Kingsman: The Red Diamond #1 – Taking The Lad Out Of The Ghetto Doesn’t Take The Ghetto Out Of The Lad

by Oliver MacNamee

Depending on your perspective, the thought of the English Queen’s Greek-born husband being kidnapped by Greeks seeking to wipe out their national debt, could be something to cheer about. Over the years here in the UK, Prince Phillip has made something of a name for himself as putting his xenophobic and racist foot in it when speaking with others, and some might say this is his just deserts. Even if it is only in a comic.The glorious irreverent use, by writer Rob Williams, of a member of the monarchy that many believe we all love, is very much in keeping with what has come before in both narrative and style. I feel that, like me, Williams, and certainly Mark Millar the Scottish Nationalist and co-creator of Kingsmen: The Secret Service, are republicans and therefore the Royal Family are a fair target in this rough and ready sequel to the original series.

And just in time too, for the new movie about to hit the cinemas, of which this series is not an adaptation. Good news, then, for Kingsman fans everywhere, getting a double dose this month of this James Bond parody in which a working class lad, Eggsy, originally found out he was destined for bigger things. Only to discover, in this opening issue, that you can take the lad out of the council estate but you can take the council estate out of the lad. No amount of fancy suits and martinis can gloss over where you’re from, and I for one enjoy such working class heroes-done-good as they are few and far between in comics.

If you’ve been reading Williams’ work on DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, you know how comical and on-the-nose he can be, and so he is here too, adding to what Millar did before him. It’s funny, irreverent and the right mix of action and recuperation as Eggsy visits his mum and goes down to the local boozer, where he looks like a fish out of water in his fancy Saville Row suit contrasting, as it does, with a sea of polyester and pikeys. It looks like this series will be focusing as much on Eggsy’s new life and the dilemmas that it causes him when he tries to go home, as much as it will on this series’ Bond-like villain whom we meet in a suitably secret underwater lair.

There will be the odd pop-cultural reference made, in a comic full of such things, that readers in the Colonies may not get, but most you will. In fact, it’s in such references we get an inkling–but nothing more–of the motivation of the as-yet-unidentified bad guy.

And, while people may think they miss the skills of fellow co-creator, Dave Gibbons, you’ll be happy with his very suitable stand-in, one Simon Fraser, who adds bold outlines to his characters and cars, while providing a finer touch on the details on each page. Being a Brit helps when painting a believable picture of Britain, too, I imagine. Whether that’s the meticulous details of London or the interiors of a good old British boozer that’s seen both better days and better clientele, too. But, it’s crucial to get the realism right for the fantasy to work.

It’s a great partnership Williams and Fraser have, and it’s a great first issue of a six-issue run that will see Eggsy and the gang do battle with whoever, or whatever, The Red Diamond is.

Kingsman: The Red Diamond #1 is out now from Image Comics at $3.99.