- Writer: Fred Van Lente
- Artist: Dennis Calero
- Colorist: Dennis Calero
- Letter: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
- Publisher: Titan Comics
- Release Date: March, 23, 2016
Titan Comics presents Assassin’s Creed: Templars #1 by writer Fred Van Lente and artist Dennis Calero. The five-part series kicks-off March 23rd.
I am not familiar with the back story of Assassin’s Creed, but discovering the powerhouse team of Van Lente and Calero on the title piqued my interest. The first issue contains a short two-page summary of the Templar’s history. It explains the dichotomy between the Templars and the Assassins that is the foundation for the series. Being among the uninitiated, I welcomed these pages following the story. I would have preferred them at the beginning, but few comic readers would care to nibble at a couple of pages of text when a feast of colorful art awaits at the turn of the page. If you are not familiar with Assassin’s Creed, I would recommend checking out these pages first before reading the story.
To briefly summarize the key ideas, the Templars are a secret organization that has actively shaped the course of human history for a millennia. Their goal is to guide and control mankind to the achievement of perfection. For years their greatest minds worked in secret improving mankind through scientific advancements and technology. In the early 20th century, the Templars believed they could hasten society’s attainment of perfection through capitalism. The Assassin’s brotherhood maintain it is through individual self-expression and open access to knowledge that mankind will ultimately reach its full potential. Though they share the same goal, the difference in their means has always pitted the two organizations in bloody opposition.
The story opens in London, February 1927. Corruption has taken hold within the Templar’s organization. The Black Cross is dispensing justice to a betrayer of the organization, Thaddeus. His son, Darius, is heading to Shanghai to start over and rebuild his family’s reputation by delivering a package for the Templars. Darius is the Templar’s last hope to restore order to the Shanghai Rite.
Fred Van Lente, who is also writing Conan The Avenger for Dark Horse, captures era of the 1920s. He introduces an avenger named the Black Cross who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. The interplay between the characters in the book makes for an engaging and meaty read. The story is not overly complicated yet the characters are rich with complexity. I felt comfortable letting myself slip into the writer’s world.
Dennis Calero does his best work with noir-style stories, as demonstration by his work on X-Men Noir for Marvel Comics and Masks for Dynamite Entertainment. I am always impressed by the emotion he can convey through a close up of a characters eyes and the diverse expressions of faces in a crowd. The smooth clean lines, bursts of bright light and shadowed faces are signatures of his style. Calero is putting more detail than he usually does into twenty-two pages of story, and we are the lucky readers who get to reap the benefits. There is one splash page of the Black Cross which is just mind-blowing. Calero is an outstanding colorist as well, and having him color his own work is icing on the cake. Besides producing mouth gaping interior art, Dennis Calero provides two variant covers for the first issue.
The Templars mini-series is shaping up to be another strong offering from Titan Comics thanks scoring the talented creative team of Van Lente and Calero to tell the story. If you ever needed an excuse to check out the world of Assassin’s Creed, I cannot think of any better reason than starting with this series.
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