By: Mark Millar (writer), Dave Gibbons (art), Matthew Vaughn (co-plotter), Andy Lanning (inks), Angus McKie (colors)
The Story: The nephew of England’s best secret agent goes through his training to become a super spy.
Review: This is a very solid issue. It isn’t something you’ll be telling your grandchildren about someday, but it isn’t one of those comics that you read and think, “Why am I buying this crap?” either.
Mark Millar does series with an eye towards movies. You’ll hear a lot of fans peeing all over that concept, but I’ve never heard a good rationale for why that is inherently bad. Of course…none of us likes to read a failed screenplay that was turned into a comic. That’s just insulting. But Millar’s comics (like Secret Service) are really entertaining screenplays turned into comics. Fun stories are fun stories.
It does seem that Millar has two types of stories though. He has the vulgar, over-the-top comics that will need a LOT of editing on the way to becoming a film (Kick-Ass, Wanted, Nemesis) and then he has his series that play it pretty darn straight and even gives the series a lot of heart (Superior which could totally be a Stephen Spielberg movie). Secret Service is more of the latter. There are a few moments where Millar might toss in something a touch vulgar, but it’s just make sure you’re paying attention.
We’ve already seen the basic concept for this series: England’s best secret agent (he isn’t named James Bond, but that’s who he is) pulls his troubled nephew off the streets and into secret agent training. While his uncle is off trying to foil a dastardly plot of global importance, the nephew is acing most of his tests back at the academy. These are minor spoilers, but when the other students get loosed on the world to get “spy” photos of some sort, most of the trainees come back with standard “paparazzi rubbish” whereas Gary brings back pictures of “Two very famous scientologists behind closed doors and engaged in a sex act.” That’s Millar–always with something a little timely. And then when the trainees are told to “go steal a car”, some of the guys get fancy cars from important businessmen, but Gary steals the Queen’s car. Hahaha…..
But…just to show that Gary isn’t perfect…..they show him failing miserably at the “picking up girls” scenario. Part of the hook of the series is that Gary is a street-punk. That’s why his uncle “saved” him. But, he just doesn’t have the background to handle the situation when the handlers send the trainees into some fancy, society event with instructions to make nice with the ladies. He doesn’t know how to dress or how to talk and when he tries to approach the ladies using the skills he read in the textbooks, it doesn’t work at all. It’s all very amusing because Gary is kinda a d-bag and who doesn’t like seeing a d-bag struggle with the ladies?
The art is pure quality. If you’re familiar with Gibbons’ art you know what to expect and you get it. Now, Gibbons isn’t ever going to give you a panel that makes you gasp at the audaciousness…..he’s just not a show-off kinda artist. With Gibbons everything serves the story and I was never confused while reading this issue. I could do with a little less of the highlighted colors, but that’s probably just me. The way this type of coloring pervades comics, someone must like them.
Conclusion: A very solid issue. It isn’t great, but you won’t remotely feel ripped off by it. It’ll make a great summer movie one day.
- Dean Stell