Once upon a time, it would have been surprising to see a comic book coming from someone who is already a well-established name in entertainment. In a post-Umbrella Academy market, however, the doors have been thrust wide open for stars of stage, screen, and sound to explore their creativity in ways which were once the sole province of established industry pros.
“The Illegitimates #1” is the first foray into comics for writer Taran Killam, and he is off to a great start. A long-time comics fan, Killam has made a name for himself as a member of the MAD TV and SNL casts as well as co-starring in this summer’s Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy blockbuster The Heat.
The irreverent humor which has made him such a roaring success in that sphere serves him well in this first outing into sequential graphic storytelling. The dialogue co-written by veteran comics scribe Marc Andreyko (Batwoman) alternates between solid espionage chatter and laugh-out-loud funny homages to the classic Connery Bond films.
The premise is simple but hilariously ingenious. The Bond stand-in, Agent Jack Steele, has been killed in action and Olympus, the organization he works for, has no choice but to turn to his many illegitimate offspring as a means of replacing his unique skill-set.
We don’t actually meet any of the characters who will make up the core cast of the title, but the single-page exposition given for each provides readers with enough information to expect a collection of personalities from with diverse backgrounds, complementary skills, and varying approaches to the world and work they’ll be thrust into. The eventual success of the series will ride almost entirely on how Killam and Andreyko manage to bounce these characters off of one another, but Killam’s experience writing sketch comedy suggests that the interplay should be downright hilarious.
The book’s cover is a gorgeous piece by the legendary Jerry Ordway, who does a splendid job evoking the sensibility of the franchise that this book gleefully apes, and the interior work by Kevin Sharpe is both clean and dynamic. He displays an excellent command of action, something which this book will likely require in spades. Looking at his line work, it’s clear why Ordway chose to contribute a cover. Sharpe is obviously a student of Ordway’s style and is putting forth some of the best work of his career, which has seen him take on properties from across the comics lexicon.
This combination of veteran talent and fresh voices provides a truly fun reading experience. I first attempted to write this review in the wee hours of the morning and had to stop when, mere pages into the book, I was laughing so hard I woke up the neighbor’s dog. Whether you’re a fan of classic spy fiction or not, The Illegitimates is an irreverent, intelligent, wonderfully crafted action story which has me eager to see what this team has in store next month.
Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He also hosts the weekly Infinite Crossover podcast in cooperation with Fanboys Inc. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-life Smallville. Opinons expressed in this piece reflect only the opinion of the writer and not of any employer. contact: email@example.com