It’s time for another one of Cousin Jessi’s SPOOKY video game reviews! Ok, so this one is not SPOOKY nor is it a video game, but that’s ok! I’m over 1000 years old I need to change things up once in awhile! It is, however, related to a video game if that makes you all feel better.
As you all know, a couple days ago I previewed the PC MMO shooter Hawken by Meteor Entertainment and Adhesive Games. Well Archaia Comics has teamed up with the developers and several artists and writers to create a graphic novel that ties into the PC game called Hawken: Genesis. It’s a sort of prequel to the game that explains the story behind the planet Illal and the people that contributed to the horrible desolate state of planet.
Illal is a planet many light years away from Earth that was “purchased” by several multi-planetary corporations (known as MPC’s) in an effort to create a perfect society free of crime; paradise if you will. Though there are 9 in all, the “big 3” MPC’s of Illal are Sentium, Prosk, and Crion in that order. Sentium is the biggest leader because they have discovered a new ore called Cavorite that drastically improves their mechs abilities, plus it’s useful for other factory elements. Hawken: Genesis mainly focuses on Prosk however, and what happens when they also discover this unique yet rare ore.
Hawken: Genesis starts out with a short 4 page intro the shows us the current state of Illal and reminds us that “it wasn’t always like this.” It then dives right into “how it all began.” We are right away introduced to Rion Laslow and Dr. James Hawken (who the novel is named after.) Laslow works for Prosk and is good friends with Hawken, who is a scientist for Sentium at the beginning on the story. Laslow sees how stifled Hawken is at Sentium and convinces him to join Prosk so that he can really flourish as a scientist. Hawken can also greatly improve Laslow’s status with Prosk once they find out what a great asset Hawken is, but I’m sure that was second on his mind. Eventually, Prosk gets ahold of Cavorite and uses Hawken’s incredible scientific knowhow to find new ways of using the ore to improve their mechs and even create new worker mechs. These new mechs make Prosk zoom up in the competition which, of course, causes Laslow to zoom up in ranks and eventually become CEO of Prosk. All seems to be going well until ego’s start to fly, terrible secrets start coming out, and worse yet, Cavorite supplies start to deplete with no known way to refill it.
Since Hawken: Genesis is mainly shown through the characters of Prosk, it can seem pretty one-sided. To break up this one-sidedness, the novel throws in some intermittent supplements that show us a different view of what is going on in Illal. These supplements come in the form of news articles, emails, private online conversations, and even classified documents sent by an “unknown” source. Most of these supplements come to us from Marion Cartwright, a journalist that use to write for the Prosk newspaper but quit after they refused to let her publish “the truth.” She now writes for an underground newsletter and is great about telling us what is going on behind the scenes. These supplements are not only informative but they make you feel like you are a real citizen of Illal that is receiving “secret inside” information.
Having said that, the one downside is that some of these supplements can be a bit text heavy; especially the ones in the beginning of the novel. This might cause some readers (myself included) to skim over or skip them altogether because it is too much to read, plus they don’t seem very important. This could be a problem because the supplements are actually part of the story and give you some needed background. Fortunately, they do get easier to read and more interesting as the story goes on. You also start to see the importance of them as they become more frequent.
One of the most unique things about Hawken: Genesis is the artwork. Each new chapter actually has a different artist illustrating it. The novel starts out with a very loose and almost sloppy art style that makes each frame look different. As the chapters go on, the art work becomes more smooth and detailed until the end when the art work becomes the most sharp and refined. This changing style brilliantly shows the progression of the story and how different the world of Illal becomes each progression. You can even say the art is working in reverse since the style starts out a bit disoriented and refines as the story goes on, yet the society of Illal does the opposite.
There is some great character development in Hawken: Genesis as well. You see Rion Laslow go from an aspiring “yes man” to a powerful and intelligent CEO. Laslow really matures and grows as a person as he gains more power, and he eventually starts to see what is happening because of his greed. There are also some changes in store for Hawkin as well; some good and some very bad.
If you find that you can’t keep up with all the techie words and all the new concepts, don’t worry your not alone! In fact, the writers figured it would be hard to keep up with all the new terminology and included a glossary in the back of the novel. Of course I didn’t know this was there till after I finished the novel so it didn’t do me any good, but at least you guys will know about it now. The “text heavy” supplements I mentioned early are also helpful for understanding a little more about the way Illal works. There are also a few characters in the story that are introduced, yet I felt needed more explanation. For instance, in the beginning of the novel Laslow worked with a man named Finnick (who is a rather important character btw) and then later when Laslow is promoted, Finnick is suddenly working under him. The novel gives no explanation as to why this is. I felt there should have at least been a page or two that shows how upset or bitter Finnick is that he is now under Laslow. I mean I would be upset if my subordinates were suddenly my superiors, you know how annoying scarabs can be when they get even the tiniest bit of power?
Overall, I found the graphic novel Hawken: Genesis to be very engaging and very entertaining. I love the use of supplements, even though some of them were too wordy, and liked the range of art work in the novel as well. This is a great novel to read before you play the PC game Hawken because it explains in detail how the war you are now fighting started, and even a bit more about the mechs you are using. It’s a bit confusing at times with all the new terminology and the fact some characters aren’t really fleshed out, but I still liked it. I give Hawken: Genesis 4 out of 5 ankhs!
If you are interested in buying Hawken: Genesis you can purchase it for $19.95 at Archaia.com or anywhere comics and graphic novels are sold. This is one novel I won’t be tearing up for extra wrapping!