I am absolutely a fan of the John Wick films. I think they are straightforward, fun action and possibly some of Keanu Reeves's best work. Part of what makes the films good is the universe they built around the character. The concept of The Continental and the house rules are what give the series a strong foundation and make it so much more than just a revenge flick. The first film could easily have been called, "My name is John Wick; you killed my puppy… prepare to die." But what made the second film possible was Winston (Ian McShane), Charon (Lance Reddick), and the hotel.
And while both films give us some history of Wick and how he left the business only to be pulled back in, we really don't get to see what made him the Baba Yaga and how he connected with the Continental in the first place. And while the films, including the inevitable third chapter, tell the story going forward, they leave the history untapped — something that Dynamite Entertainment has signed on to tell.
The first issue of the series came out on Wednesday and was written by Greg Pak and drawn by Giovanni Valletta. It's set in a time before Wick became a legend. We see him both as a young boy, stealing from some bad men in Baja California. The men use extreme violence to go after him and treat it all like a joke, not caring about the innocent bystanders. We then switch to El Paso, Texas where an adult Wick comes across an obnoxious guy in a diner who happens to drop the name Pecos — of one of the men from Baja.
Wick overhears their plans and positions himself to intervene, doing so in classic John Wick fashion. And while he gets to deal with Pecos, we also discover that bad guys' target was Charon from the Continental, who we get the idea that Charon had dealt with before when Wick was younger. Charon wants to bring him into the fold, but others already part of the Continental see him as a freelancer that needs to be dealt with.
When Dynamite announced the series, they said it would be looking into John Wick's past, but I found it a nice touch that it involves Charon, an interesting and understated character from the franchise. You get the sense that Pak understands the character well and what makes him tick.
Valletta's art is great fit for the story. It avoids the usual trap of licensed books where the art is so focused on the likeness that it looks like someone traced a photo of the actor, which ends up standing out poorly on the page. Here, Wick and Charon look enough like the characters from the film but fit in with the rest of the drawn characters.
John Wick only one issue in, but I think fans of the films will enjoy the comic and the exploration of the universe.