Monday, December 29, 2014

Hawken: Genesis

Written by Dan Jevons, Miles Williams, Khang Le, and Jeremy Barlow
Art by Fracisco Ruiz Velasco, Alex Sanchez, Kody Chamberlain, Sid Kotian, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bagus Hutomo, Michael Gaydos, Federico Dallocchio, Nathan Fox, and Christopher Moeller

I picked up two issues of Archaia's Hawken: Melee mini-series, because they featured work by Jim Mahfood and Nathan Fox, both of whom are on my buy-on-site list.  I was impressed with the depth of the Hawken world, and its celebration of war-suit pilots on a level we reserve for athletes, pop singers, and actors.

I don't play video games, and have no knowledge of Hawken outside of those two comics, but Hawken: Genesis caught my eye because of the lovely design work by Archaia, and because of the list of artists associated with the project.  It explains why the planet of Illal, a resource-rich colony planet controlled by various corporations, has become a blasted war zone, infected by a nano-virus that is taking over the surface.

The writers of this book focus the story around two men, Rion Lazlo, a ruthless corporate spy with unbridled ambition, and James Hawken, a brilliant scientist responsible for the best and worst advancements on the planet.  When the book opens, Hawkens is toiling away in obscurity for Sentium, one of the two big corporations that run everything on the planet.  Lazlo has defected to Prosk, Sentium's rival, and he manages to bring his friend over.

Eventually, Hawken develops the technology that allows for lightweight and fast mech devices, which are of course, immediately put into warfare.  As relations between the two corporations worsen, and as resource scarcity makes war more profitable, things just keep getting worse on Illal, although the depth of the problems take a while to be revealed.

This book follows these two characters over a few decades, setting up what I assume is the environment and rationale for the game to exist in.  The writers do a good job of covering the human and business reasons, and make good use of text pages to fill in some backstory.

The big draw to this book is the art, which is provided by comics artists as well as game design types.  Each chapter and interlude has been drawn or painted by somebody different, although there is decent visual stability throughout the book.  This was an impressive project, and I hope it's something that Archaia revisits.

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