The Secret Service: Kingsman by Mark MillarThe Secret Service: Kingsman by Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons, Matthew Vaughn

The Secret Service: Kingsman, by Mark Millar, is about a young man, Eggsy, being rescued from rough, poor neighborhoods by his uncle, who takes him under his wing and trains him in a new profession. The twist is that his uncle, Jack London, is not in computer work like Eggsy thinks; actually, his uncle’s job is as a spy for his country. Our young man is sent to a spy school and, given that the rest of the spies-in-training are from upper-class families, he sticks out in a number of ways, including not being able to act with a certain amount of class socially. This story is about his learning his trade and getting to put it to good use by the end of the book.

The Secret Service: Kingsman can be divided into three storylines: First, the book is about a man wanting to do well and come back to take care of his mother and get revenge on his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Eggsy’s mother lives a dismal life and is beaten regularly by the boyfriend, and Eggsy is not merely trying to become a spy, but trying to better himself, and part of that is taking responsibility financially for his poor mother. Secondly, the story is about training and how he fits in at the school. In one scene, Eggsy dresses to go out with his fellow trainees, but when he arrives at an upscale bar, he finds his idea of dressing in his best clothes was hardly dressing up. And finally, there is an overall villain who is kidnapping celebrities for some nefarious, yet unknown, reason. This evil plan is connected to an environmental issue about the overpopulation that is frequently mentioned throughout the book.

Overall, the story is fun, has a lot of action, and has great art by Dave Gibbons, artist of The Watchmen. Millar writes great Hollywood action-like comics, and this one is no exception. I read it rapidly and in one sitting. I must mention, however, that this book has scenes and a plot that glorify violence on many different levels. It lacks irony and subtly in its view of violence. Still, if you want a great action film-like comic book, The Secret Service: Kingsman is for you, particularly if you like the spy genre.


  • Brad Hawley

    BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

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