Since the first Assassin’s Creed was released back in 2007, Ubisoft has been working hard to promote the game’s brand, with their loose trilogy of games – supported with semi-sequels, spinoffs, novels and short films – culminating in the announcement that X-Men: First Class and Prometheus star Michael Fassbender would star in a film adaptation. Luckily Assassin’s Creed, the story of a group of secret Assassins (naturally), their conflict across history with the Knights Templar, and their quest for knowledge to prevent the end of the world could translate perfectly into film, the jump to comics seems more difficult, at least in this case.
Set alternately between the modern day and ancient Rome, this series of graphic novels by Titan Books – Desmond, Aquilus and Accipiter - try to flesh out the world of Assassin’s Creed, giving readers some backstory about series hero Desmond Miles, his ties to Lucy Stillman and Abstergo Industries. Only somewhat more intriguing are the adventures of his ancestor – Aquilus, who doesn’t appear in any of the games – uncovering a conspiracy within the ranks of the Assassins. As Desmond relives this through the magically science-y Animus apparatus, he slowly begins to understand the importance of the Assassins’ crusade, while unlocking the potential of his bloodline.
Originally published in France, the importance of Gaul within the context of the overall setting seems targeted for the books’ intended audience. A brief flirtation with Egyptian mythology is glancingly interesting, and works to engage the series’ hallmark of mystical artifacts. There are obvious (maybe too obvious) attempts to match the tone of Assassin’s Creed, but there isn’t much more going for it.
If readers aren’t already somewhat aware of the Assassin’s Creed tropes, they won’t stick around through the first volume, let alone the second or third. The scripting, credited to Eric Corbeyran, is professional, but dull. There could be an argument that there’s something lost in the translation, but that seems unlikely. The art, credited to Djilalli Defaux, is sloppily inked and retains its sketchy beginnings. With the endless canvas (and limitless “budget”) of the comic book style, not much is done to explore the rich potential of the Assassin’s Creed world. This is a cash grab, and its $9.99 price point per book is far too high for the lightweight material.
Like so many video game tie-ins that came before it, Ubisoft’s attempt to expand Assassin’s Creed into comics is flat and unimaginative. This series probably could’ve been published as a supplement to the game packaging, or maybe as unlockable material within the game itself. It’s a shame, too. With the conspiracies and action, Assassin’s Creed should be a lock for comics. For now, though, it would appear it’s a world best left for the games. Hope that movie works out for them, though. C-