Roland King wastes no time getting through his list of the British establishment’s worst and most wicked. And with that amount of heat, King has not gone unnoticed. A fast paced, action-fuelled second issue that gives us a further uncomfortable look into King’s past and explains a lot about the current state of his relationship with the family he ignored.
With six months left to live and a change of heart from one of Britain’s best in the biz, the spy biz that is, Roland King is definitely making up for lost time in King of Spies #2 from Mark Millar and Matteo Scalera. And some of those he takes out, people once protected by their friends in high places, may very well chime some readers as almost recognisable. Some of King’s targets, and Millar’s for that matter, are not too far removed from our own reality. Especially the scene with a royal prince. After all, our Mark is something of a Republican, so I would never have expected him to go easy on the royal family, fictional or otherwise. Indeed, taking out the worst member of the British establishment is something many of us have dreamed of doing, and now through Roland King we can vicariously live out this dark fantasies. Or, is it just me that feels this way when reading this series? Either way, it’s Mark Millar at his delicious best and laying on the black humour with a trowel while not veering too far away from the shocking, but intelligently considered, violence that is a trademark of his writing.
This is a world of shadows, secrets and spies and Scalera masters this nighttime world magnificently with line art implying a good deal of the darkness rather than relying on blackened out space on the page. It has something of the Gustave Dore about the style. Furthermore, the sustained use of this heavy parallel hatching also doubles up to convey the action and energies presented in this issue as King’s movements create ripples and dangerous, high stakes consequences. And this issue has plenty of action and energy. Not bad for a man in his mid-60s.
We get something more of the cad and bounder that was King in his glory days as a spy who worked hard and played even harder. Unlike Bond, however, King had a family at home waiting for him. And by putting his work (and most definitely his pleasure) first, this selfishness has now come back to stalk him in the here and now. All in all this issue, this series so far, feel like a spy thriller if directed by Guy Richie. Or, for that matter, Matthew Vaughn, Millar’s collaborator on Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Millar provides the espionage thrills and bloody spills that keep this issue moving at a pace as King tears through whatever list he is using to target his worthy victims. In the process we get the introduction of some interesting characters, that’s for sure. And with a lifetime spent globetrotting and assassinating so-called enemies of the state, you can imagine that any new characters introduced into this series aren’t going to be any you’ll be sympathising for any time soon. King may be a cad and a bounder, but he’s most definitely one of the only gentlemen here.
King of Spies #2 is out Wednesday 12th January from Image Comics
Read my interview with Mark Millar here and my advance review of King of Spies #1 here, as well as Brendan M Allen’s review of the first issue here too. And, if you missed the first issue, read that in its entirely an exclusively here.