Comic Book Archive: Assassin's Creed #1
Markuz, May 11th, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a new series of articles that we are launching here on Access The Animus in our Anniversary celebration week! As usual, it's going to be an experiment and that we hope you are going to enjoy it, so don't hesitate to let us know if you like it or dislike it and why in the comments!

This series of articles will be entirely dedicated to the Assassin's Creed comics and in our usual style we'll try and delve deep in the story that we are presented with by the hands of Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery (for the Assassin's Creed series) and of Fred Van Lente (for the Assassin's Creed: Templars series).

This first article will be dedicated to Assassin's Creed #1, the first issue of the first arc of the first series of comic books, where we are introduced, for the first time, to the main character in the present day, Charlotte de la Cruz and to the main character in the historical part of the comic, Tom Stoddard.

The comic book opens up inside a Helix simulation set in 1852 during the California Gold Rush era in the Great Basin desert. The simulation, as we'll see, has Charlotte as the main player impersonating an unnamed female Assassin attacking a coach and reaching it from her horse using a sort of Rope Launcher with a non-rigid rope and a tip shaped after the Assassins' insignia.
The tip of the "Rope Launcher"
The Assassin reaches the top of the coach and kills one of the drivers while pointing her shotgun at the other one, saying "Mr. Sutter. You have something that doesn't belong to you. The Maidu people? The ones who mined that gold in your carriage? They want it back".
With this single sentence, the female Assassin shows she's talking with a real historical figure, Johann Augustus Sutter, a German-born Swiss pioneer of California famous for his association with the Gold Rush, who in 1841 built a settlement called New Helvetia or New Switzerland (that would eventually become the city of Sacramento). In order to do that, Sutter had to make peace with the local native Maidu people who, in turn helped him build his fortified settlement. According to Wikipedia, though some of the Native Americans worked voluntarily for Sutter, others were subjected to varying degrees of coercion that resembled slavery or serfdom as Sutter believed that Native Americans had to be kept "strictly under fear" in order to serve white landowners.
On January 24, 1848, gold was discovered in the area around Sutter's Mill, a sawmill owned by Sutter in his own land. After testing it to confirm it was gold indeed, Sutter tried to gain legitimate title to as much land near the discovery as possible, while working to keep the discovery as quiet as possible... And he failed. In fact, merchant and newspaper publisher Samuel Brannan
Johann Augustus Sutter
returned from Sutter's Mill to San Francisco with gold he had acquired there and began making the discovery public. This caused large masses of people (around 300.000 gold-seekers) to go back to Sutter's land in search for the gold, in what was called the infamous Gold Rush, destroying everything he had worked for , because there was no law regarding property rights in the goldfields and, at first, loose gold nuggets could even be picked up off the ground.
With everything destroyed, Sutter faced a great economic loss and while he deeded his remaining land to his son, he had to give up his entire settlement to pay for his debts.

It's probably around this period of time that, in 1852, the Helix simulation that is shown in the first pages of the comic takes place. What we see is Sutter probably running away from his former lands with two coaches loaded with gold that, as the female Assassin says, was mined by the Maidu people that he had enslaved in his settlement. Considering the woman is an Assassin we can't even rule out the fact that Sutter could be a Templar or affiliated to the Templars even if there is no proof for that at present.
After threatening Sutter, the female Assassin turns her glance on her side.... and she shoots an enemy hidden in the rocks from the moving carriage. Or to be more specific, Charlotte does it, controlling the female Assassin's avatar.

This is the moment where we stop following the simulation and enter the present day, having a first look of Charlotte, wearing the VR headset of her Abstergo Entertainment Animus / Helix console, in her untidy apartment. While exploring the Gold Rush memories, Charlotte appears to be talking with an unknown man who was watching and following her performance in the simulation. The two end up having a brief conversation about the simulation and the game and about her choice of controlling an Assassin avatar and therefore siding with the Assassins, who, according to the man, are the "bad guys" because they "kill everyone they disagree with", while she believes "they're cool" and she feels like Robin Hood while controlling their avatars.

Charlotte discussing the Assassins and Templars in a preview picture for the comic

Charlotte and the man keep on discussing how they'd behave if the orders actually existed, with the man constantly asking her questions about her and about what she thinks about the orders , almost appearing like a stalker... That's why she interrupts the conversation, also because she has to go to a job interview.

