Operation S.I.N. #1
Kathryn Immonen – Writer
Rich Ellis – Artist
Jordan Boyd – Colorist
VC’s Joe Sabino – Letterer
Review by Joey Braccino
Peggy Carter is having one heck of a week. I’m sure it was Marvel’s master plan to launch Operation S.I.N. #1—essentially a Peggy Carter vehicle via Original Sin spin-off—just one day after the premiere of ABC’s Agent Carter television show (also a spin-off of sorts…), but don’t expect the two new series to crossover in any way whatsoever. Whereas ABC and the showrunners are focusing on Hayley Atwell’s Brit badass (brunette) Agent Carter from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kathryn Immonen and Rich Ellis are telling a comic book story starring the blonde former resistance fighter Peggy Carter from those classic Tales of Suspense stories from the late ‘60s. Of course, it certainly helps that Howard Stark and Peggy Carter have received newfound attention due to their roles in the Marvel films, but Operation S.I.N. #1 proves that the company isn’t simply interested in pandering to fans of the MCU. In fact, the only similarity between the two media is the fact that Howard Stark recruits Peggy to aid him in a strange mission involving strange tech and strange characters. And that initial recruitment ends up being a brawl between Peggy and a stranger sent by Stark. Comedy of errors with these two, huh?
After that initial sequence, however, we’re in all new ground. Spinning right out of Jason Aaron’s Original Sin event series from last summer, Operation S.I.N. focuses on a team-up between Howard Stark, Peggy Carter, and Woodrow McCord, who was introduced in Aaron’s series as the original “Man on the Wall”—defender of the Earth from galactic threats too great and to strange for anyone to ever know. The book starts in Peggy’s suburban home in the early ‘50s, with all the relevant Cold War historical context spewing from a radio. We get an awesome brawl with some spectacular character beats for Peggy (“Shoes. Shoes.”) that captures just how cool a character she really is. The issue then takes us to Cold War Moscow before spinning off into crazy high fantasy with aliens and lasers, again distinguishing it from the parallel TV series on ABC.
After that initial action sequence, the book takes on a more deliberate pace that values character interaction over fisticuffs or gunfights. Immonen has always been a curious writer, with a distinct cadence and tone that can sometimes read as a bit weird; here, she really plays up the distinct personalities of her three primary characters, allowing for the interplay between them to drive interest in the first issue. The result is a fantastic display of why these characters are worth following, but it comes at the cost of clear stakes or storytelling (what’s the deal with the sketchy handler in Moscow?). The cliffhanger promises an action-packed second issue, so perhaps the storyline and conflict will become clearer next month.
Rich Ellis and Jordan Boyd do an excellent job of blending pulpy noir aesthetic expected of a ‘50s thriller with the Kirby-esque style of those original Tales of Suspense and Captain America books. Part of me was crying out for Chris Samnee, but then I remembered we’re not in the ‘40s; we’re in the gritty 1950s now, and Ellis and Boyd are more than up to the challenge of the period. The initial sequence is a marvel to follow (pun intended), with Ellis’ brilliant choreography of Peggy’s fighting style and Boyd’s muted color palette.
Worth a look. If you’re into character-driven storytelling and period pieces, Operation S.I.N. is just the book for you. Kathryn Immonen and Rich Ellis are hinting at the espionage/fantasy mash-up hard in this first issue, despite focusing primarily on introducing us to the dynamic personalities of Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, and Woodrow McCord. Don’t expect Hayley Atwell here, but that doesn’t mean this Peggy Carter isn’t just as dogged and cool. She’s still trying to earn the respect and action that she so rightfully deserves. And I’m onboard for that reason alone. Check it!