One of the trickier problems in modern comics is that of translation. Different cultures have different storytelling styles, and slang and idiom present further problems. Ask any manga fan about what can go wrong; especially in the ’80s there were some truly awful translations of classic books.
Unfortunately, the latest round of Assassin’s Creed comics seem to have fallen victim to this problem, to some degree.
The basic problem of the books, of which there are three so far with more to come, is that a fair chunk of it is dedicated to exposition. There’s a reason for this: These comics exist partially to be sold to Assassin’s Creed‘s enormous non-gaming fan base so they can get caught up on the game’s story and fill in a few gaps.
Still, it doesn’t translate well, and often the books feel a bit stiff, although it’s far from the worst French-to-English translation in comics. The author, Eric Corberyan, has a lot of fun with the mythology of the series, and hopping back and forth in time. The books largely explore the past of one of Desmond’s ancestors, Aquilus, a Roman-era Assassin, and cut back to Desmond as he deals with the general lunacy. Corberyan is an experienced screenwriter and has been working in comics for decades, and it shows in his pacing and humor.
The art, by Djillali Defali, is detailed, especially in backgrounds, although it must be said that Defali sometimes struggles with his colorist and inker. Digital color doesn’t seem to be used, or if it is used, it’s done so inconsistently.
One thing that can’t be argued against, though, is the printing. Titan Books, republishing these comics, has chosen to put them out in gorgeous slim hardbacks. Collectors in particular are going to love having these.
In the end, if you’re a big fan of Assassin’s Creed, these books are worth the $10 apiece to fill out the mythology a little bit more. If you don’t care that much about Desmond and his ancestors, though, you might have more fun with the games instead.