Meet Cain, the blind assassin taking on the underworld in Dark Horse's gritty new crime comic

Art from Cain
(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

If you like your action tough and bloody then Cain is the new crime comic for you.

Co-written by Walter Hill and Mike Benson, and drawn by Beni R. Lobel, the first book is available in December from Dark Horse Comics. It's a gritty, fast-paced and thrilling adventure that doesn't pull its punches. 

Cain is a blind assassin who uses his other senses to help him take out his targets. Although it would be wrong to call him a good guy, he does have a moral streak when choosing his assignments. In the first volume of a planned series, out now in hardcover, he battles a ruthless gang of human traffickers but finds himself perhaps biting off more than he can chew.

We spoke with Hill - the legendary director of The Warriors and many other all time classics - and Benson to find out more about the new comic, the continued appeal of gritty noir stories like this, and their hopes for the future of the character.

The cover for Cain

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

Newsarama: Congratulations on Cain! How would you describe this character and what he does?

Walter Hill: Blind from birth. Sees through echo vibrations. Makes a living as a hitman. A sex addict. Constantly searching for a moral compass. Knows he's not good, but makes life or death decisions based on his conception of justice. The justice of the street.

Mike Benson: Walter and I aimed to create an enigmatic anti-hero, blurring moral lines to keep the readers guessing about Cain's genuine motivations and intentions.

What was your starting point when developing this story?

WH: I wanted to do some vague parody of Hong Kong action films, which, to a degree, I think we pulled off. Once we decided on the character being blind, it all fell into place very quickly.

MB: Cain was drawn from various sources of inspirations, with Hong Kong cinema playing a significant role in shaping the character. Hong Kong gangster films are known for their stylish, over the top action sequences, and that influenced the way we scripted fighting scenes and presented the unique blend of gunplay in the book.

Art from Cain

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

What can you tell us about the threats that Cain faces in this book?

WH: Cain's an independent operator, which means he has no ties to legitimate law enforcement, the police, the Mafia, Triad, the F.B.I., the C.I.A., what have you… He is dedicated to properly and professionally doing his job - irrespective of the authority of opposing forces.

How did the collaboration between the two of you come about? And how did it work while you were writing the book?

WH: Mike's a wonderful, knowledgeable partner. I'll leave how we came to work together for him to explain. I had written three graphic novels, published in France, Mike had written several graphic novels for American publishers. We had both been around the track a few times...

MB: I first met Walter years back when I had an overall deal at NBC. He was the first director I wanted to meet to see if there was any way to collaborate. It was a breakfast meeting that lasted two and a half hours. Ever since, Walter and I have been very close, collaborating on different projects, doing lunches, talking shop, family, life... I feel very fortunate to be able to call Walter my friend.  

As far as our writing process, we would split up scenes and send them back and forth to each other. I would then take all the script pages and reformat them into a comic script. It was an easy and enjoyable process.

Art from Cain.

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

You're working with Beni R. Lobel on this book and his art is terrific. What qualities does he bring to Cain?

WH: I thought he did beautiful work and, most importantly, enhanced the story. They asked me what the Cain character should look like. I told them Alain Delon. I'm very pleased with Lobel's work.

MB: Beni did a terrific job. The book is dripping with noir. The look really compliments the writing and we couldn't be more pleased. 

Cain is a classic noir anti-hero - a stone-cold killer with just a hint of a moral backbone. What's the continued appeal of characters like that, do you think?

WH: Don't know. Has a lot to do with the fracturing of many normal and standard social values since WWII.

MB: I think Cain's appeal is he embodies the classic anti-hero archetype, characterized by a nuanced moral compass. Despite being a ruthless assassin, Cain adheres to a stringent code of ethics. It is this unwavering commitment to his code that enables him to rationalize and morally ground his otherwise morally ambiguous actions. Hopefully this will help readers to embrace Cain.

Art from Cain

(Image credit: Dark Horse Comics)

What do you think are the essential components of a noir story like this?

WH: Jeopardy. The old hard religion of courage.

MB: The key elements to a noir story like this include moral ambiguity, a complex anti-hero and a suspenseful atmosphere which is what we have delivered.

This is clearly not the last we’ll see of Cain… Do you have many more stories planned for him?

WH: Yes. Many.

MB: We are in the process of breaking the next Cain story so hopefully in the near future.

Cain is published in hardcover on December 6 by Dark Horse Comics.

Want to lose yourself in a mystery? Here's 10 crime games that will make you feel like a true detective.

Will Salmon
Comics Editor

Will Salmon is the Comics Editor for GamesRadar/Newsarama. He has been writing about comics, film, TV, and music for more than 15 years, which is quite a long time if you stop and think about it. At Future he has previously launched scary movie magazine Horrorville, relaunched Comic Heroes, and has written for every issue of SFX magazine for over a decade. He sometimes feels very old, like Guy Pearce in Prometheus. His music writing has appeared in The Quietus, MOJO, Electronic Sound, Clash, and loads of other places and he runs the micro-label Modern Aviation, which puts out experimental music on cassette tape.