Review – Spy Island #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

  • Writing - 6/10
  • Art - 8/10
  • Overall - 7/10
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Spy Island #1

Creators: Chelsea Cain & Lia Miternique
Writer: Chelsea Cain
Cover/Designer/Supplemental Art: Lia Miternique
Artist: Elise McCall
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Maturity Rating: Mature
Release Date: April 1, 2020

The spy game is not easy, especially in these strange, weird times. It is especially not easy when you are stationed in the Bermuda Triangle. Things are about to get wild for super-spy Nora Freud.

A Spy’s Life for Me in Spy Island #1

Spy Island #1 finds us following super-spy Nora Freud. She loves everything about being a spy. Killing, gadgets, jet-setting, all the people she meets. Her job is just a delight for her. But she is not liking her current assignment. You see, she is on a small island in the Bermuda Triangle, along with a bunch of other spies. Also, there also happens to be a boat coming with tourists, world leaders, evildoers, and maybe even a monster or two. No internet, no phones, no nothing. The Bermuda Triangle just got a lot stranger…if you can believe that.

Nora loves her job, but not so much right now. Adaptation is the key to being a good spy. Nora is doing just that in Spy Island #1.


Spy Island #1 (Dark Horse Comics) cover B by Lia Miternique
Spy Island #1 (Dark Horse Comics) cover B by Lia Miternique

Chelsea Cain and Lia Miternique are credited as creators on the Spy Island 4-issue mini-series. Cain is credited as the writer on Spy Island #1; let me tell you, this is a strange book. First I thought I had it figured out, pretty straightforward, following this super-spy Nora Freud. She oozes that cool, calm suaveness of an early James Bond-type spy. Cain writes Nora superbly well and makes her an interesting character across the pages as she details her spy life.

That is all interesting and good, but this book takes a few strange turns. I won’t get into any spoiler details, but obviously the book takes place in the Bermuda Triangle, which is known for strangeness. But mermaids and other creatures appear late in the book and none of that is fully explained. It goes on like a regular kind of spy story/book, then we see these weird monsters pop up like it is a regular thing, and that could use some explaining. That, for me, threw off the book a bit.

The other thing is, this only being 4 issues, after Spy Island #1 I can’t tell you really what it is going to be about. Cain more just details Nora’s spy life, and by the end, it just feels kind of up in the air what exactly this series is about.


Let’s talk about the overall design of Spy Island #1. It is absolutely beautiful, it has that delightful 1960s/’70s aesthetic. From the opening pages, it just engulfs you in all kinds of wonderful colors. Lia Miternique is credited as designer, and the overall aesthetic of this book is just wonderfully done to put you into this odd, funky spy zone.

Elise McCall does some wonderful work throughout the issue. The character designs are fantastic. There are a variety of different spies and characters featured and they all have great individual looks to them. The clothing is just fantastically awesome. She also does some great background work; the scenes that are set underwater are just tremendously well done. The way the water waves and flows…she details the ocean life extremely well. 

Which brings up one very odd thing, artwise, placed in Spy Island #1. For some reason in one of the ocean scenes they put real pictures of fish, and this is the only spot. Every other spot, McCall details spectacular underwater life, but for one, they threw in these regular fish and it was incredibly distracting. 

The real standout art-wise is Rachelle Rosenberg on colors. My gosh, she does some gorgeous work on this issue. The colors absolutely pop off the pages in mesmerizing ways. She catches that ’60s/’70s spy aesthetic with her coloring work. The colors are just truly beautiful; the opening scene in the ocean is stunning work.


I said something similar to this in a review of a series last week. Spy Island #1 has a lot of potential in it. There is a ton of stuff to like about it. The lead character, Nora Freud, oozes all kinds of charisma and I am genuinely interested in her. The visual aesthetic of this book sets the tone and feel immediately as you are transported into this world. It is full of wonderful visuals throughout (those odd fish pictures notwithstanding). It is just that I have no clue what this book is about. With only three issues to go, that is not a good start for this series. Luckily it has all that other stuff going for it. But for a first issue of a series, it does not do a good job, storywise, of letting us know really anything.

But, apparently the first issue has already sold out before publication, so it is doing something right.

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