By Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery, Neil Edwards & Ivan Nunes
The second chapter of the Assassin’s Creed ongoing series from Titan Comics continues to delve into the “Trial By Fire” story arc as writers Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery switch the focus from Charlotte to her ancestor, Tom Stoddard. We learn that Tom is, despite working for the so-called Greater Good, one of the most ruthless and uncompromising Assassins, a far cry from the likeable, charming, roguish personalities that Ezio, Edward, Arno and Jacob and Evie have come from. Tom Stoddard is a bit more extreme and dedicated to his cause, not afraid to threaten children. It’s a brutal look into understanding that not all of the Assassins may have been nice guys, and Assassin’s Creed #2 handles that well even if Tom isn’t really someone who we feel that invested in at the moment. Of course, we have only spent one issue and a bit with him thus far.
The decision to spend this issue largely in the past runs parallel with last issue’s focus on the present. Tom Stoddard is quickly established to be, much like most Assassins, a resident bad-ass, and establishes a strong impression on the reader even if he isn’t exactly the most relatable Assassin that we’ve had yet. The fleshing out of Salem in 1962 also helps as we get ourselves acquainted with more of the cast, but we’re still not sure how long we’re going to be spending with them this early in the series. Will the creative team split Tom’s journey into multiple arcs or switch assassins after the first arc? How long will we stick with Charlotte or will she be replaced too further down the line? Seeing Charlotte replaced is perhaps more unlikely than Tom at this point, particularly as she’s arguably the most interesting character in the series so far. We’ve had first person POVs who don’t get fleshed out much beyond nicknames in pretty much every game since III (Black Flag, Rogue, Unity & Syndicate), so Charlotte’s inclusion makes a refreshing return to the format of split narrative that Assassin’s Creed fans will love.
The artwork is pretty solid and Neil Edwards and colorist Ivan Nunes really capture the atmosphere of Salem 1962 and the characters themselves look like they’ve just walked straight out of a video game. Last issue had some shaky and inconsistent artwork in places as though Edwards was getting used to the characters, but now he’s hopefully found his groove. The characters look stylish and slick, even if there are a few uneven body features here and there, and there’s even another female Assassin that we meet. These two don’t quite share a familiar bond that Evie and Jacob do in Syndicate, but Jennifer Quary should make an interesting addition to the cast. The colors from Ivan Nunes are solid and really add depth to the series, bringing the historical backdrop to life.
Assassin’s Creed #2 is already starting to realize the series’ full potential. It’s bloody, gory and proper Assassin’s Creed. (There’s even a bonus feature of a map of Salem at the end of the book, at least in the digital issue that this reviewer read). The good thing about the comics is that the writers aren’t limited to making their storyline work in construction with the same formulaic missions that the games seem to use so much, so it’s already interesting to see what Del Col and McCreery can come up with. Along with Neil Edwards and Ivan Nunes, the book seems to have found its footing, and the third part in “Trial By Fire” sounds very interesting indeed. Next month should be a good one.