Paul Tobin, Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon (Dark Horse, 2013)
Full disclosure: I received an electronic ARC of this book via Netgalley.
I am a huge, huge fan of all things Plants vs. Zombies (though giantbomb’s First Look feature on PvZ2 leads me to believe that may not be the case for too much longer). I’ve played through adventure mode and gotten to gold-trophy status at least a half-dozen times, and when I have a spare moment, I’m as likely to play Vasebreaker Endless as do anything else. Going by number of hours expended, PvZ is easily in my top ten games of all time. So when Dark Horse announced there was going to be a comic book, I immediately sat up and took notice. If PopCap was involved, thought I, they’ll make sure the quality control is up to snuff. Rarely have I been more disappointed to be wrong.
Plot: hapless kinda-sorta-hero hooks up with Crazy Dave’s resourceful niece when the zombie apocalypse hits.
Yes, that’s it. It seems to me that when you’re doing a licensed project like this, you can go one of two ways and be successful with it. You can be slavishly faithful to the product you’re licensing, or you can use some characters or some set decoration and strike off almost entirely on your own. In the film world, Watchmen would be a good example of the former (even if I’m the only person on the planet who actually liked that movie), while Psycho or The Wicker Man would be a good example of the latter. Unfortunately, as is the case with Lawnmageddon, too many people try to take a middle ground: coming up with a different plotline, but shoe-horning in as many references to the original as possible. Lawnmageddon may be more guilty of this than anything I’ve read in a very long time, and most of those references come off as gratuitous at best and shameless attempts to cater to the nitpickers at worst. A comic is a different medium than a game—use the strengths of the new medium to do things that a game can’t do. (Character development called. It wants its comic book back.) Lawnmageddon is not a Watchmen, and it’s certainly not a Wicker Man. You want a licensed film to compare it to? Try Alone in the Dark. *