Short & Sweet: Liars, Con Men, and Spies

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A new Whedonverse comic. A comic by a Saturday Night Live comic (comedian? comic). New Saga! This week Kristi, Carolina, and Brenda review The Illegitimates, Saga, and Serenity: Leaves On the Wind.

the illegitimates #3The Illegitimates #3

Taran Killam, Marc Andreyko, Kevin Sharpe

Created by Saturday Night Live cast member Taran Killam and co-written by Marc Andreyko, The Illegitimates is a fun spy romp starring the illegitimate children of super spy Jack Steele. Like James Bond, Steele has an eye for the ladies and has sired five children over his impressively long career, which was dramatically ended after his nemesis, Dannikor, killed him pretty spectacularly in issue #1. Of course, the only ones left to stop Dannikor’s evil are these long-lost children, none of whom know the rest until they are gathered together when their mothers are kidnapped by Dannikor. It’s a thick plot. Good thing we have a comedian telling the story.

Two issues later, the Illegitimates are having a heck of a time working as a team. Like any band of heroes, they each have their speciality but have been loners much of their lives. Even the act of rallying together to save their mothers isn’t enough to get them to succeed at one simulated mission. And, worse, Dannikor is still out there scheming nefariously against them. There’s no time to waste as the new spies are whisked away to the Ukraine and right into Dannikor’s house, where he is throwing a very fancy party. And, wouldn’t you know it, Steele’s children are the guests of honor. They escape by the skin of their teeth but that they were expected can mean only one thing: one of the Illegitimates is a traitor!

Halfway through a miniseries I picked up because I was curious to see what kind of comic would be written by someone whose primary occupation has been making jokes the last couple of years on SNL, I’m pretty impressed at the serious tone of the story. Sure, there’s quips, because what spy story would be complete without quips, but for the most part it’s an over the top spy adventure a la James Bond or, maybe more closely, Danger Girl. I’m sure that being co-written by Marc Andreyko has helped keep the story feeling more like a comic book than a comic’s book but overall I’d hoped that The Illegitimates would bring something new to comics or to espionage adventure stories as a whole. I don’t think I would have minded the comic being more funny than serious if it meant that I was reading something new. That said, I’m definitely enjoying the comic. I just wish that it wasn’t quite so predictable. But there’s still three more issues to come so maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Kevin Sharpe’s art is solid, if maybe not especially inspiring. He’s telling the story in a clear, understandable way but don’t expect to be wowed. It’s clean, it’s accurate, but like the rest of the story, it’s something we’ve all probably seen before. Overall, I’d hoped that a new voice in comics would bring something unique to the table but maybe there’s something to be said for staying in familiar territory. I would have liked to have seen something different but if you’re looking for more of a traditional spy tale told by a famous comedian, you’ve definitely got it in The Illegitimates.

— Kristi McDowell

Saga #18Saga #18

Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

This is an action issue — a climax to the third volume. Basically, all the characters get together on D. Oswald’s house in Quietus, as shown in a flash forward in issue #12. It is no surprise to say it could only end in blood. In this life-or-death situation our heroes and antagonists show their true nature: Alana likes to put on her badass mask, but here she is openly scared; Marko is faithful (maybe too much?); Klara is a warrior; Izabel can be very scary; apparently there is more to this strange creature that is Lying Cat then we knew; Gwendolyn is desperate and impulsive; and Prince Robot IV is, well, a nymphomaniac glitchy machine.

For some, it is the end of the line here. For the others, it is a new start (literally, as a new story arc begins next issue). What will be Hazel’s next adventures? We can only speculate. Wreath and Landfall certainly won’t give up trying to get their hands on the sweet, cute half-blood baby. But with the failure of their last pursuers, will we be introduced to new ones? And the journalists? It looks like maybe they will be able to spread the word about Hazel, and that would be a big game-changer.

I feel like this arc was like the second movie in a trilogy: necessary, but, most of the time, the least liked in a series. Saga #18 closes what was left opened before and prepares the terrain for what is to come — it is not a very exciting issue, nor is it a majestical arc end, but it fulfills its purpose. And may Saga #19 come!

P.S.: the bloody Lying Cat has become one of my favorite Saga covers, and that’s saying a lot. Fiona Staples rocks.

— Carolina Mello

Serenity: Leaves On the Wind #1Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1

Zack Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Executive Producer Joss Whedon
Dark Horse Comics

This is the newest installment in tales from the Firefly/Serenity universe. The story picks up after the the movie Serenity, focusing on the crew of the Serenity floating out in the black with snippets of how the rest of ‘verse is reacting to the news from Miranda.

For Browncoat fans, the tone of this book is spot on. Right from the start, the characters are a pitch perfect match to those of the TV series crew. It reintroduces characters from the past and starts to unfold more of the ‘verse with promises that more is to come.

Not to sound like a Whedonite, but I highly recommend this one. For those who felt a little let down by The Shepherd’s Tale, have no fear, this is better. The true test was: did it make me want to rewatch the series from the beginning? It passed. So I did, all the while thinking about how the characters onscreen will evolve into the ones from Leaves on the Wind.

— Brenda Noiseux

Kristi McDowell

Kristi McDowell

Comics, cats, and (red velvet) cakes enthusiast. What she lacks in social skills she makes up for with pop culture trivia. When she’s not writing her wildly popular blog, Pop Culture Sushi, she’s editing the independent ongoing series Autumn Grey and working on her own mini-series, debuting this fall. She may also, instead, be playing more Fallout 3 than is frankly acceptable. She’s played in a rock band, worked in a comic book shop, and knows enough karate to fight crime – if only she could settle on a theme that goes with pink. No flamingos.That is to say, she has a tenuous grasp of reality and the audacity to think that someone actually cares about what she has to say.