Spy Seal, Vol. 1: The Corten-Steel Phoenix

Rich Tommaso. Image, $12.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-5343-0479-6
Eisner award–winner Tommaso (Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow) steps firmly outside his narrative comfort zone in this oddball funny-animals spy adventure. Mimicking the tone and visual aesthetic of Hergé’s Tintin, the volume follows the adventures of Malcolm, an unemployed seal who stumbles onto an international espionage conspiracy. Malcolm is quickly hired as MI6’s newest agent and embarks on a globe-trotting investigation, during which he promptly falls in love with his partner, Kes the kestrel. Although appropriate for all ages, it’s difficult to say who this story is really for; younger readers are likely to be baffled by the economic and political jargon, while older thriller aficionados will be frustrated at the thin paint-by-numbers story and flat resolution (not to mention one bewildering jump-cut that sabotages a perfectly good cliffhanger). To his credit, Tommaso does manage to slyly lampshade some comical spy tropes (and delivers clever puns), and his visuals are as strong and crisp as ever, but the plotting and character work don’t convince. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/05/2018
Release date: 01/01/2018
Genre: Comics
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