Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I’ve got to give it up for Prototype, the 2009 video game and accompanying Wildstorm comics. Why?

Well I kind of like to think of Alex Mercer and the entire Prototype saga as the latest incarnation of the continuing fusion between eastern and western science fiction and fantasy. These two types of storytelling have been borrowing and playing off of each other for years now, in comics and games- culminating in eventual downright fusion of styles and ideas.

Whether you’re watching the clearly Batman-inspired giant mecha anime Big O or reading Marvel’s newest line of manga-styled versions of their characters this is just, happening.

What’s the difference, east and west? Well like everything, it doesn’t boil down to a simple answer. I mean, there’s tons of variety within both camps and plenty of overlap. So I don’t mean to generalize to a fault or anything. In general, however, I’d take a pass at it this way: most Western heroes are very knowable. Like you’re kind of right with them, every step of the way.

Most Eastern heroes are mysterious. At least at first. And it’s sort of like the culmination OF the story is to know them. It’s sort of like the stories are arranged so that slowly-slowly-you begin to understand the protagonists motivations, feelings and experiences. So you almost feel like you’ve become the hero when the story culminates in its finale.

Like I said, I’ve got to give Prototype credit where credit's due. While it feels like an eastern style superhero conspiracy comic book- reminiscent of Incredible Hulk and even television shows like the X-Files- the slow and disturbing nature of its protagonists’ revelations regarding his alien and bizarre abilities are like something out of the Guyver or Akira. Prototype somehow feels like a superhero comic put into video game form but cranked up with crazy over the top anime-horror style action.

If there’s anything I’d criticize the game for, it’d be for failing to do what the small, mostly unnoticed comic mini-series DOES: slow down a little and give us time to take it all in. There’s a good story in there, for Prototype, but the game moves so fast you might miss it. The comic plays up the intrigue that really makes Alex Mercer’s tale freakin’ scary. Biological warfare, military conspiracies, and sentient viruses/ monsters really make the cautionary tale of Alex Mercer disturbing and memorable.

I mean I know developers usually hate it when you describe things AS other things, but if the creative team behind Parasite Eve and the writing staff of Wolverine got together and had a child? It’d be this game/brief series. Really cool sort of blending of styles here, I think.