Vagrant Story: The Graphic Comic Novel Book

Comics based on video games are usually awful for two reasons. Most games have lousy stories to start with, and their comic versions often show artistic standards that even Rob Liefeld would find wanting. Yasumi Matsuno’s games fix the first problem: from Tactics Ogre through Final Fantasy XII, they’re on the relatively short list of game storylines that could become books or movies without completely humiliating themselves.

They could, but they don't. The comics based on Matsuno’s games are still terrible, but that's more the fault of the adaptations. Over in Japan, there’s a bland Tactics Ogre manga and an awful two-volume Final Fantasy XII project, both made with no attempt to enrich the source material. In America, we have only a Vagrant Story comic that’s barely a comic at all.

Vagrant Story is already part comic, anyway. Matsuno’s game is a PlayStation dungeon-crawler, heavy on customization and the darkly political tone that guides most of his stories. The characters are realistically proportioned (in artist Akihiko Yoshida’s strange bondage outfits), and their dialogue’s all told through unvoiced word balloons. So it feels like a comic book, albeit one where medieval-fantasy cult leaders and scheming pontiffs chatter on about sellswords and faerie tales. At the very least, a Vagrant Story comic would attract those who hastily extolled the game as true art upon its release.

Eruptor Entertainment’s Vagrant Story comic is really just a preview issue, given away at E3 in 2000, but its cover promises all sorts of camp wonder. Are main characters Ashley Riot and Callo Merlose now 1990s-style comic heroes? Will they be preposterously built vigilantes with violent, mysterious pasts? Will they pose uncomfortably while hiding their feet or hands or whatever body part the artist can’t draw? Will they scream miles of expository dialogue in mid-air as they leap at enemies? Will they say things like “Kill THIS, ya bastards!” before pulling out handguns large enough to launch short-range aircraft?