Art by: Cameron Stewart, Karl Kerschl and Nadine Thomas
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 3, 2010
For my Just for the Hell of it Monday review, I'm going to climb into the wayback machine, pull a couple of levers and head back to 2010. I have trouble remembering yesterday, but I'm asking you to remember the sate of video game tie-ins five years ago. Let me help you out...it stunk. I know I'm painting with a wide brush, but I was more of a video game fan then and nothing I read made me want to jump into the world of comics. I may have changed my tune (and become a comic fan earlier) if I had read this book. I was a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed games for many reasons, but a big one was the lore that the games were based around. It was tailor made for more stories to be told and Cameron Stewart and Karl Kerschl did just that. Was it any good? Let's find out...
Like the games, the story takes place on two fronts, but they are still very different. After a mysterious opening, we are thrust into 19th Century Russia where we meet the Assassin, Nikolai Orelov. While we don't get a lot of information, the little bits we do get are intriguing. He may lack the confidence of an assassin, but he has some very personal reasons to carry out his newly appointed mission.
While I really enjoyed this beginning, when Stewart and Kerschl take us closer to the present (late 90's), this book really hit it's stride. While playing the games, I can't say I was ever a huge fan of the Desmond segments. To me, they were just a means to an end and I couldn't wait to get back to, say Ezio or any of the other assassins. That's not the case here. Daniel Cross is not a good guy by any stretch, but he feels real...and broken.
Daniel is a (former?) drug addict who hears voices and hallucinates of days past...specifically 19th Century Russia. After telling his psychiatrist to f*** off, he heads out for a night on the town, but things go downhill fast. Like I said, he's not a good guy and he is pretty awful here, but before we can really react, we are back in Russia.
Stewart and Kerschl really walk a thin line with Daniel as the co-lead, but somehow, I liked him. I'm not even sure I was supposed to and while I wouldn't ever want to hang out with him, I want to see what happens to him. Maybe it's empathy or watching a human train wreck or a bit of both.
When we get back to Russia, Nikolai is dressed accordingly (it looks awesome) and we get some pretty kick ass action. Anybody who has played the games is bound to love this section as it is the closest to actual gameplay as we get. Nikolai is skilled and makes quick work heading to his target, but once he finds him, his skill is not enough. This scene is brilliantly inter cut with scenes of Daniel stumbling out of the bar and into the night and while Nikolai is saved by timing and luck, Daniel is helped by a familiar face...kind of.
Boy, this is an excellent start to this limited series. Stewart and Kerschl give the reader just enough to whet their appetite and make them beg for more. I love the fact that the characters are not invincible two dimensional wrecking machines, but are flawed and vulnerable and feel real because of it.
If I had any questions about the story going into this issue, I can't say the same for the art. Cameron Stewart and Karl Kerschl? On their own they are great, but together I can't see how they can be anything but awesome. They aren't because the art is awesome. I loved it.
Bits and Pieces:
Cameron Stewart and Karl Kerschl buck the trend of video game tie-ins by not only making a good comic, but one that might be better than the source material. It's only the first issue, but I'm already invested in the characters and can't wait to see what happens next. If you enjoy the Assassin's Creed games and didn't read this when it first came out, Get your hands on it and enjoy.