Assassinistas #1 Review

Cover B by Sanford Greene

Assassinistas #1
IDW/Black Crown
Written by Tini Howard
Art by Gilbert Hernandez
32 pages for $3.99

Solicit: Dominic Prince and the Semester Abroad, Part 1 of 6. Dominic Price is a college-age kid who just wants to spend the semester making out with his boyfriend, Taylor, in between rounds of TurboLight Fighter and maintaining a solidly passable 3.2 GPA. His mom, Octavia, formerly a badass action-movie-quality bounty hunter, didn’t pay his tuition, because she had to get back in the business and spend 40K on black market weapons and body armor. And she’s bringing Dominic with her, because the alternative is making lattes for a semester, and he’d rather die. Good thing in mom’s line of work, dying is an option.

While the solicit makes it seem like Dominic is the focus of the story, this first issue actually deals primarily with Octavia and her past as part of a team of assassins, alongside her partners Scarlett and Blood Diamond. We see the team in their heyday, pulling jobs and kicking it at the roller rink, falling in love, growing older, and having families. I loved the sort of Kill Bill meets Charlie’s Angels vibe of Octavia and her friends. Howard spends a lot of time setting up this history, so when the shit really hits the fan in the modern day it means something.

Howard shifts gears to the present and introduces us to Octavia and Scarlett’s modern lives. Scarlet (AKA Charlotte) is leads a happy retirement, raising a big family. Octavia is struggling though. She has a college-aged son whose education she insisted on paying for and now she’s in a tough spot. Dominic is your typical college student, spending too much time in bed playing video games, trying to find the right time to come out to his mother. I really loved the character interactions in this book. Howard takes plenty of time to set up each relationship, but the story never drags thanks to the way it cuts back and forth between the past and present day.

Gilbert Hernandez is a Will Eisner Hall of Fame artist. He’s a legend whose talents are on full display here, especially with his expressive faces and diverse character designs. His characters are also exaggerated in a very subtle way. For example, if you look at the scenes with Dominic, he and Taylor seem almost strangely proportioned, which seems off until you realize that they are awkward, gangly teens still growing into their bodies.

I was excited about Assassinistas when I read the preview in Black Crown Quarterly. Now it’s here and I really enjoyed it. It’s a fun story with a nice twist on the assassin with a family trope.

Rating: BUY IT.

Joe Patrick is the Co-Founder and Co-Host of the Two-Headed Nerd Comic Book Podcast, and the Editor-In-Chief of If he could have built a career out of correcting Matt Baum’s mistakes, he would have left you all behind years ago.