Friday, 13 April 2012

New Beginnings - The Secret Service #1

As many of you will know Millarworld is a fun and enjoyable place for me, so to have another new title to review is always a positive for me. In fact there are a few new titles coming out in the near future which - when coming from one person's mind - is quite impressive, but you do have to wonder is this going to be too much? Is the next one going to be a stretch too far? Does he have more?

To an extent I think the Secret Service offers some answers.

The story opens with an almost tongue-in-cheek hostage rescue featuring none other than Mark Hamill. Yes, the one from Star Wars. A suave agent breaks in, conducts a dangerous rescue and escapes on snowmobile only to have the rug pulled from under him by a faulty piece of equipment.

As an opening, it is clichéd and very Bond-esque but does make you chuckle as a result. Interestingly enough I don’t feel it is representative at all of the rest of the comic too which is an odd twist to the normal.

In a very stark contrast there is a big shift from the snow covered Zermatt in Switzerland to the grime covered Peckham in South London. The first thing that strikes me is that given that Dave Gibbons is English and Mark Millar is Scottish you would expect them to have possibly been to or seen London. This is a very Americanised look to it and I think maybe that’s been done to create an acceptable image to our Western cousins.

The family you are introduced to are on benefits and as such conform to a number of stereotypes associated with that demographic and location. It’s a fraught situation which is generally setting up to also perpetuate this same stereotype with the son of the family being pushed out with his friends and ultimately ending up being arrested.

There’s a scene switch and another more plush environment of Westminster adds what can only be one of the main protagonists and “saviour” for this scenario. Enter the dapper and deadly Jack London. Jack is the black sheep to the above mentioned family as he has done something for himself. He is also very aware of the potential of others when given the chance and direction, and openly challenges Gary’s mother, Sharon, with this in mind. He comes across as forthright verging on lecturing, but not quite. I think the fact that we can all understand his point of view to some greater or lesser degree helps this no end. Wanting to make a difference from the shadows, the comic ends with London calling in a“favour”.

The issue is very clearly a set-up piece and I found that a lot more about where this is going has been conveyed in the last page and the cover. A little disappointing but you can’t argue that it has a lot of potential, possibly going down the Besson-style Leon storyline. I did also feel at times a little overwhelmed by the frequent references to things and events such as the film Battleship which is soon to be out. At times this made it feel a lot like an advert break and detracted from the story which was a loss. It also will mean in time that this will potentially become dated.

I am really torn by this as well. Whereas it’s not an earth shattering piece that makes me want to instantly ring Proud Lion and leave messages demanding my pull list be updated (based on this issue alone) my interest has definitely been grabbed. This is mainly because I want to apply so many ideas of my own to this situation. It certainly could go a great many ways.
I’m looking forward to following and finding out which too.

Matt Puddy is shaken but not stirred...

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