Publisher: Titan Comics
Writer: Walter Hill, Matz
Release Date: 11th January 2017
Sometimes you just know you are going to enjoy a comic from the very first panel. I’m not sure whether it’s the art, the framing, the lettering, or a combination of all three. Hell, maybe it’s just intuition, but I definitely had a good feeling about this title. It was only after reading my copy that I found out this comic had inspired a film (starring Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver), and subsequently realised that the author was Walter Hill, ‘The Warriors’ Walter Hill.
The premise of the tale centres around a hitman called Frank Kitchen. A gun for hire, he takes a job from the mob to kill a well-known fashion designer who has fallen behind on his repayment obligation. The twist is that the victim’s sister takes revenge on Frank, abducts him and operates on him. Now a changed man, Frank is out for revenge.
This story has a deliciously eighties feel to it. It’s really out there with those terribly brilliant cult 80s action movies (I immediately thought of Remo Unarmed and Dangerous). It also carries a healthy style injection from the likes of Miami Vice. Yet, while it carries the outlandish feel of said movies, it is also far more grounded and gritty. Most of the issue is in monologue, starting with Frank awakening after his surgery. Disorientated and confused, he works through the events leading up to where he currently finds himself. It helps to let the reader get to know Frank, plus it introduces us to the various players in this story. At first I was worried that this was happening too slowly, but once I realised that issue one was a forty-plus page serving, I settled into the narrative and began to enjoy myself.
While the story is definitely enjoyable, what I really loved about this first issue was the art. For me, it was a flashback to late eighties/early nineties issues of 2000AD, specifically Slainé. The delicate line work and slightly out of proportion feel of the subject and environs are like an old friend (to me). Plus, this style seems to fit both the timeline (1980s) and the setting (NYC and San Francisco) perfectly. While the colour and shading is not airbrushed, it is – I think – a one-two combo of watercolour and watercolour pencils that really brings the comic to life. The detail put into the Cities is wholly impressive, especially in Chinatown. You get a sense this is a genuine labour of love and there are some stunning panels – the full-page panel of the kill shot to Franks target … well … I just had to pause on that for a few minutes in sheer admiration. Do you get it yet? The art is really, really good.
Simply put, The Assignment is right up my street. I loved the story, and the twist and the end. I loved the settings and the overall ambiance of the comic. Sure there are always a few flaws, but thankfully not many. The lettering – at least in my review copy – had a couple of mistakes, ‘you e’ instead of ‘you’re’ and some inexplicable double and triple spacing in the sentences. This may just be because this was initially a foreign language title and has been translated into English. These are insignificant gripes though, as I found this title immensely enjoyable to read. If you love crime noir thrillers and great art then this should be the first addition to your 2017 pull list. It’s bloody brilliant.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.