Top Cow is not exactly the biggest of cheeses in the comic world. They are, however, the home of some of the Big Red Barrel Comics Team’s favourite comics including Witchblade, Ravine, Death Vigil and Aphrodite IX. And now they have a new one-shot comic Dante.
• Writers: Matt Hawkins & Jason Ning
• Art: Darick Robertson
• Publisher: Top Cow/Image
• Release Date: 25th January 2017
Dante tells the story of a hitman who kills his victims without compassion, collects his paycheque and goes home to his wife and family, who believe him to be a travelling salesman. Dante rationalises the compartmentalisation of his violent job and idyllic home life glibly: “I know who I am. I’m the father. The husband. That other guy just pays the bills.”
Unfortunately for Dante, this cosy arrangement cannot last and, when a child is caught in the crossfire while he is working, Dante is cursed. Waking up the next day Dante discovers his family are missing and he is covered head to toe in tattoos; one representing each of the lives he has ruined. Dante must atone for his sins, one at a time.
The book opens with Dante killing a target and we very quickly learn that he is ultra-capable, ruthless and a master of disguise. From here the story moves along at a very pleasing pace and his hubris is such that I was almost relieved when his downfall came. Suddenly with his normal life torn away, Dante is a much more interesting character.
The art, while not spectacular at any point, serves the story well. It reminded me of early 2000s Marvel comics art; straightforward and grounded. While never beautiful, Darick Robertson’s work clearly communicates what is going on at all times.
I could not get a clear answer as to whether Top Cow intends to publish Dante as an ongoing title. I really hope they do as this could be the start of a really interesting story. It may depend on how this sells, if this is the case I urge you to get out to your friendly local comic book shop and pick it up.