Review by Ian Keogh
Most people will know Assassin’s Creed as a massively successful video game franchise, perhaps not realising the creators are French. The novelty is a covert war taking place in the present day with substantial interludes in the past as the Assassins and the Knights Templar search for artefacts to help their cause. The Knights Templar aim for order by damping free will, and have created a device enabling people to live the lives of their ancestors, and therefore reveal where the Pieces of Eden are hidden so they can be retrieved in the present day. A series of French graphic novels spun off, beginning with Desmond, while The Fall is the first original English language material. As hinted at by the iconography of the cover, most of the action takes place in pre-revolutionary Russia following the tormented Nikolaï Orelov, and in 1998 spotlighting his even more troubled American descendant Daniel Cross, recovering junkie.
Cameron Stewart and Karl Kerschl collaborate on both the writing and the art, tying their story in with the run-up to the contentious US elections of 2000. To begin with Daniel’s stopped taking his medication, and is having flashbacks where he’s acting out Nikolai’s life. As that’s violent and dangerous, his behaviour soon attracts attention. Stewart and Kerschl move things forward intriguingly, hooking the material in the past into known events while taking some historical licence, and as both are very competent artists they inject the necessary dynamism. Because of shifts and a progression forward, there’s a need for a change of approach in the art, Daniel getting a complete redesign, and the art makes the most of the Russian locations and the prevailing climate for some great looking scenes. They’re just as imaginative with the plot, moving into unexpected areas, while the ending twists effectively.
Except it isn’t quite the ending. While The Fall can be read independently as a story with a start, middle and an end, there’s a sequel. Either head straight for The Chain or alternatively, in 2019 both were combined as Assassin’s Creed: The Chain and The Fall.