Assassin Nation #5 was published by Image Comics through the Skybound Imprint. It comes from the creative team of writer Kyle Starks, artist Erica Henderson, and letterer Deron Bennett.
The final issue of the series begins with a raid on Mr. Rankin’s hideout. After the revelation from the last issue that he had been faking the hits against himself, the assassins are out for answers. As Rankin watches the carnage below, Bishop gets the drop on him. In a classic James Bond style moment, Rankin can’t help but explain his entire evil plan. He had been the mastermind of every attack the assassins had faced. He did this not in an attempt to make a business move in his crime empire, but to regain his position as Number 1 Killer.
Meanwhile, as Rankin explains his plans, the other assassins are storming his building. Fuck and Gary, after fighting through the entrance, are confronted with the current No. 1: Taipan. At the same time, Smoke is struggling in a fight against the only other assassin left, Fingerman. However, while the assassins fight for their lives, more truths come to light and the last few pieces fall into place. But when the dust settles, will any of them be around to do anything about it?
Once again, Kyle Starks has managed to blend crime, drama and laugh-out-loud comedy into one package. The script is tight and keeps the pace moving at a solid clip throughout. But despite this, I do have a gripe. While the story wraps up well, and pieces are put in place for more to come from this universe, it feels rather rushed. So much of the meat of the exposition is done over the course of a few pages of tense dialogue. The issue certainly doesn’t skimp on the action, but it seems like the story was more of a means to an end. It was an opportunity to put these great characters in a room, light a fuse, and see what happens.
At the end of the day, this isn’t of huge detriment to the series. The characters are still excellent. From Gary and Fuck fighting with the power of friendship to Rankin proving he’s the pettiest man alive. Everyone reaffirms who they are and it remains fun and compelling. It just feels like the central plot could have used another issue to breathe a little more.
Erica Henderson’s art continues to impress. The action feels frantic, the characters feel alive, and the colors emphasize all of this beautifully. The framing during some of the panels on one particular page makes it feel straight out of an action movie. Despite the somewhat cartoony aesthetic that Henderson displays, the action is visceral and has its fair share of blood and gore. Meanwhile, Deron Bennett seems to be having the time of his life with the letters in this issue. The sound effects for the fights are equal parts hilarious and descriptive, and make the issue all the more fun to read.
I’ve followed this series from the beginning and, despite the issues I had with the overarching story structure, I found this to be a strong finale. My expectations were subverted in a few places and I am generally very pleased. With the way that the issue ends, it certainly seems as though we could see more of these characters in the future. And I, for one, am all for it.
Assassin Nation #5 will be available in comic stores everywhere now.
Rating: 4/5 Shots on target