The nameless protagonist of this story certainly embodies the name “The Killer.” As a hired and successful hitman, he stalks his prey with a meticulous professionalism usually reserved for accountants. As he waits an inexhaustible amount of time for his latest target to appear, he reflects upon how he had come to be the cold-blooded killer that he is. But the wait is getting the best of him, and he is quickly losing his edge.
Through this first arc, Matz introduces readers to the Killer as he comes to the end of one part of his life. Readers learn how the nameless assassin rose to power from a college student, and watch as he seeks our several marks within the first few issues. However, we also see that the killer is not solely one-dimensional, with hopes of getting out of the business to start a new life. Of course, things never go according to plan; now the killer must figure out if the person he has been chosen to kill next is actually supposed to kill him. The more important question is that if this assassin is after him, who sent him?
The story flows smoothly with a great pace to it. Luc Jacamon uses a good mix of large and small panels. The tint within flashbacks or night-time scenes adds an almost intimate setting to the story that also produces its own soundtrack. Though the art, Jacamon also projects the solitary life that the protagonist exists in. Though at times he is seen within the company of others, the protagonist still is singular in his purpose and viewpoint. The graphic novel acts as his journal and even justification of his life. The authors nonetheless inject ambiguities into the protagonist as someone who has choices but still returns to this way of life. The intensity of the execution scenes certainly speaks to the cold and removed nature of the protagonist. While some are less subtle than others, readers will feel the depths of rage brimming within the Killer.
Originally published in France in the late 1990s, the tale fits perfectly into the emerging crime genre that has revived itself over the last decade. It is a bit of a disappointment that no extras accompany this hardcover edition. Besides review quotes and a brief description, the book lacks the kind of materials that often justify hardcover prices. While glossy pages, a book jacket and the hardcover make it feel more authentic than your typical trade paperback graphic novel, the extras secure it a special place in many readers’ hearts.
An intriguing look into the live of an assassin, The Killer delivers a sober tale of the risk and solitude faced by the protagonist. While empathy may be hard to muster for such a cold being, Matz does manage to create a character that will strike the curiosity of readers to continue further with the story. This volume works as an introductory tale, providing readers with an origin story, the end goal (retirement by choice, not by death), and a new direction for the protagonist.