Writer – John Farman

Artist – Stref

Pg 001 variant web

The mission to rescue captured spy Francis McKinnon gets underway, and the assembled team race to their target location. Meanwhile, in a suitably darkened hole far from any prying eyes, Francis is tortured by Anastasia, the love who betrayed him, and past revelations of those involved come to the fore.

Each issue of Spies has had a distinctly cinematic quality to it, emulating the energy and danger of films featuring international intrigue and high octane action. In keeping with such an emulation, #3 would be the point in the film that briefly slows the pace and spends some time developing the characters and their motivations before everything kicks off in the final act.

The lines of good and bad are for the most part never so clear cut as to be wholly one thing or the other, and the ambiguity of characters’ motivations, those who are both established and just introduced, keeps each of them interesting. True, not everyone is playing the game with a full deck of cards, so to speak, but the reasoning each character puts forth is understandable in spite of any varying levels of questionable sanity.

It’s a common trait of villains to love the sound of their own voice, and this has been played straight and lampooned countless times over the years. Although these ones also share that trait to a degree, their monologuing is done with a purpose instead of following a convention, with each pronouncement either furthering our understanding of a character or hinting at plot developments still to come.

The conversations of both teams, as well as during the torture, reinforce the point that the spy game treats its players not as lives to be protected, nor even valued commodities, but merely resources to be manoeuvred and traded to advance the standing of whatever espionage agency or political entity is currently in control of their actions. The perspective of them as individuals allows you to see them as real people, some of whom might not be happy with what is expected of them, but nevertheless accept it.

Spies #3 provides a lull in the action when compared to previous issues, but the pervading tension maintained throughout keeps things just as engaging, and ends on a cliffhanger moment that leaves you hungry for more.