By Greg Pak, Giovanni Valletta, David Curiel, Inlight Studios & Tom Napolitano
Greg Pak got off to an excellent start with the first issue in the John Wick series from Dynamite that was released five months ago, taking the character from the popular Keanu Reeves-starring movie franchise on another adventure that explores his origins in more depth than we’ve seen on the screen. Here in this second issue, the book follows up on the strong first outing, pulling readers in and keeping them hooked for an issue that is filled with tension and action from start to finish, but is not without its flaws.
The Continental Hotel is one of the most unusual concepts of the world of John Wick and it has played a unique part in help making the movies stand out. The idea of assassins having a neutral territory to meet where they will not always be under fire is explored here, as Wick gets his first introduction to the Hotel, where its patrons are all professionals and can naturally always expect the best service available. Greg Pak’s comics aren’t going to be the only John Wick spinoff that will tackle the concept of the Hotel as there’s reportedly a TV series in the works from Starz that will head into the Hotel in more detail. But for now, this is the next best thing, and it’s going to interesting to see if the TV series will take any cues from the world-building that Pak is continuing to create here, introducing us to new characters whilst recognisable keeping it very much a part of the John Wick world.
The action is heavy and over-the-top, in true John Wick style. The book holds nothing back, with Pak crafting a violent and bloody path for the character in a way that’s reminiscent of films like John Woo’s The Killer and Hard Boiled. It’s easy to imagine Keanu Reeves’s Wick finding himself in a similar scenario as thanks to the artistic skills of Giovanni Valletta, and the colours of David Curiel & Inlight Studios, he looks like he’s just stepped off the screen. The action’s realistic feel helps too, it never feels too outlandish despite not holding anything back and as a result it helps make the comic all the more exciting even if at this early stage, the villains are not the most well-developed that they could have been, feeling rather generic in places, which is something that the book could use some work on.
As action-heavy and as fun to read as John Wick #2 is, it feels too familiar. The book’s cinematic feel helps, but it treads tired old ground in terms of storytelling. How many times have we seen a revenge storyline like this before? It could definitely do with a little more originality in terms of its plot and hopefully that comes sooner rather than later. The five-month delay hasn’t helped things either – and hopefully it won’t be as long before we get to return to John Wick’s world.
Action fans looking for a simple action-heavy read will be more than satisfied with John Wick #2, but there are still a few problems that could be ironed out and more originality is needed to keep readers invested in the title, as there’s only so much the action can sustain readers for.