By Ben Snyder
While last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins proved to be a fantastically enjoyable video game, the first issue of its comic book counterpart Assassin’s Creed: Origins fails to meet the former's standards. Focusing on the character Aya in Rome around the time of Caesar’s assassination sounds like a fascinating concept in theory being that Aya was such a strong character in the game. But in Assassin’s Creed: Origins #1 Aya is simply given little to do and little space to do it in making her feel like a spectator in her own story.
It really is a shame that Aya is barely present in this issue because throughout the game she is the one side character I was most fascinated by. In the game you play as Bayek, Aya’s husband, so seeing how she would cope with the death of her child sounded novel and interesting at first. Instead, we are given a story that seems pointless. We already know that she is involved in the murder of Julius Caesar and we already know she makes it out and helps Bayek build up the Assassin’s in Eygpt so what is the ultimate "end game" of this story? And that is my ultimate disappointment with this story; I feel like they are focusing on Aya at the wrong time frame rendering this entire story useless.
The dialogue is well written however as writer Anthony Del Col makes Aya’s inner monologue insightful but also grounded. He fills Aya with obvious remorse and longing for her former family, but firm in her duties to protect others. Brutus and company read well also. They obviously feel remorse over having to kill their leader and friend, but they know they must do it and reading the banter between Brutus and Cassius in this comic is much easier than reading Shakespeare. It’s simply nothing groundbreaking or stellar.
The art on the other hand is entirely inconsistent. Throughout the issue artist PJ Kaiowa makes some pages looks really cool, especially splash panels focusing on gore. Two pages in particular are when Aya kills the orator and her initial strike on Caesar. They look a bit too similar for no other reason than Aya is the one striking, but it can come off a bit lazy. The page of her killing Caesar does have some interesting panel layout though.
One major offender on the art front is the page after the scene in which Aya kills Caesar. It is a traditional grid layout but each panel is mired in a bright pastel color making it look like similar to something Andy Warhol could have done. It’s not that the scene is outright horrible, but it contradicts the entire art style, the comic had established before it. I get that this was an important scene and it needed to be differentiated, but there had to have been a better way.
A major theme throughout Assassin’s Creed: Origins #1 is unfortunately inconsistency. There are instances in which the book succeeds; however they are brought down entirely by the books shortcomings. Even if you loved the video game, I cannot whole-heartedly recommend this book yet. Despite this I am hoping the story does go into interesting places.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins #1