As the current group of Assassin’s Creed arcs wrap up, let’s look at new information for the franchise, then dive into two arcs of the comics.
Assassin’s Creed: Conspiracies
As shown by solicitations for August and September 2018, we have somewhat new installments to the comic series coming in that paint an image of what is going on behind the scenes at Ubisoft.
“Assassin’s Creed: Conspiracies,” known as “Assassin’s Creed: Conspirations” in France, is a comic that originally was released by Les Deux Royaumes, Ubisoft’s French publisher of a variety of variably canonical comics for various franchises, among them Assassin’s Creed. The original issues were released in French fourteen months apart, one in October 2016, and one in December 2017. Their somewhat odd story, along with statements that only the Animus-based past information was canonical in the earlier “cycles” of the publisher’s comics of the franchise, made analyzing them in these Codices a bit too difficult to undertake until the upcoming translations, but they will still be the next subject of the Codices.
Furthermore, the fact that these stories are the ones being released by Titan Comics, rather than new ones in whatever new take on the canon Ubisoft wants to undergo post-“Uprising,” shows a general slowdown in the comic sagas.
One possible way to move forward would be another miniseries in the vein of the concluding “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” postscript comic for the 2018 video game installment, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (coming October 5). That game, announced during the Electronic Entertainment Expo of 2018, is set during the Peloponnesian War (431 BCE – 404 BCE), decades after the first use of the Hidden Blade by proto-Hidden One Darius to kill Xerxes I of Persia, and approximately four centuries before the formation of the Hidden Ones themselves, and includes an entirely new Isu relic, the Spear of Leonidas. Given the plethora of new information to come, the increased focus on Layla Hassan as the new modern protagonist for the games, and very little framework for a new arc at present, it makes sense to basically spin their wheels until something big enough comes up onto which to latch. Furthermore, the fact that the historical record presented for the game is so imprecise that even the gender of the protagonist is variable (though seemingly canonically the female Kassandra rather than the male Alexios according to an early look at the novelization), limited attention to the comics for the time being may be for the best.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins #4
For clarity’s purposes, this issue will be explained in chronological order, rather than using the framing device as a point of suspense.
Following up from last issue, in 44 BCE, Aya, Brutus, and Cassius were about to be attacked by Mark Antony and his ambushers following their escape from Aya’s attempted execution. With some quick thinking, Aya and her fellow Hidden Ones managed to cut down the enemy warriors, with Mark Antony held at swordpoint by Brutus himself, filled with anger for Antony’s “betrayal” of the republic.
Aya, on the other hand, can see the civilians around them, and recognizes what this all looks like: a crazy person who just led the charge against a beloved general being about to execute another politician, not an attempt to save the republic.
With some prodding, Aya manages to get Brutus to back down and let Mark Antony up, and for Mark Antony to walk away. Still, filled with by-now impotent rage, Brutus can do nothing but stab his dagger into the stone road, shattering the Roman steel on impact as he screams in anger, surrounded by civilians, Cassius, and Aya while looking like nothing but a raving lunatic.
By the next evening, Brutus is preparing to leave, likely with Cassius. Aya comes to him, and aside from wishing him well, presents him with his reforged dagger, made from a mixture of Egyptian and Roman steel to show a connection between the two eras.
Aya narrates the time that passed thereafter, how Brutus worked from the shadows to take down tyrants in Crete, before being killed by Mark Antony’s forces in Macedonia. According to history, along with what is known from previous games, Brutus actually committed suicide alongside Cassius in the Battle of Philippi, which indeed was in Macedonia, so it is technically true, but also not at the same time.Continued below
The fact that Aya says that some believe he faked his death and changed his name seems in reference to the fact that his body was recovered by other Hidden Ones and they attempted, without success, to resurrect him with a Shroud of Eden. The scroll in her hands seems to be one of the “Scrolls of Romulus” found approximately fifteen centuries later by Ezio Auditore da Firenze, which led to Brutus’s family armor and the very dagger she reforged for him. Did she write them? Brutus wouldn’t have left much time in Rome to leave his records there, so it’s entirely possible, or that they were recovered from other areas he had visited by the “Followers of Romulus” cult that later misattributed the scrolls to the mythological founder of Rome itself.
