Rankin used to be the best assassin in the world. Then he got out of the game by taking over a crime syndicate. Now his Pizda Ryu are the number two gang in the world and someone’s gunning for their leader. So what’s the assassin formerly known as “Chekhov’s Gun” going to do about it? Why hire the twenty best killers in the world to act as bodyguards and figure out who’s trying to kill him. Everyone’s here: From the current number one Fernando, to old-timers like Wistful Stan, newcomers such as Smoke and Dave, and one Fuck Tarkington. Maxwell Bishop, the assassin who succeeded Rankin as number one during his time, is also here too. He was retired, but now he’s back with a mission: To find the assassin who killed his husband by making an impossible shot.
“Assassin Nation” comes to us from writer Kyle Starks and artist Erica Henderson. The former has been writing “Rick and Morty” comics for Oni while the latter had a very well-admired run on “The Amazing Squirrel Girl” They both work great together here as Henderson delivers some slick visuals with memorable-looking characters that look like they belong in the very off-kilter world that Starks has created. That’s a good thing because A LOT of them die over the course of the series. Most in the first issue.
I was still able to get attached to them (well, those that didn’t die in the first issue…) thanks to Starks’ efficient characterization. He may not have created characters with a lot of depth, but they’re all distinctive. Especially Fuck Tarkington -- easily the Sensational Character Discovery of 2019. The only real stumbling block in this first volume is the humor. Not that this series isn’t very funny, it certainly is, it’s just that the pacing of the jokes feels a bit off. That results in the narrative not quite managing to nail the madcap comedy vibe that it’s aiming for. This is still a strong start to this series and even if it’s not the best Image launch I’ve read this year, it’s still good enough for me to want the creators to bring the next volume on as soon as they can.