This week it’d a double dose of Image comics as the Kingsmen return in Kingsman: The Red Diamond and the all ages Scales & Scoundrels debuts!
Kingsman: The Red Diamond #1 (Image Comics)
With Kingsman: The Golden Circle arriving in theaters in just a few weeks, it’s no surprise that there’s a sequel to the original series, Kingsman: The Secret Service (formerly called Secret Service), ready to hit comic shelves. But what is surprising is the fact that Kingsman: The Red Diamond isn’t written by Mark Millar or illustrated by Dave Gibbons. In their place is Rob Williams of Suicide Squad fame and Simon Fraser handling the art, marking this the first time outside of the Millarworld Annual specials that a Millar property isn’t written by Millar himself. Unfortunately for Red Diamond, it shows.
Red Diamond picks up a few years after the events of the original series, and finds Eggsy enjoying the perks of the spy lifestyle. After rescuing Prince Phillip from some Greek terrorists, Eggsy is placed on administrative leave for punching said Prince, and returns home to his mother’s flat for some rest and relaxation. But somewhere the mysterious Red Diamond is making his move, and soon Eggsy will need to be called back into action.
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Mark Millar has his own brand when it comes to comics. Instead of trying to do his own thing with the Kingsman franchise, writer Rob Williams just mimics the usual things you find in not only the original Kingsman story, but Millar comics as well. There’s a celebrity cameo (this time it’s Emma Stone, yes, really), another pop-culture obsessed villain, and references to real world events that the hero has taken part in. While this are all hallmarks of Millar’s style (I’d argue his older style, but they’re well known tropes that he uses from time to time), when someone else does it like Williams, it rings false. Sure, there’s plenty of entertaining moments in Red Diamond, and it’s certainly not a bad comic, but it feels like seeing a cover band when the real thing is still touring.
Simon Fraser’s art is a pretty good fit for the Kingsman world, but after the halfway mark it starts to look really rushed and incomplete, which is a real shame, because Fraser’s art was pretty damn solid until that point. He has a great sense of style and action, and while his faces could use a little work, he has good comedic timing in his art that comes through when Eggsy goes home. But once the book switches over and shows you the Red Diamond’s schemes, the art takes a major nosedive, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if you wondered if the book had two different artists.
If you’ve only seen the Kingsman movie, you probably will be very confused by Red Diamond. The movie and comic share the basic premise of the story, but go in very different paths. Really only die-hard Kingsman fans will want to pick this up, but even then they might be a little disappointed by this first issue, which has the things you expect from a Millarworld comic, but feel just a little off, almost like store brand Pop Tarts and the real deal.
Scales and Scoundrels #1 (Image Comics)
The Fantasy genre is quickly becoming the new trend in comics, and while some start to all look the same, Scales and Scoundrels from Image Comics is something that’s pretty unique. With a bold artistic style from Galaad and a super charming script from Sebastian Girner, Scales and Scoundrels is less about the dirty and grimy world of fantasy, and more about the fun and adventure that you can have in a world filled with dragons, knights, and castles.
Luvander is an adventurer who’s tired of not having any money. Sure, she’s able to scrounge up some money by swindling villagers in taverns, but more often than not, she finds herself giving that money away to people who need it. Struggling and frustrated for adventure, purpose, and money, fate puts Luvander in the path of Prince Akisbjorne, who offers her a place on his adventuring party after Luvander saves him and his guard from a pack of thieves. From there, the adventure begins.
There’s a lot of charm to Scales and Scoundrels, and much of that comes from Sebastian Girner. His treatment of Luvander is instantly relatable. Even though she’s stealing money from people, the fact that she’s constantly finding herself giving that money away for noble causes (while still wanting something for herself), is really fun and appealing. While there’s not a lot of depth to her character just yet, and we don’t know what kind of adventure she’s about to take part in with Akisbjorne, there’s still plenty of promise in Girner’s script to keep you coming back for the second issue.
Another thing that will have you coming back for issue two is Galaad’s art, which is brimming with a style all its own. Galaad’s artwork has a great sense of fun and excitement to it, and adds more to the personality of Luvander. Galaad’s use of body language in his art is essential to understanding what makes Luvander tick, and the world of Scales and Scoundrels wouldn’t be as charming under a different artist’s pencils.
Scales and Scoundrels reminds me a lot of The Princess Bride, one of my all time favorite movies. They both have a sense of light-hearted fun and adventure, and are willing to not take themselves too seriously. If you’re looking for something that’s like that, or a mix of Rat Queens and Lumberjanes, look no further than Scales and Scoundrels.