JUST JOSHING: Artemis and the Assassin

Well, I didn’t expect to be gone this long, but uh, the apocalypse kind of happened. Quieter than expected. You always expect something along the lines of Crisis of Infinite Earths. Real life isn’t as simple as comic books. That’s probably a good thing, but dang if it’s not complicated. All this to say I”m back and reviewing a good little gem of an idea.

I love time travel. My first novel I ever wrote involved time travel, so I always have a little soft spot for that kind of concept. I also am growing to develop a soft spot for Stephanie Phillips as a writer. Whether it was Descendent or Butcher in Paris, her writing is getting better, her concepts bolder and she’s coming onto her own right now. So when I saw this book, I had to pick it up.

The Book

Artemis and the Assassin
Written by: Stephanie Phillips
Pencillers: Meghan Hetrick, Francesca Fantini
Colorist: Lauren Affe
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Publisher: Aftershock Comics

So the concept is relatively novel. Assassinations of famous characters in history at key points has been done before. The idea of killing Hitler before he was a monster has existed. This is a much more nuanced version of the concept of important killings at key points in history. The story begins in December 1916. A carriage carrying a famous Tsar is intercepted by a woman in a blue robe. Very quickly she disposes the guards guarding him, and then murdering him, with an energy arrow to the eye.

Once finished, she vanishes into an unknown. We learn her name is Maya, and that she bungled the job. It wasn’t just about killing him, but when she killed him. Very quickly we find out some of her other successes before being assigned to the next target.

That target is Artemis, a woman with quite a few surprises. Artemis is a codename for Ginny, and she’s very good at making Nazi’s lives hell. After a successful mission, she is given information that can forever alter the fate of World War 2, and then, her contact is assassinated, and we find out Maya’s next target.

This is a solid introduction to the story. You get the premise, the stakes, and you find yourself rooting for Ginny. Fighting the good fight despite overwhelming odds, coming face to face with someone who wants her dead for mysterious reasons. All of this is setting up interesting possibilities. This story seems very straight forward, and because of that, I’m thinking Phillips has some tricks up her sleeve. I’m curious about what they are and will pick up issue two at some point.

There is a backup story featuring Maya training. Her instructor, Isak is praising her for her skills. Maya is focussed on the target and only the target. Still, Maya wants more and finally annoys her instructor enough to push her into the mission. Once there, she is instructed to kill the target. Eager to please, she opens the door. That’s when things get complicated.

I really like Meghan Hetrick’s pencils. She illustrates people really well. You get a great sense of who the characters are and the story they convey on their faces. Great storyteller, and knows how to find the important details.
Franscesca Fantini is no slouch either in the backup. Her style is a more classical take with comics. She gets a younger version of Maya and there’s a touch more energy in her work. Youthful exuberance is illustrated in everything Maya does. She isn’t hardened by her job yet, and Fantini does a great job with developing her.

Lauren Affe has a very subdued color palette for most of the book. Nothing shines, there’s a feeling of age with the work. Since there are historical parts to the story, it makes sense. This stuff has already happened, and as such, this is simply the telling of those ancient tales. I really like the choices here.

Speaking of choices I like, Troy Peteri does a really nice job conveying what’s important in the lettering. His additions to the story are subtle but important. It adds more layers to the story subconsciously. Letterers’ work goes unnoticed by and large and that’s a shame. They can add to a story if done correctly. Here, it’s done correctly.

Finally, I love the logo. Charles Pritchett did a great job.

All in all a solid issue one.

The Business

Well, we all know what has happened. The question is where do we go from here. For me, I launched my novel the Cloud Diver. The audio version at least.

I thought about CS Lewis. During World War Two he read on BBC radio what would become Mere Christianity. My story is not that classic, but I can tell my story in this time when we need stories most. I even took it one step farther. Because we need stories right now. We need heroes and villains and good and evil and the fact that in spite of wherever we are, whatever we do, life goes on. Hope and heroes need to go on too.

And being a hero right now is doing all we can. Whether we are out there like the nurses and doctors. Or if we can work at home. We all have something to contribute, and we need to do what we all can. In my case, I’m opening up places for people to tell their stories.

My first one features a debut, and that is Rae Neale. She reads from the Toll of Everdoor as I continue my read of the Cloud Diver. Give a listen below if you’re so inclined.

And, I made it to Stitcher. So now you can find my podcast everywhere.

But that’s not all. I’m hosting a reading event courtesy of Prairie Dog Press this Thursday, April 2nd, at 7 pm. Come hang out and listen to great writers and others read and perform. We all can be heroes.

Alright. My next reads will be some online serials for a bit while we get through this. In this time, support comics. There are great ones out there.

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