Friday, December 1, 2017

Review - John Wick #1 (@dynamite)


"I always like it quiet."

The Boogeyman is a myth that strikes fear in kids all over the world. Baba Yaga is a myth that strikes fears in adults and assassins all over the world. While the former is good for a spooky story or two, the latter is good for John Wick #1 from Dynamite Entertainment. The issue is written by Greg Pak, illustrated by Giovanni Valleta, colored by David Curiel and Inlight Studios and lettered by Tom Napolitano.

When a young John Wick emerges from prison and embarks upon his first epic vendetta, he comes up against a strange, powerful community of assassins and must learn how to master the Book of Rules that guides their lethal business. What are the Three Bills? Who is Calamity? And who was John Wick before he became the Baba Yaga?

The two John Wick films have prided themselves on their ability to depict the titular hero as a man feared by most and Pak infuses John Wick #1 with that same sensibility. Pak doesn't really do much in the way of introducing the reader to John Wick as he currently exists, primarily because this is something of an origin story. Despite the notion of an origin, there's not an abundance of dialogue in the issue as Pak instead focuses on the characters' violent interactions with one another. In that sense, the book does an excellent job of tapping into John Wick's sheer talents as a killer while also showcasing events from his past to explain how he got where he is now. A character like John Wick is created by an event (or series of events) and Pak does well to tie the present events into the past, all while keeping John Wick at the center of it all and bringing him into the world of assassins.

Credit to Valleta--he's really nailed the look of Keanu Reeves as John Wick. That rendering of John Wick further draws the reader into the action and gives them something of a point in reality to grasp onto. Valleta's style relies on thin--yet defined--pencils that allow the characters to cut into the settings quite efficiently. The action sequences are thoroughly enjoyable as Valleta infuses the book with all manner of martial arts, gunfire, breaking windows and a variety of other action-packed events that give the book a frenetic pace. The colors by Curiel/Inlight Studios are darker and somewhat ominous, echoing the darker blues and blacks of the films.

John Wick #1 is a very solid origin story for an equally solid character. John Wick has always been one to shy away from conflict, but there are those he crosses paths with who don't know that about him and instead push him to violence. Pak's take on the character is strong, emphasizing his quiet solitude as a facade for a quiet ferocity. Valleta's artwork is brash and reckless, much like the characters involved in the action. John Wick #1 will appeal to fans of the films and characters like James Bond who have a propensity for much, much more violence.

John Wick #1 is available now.

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