I've written before that I don't care much for adaptations. If I love a game, I don't need to see a movie about it. If I like a movie, I don't need to read the graphic novel.
My bias changes, however, when the Right People are involved.
In the case of the Prince of Persia graphic novel I was sent by Disney Press, that Right Person is Jordan Mechner, the man who made the original game and contributed to the magnificence of The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time the arguable apex of the series that is being adapted into a Disney film this spring.
This is Mechner's second Prince of Persia graphic novel, though distantly related, at best, to his first, a poetic pair of interwoven tales published a couple of years ago by First Second.
The problem I have with adaptations and spin-offs is that, often, the best qualities don't translate into a new medium. I enjoy the storytelling in the Bioshock games, for example, and I believe that the game's use of its city as a character could easily translate to film, but the malleable gameplay I so enjoy would be reduced, I fear, to action scenes that would possess little of the ingenuity I utilize in the games. I've been disappointed by too many James Bond games that evoked none of the roguish charm of the movies' hero (movies I'd tolerate less, perhaps, had I read the books?). So spin-offs and such, I don't desire them and don't trust them.
From the Prince of Persia games, I thought I cherished most thoroughly the fluidity of character movement and the challenge of escaping certain death. Neither of these were aspects I expected a graphic novel to adequately re-create. Reading Mechner's enjoyable new book, however, I was reminded of something else I've loved about the games: The humanity of them. Sands of Time, I recall now more clearly, was a game presented as a told story, its hero narrating his own adventure in the past tense. The Prince's story was told with its own charm, containing a spirit of adventure and a flirtation with both danger and and a princess that made me root for each narrow escape — escapes I made possible.
And so this new Prince of Persia graphic novel, which ties into the film by telling the stories of five people from the prince's era all facing possible execution, feels like a fitting complement to the games because of its spirit. The artists who illustrate the five tales and bridging narrative do illustrate some Prince of Persia game-style dashes, wall-runs and leaps over pits of spikes, but the continuity with the games is produced by the attitude of Mechner's tales. The somewhat tall tales all involve our characters' brushes with the prince or those close to him. All involve adventure that is not always honestly told by its teller but nevertheless manages to be about the romance that blooms during danger, angry kings, magic mirrors and, of course an hourglass filled with the Sands of Time.
The new Prince of Persia graphic novel isn't notable because it connects game to movie in any important way, but because it evokes the magical mood of the games, raising hope that Mechner, who is also a writer on the upcoming movie, is capable of bringing the proper Prince of Persia feel to any medium with which he is involved.
The Prince of Persia graphic novel is out now in hardcover and is illustrated by Tom Fowler, David Lopez, Bernard Chang, Tommy Lee Edwards, Cameron Stewart, and Niko Henrichon, with a cover by Todd McFarlane.
There are some other comics of note out this week. But for video game comics, the pickings are slim. Sonic Universe #15, anyone?
Summary from Archie Comics:
"No Love in a Conquering Storm": The epic "Journey to the East" story arc continues! Sonic and Tails must confront Fiona and the Destructix - but whose side are these rogue mercenaries really on? The action heats up in an all-out assault on the Raiju Clan of Lynx Ninja and the return of a character pivotal to Sonic's success!
But if you were to ask me what the best book hitting comics shops this week would be, I would expect — without having even read it — it is this:
That's from Dungeon: Twilight Volume 3, one corner of the wonderful funny (though just bawdy enough that you can't lend it to just any kid) fantasy series about a dungeon full of monsters and the animal-characters who live there, work there, raid there, and escape from there. The Dungeon books, which, sadly, I rarely hear any conversation about, are among the best comics I've read, always among my favorites for the year. The lead creators, Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar, are two of the only comics creators whose work I buy with zero hesitation. The stories are witty and clever, the plots full of surprises and imaginative physical adventure, the lore is both familiar in its Tolkien-esque level of detail but delightful in its fresh twists. Always great. Get it. (Or flip through the rest of the preview if you feel like it.)