“You realize the idea of avenging the death of a sibling is acceptable even glorified in many cultures. There is something almost Biblical about it.”
Frank Kitchen is a ruthless killer for hire who flawlessly executes his contracts and moves on to the next. But his life is about to take a radical change when his life of sin catches up with him.
(Re)Assignment #1 starts off at a blistering pace. You are instantly drawn into the story with a stellar narration along with some tantalizing images that pique your interest and demand you find out what happened.
With your interest piqued, writers Walter Hill and Matz jettison us back to the past to introduce us to the protagonist, Frank Kitchen. Hill, Matz, and artist Jef use a handful of life events to showcase Kitchen’s character. You get a well-rounded look at who he is in a number of different situations whether it is in the act of hunting his prey, executing his target, negotiating a contract, or even hooking up with a chick from the local watering hole. He’s a professional through and through, but he’s also humble and oddly introspective for an assassin.
As you might have guessed, the book is broken up into Kitchen’s different life events. The beginning is extremely well-paced with light dialogue letting Jef’s images really drive the story of Kitchen hunting his target and putting him down. From there it bogs down a bit and gets caught up in some dialogue, especially during a contract negotiation. The dialogue feels a little forced and isn’t natural to the characters. A support character goes off trying to antagonize Kitchen for no apparent reason.
After the contract negotiation, the story almost stalls completely while it delves into Kitchen’s personal life. Although the scene showcases a different side to Kitchen, at this point it seems completely unnecessary. It is possible this scene may become more relevant moving forward, but story-wise it is page filler albeit does showcase Kitchen’s manhood.
From there, the story takes a major turn. The twist almost comes out of the blue. And I use “almost” only because of the characters involved. However, the motivations aren’t explained at all and you are kind of just left at the end wondering what the hell just happened. It jumps from Kitchen being knocked out to waking up in a hotel bed completely changed. To make matters worse, the book closes off by supposedly introducing us to the real antagonist. It just gets all muddled towards the end leaving you more confused than satisfied.
Jef’s artwork is classic noir. All of the main characters have unique looks and are easily identifiable, mainly through their hairstyles. The panel design is very generic, but it makes it very easy to follow the story. The simplicity of the panel design is carried over into the actual art in the panels. For example, during the execution scene in the beginning he will highlight Kitchen pulling off his gloves in one panel and then tying up his hair in the next one. But these two panels describe more than just those two scenes; they represent Kitchen cleaning the scene, leaving no evidence of his presence behind besides a dead body. It’s so simple, but profound at the same time.
The one area where Jef struggles is with character faces. In some panels they all seem to be droopy or almost sliding off their skulls. In other profile shots, characters have eyes that look like they are almost right above the character’s ears. It can be a touch distracting. I did love any scene where he adds in background details especially in a restaurant. You feel like you are sitting there right with the characters.
(Re)Assignment #1 is a conflicted story. The first half of the story is extremely good and you are sitting on the edge of your seat sucking in every panel and each piece of dialogue and narration. However, around the halfway point the pacing bogs down with heavy-handed dialogue and then towards the end, the story goes a little haywire and leaves you confused about what you read and wondering what exactly happened. The art was definitely a stand-out point with rich backgrounds and solid choices of art to showcase entire scenes not to mention some shapely human forms. However, facial features were lacking. There’s definitely promise here, but there are quite a bit of rough edges that need to be polished. If you are looking for a unique take on the noir genre, this might just be the book for you.
- Solid panel design and excellent art choices that really drive the story
- An excellent opening act with very good pacing that sucks you into the story
- Great characterization
- Gets bogged down in dialogue about halfway through
- Facial features can be distracting
- An unnecessary hook-up scene that at this point does little for the story