Review – The Killer: Affairs Of The State #1
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Artist: Luc Jacamon
Letterer: Andworld Design
Release Date: February 23rd 2022
I was dying to read The Killer: Affairs Of The State #1 for review after it dropped this week. A new original comic based around a hitman, which has already been confirmed to be getting a big screen movie adaption, directed by legendary auteur David Fincher? Sign me the hell up!
Unfortunately, this first issue failed to live up to my level of hype in almost every way. At best this is a restrained introduction into this new world and its characters and at worst, it is a mundane, run-of-the-mill pseudo-noir story that does absolutely nothing to break any new ground.
If this thing was not being adapted into a movie by one of my favourite filmmakers working in Hollywood, I would drop it immediately and recommend that you do the same. Don’t get me wrong, this is far from the worst first issue in a new series that I have ever read, it is just so painfully mediocre.
The first few pages of the issue are mercifully free of any cringe-inducing text, but once the dialogue does kick in, it feels extremely sloppy. It comes across as lazy and almost has a, ‘writing dialogue for dummies,’ feel to it.
None of it feels natural, instead feeling forced and expositional. The conversational dialogue that is present feels extremely surface-level, meaning that none of these characters feel like real people.
It should be noted that this comic was originally written in French by Matz, AKA Alexis Nolent and then translated into English by Edward Gauvin. Maybe the stilted feeling that the dialogue has is due to Gauvin not doing a great job with the translation, perhaps it reads much better in French. I do not speak French, so I could not tell you either way.
Something that cannot be excused by being blamed on the translation is how irritating the main character’s chronic case of, ‘terminal uniqueness,’ comes across on the page.
I mentioned earlier that David Fincher is working on a film adaption of this book. When Tyler Durden waxed lyrical about how; “you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake,” back in 1999, it felt original and striking. In 2022, in a post-Joker world, it does not. It feels tired and redundant.
I stuck with the issue though, hoping that despite the poor writing, we would at least get some payoff from the plot elements that were set up at the beginning of the issue. A group of assassins stalking a target; surely the issue must end with the hit taking place?
The issue concludes with Killer taking part in some awkward flirting with a colleague from his day job as an office worker. Then he ponders to himself whether starting a relationship would help him come across as, ‘more normal,’ to the general population and then the issue just abruptly ends. It felt extremely anti-climactic.
The only thing worse than poorly-written dialogue, is poorly-written dialogue that is difficult to read. I don’t normally hone in too much on the lettering when reading comics as I usually take it for granted that the person getting paid to type text into blank boxes is adequately able to do so. However, here the lettering by Andworld Design, is notably substandard.
For context, I read most digital copies of comics on my phone. My phone is the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which when opened up, is by no means a small display. Since buying this phone, I have never had to zoom in to read a speech balloon. I did with this issue.
In fact, choosing to call them speech balloons is somewhat generous here. For some reason, all the text has been typed in square-shaped white boxes, however the text boxes containing narration/internal monologue happen to take the exact same shape and colour. This leaves very little discernible difference between the two, making this thing even more difficult to read.
Luc Jacamon provided the illustration in the issue. Whilst I would not take anything away from his technical ability as an artist, his choices for character design are somewhat strange. I refer in particular to the main character of, ‘Killer,’ who resembles what you may consider the 2005 version of a stereotypical cool guy.
His whole buzzcut and sunglasses combo feels pretty dated and takes me back to an era when every character design choice was made based on the Matrix movies. Though it is not even just his hair and accessory choices that come across as jarring.
The actual design of Killer’s face is just kind of odd. He has very owl-like features, which cause him to feel more akin to a secretarial side character, rather than the main assassin character who we follow through the plot. The way that his face is drawn actual sort of reminds me of, (dare I say it?) ‘Kick-Ass,’ era John Romita Jr’s artwork. Needless to say, not a style that I would be trying to emulate as an artist.
Let’s end things on a positive note, since there was only really one positive that I took away from my time with this issue. Although I didn’t enjoy Jacamon’s character designs, his use of colouring worked a treat throughout the book. The pages were he chose to use monochromatic greens or oranges were particularly striking and really helped those sequences to stand out in my mind.
Overall, I am hugely disappointed with this first issue. I have been looking forward to reading The Killer: Affairs Of The State #1 for review for some time and I wanted to like it so badly! Unfortunately, this first issue let me down. Hopefully the series can pick up and improve in quality through the rest of its six-issue run.
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If you enjoyed Dan’s review of The Killer: Affairs Of The State #1, you can check out his review of BRZRKR #7 here.
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