Assassin Nation #1
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Erica Henderson
Letterer: Deron Bennet
Review by Evan Maroun
Not to be confused with the recent movie, Assassination Nation — Kyle Starks (Kill Them All, Sexcastle) and Erica Henderson (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Jughead) have brought us a new book filled with more personalities than bullets.
…and trust me, there are a lot of bullets.
When you first open up Assassin Nation, you’re treated to a scoreboard of colorful characters, numbered 1-20, with arrows depicting their rise or fall. Before we’ve even read a panel, this tells us a lot about the world Starks and Henderson are trying to build here: killing is a sport, the #1 position is highly coveted, and there is certainly no shortage of players.
The players here are hitmen. If the title didn’t give that away, the cover even gives off some serious John Wick vibes. With this many characters, I was obviously concerned. How is Starks going to introduce all these characters in 32 pages? Well, much of this debut issue takes place at a hitmen meet-and-greet essentially. Yes, it’s as funny as it sounds. By putting all these people in one room, it allows for some brief, punchy, but overall strategic character moments. He doesn’t focus on one character for too long, as he bounces around the room like he’s hosting a party, giving us an idea of the main cast. It’s nothing too deep, opting to define each figure by a trait or personality type, but he gives each character enough of a voice or purpose that we can quickly grasp who they are.
There is a handful of artists that I’d say lend themselves to comedy, and Erica Henderson is one of them. Her charming and expressive aesthetic is an excellent complement to Stark’s script. She gives each of these killers their own distinctive style, something this book has an abundance of. As for when things inevitably go sideways for the party of hitmen, her composition gets more dynamic and interesting. Small panels manifest on the page, showing an action happening quickly. She also includes two of my favorite sound effects in a comic. If you’re a cinephile, you’ll be sure to appreciate them too.
This first issue is decidedly not heavy on plot. For a debut issue though, I think it accomplishes what any good introduction should. It welcomes you into the world, gets you on board with its ideas, and it has a hell of a time while doing it.
Verdict: Buy It.
If you’re a fan of 90’s action movies, Adult Swim programming, or just a rousing good time with a bunch of hitmen, Assassin Nation will be your new drug.