15th Sep2017

‘Wolfenstein #1′ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Dan Watters | Art by Piotr Kowalski, Ronilson Frere | Published by Titan Comics

Wolfenstein-Cover-A

With the many video game franchises being converted into comic book form I guess it was just a matter of time before Wolfenstein also made that leap. Of course, good games do not always make good comics, but three things here put my mind at rest. One, Titan Comics track record to date in what they put out has been fantastic, editorial are doing a bang up job. Secondly, Dan Watters is on board as writer. Not only a great writer, but one with an extensive back catalogue of writing for established franchises such as Assassin’s Creed and Dark Souls, so reliable hands. Thirdly, the source material is well suited to comic book form. Wolfenstein is based on dastardly villains (can’t kept more obviously evil than Nazis right?), gung ho heroics, and guns. Lots of guns.

Wolfenstein‘s timing is not just random of course, the comic is being published as a direct prequel to the upcoming, and much hyped, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. This is both good and bad. Good in that it gives fans synergy, and a sense of continuity in the franchise across different media. Bad in the sense that fans who just want a good read and are unfamiliar with the game may well struggle, especially as a 2 page ‘The Story So Far…’ text introduction may scare them off with its level of detail. If, like me, you have at least a passing knowledge of the game, then you know this will probably not reinvent the wheel.

Wolfenstein is essentially the story of BJ Blazkowicz and his fight against the Nazis on an alternate world where the Nazis won the war. BJ now leads a resistance movement against them, made harder by the Regime’s (as the Nazis are now called) access to hugely powerful technology. So of course Dan Watters opens with a story set in Sanctuary, a haven of sorts for people who don’t want to live under the boot of the Regime. Sanctuary is illegal but the Regime are unaware of it, even while they start drilling on its land supposedly for oil but in reality for something more important. After a mini revolt, The Professor, leader of Sanctuary descends into the hole to check it out.

This leads into a second story, following a German called Hartmann and his discovery of an ancient city created by the Thule. The ancient buildings are salvaged and rebuilt into Castle Wolfenstein, to be the site of the new Science Division and home to Hartmann. Hartmann has had the foresight to realise technology alone won’t lead to total victory for the Regime, nor will ‘blood and mysticism’, but combining the two will. He intends to clone the ancient Thulian race, but in reality doesn’t understand the forces he is meddling with, as a very Lovecraftian dream reminds him. An undercover agent, Dr Emilie Wagner, seeing all this first hand, gets the word out….

Which leads to story three, and the arrival at last of BJ himself, as he reads Dr Wagner’s letter. Time to blow up some fascists. BJ and his resistance cell drive across the country to reach the new Castle Wolfenstein, and do indeed blow up some fascists. Plus a little shooting and stabbing too, for variety you understand. Checkpoints suitably destroyed, it’s time to reach the castle.

Overall this was actually more entertaining than I thought it would be. The first story, the main plot anchor from which the others develop, felt a tad overlong and was at times a little confusing filled as it was with a ton of exposition. It evened out in the end, once I realised where it was going. The second story was the pick of the bunch, the third more a taster of BJ than anything else. Overall Dan Watters did a good job, combining some effective world building with the necessary exposition. It was never less than entertaining. The art and colours were very nice throughout, differing styles in the different stories but perfect for each one. The layouts told the story as well as the script.

Tie-ins, with the corporate mandate to include certain bits and pieces, can be hit and miss. Although not quite a bullseye, this is a hit. Amazingly good covers too.

***½. 3.5/5

Wolfenstein #1 is out now from Titan Comics

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