Six Months To Live And Nothing To Lose: Reviewing ‘King Of Spies’ #1
by Brendan M. Allen
In King of Spies #1, the ‘world’s greatest secret agent’ discovers he has six months to live. Not one to die quietly in a hospital bed, he attempts to make up for a lifetime of bad decisions in the time he has left. He propped up an unfair system for four decades. Knows where all the bodies are buried and has nothing to lose.
My favorite spy stories are those that land three degrees to the right of reality, the ones where the events taking place are unlikely, but technically possible. The conspiracy theorist fuel that you’d have to be completely detached from reality to actually believe, but that contain just enough realism, just enough real world physics, just enough logic, that, small as the probability may be, could have happened just under the collective noses of humanity at large.
This is not one of those stories. Our man Roland kicks this sucker off by falling 15+ stories off the top of a skyscraper, while being shot at. Hits the roof of a moving ambulance, crashing through the sheet metal and landing inside. Doesn’t break so much as a pinky, and manages to avoid harming the paramedics, the laboring woman, or her newborn infant inside the vehicle. Jumps out the door of the rig and commandeers a taxi cab. Then somehow teleports from the hood of that cab to the inside of a plane that’s in mid flight a few hundred feet above. I’m sorry, what??!?!
At no point in the description was it mentioned that Sir King is invulnerable to small arms fire and Newton’s laws.
The wildly implausible first half of the book is only there to set up the second act anyway. The events that take place don’t have any real effect on the bottom half, except that they needed to stick some really important bad guy (Manuel Noriega) in King’s path so it would make sense later that he was knighted by HRM Queen Elizabeth II in the back half of the book.
Unless Mark Millar has some secret plan to out King as a meta-human at some point in the next three chapters, none of this makes any sense.
While the story does improve marginally in the second half of the book, the real selling point here is the art. Leaving aside the obvious issues with falling hundreds of feet into a moving vehicle and walking away without a scratch, Matteo Scalera delivers some pretty cool visuals. IF a dude were able to survive a fall like that, that’s probably just about what it would look like.
As cool as some of the art is, I just can’t get into this. There isn’t enough suspension of disbelief in the world to make me thing Sir King wouldn’t be a large splat on the asphalt after that first fall.
Matteo Scalera’s gritty and frenetic action scenes aren’t enough to salvage King of Spies. There are only four chapters in this mini, and I just don’t see how Millar is going to have enough space to pull this thing around and make it work.