16-07-23 | Has it really been a week already? Seven days since I’ve ranted about how much I love Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point? Well, as it turns out Batman wasn’t the only superhero to fight for his life on Fortnite Island. A year after his stirring adventure it was Marvel’s turn to invade the world of Fortnite. And rather than rely on a single landmark character, the fine folks at Marvel decided the unload a whole stable of heroes to take on the Imagined Order.
Having been greatly impressed with what writer Christos Gage and his team of illustrators were able to achieve within the comic book pages of Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point, I was well and truly hyped to delve into Marvel’s take on the Fortnite universe. Especially since two of its finest characters, Spider-Man and Wolverine, would take on central roles. The minute my hardcover copy of Fortnite X Marvel: Zero War arrived in the mail, I jumped onto the couch and was transported to another world. And you know what. It wasn’t pretty …
MARVEL HEROES VS THE IMAGINED ORDER
Allow me to recap the premise of Fortnite once more. This record breaking videogame places you on an island along with one hundred other gamers. Your job is to defeat the other players in order to become the last man standing. One is not required to follow the ongoing story, which serves more as window dressing than anything else. For those who do care to follow it, the storytelling is quite clever. Take the Imagined Order for instance, an organization responsible for plucking characters out of different realms and realities and pitting them against each other.
It is this villainous organisation that plays a key role in Fortnite X Marvel: Zero War. It all begins with Spider-Man being transported to Fortnite Island and befriending Jones, Imagined and other members of the Foundation. When Spidey discovers what is at stake – the Foundation has to stop the Imagined Order, before they destroy the multiverse – he recruits the Avengers to help defeat the Imagined Order, before it is too late.
One element that might change the course of the Zero War is a shard from the Zero Point, which just happens to reside somewhere within the Marvel universe. So while Iron Man and the Avengers wage war against the Imagined Order, Spider-Man recruits Wolverine to help him find the Zero Shard. Spider-Man, Wolverine, Imagined and Jones are aided by Shuri, Princess of Wakanda. But there is trouble afoot. The Imagined Order has also recruited an agent to help them find the elusive Zero Shard. None other than the sinister Doctor Doom.
CAMPING IN WAKANDA
Speaking to IGN.com on his working relationship with co-writer Donald Mustard, Christos Gage stated: ‘We both love comics, we both love the Fortnite lore, and we both want to deliver something awesome for fans of both the comics and the game. Hopefully that showed last time, and will show again this time.’ It breaks my heart to say this, but it really doesn’t show. Fortnite x Marvel is an overpopulated story with an emphasis on action and continuity, the very opposite approach taken by Gage in his earlier effort, Batman/Fortnite. Every issue is packed with well known superheroes waging epic battles, so much so that they overshadow story and character development.
Going into Fortnite x Marvel, I was well aware that my love for the Batman crossover (honestly one of the finest DC Comics I’ve ever read) might affect my enjoyment of this Marvel yarn. Were my expectations too high? Reading it a second time reaffirmed my initial the feelings. There is too much going on in Fortnite x Marvel and very little of it has weight. People speak of consequences and impending doom, but I never feel there is anything truly at stake. To me, Zero War was a bunch of cartoon characters running around shooting at each other, which did not capture the spirit of either the Marvel universe or the Fortnite gameplay. A huge disappointment, I’m sorry to say.
Mind you, the comic offers its share of magical moments! Instances where one can see the potential Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War has. While camping in Wakanda, our heroes are granted a rare breather from all the fighting and mayhem. While Jones and Spider-Man swap stories around the campfire, Wolverine and Imagined discover that they have more in common than they realized. For a few pages a romance is allowed to blossom, which offers the two of them a brief and deserved moment of intimacy. It’s a beautiful sequence, which pays off during the final stages of story when Imagined’s life is at stake.
LESS MARVEL IS MORE MARVEL
Not to badger on about Batman, but it was moments like these that made Zero War’s predecessor so special. Batman’s relationship with Catwoman drove the story forward. The relentless fighting was a key part of their story but not its raison d’être. Reading Zero War, I can see what Gage was trying to accomplish: plunge the Avengers into a maelstrom of spectacular violence on Fortnite Island, while Spider-Man and Wolverine have a more intimate adventure within the Marvel universe. Such a clever premise, but one that ultimately doesn’t work.
Marvel editor Alanna Smith feels that ‘at its heart, this series is an adventure story, with characters from both universes coming together to go on a treasure hunt into the deepest, darkest depths of the Marvel Universe.’ Personally, I would have preferred a little less Marvel and a bit more adventure. Ultimately Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War tries too hard to please everyone. Less is more, Marvel! Focussing on Spider-Man and Wolverine’s journey to Wakanda would have worked so much better.
I’ll tell you one thing though: the codes included with my hardcover edition have certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the game! Running around as Spider-Man or Iron-Man, both wearing unique Fortnite armour, is quite awesome. A thrill I never tire of. Which brings the comic book saga of Fortnite graphic novels to an end. I find it difficult to recommend Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War, an overblown and overpopulated book with loads of untapped potential. Buy Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point instead. It truly shows you what comics are capable of. Maybe Christos Gage should have another go at a Fortnite crossover? Just to show he’s still got it! Who’s up for … Spawn meets Fortnite?