“Grosse Pointe Blank Meets Charlie’s Angels”: Assassinistas #1 From Tini Howard, Gilbert Hernandez And Black Crown

by Oliver MacNamee

Assassinistas #1 hits shelves up and down the country and all across the world this week and marks only the third title to be released by the burgeoning Black Crown imprint from IDW. And, while the title suggests cool-looking assassins for hire, the first issue is far more grounded than you would think from an imprint that’s already given us the weirdness that is Kid Lobotomy and the 90s indie rock band CUD in graphic form!

The concept is quickly established as we are treated to a flashback as prologue before presenting us with the modern day reality of being a single mom with a son facing debilitating debt at college if he continues in his studies and the tough life choices, Dominic–son of assassin, Octavia Price–has to make. It’s a story that is relatable and, arguably, the true crime being perpetuated here is the continued practice in both America and the UK of lumbering young people with debt simply because they want to better themselves academically. I mean, what message is that sending?

But, I digress.

Octavia was once a kick-ass assassin (kick-assassin?), part of a trio of female assassins who seemed to have loved their job, even though it’s bumping off people. And, they seem to treat their job like one big night out. Even considering eating out before the shoot out.

But, times change and so to the present and the current real world problem solved, it would seem, very melodramatically. But then, the world is full of parent and children businesses; kids following in their parents’ footsteps. It’s a humorous concept that will be explored more in future issues. Shades of the dark humour of Grosse Pointe Blank meets Charlie’s Angels, if you will. But without any of the intentional glamour of the latter.

We learn as much about Dominic’s mom and dad as we need to through carefully placed flashbacks that keep the story moving at an appropriate pace. We discover the heartbreak of losing a loved one early in life, and the surprise on a mother’s face when you bring home a partner she wasn’t quite expecting. And, it is a surprise and nothing more. This is a modern world where the job of assassination is almost secondary to the family dynamics playing out across this first issue. Although, admittedly, kidnapping is not an every day occurrence. Not so much Love & Rockets but rather Love & Bullets.

Writer Tini Howard has created a compelling, character-led drama in this debut issue and with the indie, modern-thinking vibe brought to bear whenever Gilbert Hernandez (and colourist Rob Davis) are involved, gives this comic an established feel that I do hope helps sell it.

Light humoured and big hearted, Assassinistas #1 is a worthy addition to the growing shared universe of Black Crown and its surround community. You may pick it up for the creators involved, but you’ll stick around because of your investment in the charming, albeit deadly, characters that frequent this issue.

Assassinistas #1 is out now from Tini Howard, Gilbert Hernandez, Rob Davis, Aditya Bidikar, and Black Crown.