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09-07-23 | I blame covid. Considering my obsession with movies and comics, I’m surprised that I’ve never been bitten by the videogame bug. Like most people of my generation, I’ve played a fair amount of games, but I honestly wouldn’t shed a tear if I was forbidden to play them henceforth. Except maybe Fortnite. During the early days of the pandemic me and my best friends would log on and decent upon Fortnite Island every week for loads of laughs and unforgettable mayhem.

I’ve stuck with the habit and find that the relentless killing and oddball humour gives me great relaxation. So imagine my joy when I discovered that DC Comics and Marvel have teamed up with the fine people at Epic Games to create two spectacular crossovers, in which my favourite heroes enter my favourite game! I’ll be examining these beautiful hardcover volumes over the following weeks, but not before I’ve informed the uninitiated.

For those of you who don’t know, the premise of Fortnite is deceptively simple. One hundred live players parachute towards a vast uninhabited island where they have to find weapons and supplies. A deadly storm envelops the island, shrinking the playing field every few minutes. The last player standing wins the game. And don’t forget to thank the bus driver.

The first of the two crossovers is Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point, released in 2021. The story begins with a huge mysterious portal opening over Gotham City. When Harley Quinn uses it to enter another realm, Batman has no choice but to go after her. Soon after he finds himself on an island unable to speak, with no memory of who he is. All he knows is everyone on the island is trying to kill him, before the island is engulfed in the deadly storm.

The Dark Knight discovers that the island, along with the fallen warriors, is reset after every battle. And that he is able to leave clues for himself to discover after his memory has been wiped. While waging battle after battle, the brainwashed Batman pieces together the puzzle that lies before him. But that’s not all … while fighting for his life he discovers a fierce woman dressed as a cat. Instinctively, the Bat and the Cat feel that they have a shared history and team up to solve the mystery of Fortnite Island.

And folks, it’s one of the finest Batman tales I have ever read. Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point is a stirring story that never lets its guard down. A page turner in every sense, that stands up after repeated readings. Batman/Fortnite achieves this not by being a spectacular series of battles (which it is), but by focussing on the relationship between Batman and Catwoman. Thrust into a bizarre and deadly situation every 20 minutes, the strangers gain each other’s trust again and again.

The amnesia also greatly aids readers unfamiliar with either Fortnite, Batman or both. We discover the island along with them. And it’s quite a ride. After several battles, Harley Quinn resurfaces. And eventually Batman and Catwoman manage to break out of the loop. There they regain there ability to speak, but find themselves unable to recall past lives. Along with a troupe of Fortnite regulars, they decide to take on the dark entity that brought them there. It’s all so simple. So beautifully executed. Don’t be put off by the videogame connection – I cannot recommend Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point highly enough! It’s right up there with the Caped Crusader’s finest yarns!

Writer Christos Gage should be proud of his achievement. As should artists Reilly Brown, Christian Duce, Nelson Far DeCastro and John Kalisz. Speaking to Dark Knight News, Christos Gage noted that ‘when you think about the number of people that play Fortnite, which is in the millions, then this is unlike other tie-ins that have come before, in that you get a skin or accessory for the game from the comic, but also we’re revealing secrets about the lore of the game that have never been revealed before and are gonna be part of the canon.’

Reilly Brown added that ‘a lot of time when people work on comic books they talk about playing with the toys in the toy box, but this literally felt like that.’ One of the defining traits of Fortnite is the many colourful character skins players can choose from. Being one of those cads who plays the game for free and never pays for skins or accessories, I was very pleased to find that my hardcover included codes which unlocked two special skins. I now frequently run around Fortnite Island dressed as Batman or Harley Quinn, which is pure bliss.

Dispatching a fellow player in full Batman regalia is intensely satisfying, especially if you follow it up by doing the Ghostbusters dance. Batman’s parachute, a tattered set of batwings, is also a beautifully designed item. Which, incidentally, mixes surprisingly well with other characters. Zero Point was followed by a one-shot called Batman/Fortnite: Foundation. I’ve glossed over it and it looks fun, despite not having the emotional weight of Zero Point.

Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point is comics at it’s finest. The story and characters are accessible. The writing is crisp and never cliched. The tale does justice to Batman and Fortnite, without excluding the uninitiated. And the art work is bursting with emotion, especially in the early scenes when the Bat and the Cat are forced to rely on their body language. It’s all done with such style. As mentioned before: page turner is the operative word here. Take my word for it, if you haven’t read it you’re missing out. Get Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point and experience it for yourself.

Will Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War live up to the high standard set by DC Comics? Find out next week, when I examine it right here at Peter Pan Comics.