Regardless, Aya took up the name Amunet, as stated in earlier Codices, and took to following and attempting to prevent any ruin that could come of the rule provided by Julius Caesar’s adopted son, Gaius Octavius Thurinus, better known as Octavian, or as he became known by three years after the framing story, Augustus (interesting, but irrelevant to the story itself). Her attempts to curb any corruption and excess leading to ruin led her to other countries in his conquests, ultimately arriving in Egypt… and bringing our story to its framing point, in early to mid August of 30 BCE.
For more information on the intermittent time period, look to the previous Codices showing how things have fared in Alexandria that fateful night.
With Octavian at the gates, even Caesarion is hesitant about continuing this fight and sending more Egyptians to their deaths for Cleopatra to remain in power. But then, she is his mother, so he will not actually go against her wishes.
There is an intruder, or perhaps several, coming to the throne in Alexandria. Egyptian soldiers run out the front gates and are quickly struck down. All things considered equal, Cleopatra, Caesarion, and the others of course think that it is Octavian himself, or a collection of his soldiers.
… but would they actually fight that quietly, that efficiently?
Caesarion comes out with his training sword, ready to face down the intruder in what is of course a hopeless endeavor, and his hooded attacker of course stops him. The identity of this intruder is probably clear to the reader, but of course not to those being attacked, due to the time since the flashbacks.
Aya, now going by the name of Amunet, has come, having dealt with Caesarion non-lethally despite his attack, and comes right up to Cleopatra, berating her (once noting that she did not kill the Pharaoh’s son) about putting her own pride before the wellbeing of Egypt. She is there to bring an end to the bloodshed throughout Egypt, to save the country from itself… but is aware that doing so will mean the death of her former friend before she sends more countrymen to their demise.
Reluctant, but knowing the Hidden One speaks the truth, and agrees to abdicate by way of her death. Luckily, Aya has a poison for the occasion, a small vial for Cleopatra to drink. Judging from the historical records, including those within the game universe circa the late 15th century (between approximately 1486 and 1500) from the Italian territories, the vial might be one containing the venom of an asp, a type of snake that Amunet was thereafter famous for using to kill Cleopatra, making that history accurate… from a certain point of view.
However, Cleopatra has one condition for her abdication and voluntary suicide. Namely, Amunet must take Caesarion away with her and teach him to be one of the Hidden Ones. Is this an attempt to atone for her corruption and the harm she had caused her former friend? Is it just an attempt to save her loved one and teach him to defend himself? The latter is more likely, but the former isn’t exactly out of the question either.
Amunet agrees, leaving with Caesarion’s unconscious body as Cleopatra drinks the venom or poison, the Egypt Aya of Alexandria once knew now well and truly dead despite her best efforts.Continued below
A side note on Caesarion: historical records have no information on him after the death of Cleopatra. Therefore, him becoming a Hidden One is not exactly out of the question, and doesn’t technically break with established, real-life history (beyond the existence of this conspiracy itself, that is).
Some time later, Caesarion awakens on Amunet’s boat. He seems to be much calmer now, even taking his mother’s death in stride. Then again, what can he do? He is defenseless with the woman who easily defeated him. Instead, on hearing that Cleopatra chose her own method of death, and being told to both remember Egypt and move forward, he takes up the makeshift robes of a Hidden One, becoming one of their number for the journey forward into a new era.
Assassin’s Creed: Uprising #12
We open on Resurrection Day, with a narration, apparently by someone from the Assassin-Templar alliance, noting how important the day was to the war effort, in particular on one point: it was the day that Charlotte de la Cruz died.
Left with that ominous statement, Juhani Otso Berg is first seen trying to attack the Phoenix Project’s base of operations, Álvaro Gramática’s laboratory, from the front door, whereupon he, in full Black Cross attire, realizes whom he is up against in the midst of the sandstorm. Recognizing his second-in-command in Sigma Team, Violet da Costa, he understands that she was an Instrument mole all along, and she in turn realizes the same of him as being the Black Cross. He can see through the high-technology camouflage used by the Instruments around her by way of his Abstergo Skunkworks goggles, knowing the thirteen or more well-armed troops are ready for his assault if he goes in directly, their thermal signatures giving them away.
As for his friend and confidant Andre Bolden…
On the bright side, we have a bit of pure Bond villain level stupidity on the part of the Instruments then, with their Blade, Jasdip Dhami, coming out to face Berg, presumably intending to do so in single combat instead of doing the logical thing and having the dozen or more other troops open fire with their rifles on the apparent lone assailant. Why exactly is this such a stupid idea?
Well… Berg didn’t come alone.
