Kingsman: The Red Diamond #1
Image Comics, September 2017
Writer: Rob Williams
Kingsman: The Red Diamond #1 is a new comic book miniseries from American publisher Image Comics. It serves as a sequel to the 2012 hit comic Kingsman: The Secret Service from author Mark Millar. This comic focussed on a fictional secret spy organization from the United Kingdom, and a former juvenile delinquent, Gary “Eggsy” London, recruited by his uncle into the spy service.
While Kingsman: The Red Diamond is indeed tied to the original comic book series, the art style in the comic and the time of its release point to the publisher marketing this mini-series towards people who are familiar with the franchise only through the film adaptation and its sequel, which was released in February 2015 and September 2017, respectively. This means that the comic should prove accessible even to people who had no knowledge of the original comic book series, requiring only familiarity with the films.
This first issue is somewhat light in content and tone. This is to be expected given that Mr Millar, who normally navigates by way of blood and violence, is no longer at the helm. The main plot focuses on Eggsy being tasked with rescuing the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, who has been abducted by a group of novice Greek terrorists. These terrorists see themselves as revolutionary freedom fighters fighting on behalf of their Greek countrymen, seeking revenge on the British for a perceived abandonment of their country after the “Brexit” debacle.
Writer Rob Williams is to be praised for not using the plot for awkward social commentary, even though it would have been very easy to do so. It is very clear in his writing that these terrorists and the cause they are fighting for are not to be taken seriously. They are rendered not as evil or violent men. Instead, the story shows a bunch of misguided men who are so inept that that they are more likely to hurt themselves, and their cause, than succeed in their mission. It also does not help that they are completely unaware that the person they kidnapped is also Greek (Prince Philip was born in Greece, but his family were exiled following a military coup in 1967). Amusingly, the portrayal of Prince Philip is of someone who is exceptionally rude, an exaggeration of the Duke of Edinburgh’s reputation in real life as being blunt and often inappropriate.
As mentioned above, the comic is particularly lighthearted. There is an action sequence that allows Eggsy to show off his abilities as a fighter, but there is no killing or even any blood shown in the art. There is also humor in the comic, courtesy of the inept terrorists being taken to task for their cluelessness, and a number of sarcastic verbal exchanges between the various British characters in the story.
As for accessibility, the events in this comic are tied to the events of the original comic, but Mr Williams managed to craft it in a way that does not require any backreading at all from the reader. By way of example, the the original comic had Eggsy moving his family from their cheap apartment to a more upscale neighborhood due to his Kingsman salary finally giving him the means to do so. This comic shows that his family has not exactly managed to get accustomed to the new lifestyle and new neighbors, but new readers will not be lost. The circumstances that led to the family becoming upwardly mobile are efficiently and organically explained within the dialogue.
Most other reviews of this comic have been positive, except for this lone voice of dissent from All Comic.com’s reviewer, Erik Gonzalez: “Overall, this comic is fairly uneven. What unfolds in the comic is fairly cliché [sic], except for the thematic exposition…. The creative team needs to break from convention and really embrace experimenting with the material and making it their own.” With respect to Mr Gonzalez, this is a naïve view of how much room to wiggle is given to the comic book creative team of what has become a valuable motion picture property. The parameters of what can and cannot happen are very tight. Needless to say, Batman will never grow a beard, James Bond will never out himself as gay, and the Kingsmen are never going to be revealed as Russian spies.
While it does not exactly innovate or break new literary grounds, Kingsman: The Red Diamond can be recommended for fans of the original comic book series. The slight difference in tone brought forth by the change in creative team is not jarring enough to disqualify it as a natural continuation of the franchise. On the other hand, the comic is also accessible enough for new readers or those who are coming in from watching the film adaptations.