Friday, February 3, 2017

Review - Dante #1 (@TopCow)


"I have something to confess...sometimes I like to kill people."

The life of a hitman probably isn't as nearly as glamorous as movies would have you believe. Sure, you can probably get yourself out of any situation, but the fact that you're in those situations to begin with probably isn't ideal. Dante #1 from Top Cow Comics is about a hitman in a whole new situation entirely. The issue is written by Matt Hawkins and Jason Ning, illustrated by Darick Robertson, colored by Diego Rodriguez and lettered by Simon Bowland.

Dante was a family man with a wife and a young daughter—and also a top assassin working for an international crime syndicate. For two decades, he worked hard to keep those two lives separate. Manipulated into thinking he could retire with the syndicate’s blessing, Dante is betrayed. While fighting to save himself, he accidentally kills a young Asian boy—an act which changes him forever. Cursed, and covered with otherworldly tattoos, Dante embarks on a journey to uncover the source of this supernatural affliction, and to save his family.

Hawkins and Ning write Dante as extremely qualified to the do his job--almost to the point of being superhuman. In fact, much of Dante #1 is introducing him to the character in a way that both highlights his capabilities while also emphasizing his flaws. The script reads in a pretty straightforward manner that doesn't really leave much room for interpretation on the part of the reader. Hawkins and Ning are content to focus primarily on Dante's unique situation and how he plans to redeem himself. The pacing does seem to be a little erratic at times as it seems the writers were trying to cram everything into the first issue they could so that future issues wouldn't feel as hurried.

Robertson's artwork is pretty sound, effectively showcasing Dante's talents. The linework is very meticulous, emphasizing an attention to detail in both the backgrounds and foreground characters. Robertson breathes action into the panels by filling them out and the appearance of the tattoos on Dante feel especially alive. And speaking of action, Robertson handles the action sequences well, giving Dante's combat prowess a chance to--ahem--flex its muscle. The colors by Rodriguez are pretty basic yet effective in letting Robertson's details shine through a bit more.

For all intents and purposes, Dante #1 is a superhero origin story of sorts. Dante is a man with capabilities that others could only dream of and now he's being forced to use them for a version of good that aligns more with the universal sense of good. Hawkins and Ning have crafted a story that's straightforward yet intriguing. The artwork by Robertson is a good fit and follows the action well. Dante #1 is an interesting first issue that will no doubt get crazier as the series progresses.

Dante #1 is available now.

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