note: since the issue’s been out for a week, this review will have more spoilers than usual
What do you get when you combine Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch with an amped up Summer Glau from Firefly? You get Epic Kill which is just as unbelievable as that mashup sounds. I guess this is the gamble one takes with Image comics. With Marvel and DC we have super humans and whether it’s radiation or alien origins or powers from gods/demons - there’s a reason the characters can perform superhuman feats and I know this going in. With Image you never know what’s going on. Take the world of Chew, for example, with its various food-related powers or The Manhattan Projects and its technologically advanced World War II story. It’s up to the writer and artist to quickly let you know what kind of universe you’re dealing with. Are there demonic, invulnerable chickens? This probably isn’t a world to take too seriously.
Epic Kill starts off seeming like it’s grounded in a more realistic world. There aren’t absurd things going on. As far as we know, there aren’t superheroes. We learn that someone wants to kill Song, our main character, for killing what appears to be his son. And we see cues that she is like Summer Glau - her reflexes are better than human, but not so superhuman as to seem out of place. I think that was Joss Whedon’s biggest triumph in writing her character. She was a super soldier and the evil empire had mucked about with her brain, but it wasn’t world-breaking. So when I saw Song’s reflexes at catching a cup or predicted the fact that she would ruin the inevitable dude sexing up the girls at the mental institution she calls home when the book opens up, neither act took me out of the book.
Later on when she is able to dodge bullets like she’s Neo in The Matrix, I started shaking my head. No amount of mystical asian training (as revealed in her flashbacks) will let you dodge bullets. Or, I might be able to accept her dodging one bullet, but not a torrent of machine gun fire. And then she punches right through a guy as though he was made of butter and her fist was a hot knife. Sorry, I didn’t know I was reading a 1970s kung fu movie. What in the world is going on?
I don’t want to be too critical of Rafaelo Ienco. I have tried and failed at writing comics many times. He has a published graphic novel. He writes scripts for tv shows and movies. So who am I to tell him how to write his Image mini-series? Still, I think he could have done a better job communicating the universe we’re in. Admittedly it’s hard to level this accusation on a first issue, but I feel like Song is way too overpowered. If she can’t be killed by bullets and she’s faster than anything - if her firsts can cut through bone and muscle - then who or what can face her? I will review Epic Kill #2 and I hope that Rafaelo can change my mind because right now I think no one should waste money on this story.