Kicking off a new series, Hurwitz (Don’t Look Back, 2014, etc.) sets young Evan Smoak, a one-time government assassin, to work as a pro bono equalizer—one call brings a criminal to justice.
The 9/11 terror attacks made major bad guys targets for undercover termination, and so a darker-than-black government agency created the Orphan Program. That group trained throwaway kids as the world’s most efficient assassins "for solo, offline covert operations." Then "drones changed everything," and the Orphans were left in limbo. Orphan X, Evan, decided to freelance, his impetus being his belief that his Orphan mentor (and substitute father), Jack Johns, was murdered. Soon, a Hezbollah arms chief, a dealer in fissile material, and a serial rapist receive Evan’s justice. All it takes is a quick call to his victim’s hotline, 1-855-2NOWHERE. Evan’s back story arrives in short, scene-style chapters. The primary narrative follows Evan as he takes on new projects. His lair is a luxury Los Angeles condo, the atmosphere set by neighboring busybodies, where he has a secret vault with Google-level technology. Hurwitz offers a glimpse of Evan’s modus operandi as the assassin eliminates a dirty cop coercing an immigrant teen into prostitution. Then the tale spins down into double crosses and duplicities as Evan becomes a target and other former Orphans enter the fray. High-tech gadgetry abounds—microscopic internal GPS transmitters, a "fully pixelated contact lens" for digital communication—but Evan is old school too, mastering esoteric Filipino, Japanese, and Indonesian martial arts. Hurwitz closes with an unexpected narrative left turn, but even though he’s painted Evan adequately, including vague hints of possible romance with neighbor Mia, a widowed single mother, Evan will need another adventure or two before he grows into an empathetic hero.
With his digital-age The Avenger, Hurwitz races by minor plot holes and spins a web of relentless intrigue with bursts of tensely sketched violence.