Review | Kingsman: The Secret Service by Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons & Matthew Vaughn

Review | Kingsman: The Secret Service by Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons & Matthew Vaughn

I love spy things. I grew up watching James Bond and adore the TV show Archer. I only heard about Kingsman: The Secret Service when the film with Colin Firth came out recently. I put the graphic novel on hold, fully intending to read it and compare it to the movie.

Haven’t seen the movie yet. And now I’m not sure I want to.

Based on the trailers, the Kingsman movie appears to deviate significantly from the source material. That, obviously, is very common in movie adaptations (I’m looking at you, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies…). But I really enjoyed this graphic novel, which was written by the creator of Kick-Ass and illustrated by one of the creators of Watchmen. I’m concerned that the movie will lose the important themes of the graphic novel.

The Secret Service follows the adventures of Gary. He’s grown up on a London estate (low income housing, for my fellow Americans who haven’t watched a lot of British television) and his life is basically going nowhere. He, his younger brother and his mom live with her drunk, abusive boyfriend and Gary spends his nights stealing cars and wreaking havoc with his friends. That is, until his uncle (and renowned secret agent) Jack London shows up. Taken under Jack’s wing, Gary is trained to be a spy. The story of his espionage education is woven into a larger mystery concerning disappearing celebrities (including Mark Hamill, David Beckham, etc.).

Because of Gary’s background, class distinctions are discussed throughout Kingman. Environmental concerns prove to be a driving force behind the plot. The media and the culture it creates are critiqued as well. These topics are not necessary fleshed out to the degree I would like, but the story is contained in only one volume, so space is limited. Gary’s mom is a pretty realistic depiction of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, but any other female characters are few and far between.

Overall, this graphic novel somehow combines a fun spy coming-of-age story with themes of class struggle, environmentalism and media culture. 4 cups of tea.
4 Cup

Aside

Friday Reads: March 27, 2015

After the heartbreak of The Winner’s Crime and a month-straight binge on fantasy, I’m ready to read something a little bit different. Don’t worry – I’ll be back to fantasy in no time. I plan to start some or all of the following this weekend:

  • The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday
    • A Jewish young man learns that his Uncle Poxl’s past during WWII might be far different – and darker – than his memoir states.
  • March: Book One and March: Book Two by Rep. John Lewis
    • An autobiographical graphic novel of Rep. John Lewis’ life, focusing on his participation in the Civil Rights movement.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons
    • Gary, an English kid who’s gotten into his fair share of trouble, is taken under his uncle Jack London’s wing and learns to be a spy.

Three very different books (I’m counting the two volumes of March as one), but all things I enjoy. Poxl West examines WWII history and the complexity of memory – two subjects I enjoyed exploring in college. I’m excited to read March after seeing Selma. My Civil Rights history isn’t the greatest and I definitely want to learn more about this important (and often disturbing) period in American history. And finally, I haven’t seen the Kingsman movie, but I love spy things. I grew up watching James Bond and I love the TV show Archer. I’m interested in comparing the graphic novel to the film when I finally get around to seeing it.

My reading will be somewhat limited this weekend due to basketball. The NCAA Tournament is going on and I’m going to the Elite Eight game held in Cleveland, which is Kentucky vs. Notre Dame. I’ve been following the Tourney my entire life, but have never seen a Tournament game live, so I’m ridiculously excited!

Happy Friday!