‘Spy Seal’ is hip, sure, but it walks the walk
By Arpad Okay and Matthew C. Brown. Our Week In Review sums up our weekly comic book coverage while taking time for a new review or two before it’s all over. Did we miss your favorite books this week? Well. This is where you need to be.
Words by Kyle Higgins
Colors by Chris O’Halloran
Art by Jorge Fornés
Letters by Taylor Esposito
MCB: Magnus #3 is a book of big reveals, not only in terms of the characters but the world they inhabit. Sorry in advance, but spoilers abound here because the book opens with a reveal that is as fascinating as it is subtle.
The opening scene is set twenty years prior to the events of Magnus’ present. We see a human and an A.I. conversing on a rooftop inside the A.I.’s cloud world. They’re discussing a deal where the human would help this A.I. get extra memory to start a family, but, in exchange, the A.I. must steal a prototype from his masters in the physical world. When the A.I. leaves, a young Kerri Magnus, maybe eight or ten years old, approaches the human and tells him that she’s been trapped in this cloud world for a very long time.
The subtle part of this scene is the cityscape behind them, only seen in the first frame. The buildings are Roman architecture, which suggests that the cloud world has, up to this point, only been able to advance so far, and the rate at which the cloud world has grown in twenty years is staggering.
This intrigue and its consequences are remarkable. First it appears that a human has potentially been helping the cloud world advance by feeding them extra memory under the table; second, it’s revealed that Kerri Magnus has spent a considerable amount of time in the cloud world and has seen it grow and change from a culturally and technologically ancient society into a futuristic, vast metropolis; and third, this one scene illuminates the real obstacle to the A.I.’s struggle for real freedom: Their immensely complex world hinges on human technology.
This scene may give us an idea of what’s to come. I bought a whole seat, but it seems I’ll only need the edge.
9 out of 10
Written by Rich Tommaso.
Art by Rich Tommaso.
Colors by Rich Tommaso.
Letters by Rich Tommaso.
AOK: Spy Seal is refreshing. Crisp. In a soda pop world, it’s the LaCroix of comics. Sip it, let it tickle you, and enjoy a sweet lingering once you’re done. It’s hip, sure, but it walks the walk. If you love European style, this will delight you. If you’re curious as to what the fuss over stripverhalen is all about, Spy Seal will prove to you how cool it can be.
Malcolm Warner is a special kind of secret agent: he’s not one. He’s just a regular man-seal whose bird friend accidentally drags him into the world of spy dogs and buzzard bosses of MI-6 and bunny femme fatales. In a sea of veterans of intrigue, Malcolm is just a competent bloke who does what’s right. Tintin, a massive influence on both the story and art of Spy Seal, never went through any training. No Judo hands or gadgets. Malcolm isn’t James Bond; he’s just a fella.
The Hergé look is undeniable as far as the art is concerned. The linework is flawless. Minimal. Modern. It’s clean, busy but uncluttered. Set in art galleries, on rooftops, in elegant flats, the book oozes atmosphere. The simple coloring doubles down on the retro look, and the lettering in is simply to die for, nuanced and suave as the book itself. It’s subtle yet powerful, a spot-on throwback that cements the mood.
Rich Tommaso is having fun and the reader can feel it. Spy Seal satisfies, with something for everyone. Kids will dig it. Espionage aficionados will enjoy its accuracy. The Fantagraphics crowd searching for highbrow genre fiction. Old folks who miss old comics. It’s breezy and well executed, a damn fine idea, We look forward to seeing Rich run with it.
7.5 out of 10
Written by Marguerite Bennett and Christina Trujillo.
Art by Moritat.
Colors by Andre Szymanowicz.
Letters by Thomas Napolitano.
AOK: The newest Sheena revival is definitely hedonistic. It’s a book of acrobatic feats, shining blades, ancient danger. Sheena’s exploration of ancient ruins tests her response time to traps galore and has her tangling with deadly guardian plants. All while mostly naked.
Yes, Sheena’s got it and Sheena flaunts it. Teeny bikini. Legs for days. She’s underfed with healthy breasts. The new leopard print combo she sports makes the original Queen of the Jungle look like a prude. There’s a panel thrown in to prove the panties match the loincloth. After death, Sheena’s greatest danger is popping out.
Sadly, while Sheena’s outfit has been updated, her personality is the same dated cliché of the era she came out of. The dialog reads like a classic strip might, but the modern aesthetic to the artwork and the storyline (drones invade paradise) makes Sheena’s voice feel misplaced to me. She comes off as an inarticulate savage instead of the subtle satire I assume the book is shooting for. Her exposition and repetition (she sounds a bit like Mojo Jojo) paired with constant missteps makes me wonder how she became the queen of anything.
We’ve come a long way since the exploitation era Sheena’s a part of. This book hasn’t.
Sheena switched from white girl in darkest Africa to white girl in the undiscovered Amazon some time ago, but now the lack of any cultural relevance to her location makes it feel like lip service. The ruins are drawn beautifully, but they resemble Southeast Asia, not South America. The jungle is any jungle. Val Verde isn’t a country, it’s a dorm room. No context. No nuance. Just action and bare skin. Sheena is carefree jungle romp, a woman’s body on display and not much else. A Mighty Whitey book we might not need.
4 out of 10
From earlier this week —
What books did YOU read this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.