Interconnected universes are all the rage, and gaming publisher Take-Two Interactive almost had its own. Take-Two’s comic imprint Double Take Comics, led by former Marvel VP Bill Jemas, was close to uniting its disparate stories including the BioShock and XCOM games into a single continuity before being forbidden by the gaming side of the company.
Rumors of Double Take’s closing later this month revealed the publisher’s original plan involving a shared continuity between BioShock, XCOM, and Civilization, one that would somehow involve superheroes. Ultimately, because of Take-Two’s games division and a lack of time, Double Take pursued a universe within George Romero’s public domain zombie film Night of the Living Dead. In 2015, Double Take officially launched with ten titles, including Z-Men, which was optioned for a movie by Lionsgate last year.
A source told Bleeding Cool that Bill Jemas, who joined Double Take in 2013, wanted to make a superhero universe using Take-Two’s games. Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take-Two, gave Jemas financing but was pushed back by the game’s division, who didn’t want an “outsider” to have access to its properties.
Inspired by the popularity of zombies via The Walking Dead, Bleeding Cool’s source said Jemas “latched on” to Night of the Living Dead with the hope that “Double Take [sic] could prove themselves, then Strauss and Bill could push back on the game division to give them the properties.”
Adds the anonymous source: “Bill thought he could build an audience off the zombie craze and lead people into a superhero universe.”
Seems Jemas’s gamble didn’t pay off if rumors surrounding Double Take shutting operations are true. At last month’s New York Comic Con, Double Take was aggressive, giving thousands of its trade paperback away for free. The press, Inverse included, were invited to visit Double Take’s booth and walked away with ten paperbacks just for showing up.
How XCOM would connect to BioShock and Civilization, or even how anyone becomes a superhero in these universes, remains unclear, perhaps because no one got around to thinking it through. But the success of Take-Two’s games could have given Double Take a fighting chance: The publisher officially launched in 2015 to unenthusiastic reviews, criticized for the art and lack of depth in the stories. “If Bill had their support, he would have had the strongest marketing push of any comic company in the market,” said Bleeding Cool’s source. “Double Take was not the huge success Bill had hoped for … and the money has to run out sometime.”
The latest games from Take-Two’s franchises, BioShock: The Collection, Civilization VI, and XCOM 2, are available now.