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The Killer, Vol. 1 (v. 1) Hardcover – July 21, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A bestseller in Europe, Le Tueur has finally reached America. A French hit man has long been at the top of his game, but the psychic weight of his crimes is slowly catching up with him, and, after he botches one job and attracts a policeman determined to bring him down, he may be breaking down just when he needs his skills the most. The French have long been masters of moody noir films like Band of Outsiders or Le Samourai, so The Killer carries some heavy expectations. Fortunately, Jacamon's art is more than up to the task. His layouts are exciting, equally adept at choreographing brutal action, placing the camera for maximum suspense, and playing with panel borders to convey the protagonist's gradual mental breakdown. His figures are reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke's (The Spirit) cartoony realism, using deceptively simple lines and expressive faces to suggest far greater depth to the characters. Saturating panels with washed-out greens, blues and yellows, he changes palettes to establish shifts in location or flashbacks. The story is slight and a little disjointed, relying too heavily on self-consciously cool narration and abrupt flashbacks to pad out a by-the-numbers plot. Fans of Goddard or Melville should enjoy how well Jacamon captures their aesthetic on the page. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

In 1998, Matz's hit series, The Killer, with artist Luc Jacamon, made its comic book debut. It became a bestseller that found its way onto the shelves of bookstores in many countries, all the way to the USA with Archaia. It was then optioned by Paramount for a movie that has drawn the interest of director David Fincher ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"). Matz has also created a new line of comic books, Rivages/Casterman/Noir, which are adaptations of noir novels. But Matz's day job for the last 15 years has been to write for the videogame industry, as he has been an employee at Ubisoft. Now in charge of the writing department, Matz has been involved with games such as "Splinter Cell," "Ghost Recon," "Rainbow Six," "Prince of Persia," and the "Assassin's Creed" series.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Boom Entertainment (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932386440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932386448
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A contract hitman on a job sits around for days waiting for his target to appear. While he waits he tells the story of how he came to be a hitman - a normal chap, he was paid by someone to beat up another stranger which he did, although he accidentally killed him. The client paid him more money for this and he ended up doing it more and more until it became his profession. After years of this and following a botched job he decides to retire to his Venezualan paradise - except retirement for hitmen isn't easy as taking the money and walking away. Soon he finds himself the target and is betrayed by people he thought were friends.

"The Killer" is a hitman story that's familiar and has been told numerous times before, both in literature and in film. It's an easy read and Matz knows how to tell a story, mixing in action amidst a lot of exposition. Luc Jacamon's artwork though is what sets this book apart from other crime books. Usually noir/crime comic books have a grimy feel to the artwork, a grittiness that manifests itself in drab colours and lots of shadows but Jacamon flips this concept and the pages are filled with glorious colours, helped in part by the script which calls for scenes in the Venezualan jungles and the Alps.

The overall effect of the book though is one of underwhelming expectations. Having been told how brilliant the book was by a couple of rabid comics fans I thought this was going to be taking the familiar hitman story and turn it around somehow. Unfortunately though, despite the artwork, the story never reaches high levels of comic greatness. It's a good read and I'd read the next volume in the series but only if it was a library book rather than paying another tenner for it. Good, not great.
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Format: Hardcover
This acclaimed French graphic novel takes on a familiar figure in popular culture, the hit man, and attempts to tell a story from entirely within his perspective. Unfortunately, while the art is top notch, with the kind of beautiful, classic detail, lettering, and coloring I've come to expect from European comics, the story itself is rather weak. We meet the hit man in Paris as he waits for a target, one of what he hopes will be one of his final jobs before he has enough money to retire to his villa in Venezuela. As he waits, his mind drifts to his past, and we learn of his background (solidly middle class) how he got started on such a career path, and where it's led him. However, being inside the mind of a psychopath (or sociopath if you prefer), just isn't very interesting. The hit man has no use for other people (other than women for the obvious), completely cut himself off from his family, and generally has zero empathy at all. As he waits, he starts to crack up and question the point of his life.

Ah yes, shocking, I know -- a French crime story that veers sharply into existentialism. Without having studied the matter, I assume the existential themes in American noir fiction and film explain why it's been historically so well-received in France and recycled into French crime storytelling. Here, the hit man gives long rambling interior monologues about the hypocrisy of humanity, listing genocide after genocide from human history to make his point. Don't get me wrong, there is some action, as he is tailed after one messy job and has to deal with a French cop, and then figure out why his last job didn't go so well.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Matz has written an amazingly deep, amazingly gripping thriller that deals with the inner conflicts of a fascinating character. This really stretches what can be done with character depth in a graphic novel. I'd rank this on the level of Frank Miller's Dark Knight and Alan Moore's Watchmen. It's amazing how much empathy I had for the assassin.

I know there are several more volumes in the original French already published. I'm tempted to get them from Amazon.fr and push my bad French, so I don't have to wait for the English translations to continue the story.
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Format: Hardcover
Hook:
A hired professional killer teeters on the edge of moral corruption and must try to stem the loss of his humanity against a backdrop of deceit and corruption.

Characters:
• The Killer – The driving force behind this book is the mental state of its titular character. We never know his name, nor do we want to. He is more than just the dark man at the edge of our vision; he’s the dirty little secret society wants to forget. He’s the violence and power that has helped forge modern society, and worst of all, he knows it.

“If you ask me, every man, at every moment of his life, whatever he does, should be ready to face death.”

• The Girlfriend – She appears from nowhere and slowly integrates herself into The Killer’s life. Not initially inclined to his profession, she doesn’t shy away from him as the strands knit together and his truth is revealed. The question of whether she’s morally corrupt or just looking for a good time remains hidden. At no point are we privy to her true feelings, though we suspect them, and what we suspect isn’t good.

“I like her. She’s good for me. Asks no questions, has no expectations. No idea what goes on in her head. Suits me just fine.”

• Edouard La Streille – There are no friends in this business. And rightfully so, Edouard is not long for this world. But his role is an important one, and serves as the fulcrum to The Killer’s tumble down the mountain side of savagery.

“Are you telling me you whacked this guy before you read his damn notes? Before you even knew he was a cop?!”

• Mariano Schloss – Every professional needs a protégé.
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