I’ve been waiting on this comic for a while. Apparently it was released early this month, but I couldn’t find a copy at my local comic shop, so I ordered it from my go-to online distributor and it finally came a few weeks late. Was it worth the time I had to wait? Well, yes and no.
This is a prequel, which is often a tough nut to crack since you have to make things interesting even though the audience knows, ultimately, where a character is going to end up. Luckily for the reader, the John Wick movies don’t give us much backstory, other than he performed some sort of “impossible task” that helped establish the Tarasov crime syndicate which allowed him to retire and spend time with his lady-love. Who would eventually die. And leave him a puppy. Which gets violently killed. John Wick has the worst luck.
So yeah, there’s a lot to explore, and it’s a bit odd that the comic begins in El Paso, Texas, but sure, why not. Wick has followed some folks here and intends to do some killing, though not as a professional assassin. He’s not quite there yet. This is personal.
The three guys he’s after tried to kill him when he was a youth, going so far as to launch a fucking missile at him. So, yeah, John is pissed and ready to get extremely violent. Also, Wick coincidentally meets Charon, the New York Continental concierge that we see in the movies. Looks like he’s going to be a sort of mentor character. So that’s nice.
We get to see the existentially brooding Wick that we’re used to, and a youthful John Wick, but we don’t see anything in between. Will we ever? Good question. Hopefully we will. Like a lot of number one issues, this one is all groundwork, scene setting. It’s exciting enough, and writer Greg Pak (Planet Hulk) sets plenty of stuff up, but it’s not all terribly compelling.
There’s so much world-building potential in the John Wick universe. The second film established a rich mythology concerning a secret order of assassins, but left things vague enough that Wick could still remain a man of mystery. After this first issue, we still don’t know a hell of a lot about him.
Giovanni Valletta’s art is particularly suited to this action-based story. His figures are quite detailed during quieter, dialogue-heavy scenes, while they become blurry, with some characters appearing almost faceless, during the gunfight, which does a good job of mimicking the frenetic pace of the action sequences in the film.
So the comic is good enough that I’ll pick up the second issue, but even though I’m quite a fan of the John Wick movies, if the series doesn’t pique my interest after a few issues, I’ll have to drop it. There’s too much good stuff out there to waste money on something that’s not absolutely top-notch. Right now, the series has potential, but not a whole lot else. So we’ll see how this goes.