plans to explore in more detail in the comics. "Fans of the game are going to get a lot of new information and stories about these characters, more than they ever would have in game form."
The first issue of "Brothers in Arms" focuses on the preparation for the D-Day invasion and the subsequent drop into Normandy. "What's important to me with any issue is that the storytelling angle and the weight of the material are approached differently than anyone that has touched on this before," Neumann said. "We get to see a lot of what makes these people men before they became soldiers. This is one of the things that makes 'Brothers in Arms' so endearing to its fans: we focus on the men first and foremost."
Called "Drop," the first issue follows the unarmed Sgt. Baker as he endeavors to survive after touching down behind enemy lines. "Oh, and there's baseball!" Neumann added.
The good people at Gearbox take pains to make sure the "Brothers in Arms" series is as historically accurate as it possibly can be, and Neumann intends to be just as diligent for the Dynamite comic series. "The amount of research everyone at Gearbox has done is always staggering to me, and it's always within a few clicks of the mouse to tap into our immense library on all of the conflicts of the D-Day invasion," Neumann said. On top of that, the game designers receive the expert input of Col. John Antal, noted WWII historian and the game franchise's historical advisor. "After we shipped the second 'Brothers in Arms' game, we had our own History Channel special as well, hosted by Ron Livingston (of 'Office Space' fame), about the true story of our games."
Artist Davide Fabbri is penciling "Brothers in Arms," and Neumann has nothing but good things to say about his collaborator. "Davide's an amazing talent and a master of all things WWII and Paratrooper," Neumann stated. "I didn't even have to compile source photos for the Paratrooper uniforms (whether relaxed or in battle) because he could draw it all freehand, from memory! On top of that, he draws it all beautifully while maintaining a classic style that breathes life into the era we're telling stories in. Every day that my inbox has pencils from Davide is a good day!" Neumann continued. "It's like an ever evolving instant desktop. Right now my computer wallpaper is the last page of issue #1's pencils. It's beautiful work."
Neumann describes the miniseries as "Brothers in Arms: Season 1." "Right now it's [a limited series] but if the sales and reviews are good, anything is possible," Neumann said. "There's a lot more story to tell here! I think the story of a small group of men trying to survive and find each other against the backdrop of the last great war is something that always speaks to people."
The first issue of "Brothers in Arms" hits stands this May.
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