A great start.
Last week I reviewed a comic with no character development, which I wasn't impressed with. Turns out that was a bit of a hot take. I don't intentionally ever do those, but it as a result it was incredibly emotionally flat. So it's nice that, some way in Assassin's Creed: Uprising, in the space of one page (right), we're invested in 3 characters that we never see again in the book. It's a great use of them as a device to bring in our main crew, though. As you can see, you're introduced very naturally to three parkour-ing(??) Londoners who you immediately fall in with. The panels are vital, and 'move' with a great flow.
So, yes, you're immediately pulled in to Paknadel, Watters, Holder, and Lesko's purposeful book, that also has a perillous feeling (as an undercurrent) that anything could happen on the next page. That's there from the off, with Charlotte De La Cruz (an American member of the Brotherhood) against a seemingly superior foe that they know nothing about.
And that peril is there, too, in those first few pages above, and then also in the introduction to the rest of the main cast. When we meet My'shell Lemair, sparring on a rooftop (which the previously mentioned device leads us directly into) you feel her desperation and Galina's calmness. It's just … right.
The one thing that I was surprised about (and you'll see from the few images above) is that this is set entirely in the modern day. This is an entirely basic thing that can easily help folks connect with a story and characters. But, yes, modern day, not in The Animus at all, which really does simplify things somewhat. Even if it does come in later, it's good to leave it at the door here.
Whilst we're here, full disclosure, I really don't like the AC games. Hold a button, point around a 'kinda' open world (it's so not), mash a button and sometimes dodge in fights, rinse and repeat 1000 times. People say the stories are grand, and the locations true (a friend said he started navigating some Italian city based off of AC map knowledge), but I've managed to get SO bored in the first hour of the 2 or 3 (I think #2 & #3, plus that one with ships) that I've played that they've never enticed me back in.
Comics. Yes. We were talking about one, weren't we? OK, perhaps the only bad thing I can think of right now is that the book is largely guileless. There's not much subtlety here (it's not blatantly expositional, either) and the only question which ourselves, The Brotherhood, and The Templar, are left with is "who are these mystery assassins?" But that's good, I feel. Unlike The Few, it's intrigue without emptiness. Oh, wait, there is one more thing; smoke. I know we're The Big Smoke, but London has been a smokeless (pollution totally allowed) city since the 60s. If you want a fire you need to burn smokeless fuel (called coke or something). Minor niggle, though, and people need to be reminded that it's still "good old laahhhhhdaahhhnnnn."
I'm not exactly sure how, but Alex Paknadel and Dan Watters just seem to have that knack with people that only a few (even big two and image) writers do. I'm not just talking about being able to put natural conversation on a page, but also to shape that around separate characters, each with their own agency. Peter David, Kathryn Immonen, and Paul Cornell are all others that I'd call as style reference to that point (although I'd say no-one's character writing has the depth that Immonen's does). Here each character has their own voice (obviously a good thing) which helps a diverse (in all but bodies) cast of characters. You can see that in the first few pages (available in previews) with De La Cruz and Guernica Moneo, they have a banter that you feel like they've known each other for years. That said, it does require a fair bit of information, which is handled in traditional character boxes, which you can largely ignore (at least read nationality, though), but are fine as a comics thing.
This is a very good beginning for Paknadel, Watters and crew, it's right on the money, and worth yours. Pick it up this Wednesday.
- Title: Assassin's Creed: Uprising
- Volume: 1
- Issue: 1
- Published: February 01, 2017
- Publisher: Titan Comics
- Writer: Alex Paknadel & Dan Watters
- Penciler: Jose Holder
- Colorist: Marco Lesko
- Letterer: COMICRAFT'S Jimmy Bettancourt
- Story pages: 20
- Print price: $3.99
- Digital price: $3.99