Review – Spy Seal #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Auteur: Rich Tommaso
Release Date: 16th August 2017

It’s a rare beast – the character that you thought up when you were young capturing the imagination of your friends and peers. But such is Spy Seal – a quick sketch that Tommaso posted on social media of a character he liked to draw when he was 13, that got such a resounding cry of ‘WHY ISN’T THIS A THING’ that it is now… well, it’s a thing, isn’t it? Obviously.

Anyhoo. The story opens in the apartment of Malcolm, an anthropomorphic seal who lives in a London that has recently suffered a terrorist attack at the hands of a rogue Russian agent. He shares this apartment with Sylvia, a bird-lady artist who is becoming frustrated with her own perceived ineptitude and the state of politics – and so, in order to inspire her, she suggests they head along to an art show. But at said show, intrigue commences, and Malcolm becomes embroiled in a plot that sees him ultimately recruited by MI6.

The story is slickly paced, and Tommaso’s lovely ligne claire stylings coupled with his wonderfully scratchy lettering fondly recall Hergé at his peak. He occasionally falls over himself with slightly too many words crammed into a single panel – though this is but a minor issue that is difficult to not overlook. Best of all, he captures British vernacular rather well, falling into none of the traditional pitfalls that American writers practically throw themselves into when writing British characters. Ne’er a stray ‘bollocks’ is here, I’m please to report.

Whilst there’s an enormous amount of imagination and quality on display here, there’s something that doesn’t quite gel come the end of the issue. The story, despite being, as mentioned, rather well told, feels a little like an unnecessary prequel – what might’ve been the title sequence if it were a TV show, stretched out to a whole episode. I just can’t help but feel like Spy Seal should’ve just, y’know, been a spy from straight off the bat – he’s a character so joyful silly in concept that it doesn’t require explanation, like Secret Squirrel or Danger Mouse.

This is a problem that will, quite simply, be overcome in the series’ second issue, and it’s perhaps harsh to judge it as a whole because of this. In fact, I’ll go so far as to do one of my (not that) famous hat-eating bets – if this isn’t exactly as fun as the aforementioned espionage rodents when its story hits its rails properly next issue, I will eat a hat. Not mine (I have none left after last time). But a hat. Guaranteed. Tommaso, my digestive health rests on your shoulders.

This issue? It’s worth a read to get a feeling of the tone and texture of the series, but it begins properly next month, and for that, I cannot wait.

Rating: 3/5.

If you want to find out more about SPY SEAL, check out our interview with series creator Rich Tommaso by CLICKING HERE.

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RSavThe Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24

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