Monday, January 6, 2014

New IDW Comic Book Series Spins Bond Tropes Differently

Jerry Ordway's Cover of Issue #1

  • Title: The Illegitimates
  • Format: 6-issue comic book series
  • Publisher: IDW
  • Creative Team: Taran Killam, creator/co-writer; Marc Andreyko, co-writer; Kevin Sharpe, artist (interiors); and Jerry Ordway, artist (cover)
  • Cost: $3.99 per issue

Spoiler Alert: This is the introductory first issue, so I will be revealing the entire story of issue one.

When I read the description of this spy oriented series – a Bondesque secret agent’s five illegitimate children are brought together to fight after the demise of their father – I thought it sounded a bit silly, but I thought if nothing else, it would be a fun series to discuss. I added The Illegitimates, a six-issue comic book series from IDW, to my subscription pull list and the first issue arrived within the past couple of weeks. With the holidays now at a close and the New Year rung in, I read through the issue and can relate the following observations I have so far.

Jack Steele, Super Spy and Dad
Who’s Your Daddy? – The Series Premise
The Jerry Ordway cover of a suave James Bond doppelganger surrounded by five pregnant women is an unusual nod to the film posters of the early Bond movies, and promises the reader an unorthodox approach to the typically spy and espionage stories that emulate and parodies James Bond. The opening pages briefly summarize the dangerous life and feminine curves of various femme fatales encountered by Jack Steele over the intertwining years. Each intimate liaison appears to be interrupted by henchmen interlopers and the expected fight sequences ensue with flying fists and gun play a plenty. Yet, our man manages to flee the scene unscathed to fight and love another day.

Several years pass to present day, in Ukraine. Jack Steele erupts through a window and rolls out onto a fast moving train. A fisticuffs fight reminiscent of the open sequence of Skyfall (2012) commences between Jack and a bad guy named Dannikor. While Bond is shot and presumed dead in the film, well, Jack is most decidedly not going to be taking the train again. Exit one Jack Steele and now the villain is allowed to ascend to world domination, or is he?

The "We're Screwed" Moment
Not to fear world! The British secret organization – Olympus – share their top secret operation called “Project Sire” with a very distressed US military general. Apparently, and probably not very shocking, Olympus has been following five of Steele’s illegitimate children ranging in age from early 20s to mid thirties. And there is good reason for doing so: each one of the children exhibits skills they have inherited from their respective mothers. The kids, scattered around the world, are not likely to know of each other, yet Olympus feels that if they pooled the kids together in a cohesive tactical (ultra secret of course) team, then they should become a force to be reckoned with – at the very least, that maniacal villain that is running around loose. A dun-dun-dummmm moment: Dannikor is presented with five photographs that could spell trouble for his plans.The stage is set and the first issue ends.

Project Sire: Five Dossiers
Now that daddy Jack has taken permanent leave – oh, he is so not coming back from the bowels of some darkly lit pub – who are the kids that will save the world? Let’s have a closer look.

Saalinge M’Chumba
Liaison Details: Africa, 1978
Mother: Deceased
Special Skills: Runs information; has espionage experience
Social: Doesn’t play well with others (well, we know which direction internal strife will originate from)
Current Location: Johannesburg Women’s Correction Facility

Kiken Kaze
Liaison Details: Japan, 1982
Mother: Fumiko, assassin for the Yakuza
Special Skills: Gear-Head, Mr. Fix-It
Social: Has been banished by the Yakuza and labeled “zetsuejo” (he betrayed the organization – is that some foreshadowing???)
Current Location: Tokyo

Vin Darlington
Liaison: Pacific Ocean, 1985
Mother: Betty Darlington, retired CIA agent, now running a wildlife reserve in Texas
Special Skills: Expert marksman with most firearms
Social: None listed, but based on the images, he probably likes hunts and shooting stuff rather than long walks on the beach
Current Location: Americas

Leandros Antonio Caliestas
Liaison: Colombian Amazon, 1991
Mother: Adalina Teresa Estrella Caliestas (and grandson to the former President of Spain)
Special Skills: Martial Arts, Modeling
Social: None listed, but looking like a ladies’ man (hmmm, I think he might find the next team member a challenge)
Current Location: Assuming Colombia

Charlie Lordsley
Liaison: Olympus Headquarters, no date given
Mother: An unnamed relief receptionist
Special Skills: the brains, brass claims her “IQ is off the charts”
Social: Probably none, she looks overworked
Current Location: Doing data entry at Olympus Headquarters


Initial Thoughts
For a quirky hook of a spy story, I am drawn to the characters and the nods to the genre. I am expecting there will be explosive dynamics with the group of five in the project. And, I do think there will be other children to come out the woodwork that didn’t make the “Project Sire” cut for one reason or another, which should add several potential story arcs past the first six issues. 

The story and art style complement each other nicely to create an engaging comic book. The art style is clean, with fantastic colours and shading, striking a balance between the humor of the words and the seriousness of the subject matter. There are lovely full page spotlights on the characters as a way of introduction interspersed with the more regimented panels. Between the writing and the art, I am provided an solid story wrapped up in a pleasing visual package. 

I have tried to not read much about the series so far, because I would like to enjoy the surprises, however I did catch that while the first issue tips in the direction of a parody or knock-off to the most famous spy (James Bond, in case you forgot), the story is supposed to become darker and more serious. Bring it on!

Dannikor, Villain Extraordinaire


  1. Charlie Lordsley is pretty attractive! Got that "business-woman-librarian" look going on. Meowrrr.

    The idea of this story to me recalls Bond concieving a child (unbeknownst to him) with Kissy Suzuki in You only Live Twice. He is later killed in a different story, not following in his father's spy footstops. There's wiki articles on it, for sure.

    Interesting guns of choice for the title's logo. I am not a gun expert, but they "kinda" look like Walther P38s, similiar family, but different than Bond's Walther PPK.

  2. Hey Nick, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. In the first issue, there are a lot of direct nods to James Bond and Skyfall, but from what I have read, in subsequent issues, the story will turn more serious and darker. I'm anxious to see how the writers and artist play off the established Bond tropes.

    I agree with you - Charlie is attractive and will be the brains behind the group once they are brought together. Olympus will probably work hard for her to be the leader since she is part of the Olympus group and it sounds like she has been for a long time. She will be a valuable asset to the organization. I'm curious how much the kids know about their paternity?


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