Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops III #1

Call of Duty Black Ops III #1 CoverThe hit game franchise comes to comics! A prequel to the highly anticipated game, the Call of Duty: Black Ops III comic book series follows an elite group of soldiers as they wage a secret war across a futuristic, war-torn world transformed by technology. In the bullet-ridden first issue, the team infiltrates Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to take down a double agent . . . but as they close in, they uncover something much more sinister at hand.

I’m a pretty big fan of the Call of Duty video game franchise, and also have fond memories of Larry Hama‘s work on G.I. Joe growing up, so you’d think the two together would be an awesome combination. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and this is one mission that should have been scrubbed.

Today, there’s some fantastic more realistic military comics on the market including recent G.I. Joe from IDW, The Activity from Image, and Splinter Cell comics from Dynamite. A more serious tone, those comics take a more grounded spin depicting special op missions, and the world they exist in. The Call of Duty video game series straddles that grounded reality with over the top visuals and actions. They have a lot in common with the more modern Bond films.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III #1 is interesting in that while it has a familiar vibe, the comic has more in common with the Expendables than the video game it’s based on. Instead of Black Ops that mix finesse, stealth, and brutal accuracy, this first issue is as blunt, loud, and not smooth as they come. It’s a lot like 80s action films, all bravado, shooting, and action… and little else. The video game series’ story and action is more grounded than the comic, and I think that’s my issue. The tone is weirdly different, by a lot.

Marcelo Ferreira‘s art doesn’t help. The cover, by Benjamin Carre, is a style that would fit much better with the style and tone of the video game the comic is based on. The interior has a much more cartoonish take with action sequences that are at times hard to follow what’s going on. It’s possible Hama’s writing wouldn’t have come off as cartoonish as well if a different style was chosen for the art.

I went in expecting a comic much closer to the style and tone of the video game series, and instead found a comic that felt connected in name only. It seems when it comes to getting my fix of a good Call of Duty story, I may have to go and pick up a controller.

Story: Larry Hama Art: Marcelo Ferreira
Story: 5 Art: 6 Overall: 5 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review