The Brogue, The Kilt, And The Brogues – Spy Seal’s Scottish Finale

by Hannah Means Shannon

The final issue of the first series of Spy Seal arrived last week, completing the storyline known as “The Corten Steel Phoenix” with issue #4. It’s hard to believe how many countries, venues, and settings the series has taken in, and just how many chases in every possible mode of transport creator Rich Tommaso implemented to bring this breakneck story to its conclusion.

He could’ve just wrapped things up as neatly and quickly as possible after such a hectic pace in the series, but in many ways, Tommaso saved his most endearing vignette for last, setting the final issue in the Scottish Highlands.

That means we get to see Malcolm aka Spy Seal in full Scottish kilt and brogues, while posing as a Scottie dog to stay in a local inn and then sneak into the Scottish castle setting of this final “art show” where the “Phoenix Conference” is taking place.

Because everything we see in Spy Seal is an opportunity to assess Rich Tommaso’s take on a particular style of architecture or landscape, it’s a delight to see his rendering of the Highlands, their craggy peaks and lonely paths. As a sidenote–this Scottish setting is one of the few we’ve seen in the series where a seal like Malcolm might actually be native. I’m just saying that since I want Tommaso to draw more kilts in the second series. Let’s hope.

In this issue, we get all the crazy action and detailed renderings of settings we’ve come to expect from the series, and we also get the satisfaction of seeing both Kes and Malcolm working on the case in tandem, each in danger, and each being as resourceful as possible.

It may be a bit of a spoiler to discuss this, but the fact that Malcolm’s crush on Kes has gone unresolved leaves things on the burner for the next series of Spy Seal, expected in 2018. I mean, it was a huge deal in the previous issue, but it’s refreshing that Malcolm manages to keep his head in the game and bring his best spy skills to the table while infiltrating this nefarious staged art show.

You’ll get a number of lovely and satisfying tropes in this issue–evil agents in action, an underground lair, a supervillain of sorts exposed. But one thing that makes Spy Seal so authentic to the super spy tradition is that hint of loose ends, of never completely conquering the world, that reminds us that spy adventures have always been serial.

The agent doesn’t just walk away when a job is done. There is always more to come in their lonely, daring lives, and that can be both exhilarating and daunting.

Spy Seal: The Corten Steel Phoenix is coming to trade edition in January from Image Comics, so don’t miss out on the collected adventure of Spy Seal’s first mission in comics.