John Wick #1 Review

Posted December 1, 2017 by Kyle Simcox in Comic Books

Writer: Greg Pak

Artist: Giovanni Valletta

Publisher: Image Comics

There was once a man known as the Baba Yaga. Feared among his peers, he was someone you would not dare ever cross. However, there was a time before he became known as the Baba Yaga, a time before John Wick laid the foundations of a criminal organization and tore it down when they killed his dog. It’s that time the John Wick  comic book is looking to explore, but it doesn’t fully understand how to do so.

Normally I like to go over the story then talk about what I liked and disliked (which I’m still going to do) but, before I go into the events of John Wick #1, I want to say something first. If it wasn’t for the plot summary, you could have told me anything about this comic book and I probably would have believed you.

John walks into a diner in El Paso, Texas rocking a look similar to his Chapter 2 style, minus the fine suit. While ordering up some pie, he eavesdrops on a conversation being had between a bad dude and a woman. Using the intel he gains from said conversation, he proceeds to go out and rent a room in a building just next door to the targeted location. Then, we get a small glimpse into John’s past 12 years before the events of the comic, where he steals “a couple of grand” from some men known as “The Three Bills.” As he evades being caught, they fire an rpg at a building and kill all the survivors. It’s a memory that seems to haunt John as we flash back to the present.

John then witnesses a group of men holding up another man at gunpoint.

I’d like to reiterate that nothing is really revealed here. Its great that we get a glimpse into John’s childhood but in all honesty the whole chain of events just feels a bit jarring. Three men go on a mass murder spree over a “couple of grand” that they pretty much just shrug off a few panels later. Who uses a rocket launcher to kill a kid anyway and where the hell did he get it from? Outside of serving as random chaos to make us hate the Three Bills and setting up John’s vendetta, its just simply not a scenario that’s done well.

Another cool thing is that John doesn’t flat out murder every bit of canon fodder in his path. He leaves them all alive except for Pecos, so we know there was a point where John wasn’t just a stone-cold bad ass (yet still a bad ass). However, up until the point of John reuniting with a younger Charon (who we now know is also a stone-cold bad ass), nothing in this first issue signifies when these events are taking place.

Its not until we get to the end of the book where we learn that John is being introduced to the business, despite the fact that he already knows about the business.

Don’t let the cover art fool you because as far the art is concerned, John looks great and Keanu Reeves’ likeness is captured well for the comic and that’s probably the only good thing about it. The rest is a muddy, visual mess with most of the panels lacking any sort of background. While I understand that minimal details in the background help the reader focus on the characters and events, John Wick #1 just flat out leaves the background out entirely in most cases.

My biggest issue however, is that if we’re supposed to be witnessing the rise of the Baba Yaga, then why does it feel like he already peaked? Outside of murdering all the men in the hotel, John left them alive, which seems to be the only separation between his comic book and film identity. He already knows about the business and he already has to defend himself from an army of assassins. Its not really anything new and doesn’t reveal much about a man who already seems to be at the top of his game. While I’m looking forward to seeing John kill more people while I wait for Chapter 3 to hit theaters, I’m afraid that his comic is off to a really rocky start.

About the Author

Kyle Simcox