The Illegitimates #1: ‘SNL’ Star Taran Killam’s Comic Debut
So you find out that Taran Killam, the guy who shows up in pretty much every sketch on Saturday Night Live these days thanks to his gifted impressionism, is going to write a comic book about the bastard children of what is essentially the Sean Connery James Bond. The first thing you ask yourself is whether or not it's going to be a comedy. After reading IDW's The Illegitimates #1, co-written by Marc Andreyko with art from Kevin Sharpe, the jury's still out.
There are certainly blatant satirical elements, as there's no question that Olympus Agent Jack Steele is Connery's Bond, and the book opens with quick pages introducing us to the mothers of the five different Steele kids that are called in by Olympus to replace their father once he's killed (rather gruesomely) in the line of duty with the old 'you forgot to duck while we were fighting on a train' gag. Actually, we're not so much introduced to them as we are shown the intense circumstances that led to the copulation necessary for this story to exist. We're introduced to team members – Texan Vin Darlington, Japan's Kiken Kaze, South Africa's Saalinge M'Chumba, Spanish model Leandros Antonio Caliestas, and the homegrown (UK, that is) Charlie Lordsley, the daughter of Jack Steele and one of Miss Heatherpence's temporary secretaries – but Lordsley is the only one we actually meet. The rest are detailed in an expository monologue spanning several pages (although it's more about the splash-page character illustrations than wordiness, rest assured). Also, it seems as though there's a leak within Olympus, because moments after the briefing revealing the identities of the kids, Steele's archnemesis Viktor Dannikor is informed of them, too.
The concept is kind of funny, but all indications are that Killam and Andreyko are going to play this like a straightforward spy story, albeit with a dysfunctional team dynamic no doubt to keep things relatively light. So don't think too hard about how Steele's kids all happen to have talents that make them a perfect team of action – the marksman, the gearhead, the soldier, the cage fighter and the smart one – because you're going along for an Old Bond ride rather than dealing with a lot of New Bond intrigue. The dialogue doesn't exactly crackle, which is a drawback in an issue that's almost entirely exposition, but it's adequate. Sharpe's art can be a little stodgy, but he does a great job with faces (especially exploding ones) and he is dealing with a lot of set-up that he has to try and make dynamic. Hence, the splash pages. Incidentally, Vin Darlington looks suspiciously like Killam himself… or a cross between Killam and Geoff Johns.
The Illegitimates is a cute idea, decently executed so far, but time will tell if it has any legs.