What’s next for Eggsy?
Note: This is a spoiler-free advance review of Kingsman: The Red Diamond #1, which will be released on Wednesday, September 6.
Plenty of Mark Millar comics have sequel potential, but it’s all too rare for those sequels to actually materialize. How many years have we been waiting for the follow-up to Chosen now? Perhaps the solution to this dilemma is to turn to other creative teams. Kingsman: The Red Diamond is notable not just as a continuation of Millar and Dave Gibbons’ 2012 hit (one which inspired the 2014 film and its upcoming sequel), but also because it features new creators playing in that sandbox. If this issue is any indication, it’s possible to recreate that distinctive Millar feel without Millar being directly involved.
My main concern after seeing Frank Quitely’s cover for this issue was that writer Rob Williams and artist Simon Fraser would be attempting to model the series more closely after its cinematic offspring. There are enough problems with Marvel and DC arbitrarily making their books more mass media-friendly; that problem doesn’t need to spread to Image next. Fortunately, just because Taron Egerton’s face is plastered on the cover doesn’t mean the actual comic is a tonal or visual departure from its predecessor. If anything, this issue is perhaps a little too keen on mirroring the events and structure of Kingsman: The Secret Service #1, particularly when it comes to the opening sequence.
Still, it is impressive how well Williams and Fraser are able to make this comic feel like a natural continuation of the first. Tonally and visually, it’s right on the money. No, Fraser’s art isn’t exactly like Gibbons’. It’s a bit of a trade-off in that the series loses a bit of Gibbons’ refined line-work and detailed figures but gains a boosted sense of energy and youthful flair in return. Colorist Gary Caldwell brings a lot to the table, as well. There’s a nice balance of vivid, glamorous hues and softer, more earthy colors that highlight the gulf between the glamorous spy Eggsy has become and the humble background that still calls out to him.
It’s that gulf between sexy present and troubled past that truly makes this issue stand out, more than nay spy shenanigans. Williams focuses a great deal on Eggsy’s quest for legitimacy and happiness, goals that seem no more within his grasp than when he was simply another London punk. Like Daniel Craig’s James Bond, there’s a working class “chip on his shoulder” quality to Eggsy. Unlike Bond, Eggsy has a kind, ordinary humanity to him that makes him a very likable protagonist. Rather than try to match the bombast of the movies, Williams and Fraser are clearly content to take a slightly more grounded and character-driven approach here. That should serve this sequel well.