I was in a “catch up on a bunch of comics I’ve missed” mood over the weekend, so I set aside time for some reading. One of the books I picked up, Corey Lewis’ Sun Bakery, had a very nice surprise inside.
I’d grabbed it because it promised a Shonen Jump-style run of highlighting a few cool short comics, and also because the cover was great. And hey, three of the four stories were pretty good! But the first one, Arem, is why we’re here. It’s a Metroid tribute that sticks so close to Nintendo’s designs that it’s practically illustrated fan fiction, and I love it.
In Arem, our hero who is definitely not Samus Aran is off on an adventure, alone, on an alien planet. Only instead of turning up to shoot a bunch of monsters, she’s there to...take photos. Here’s how Lewis described the character to Comics Alliance a few months back:
Arem is a seperate character from Samus. Technically my own character, despite her being based from the game Metroid. I like to think of Arem the comic as like a “cover song” or a remix…. Or even a hip hop-style song made up of pre-established samples. You know how bands do that, and it’s totally cool and legit? I feel like comics do that, too.
So when it came to further drawing from, but differentiating from Samus, I thought the idea of her being more of a space documentarian instead of a warrior would be cool. There are elements of that in the Metroid game series, too.
When it came to how she would document stuff, integrating modern day social media like Instagram into the mix was a natural fit for the story and the character.
That’s about the gist of it. Arem is Samus, only instead of scanning things for weaknesses, she’s scanning them for science. And also fighting things along the way that interrupt her science.
It’s an interesting little diversion for the character, but my favourite parts of Arem are the little glimpses we get at her just being alone. One of the things we rarely see in video games—and this is what made Uncharted 4 so good—is our stars hanging out and experiencing some downtime. We see them run and jump and shoot all the time, but what about when they’re not doing that?
In Arem’s case, we see that she spends her non-shooting time checking social media, working out and eating pizza. Normal things that normal people do. It’s a cornerstone of good character development, letting us relate to heroes as people (they do the stuff we do!), and if Nintendo aren’t going to give us new Metroid stories to fill the cultural vacuum then I’m fine with Lewis doing their job for them and pretending this is canon.
The first two issues of Sun Bakery are out now, with the next four due before August.