During the golden age of espionage, one man rose to prominence with his style and cunning, accomplishing impossible tasks with nothing but a pistol and a pack of Cobbs in his hand. Roland King received several accolades for his service, including a knighthood, at the expense of losing contact with his family. Now death has come knocking on Roland’s door, giving him up to six months to live before cancer takes his life. A perfect opportunity to mend the broken world he helped create, if not a last chance to redeem his soul, Roland King embarks on a journey to cleanse the world of evil. Written by Mark Millar with illustrations by Matteo Scalera and Giovanna Niro and letters by Clem Robins, king of spies is a party full of bullets and blood.
Published by Image Comics, king of spies TPB brings together the four issues of the miniseries, each one more manic than the last. Roland King is a man of many talents. Active since the height of the Cold War, he has overthrown regimes, clashed with other spies, seduced inside information and murdered high-value targets, turning the world into an even more dangerous place than it began. . with. Now, at the end of his life, Roland wants to right the wrongs and leave behind a better world. His list goes on, with every corrupt head of state, every crooked billionaire, and every high-ranking predator living in fear as Roland ticks them off one by one. As the authorities grow frustrated, they decide to fight fire with fire, engaging the services of Atticus King, Roland’s son and rival.
Roland King may be a super spy, but he was never a loving husband or caring father. For years he indulged in debauchery and decadence, serving the higher powers while looking the other way, sparing not an ounce of thought for the greater good. Since being given an expiration date, Roland has also developed a conscience. Say king of spies is a wall-to-wall, action-infused spy adventure would be an understatement as its glorious bone-crushing gore and gory, gun-laden training leaves the reader on the edge of their seat. Raw energy builds up tension that turns into a series of thrilling pieces. It’s almost as if Millar wrote this book with the movie-going audience in mind, diving headfirst into the story and letting everything else fall into place.
The work of Matteo Scalera and Giovanna Niro is one of the main reasons for the cinematic impression of the book, where even the most brutal moments have an artistic fervor. The visuals in king of spies offer a closer look at the action that is the cornerstone of the book, breaking up perspectives into wide splash pages and adding motion blur to panels for a sense of rush. Scalera uses a variety of angular shots at his disposal for dramatic composition, often darkening the background with heavy ink work to focus only on the “on-screen” characters. Niro’s coloring is added to the lighting, which uses alternating tones of bright and muted colors to create shadows, giving the comic a neo-noir undertone.
king of spies is the John Wick and Logan movies rolled into a giant nitrous-fueled cartoon flammable ball that entertains with gratuitous violence and raucous gunfighting. While it’s satisfying to watch corrupt officials and depraved celebrities get their due in the most gruesome of ways, the story itself lacks depth and is too simple to allow for political subtext. Throughout the story, Roland obsesses over his self-righteous journey until it comes full circle, like a Greek tragedy. Even with all her warts, king of spies TPB ends on a dark note, reminding readers that to err is human and that to forgive is not divine but also a liberating experience.
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