Have you ever stopped to wonder if a certain international super-spy’s fondness for women ever had… consequences? If, perhaps, his wandering ways had left their mark on the world? In The Illegitimates, Taran Killam and and Marc Andreyko explore just that scenario in a fast-paced adventure graphic novel that definitely deserves a place in the spy aficionado’s library.
Jack Steele is OLYMPUS’s best agent, renowned as a spy, a savior of the world, and a lover of ladies. His career, and his love life, have spanned the globe, but when Steele falls in the line of duty, OLYMPUS needs a back-up plan for stopping Viktor Dannikor, Steele’s nemesis, from enacting his evil plans. Enter five extraordinary people—American Vin Darlington, an expert marksman skilled in most firearms; Japanese Kiken Kaze, skilled with engines and vehicles of all types; South African Saalinge M’Chumba, a spy and prisoner of the South African government; Latin American Leandros Antonio Caliestas, master martial artist and cage fighter; and British Charlie Lordsley, genius and technology expert, and the only one actually connected to OLYMPUS. These unwilling new recruits have something in common, something that OLYMPUS is counting on, for they are the unacknowledged, illegitimate children of Jack Steele. Can this group of reluctant strangers overcome their own egos and sibling rivalries to take over the family business and save the world?
Though it could have easily fallen into over-the-top parody, The Illegitimates is a brilliant and funny new addition to the spy genre, a comic book that emulates the fun and escapism of the action movie. Drawing on best of classic spy works, the story is clever and original, gadgets abound, and there is plenty of generous cleavage and second-skin outfits. Mind control, double-agents, and chaos run through the adventure and there is plenty of violence and mayhem as the team fights Dannikor’s minions. Readers familiar with the spy classics will note a number of joking references to classic characters and situations, but the story works as a stand-alone adventure for those less in the know. Killam and Andreyko offer an impressive diversity in their cast, both in race and in gender, and all five of the Steele heirs are equally important to the storytelling. Steele’s daughters are as capable and deadly as his sons, and men and women both are drawn as eye candy, bared chests with ripped muscles being shown as often as large breasts in small bikinis.
Indeed, the art gives The Illegitimates a cinematic quality, capturing the drama and pageantry of the action movie on the page. Colors are vivid, characters are individuals with their own expressions and body language, and the Steele team is composed of beautiful and charismatic action stars who would not, it seems, be out of place next to Daniel Craig or Colin Firth. From the fight scenes to the technology, careful attention is paid to the details to keep the reader engaged in the unfolding adventure.
IDW classifies The Illegitimates for mature audiences, though it would likely be acceptable in older teen as well as adult collections. Strong language, sexual situations, and partial nudity are common, and the violence, while not gratuitous, is omnipresent, including a gruesome scene with exploding heads. The relative youth of the protagonists might appeal to younger readers less familiar with the spy genre who are looking for a good adventure, and certainly fans of James Bond or Kingsman: The Secret Service are likely to find The Illegitimates an engaging new addition to the genre of spy escapades. The graphic novel ends with the note that “The Illegitimates will return,” and I expect readers will be avidly waiting for the next installment, as I certainly am.
by Taran Killam, Marc Andreyko
Art by Kevin Sharpe
Publisher Age Rating: Mature