Second Opinion: Assassin’s Creed #1
By Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery, Neil Edwards & Ivan Nunes
Assassin’s Creed is one of this reviewer’s favorite video game series and the upcoming release of Syndicate is something that is eagerly anticipated. It’s about time there was an ongoing series set in the universe that has a wealth of potential to explore. When you consider the fact that the writing talents of Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, who have written the excellent Kill Shakespeare series are on board, as well as artist Neil Edwards and colorist Ivan Nunes (who have recently come off The Five Doctors mini-series) it looks like the perfect match for a new ongoing series from Assassin’s Creed, especially with a brand new female protagonist. And whilst there are some problems here and there, the issue as a whole sees the book get off to a strong start.
One thing that has let the latest Assassins Creed games down in terms of storyline is that the present-day missions haven’t been quite as investing as the ones set in the past, particularly when the games released after III switched to a first person character whose name we didn’t even get to know. This series changes that by giving us the likeable Charlotte de La Cruz, a new character who’s not going to get a job she’s overqualified for. Her favorite hobbies include playing the commercial releases of the Abstergo Assassin’s Creed games, where Templars do battle with Assassins. However, to her knowledge, the Assassin’s Creed series are just games, abilities to explore the Wild West, in a particularly thrilling opening panel. But times are about to change for Charlotte, and she’s about to learn that the shadow war between the Assassins and Templars is far more real than she could ever have imagined.
The first issue itself serves up as a nice way to introduce newcomers who have never played an Assassins Creed game before (and in this case, where have you been?), but the majority of readers will probably be fans of the game so this first chapter can feel like a memory refresher; the standard requirement that each game has to go through. Here’s the character who we’ll be following. This is their journey. We are reminded as to a few rules that are explored when Charlotte takes her first trip into the Animus, and it looks as though we’ll be dealing with the Salem Witch Trials, or at least for the first arc, because that’s the beauty of having an ongoing series. You don’t have to find yourself limited by just one time period like the games do, and when an arc finishes, the writers can move onto the next location as they see fit, and that’s where the potential lies, with the entirety of history at their doorstep. Part of the fun will be exploring new battles that Assassins will undergo in the series that we wouldn’t necessarily get in the game.
Fans won’t recognize any recurring characters from the video games, there’s no Rebecca or Shaun in the present day and we don’t return to the lines of the Kenways, Auditores or Dorians. With the main attention focused on Charlotte, who works well enough as a protagonist, we don’t get to learn much about the new male hero. However, there’s a bigger future to explore further down the line with plenty of things to come, and there’s also the promising and welcome change that comes with having a female protagonist in the present, something that hasn’t been done before in the series.
The artwork from Neil Edwards and Ivan Nunes is a bit hit and miss. It feels very much a part of the Assassin’s Creed Universe, but the close-ups on the characters don’t always work, almost feeling motionless in some places. However, the scenery fares better, with the striking opening panel of adventures in the Wild West feeling instantly engaging to the point where it’s almost a shame to be ripped from it after only just starting to get sucked in. It’s a typical pre-credits teaser. Something that also should be noticed is the panel layout, because it’s clear, quick and easy to read through without complications, and although not everything may work here, there’s enough promising signs to tell that we’re on the right track.
The historical setting of Salem fits in perfectly with it being October, and Halloween just around the corner. The issue blends a limited amount of exposition well with the action to create an engaging read and not allow too many info-dumps. Despite a few weaknesses here and there that could be better polished, Assassin’s Creed #1 is a solid start to the series and a confident effort from Del Col, McCreery, Edwards & Nunes, and it looks like things are only going to get better from here on in.