IG Book Club: Driver Comic Book Released Yesterday is Okay
Yesterday, DC Comics released its one-shot comic book adaptation of the upcoming Driver: San Francisco title that’s scheduled for release on September 6 in the US. And because I write for a video game website, I bought it and read it. The verdict? It is an OKAY comic book.
Now, a few things I should mention up front. I think the last time I played a Driver game, it was a demo for the PS1. Not being particularly good at driving games in general, the series kind of fell of my radar. But I understand the appeal of playing a bad-ass car driver who is both out to get the bad guys AND is on the run from the law, and the comic adaptation, written by David Lapham, writer of the Stray Bullets comic series, does a good job of communicating that overall concept in the book. Right from the start, we get a concise telling of the Tanner’s backstory, who is the game’s protagonist, as well as a pretty dicey moral quandary he’s found himself in.
Confronted with a betrayer of the gang he’s been infiltrating as an undercover cop, Tanner’s been ordered to murder the turncoat, much like Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins is ordered to kill that farmer-guy. So what will Tanner do? Will he kill the guy in order to get at Jericho, the game’s major bad guy? Or will he blow his cover and do “the right thing”? The rest of the comic gives us an answer to this conflict, while also backtracking to depict us the dramatic, action-filled events leading up to this moment.
But therein lies the main problem with this comic: the action is not terribly action-like. The art, by Greg Scott, isn’t bad at all, but it’s not quite right for conveying the action and excitement that should happen with car-chases. He’s got a gritty, dirty feel to his art, and while it helps with the noir-type themes of a book about undercover cops and criminals, Driver is about driving. And when your car chases aren’t the visual, action-packed centerpiece of your visually-based storytelling medium (AKA a comic book), there’s a missed opportunity there.
I suspect it’s not entirely Scott’s fault, as it’s probably tough to have enough space for two action-packed car chases in a 22-page comic book, and you have to do the best with your format constraints. But on that note, maybe they shouldn’t have bothered with making the comic at all if they couldn’t do it justice.
Still, for three bucks, you could do a lot worse than this comic. It’s competently written, and it does give a nice glimpse into the Driver-verse. Fans of the series, go for it. Otherwise…meh.