ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Spy Island,’ Issue #1 (of 4)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Spy Island 1 cover

Spy Island #1 is created by  Chelsea Cain and Lia Miternique and is published by Dark Horse Comics. Chelsea Cain is the writer, Elise McCall is the artist, Rachelle Rosenberg is the colorist, and Joe Caramagna is the letterer. There is also supplemental art provided by Lia Miternique and Stella Greenvoss.

As Spy Island #1 begins, Nora Freud is in the middle of assassinating someone in the ocean and explains that it takes too long because of the saltwater. Usually anywhere between eight to ten minutes according to her. As a super spy, she has been on assignment to a variety of different places, but according to her, the island she is currently on is by far the worst. It’s also not just any island according to her; it’s filled with strange things that she has had to contend with like “quicksand, lava pits, the magnetic vortexes, alien time bandits, the Nazi u-boat ghost captains, supervillains, six-toed cats, radioactive sea lab sludge, the undead pirates, the screaming earthworms, the dimensional whirlpools, the sea monsters, and the sand fleas.” With all that said, the thing that Nora finds the most annoying on the island is fundraisers.

If Spy Island #1 sounds weird so far, it is. And personally I like this type of weird. A big reason why I like Spy Island so far is due to Cain’s writing. Nora’s personality comes through her nonchalant narration of killing someone and then later when talking about the strange things on the island. But I enjoyed Cain’s dialogue just as much, especially when she writes witty banter between Nora and a spy she flirts with named Harry. Well done by Cain in giving the reader a sense of Nora’s confident and assured personality through her dialogue.

McCall’s artwork works well for this story and I have to admit one of the things that stood out to me was the way she drew the clothing the characters were wearing. Specifically, her drawing of Nora’s jumpsuit for the night of the fundraiser and the attire of many of the characters in that scene. A lot of it reminded of something straight out of 1970s spy films.

Spy Island 1 panel

Definitely adding to that tone is Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors which were used to also add patterns to some of the clothing. I really had to take in Rosenberg’s colors on pages 1-3. It is such a great mixture of colors that include pink, light blue, yellow and orange; they are used to show the ocean at dusk as Nora’s victim takes a swim. The colors on the entirety of Spy Island #1 are great, but those first few pages just really stand out for me.

The lettering caught my attention mainly because it is not the traditional style of lettering you will see with all capital letters. When Nora is narrating or talking, her dialogue is lettered with both capital and lowercase letters as one normally would use in regular everyday writing. But she is the only character this is done for. The rest have regular letters all in capitals as it has come to be expected from the majority of comic book lettering. I’m not sure why this is, but it doesn’t hurt the story, and to be honest, I like it.

Spy Island #1 is a strange spy story as of now. A whole lot doesn’t happen in the issue but the writing is lively enough that the story breezes by, and it makes me look forward to the next installment.

Spy Island #1 is available TBA wherever comic books are sold.

Spy Island #1
4

TL;DR

Spy Island #1 is a strange spy story as of now. A whole lot doesn’t happen in the issue but the writing is lively enough that the story breezes by, and it makes me look forward to the next installment.