Riot Games, the developer behindLeague of Legends, is partnering with Marvel Entertainment to bringLeaguelore to comics. It’s a rare crossover for the nine-year-old multiplayer strategy game, the storytelling for which has mainly been kept to its website. The two companies are bringing a new graphic novel calledLeague of Legends: Ashe: Warmotherthat’s set to come out next May.
So far, Riot has limited its comic book ambitions to panels published on its site, which are timed to certain champion updates or cosmetic skin releases. Notably, a comic featuring Miss Fortune, a deadly pirate bounty hunter and captain of her own ship who seeks revenge on the men who betrayed her, was released last September. The comics have usually been story-intensive, drawing on well-thought-out lore that has been years in the making. They often also reimagine theLeaguechampions with more sympathetic storylines than the usual splash art and in-game catchphrases can really capture.
Riot’s head of creative development Greg Street tellsThe Vergethat those comics were either standalone issues for specific champions in the game or tests for new formats and art styles. “Those were really helpful in figuring out the direction we are now committing to for our series with Marvel,” he explains.
The collaboration is a rare opportunity for Riot to showcase its years of lore that has often appeared as an afterthought in the game. It’s not apparent which champions are siblings, ex-lovers, or whether one has murdered another in lore, for instance, until you really get familiar with the game. “We think comics are a great way to tell stories because they combine narrative text with artwork,” Street says. “We can show what a village in the frozen north of Freljord or what a ship looks like in a tropical port of Bilgewater.”
Ashe: Warmothertakes place in the icy region of Freljord and brings to light the origin story of Ashe, one ofLeague’s original 40 champions. She often serves as a mascot for the game. As a warrior, Ashe sets out on a dangerous quest and needs to work as a young leader to save her people. The story is written by Riot’s senior narrative designer and writer Odin Austin Shafer, who has worked on comic scripts and champion creation before. The art is created by Nina Vakueva who’s best known for working on the 2017 series “Heavy Vinyl.”
“We see similarities between the League of Legends Universe and the Marvel Universe as both of them feature an array of characters with compelling and diverse backgrounds,” Street said in a press release. In an interview withThe Verge, he says that, ultimately, there are three kinds of stories Riot wants to tell: more detailed origin stories; stories that advance the narrative beyond characters’ origins; and alternate universes ofLeague, like K/DA, where four deadly assassins are re-envisioned as pop stars.
As much as Marvel and Riot would like to talk about the similarities between their invented worlds, the main difference is that after over a dozen movies in the MCU, superhero lore has become a lot more mainstream, while tons of small facts aboutLeaguechampions might seem a lot more obscure. This push into comics, like the recent K/DALeaguemusic video that mixed K-pop with e-sports, could be the boost in popularityLeagueneeds to get its immense backstories seen.