When your line of work is assassinations, you come to kill a lot of people. Getting hired to keep someone alive though is a different matter entirely, and one Bullseye gets propositioned to try his hand at in Bullseye #1.
The Black Knife cartel have kidnapped drug dealer, Raph Losani’s, son. Raph wants him back, along with the deaths of anyone who may have hurt Fabian along the way. After his last assassination, pegging Bullseye for a man of delicacy would be boggling, but it’s in full knowledge of his recent conduct that Raph reaches out. Whether he’ll be as pleased with the results, as Bullseye’s last employers were amused by Bullseye’s laissez-faire notion of “low-key,” we’ll have to wait until issue #2 to find out.
That’s the thing about Bullseye. Capable of killing a bodyguard with an ace of spades, there’s no reason he has to, say, use a bomb to take out a trial witness the night before he’s about to give testimony. Bombs send a message. His employers want silence. The common mistake people seem to make around Bullseye is believing that they’re the ones in control, not him. His target, the witness, thinks it’s smart to point out that the great marksman has missed his last few shots. He doesn’t live to regret it.
Guillermo Sanna’s art plays up the fear of the cat and mouse chase by adding horror elements — disembodied hands appearing from nowhere to grab you from behind. When Bullseye appears in silhouette at the bottom of the stairs it’s not scary enough that he’s a trained killer. All you can see are his eyes and clawed hands, the latter explained by the utensils he yields, but making him appear inhuman. A touch of Cubism in Sanna’s style occasionally makes faces unpolished but can capture the exact emotion of the moment. The contortions of Bullseye’s second victim’s body when he’s killed is pain. The tear shed by one of the widows Bullseye makes is a Roy Lichtenstein painting.
“If I Tell You…,” an additional story by Marv Wolfman, drops in on Bullseye with mobsters on his tail. Sent by his last mark to acquire data he stole, it’s the trial witness job all over again, with Bullseye allowing the chasers to believe they have the upper hand.
Where part one of Ed Brisson’s “ The Colombian Connection” allowed this power switch to play out in real time, “If I Tell You…” puts Bullseye on narrator duty, so we know the mobsters are playing into his plan. Basically it’s a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop and the plan’s upside to reveal itself. Not much of a hook, and especially following Brisson’s story, which vetted every scene to prevent Bullseye from getting bored, there’s not enough left to surprise us with when we already know there’s a twist.
Alec Morgan’s art is technically slicker, or made to feel that way with black borders and Frank Martin‘s colors, but used in service of a story that’s mostly predictable. One interesting choice, though, is the extended attention on how the mobsters react to their boss’ use of violence. Bullseye is an assassin but in their eyes he’s a victim. Just as they condone his treatment with their silence, Bullseye #1 silently holds them accountable for standing by. It’s details, like this dash of morality in a Marvel villain series, that make Bullseye a comic to watch.
Bullseye #1 is prepared for readers having the attention span of the titular character, and in the end, it pays off.