By: Grant Morrison (writer), Darick Robertson (artist), Richard P. Clark (colors) & Simon Bowland (letters)

The Story: An ex-cop-turned-assassin runs into trouble with the mob.

The Review: 

1. Morrison being foul. – On page one, we have the follow words (along with the number of times they appear): prick (1), cunt (3), pussies (1), dicks (1), assholes (1), shit (1), balls (1) & fucked/fucking (2). Then, by page 3 we have some hooker giving a weird dude in a bug costume a blowjob.  It’s like Grant Morrison had all these filthy thoughts pent up in his brain from doing Superman comics for the last year or so….and just HAD to spew them forth onto the page.  The whole point of creator-owned comics is that the creators can say/draw whatever they want and it’s nice to see a creator of Morrison’s caliber being completely raw.  Of course, it isn’t just rawness for the shock value…..this is a story about a down-and-out hitman and his trouble with mob.  There should be foul language, sex and brutal violence.

2. Filthy art. – Much as page one features all that profanity, it also features a nasty visual: a bum vomiting on the sidewalk as a dog lifts his leg and pees on the bum.  Again….it sets the tone for the issue/series.  It’s like Robertson saying, “This book is going to be kinda foul.  Just get used to it now.” and by starting off with a nasty image…..the rest of the issue isn’t as shocking.  But, “filthy” could also describe the artwork in general.  It’s very rough around the edges and that helps it convey the griminess of the settings and characters.

3. Clever protagonist. – After just one issue, you’ll love protagonist Nick Sax.  The trap he springs in the opening scene of the book is very bad-ass and sets him up as the kinda guy you would definitely not want to mess with.  Having seen that, it is totally conceivable that he could go up against the mob and survive the really horrible situation he finds himself in by the end of the issue.

4. Not awesome. – Despite all the good elements to this issue, it would be wrong to say “issue of the year” or otherwise give in to the hyperbole that a Morrison/Robertson team-up is likely to cause the blogosphere.  This is a very good issue, but it also isn’t doing anything we haven’t seen before.  It remains to be seen whether the creators are content to tell us an entertaining story that is laced with sex and violence…..or if there is something bigger afoot.  Knowing the creators, it is reasonable to assume there is more to the guy in the bug costume and also the Santa in the beginning, but without the benefit of seeing those stories come full circle, it’s really inappropriate to go overboard on the praise (yet).

Conclusion: A very nice issue….especially if you’ve been itching to see Morrison doing something a little more visceral.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell