In its second issue, Assassinistas digs into both the family drama and origin story angles as Octavia, her son Dominic, and his boyfriend Taylor get ready to rescue Octavia’s old colleague’s young son from yet another “colleague”. Gilbert Hernandez’s art has a simple elegance, Rob Davis’ colors explode in comparison to the bland suburban setting , and Tini Howard’s writing has plenty of personality and wit. The plot isn’t a rush job; you actually want to spend time with these characters. It starts with mom/son chats and ends with everything going to hell.
Hernandez has such control over his figures that he can convey comedy, anger, or just plain resignation with a raised eyebrows, some lines around the face, and occasionally a mini explosion. His mastery of the comics medium comes in the little parts of Assassinistas #2 like the slight curl in Taylor and Dominic’s brows as they’re a little amused and a little perturbed at the Assassinistas trading cards/dossiers that Octavia showed them. His most emotive storytelling comes in a small scene where Charlotte is freaking out about her missing child and goes from sarcasm to sadness and rage in the space of 11 panels. He and Howard position the wine bottle that she gets from her co-workers (Who are oblivious to the fact that she is a pregnant woman.) as a kind of symbol that she’s locked out of the assassin game for now even though she’s still sharp and admonishes her husband for getting the cops involved. Hitwomen never really retire. The shock of blonde hair that Davis gives her is like an extra exclamation point to any of her complaints or freak outs.
Even though there is plenty of peril ahead, especially for the rookie assassin not-interns Dominic and Taylor, a vein of awkward humor runs through Assassinistas #2 like Octavia whipping out the aforementioned dossiers when Taylor asks about her line of work like she’s ready for potential exposition situations. Dominic and Octavia have a good rapport, but he isn’t afraid to take jabs at her like quipping about using her “insurance company’s” coffee cups for target practice and even taking his father Carlos’ name as a coffee cup. They care for each other, but also get on each other’s nerves. (I can relate.) Howard and Hernandez don’t make Dominic and Taylor total badasses from the get-go, and they stumble through the mission’s early going. Just as there is a smooth operator rhythm to Hernandez’s depiction of the Assassinistas in flashback, there’s a flailing manatee, middle school slow dance rhythm to the new incarnation of the group. It’s not pretty, but it’s true. I also kind of love how Octavia gets maternal as the danger starts to ramp up towards the end of the comic.
In Assassinistas #2, Tini Howard, Gilbert Hernandez, and Rob Davis take the messiness, yet real love between a mother and a son and throws it in the middle of a gun toting with the potential for geysers of blood exploitation flick. It’s hilarious to see modern day teenagers react to intense situations they were far from prepared for, especially in the last third of the comic where Dominic goes from trading barbs with his mom to running around shirtless with a rifle. Howard and Hernadez find a solid middle ground between verbal and visual comedy without losing the suspense factor.
Story: Tini Howard Art: Gilbert Hernandez Colors: Rob Davis
Story: 8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy
IDW Publishing/Black Crown provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review