King of Spies #1 ADVANCE REVIEW: Will this retired spy fade away or go out in redemptive glory?
King of Spies Issue 1.
Script by Mark Millar, Art by Matteo Scalera.
When we first meet Roland King, he's jumping off a building, while killing a handful of soldiers, before landing in an ambulance, killing another group of soldiers, and then preventing a fleeing communist general. It's pretty badass.
The second time we meet Roland King, he's looking a little less badass. In fact, he just looks bad.
This is how we're introduced to King of Spies. Get it? Kind of spies, and his name is King, and he's a spy. A* wordplay, right there.
Sadly, our boy Roland has seen better days, and comic book overlord Mark Millar has decided to take a break from showing us the glorious life of freshly recruited super spies —as he's shown us in his other LEGENDARY spy thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service— to show us the other side of the coin.
Namely: What happens to all those legendary Operatives that DON'T go out in a blaze of glory, defending Queen and Country?
And thus begins the somewhat sad tale of Roland King. The spy who succeeded in every mission, and has somehow still lost.
They say it's better to burn out than to fade away, but that raises the question: Is it ever too late, to light the fuse?
I'm not going to lie, I'm not exactly a spy aficionado. My knowledge of the genre doesn't extend far beyond the Three B's (Bond, Bourne, and Bauer).
But there's something about King of Spies that grabbed me from page one, and refused to let go. Is it Millar's sympathetic and incredibly relatable writing? Maybe. Is it Scalera's darkly beautiful artwork? Quite possibly. Is it seeing a rude bastard get what he deserves? Actually yeah. I think that scene was the one that convinced me this series is going places.
Mostly, though, it's that Roland King is a captivating protagonist: riven by guilt at a life ill-lived, a spy who tried to make the world a better place, but now feels like he has made a terrible mistake.
So, when he's told he only has six months left to live, he decides to set right the wrongs he's helped create, and try to make the world a better place. How can you NOT love someone like that?
Even if I can already tell this tale is going to end in heartbreak...
If you want to see if the King of Spies reigns supreme, Issue #1 is released on December 1st, you can pick up a copy from all good comic stores, or online.