We're two issues into "Secret Service," and if anyone but Mark Millar had been at the helm of this book, I'd have assumed that it was a light parody of Garth Ennis' comics. With "Secret Service," though, I have the sneaking suspicion that this is about as low-key and sincere as Millar can get.
The story is about as by-the-numbers as possible; after a first issue in which we meet bad-part-of-town Gary and his super spy uncle Jack. This issue has Gary being recruited to join the agency, and learning that it's tougher than he thought. There's nothing here that's a surprise; we get the obligatory "Jack shows Gary that he's a badass" scene, a reminder that Gary's family is generally worthless and the start of a training montage. In many ways it's the flip side of Millar's comic "Wanted" where the main character is recruited into the world of super-villains; here, he's recruited into the world of real-world heroes.
The art from Dave Gibbons and Andy Lanning is fairly nice. The faces are expressive, and the bits of action we get are nicely choreographed. The best piece of art is probably the final page; not just because it's a fun image, but because Gibbons gives the character such an aura of utter confidence that it practically oozes off of the page onto the reader's fingertips. Gibbons, even when dealing with some slightly substandard material, still brings a level of professionalism to the page.
If I had to describe the general feeling of reading "Secret Service," it's that you're watching an incredibly predictable movie. With movie director Matthew Vaughn (whose credits include adapting Millar's "Kick-Ass" to the big screen) serving as a co-plotter, I can't help but think that it's not a surprise. "Secret Service" all but has the words "film property" stamped all over it, but in this case it's just not a terribly inventive film property. Still, this is a comic without a lot of Millar's normally overused tics, so for now I'll give him a begrudging nod of approval. I appreciate that he's trying something a little different than his regular fare, but it feels like he no longer knows how to get there save by stereotype -- a not-bad stereotype, but this book needs to bring in something a little more unexpected and fun, and soon.