Review – Assassin Nation #4 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artwork: Erica Henderson
Lettering: Deron Bennett
Release Date: 19th June 2019

We’re at the penultimate issue of Assassin Nation, with our surviving assassins realizing that, as we pretty much expected, it wasn’t actually Echidna who ordered the hit on Rankin.  Logically speaking, that only leaves one choice, so our quartet head off to take down the Huynhs – the most powerful Crime Syndicate in the city.  However, to take down the Huynh family boss and end things once and for all, they’ll have to fight through his army of crazy, blade-wielding “Katana Kids” first.

Like most things from Kyle Starks – for my money one of the hands-down funniest writers in the industry today – this series has been an absolute joy to read from start to finish.  Packed with the same sort of comedic violence and zinging one-liners that made the likes of SEXCASTLE such a cult hit, this irreverent look into the world of hired killers has been bursting at the seams with memorable quotes and air-punching moments of cool from the very first issue.

However, what’s perhaps most surprising to me is just how well Erica Henderson’s artwork fits this ultra-violent style.  The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl this definitely ain’t, but watching Henderson draw limbs being removed and heads exploding in showers of brains courtesy of a well-placed bullet is an absolute joy.  She does a stellar job of bringing the weird cast of characters she and Starks have created to life with their quirky designs, and continues to showcase a knack for note-perfect comic timing here.

As has become a bit of a recurring theme in the series, Fuck Tarkington and Dave provide the bulk of the chuckles, with their interactions – not to mention one genuinely hilarious gag with an elevator – keeping things light even as the bodies continue to pile up. The final pages seemingly reveal the true identity of the assassin hired to take out Rankin, but I wouldn’t put another last-minute swerve past these creators at this point, so I’m not 100% convinced just yet.  Oh, and we still need confirmation of whether it really was Fingerman who killed Bishop’s husband after all.

For my money one of the absolute best books on the shelves today, Assassin Nation is a sleeper hit that truly deserves to be on your radar. Combining Starks’ knack for grin-raising violence and humorous gags with the sheer delight of Henderson’s Squirrel Girl-looking ultraviolence, this is a pure joy to read.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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