Assassins Creed comics have a lineage almost as long as that of the popular gaming series that spawned them, but now the licence has moved to publishers Titan what can we expect from their new comic book series?
Join us as we take a look at the first issue of the new Assassins Creed title, the five part Trial by Fire mini-series, to see if it’s worth coming out of the Animus for.
Trial by Fire is written by Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery of Kill Shakespeare fame, who are joined by artist Neil Edwards, whose pencils have graced Dark Avengers and Fantastic Four.
Trial by Fire tells the story of modern day conspiracy theorist Charlotte de la Cruz, who becomes involved in the war between the Assassins and the Templars. Charlotte steps back in time via the Animus, a machine which can allow its users to experience history as if they were actually there and finds herself present at the Salem witch trials. Charlotte must follow in the footsteps of her ancestor Tom Stoddard, and we are told that in doing so she will witness an act so terrible it is said to still reverberate in the present day.
Bringing the world of Assassins Creed to life is artist Neil Edwards, whose art shines throughout the comic. Edwards shows that not only can he draw excellent fluid visceral action sequences but even when the story moves to the present day his dramatic use of faces and close ups keep the reader engaged. Last, but by no means least, Ivan Nunes colouring really helps set the seal on the art. His use of varying colour palettes to contrast Charlotte’s modern world with that of the Animus and Salem, certainly help the reader believe they are two separate places.
Much as I enjoyed the comic Trial by Fire isn’t without some problems. The major issue is that the comic wants to attract new readers to an established franchise, so must make sure the story doesn’t leave new readers confused. However, the story also needs to make sure that old fans will be intrigued enough to pick up the title. Because of this, Trial by Fire often delivers the necessary Assassins Creed lore with detailed exposition, which while needed for new readers can at times read like a game guide or Wiki entry. However, the plot of the first issue does dangle some interesting threads such as the Salem setting, which if developed in future issues could result in some clever pay offs.
Overall, despite some lengthy explanatory scenes, the comic moves at a good pace. The main protagonist Charlotte is fleshed out nicely, but this is done sadly at the expense of the rest of the cast, who come over as faceless goodies and baddies. The plot, while familiar to any Assassins Creed fan, has some twists but remains constrained by making sure new readers understand exactly what’s going on. Perhaps this might have been better handled in a text piece at the back of the comic, which might have prevented some of the lengthy dialogue sequences.
After finishing the issue I felt myself wishing that more time could have been spent in Salem than Charlotte’s first cursory visit, after all it’s here we’re promised the action and revelations, and some hints of what to expect would have added to the tension of the issue and left me more excited for the next instalment. Despite these issues, I would recommend Trial by Fire to comic book and Assassins Creed fans alike. Once you get past the exposition there lies an exciting tale which has promises of intrigue and mystery, served with a hefty dose of action.
Episode 1 of Assassin’s Creed is available on October14, 2015. For more information, check out the official site.