KILLERS: Title Puns, Random Chinese Characters and Cool Action Scenes.
Today was one of those days. You know the ones, “one of THOSE days” where you feel compelled to stress the hell out of the word “THOSE” when describing it out loud. They used to be sort of like an event, red days scattered sparsely throughout the calendar that knew they were nothing more than an inconvenience. They used to come one by one, lonely, barely noticeable until they came and ruined your life for the foreseeable future. And then tehy left. And you knew the next one was miles and miles away.
Before, they were spread thin. Now they come in droves.
Today was one of those days. Uneventful. Dry. A day you will only remember on your deathbed as part of the bunch of sand that ran through your fingers wasted on nothing in particular. You will cry due to the lost time then. But now, you think you are the master of your own existence, despite what existence itself has taught you since you started having conscious thought.
Today was one of those days. And to brighten it up, to have something to say about it, you resort to consuming media in order to fill it with something memorable. Good, bad, new, old. Anything will do, as long as it’s not your life. In a case like this, you might resort to reading a comic book, for example. Something that, perhaps, will not come out for two more weeks.
An e-mail from Valiant arrived just in time to propose a sort of aleviations for my one of those days. The link to the very first issue of a brand new comic book series from them was hiding amongst its computer-generated text: Killers #1. I was drawn to it. For one reason or another, I thought I neeeded to read it.
I’m not sure what exactly sparked my interest about it. Was it the cover showcasing a black woman sporting not only a gun and a sword, but also a killer afro, the pimpest of fur coats and Snowboarding-game-on-the-PS1-worthy sunglasses? Was it the fact that I’m a sucker for one-word titles? Was it the fact that the title contained a pun that is excruciatingly hard to reproduce with black text alone that took me more minutes than I would like to admit to get it? Or was it the knife emoji surreptitiously left there by the SEO-obsessed intern that sends the emails with review copies at Valiant? I’m not sure. But I felt attracted enough to this particular issue in order to read it.
Key word here is: “READ”.
My eyes scanned every conceivable detail throughout the 20 pages inside Killers #1. They read every dialogue, absorbed every single one of the plain-looking onomatopoeias comic book letterers have decided look “dynamic” inside American comics for the last two decades, danced throughout every panel, following every character action, every expression. My eyes went over all of the pixels composing the images of this comic as if their lives depended on it. And, once they finished, once they had communicated the information to my brain, the blank expression on my face appeared to be as immovable as it was when I double-clicked the PDF file to open it. Nothing inside of me seemed to have changed.
Dagnino, hands down the best part of this book. Also, his name sounds like a kids’ yoghurt brand, which is a plus.
I scrolled to all the way to the very end of the file. Maybe I had missed something. Perhaps there was an “after-credits” stinger or something else tucked away after all of the publishing company’s “comics you might also like to buy from us” ads. But no. Nothing. I scrolled back to the beginning, paying attention to every page during my journey up. I had definitely read them all. I didn’t skip a thing. And yet, my expression, remained blank. Something wasn’t right.
My first instinct led me to Google. I searched “Killers #1 Valiant”. One of the first results the search engine turned up was an interview some other site that I am contractually obligated to not namedrop had with the artist, Fernando Dagnino. I clicked on the link as soon as I recognized the name. It was an e-mail interview, meaning Fernando had all the time in the world to contact the PR agent of Valiant to make sure his answers were appropriate and stale. This disclaimer notwithstanding, I plowed through, hoping this exchange of digital words between two people I have never met in my entire life would help put my mind at ease.
However, I did learn something important about Killer #1. If nothing else, the artist seemed to be pouring his entire 21 grams of soul into this series. He read happy, excited for what is to come with the twists and turns of the remaining 5 issues of this series. He seemed genuinely thrilled. And this made no sense at all to me.
I had to read Killers #1 again. I just had to.
And, right enough, on a second look-through, that very excitement Fernando’s PR-sanitized words had expressed, was definitely on display. His choice of dynamic camera angles, close-ups and shading is spectacular. Granted, sometimes he tends to force some compositions, teleporting characters hither and tither despite it not making any sense in a world ruled by the laws of physics, but that was usually done whenever conversations dragged on and on. I can’t blame the guy. He simply wants the stuff with his name on it to look cool, energetic or, simply, pleasing to the eye. His job is to make this look good. That is why he was paid.
But, if he had done his work as if he was paid well enough to cover his rent AND, presumably, services, why was my blank expression still hanging on my face? Why did I not enjoy reading this?
Again, the key word is: “READ”.
Would you like to read about cool things instead of watching them? Boy, is this the book for you!
Well, that’s easy. Killers #1 is 20-pages of exposition text peppered in with, admittedly, very cool fight scenes. What was supposed to be a thrilling story of spy ninjas emulating John Wick on an international stage is reduced to an “OK, we have this awesome idea here, but first, let’s spend 20 pages force-feeding you all of this backstory and important words that, for the time being, you do not understand, but will become relevant later on and… we ran out of space. OK! See you on the next issue, where, maybe, things will actually happen. Maybe.”
Not even the official synopsis for the damn book is accurate. ” Five deadly assassins are recruited into a game of cat and mouse by their former sensei, the mysterious Jonin!” it says. First of all, there’s only two here. And, second of all, NONE OF THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENS IN THIS ISSUE!
B. Clay Moore, this issue’s writer, remembered a specific phrase while writing it. “You READ comic books, don’t you?”, he told himself out loud in the middle of his study. “You don’t eye them or watch them. You read them! People pay money to READ comics! So, let’s give these guys exactly what they want!”
And the walls upon walls of text were born from his fingers. Dagnino did the most he could with the material he was given, but going through Killers #1 feels like skimming through a BuzzFeed listoid of Naruto-themed fanfiction titles without having a single clue of what or why a Naruto is. But, don’t worry, this will all make sense later on.
Today was one of THOSE days.
And Killers #1 was one of THOSE comics.
You can grab your copy of Killers #1 from your local comic book store or via Comixology as soon as July 31st lands upon us.
How did we rate Killers #1?
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