Sisco #1: You’re in the Danger Zone

Sisco #1: You’re in the Danger Zone

Sisco #1 Thomas Legrain (artist), Benec (writer), Peng Weng and Studio 9 (colorist) Europe Comics June 2017 In an era when comics are becoming more diverse and the stories told more creative, I find it fascinating how some cling ever tighter to the same stories of the past. With Sisco, I hoped for something new. Instead, I

Sisco #1

Thomas Legrain (artist), Benec (writer), Peng Weng and Studio 9 (colorist)
Europe Comics
June 2017

In an era when comics are becoming more diverse and the stories told more creative, I find it fascinating how some cling ever tighter to the same stories of the past. With Sisco, I hoped for something new. Instead, I got a tired James Bond retread. It’s kind of like Archer, if you stripped away all the humor, charm, and everything else that makes it Archer.

Comic Cover: SISCO, subtitled Shoot When You're Told; Suited man smoking a cigarette, leaning against a marble bust spattered with blood

Sisco, Issue #1; Thomas Legrain (artist), Benec (writer), Peng Weng and Studio 9 (colorists)

French Presidential bodyguard Sisco-Castiglioni, Sisco for short, gets an assignment directly from the government head himself. Unfortunately, getting rid of a political rival becomes more trouble than it might be worth, a scandal is in danger of being made public, and Sisco’s coworkers are not necessarily on his side.

Generally speaking, civil servants don’t work for an individual but for an institution. Okoye summed it up succinctly in Black Panther. “I am loyal to the throne. No matter who sits upon it.” Bond doesn’t work for M; Bond works for MI-6. Civil servants disagree with the heads of the agencies they work for all the time, but they do the job unless they’re asked to engage in unethical or illegal behavior. 

According to the comic’s blurb, Sisco isn’t always “on the President’s side.” However, it isn’t illegal (committing murder to cover up a potential financial and political scandal) or unethical (getting up to all sorts of financial shenanigans) behavior Sisco objects to in any visible way. In fact, I’m not really sure in what way he isn’t “on the President’s side.” Sisco’s only actual objection is to his coworker’s desire to remove him from the picture permanently, because dying means he can’t bang the President’s secretary in the women’s bathroom (très romantique!).

Sisco could have drawn from so many contemporary or historical divisive political issues to create an actual moral dilemma that Benec’s plot feels lazy and overdone. A government agency playboy assassin who has no qualms about his job is not exactly breaking new ground in the year Bond celebrates his 65th birthday.

In an additional level of dated retreading, Sisco even rips off Ian Fleming’s treatment of female characters. And by “rips off” I mean the man of mystery has his very own Moneypenny (not that Benec bothered to give her a name) and a disposable Bond girl-style girlfriend whom Sisco essentially uses for sex and to hide an also-disposable female reporter. The only other female character in the first issue is gunned down in a subway bathroom when she gets caught between Sisco and a hard place.

Blonde woman in a suit with a dress shirt unbuttoned down to just above the peak of her breasts, handing suited man (Sisco) a document and telling him his assignment has changed; inset closeup of the blonde woman's face and upper torso with funky sideways sorta-cleavage

No, I don’t know why this nameless Moneypenny knockoff decided not to button her dress shirt in the office, but I have a couple of guesses.

Because it’s no fun to be negative all the time, I will say pairing Thomas Legrain and Benec plays well. Legrain’s realistic style shows off the architectural detailing of the Palace Elysee, particularly murder victim, excuse me, political enemy Saint-Servan’s office with its plaster panels and embroidered chairs. Peng Weng and Studio 9 give Legrain’s art the final touch, making excellent play of light and shadow. They even bring to life a Kandinsky-style painting on Saint-Servan’s wall.

Sisco sticks his pistol right in the face of the gray-haired older man, who says, "You... You're crazy!" On the wall behind them is a painting in an ornate frame, decorative molding, and the corner of a marble mantlepiece.

Seriously, check out that painting and all the detail in the office’s architecture. Not to mention the way light plays on Saint-Servan’s face and shadows stretch from the marble mantlepiece.

At the end of the day, if given the option of reading Casino Royale or Sisco, I’d, well, honestly, I’d probably donate both and go watch an episode of Archer. At least Lana, Pam, Mallory, and Cheryl have names.

Laura Stump
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