Monday, October 30, 2017

Review - Agent 47: Birth of Hitman #1 (@dynamitecomics)


"So many possibilities. Car bomb sounds good to you?"

An assassin is typically cold, calculated and methodical. That approach to life is one that requires a certain type of focus and commitment that persists through life. In Agent 47: Birth of Hitman #1 from Dynamite Comics, Agent 47 is contemplating a change in approach. The issue is written by Christopher Sebela, illustrated by Jonathan Lau and Ariel Medel, colored by Omi Remalante and lettered by Thomas Napolitano.

47 and his handler, Diana Burnwood, are a team responsible for some of the most ruthless, efficient and untraceable assassinations across the globe. But before they were operatives of the shadowy International Contracts Association, 47 and Burnwood were on their own separate paths in life - streets lined with blood, bullets and revenge. As 14-year-old Diana begins a mission to track down the people who killed her parents, the one responsible, 47, is struggling to free himself and his brother, 6, from the mysterious Institute which has bred them as killers since they were kids. With a story that stretches from the heartland of America to the Berlin Wall, Lone Wolves will trace the birth of the legendary Hitman and the secret past of the woman behind him who pulls the string and knows just how hard taking a life truly is.

Sebela embraces the notion of individuals born and raised as assassins, but his approach in Agent 47: Birth of Hitman #1 is a dichotomy of sorts. His script moves back and forth between Agent 47 and Diana Burnwood, showing both sides of the assassination event and how it effects the two of them. Sebela informs the reader of the events unfolding largely through a omniscient narrator interspersed with dialogue reflecting the paths of the two main characters. Diana is characterized as someone determined to do whatever it takes to avenge her parents, while Agent 47 is characterized as someone seeking some sort of redemption. Sebela plays the two sides off of one another well, engendering a sense of sympathy in the reader for both cases.

The art team of Lau and Medel offers plenty of character-establishing shots. That being said, there's something about the approach that feels a little too much like a comic book and somewhat undercuts the maturity of the content itself. That may or may not have been intentional, but Lau and Medel do a solid job nonetheless. The panels are laid out in a variety of ways that keeps the eyes of the reader moving along with the action, with some of the characters bleeding over the edges of the panels into the empty gutters. The colors by Remalante some sheen to the book and help out in distinguishing between different points in time for the characters.

Agent 47: Birth of Hitman #1 is very much a tale of two lives affected by the same event. Agent 47 is having doubts about his role in life and the reason for his being while Diana is hellbent on seeing her revenge through to the end. Sebela jumps back and forth between the two while simultaneously explaining the ways their lives are intricately intertwined. The artwork by Lau and Medel very much grounds the action in the realm of a comic book, but still looks pretty slick. Agent 47: Birth of Hitman #1 seems like it would only appeal to fans of the Hitman franchise, but the story does have a wider appeal than that.

Agent 47: Birth of Hitman #1 is available now.

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