Gaming and comics seem to go hand in hand just as cinema does, and even more so, with countless adaptations, follow-ups, re-interpretations of well-known franchises. But do these actually remain faithful to the source material or are they just cash-ins, drawing comic fans to the games and gamers to comics? Let’s find out if Dark Horse Books offers the same level of silly fun in Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon as PopCap’s strategy series achieves.
The volume collects Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon #1-#6 and has 80 pages bound in hardcover.
Simple story with big problems for the characters to deal with
Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon tells the story of young boy Nate Timely who witnesses an invasion of zombies in his neighborhood. Together with adventurous girl Patrice and her inventor uncle Crazy Dave, he tries to defend himself against the brain-munching adversaries and finds help in the unlikeliest of places: the garden.
Lost in gaming translation
How does one go about telling a story of a game in which there isn’t much of a plot other than the premise that armies of zombies have to be kept off one’s lawn with the garden variety? There have been many instances, especially in movies, where a story has been shoehorned into a franchise where storytelling was only an afterthought, an excuse for a simple gameplay structure. Just looking at Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter makes it clear that the original suffers in the process of translation.
Comic violence suitable for all ages
This comic succeeds simply by keeping a very funny attitude of the characters involved with lots of slapstick and wise-cracking, while the violence one usually associates with zombies is kept at a consistently non-bloody level, although there are a few instances in which limbs are severed and heads thrown around. Still, this is very much a kids-friendly presentation which also works for an older audience due to some genuinely funny writing.
Easy on the characterization
The development of the characters might not be that subtle, and it can be argued that they remain a bit flat throughout, but the few one stays with in the book are easy to like. Especially Crazy Dave with his obscure language only his niece understands make for some entertaining lines, while the relationship of Patrice and Nate never reaches the same level of forced camaraderie so many children’s books or movies try to evoke.
Easier on the plot
One shouldn’t expect an elaborate story, either. But as the source material is also more light fun, suspense takes a backseat and, like a Saturday morning animated series, chaotic fighting between various plants and zombies takes over. But this doesn’t mean that reading through the book is boring. The way how each plant is portrayed and has its own personality, how they are convinced to fight against the zombies, and how the zombies and humans interact, is so enjoyable that there’s never a dull moment.
Looking good in a dead neighborhood
Of course, a few things also have to be said about the drawing quality. Both characters and environments might lack the details of a Marvel’s Oz comic, but there’s enough color and variety in the locations to prevent it from getting old. The plants and zombies are especially well-drawn, while the characters also have some funny expressions which always fit the situations. All in all, together with the hardcover quality, the book is vibrant with color and trendy imagery.
A fun visual read through a successful franchise
Dark Horse Books delivers with Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon a comic adaptation which is faithful to the source material, but also accessible to newcomers. It’s often very funny, shows some witty writing and raises a smile on readers’ faces with its colorful drawings. The fast pacing of story and the likeable characters make this a must-have for fans of the series and a recommendable read for gamers who always wondered if it is possible to make an entertaining story out of the franchise and how gaming translates into comic book territory.
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