After Galina Voronina took care of the predatel (“traitor” in Russian) with a well placed sniper’s bullet, Violet was less than amused, and ordered her men to just shoot them both. Why she didn’t do that before can probably be chocked up to her massive pride complex, which was in place even before her reveal as part of the Instruments.
We return to Elijah’s room, where he kept himself and Richmond locked up. Elijah thanks Richmond for all of the kindness he showed to the young Sage, ever since the Instruments acquired this son of Desmond Miles. However, his words are not all kind, and hinge on a sudden revelation.
“I mean, I guess it’s a guilt thing, right?”
As it turns out, Richmond is far from innocent in the Phoenix Project situation, and his involvement stretches far beyond just being a willing participant in the various experiments and tests performed on the powerful boy.
“… you all get to die.” This statement seems to be pointed at Juno and the Instruments, who, unbeknownst to them, have been pawns in Elijah’s own plan for the cult. He hates them all, and with Juno having a body for herself, he can finally engineer her demise and the cult’s subsequent dissolution to allow for a new age beyond them. Still, his opinions on the Assassins or the Templars remain a mystery.
Meanwhile, two Instruments try to fire on some assailants from the back door, a Gatling gun and a rifle between them. Apparently five others were there, but were killed as they came out to take them on. One asks if they should try doing the same, just in case the attackers are clustered together in one place?
… then they realize that they’re right in front of a bunch of fuel tanks. Out in the open. And there’s an ominous sound coming in…Continued below
Back with Charlotte, somewhat lost in the sandstorm, she is apparently the narrator of the opening, as it follows her path. She’s looking for the one, singular grate to lead into the facility in the storm, but it’s nearly impossible to see anything at all, even with her goggles on. As her narration notes, she actually considers the idea of someone else viewing her memories of Resurrection Day in the future through her DNA, either a descendent or someone using the Data Dump Scanner… and also, somewhat humorously, realizing that that moment, when the entire human race is on the line, would be a really bad time for an existential breakdown.
Luckily, she sees a light in the distance, one that leads her toward her goal by showing the grate she needs to use, the manhole of a sort.
Unluckily… we also see the reason for that light. It’s Juno’s awakening. Her first act is to use some kind of electrical blast to throw Gramática against a wall. How is she able to do this? She figures that the reason is encoded within her very DNA now.
One of the lesser-known abilities of the Shrouds of Eden is the ability to release electrical waves of power, as shown from Crawford Starrick’s usage of one of them under Buckingham Palace in the 1800s against Jacob and Evie Frye. While it seemed to mostly just be a gameplay mechanic to make sure that players had to get close enough to him while he could still attack somewhat, apparently Juno’s new body can focus those waves, rather than as walls with specific holes in them, into blasts or even telekinetic fields to hold people in place. As such, she can appear to be truly divine by way of essentially being a cyborg with sufficiently advanced technology integrated into her very being. Could this be explored further in later installments? Time will tell.
By the time Charlotte gets down to the lab, Juno has already dressed herself in her robes. Despite an attempt to drop down on her, Charlotte was found out and caught in mid-air with an electrical field, held in place to be killed.
Though she is rather upset at losing, an unlikely ally’s arrival provides her with some aid. Namely, Elijah himself comes to her, having stolen the Koh-i-Noor. Apparently his first in-person appearance back in Hong Kong during Charlotte’s mission toward the beginning of this comic series had resulted in a long-term backfire on the Instruments as a whole. Seeing Charlotte, his Sage genetic memories allowed him to recognize her own experience with the Isu and the Pieces of Eden, and see her as a kindred spirit and ally in the cause to kill Juno’s new body.
Charlotte’s contact with the Koh-i-Noor allows her to project a hard light maze around the interior of the entire compound, a labyrinth that has an easy path lain out for her allies to get to her, but walls to hold off guards, not to mention hard light Minotaurs. Unlike other illusions, this one seems to be solid enough to actually hold off gunfire, at least while enough concentration is in effect. Is this how Juno killed the humans who assassinated Saturn so very long ago, with harder light blasts? It seems possible, and, with the connection to her electrokinetic abilities using the Shroud, showcases how Isu could manifest superpowers in general.
