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Livio Ramondelli returns to his brilliant original universe with The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith #1, and it may be the best debut issue of the year so far.
Writing/Plot
Art
Letters

Review: The Bots Are Back In THE KILL LOCK: THE ARTISAN WRAITH #1

Writer and artist Livio Ramondelli returns to the astonishing original universe he created with The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith #1. Featuring lettering from Shawn Lee, this debut issue brings us back to this story in full creative force. With Ramondelli’s air-tight pacing, careful and compelling dialogue, and ever-incredible artwork, this may very well be the strongest opening issue of 2022 thus far.

“The Kill Lock unified four criminals in a quest to escape their seemingly inevitable, linked deaths. They managed to escape destruction by merging their consciousnesses, and now one of the smartest-and most malicious-bots in the universe has an unbreakable body and a planet at his command. Homeworld won’t allow it, and so two of the deadliest assassins in the universe are tasked to kill the Artisan Wraith.”

Writing & Plot

What made Ramondelli’s writing on the original Kill Lock series so special is how he built his universe and characters through thoughtful dialogue and the expertise of his visual framing. I’m pleased to announce these talents carry over to The Artisan Wraith #1 in spades. Ramondelli drops us back into his original universe much like he did the first time we entered it. We don’t entirely know where we are or how we got here. Set an undisclosed amount of time after the end of the first series, Ramondelli carefully presents us with the fallout of the Artisan’s decisions at the end of the last book. He introduces us to a couple of intriguing new bots set to go after the new Artisan Wraith. I’m very much looking forward to seeing just how the protagonist/antagonist angle fits in this series, since the lines are intentionally muddled from here.

Just like with the original series, what draws readers into this world so quickly is the life and personality Ramondelli gives these sentient machines. From the opening scene we’re treated to how he crafts these characters as individuals through the struggles and interactions with one another. Where the prior series had us focusing almost solely on the main four characters, this issue presents us with a wider view of this universe and its denizens. Our two main assassin characters we are introduced to are wonderfully characterized, with notable quirks and flaws to make them feel real. This return to The Kill Lock is on par with the quality of the prior series, and proves that Ramondelli is an up-and-coming master of the craft.

Art Direction

While you’ll no doubt stay for the carefully crafted plot, you’re no doubt picking up The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith for the art work. As a former Transformers artist, Ramondelli demonstrated his unique skill with the incredible designs and visuals in the original Kill Lock. All of that signature style and atmosphere has returned with this sequel series. The cyberpunk, used future sci-fi styling feels desolate and claustrophobic. The desperation seared into the faces and mannerisms of the bots in this story – even the ones not wearing a Kill Lock – sells this as a cyberpunk of a slightly different fashion. Despite the incredible land and cityscapes and the simplistic yet effective robot designs, the real reason for this comic’s endearing success is Ramondelli’s ability to humanize them. His machine cast members can’t change their facial expressions. Somehow, he’s able to extract empathy and heart from the cold steel facias of these troubled robots. They’re made to be more understandable – more human – than many human characters created by writers attempting the same kind of storytelling. Ramondelli’s visual work is endlessly impressive, and I’m so glad to see this series return with more of it.

Verdict

The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith #1 is a phenomenal return to this compelling universe. Livio Ramondelli has proven himself a juggernaut of comics talent. His tense yet heartfelt scripting creates instantly memorable characters and moments. At the same time, his artwork is stunning, sharp, and creates unimaginable empathy with his cast of (often highly dangerous) machines. This is a fantastic opening issue, so be sure to grab a copy when it hits shelves on March 9th!

 

 

 

Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
Review: The Bots Are Back In THE KILL LOCK: THE ARTISAN WRAITH #1Livio Ramondelli returns to his brilliant original universe with The Kill Lock: The Artisan Wraith #1, and it may be the best debut issue of the year so far.