The Complete The Killer

The Complete The Killer
Alternative editions:
The Complete The Killer review
Alternative editions:
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Archaia - 978-1-68415-896-6
  • Release date: 2018
  • UPC: 9781684158966
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

It’s not as if the world is short of crime graphic novels these days, but if you had to pick one, just one European crime series that’s up there with the best provided by US comics, say Brubaker and Phillips or Bendis and Maleev, then this is it, despite the wretchedly awkward title.

Alexis Nolent writes under the pseudonym Matz, and Luc Jacamon provides astonishing art under his own name. While the impetus is down to Matz, plenty of good ideas have foundered without good art, and Jacamon is several levels above good. The initial hook with which Matz differentiates The Killer from other noir crime fiction is the personality he supplies the never named Killer himself. The narrative captions are treated as a combination of journal and a distillation of trade secrets as the Killer details how he goes about his business, the precautions he takes, and his own personal philosophy. The lack of value placed on any human life gradually evolves into a justifying tirade against the hypocrisy of the Western world, or more accurately those charged with running it, Matz pointing out the wholesale inconsistencies of the values we theoretically espouse. Some may find it unpalatable. As an example, the contradiction between the resources spent attempting to locate relatively few people lost at sea is compared with the lack of concern about poverty being the cause of death for so many more citizens of the same countries.

The Killer is a cautious man, but his methods and connections change considerably over the several years covered in these stories. At the start he takes contracts arranged by phone, and by the ambiguous ending he’s evolved into a different type of killer, one who’s extremely rich via business arrangements, but whose new life has had its own costs. Every step of the way is thrilling. The sheer verve of the approach sustains the early stories, but because the Killer is so amoral he’s not a figure of sympathy, so the tension needs to come from others being endangered, which is duly arranged.

Jacamon is a phenomenal artist, stunning from the first page, and a rare breed who’s disciplined enough to keep his focus on the story, often requiring long conversations. These are intuitively drawn, the viewpoints varied and the well designed characters emotionally rich, although the Killer’s eyes are rarely seen beneath his shades. When he’s able to cut loose Jacamon delivers stunning scenery, or brings Havana to life so completely you’ll want to book your flight immediately. He’s also occasionally experimental, using different storytelling techniques to portray some killings, and enjoying a visual comparison between the Killer and the crocodiles in the Venezuelan jungle to which he always returns. Experiment and reptile are combined on the sample art.

It should be noted that at the time of publication, this did gather all episodes of The Killer, but since publication, after a pause of several years, Matz and Jacamon decided to continue the series, so this is no longer complete. Those who also want to continue the journey are directed to Affairs of the State. If hardcover is preferable to this monster package, good luck as prices are high, but the series begins in either Long Fire, or in different packaging as The Killer Omnibus Volume One.