Assassin’s Creed #001 (comic-book review).

From its origins as a video game, the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise has successfully been spun out into a number of different media, including graphic novels and comics. The central idea is that there are two hidden forces at work in the world and have been for centuries. One is trying to bring humanity into a single coherent group through the use of alien mind control technology, while the other group, the assassins of the franchise title, try to stop them.

Over time, the names of the groups change, but their aims endure and part of the charm of the franchise is the way that contemporary individuals can effectively time travel back to the lives of their ancestors via the Animus machine. In this comic, a well-educated American woman called Charlotte de la Cruz finds herself frustrated by her current job at a bank in California but, through the intervention of the Brotherhood of Assassins, is able to jump back into the life of an assassin who lived in Salem at the time of the famous witch trials.

This issue is very much the stage-setter, with de la Cruz shown as not only intelligent and adventurous, but also displaying a strong sense of morality. The idea that commercial video games could be a testing bed for the time travelling technology is also established, neatly blurring the divisions between the real ‘Assassin’s Creed’ video games and the equivalent games within the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ mythology. But in terms of moving the plot forward, a short comic like this one will inevitably end on a cliff-hanger.

In any event, while the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ comicbook series is still on-going, this first issue in a discrete five-part story subtitled ‘Trial By Fire’ looks promising. There’s some decent storytelling here, not least in the way that de la Cruz has her character tested in a series of scenes across the first half of the comic. The artwork is competent and taken a series of tableaux, quite impressive. But the postures of the characters are sometimes forced and their facial features seem to vary significantly from frame to frame, in one or two places to an almost amusing degree.

The ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise is now firmly entrenched in popular culture, feeding perhaps on the perennial belief that society is being manipulated by unseen forces. The time travel aspect gives this version of the New World Order myth a fun twist and even those unfamiliar with the video game might well enjoy this series of comicbooks if this issue is anything to go by.

Neale Monks

September 2019

(pub: Titan Books, 2015. 20 page comic. Price: $ 3.99 (US))

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