Monday, February 24, 2014

Review – Killer of Men


“I never used to think about it. Killing. We’re trained not to.”

Life after the military is nothing short of impossible for most soldiers. There are some, however, who manage to come out of active combat without nary a psychological scar and what appears to be enhanced abilities to mete out justice as they deem fit. It’s those characters that make books like Killer of Men from New Kingdom Entertainment. The graphic novel is written by Chris Calkins, Alexander Storm and Julian Brantley, illustrated by Manuel Martin, colored by Mauricio Finzon and lettered by Brantley.

Abriam is very good at killing. He’s had plenty of training at it too, both as a Marine and working for Blackwater; two employers who allow him to add very dangerous skills to his resume. Now though, he’s something of an independent contractor, with his latest job being the mob boss Klaus. Set against the backdrop of the ever-active Las Vegas, Abriam deals with all manner of obstacles in an effort to accomplish his contract.

Killer of Men realizes the fact that it’s really treading new ground, in terms of the hero being an almost invincible, macho hero subject to falling in love as a blind spot. The fact of the matter is that Killer of Men is littered with, well, killers of men, all of whom feel they’re more capable of dispensing death than the other. While the story itself is fairly ho-hum and full of double-crosses, the dialogue by Calkins, Storm and Brantley is probably the book’s biggest weakness. There are some really cheesy lines uttered by all of the characters and in some cases, no lines at all to accompany the action would’ve gone much further with the reader in terms of establishing the characters. It’s readily apparent that these men are proficient without having them actually explain why they’re so good.

Martin’s illustrations are uneven throughout the book. There are some panels that appear to be more finished than the others and Martin doesn’t really spend too much time detailing the faces of the characters. There are also some perspective inconsistencies, such as when Abriam goes from towering over a character to looking shorter than another character. It’s clear that the team was attempting to add some variety to the book, but it does so at the expense of maintaining a persistent physical persona for some of the characters. While the panels largely follow the standard grid format, there are some instances where panels are offered as insets and full-page splashes, providing a slight break from the expected format.

Killer of Men is a story about betrayal and one man fighting his foes, both external and internal. That by itself isn’t really a problem, but the fact that the creative team didn’t really do much to add any unique spin on the proceedings hurts the story a little bit. It would have been nice if they deviated from that script somewhat and didn’t make the story so formulaic, rushing Abriam through all the expected character arcs to get him to the end. If you’re cup of tea happens to be nigh invincible, muscular men brimming with testosterone and the skill to shoot multiple people in sequence without missing or getting hit, then Killer of Men is right your alley.

Killer of Men is available now via Comixology.

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