For nine issues, Raffaele Ienco’s young but deadly assassin, Song, has been on the run. The death of her family and the tutelage of her uncle sent her on a murderous path of vengeance, before her beloved uncle’s capture refocused her mission to save him and return to Japan. With issue ten, the story comes to a quick end, and Ienco offers an explanation behind how Song is capable of all of the feats of derring-do presented so far.
The issue begins with Song’s capture, and a slow and methodical one it is. They’re not taking any chances with her, making sure she’s knocked out, caged like an animal and threatened by gas while they inspect her from afar. We learn how Song’s body is occupied by almost-supernatural nanobots that give her a healing factor and all sorts of other goodies. They’re the equivalent of “Star Wars'” Midi-chlorians. They explain why the crazy stuff is possible in the series, but was anyone asking that question? Wasn’t it just enough that she was super-skilled and possessed something a little extra? Now we have a rationale for it.
Then, the bots go into full-fledged fantasy land and perform magic to reach out to all of the characters and bring things to their deadly conclusion — one in which Song uses the Phoenix Force to pull a “Superman: The Movie” and spin back time to change her fate, stopping the car accident that led her down that life’s path. It gets the job done, though it’s a bit far out and more fantastic than the series has felt in the past. Ienco sells it, though, with his powerful art. It’s just another genre for him to play in with “Epic Kill,” and in that he succeeds. Be sure to check out the back cover for a pin-up that screams Bill Sienkiewicz’s name and style. It’s another sign of Ienco’s beautiful versatility.
In the end, “Epic Kill” wears its influences on its sleeves. It’s a hodge podge of genre classics blending together and retold in new light. “Epic Kill” has never been about a deep storyline. It’s a simple surface-level series with some fancy action that looks great. It’s a summer popcorn movie and a roller coaster ride. This final issue carries that on, though the decisive answers might disappoint some people. It feels like Ienco is wrapping this up a little faster than expected, and uses some power conveniences to help him do so. Things that were set up in recent issues don’t even get paid off. Those characters get a final moment, however brief.
“Epic Kill” has been Image’s most audacious comic for the last year. It’ll be missed on the stands, but it holds together well and stayed consistent. The final issue is a little more questionable, but a lot of that depends on how the individual reader will handle the choices Ienco makes for ending this mythology. It was not what I was expecting, but I appreciate Ienco’s ability to put a capstone on the story and give us a complete story in ten issues and — eventually, one hopes — two trade paperbacks.