In a way, it's a brief introduction and another way of presenting the fans with a discussion about the different opinions on Assassins and Templars, even if this time it's more about the fictional facades that Abstergo Entertainment created for both the orders rather than the original ones. As I have stated more than once in my articles, I've always considered Abstergo's idea of showing both the Templars and the Assassins to the world, even if they're represented as fictional orders, a very risky move, considering that it might get a lot of people too close to the truth. That's what happens with Charlotte too, in a way, as we'll see.

The following pages of the comic show Charlotte's job interview at a company called World Share, which ends up badly for her. Her job at "Malta Banking" isn't satisfying for her either and when she sees that a recurring customer has to close an account and withdraw all her money because her daughter is sick and the insurance isn't covering for her, Charlotte decides she has enough.
In fact, this customer reminds her of when her uncle was ill and was staying in a hospital and her family was told that the insurance wouldn't cover for it because the illness didn't have anything to do with work. Because of this, Charlotte's family almost went bankrupt when she was a kid and this may have been the moment where she started developing a distrust for politicians and big companies... exactly like her bank (and World Share).

The bank account of Charlotte's
customer - Notice that Charlotte logged
in on September 15, 2015
As mentioned before, seeing the customer dealing with her issue, Charlotte decides she has enough. While checking the customer's account, she finds out that 10.000 $ have been deposited in it by a Real Estate agency as part of some illicit money / asset traffic. Charlotte seizes the moment and lets the customer withdraw all the money even if it doesn't belong to her. It's Charlotte's action against the system, against the big companies, and she behaves sort of like Robin Hood, which is how she portrayed the Assassins.

Yes, the reader should see a pattern at this point :)

Galina and Xavier
Anyway, Charlotte decides to run home after realizing what she did. She compromised her work at the bank, she didn't get another job and she can't do much more... until she gets home and finds... None other than Galina Voronina and another Assassin called Xavier Chen! In an unexpected (not so much, Galina appeared in the previews of the comic...) turn of events, Galina appears in the comics and is ready to kick ass, as usual.

Before that, though, a very awkward situation happens in the comic, at least in my opinion. Galina and Xavier tell Charlotte they're from an organization called "The Brotherhood" and immediately after that she answers "YES! (...) Dude, I'm in!". Apparently Charlotte has read so much about the Assassins on the internet and on "conspiracy boards" and has played so much with the Abstergo VR that she doesn't even want to listen to what Galina and Xavier want to ask her. She accepts it anyway. With this sentence she seems like an Assassin fanboy... but then again if you were the ones who found themselves in front of two real Assassins, what would you actually tell them?

The awkward situation ends soon enough though, because Charlotte and the two Assassins are immediately ambushed by some Templar agents who initially pretend to be from the World Share company (indirectly revealing that the company may be connected to the Templars) and immediately show their interest in the two Assassins.
It's obvious, a battle ensues and as mentioned earlier, Galina is the MVP of the match, kicking a metal bin in an enemy's face, throwing a dagger through another one's head and making a cool jump from Charlotte's apartment to a nearby roof. While Xavier stays behind to defeat the Templars, Galina encourages Charlotte to follow her and do the same jump, which she does... even if she passes out in the process.

When she wakes up she finds out she was dragged to Xavier's hideout in the Salton Sea (the outside environment is very similar to the actual one of the Salton Sea, so kudos to artist Neil Edwards). Charlotte is introduced by Xavier (who appears to be the leader of the Assassin cell) to Kody, the fourth Assassin of the team and the tech guy of the group.

Xavier's hideout

Xavier says that he helped finding her, and because of this we can even hypothesize that he was the guy who was talking with Charlotte as she was playing the Gold Rush simulation and that asked her so much about her opinion on the Assassins and on the Templars. It might be nothing, but when they were in her apartment, Charlotte even asked Xavier and Galina if they were actually “friends of that weirdo online”.

As a classic for the beginning of most of the Assassin’s Creed stories, the main character is then introduced to the reality of things. Charlotte gets to know that the Helix simulations are based on actual memories, that Helix is actually a platform through which the Templars go through the users’ genetic memories to try and find “objects of power” (though Xavier doesn’t actually call them Pieces of Eden) and, of course, that her memories are important. Once again, it is what the ancestor of the main character in the present day did or found that matters, it’s the reason why the Assassins – and the Templars - were looking for Charlotte in her apartment.

