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I didn’t get to experience much of the eighties, and I don’t really remember them at all, but my parents were perpetually behind on the times…particularly when it came to video games. I got an Atari when I was eight (1993) and a Nintendo (or what today’s youth would call Vintage NES) a few Christmases later. And I loved going to my dad’s house to play his Berzerk arcade console and watch Tron on BETA.
What I’m saying is, I may not be a true 80s baby, but I really love 80s video game culture, guys.
So, the premise for Ready Player One pulled me in like nobody’s business, and once I got into the story, I didn’t particularly care any more. The story was compelling. Wade was fun. His friends were awesome. And the future sucked.
This was going to be great.
And it was.
So, if you enjoyed the hell out of Ready Player One like I did, I have some comics that you might enjoy. Instead of a bunch of readalikes, though, here are a few comics that highlight some key elements of the story.
Even outside of The Game, Ready Player One is all about The Quest. There are those who say that any comic featuring the life of a superhero is about a quest, but we can’t always say that hero’s story is The Quest. If you want to go on a serious Quest* with a serious being (who was accidentally possessed by the literal iteration of a Hell’s Angel), go on a Quest with Jesse Custer in Preacher.
The world of The Surrogates reads pretty similar to Ernest Cline’s creation. The population doesn’t have to go anywhere to get anything done thanks to an immense virtual creation. But it’s not video games and eighties culture we first discover upon entering the world. This time, it’s darkness, and maybe murder. If you can call it that.
Too Much Time With Video Games
Wade Watts has spent most of his life immersed in the 1980s. This includes movies and music, yes, but what really conveys itself in Ready Player One is the video games. The whole central concept itself is basically one giant video game. In Level Up, Dennis Ouyang loves video games. To the detriment of….well, everything else. Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham have given us a quick and funky story of a man going through the process of finding himself. There are also angels. That might or might not exist.
Take Down The Man
Ready Player One is thematically focused around The Quest and the ability to cram as many eighties references as possible into each page, but in the second half, we start to see a darker turn. And when that happens, there’s an underlying idea of not just winning the game, but winning it to take down The Man. You know who else takes on The Man? Princess Adrienne in Princeless. Not only is there the literal “taking-on” of the actual man, the King, her father, in regards to the bullshit concept that princesses need to be locked in towers; she also spends her entire young adult life questioning the Man-developed dogma of the feudal world, down to and including women’s armor.
Thematically, there are a surprising few number of comics truly similar to Ready Player One. But there are more than I could possibly name that would work for someone who enjoyed it. There are so many aspects to the universe that smaller elements make one story worthwhile.
Now if only someone could create that readers’ companion I’ve been threatening to make so I don’t have to do it myself.
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