Mar 27, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 397: BIONICLE: Swarm, 2002

Another promotional comic today, this one included with the six Bohrok figures released during BIONICLE's second wave in 2002. I'm finding the comparison of comics distributed with toys and comics about toys very interesting. I have a fair number of toy inserts, and more often than not they're there to provide scant story and increase excitement about actually playing with the toy. In contrast, the toy comics distributed through the comics market are more about establishing character than form, I guess.

The early run of BIONICLE comics was sparse, and the story skips over bits and pieces that are told through flash animations online or, later into 2003, a film. The story really does exemplify the idea of a transmedial fiction, in that canonical parts of the story are told through different media, but not reproduced separately in each of those distinct media. To get the whole story, you need to experience each of the different media. There's a fantastic project called The BioMedia Project, that actually preserves the various online and print content that was released around the toy line from 2001 to 2010, and continues to archive the current revival content. I'm certain that one day, when the genesis of such transmedial fictions becomes something people are interested in, this project will shed some fascinating light on a very early incarnation of the phenomenon.

So, to get us up to speed, after the meetings that took place in the last four comics, the Toa meet and defeat (sort of) Makuta, who appears in a flash animation in my favourite of his incarnations, a corrupted version of the islanders that the Toa are meant to protect. But upon his defeat, the Makuta sends a signal to the Bohrok swarms, who waken from their canisters with one simple goal: the clearing of the island of Mata Nui.

More tomorrow.

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