The Secret Service # 2 - Mark Millar (w) Dave Gibbons (a)
Marvel Icon, $2.99
The Secret Service # 2 is actually kind of fun. There isn’t any excuse to continue reading Mark Millar’s books but, for those of us who can’t help ourselves, this issue delivers. It isn’t original, not by a long shot, but the opening scene alone is well worth the price of admission. At least if you’re a fan of ridiculous over-the-top violence, which this column is a frequent proponent of.
The Secret Service is a pretty by-the-numbers spy story. A man with a License to Kill (yes, the character actually says he has one) introduces his nephew to Spy School while he runs off on another mission. More than likely in the next issue the nephew will have to save his uncle’s ass, as well as the world. Said ass-saving and world-saving will take place in the fourth issue.
Yes, it’s predictable, but other than a few pieces of dialogue this is a Millar book that isn’t embarrassing to read. The main reason for that is it doesn’t feel like a bloody film. It should, because it is, but Dave Gibbons’ art helps to suck the reader in, and makes this is a compelling read. Co-plotter Matthew Vaughn might have something to do with that as well.
Really, you could worse. People talk endlessly about Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga (out this week as well), but this is a much more enjoyable read. At least you know going in that it’s going to be predictable.
Yes, I’m recommending a Mark Millar book. Now will someone contact my LCS and tell them to stop me from buying Hit-Girl? For some reason I never can help myself. This shit is worse than crack.
The Manhattan Projects # 3 - Jonathan Hickman (w) Nick Pitarra (a)
Image Comics, $3.50
If you’re a Warren Ellis fan, and you aren’t a Hickman fan as well, what have you been reading for the last couple years? With Ellis largely disappearing from comics, Hickman is his spiritual heir, even if he usually lacks the same sardonic humor.
With all the superhero bullshit and re-launch shenanigans it’s easy to forget about the independent writers. Of course, yesterday’s independent writers are now helping lay the foundation of the mainstream universes, but none of them have yet to return to their roots with as big a splash (creatively speaking) as Jonathan Hickman has.
The Manhattan Projects, one of Hickman’s two current ongoing creator-owned projects, finally gets great with this issue. The pieces start to fall into place, and we almost get a glimpse of what the book is about, outside of its real-life science and history gone alternate-universe-mad.
Really, just as with Hickman’s other Image book, Secret, it’s hard to say too much about this book without spoiling the shock and surprise. Sometimes it’s fun to be left in the dark.
Nick Pitarra’s art is slightly off-kilter, and a little strange. He exaggerates facial proportions slightly, but not enough to bring his figures into the realm of caricature and jar with the serious tone of Hickman's writing. It’s also nice that the cast of the book is finally revealed.
The Manhattan Projects has felt like a series of (mostly) done-in-ones, and that was the only flaw in the first two issues. They didn’t feel cohesive. Here we finally get a glimpse of the bigger picture.
As with pretty much everything Hickman writes (even his Fantastic Four is a fantastic mindfuck) this is highly recommended. There are a lot of great writers bubbling just under the surface of mainstream comics, but none of them are writing books this good. Hickman may be hitting his peak, but this isn’t a bad thing. The next few years are going to be a lot of fun.
-- Jeffrey Whitelaw