Saturday, February 10, 2018

Spy Seal, Volume 1: The Corten-Steel Phoenix

Collecting the first four issues of the series, Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix is a an intriguing, fun spy series drawn and presented in a style reminiscent of Tintin. At first I was a bit leery of a spy story starring anthropomorphic animals, but it's by one of my favorite creators, Rich Tommaso, and the preview art was simply gorgeous, so I gave it a shot. And I was so glad I did!

The main narrative here follows a seal named Malcolm as he is transformed from unemployed dreamer to secret agent. It all starts when he attends an art gallery opening, meets a sexy female stranger, and ends up fighting off an assassin. Seeing that he can handle himself rather well, one of Britain's MI-6 divisions recruits him. After some training, he finds himself up to all kinds of dangerous spy business, including international jet-setting, elaborate disguises, hand-to-hand combat, and getting thrown out of multiple moving vehicles.
I loved the level of action and intrigue, and what is particularly impressive is that Tommaso has crafted a book that can appeal to young adult and older readers. Sure, there are some innuendo and definitely some violence, but none of it is gratuitous and I feel this book would be a hit across age demographics. It is smartly crafted, beautifully drawn, and flat-out fun to read. Plus, I loved the slightly larger page size that suits the artwork well. I am very much looking forward to any future adventures of Spy Seal.

This series creator Rich Tommaso has created all kinds of comics over the past two decades. He has drawn horror comics like She-Wolf and The Horror of Collier County. He's drawn noir books like Dark Corridor and the forthcoming Dry County. He's even drawn some comics for film buff like Pete and Miriam and also won an Eisner Award for his work on the historical graphic novel Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. He speaks more about his work on Spy Seal in this interview as well as this one (if you'd rather listen to a podcast).

The reviews I have read about this book have been largely positive. Tegan O'Neil called it "fun in the best way." Insha Fitzpatrick wrote, "It’s gripping and utterly stunning in its art and brilliant in its narrative." Publishers Weekly was less taken with the plot and characters but still stated that the "visuals are as strong and crisp as ever."

Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix was published by Image Comics, and they offer a preview and more info about the series here.

No comments:

Post a Comment