The Enemy of My Enemy Is Possibly Out To Kill Me (Assassin Nation #1 Comic Review)

Co-Created & Written by: Kyle Starks

Co-Created, Cover, & Art by: Erica Henderson

Letters by: Deron Bennett

Edited by: Jon Moisan

Logo Design by: Andres Juarez

Production Design by: Carina Taylor

Someone is trying to knock off the former #1-in-the-world assassin, ‘Chekov’s Gun’. What’s a guy to do? Hire the world-ranked top twenty assassins to cover him that’s what!

In issue #1 of Erica Henderson and Kyle Starks’ new series, Assassin Nation, we meet one Mr. Rankin, aka Chekov’s Gun, former world-ranked #1 assassin. The thing about being an assassin is that you make a lot of enemies (at least, among the people you don’t kill,) and it seems that at some point Rankin royally ticked off someone with the means to make his life rather uncomfortable–‘uncomfortable’ in this instance meaning that he is spending an inordinate amount of time dodging bullets and exploding cars. So what’s a retired hit man to do when he’s the one targeted for the hit and he can’t figure out where the threat is coming from? Get the world’s greatest assassins to act as his personal heavies, of course! (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, amirite?)

The problem with getting a group of murderous types together, though, is that you’re effectively poking the bear—and these bears have guns. Specifically, #3 assassin Niles Roosevelt Axelrod, who was previously ‘poked’ by someone else ahead of this meeting of the minds. Rankin has announced an offer to all in attendance that he will keep them on retainer in order to keep his keister from meeting a messy end, but Axelrod has already had a better offer to kill Rankin. Once this is revealed, Rankin offers to double everyone’s fees, and all hell breaks loose.

Several bullet-and-gore-filled minutes and the execution of a legally sanctioned hit on Fernando (RIP) the (former) #1 ranked assassin in the world later, fourteen of the world-ranked top-twenty are history, leaving the new numbers one through eight:

  1. Taipan (By virtue of the fact that he was not in attendance at this hoedown.)
  2. Chad Fingerman
  3. Smoke
  4. Wistful Stan
  5. Connie the Tank
  6. The Mamba Twins (As the name implies, a two-person team.)
  7. Dave
  8. Fuck Tarkington (Yes, that really is his name.)

Also left is one Maxwell Bishop—retired, but invited out of professional courtesy as the person who usurped Rankin’s #1 standing ten years prior.

And then there were ten.

My Two Cents: Dark humor and splattering cranial contents abound in Image Comics’ new release, Assassin Nation. Both the colors and the characters are vivid, and the dialogue is just the right level of salty for a troupe of hired guns. Starks and Henderson have created an underworld full of volatile and varied personalities and it’s going to be a pleasure to get to know them through the arc of this story—that is, the ones who survive. While it’s a simple premise at its core, ‘bad guy is being targeted by another mystery bad guy, targeted bad guy looks to other bad guys for help, some of them help and some of them try to kill him’, the creative team have added some side stories to liven things up. Who killed Maxwell Bishop’s husband, and will Bishop get his revenge? Who hired Axelrod to take out Rankin? And what the heck is Dave’s deal, anyway?! I’m sure all will become hilariously clear soon enough.

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org
Elizabeth Fazzio
Summary
Assassin Nation is what I imagine the Hanna-Barbera universe would look like if all the animal characters became human and then everyone wanted to kill each other. There's something about Erica Henderson's style that feels reminiscent of all those Saturday morning cartoons. It's colorful and the lines are clean and there's a rather whimsical take on the traditional comics onomatopoeia in the action sequences which delights my inner ten-year-old to no end (though I would not recommend this book for actual ten-year-olds.) If I'm honest, I'm grateful that the first issue became a total bloodbath, because keeping track of twenty assassins would definitely have been difficult. Also, the theatre nerd in me appreciated the 'Chekov's Gun' reference. (In Russian playwright Anton Chekov's plays, if a gun was seen onstage, someone was going to snuff it. It makes a fantastic moniker for a hit man.) For now, however, we will just have to wait to see if Rankin's license plate (which reads “FUKT”) is a harbinger of things to come or just a comical notion.
Good
  • Quirky artistic details
  • Extras within the book
  • Story elements are balanced
Bad
  • I found a typo...
  • Story is a bit predictable
7.8
Good
Art - 9
Story - 7
Writing - 8
Predictability - 7
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--https://makeitok.org

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