ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Yumi: Spy Fatale, Baddie Royale’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Yumi Spy Fatale Baddie Royale - But Why Tho?

Yumi: Spy Fatale, Baddie Royale is written by Doug Wagner, illustrated by Hoyt Silva, colored by Kevin Lennertz, and lettered by Frank Cvetkovic. It is published by 12 Gauge Comics. The original graphic novel follows Yumi, a skilled combatant, and hacker, who embarks on a mission to find her missing lover Richard. Along the way, Yumi and her talking car Jules must face a legion of femme fatales as well as Yumi’s teacher Ms. V.

This graphic novel is probably one of the most insane books I’ve ever read, and I mean that in a great way. Yumi is a unique spy: she doesn’t have the elegant charm of James Bond or the cold efficiency of Jason Bourne. She’s quippy, she leaves a trail of chaos in her wake, and she loves listening to various types of music while doing so. Wagner and Silva described the series as a cross between Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the Kingsman franchise, and that’s not far off. I would also add dashes of Assassination Classroom and Kill Bill to the mix.

Wagner’s script steps on the gas from the first page and doesn’t let up, mixing humor, action, and romance with seemingly little effort. He is insanely creative with the foes Yumi faces, particularly a woman named Meg in a Buenos Aries set sequence. Meg is a particularly lethal take on the “woman in a red dress” trope, with knives around the hem of her dress. She also literally does a “dance of death” that sends the blades flying at her victims, which I thought was really innovative. Nearly every fight sequence features Wagner and Silva’s take on a classic Bond villain or henchman, and they never seem to run out of ideas.

Another great twist on spy fiction is the multiple gadgets that Yumi carries with her. She has an indestructible dress and her car talks in the voice of Cardi B. Yes, there is a talking car that sounds like Cardi B in this graphic novel. Again it’s a far cry from the sleeping gas wristwatches and exploding pens utilized in spy fiction, but it also fits Yumi’s character.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Silva and Lennertz’s artwork. Silva draws immensely kinetic action sequences; not a page goes by that doesn’t have a fight sequence or a character on the move. Silva also wears his anime influences on his sleeve, with flashback sequences detailing Yumi and Richard’s relationship drawn in a chibi style. Lennertz gives this book bright, vibrant tones, with ocean blue being a recurring color, both in Yumi’s hairstyle and in several of the backgrounds.

I do feel that the book is a little too heavily packed with pop culture references—an entire page features panels full of memes. And when Yumi tries out voices for her car, it goes from amusing (Samuel L. Jackson) to on the nose (Paul Bettany making an Iron Man reference.) Likewise, a twist toward the end didn’t really ring with me. But those are minor quibbles in a story that is ultimately entertaining.

Yumi: Spy Fatale, Baddie Royale is a chaotic yet entertaining take on spy fiction and a surprisingly engaging read. Fans of spy films and anime will definitely want to back it via Kickstarter, and the ending definitely leaves room for a sequel.

Yumi: Spy Fatale, Baddie Royale is currently running a Kickstarter campaign until Thursday, March 11.

Yumi: Spy Fatale, Baddie Royale
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TL;DR

Yumi: Spy Fatale, Baddie Royale is a chaotic yet entertaining take on spy fiction and a surprisingly engaging read. Fans of spy films and anime will definitely want to back it via Kickstarter, and the ending definitely leaves room for a sequel.