20th Oct2017

‘Assassin’s Creed Reflections’ Graphic Novel Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Ian Edginton | Art by Valeria Favoccia | Published by Titan Comics

assassins-creed-reflections-cover

Creatively, Assassin’s Creed is the gift that keeps on giving. Its core concept, of using the Animus to jump into any specific point of time, is essentially a free licence for creators to have fun. And they have, ever since the game first appeared in 2007. Renaissance Italy. Ancient Egypt. Victorian London. Anything goes. First the games reflected this richness, then later the comics. Titan Comics have put out several series that have all managed to take a different aspect of the mythology and run with it, relatively recently actually having the Templar’s star in their own books. Can you say ‘game changer’.

One of many.

It’s been ten years since that first game, and the creativity just gets better and better. What better way to celebrate than a special collection that features ‘untold’ stories of some of the most famous characters in the franchise. Ezio, Altair, Edward Kenway, and Ratonhnhake:ton, they are all here, and the cherry on the top is that they are delivered by top comic book writer Ian Edginton. Stop, Titan, you are spoiling us.

Rather in the style of those old multiple story books, Master Templar Juhani Otso Berg, also known as The Black Cross, serves as the bridging sequence between the individual stories. As he has shown in the monthly books, Otso is a more open minded man than many of his Templar brethren, and not above using the Animus to experience, and learn from, his Assassin foes. First stop on the Animus locomotive is 1519 France, and a certain Ezio Auditore Da Firenze. This is an older Ezio, dropping in on old friend Leonardo Da Vinci who is on his death bed. The two reminisce on their younger days, and Ezio tells of his love for the woman who was painted as the Mona Lisa, a woman who saved him once. It’s a nice little tale.

Memory 2 sees Otso Berg visiting, in Animus form, early Thirteenth Century China, and Darim Ibn-La’Ahad, travelling with his legendary father, and old man now, Altair Ibn-La’Ahad. They have set out on the simple task of assassinating the heavily guarded Genghis Khan, who is in possession of the Sword of Eden, a very powerful Piece of Eden. They are discovered before they can silently take out the Khan, but four Assassins manage to take out an entire camp through subterfuge and knowing where, and when, to hit. We also witness the passing of the baton as an old, wounded Altair allows his young son Darim chase and kill Genghis Khan.

Memory 3 sees my favourite Assassin take centre stage, pirate Captain Edward James Kenway, as we drop in on the final voyage together of Kenway and his first mate, former slave Adewale, aboard The Jackdaw in 1722. Like all retiring thieves, Kenway is looking for one last big score, and thinks he has found it in the form of a sunken Spanish treasure ship. Edward didn’t plan on being boarded himself by other pirates, these ones led by the particularly nasty Ned Low, and pirates who want his gold. Edward though, as Assassins go, is unpredictable, volatile, and brilliant, and a boatload of pirates is no match for him.

Memory 4 sees Otso Berg’s final trip into the Animus to see the best the Assassins have to offer, and a visit to Ratonhnhake:ton, who we’ll call Bob. Just kidding, we’ll call him his given name of Connor. Connor is particularly notorious in Templar history, as he killed his father Haytham Kenway, one of the greatest of the Templar Grand Masters. Haytham was also son of the Assassin we previously dropped in on, Edward Kenway. Templar’s and Assassins are not as different perhaps as they like to think, something Otso Berg also believes. Connor is an Assassin but as his story shows, his relationship with his family is his driving purpose. He teaches his daughter how to track, and hunt, a very liberated attitude for the Eighteenth Century.

The ultimate irony of Otso Berg searching for Assassin weaknesses to learn from , and exploit, is that he finds only strengths and finds himself taking things away from them. Themes of loyalty, love, and family are not ones naturally associated with Assassins, but ones that give Otso Berg food for thought. And perhaps us, the reader. The interlocking stories, and bridging sequences, were superbly written, doing full justice to both the classic characters and to newer creation Juhani Otso Berg. The art throughout was very good, at times straying into a slightly cartoony style that I was not hugely keen on but rescued by excellent layouts and pacing, and some really nice panel composition.

Ian Edginton has crafted a near perfect hundred pages to celebrate the Assassin’s Creed anniversary, and by showing us it is the things under the surface that count the most, he has pinpointed what makes the Assassins what they are, and why the games and comics are so popular.

Superb storytelling, and a must read for comics and gaming fans alike.

***** 5/5

Assassin’s Creed Reflections is out now from Titan Comics.

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