10 Beautiful Assassins (Volume 1)
Thomas R. Hart & Elmer Damaso
10 Beautiful Assassins is an OEL manga from Seven Seas featuring a smooth cat burglar whose cunning always allows him to get what he wants. But Bernard Black (or The Black Rose) has one weakness that turns him into a gibbering idiot: beautiful women. On the particular case we find Bernard working on at the beginning of this volume, he attempts to steal a necklace from the daughter of billionaire John Maiden. When the necklace is stolen out from under his nose by a rival thief, he is hunted for the prize's whereabouts by the billionaire, who hires M.A.D.A.M. (Mistress of Assassination, Destruction, And Mayhem) to track down and kill Black. John Maiden's daughter, who has been largely ignored by her father up until now, helps Black escape, and assists him in outmaneuvering the ten beautiful assassins that M.A.D.A.M. has dispatched to track him down. Obviously, this book has a James Bond-spy type of feel to it, although some basic manga conventions are thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, it's not executed very well. Most of the assassins are barely touched on in this first volume, but will surely get some more screen time with subsequent releases. None of the assassins, however, are very inspired. They're mostly just types of "hot chicks," like a sexy maid, a biker chick in all leather...I was surprised there was no naughty nurse, to be honest, they were such cut-outs - more outfits for a Halloween party than actual characters. It's an adolescent fantasy come to life. Beyond the pretty basic premise and the "character designs," if you can call them that, the art is pretty hard to follow. Especially when any action is occurring, which is a majority of the book in a title like this - I could hardly follow what was happening. There's just no clear fighting. On top of that, the story jumps back in time without warning, and often, further confusing the story with unnecessary scenes. When I'm doing a lot of work to figure out simply what is going on in a comic, it's just not executed well. This is sloppy storytelling and should be avoided in favor of better material.