This title is ALL NEW, and while it's a continuation of a series rather than a reboot, there's some catching up to do, and a fresh set of danger awaiting Iris & Co. Prior knowledge of EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS isn't necessary -- there's a handy, concise recap of her tragic history, followed by a launch right into a brand new bloodbath. The elevator pitch version: a despondent Chinese orphan goes to a special assassin academy, then works as an Executive Assistant (ultra-loyal, ultra-deadly bodyguard type) for some people who seriously misinterpret the concepts of honor and loyalty. In the wake of these betrayals, she's currently a free agent, looking for a worthy employer.
The Executive Assistant concept is fascinating -- it's something beyond a typical bodyguard, and beyond even a killer-for-hire, and it's certainly much more exciting and dangerous than the title suggests. We've only seen a little bit about what the EA's can do, but it's pretty brutal -- swordplay, knife skills, and probably quite a bit more -- and it's all in the service of their employers. Discipline and honor are paramount, especially for Iris, and they're also at the heart of this issue's conflicts. Snapdragon is posed as a talented but cruel opposite for Iris, and their differences lie firmly in their respective senses of honor and duty. Discipline is where they both fail; when pitted against each other, things escalate violently, quickly.
Engaging us further is a mystery that's also rooted in honor and loyalty -- the true reason Maly needs an Executive Assistant. Whether she's a victim or a traitor is something we'll have to wait to find out, but Iris is already locked in, loyal, and most certainly going to be entangled in this drama.
Visually, this book just isn't doing it for me. On first pass, the art seemed a little bit cheesecake-y, but after further inspection, I find that it's not just the pouty faces that grate on me -- I'm bothered by a lot of the positioning and movement as well. Accepting that Iris and Snapdragon are trained, talented assassins (and professionals!), I can't get past the fact that they tend to stand with a knee or hip jutted out, red-carpet-style, in a way that would totally mess with their balance/center of gravity (topping off the built-in disadvantages of their outfits). These women just don't strike me as favoring aesthetic over effectiveness, so every popped hip or sexy pout seems like an incongruous choice that takes away from what's going on with the narrative.
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS is a unique title, with plenty of opportunities for fresh storytelling, and a rich, deadly world. I'm pleased with Brian Buccellato's decision to keep Iris' past intact rather that rebooting the series; sometimes a fresh start is too clean, and Iris has a great deal of experiences to learn from (and heal from) as she moves forward into new intrigues. The art style on the book isn't my favorite -- sexy ladies are great, but impractical posing and pouting aren't -- but I'll be sticking around because the story is interesting, and it's truly different from anything else out right now.