Sunday, 13 July 2014

The DOOM comic

"Rip and tear your guts!  You are huge!  That means you have huge guts! Rip and tear!" - Doomguy

I'm tempted to simply provide a link to the scanned in images of this sixteen page comic based on the videogame Doom and leave it at that, as then you won't need me to tell you how mganificent it is.  But that would be cheating,and some of you might (somehow) be immune to it's considerable charms.  So discuss we shall.  It's a comic about a videogame.  And when I am not sitting about eating biscuits and reading comics, I am sitting about eating biscuits and playing videogames. I don't feel guilty about posting a link to the full issue though.  No creator will be losing money because of it, this was a freebie given away at a videogame convention in 1996, then in an anthology boxset collecting all the Doom games up until then that same year.  For the few of you who might lead more productive lives than I do (and eat fewer biscuits), the Doom games belong to a genre called First Person Shooters, where you view the action as if the screen were your eyes.

Still one of gaming's best shotguns!
You collect weapons, in Doom's case as many different ones as you like (screw you Halo and your much copied two gun limit!) and make your way through levels killing everything in sight.  The original Doom released in 1993 wasn't the first FPS, but it was a huge hit and influence on the fledgling genre, which is now one of the most popular gaming genres there is.  It spawned several sequels, and appeared on virtually every gaming system there was, though it's true home was on the PC.  So how to do a narrative comic about game in which your only interaction with anything is either collecting it, opening it or shooting it?

"Huh? Whuzzat? Whuzzat? I like what I see! An important looking door... knock knock. Who's there? Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, ME!"

Alas spine removal is not an option in the series yet...

The answer to that is to have your protagonist be an musclebound lunatic with the soul of a poet who verbalises every thought no matter how ridiculous they sound. The protagonist isn't given a name, so everyone uses the nickname "Doomguy" when talking about the protagonist of the original games.  People have wondered if this comic was meant as a joke or was meant quite seriously.  But look at the credits behind the comic: Michael 'Splatter' Stewart, Steve 'Body Bag' Behling, Tom 'Gallows' Grindberg and Edd 'Dead' Fear. Those are not the credits of men who are expecting to be taken seriously.  I'd love to own a physical copy of this comic, I'd frame it and put it on the wall as the centrepiece of my comic collection.  Alas, eBay prices are ridiculous for it so I'll have to make do with the virtual copy for now.

Doomguy: "Ahhh! Chainsaw! The great communicator!  Allow me to communicate the desire to have your guns.  C'mere boys. I got somethin' to say!"

The chainsaw never gets old.
The games heirarchy of weapons is actually treated quite accurately here and forms the back bone of Doomguy's "quest".  In game you start with a puny pistol, and gradually move up through the weaponry ranks by hunting them down: Pistol, shotgun, railgun, and so on right up to the holy grail of the game, the BFG.  Which is supposed to stand for "Bio-Force Gun" but everyone calls it "The Big Fucking Gun".  There's also the chainsaw if you fancy getting down with the monsters into melee range.  One thing the original Doom game was noted for was it's extreme gore and violence which the comic has accurately caught the spirit of. Sadly this also meant the game came under fire when it was discovered that the perpertrators of the Columbine Massacre were keen players.  Doom is often still cited when "moral guardians" want to talk about the supposed perniciousness of videogame violence, even though there are far more gory and splattery games around now and the bitmap blood n'guts of the original game look incredibly dated and inoffensive now.

Doomguy:"At this particular moment in time I don't believe I have a healthier or more deeply held respect for any object in the universe than this here shotgun."
I'll say it again.  The shotty owns.
Now, in the original game the invasion from the Hell Dimension takes place on a human colony on Mars.  There is no story beyond you taking up arms to kill monsters ranging from the zombiefied remains of your fellow soldiers, right up to cacodemons and barons of hell, which are shown here as huge demonic, horned creatures.  Our protagonist here also starts out using his fists, which if you didn't know the game, you would think was suicidal, but the comic actually reflects the fact you can pick up something called a "Berserker" pack which makes you melee attacks super powerful for a short time.  So apart from changing the setting to Earth, the writers of the comic did their research on the game.

