Review by Ian Keogh
Leila brings to a close the first series of Assassin’s Creed graphic novels, the French creative team of Eric Corbeyran and Djilalli Defali wrapping up their storyline with what’s actually the best of their collaborations. It’s not entirely a case of the set-up in Hawk and El Cakr coming satisfactorily to fruition, but more one of Corbeyran no longer having the luxury of being able to meander. Leila is a straightforward action thriller throwing in a few twists and makes good use of personal ambitions.
As seen on the cover, Defali still has problems with the human figure, and a far better selling point would have been one of his ornate locations. As before, his version of fourtheenth century Egypt is lush and decorative, with Defali putting in a lot of effort to ensure that’s the case while still not entirely happy drawing a picture of three people seen as full figures talking in the present day.
The main characters, Assassins and Templars, are still trying to locate the Sceptre of Aset, at some point in the possession of El Cakr in the fourteenth century. The Assassins have direct access to his experiences, but a clever plot device on Corbeyran’s part has given the Templars an advantage. Corbeyran relies considerably on betrayal to twist his plot, but he has established loyalty can be bought, so while he uses betrayal several times, each occasion works in context, while providing the intended surprise. When it comes to developing a personality, Corbeyran’s altogether less effective. In fact, as presented here, Hawk and his romantic inclinations are not so much James Bond as intended, but Mister Bean. Overlook that, and his plot successfully draws everything together, offers surprises along the way, and does so far more convincingly than any of the previous five Assassin’s Creed graphic novels.
An alternative to the three thinner albums is Hawk, El Cakr and Leila collected as a bulkier hardcover in Assassin’s Creed: The Hawk Trilogy.