Fred Van Lente (Cowboys & Aliens, Spider-Man) and Dennis Calero’s (X-Men Noir, Masks) Assassin’s Creed: Templars #1 continues Titan Comics line of video game adaptations. Following the son of a Templar in 1927 London and Shanghai, Templars puts a spin on the Assassin’s lore.
In the opening pages, Van Lente fleshes out the Templar known as the Black Cross, who hunts down misbehaving members of the group and stomps out their grievances the six feet under way. While barely seen, the Black Cross winds up as the most interesting character out of the bunch. Normally it’s the Brotherhood that deals out death for the Templars, but this time, the organization has their own inside man to be scared of.
The son of the slain Templar, Darius Gift, is then sent away on an unclear mission to Shangai. Being 1927, Van Lente plants the tensions leading up to the Shanghai massacre of 1927. Taking place on April 12, this violent incident was the accumulation of rising tensions between Kuomintang and the green Gang and the Communist Party of China, which was mostly made up of workers. It is suspected up to 300 workers went missing and more than 5,000 were reported missing.
It’s evident to Darius from the minute he jumps off the boat that the region is a powder keg with a short fuse. His mission is to spread the reach of Templars to China, but it now looks very grim. As with many stories, Darius meets a mysterious woman while waiting for his next move and pursues her.
Calero’s art, serves the narrative quite well for the most part. His use of coloring and shadows to build suspense comes across beautiful on page. However, some panels require a longer viewing to figure out what’s going on. The art comes works best when once again, detailing the shadowy Black Cross, who hangs throughout the book as a constant. The brutal nature the Black Cross takes down his targets is depicted in an attractive way.
The comic does not manage to wrap you into the characters- aside from the Black Cross. The dialogue between characters is straightforward, and at times bulky. The comic book form does not take the time to build interest or a connection to the characters, something its video game counterparts spends a lot of time constructing. It’s a difficulty many comic book adaptations of other mediums face, and few can hurdle.
Titan Comics started their Assassin’s Creed comic book adaptation line in the Fall of 2015, following a story of the Brotherhood in Salem, Massachusetts during the Witch Trials. It could have been interesting to see the Templars book take on that storyline but from their side, however it is intriguing to see what Van Lente and Calero will create in the East- somewhere Assassin’s Creed had only begun journeying with in Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles.
Assassin’s Creed: Templars #1 comes out on March 23.
The second issue hits stores and digital platforms in May.