Comic Book Review: ‘The Secret Service’ #1

Posted Friday, April 13th, 2012 01:00 pm GMT -4 by

The Secret Service #1 CoverWell, from the get-go it became clear that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary story.  It opens with Mark Hamill… yes, that one, having been kidnapped and held prisoner in a Swiss lodge.  The kidnappers seem to just want to talk ‘Star Wars’ and criticizing the prequels.  Hamill does his best to defend them.  (There’s a pretty big twist toward the beginning of this story, so stop reading if you want to avoid SPOILERS!)  Bam bam bam!  The kidnappers are taken out by British Secret Service Agent Bimbo, who rescues Hamill, blows up the chalet, tricks some pursuers into being beheaded before driving straight off a cliff and crashing to their deaths.  Yes!  Mark Hamill is killed six pages into this story!

In a London housing project, a man is yelling at his wife (?) Sharon for flirting with his brother.  Her teenage son Gary comes in and asks for money to go see ‘Battleship’.  She refuses saying that “Big Billy was getting it on pirate.”  “I don’t want to see it on pirate.  It’s got special effects and 3D.”  The conversation quickly devolves into a discussion on 3D porn from China.  Then Darren gives their toddler son Ryan a joint to roll which all the adults find hilarious, even his own mother, Sharon.  Gary is the only one that stands up for Ryan, but the adults don’t care and he storms out.

Gary and three friends steal a yellow car and are chased by the police.  They think they’ve gotten away with it, but a dog runs in front of them and they crash.

In Westminster, another Secret Agent Jack, is meeting with administrator Sir Giles about the case Agent Bimbo was working on.  Hamill was just one sci fi star to have been kidnapped.  Cast and crew members from Star Wars, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek.”  “The originals of course.  But Lady Hunt and I watched the new one on pay-per-view and I have to say I was very impressed.”

Their dinner is interrupted when Jack gets a text from his sister, Sharon, asking him to help get Gary out of jail.  (This isn’t the first time.)  Sharon thinks Jack simply works for the fraud department, but knows he has contacts.  Jack refuses, blaming her for being a poor parent.  She lives on welfare so she can stay home with her baby, you know the one that rolls doobies.  Her baby-daddy also stays home all day playing video games because he has Gulf War Syndrome.

Inside, Jack finds Gary with a black eye and Sharon threatens to sue the police for roughing him up.  Jack simply hopes they knocked some sense into him.  He indicates that Gary is a smart boy, but he’s living down to the stereotypes of those one welfare in the projects.  He says it’s the last time and gets Gary free.  But he has a plan… a SPY plan!

I’ll start with the art, by the legendary Dave Gibbons.  For those that only know him from ‘Watchmen’ this is a huge change in his style.  It’s still incredibly detailed, smooth and clean.  But this book is far less compressed than ‘Watchmen.’  Bigger panels, more space.  It really changes the reading experience, which is great because this is clearly a lighter book and Gibbon’s looser style suits that!

Millar’s an excellent writer and his dark sense of humor shines here.  The idea of Mark Hamill being kidnapped was just twisted and hilarious… but not as much as killing him off in a botched escape!  Did not see that coming!  I also liked the sci fi discussion over dinner between Jack and his boss.  But the main plot was a bit by-the-numbers.  The escape from the cabin was the same escape from every cabin in storytelling, right down to the cables stretched between trees and flying off the cliff.  A dog running out during a car chase resulting in a crash?  Likewise, been done.  The dialogue is crisp and sharp and Millar usually delivers, so maybe it was just a slightly lackluster kick off to what may end up being a fun ride!

Verdict: Borrow (But maybe don’t give it back…)

THE SECRET SERVICE #1
Written by Mark Millar
Art and Cover by Dave Gibbons