American Ronin #1: If Shadowrun Was A Comic, It'd Be American Ronin

Sturdy, but not remarkable.

American Ronin #1: If Shadowrun Was A Comic, It'd Be American Ronin
American Ronin #1 cover

American Ronin #1, Peter Milligan and ACO's debut for publisher Artists, Writers & Artisans is an assassin/spy story. I'm not sure if Milligan and ACO worked together before or not, but for AWA, they're a well-oiled machine. The first issue of American Ronin isn't meaningfully different from a high power level Shadowrun session. Professional obligation requires me to admit tabletop role playing game Shadowrun (1989) stole wholesale from William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy, two books of which I haven't read.

In both American Ronin and Shadowrun, corporations are the new nation-states, and they employ assassins and spies. We follow one assassin here. Again, if you've played Shadowrun, try not to substitute Aztechnology, Saeder-Krupp, or Wuxing when Milligan invents his own mega corps. Sorry, pan corps. To be fair, Milligan's well-read, so maybe he got the idea from Gibson.

Fittingly, Amazon was hiring spies, as recently as August 2020.

But that's all setting. What does the American Ronin team do with it? Mostly tell a good story, with fetish overtones, about the assassin and his target. The unlucky target in question is Barrett Cornell, a hyper-powerful C-suite executive remarkable in this case only for hiding depression and a submission fetish.

American Ronin #1 ticks a lot of boxes that indicate value:
More pages than a normal $4 comic? Check.
ACO provides plenty of detail, and does solid panel to panel storytelling? Check.
Milligan plays with themes of loneliness and being trapped by the power the individuals wield? Check.
A setting that's not familiar to most readers? Check.

American Ronin #1 isn't a bad comic, but it ultimately never surprised me. And some of that must be a credit to the team to make an unfamiliar setting to many readers not slow down the reading experience. My one big complaint: The team introduces a capable, powerful Asian heiress, who is inevitably murdered to show a late-arriving antagonist is real tough. The surprise would've been if Milligan & ACO let her live.

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About James Hepplewhite

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