Writer Mark Millar and comic legend Dave Gibbons deliver another in-your-face, action-packed story with The Secret Service #5 from Icon. Spoilers are ahead.
Issue five brings readers one step closer to the end of The Secret Service by focusing on the developing career of our protagonist, Gary, in Britain’s elite Secret Service spy agency. Bogged down by a lack of confidence, Gary has come into his own with the mentorship of his Uncle Jack, one of the top spies in the agency.
One of the aspects of this story that makes it more relatable than the typical James Bond-style spy flick is the character development of Gary from a lazy, no ambition street hooligan to a man taking charge of his life. Millar focuses on the broken home Gary comes from and explores that as a means of showing the real world adversity that he must overcome.
His relationship with Uncle Jack works well like a buddy cop story as they have come to see each other with more respect and balance in their respective roles. This is the feel good issue that lulls readers into a sense of complacency.
So far, The Secret Service has shown a rising trajectory for Gary, but despite all the things turning his way, Millar goes the To Live and Die in L.A. route by offing Uncle Jack in a spectacularly gruesome climax that was still shocking despite artist Dave Gibbons’ ominous foreshadowing in an amazing sequence that lead to brains and blood oozing out of the back of Uncle Jack’s head. Just when readers thought everyone was safe, their hopeful Hollywood ending was dashed in one thrilling moment.
Faced with a stunning turn of events as he and Uncle Jack are one step away from figuring out the doomsday plans of weirdo billionaire James Arnold, Gary is left on a cliffhanger as Millar and Gibbons leave Uncle Jack DOA on the hotel room floor.
At first, the scene didn’t seem plausible considering the set up and Uncle Jack’s characterization as an old pro, but even seasoned spies may get sloppy or complacent. Millar and Gibbons don’t let readers get complacent by really shaking things up with this plot twist, which makes the next and final issue of The Secret Service a must read.
Gibbons style works really well throughout this issue with his ability to use tension between panels to make the story suspenseful with each page turn. He doesn’t need to rely on stylized art to capture the eye and tell an engaging visual story. In fact, he just makes it all look too easy.
The final issue of The Secret Service is now a requirement for anyone who loves a good spy story told by two master storytellers in Millar and Gibbons. Enough said.