The movies never go too in-depth about John Wick’s origin story or why he is as unstoppable as he is in the movie trilogy, but the comic books do.
The films in the John Wick franchise hardly goes in-depth into the titular character’s upbringing and origin story, but the comic book limited series from Dynamite Comics goes a long way in filling in those gaps. Specifically, the comics go a long way in highlighting exactly what makes John Wick himself such an unbelievable, unstoppable killing machine.
The five-issue John Wick comic series was first published in 2017 and is written by Greg Pak with art by Giovanni Valletta. Taking place before the first film, the miniseries sees John Wick embarking on a personal mission of revenge against a ruthless old enemy named Calamity as well as a group of assassins known as the Three Bills. As he carries out this vendetta, John is introduced to the world of the Continental Hotel and the rules that its assassin members must follow.
Throughout the comic series, the reader gets brief glimpses peaking into John Wick’s childhood, beginning with the first issue. In a flashback readers see a young boy and aspiring thief chased by a quartet of criminals through the streets of El Sauzel, Baja California in Mexico. It is later revealed that these criminals are the Three Bills and Calamity while the boy will grow up to be John Wick. The boy has stolen money off of these criminals and thus the scene culminates with Calamity shooting a bazooka at young John, but instead hitting a small village, killing 53 villagers in the process, including his friend Fidelio. Witnessing this massacre and experiencing a personal loss at a young age should be enough to explain the revenge that drives John Wick’s furious blood lust. But it’s actually much deeper than that. John Wick’s unstoppable drive stems not only from vengeance, but also from experience.
It’s clear in this first issue that the Three Bills and Calamity are familiar with who John is. In John Wick #2 by Pak and Valletta, John is able to turn Buffalo and Billy against each other via text by impersonating a comrade of theirs, but the more subtle thing to take note of is how John is able to remind them both of who he is just from the vague description of John Wick as “that kid from Mexico.” Similarly, a few issues later in Pak and Matt Gaudio’s fourth issue, Buffalo and Billy are able to remind Calamity about a young John Wick just by name-dropping as “that kid, Johnny.” It’s an easy detail to miss, but some kid isn’t going to stick out in the minds of criminals who had been doing what they do for decades unless that kid carved out a reputation for himself early on.
The implication here is that The Three Bills and Calamity were not the first criminals who young John tried to rip off. Even bigger than that is the idea that John Wick potentially regularly ran into criminals as a kid on the streets of Baja California. Seemingly with no real guardian to look after him, it sounds as if John Wick’s childhood put him in situations, namely with criminals, that constantly placed him in survival mode. He’s essentially learned and trained ever since being a kid on how to fight off masses of criminals and evade gunfire. Naturally, John Wick honed those skills well enough to become the ultimate killing machine.
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