Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Killer Volume 4: Unfair Competition

Written by Matz
Art by Luc Jacamon

            The first volume of The Killer blew me away.  The nameless Killer holed up in a room, waiting for his target, slowly losing his mind, is truly one of the great comic experiences.  It’s a bit of a shame that none of the volumes since have managed to quite live up to that.  Unfair Competition is the falling of the series for me, the point where I say no more.
            In this volume, the Killer teams up with his friend Mariano and former CIA agent Haywood to open up an oil rig.  While it seems odd for a hired assassin to switch over to business, it quickly becomes clear that his killing skills are in even higher demand when it’s against rival businessmen and his own company’s shady dealings.
            The story of this book is pretty solid.  I like the idea of the Killer being very much out of his element, but still finding ways that he’s involved.  There’s also plenty of great moments of working out how to get out of situations.  We have him explaining all the different planes he has to take to get from country to country just to guarantee that he’s not tracked.  Killings have to be very carefully set up, helped by Jacamon’s always great art style.  And we get some philosophizing about his place in this new world.
            But that’s also the book’s downfall.  There’s simply too much philosophizing and politics.  The politics I can at least understand, as this is a political topic, but it starts to hammer on the head too much.  Facts will just suddenly be spouted out by characters who happen to know exact statistics about whatever’s relevant.  And then we have the philosophy that manages to grind the book down.  The inner monologue about what the Killer’s doing will suddenly switch over to how pathetic the average man is, only to switch back, making the plot hard to follow.  At one point, the main characters are having a conversation about their corporation, only to suddenly have the Killer start complaining about people wearing Che Guevara t-shirts.  I’ve read some comics before where it’s obvious the author is on the soap box, but rarely does it hurt the actual comic like it does here.  It doesn’t even matter whether you agree or not with what’s being said, it’s just a distraction from what’s actually going on, and it makes the book overly wordy when it should be fast-paced and tense.
            Read the first volume of The Killer.  It’s incredible.  Then pretend that that’s the only volume.  By the time you get to number four, it’s obvious the series has completely derailed from its original premise to become Matz’s soapbox.

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