Friday, October 2, 2020

#IReadsYou Review: SPY X FAMILY Volume 1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Tatsuya Endo
LETTERS: Rina Mapa
ISBN: 978-1-9747-1546-6; paperback (June 2020); Rated “T” for “Teen”
220pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Spy × Family is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Tatsuya Endo.  It has been serialized biweekly for free on the Shōnen Jump+ application and website since March 25, 2019.  VIZ Media began publishing an English-language edition of the manga as a paperback graphic novel series under its “Shonen Jump” imprint in June 2020.

Spy × Family, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 5) introduces a mysterious man known as “Twilight.”  He is the master spy of the country of Westalis.  A man of a hundred faces, Twilight has extraordinary combat, memory, and information processing skills.  His latest mission takes him to Westalis' neighbor to the east, The People's Republic of Ostania.  There is a fragile truce between Westalis and Ostania, but a political leader named Donovan Desmond threatens that and foments war.  Twilight's mission is to get close to Desmond and to spy on his activities.

To do that, Twilight must pose as a family man!  One problem is that Twilight has never been a family man.  So how does he end up with a wife named “Yor Briar” and an elementary school-age daughter named “Anya?”  Heck, the even bigger questions are does he know that Yor is a ruthless assassin and that Anya is a telepath?

[This volume includes bonus material, “Spy × Family Confidential Files,” which is comprised of bonus comics, a character profile, and a “thank you” to the art and production staff of Spy × Family.]

THE LOWDOWN:  The title of the Spy × Family manga is apparently pronounced “Spy Family.”  That's appropriate because the series will apparently focus on the family as being more than just a cover for the activities of Twilight, ostensibly the series' lead character.

Spy × Family Graphic Novel Volume 1 is a strong first volume for a series that seems a bit eccentric merely on the basis of the premise and turns out to be a bit eccentric upon reading.  The art is elegantly drawn with sharp, precise line work, but it is drawn to suggest a sense of humor in the story.  The graphical storytelling is witty and sly, and the danger and violence is no more than what readers would find in a shonen manga like Nisekoi: False Love.  The art for Spy × Family makes me think of something like a manga adaptation of a Daniel Craig James Bond movie overseen by the legendary American animation filmmaker, Chuck Jones, at the height of his graphic style.

Casey Loe offers a strong English-language adaptation in this first volume of Spy × Family, which is dialogue heavy.  Loe conveys the sly wit and deadpan humor that underpins the action in these first five chapters of the series.  And, as usual, letterer Rina Mapa gives elegant art some elegant lettering.  Yes, Spy × Family is series worth revisiting

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of secret agents and of international intrigue will want to spy on the “Shonen Jump” title Spy × Family.

8 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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