Now, I like comic book adaptations. But this may be too much for me! Electronic Arts is making a massive video game based on The Inferno, by Dante Alighieri, and DC Comics is running a tie-in comic book.
As you possibly can gather by looking at the thumbnails, our hero is no longer the Italian poet from the 13th century that Bob Dylan sings about. No no, to get in the requisite opportunities for combat and swordplay poor Dante has been adjusted to be a crusader, back from the Holy Land and out to rescue his girlfriend Beatrice from Hell.
I can’t speak about the game, which in any case is not yet out, but a sample of the comic book can be viewed here. I am guessing that they didn’t give the comic book artist a lot to work with in terms of images from the game. This has forced a dreamy and vague style, annoyingly ‘timeless’. Do any of these people look like they are Italian? Medieval? Not at all. And smart crusaders don’t go shirtless!
Unsatisfactory. You will not find a writer in the world who isn’t crazy about specifics. We are demons for detail. (Yes, it’s an orange — Valencia, navel, or blood? He drives a Ford Fairlane, but what year, and are there custom pinstripes?) My fellow bloggers here at BVC don’t even have to debate this, because it’s in our bone marrow; we happily tell each other and you about the different varieties of horse nets or crochet hooks, forever. My idea of a good comic book adaptation might be Age of Bronze, reviewed several weeks ago here, where we got more detail, more history, more real stuff.
It is of course not really fair to ding a comic adaptation of a video game. (We are informed that Dante scholars are actually looking forward to it; what brave people they must be.) I am sure that neither scripter nor artist got a lot of elbow room; the gaming people have obviously kept control. And the gamers’ main interest is neither story nor character — it’s convincing combat, unusual weapons, cool monsters, and eerie landscape. The game’s web site lavishly showcases all these things.
Some day there will be a good comic book about Dante, one in which he is recognizable. This isn’t it.