Kiss Kiss Bang Bang #1

Written by Tony Bedard
Penciled by Mike Perkins
Inked by Andrew Hennessy
32 pages, color
Published by CrossGen

In terms of successful film franchises, James Bond is certainly near the top of the list. Spawning twenty movies with no sign of stopping, their influence is almost too high to count. Adding to that list, now, is CrossGen’s new series Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Named after the Japanese title for James Bond, will Kiss Kiss Bang Bang be able to capture more than just the name?

Charles Basildon isn’t a person… it’s a title. One of Britain’s top secret agents, the Charles Basildon role has been handed down over the years from one person to the next. The current Basildon, in fact, is an extremely capable agent who’s always getting the job done. The problem is, he just doesn’t know when to quit, and he’s an ass. That’s where Stephanie Shelley comes in. She’s been assigned to try and civilize Basildon… but will she succeed, or merely want to kill Basildon herself?

If writer Tony Bedard is trying to get the readers to hate the current Charles Basildon, then let me commend him at doing a splendid job. Basildon almost gleefully shoots anyone associated with his enemy, abandons his sidekicks to certain death, is an unrepentant womanizer, and has a near psychotic thrill for mass destruction. Just who you’d want to have to work with, in other words. At this point the real question is if Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is going to juggle the characters of Basildon and Stephanie simultaneously, or eventually whittle the cast down to one. On a short term basis, teaming the two up certainly will have its entertainment value, even if it’s the reader merely hoping that Stephanie cold-cocks him with a pistol. On a long term basis, though, it’s certainly going to be difficult to keep reading about Basildon if his current personality continues unabated. He’s nothing short of distasteful, and I suspect there’s only so much that readers will be willing to take. As for the story itself, it’s primarily introductions. There’s the start of a new story that looks promising, but with the focus being on meeting the cast, it’s something that will clearly have to wait until issue #2 to make a decision on.

I’d seen penciler Mike Perkins’s work previously as an inker over Butch Guice’s pencils on Ruse, and now it’s easy to see why the two were paired up. Perkins’s pencils are similar to Guice’s in that they both do an excellent job at drawing very natural looking people. Stephanie’s wary look at Basildon while saying her code phrase is wonderful, and the look of ecstacy on Basildon’s face as his enemy’s base is destroyed is pretty priceless. The only real complaint I have with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is Stephanie’s work outfit. It’s based off of the sort of outfits that Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg wore in The Avengers television show back in the 1960s, and with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang set in 1965 (the year Rigg’s character of Emma Peel made her screen debut), having her in a leather catsuit certainly fits. The problem is that Perkins shatters the 1965 feel of the comic by providing little “windows” on her chest and thighs. What once was sexy is suddenly gratuitous, and it’s a real disappointment that a classical outfit has made to look cheap and tawdry. It’s an unfortunate misstep in an otherwise classy-looking comic.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang #1 is certainly a promising debut, but it remains to be seen where it’ll go from here. This has the real potential to go far, and hopefully Bedard, Perkins, and company will take it there. For now, though, I’m certainly going to keep an eye on it. Trust me, you don’t want to let Basildon leave your sight for too long. Lord only knows what he’ll be getting up to unattended…

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