REVIEW: Dante, One-Shot

You would think that in today’s world a person would be happy to have gainful employment, to have a job that he or she is good at, possibly the best in the business.  But being the best highest paid assassin around isn’t enough for ol’ Dante as he looks to get out of “da business” and settle down with his loving family. So with the promise of one last job before retirement, Dante partners up and basically, all hell breaks loose.

Dante is a creation of Jason Ning and is pretty much an anti-hero of his time.  The good-guy killer keeping his two worlds apart oblivious as to how he himself caused all his pain.  True some of his pain is due to a wayward shot and an ancient curse.  But for the most part, you would expect that a man who is used to dealing with the scum of the earth should know that his employers are not to be trusted.  After all, he cannot be the only assassin who ever wanted to work out their notice period.

Ning is joined in the wiring department by Matt Hawkins, Top Cow president and himself no stranger to writing comics.  Between the pair, they weave a story that has familiar elements, not creating anything new but at least attacking the subject with gusto.  Dante is something of a mix of possibly John Wick and later has resonance with Ghost Rider.  Both characters deliver violent retribution on the guilty.  The dialogue can come across as a little cheesy; again that “nothing new” vibe comes across all too easily.

Darick Robertson is a true comic veteran who has been in the industry for twenty plus years, working on a litany of characters across the aisle up and down mainstream and indie books.  I don’t think I have been a huge fan of his work, but I was quietly impressed with the first act of this book.  The night club scenes worked well, with a sort of blocky style creeping in at the end of that act.  The art around the family could have used better camera angles to alleviate some of the panels which looked a little flat.  This could just be a reaction from the move from violence to sedate life.  Still things pick up in the third act.  Robertson can draw some strong faces and when more framework is required, is able to show the characters in action.  It’s the overall quiet time that seems to bog down his storytelling flow.  Colors are provided by Simon Bowland who is quietly making a name for himself with a number of high quality schemes recently hitting the racks.

Top Cow are one of the most consistent studios in the Image arsenal.  Regardless of the lack of freshness you can always rely on the studio to produce a high quality looking book. This is no exception.  Will the quality of production over the story content be enough for Dante to hit his peak? Only time will tell if the series is strong enough to compete with some much better books out there.

Writing – 2.5 Stars
Art – 3 Stars
Color – 4 Stars

Story: Jason Ning, Matt Hawkins
Art / Cover: Darick Robertson

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