THE ASSIGNMENT #2 Titan Comics

Book Retort: The Assignment #2

Written by Bill Coffin

Following its debut issue in which a contract killer awakens after a double-cross to find that somebody has performed an unwanted gender reassignment surgery on him, The Assignment #2 takes us into somewhat rote territory; that in-between phase of a story where our (anti)hero has undergone such a huge change that we need a narrative rest for that change to really sink in before the plot can start to move forward.

Normally, that’s a fine device, especially in sequential fiction. Here, it’s a little off-putting since we’re just at the beginning of the story. It’s still needed, but no matter how well this is carried off, it feels a little bit like the story is having a hard time getting into gear. One hopes that this is just a one-time investment of reader patience made necessary by an unusual and inventive premise. This puts a lot of pressure on Issue #3 to get things moving, for sure.

Still, with this installment, we’re starting to see some rough edges to the work. Frank’s newfound physical vulnerability once he is a woman isn’t particularly plausible or palatable. Nor is the extensive exposition from the surgeon who transformed Frank. Nor is the reveal that the surgeon is a woman (who we might be forgiven for thinking her to be a man, given how she was drawn). And why must we see so much of Frank’s nudity? It’s not squidgy to see the breasts of a transgender woman. But it is to think that the artist is grateful to have a female character to sexualize.

The Assignment #2 is from Titan Comics’ Hard Case Crime line, with writing by Walter Hill & Denis Hamill, adaptation by mat, art by Jef and translation from the original French by Charles Ardai.

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