Written by Alex Paknadel, Dan Watters | Art by Jose Holder | Published by Titan Comics
There’s been times recently I feel as though I’m in an Animus myself. What with finally getting around to playing Assassin’s Creed IV on my PS4, going to see the Assassin’s Creed movie, reading the Black Flag novelization, and reading all the comic book issues as they come out. If nothing else, it gives a pretty good indication that this is a very solid multi-media franchise, as I’m sure I’m not alone. The comic book series have been as good as anything out there so far, so let’s hope this new title lives up to the hype.
I say ‘new’, but this book is actually a mash up of two former series that were recently wrapped up. Assassin’s Creed featured Charlotte de la Cruz, a novice recruited into the Assassins Guild who had to learn to keep up real fast. This she did, and it has become clear she is more than just a new recruit, she has very special abilities. Assassin’s Creed: Templars look at things from the other side, that of the Templars, and followed Master Templar Juhani Otso Berg’s attempts to track down the descendants of the Templar upholder of justice, The Black Cross. After a dead end or two, Berg has decided to take up the role himself.
The first issue of Assassin’s Creed: Uprising starts with a fairly commonplace event in the Assassin’s Creed world, a raid gone wrong. Charlotte’s group had hit a location supposedly vacated by Templars, only to meet resistance from a group of armoured fighters that also seem to be Assassins, though not ones she has seen before. While that’s all going on we switch to London, where we meet some more Assassins, now with a more international flavour. As top Assassin Galina (Russian) trains novice My’shell (American), Assassins Kiyoshi (Japanese) and Arend (Dutch) look on, and get the bad news from Charlotte that the raid went very bad. So badly only she and one other, Guernica, made it and now need extraction quickly.
Templars Berg and Da Costa, with a support team have also pitched up at the site of the raid, confused that a location of theirs was being used by someone else. Berg leaves, to change into his new identity of The Black Cross, an identity he feels necessary as he’s not sure he can trust all his fellow Templars, and Black Cross can go places he cannot. It can’t hurt he has earpiece advice and back up from Andre, the last living descendant of the original Black Cross bloodline. As he begins his own investigation of the scene, Berg comes to a pretty startling conclusion. Could Assassins and Templars be working together, using high tech Abstergo weapons and armour? Now that, my friends, is about as big a game changer in the Assassin’s Creed world as you can get.
For a first issue this was pretty good. Its main job, to set the scene and introduce all the characters, was done nicely, and in such a way that it would have brought newbies up to speed fast while reintroducing those characters for ongoing readers of both former Assassin’s Creed books, now mixing together of course. I liked both the new, action oriented Mission: Impossible vibe, and the somewhat breathless juggling of several plots at once. A lot happened all at once, and that made for an exciting launch.
Not all good for me though. Although I liked the overall action film vibe, and the integration of characters from different books, I didn’t like the complete lack of any Animus ancestor hopping. There are plenty of action comics out there and we need Assassin’s Creed to keep its individuality, not join that generic genre, or at least combine the two better. Secondly, I was not sold on the art by Jose Holder. It was often too busy, too many panels crammed on each page, making the reading experience harder work, and not helping the story to flow. Granted, there was a lot to cram in, so I’ll be interested to see if the art settles down as the storytelling does.
A different approach to the Templars and Assassins conflict then. Let’s see where Uprising takes us.
Assassin’s Creed: Uprising #1 is out now from Titan Comics