Review – The Killer Volume 2

Occasionally, I have the pleasure of reading or watching some form of media that is so enthralling that I have to finish it, or at least make major headway, before I can put it down. Some examples of those experiences for me have been shows like Firefly or the first season of Heroes and Lost, books such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and other random things like completely anime series and fantasy/sci-fi books. The Killer Volume 2 published by Archaia is one of those books. Archaia is an interesting publisher and I have already enjoyed books put out by them such as The God Machine and Robotika. They have lots of original titles that should be getting a lot of attention for the storytelling in addition to the art. I ended up plowing through The Killer as if I was reading a book. I had to actually go back and look through the art, which is impressive enough in its own right, but the story was so gripping that I had trouble on the first go-through, stopping to appreciate it properly. The story is divided into three parts and follows a hitman as he travels through his life earning a living and staying alive. Interested in learning more? Well then read on after the break. I feel like we should start with a brief overview of the story that is presented by writer Matz. I’m going to be pretty general as I want you to pick this book up and experience it for yourself. The Killer is the story of a hitman who is working for various clients involved in drugs. Unfortunately he soon realizes that all is not what it seems. He lives by a simple code of protecting those he cares about, who are few to be sure, knowing who he is working for and being professional and getting out alive. The Debt is our introduction in this Volume to a previous job’s repercussions on our anti-heroes daily life. He is forced to work for a group he did not know much about at the start, but they are willing to pay his rate and that is enough for him. He develops close ties to some of the people he meets doing this. This leads directly into Blood Ties, the second chapter, where the hitman describes what it means to protect those people closest to him and how to live a normal life given his line of work. The final chapter, The Killer Instinct, describes what happens when people invade the life of the hitman and his very few close friends. The story is gripping, always moving forward and, at least to me, fascinating. Now I don’t know anything about being a hitman obviously. I’m sure that what I think I understand about the criminal world is actually woefully naïve and that it is much worse then I think. What makes this story great is its believability. Our guy doesn’t survive any crazy one million to one odds shootouts like James Bond; in fact, he doesn’t even look like anything other than a regular guy. I would imagine the trick to being a professional killer is the ability to slip away and remain unnoticed, something the main character here is ideally suited for. He plans his jobs, executes them with precision and always has an exit plan. He also follows orders; the perfect soldier with the ability to improvise. This doesn’t stop him from getting in over his head in this story, but he certainly thinks his way out. Okay, I suppose no discussion of the quality of a comic, graphic novel or not, would be complete without at least touching on the artwork. The artwork by Luc Jacamon is crisp, unique and consistent throughout. All the characters are immediately recognizable as their own people and I didn’t notice any real inconsistencies. The facial expressions are great and I really felt like the characters conveyed what you would expect them to be feeling based on that point in the story. If you are a fan of anime then maybe you have come across a title called Speed Grapher (if you haven’t, and actually enjoy the genre, I would highly recommend it); the artwork here reminds me in some ways of that. I always have trouble critiquing art as it isn’t really my specialty, but I feel like the style fits the genre here. The artwork matches the noir writing, but it isn’t dark throughout as many of the environments are in bright, lush places. All the elements you would expect in a gritty story like this involving drugs, sex and murder are included and carried out artistically so that they are not gratuitous, but only included as much as necessary to fit the story. I would highly recommend picking this up now in comic stores or in your local bookstores March 30th and keep an eye on Archaia in general, as they really seem to be putting out quality titles on a regular basis.