Dante (One Shot)
(W)Jason Ning, Matt Hawkins
(A) Darick Robertson
Dante was a family man with a wife and young daughter, and also a top assassin working for an international crime syndicate. For two decades he worked hard to keep these two lives separate and was then ready to retire. Manipulated into thinking he could quit with the syndicate’s blessing, Dante was betrayed and accidentally killed a young Asian boy while fighting to save himself. This act changes him forever as he is supernaturally cursed and wakes up inexplicably covered with tattoos. Dante tries to uncover the source of this supernatural curse while looking for his family that has now disappeared.
Dante is a comic about a hit man having to right all the wrongs he’s been responsible for during his illustrious career. It’s a fine idea, but this one shot issue rushes it all along a bit too much and makes it harder to become invested. Even his first good deed comes across as meaningless as Dante is given credit way too soon. Hopefully, further issues will slow down the pace now that everything is established, and the reader can enjoy everything in greater detail. The idea deserves that.
The art leans towards the dark and gritty, which gives the book a slightly rough feel. All of the dark clothes and shadows make it look a little lazy, even though there are good excuses for them being there. Still, it does take away from perceived quality, but thankfully the rest of the book is nice and solid. Everything is a little too realistic for my tastes, as I feel that doesn’t play to a comic’s strengths, but it more than fits the serious and dark tone.
The writing and story are strong and solid, as well. The premise is really interesting, and I can’t wait to learn what some of his tattoos mean. The dialogue is a little on the “tough guy” side, which can be cheesy from time to time, but forgive those few missteps and the rest is fine.
I like Dante, and that’s what makes me regret the shortcomings even more. How nicely our first conflict wraps up, and how easily the man learns his lesson, is a missed opportunity for a much stronger story. The character and the readers would be much more invested if these things were harder to arrive at, but wishing for more of a good thing must be a good sign. The subject matter might not appeal to every one, and we’ll have to see how the episodic nature of the story plays out, but the Dante (One Shot) is definitely worth a look.