Juno is, of course, not amused by the attempt to use a Piece of Eden against her. If anything, it further proves her point of mankind’s uselessness beyond thievery. She admittedly has a point, though. Ever since humanity found the Pieces of Eden, they had been using technology of their like, if not they themselves, to forge ahead. From the Animus to the various other technological advancements made using Isu relics as a basis, from the time of Adam and Eve’s rebellion through to Resurrection Day and beyond, mankind has relied on the superior technology of the Isu, coupled with their merged genetic lines, to develop their societies. On the other hand, this reliance could also add more credence to Minerva and Saturn’s thoughts of using the technology to uplift them, but of course the xenophobic, misanthropic Juno would only see the most negative viewpoint.Continued below
Kiyoshi and Arend arrive at the lab around the same time as Galina and Otso did, but Gramática tries to trip the former as he runs by, also staggering Arend in the process. Alerted, Juno lets loose another two waves of electricity at the same time, hitting the two Assassins square in the chest and knocking them to the ground, to Galina’s horror.
From here, we have a very familiar scene, practically exactly the same as the one in the flashforward to this moment back in issue 9, minus any words. But… what about the dead bodies? Where is the carnage that the preview promised?
With so little time to explain, we instead see a new arrival, another Isu in full regalia. It is our first look at Consus in person since his first appearance back in 2010 during the Project Legacy game. His arrival shocks Juno, who is horrified that she is not the only Isu to live, not to mention so prideful and self-centered that she cannot abide by the idea of sharing her day with anyone else.
… or so she thinks. As it so happens, the reason why things are so much more dire during the flashforward is that those events never really happened. Charlotte’s use of the Koh-i-Noor has become proficient enough that she can use the connection she had with Juno, the one where they had unintentionally traded knowledge due to Juno sifting through the Assassin’s memories, to create a lifelike illusion as a distraction. While Juno believes she had stolen back the Koh-i-Noor, in fact she merely took a coffee cup.
Unfortunately, in her panic, Juno lets loose a blast of electricity at an upward angle, likely aiming for Consus’ head, but instead hitting a wall, beginning a slow collapse of the entire area.
On the bright side, this outburst leads to the death of Álvaro Gramática at last, as several pieces of rebar and other debris crush his still wounded body. He won’t be missed.
The Assassins and Berg both know that their time to escape is short, but Charlotte recognizes that, with Juno still somewhat distracted, this is their only real chance to finish her off for good. While Arend, Kiyoshi, Galina, and Otso escape, Charlotte approaches Juno alongside Elijah. The latter is near Juno as she comes to and illusion apparently vanishes, and despite her demand that he hand over the Koh-i-Noor, he only says two words.
With Juno bleeding out from her neck due to Charlotte’s Hidden Blade stabbing her through one and and out the other (a wound that the tiniest fragments of the Shroud in her body cannot apparently heal), Elijah opts to escape on his own, going up through the same exit that Charlotte initially used. He has had enough of all of the Isu, and despite Charlotte’s aid, he is more of the opinion that Juno’s line has to end no matter what. He is no ally to either Assassins or Templars. He’s a free agent of sorts, and makes his way out as the lair continues to collapse, leaving his temporary ally behind.
The Assassin-Black Cross alliance makes their way outside without Charlotte, who is still trapped within, only to find all of the remaining Instruments with Violet da Costa aiming their guns and drones at them.
Violet, as much a cult member as ever, demands to know what happened to Juno, and where she is. Her former partner and direct commanding officer, Juhani Otso Berg, only has one sentence for her in response: “You’re such a disappointment to me, Violet.” With that, he whistles with two fingers…
…and calls in the cavalry.
The shock is enough for Berg to manage to easily disarm his former partner and shoot her in the back with her own gun, straight through her own abdomen. While this sounds all well and good on the surface… there’s bad news as well.Continued below
He’s not leaving behind any potential loose ends in case Charlotte didn’t manage to kill Juno.
The grenade, the same one that blew him out of a high window so long ago in this series, detonates, taking out the entire laboratory. Juno is of course already dead, but nobody actually knew that except Charlotte and Elijah. The waves of fire take out the compound, incinerating what is left of Juno’s corpse and killing Charlotte seemingly more or less instantly. And so her story ends in fire, having saved the world with nobody able to tell but for a single person. Not unlike Desmond Miles in a way.
Speaking of Miles, we have one last loose end in the issue, since it doesn’t seem to need following up on the goings on of other side stories from earlier ones.
Elijah has escaped, off to new horizons. Will he form a new Creed of his own, or even a variation on the Creed of Free Will? Will he simply vanish into the ether? Will he find his paternal grandfather, William Miles? Who knows?
All there is for certain is that things have definitely changed, and a new arc is upon us, rising from the ashes of the Phoenix Project.