By: David Wohl (writer), Eduardo Francisco (illustrations), Sunny Gho (colors)

The Story: Diane Coverdale clearly needs some protection. She goes looking for some.

A Message Before the Review: I’ve never read an EA Iris story before, but have been intrigued with the concept since I attended the Aspen panel at a comic convention in Toronto in 2009. I’m finally getting to Iris now.

The Review: It’s going to be a bit tougher to review this comic, because it is only 12 pages long (with sketches and a bit of behind-the-scenes narrative to complete it). Wohl effectively fit a complete story in this small space, but I don’t want to lose sight of what an issue #0 is supposed to do. It does not launch the story. That is the job of issue #1. It does not bore us with exposition. Info dumps should stay on the cutting room floor. An issue #0 has to engage the reader with a very brief and not-very-challenging conflict for the hero whose resolution puts all the principal characters in place for the launch of issue #1. Given those goal posts, Wohl executed (no pun intended) this story perfectly. There was so much movement and action that I doubt any exposition would have fit anyway.

Who are the principal characters? Iris and Acteia (both highly trained ninja-like assassins euphemistically called Executive Assistants) and Diane Coverdale, a very wealthy woman who needs a special kind of bodyguard. We learned all about Diane in this short story, and we learned enough about Acteia to like her and see the potential she will have to drive some major physical action and character growth. And, we see the cool, mysterious Iris, but only from a distance.

What was primed? Well, a world of assassins for one thing. It exists in secrecy and it has it’s own schools and economies. Wohl has also primed Coverdale as the target. This time, she survived. Whoever goes after her next will try harder. And Wohl has primed Acteia and Iris. They are very dangerous and didn’t even break a sweat this issue. Now the dramatic tension comes from the reader wanting to see them in action, for real, in danger of not winning.

Artwise, I left the issue undecided. Francisco certainly establishes mood commandingly with forceful art, thick lines, and some heavy shadows. He also effectively communicates emotion through expression. The faces of Coverdale and her first set of bodyguards communicate a whole lot of emotion while they’re getting bullets thrown at them. The same goes for evocative expressions for Acteia and Iris. Where the ambiguity infected me was in the roughness of the art. It is very gritty and dark, and that’s probably a style that fits for the book, but it isn’t the style of art I’m normally attracted to right out of the gates. That being said, the art was clear, dynamic, and propelled the story through a quick series of pages, with some creative layouts that on one page traced an assassin’s movements with his target’s in complementing columns. Effective, but I really fall in love with the art that prizes more realistic styles of draftsmanship.

Conclusion: Wohl and company succeeded in the prologue to Executive Assistant Iris. I’m intrigued and will likely be back for issue #1, on the strength of this prologue.

Grade: B

-DS Arsenault

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