If you’re a fan of first person shooters, then odds are already invested in the Overwatch franchise. Created by Blizzard Entertainment (the team behind World of Warcraft), this online multiplayer first person shooter has become a favourite with gamers for not only its highly accessible gameplay but also for its great collection of memorable characters. From the duel pistol wielding mountain of charisma that is Tracer to cool as ice sniper Widowmaker, there is something for everyone. With over 30 million players worldwide and showing no signs of slowing down, Dark Horse is now taking a look at the backstories of these characters in the first volume of this new comic anthology.
Originally released as a digital comic series, this collection is the first time these stories have seen print. When you’re making tie-in material (especially a story companion), it’s important that it doesn’t come across as throwaway and that it remains faithful to the original work. With the wide variety of writers and artists participating, Overwatch: Anthology easily achieves this. Each artist brings their own style to the table whilst remaining faithful to the cartoony aesthetic that helped the original game stand out from the grimier and darker first person shooter games that made up the majority of the genre. It’s a particular treat to see established comic artists such as Bengal (Spider-Gwen, All-New Wolverine) and Jeffrey Cruz (Skullkickers, Street Fighter) tackle the Overwatch world along with many talented artists with experience in not just comics but also video games and animation. Many of the writers are long-time members of the Blizzard team including Matt Burns (senior writer for their creative development team) and you can really tell whilst reading that the contributors have a great understanding of the characters helping to maintain the authenticity of the collection.
There is a great variety of stories available that vary from short vignettes to backstories of major characters. Highlights include two brilliant stories focusing on Tracer that couldn’t be more different with the first showing her struggling in the present day to find a Christmas present for her girlfriend and the second showing her early induction into the Overwatch team. There’s also plenty of humour to be found in the collection with a particularly darkly funny chapter focusing on Junkrat and Roadhog’s doomed attempt at going legit which does not end well for their corrupt employer. But the main highlights are the stories that build on character backstory. The two chapters focusing on sniper Ana Amari are particularly good in this regard with the reason for her disappearance revealed whilst also expanding on the character’s wartime experience and how it made her who she is today.
This is a must read collection for Overwatch fans as it is an invaluable look and expansion of both the game world and the fan favourite characters that populate it. Any new fans will also find this a great introduction to the franchise before jumping into the game.
Overwatch: Anthology Volume 1 is published by Dark Horse on 12th October 2017 (£16.99, Hardback, 9781506705408)