“Epic Kill” has always been a stylistic action book — a video game set to comic form. The lead character, Song, is imbued with certain basically super-human skills (particularly fast reflexes) that lead to interesting action scenes and pretty artwork. “Epic Kill” is like “The Matrix,” looking at first like our world, but quickly morphing into something a little bit different. It has an extra layer of cinematic gloss and video game action placed on top of it. Everything feels choreographed and thought out, which is not a bad thing at all.
With issue #8, creator/writer/artist Raffaele Ienco cranks up the crazy three notches. Song is working off her debt to the government in return for her beloved uncle they captured, who saved her life in the first storyline of the series. She’s a machine sent to do a job to save, ultimately, someone she loves. She’ll plow through whatever “bad” guys she needs to in order to get the person she wants back. It’s not a terribly deep motivational thing, but the bond is strongly felt from previous issues.
Her target for this issue is the Red Hand, a vaguely effeminate masked man wielding a pair of guns on a plane. Pay careful attention to that preposition there: on the plane. They’re fighting on the wing of the plane while it’s in flight, having a conversation and paying no attention to the little things like wind or engine noise. He has two guns and she’s blocking his bullets with a sword. As crazy and outlandish as that is, it’s almost normal compared to what happens next: The plane explodes and the two combatants are the only survivors. He alights thanks to a grappling hook, while Song falls into the middle of an inner city hot air balloon launch, bouncing safely atop a helium balloon to the ground.
Five minutes later, they’re fighting in an abandoned warehouse, ricocheting bullets off the walls to hit each other.
It’s like the Wachowskis and John Woo crossed over, with Terry Gilliam handling the special effects.
Your tolerance for such an outlandish action piece will be what guides your judgment of the issue. After reading the first seven issues, though, this one feels like a progression of the fantasy world the book is set in. The tone of it has ratcheted up from super-human to super-fantasy, with the laws of physics straining under the weight of a sumo wrestler convention’s floor. If you’re looking for a ridiculous spectacle that’s beautifully illustrated, this is the book for you.
There’s also an archetypical distrust of the government in the series, though not without good story reason. Song’s mission to take this guy out may not be as altruistic as she was led to believe. He might hold onto some secrets that would make her more sympathetic to his cause, and possibly lead her back to her uncle ahead of the government’s schedule. It’s nice that the book has a plot, but it’s all just a skeleton to hang the clothes of the action piece on.
There are still two issues left. If this pace continues, I can’t imagine what kind of insanity we’ll wind up with, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Suspend your disbelief at the door and give “Epic Kill” a shot.