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The Secret Service: Kingsman

Review

The Secret Service: Kingsman

Just looking at the cover should have been enough for comics fans to know it would be pretty hard to go wrong with this one. Mark Millar --- the wordsmith behind WANTED, KICK-ASS and Marvel’s massive crossover series CIVIL WAR --- working with Dave Gibbons, illustrator of WATCHMEN? With Matthew Vaughan, director of the Snatch, X-Men: First Class and the Kick-Ass film billed as “Co-Plotter,” and whispers of a movie in the works since October of 2012? For anyone familiar with even the most popular aspects of nerd culture, it was pretty clear from the start that this was going to be something memorable.

And the gentlemen did not disappoint. THE SECRET SERVICE: KINGSMAN begins with a botched abduction of Mark Hamill --- you know, Luke Skywalker and the Joker from Batman: The Animated Series --- cut short by a botched MI6 rescue attempt. It only goes uphill from there.

Gary “Eggsy” Unwin is an utter lout. He does pretty much nothing but drugs and petty crime --- until one too many brush-ins with the law convince his Uncle Jack that something needs to be done with the boy. And for Jack London, highest-ranking field service agent in the MI6, that something is recruit. While his lower-class accent and penchant for dressing like a chav (down to the Burberry cap and cheap bling) make Eggsy seem a good-for-nothing ruffian to most, Jack sees something of himself in his nephew, realizing that the lad’s street smarts and quick reflexes may be enough to get him started in a new career as a superspy.

Soon, Gary is dressing in a slim navy two-piece (“The breast pocket should have a clean, neatly pressed woolen handkerchief. Employ silk and I will publicly disown you.”) and taking out his mum’s abusive boyfriend and his cronies with ease. But the gig itself is anything but a cakewalk. Someone has been abducting the world’s top science fiction actors and directors, and strange reports of isolated incidents of murderous behavior begin popping up on the MI6’s radar --- and it’s up to Jack and Gary to get to the bottom of it.

This is James Bond meets Die Hard with a Revenge of the Nerds twist, and it’s quite the romp. As always, Gibbons draws realistic, distinctive characters and does masterful work with shadows, while Millar’s writing is quippy, self-aware and punchy. The book’s biggest issue is timing: Eggsy seems to transform from doofy petty criminal to skilled superspy in a matter of pages, which --- even in as madcap a story as this --- is hard to believe. But that's a small bone to pick with a tale this entertaining, consistent and, on occasion, emotionally fulfilling.

Now, when’s that movie coming out again…?

Reviewed by on September 9, 2014

The Secret Service: Kingsman
by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons

  • Publication Date: September 9, 2014
  • Genres: Comic Books, Fiction, Graphic Novel
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel
  • ISBN-10: 0785165452
  • ISBN-13: 9780785165453