Published on August 27th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
The Illegitimates – Comic Review
This week sees the release of IDW’s collected edition of The Illegitimates, Mark Andreyko and Taran Killam’s comical take on the classic espionage adventure. The basic premise is that Jack Steele is the best secret agent in the business and he lives his life like a 70’s James Bond: sleeping his way through each of his adventures. But in the present day he is finally bested by one of the eccentric villain’s that have plagued the world and the agency only has one option: bring together the late Jack Steele’s bastard children and initiate them into the business.
Each of the five off spring has been secretly nurtured through their lives for just this situation without their knowledge and they don’t all take to it immediately. Dannikor, the man who killed Steele, has a master plan to enslave the people of the world and fears that the band of off spring may actually be able to stop him so he kidnaps their mothers as an insurance policy but this just unifies the five siblings and helps to realise the seriousness of the situation. After only limited training they take to the field to track down Dannikor, find their mothers and save the world.
The overall story is nothing new, it could so easily be an old James Bond movie but that is kind of the point. What the writers do is take the various skills and personality traits of the Bond character and separate them out between five different people so that you have one highly intelligent agent, one skilled hand to hand fighter, one mechanical expert etc. This also allows for some diversity in the cast because you have five central characters instead of one, and because Jack Steele travelled the world sowing his seed, there is plenty of ethnic as well as gender diversity. However, due to the nature of the story, this does lead to some eye rolling stereotypes that even the tongue in cheek story has difficultly laughing off but for the most part the characters are handled well.
Dannikor is a typical villain with a more than adequate ridiculous master plan which involves broadcasting a brain controlling wave that enslaves all within range making them susceptible to suggestion. There is a draw back in that it occasionally makes the recipient’s head explode but no plan is perfect. He is also obsessed with his arch nemesis even after he manages to kill him and over confident to the point where he lets the captured heroes live so they can see him be victorious: stupid mistake.
The Illegitimates is a self referential comedy bursting with knowing nods to the clichés of old, and sometimes new, espionage thrillers. It will have fans of this kind of genre smirking to themselves and occasionally wincing at some of the one liners as well as entertaining them throughout. The story is stretched a bit thin over the 6 issues and this is more evident in the collection as most readers will be able to get through this in one or two sittings; however there are enough gags to keep you interested through the dips in narrative.
Edgar Wright points out in his introduction to this collection that this isn’t a comedy in the style of Austin Powers but rather an actual 1970’s style James Bond film set in a modern setting. The jokes were already there; this comic just makes them a bit more obvious.
Title: The Illegitimates (collected edition)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writers: Mark Andreyko/Taran Killam
Pencils: Kevin Sharpe
Inks: Diana Greenhalgh/John Livesay