Last year, Epic Games and DC took comic stores by storm with Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point, a crossover that was sought after as much for the cosmetic codes in each issue as for the series itself. This summer, Epic has recruited Marvel Comics to catch that lightning in a jar again, and their joint venture appears to be off to a solid start.
In the first of five parts, Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War sets the table for fans of either property who may not know the other’s deal, while also laying down the story’s foundation (no pun intended) and justifying the crossover’s existence. Having been on The Island for some unspecified reason, Spider-Man returns to Earth to recruit its Mightiest Heroes, creating a convenient narrative excuse to get readers of all stripes up to speed with a flashback of sorts.
“In the first of five parts, Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War sets the table for fans of either property who may not know the other’s deal, while also laying down the story’s foundation (no pun intended) and justifying the crossover’s existence.”
Wisely, writers Donald Mustard of Epic Games and Christos Gage have chosen to set Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War apart from the current continuity of Marvel Comics for continuity’s sake. While the Avengers’ roster is the same as in their current comics run, the events are unmoored, so readers won’t need to hunt down forty other issues for homework. On the Fortnite side, the situation seems to reflect the recent state of affairs in the game, specifically around the end of Chapter Three Season Two, which ended last weekend.
As someone who only recently dove into Fortnite with Chapter Three, any allusions to previous in-game events were sufficiently explained away with editor’s notes, making those story beats easy to catch up on. It was actually charming to see the game’s characters interacting in a different medium, and I learned some backstory behind mechanics that the actual game doesn’t really impart.
By the same token, as a longtime Marvel fan, the representations of the characters in Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War #1 are pretty classic. Clever dialogue conveys all the background new readers might need to know, while also making a couple in-jokes for the veterans, like Wolverine asking if Spider-Man “found [himself] a black costume again” while away from Earth. Younger readers who may only be familiar with movie or cartoon adaptations may begin to appreciate these iconic superheroes in a deeper way.
Similar allusions are present in the art as well, like a panel recreating Spider-Man’s debut on the cover of Amazing Fantasy #1 (with Jonesy in tow). Sergio Davila’s art (with ink by Sean Parsons and colouring by Edgar Delgado) does a great job of capturing the essence of both universes and excels in the action sequences.
By the issue’s end the stakes are set, two teams of heroes head out in opposite directions, and a sinister new threat is revealed to the reader. There’s enough groundwork laid in one issue to make the initiative seem like more than shameless cross-promotion—even if the story’s plot itself doesn’t break much new ground, and there are four other issues left for the series to get complacent.
“If your child wants to pick up this series just for these codes, at least you can rest assured that the comic it’s packaged in is decent.”
Of course, a good chunk of the people buying Fortnite x Marvel: Zero War will be in it for the cosmetic code. For issue #1, first-print copies include a code redeemable for a spiffy, futuristic Spider-Man Zero skin. This will be a timed exclusive and will later appear in the Item Shop alongside the Iron Man-inspired wrap and Wolverine pickaxe in the next two issues. (Issues four and five will have comic-exclusive codes; those who redeem all these items will be able to get another exclusive outfit, and they’ll all be included in the trade paperback collection later this year.)
If your child wants to pick up this series just for these codes, at least you can rest assured that the comic it’s packaged in is decent. It aims right down the plate and knows its audiences well—readable for the game’s younger players, with enough Easter eggs and writing that should earn at least a few smirks from the older crowd.