Mark Millar’s work, as far as I can tell, is now being co-published by Netflix to try and get some new shows out of adaptations of his work. To that end, I suppose, is the four issue mini-series King of Spies, where a dangerous old man decides to take some other dangerous people with him before he dies.
It’s Mark Millar’s work, so of course there are a lot of bastards that need to die.
Sir Roland King comes from a long line of loyal British agents. He’s basically a superviolent James Bond, loving the ladies and taking out all kinds of people with various guns and gadgets all in the name of Her Majesty’s government. Or His Majesty’s government these days I suppose.
Regardless, King learns something he wasn’t expecting: he’s dying. He’s got a tumor that will kill him in weeks, maybe months if he’s lucky, and this new perspective gives Roland King the opportunity to do something he’s never done before, namely ask himself if everything he did was worth it. And it looks like the answer is “no”. Roland’s father and grandfather took on people he could genuinely consider bad guys. He’s been doing stuff for the sake of the British government to protect really bad people. His wife divorced him ages ago (he wasn’t exactly faithful to her), and their son (another agent) outright despises him. Why not take out the people he knows really deserve it that his job had previously asked him to protect?
And that’s more or less what this story is: Roland King is dying, he knows a lot of people who are monsters, and he’s more than willing to take as many of them with him as he can. His superiors, once they realize what he’s doing, will do what they need to in order to stop him. But Roland is basically James Bond on steroids. Good luck with that.
As for the trade, it was a bit short, honestly. Millar tends to jump right to the case, and some of Roland’s figures are barely disguised real world figures. If anything, the best part of a Mark Millar story may be how crazy they can be, and this story, while violent, isn’t all that nuts. There is something with some brother-and-sister assassins that Roland had a run-in with years earlier that is basically the sort of thing Mark Millar would normally do, but beyond that, I just didn’t see the excess he’s know for, and a story like King of Spies probably needs that excess in something other than explosions.
Also, the climax in the final issue might have had more weight if I knew my London landmarks better.
7.5 out of 10 cases of cigarette brand loyalty.