"Stupid! Stupid! Stupid imp!  You're stupid! And you're gonna be stupid and dead!  Dance! Dance bone daddy"
The Berserker powerup can be more trouble than it's worth
My own personal relationship with the Doom franchise started in 1997 when I got my first PC. It came bundled with a disc that had the first nine levels of the first Doom on it, and oh my did I play the hell out of those levels. I love those levels so much I even have the music for the first level in the game set as a ringtone on my phone. Probably my favourite iteration of Doom is the remastered version of Doom 3 which was released on the Xbox 360.  A fantastic update of the original game, and comes with Doom and Doom II as bonus features as well. Bargain.  I place Doom 3 (a "reimagining" of the first Doom) up there with Bulletstorm, Bioshock Infinite and Half Life 2 as examples of the First Person Shooter at it's best.  Although those games are much more story driven than Doom 3, which sticks to the model of the original game as outlined in this comic, which is - collect guns and murderise everything you come across.

Doomgoy: "Now I'm radioactive. That can't be good.Why can't we find a way to safely dispose of radioactive waste and protect the enviroment?  Even if I personally stop this alien invasion. What kind of planet will we be leaving to our children?  And our childrens children and... Oh the humanity!"

Pfft Doomguy is too manly to suffer from radiation poisoning
Now if there was any lingering doubt that this game wasn't made with it's tongue massively rammed in it's cheek, it must be this bit with Doomguy lamenting the evils of radioactivity, while somewhat ignoring the fact that an invasion by hell demons is probably going to screw around with Earth's ecology by a much larger magnitude!

Doomguy: "There! The most beautiful sight any soldier can behold.. the gun.  The big gun.. Death surrounds me. yet in my head I hear something that sounds like angels. Lo. I have found the Holy Grail of firepower!  Mine eyes can but weep as they bear witness to the majesty.. the BFG 9000!"

Yes, the BFG 9000 is the ultimate goal, of both this comic's protagonist and anyone playing the game.  It has barely any ammo, so you want to save it for the really tough monsters, and in a multi-player game it's a guaranteed one hit kill.  My one complaint about the comic would be that it does not accurately portray the sheer, monumental destructive power of the BFG.  Here it looks like a super shotgun blast when actually it fires a huge green blob of molten death that can take out several enemies at once.

Quest complete, the BFG will make short work of what's left
Doomguy: "Victory is mine! yet Earth remains beseiged by creatures unspeakably foul.  It will take a strong man to bring the light of freedom back to this planet.  A strong man with the biggest, baddest gun in the world!  Amen to that."

Damn right *insert manly grunt here*  Anyway, the comic is completely daft but has humour and charm.  The artwork is perfunctory, but more than made up for by the hilarious script.  If it was meant seriously, then that's even better because that would elevate it into high camp.  But either way, this comic is one of the better ones based on a videogame mainly because it sticks so closely to the games formula, the lack of storyline in the game itself forcing a simple but effective structure to the (hahaha) "narrative".  I'll be checking out some more comics based off videogame properties at some point in the future, and really none of them accurately portray the experience of playing the game they are based on as well as this Doom comic.  "Groovy".

They killed everyone you loved and your little dog too.


  1. This isn't the sort of comic I'd normally read, but I'm glad you liked it. I guess because all the violence is against fictional demonic nasties it doesn't count as being dehumanising.

    And at least now I know where you were getting the quotes in your sig from.

  2. Yeah, I tend to prefer my FPS games against zombies, or demons or mutants. I'm not big on shooters that pit you against human soldiers from real wars, I like the extra layer of fantasy!

    Ah, truly it was the sig gift that kept on giving. I feel a tad bereft now I have run out of quotes to use from it. It's probably just as well it was a short comic though, jokes are funnier if they aren't hammered into the ground by being too long.