KINGSMAN: THE RED DIAMOND #1 by Rob Williams and Simon Fraser
Art
Plot
Characterization
Summary
While KINGSMAN: THE RED DIAMOND #1 has some continuity issues, the overall plot and themes of elitism were incredibly interesting. Eggsy is back on the page with another lighthearted romp through the world!
87 %
A Fun Spy Thriller
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When Mark Millar’s THE SECRET SERVICE was adapted into a film, I had my doubts. The spy genre has cliches aplenty, and JAMES BOND had seemingly run its course long before Daniel Craig took on the role. Within the first five minutes, though, I grew to love the KINGSMAN film. The potent wit and bloody violence were doused in self-aware humor. I wasn’t the only fan who fell in love with the film, and with a sequel soon to release, the public is clamoring for more Eggsy. Luckily, Image Comics has you covered with KINGSMAN: THE RED DIAMOND #1. However, is this story worthy of the KINGSMAN name? Or does it fail the grand order entirely?

Manners Maketh Man

THE RED DIAMOND #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

THE RED DIAMOND #1 opens with fireworks: A mission ruins a night on the town for the latest member of the Kingsman, Eggsy. A group of Greek terrorists has kidnapped Prince Philip and plans on executing the man on live television if Greek National Debt is not entirely erased. The Kingsman will not have that. Eggsy blasts onto the scene in a flying car and saves the Prince. However, Prince Philip turns out to be a horrible, classist git, raving about how the Greek peasants would pay for their transgressions. Eggsy proceeds to knock him out.

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Needless to say, an assault against a national figure is not looked on kindly by the Kingsman. Eggsy’s superiors, deigning to keep their talented recruit, decide to issue a leave of absence. This means no missions for almost two weeks. Eggsy returns home to find that his mother has returned to their old neighborhood. When asked why she left her stately (Kingsman-bought) apartment, she states that that it wasn’t her. She didn’t belong in that place, and no matter how much money Eggsy has now, it doesn’t change who she is.

Meanwhile, a world away and deep beneath the ocean, the newest Kingsman villain has enacted his master plan. After murdering one of the Treeman twins, the world’s greatest hackers, the leader of the so-called “Red Diamond,” looks out on his oceanic base and informs the other twin how the poor of the world will finally get their due.

The Poor Vs. The Rich

THE RED DIAMOND #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

THE RED DIAMOND #1 is a very strong opening issue, and most of that strength stems from the issues themes. As the issue goes on, it is clear how much distance Eggsy has placed between himself and his former life. When he moves back home with his mother, he attempts to ask an old high school crush out for drinks. However, he doesn’t want to go to any of the old haunts. He wants to take her for steak at the ritziest place in town, not to a party in the sticks. She remarks just how quickly he has forgotten them all.

As is evident in the plot, this battle of wealth seems to be the central conflict in the story at large. While the unnamed villain’s motivations aren’t wholly clear, he does clearly articulate how the situation of the poor will soon change. While writer Rob Williams could easily have made this feel like an after-school special moral lesson, the fact that he addresses it so seriously and so often asserts the seriousness of the issue. Yes, the dialogue and the story beats have their ridiculous moments. However, they never take away from this ever-important cynicism.

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One of the reasons this works so well is that Eggsy’s characterization places him at the fulcrum of the issue. He has lived on both sides of the coin, meaning that he feels exempt from any of these moral issues. This is one of the reasons why he chooses to punch Prince Philip for being an elitist ass. However, at the end of the day, he still looks down on those with less. This early characterization speaks volumes about a character that makes him immediately likable. It never shakes how we view Eggsy, but it forces us and him to see that he still has room to grow. That in itself shows the vast potential of this storyline.

Luckily, this characterization is shared around. The unnamed villain talks about how James Cameron movies convinced him to leave South Africa. Eggsy’s mother has an especially cool moment when she tries to explain why she returned to her apartment. Even Giles, Eggsy’s superior, though barely on the page, has a potent and interesting voice come through. Every character comes through perfectly, which is a definite boon for this issue.

Red Diamond in the Rough?

THE RED DIAMOND #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

While the themes enticed me into THE RED DIAMOND #1, I wasn’t fully invested in the story until Eggsy finally went home. That means, for half of this issue, my interest wasn’t piqued. I don’t really understand why. The art by Simon Fraser is sleak and infused with emotion. I loved the muted color schemes he used in this issue. In addition, the stylized anatomy he used fit perfectly into the ridiculousness of the KINGSMAN brand.

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So the question remains: why didn’t THE RED DIAMOND #1 originally draw me in? Well, the first reason is that the continuity of the comic did not make any sense to me. The highly detailed cover art, depicting Taron Egerton as the film version of Eggsy, seems to suggest that this is a spin-off story for the film. Also, the fact that Williams includes KINGSMAN in the title would suggest the same. The story continually echoes details of the original comic. Eggsy brings up his Uncle Jack, who was replaced in the film by Harry Hart. Also, Sir Giles, who never appears in the film, takes on the role of Eggsy’s superior. These issues seemed to fade from my mind, but they were a shock at first.

Also, the first half felt a tad cliched. While humor filled the dialogue, it never breached past a typical spy thriller moment. The action had its strong moments, but it didn’t have any of that uniqueness that defines KINGSMAN for me. As Eggsy returns home to his mother, Rob Williams finally seemed to catch the flow of the story he wanted to tell. Until then, it relied too heavily on spy stories that came before.

Final Thoughts: KINGSMAN: THE RED DIAMOND #1

If you were a fan of KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, you need to read THE RED DIAMOND #1. While it has its issues, this story has all of the humor and lightheartedness that defined the original story. It also packs a wallop of a theme in its look at the elite members of the Kingsman organization. While I have more knowledge of the film than Millar’s original property, I can safely say Williams and Fraser managed to craft a wonderfully fast paced and introspective narrative. With tongue firmly in-cheek, these creators clearly wanted to take readers on a ride they’ll never forget.

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