Assassin Nation #1 Sets The Table For Dark And Murderous Comedy

by Brendan M. Allen

Hot off her breakout success at Marvel, two-time Eisner award winner Erica Henderson (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Jughead) teams up with Kyle Starks (writer of sales beast Rick and Morty) for a hilarious twist on the hitman trope that will have readers laughing in the aisles over Assassin Nation. The World’s Former Greatest Hitman hires the 20 best assassins in the world to be his bodyguards. These mean-as-hell hired guns and murderers must work together to keep the new crime boss safe while attempting to solve the mystery of who’s trying to off him. With the same laugh-until-you-cry spirit of action-comedies like Hot Fuzz, Tropic Thunder, and Deadpool, Assassin Nation is the bombastic, side-splitting murder-fest you’ve been waiting for.

What happens when you put twenty of the world’s top triggers in the same room? Tempers flare. Egos go unchecked. People die, obviously.
Assassin Nation #1 introduces a former top-rated professional assassin turned mob boss who finds himself on the other end of the muzzle thrice in as many weeks. When all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem is a nail, so what does this cat do? Pulls together the current leading hatchets and offers a stack of cash to any who wish to stick around and keep him upright and breathing while he sorts out who’s behind the contract on his own life.

There are a lot of characters in this opening chapter to keep straight. Luckily, Kyle Starks thins the crowd by at least half by the time this first chapter wraps. This whole issue is basically a job interview/no holds barred battle royal to determine which of these guns will get the job, and which die. Starks’ dark sense of humor is on full display throughout.
Erica Henderson has a job on her hands in chapter one, creating twenty-two distinct and memorable characters, putting them all in a single room, and then keeping them separate and unique in an insane twenty plus page action sequence. Every character, even the throwaways, have their own look and move set. 

It’s hard to get a read on the series from this small sample. Assassin Nation #1 could almost stand alone as a one-shot, but there’s obviously a bigger story here. This one set the dark, sardonic tone, but other than killing off a bunch of butchers, not much happened. There’s a hell of a lot of potential here, but the next chapter is really going to determine whether this one stays in my pull list. You have my attention. Where we headed?

Assassin Nation #1, Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment, released 13 March 2019. Created by Kyle Starks (script) and Erica Henderson (art/cover), letters by Deron Bennett, logo by Andres Juarez.

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