Assassin’s Creed Vol. 1-3 (Titan Books)

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This three-volume side story from the hit video game franchise starts strong, but a disjointed story ultimately leaves the complete work less than satisfying.

 

Assassin’s Creed Vol. 1: Desmond
Assassin’s Creed Vol. 2: Aquilus
Assassin’s Creed Vol. 3: Accipiter
48 pages (ea.), full color, $9.99 (ea.)
(W: Corbeyran; A: Djillali Defali)
 
Novelizations and comic adaptations of video games are a tricky business, both for the people who write and illustrate them as well as the followers of the franchise. Expectations are high and the writers are pressured to elaborate upon an already established storyline while staying true to the characters and themes that the fans know and love. In both respects, the Assassin’s Creed Graphic Novel Trilogy was a disappointment.
 
The trilogy is broken into three volumes, each titled forthe character it follows. The first volume establishes the story of Desmond, a not-so-average bartender with an ancestry that can be traced back to ancient Jerusalem. In the beginning of the tale, Desmond is kidnapped by a multinational company known as Abstergo Industries and strapped into a mysterious machine called the Animus. The Animus is revealed to be a device capable of revisiting the ancestral lives of whomever is set inside of it. Desmond’s ancestors hold the key to a great treasure that Abstergo desperately wants, a collection of ancient and powerful artifacts known as the Pieces of Eden. Over time it is revealed that this quest is part of a much larger conflict that has been warring for ages. On one side is the Brotherhood of Assassins, from which Desmond’s line hails, and on the other side is the Knights Templar, which later evolved into Abstergo.
 
The first volume of the trilogy does an excellent job of establishing the story, perhaps more so than its video game predecessor. Corbeyran does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters and writing riveting, witty dialogue while Djillali Defali renders them in highly detailed environments and brilliant action sequences. By the second volume, however, the story seems to meander, weaving in and out of the plot set down by the long-running video game series. It briefly mentions but otherwise skips through the lives of Altair and Ezio, the two ancestors that served as the main protagonists of the first four games, before surging forward on its own. Corbeyran chooses to do this through the introduction of a new character from Desmond’s lineage, Aquilus from ancient Rome. Though this deviation does giveCorbeyran the ability to draw outside the lines of the existing Assassin’s Creed timeline, it’s unclear how it connects with the main plot or the development of the main characters, neither of which move forward more than a few developmental steps from the first volume of the trilogy.
 
The final straw that breaks the camel’s back comes in the third book, which introduces not only a different ancestral protagonist, but also a different descendent, the enigmatic Jonathan Hawk and his ancestor, Accipiter. Too little is revealed about either of these men to adequately justify their introduction or their subsequent unseating of Desmond as the central character. By the end of the book, Hawk comes off as a little more than an aging man wearing a dark pair of sunglasses with nothing byway of motivation or personality.
 
The trilogy ends on a massive cliffhanger, leaving the reading audience with more mystery than resolution. It ends on the cusp of a new adventure, making it clear that these three volumes were just one arc of a much larger story, one I am disinclined to explore further. While the Assassin’s Creed trilogy has a promising start, its final moments left me feeling cheated rather than intrigued. | Brent Mueller
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