John Wick #1
Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Giovanni Valletta and Inlight Studios
Published by: Dynamite Comics

REVIEWED BY: RYAN MCLELLAND

A John Wick comic book is a very hard sell for me. When I watched the John Wick film for the first time I thought it was a very well done action movie. Upon repeat viewings it dawned on me that this vicious film is perhaps the best action movie of all time. And that’s where it stands for me now. JOHN WICK: BEST ACTION MOVIE OF ALL TIME. When John Wick Chapter 2 came out this year I thought it to be a slightly bloated but still kickass follow-up to the first film. A very welcomed entry. They announced a third film and so I sit here waiting to see what now happens to my favorite assassin.

I didn’t have to wait too long for a new John Wick adventure because here comes a John Wick comic series from Dynamite Comics. The book is a five issue prequel series that tell us some of the first adventures of Wick as the mega super assassin. The solicit tells us, “When a young John Wick emerges from prison and embarks upon his first epic vendetta, he comes up against a strange, powerful community of assassins and must learn how to master the Book of Rules that guides their lethal business. What are the Three Bills? Who is Calamity? And who was John Wick before he became the Baba Yaga?”

The first issue of this series is very simplistic in nature. Ordinarily I would think that this would possibly turn me off but being a fan of the films I know that they also have their simplicity. The driving narrative of the films is an unstoppable man driven by an unextinguishable flame that burns inside him. Wick (as played by Keanu Reeves) is a man of little words. When he shows up at your door? You, your cronies, your friends, everyone….you are all dead.

So the comic continues this. It’s quiet. You see the world around John Wick. You see jerks in a diner talking about crappy service. You see John have lovely adventures like….PICKING AN APARTMENT! Then you see John spring into action when bad guys try to take down someone who is John’s…well…he’s not John’s friend. John knows him and is willing to spring into action to defend him. I guess that’s friend enough in John’s world.

The first issue also lightly flickers into John’s childhood though this is just mere blips. It’ll be interesting to see how these flashbacks fully incorporate into the series once its done. I also approve of any expansion of the John Wick assassin universe – especially if it involves the secret ninja assassin hotel The Continental. This first issue also sees a familiar face in Charon – who was the concierge played by Lance Reddick in the first two films. I hope that this appearance is not brief and he is featured in the rest of the remaining issues.

I thought artist Giovanni Valletta did a good job penciling the book. The characters look like the actors so that’s a plus. He draws action quite well so when you are reading you feel fully engrossed in the jumping, fighting, and shootouts. Greg Pak is writing this book and it is great to see that Dynamite landed a quality writer to expand the world of John Wick. Pak has been on my mind since seeing Thor Ragnarok, so I’m damn happy that, just a few weeks later, I’m reading a new book by him. I can rest easy knowing this book is in Pak’s more then capable hands.

It doesn’t feel like there’s much to this comic and I always find that the sign of a great book. The best comic books read so fluidly that they are usually over before you know it, whether you like it or not. John Wick #1 was like this. It’s a book full of intense action and really hits the ground running. I can’t wait to see what comes next. Even if you don’t know the films there is something for all comic books fans. If you are a hardcore John Wick fan? Then this book is definitely for you.

RANK: A

With special props to David Curiel.

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