Long before parents blamed such violent video games as Doom for destroying their impressionable young children’s minds, they blamed comic books. So it’s rather fitting that the new Doom—which will be released May 13th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC—is inspired in part by comic books that most parents wouldn’t want their impressionable young children to read.
To find out what comics had the biggest impact on the new Doom, and in what ways, I spoke with Id Software’s Hugo Martin, who’s both the game’s creative director and, apparently, the dev team’s resident comic book guy.
5. ‘SIN CITY’
After turning Batman into a truly dark knight, Frank Miller went totally noir with Sin City, a gritty black and white comic about the people who live in the seedy part of town. He ultimately wrote seven volumes of long and short stories, many of which later inspired the movies Sin City and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, both of which Miller co-directed with Robert Rodriguez.
How it inspired Doom: “Frank Miller’s work was a big inspiration for Doom. Sin City’s pulpy dialogue was right in line with the visuals, and it all worked together creating a consistent tone throughout. For Doom, we knew what we were making: this sort of B-movie vibe, but with a big summer blockbuster presentation. When you have characters like the Cyberdemon and the Pinky, you have to embrace those and we think Sin City did that so well with their characters. Doom, in that same vein, never blinks. It’s crazy at a breakneck pace, and it never stops until the last demon is gibbed. All the dialogue in Doom is meant to be comic book cool. Nobody is cooler than Frank Miller.”
2. 'PUNISHER: FRANKEN-CASTLE’
Written by Rick Remender (Captain America), Franken-Castle was a 2009/2010 comic series in which Frank “The Punisher” Castle was torn apart by Wolverine’s son, Daken (that brat) and then Frankensteined back together by Morbius and the Legion of Monsters. It’s currently available as the collected edition Punisher, Vol. 3: Franken-Castle.
How it inspired Doom: “We keep our eyes and ears open throughout development for anything that might inspire our team. On one scouting trip to a comic convention here in Dallas, I spotted the B-Movie style cover for Franken-Castle; an oversized antihero with a mini–gun. Doom’s story is over the top, and comics like Franken-Castle really inspired us to own the material in Doom. A few pages into the comic and you are no longer thinking about how crazy the plot is—werewolves, vampires, futuristic samurai soldiers with plasma rifles—you’re just enjoying the fun. We want people to give in to Doom, the world, the premise, to just let go and have fun.”
Co-created by writer Garth Ennis (The Boys) and artist Steve Dillon (Judge Dredd), who previously collaborated on a run of Hellblazer, Preacher was centered around a, well, preacher in a small Texas town who gets possessed by a supernatural creature known as Genesis. The series ran for five years, 1995 to 2000, and was later collected in nine trade paperbacks, while a TV series starring Dominic Cooper and developed by Seth Rogan and his writing partner Evan Goldberg will premiere on AMC on Sunday, May 22.
How it inspired Doom: “The Saint O’ Killers, there’s little else to say after that. That character is so ridiculously cool. He’s a machine: relentless, uncompromising, acts without hesitation—just like a certain space marine we know. I love the way the violence is handled in Preacher. It’s a bloody mess, but drawn in a way that makes you scan through all the little bits and pieces of it as it flies across the page. It’s our kind of gross.”
4. 'HARD BOILED’
Another classic comic from Frank Miller, Hard Boiled was a three issue miniseries about an insurance adjuster who realizes he may not actually work in the insurance industry, and may be more machine than man. But unlike Sin City, Miller only wrote this mash-up of of cyberpunk and noir—it was intricately drawn by Geoff Darrow, who later worked on the Matrix movies as the Conceptual Designer.
How it inspired Doom: “We set out to make an action game with tons of comic book gore and stylish, yet minimalistic dialogue, since Doom isn’t a game with a lot of cut-scenes. Hard Boiled is exactly that. The comic’s dark future was a perfect reference for Doom’s setting: the UAC is sick, without emotion, and things are said that feel disconnected in a humorous way. In Doom, when you hear 'demonic presence at unsafe levels’ upon entering a room that’s on lockdown, we hope players will get that dark humor we aimed for. We think that stuff is all over Darrow’s beautifully drawn panels. The tone of that comic is such that it doesn’t seem to be taking itself too seriously, and when combined with the colorful art style, it keeps some of the more disturbing imagery from falling into the distasteful category.
“All of Doom is done with a wink and a smile, the characters have stylized proportions, the colors are reminiscent of the original Doom, and these elements help balance the over the top gore that you see everywhere in the game. There’s an element of audience participation that is required in order to follow along with Hard Boiled’s storyline, and that’s something we have in Doom as well. You won’t get all the answers handed to you in a cut-scene in between levels; the majority of information has to be sought out by the player in data files and echoes.”
Since 1993, the demon Anung Un Rama has been fighting the good fight as the occult hero Hellboy. Created by writer and artist Mike Mignola, the Hellboy comics have not only continued for more than twenty years, but they’ve also inspired two live action movies, two animated movies, a bunch of video games, and a series of spin-off comics for the demon’s coworkers in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
How it inspired Doom: “Supernatural elements, ritual conjurings, demons from another world—all components that make up the DNA of the new Doom. We loved the science meets classic horror elements in Mignola’s work. We landed on a visual metaphor for Doom, one that described, with a single image, what the Doom brand was all about: a high tech robotic arm, laser cutting a pentagram into an ancient hell stone, scientists in lab coats on their knees chanting inside a state of the art lab, with ritual candles lit all around them. The juxtaposition of high tech and ancient demonic elements gives Doom its identity, and I think you can see some similar juxtapositions in Hellboy as well.”
Paul Semel has been writing about games (as well as music, movies, books, and other fun stuff) for over twenty years. You can find him online on his own site, paulsemel.com, or follow him on Twitter at @paulsemel.
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