23rd Aug2018

‘Assassin’s Creed Conspiracies #1′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Guillaume Dorison | Art by Jean-Baptiste Hostache | Published by Titan Comics

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Ok, so I’m willing to bet another Assassin’s Creed book is going to divide opinion in an obvious way. If you like Assassin’s Creed, the games, books, novels etc, like I do, any new Assassin’s Creed story is a good thing. If you don’t really care for Assassin’s Creed, or are just confused by the million and one flavours of Assassin out there, this probably won’t change your mind. Assassin’s Creed is very formulaic, and your mileage may vary with that, but it is a clever formula that works really well, and a formula that works well in both game, film, book and comics form.

Assassin’s Creed Conspiracies differs from the more recent Assassins books, which were either game adaptations/ prequels and sequels, or using characters drawn from existing canon. Conspiracies comes from a different place. Back in 2009, Ubisoft’s French language publishing arm, Les Deux Royaumes, published Assassin’s Creed Cycle 1, a series of 6 graphic novels set in the Assassins world that may, or may not, be strictly canon. The second Cycle, which began publication in 2016, was Assassin’s Creed Conspiracies, now available in a shiny new English translation courtesy of Titan, and the book before me now. Part of the formula, yes, but also comfortable in its own little corner of that world.

We begin in Norway, 1943, in the midst of World War 2, and an Assassin is dropped at a hydroelectric plant being guarded by German soldiers. The plant, of course, hides a darker secret, and one Assassin Eddie Gorm is trying to destroy. First, though, we go back to 1940, and a very different Eddie Gorm, a man who runs the Docks in London. Times are hard, and Eddie is a little morally flexible when needs must, but he draws the line at working with East End gangster Jack Turpin. Turns out though that Jack Turpin is actually an undercover Nazi agent, one being tracked by American spies, and they want Eddie to pretend to work with him to get the dirt on a German military plan for an atomic bomb. As Eddie turns them down, a bomb drops. Literally.

Eddie’s family are now dead, and he starts to reevaluate his decision to do nothing. What he doesn’t know is the two American agents trying to recruit him are actually Assassins, and the German head of the bomb programme is a Templar. Eddie accepts his role as a spy, and helps Turpin’s gang rob and steal some military secrets, along the way having to sell out a friend to maintain his cover. Dirty work. Jump forward 2 years, and Eddie is the toast of German military society, and the most hated man in England. Kramer, the Templar and top bomb programme officer, still has his doubts about Eddie, especially considering his early military background. Eddie survives the interrogation, though realises he is becoming something he no longer likes.

Alice, one of the American spies, tells Eddie that scientist Heisenberg will be visiting soon, and Eddie has to help kidnap him to cripple their bomb programme. Eddie decides to go his own way, and does indeed kidnap Heisenberg, but only to try and find out stuff about the bomb. Turns out the programme is a fake, a cover for the real programme, Die Glocke, which is being run at the hydroelectric plant in Norway. And owned by Abstergo. As the chips fall into place, and Alice is injured saving Eddie in her Assassins robes, Eddie is finally clued in and shown how much the Templars have manipulated mankind and continue to do so. He is also ordained an Assassin….

Which brings us full circle to Norway 1943.The Die Glocke programme, being run by Kramer with the help of Nikola Tesla, is linked to the Precursors. Kramer tells Eddie about events from the Templar side, and puts him into a primitive Animus machine to reveal where Pieces of Eden are hidden. Cut to the present, where Maxime Gork is in a modern day Animus, and seems to have Eddie’s consciousness now inside, over 70 years later…this could get messy.

At 52 pages, this volume is bigger than two normal comics, but never feels over long, and was always a really engaging enjoyable read. It read mostly like a political thriller, and the Assassins/Templar element was largely absent until the very end. Nice to see a writer not afraid to build slowly, and to trust in his story. Well written, nicely nuanced characters, interesting setting, and some nice new Assassin history too. The artwork was superb, slightly busy at times but gorgeous to look at. Very evocative of its 1940′s setting, and gorgeously detailed. The colours were also perfect, each scene and setting coloured with a different palette. Fine work.

All Assassin’s Creed stories should be this good. Superb.

****½  4.5/5

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