I watched Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le SamouraÃ¯” last week for the fourth time. It’s the story of Jef Costello, an assassin in Paris whose employers turn on him. Coincidentally, this week marks the release of Archaia’s US publishing of the “The Killer,” a series about an assassin in Paris whose employers turn on him. Don’t you just love it when events line up like that?
Unlike Melville in his classic film, Matz approaches his material in a different way with his assassin not a loner and providing us a window into his head. Where what’s going on Costello’s head is a mystery, not so with this assassin. He’s a much more relatable and easy-to-understand man. Like so many other assassins, this is his job, nothing personal, no cruelty meant. He gets in, gets out, and does not like causing undue pain.
In this issue, he and his associate, Mariano, track down Biscay, a man partly responsible for an attempt made on the assassin’s life. Told in alternating scenes between the interrogation of Biscay and the means by which they found him, this issue is well-crafted and moves forward quickly — despite not being a ‘breezy’ read. Matz’s dialogue is serviceable, but a bit forced here, obsessed with trying to be ‘edgy’ and ‘badass,’ and doesn’t quite succeed. The assassin’s inner narration is a far better demonstration of his skills, as seen on the first page of the issue.
Luc Jacamon’s art is a revelation with a clean, dynamic style. His depiction of the assassin is very stoic most of the time, making the times when he breaks for an emotional response that much more effective, whether it’s an outburst of anger or laughter. His visual storytelling is strong with even scenes of characters talking full of movement and eye-catching illustrations.
Where he shines are the scenes where the assassin and Mariano interrogate Biscay, as each character is distinct in their body language. The assassin is calm and business-like, Mariano is arrogant and seems to be enjoying himself, while Biscay alternates between a fake bravado and stark terror. Jacamon makes these pages sing and work amazingly well.
It’s not too late to jump on board “The Killer” since this issue is easy to follow. You may not know the details of what happened in the past, but Matz and Jacamon make sure you know enough and are entertained along the way. An entertaining thriller that’s sure to lead to a bloody conclusion in issue ten.