Finally, and only at this point (which I didn’t like very much), Charlotte appears confused about what happened, about all the chaos that happened in her life and about the people (the Templar agents) that were killed hours before. In this confusion Charlotte wonders why the Templars wanted to abduct her and Xavier answers that the Assassins don’t know anything. The only way to know, and it was an iconic element of the present day that had been missing from the comic up to this point, is by using an Animus. And not just a normal Animus. Xavier’s cell at the end of 2015 is still using the Animus 2.0 or 2.03 version, in short, the “Animus Chair” from AC2 and ACB (stylistically this choice is understandable, the “Animus Chair” is the most famous and recognizable version of the machine).

Kody's Animus

Before jumping in, Charlotte is told that Abstergo has extracted her genetic data through Helix (thus showing what is the new façade of the Templars in the modern day), and because of that Xavier and his team were able to find out that she had Assassins in her bloodline. The only remaining question is why both the Assassins and the Templars rushed to Charlotte’s apartment, and this is where it gets tricky. Try and follow this because it will be important for the future issue of the comic: the Assassins are in a rush because right before getting to Charlotte they received a message by another Assassin called Joseph. Joseph was supposed to enter a Templar facility to find out the locations of a Piece of Eden but, according to the Assassins, died in the process. After some time, though, they received the aforementioned message, where Joseph stated he had disappeared and faked his death to draw a top Templar to San Diego (the town where Charlotte lives) in order to kill him. For this reason, Xavier's cell is now tortured by a doubt: is Joseph telling the truth or is he a traitor who fled to the Templars and now is trying to lure them in a trap? Actually, it's not just a doubt, this dilemma makes Xavier and Galina discuss harshly because the former is defending Joseph and says that he's one of the most decorated members of the Brotherhood, so he deserves a chance, while the latter states that she doesn't trust him and doesn't want to risk another traitor trying to put the Brotherhood to an end (nice Daniel Cross reference there!)

Kody reveals the historical
setting of this arc of the comic:
The Salem witch trials
There is a solution to the dilemma, though. It can be found in Charlotte's blood, in her matrilineal line, because, according to Kody, it can be traced to when Joseph told the Templar the Piece of Eden was hidden, during the Salem witch trials. That way, if the cell analyzes the story of Charlotte's ancestor, it will be able to see if what Joseph wrote about the Piece of Eden was true or not (but then again, what was the point of sending Joseph in the Templars Headquarters to know about the location of the POE if they could analyze Charlotte's genetic memories?)

Charlotte accepts willingly to go immediately on the Animus, while Kody admits he built the machine because he had a good teacher (much likely a reference to Rebecca, who created the Animus 2.0).
We are then thrown into the past, in Thomas Stoddard's memories located in Salem, 1692, and in my opinion these pages and the following ones are the most interesting of the comic. In fact, while following Tom Stoddard, we can see what Charlotte is thinking. For example she says that the Animus simulation is much more intense than her home set-up, she comments on the fact that Tom is unexpectedly white and, more than anything else she is shocked when she sees that the Assassin doesn't try to help a woman sentenced to death for witchcraft. Being it a simulation, Charlotte takes more control of Tom's avatar and tries to push him to jump from a roof and save the woman... but she gets desynchronized and this is the most interesting
A... static discussion
part. The way in which the desynchronization is handled in this comic is maybe the most fascinating and realistic in the entire series: by not doing what her ancestor did (thus trying to change the past), Charlotte "wakes up" from the Animus and has to throw up because she lost her physical and psychological connection to her ancestor.

Charlotte is shocked by the fact that Stoddard, as an Assassin, doesn't save women in danger, but Xavier says there's no time and she has to go back on the Animus even if Galina is worried about her being too weak for it. This starts another verbal fight between the two (who apparently stand still while arguing) and Xavier has to enforce his judgment, stating that he was put in charge of the cell by none other than Gavin Banks (if you don't remember who Gavin is, feel bad about it and when you're done, go read this dossier and Gavin's last exploit on Initiates). The clash is interrupted once more by Charlotte, who despite all the risks shows how strong (and crazy) of a character she is and goes back on the Animus, while Xavier supports her decision.
And so our comic ends with a page depicting Stoddard on a roof watching the woman being hanged while two men are sneering right behind her, and Galina being worried about Charlotte's and Xavier decision.

Not too much has happened in terms of story, but the first issue sets up all the background (along with some awkward and some fascinating elements) needed for the story to be developed in the next issues.

So, once again, stay synchronized with us, when we're going to analyze issue #2 of the Assassin's Creed comic book series!

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