The new comic book from Saturday Night Live's Taran Killam imagines that a James Bond-like super-spy dies. To replace him, his agency brings together a team made up of his illegitimate children."I feel like Bond has been called ‘you bastard,’ in that phraseology of it, and we just took it in the more literal sense," Killam said.
Killam appeared alongside his co-writer Marc Andreyko—who recently took over Batwoman for DC after her latest controversy—to hook the Comic Con audience on The Illegitimates, but the conversation turned into a wide ranging discussion which touched on Killam's comedy (Miley "won a lot of people over" on SNL) and Bond tropes (Killam loves Adele's "Skyfall"), even though Andreyko explained that they're "not doing copyright infringement" with their take on the legacy of a suave super-spy.
Killam pitched Andreyko on the idea about five or six years ago—"before I mattered," he quipped—but thanks to a fortuitous encounter with DC editor Mike Marts, he found an artist, Kevin Sharpe, and the idea began to take life. The first issue establishes the Bond-ish lothario ways of Jack Steele, whose head is very quickly blown to bits. So the agency he works for, Olympus, introduces "Project Sire," creating the team of Steele's, well, spawn. Killam told the panel he likes the concept of a team whether it's The Dirty Dozen or The Avengers. "I like Maria Hill a lot," Andreyko said, referencing the part Killam's wife, Cobie Smulders, plays in the Marvel franchise.
When we talked with Killam in the Con's Artist Alley after the panel, he said some of the inspiration came from the end of Bond movies, including Goldfinger and The World Is Not Enough, the latter of which featured what he called one of the series' "grossest" closing lines (regarding Bond Girl Christmas Jones, Agent 007 quipped, "I thought Christmas only comes once a year"). "That was like 'ughhhh' and that was just so graphic," Killam said. "It’s like, if he is coming, there could be major repercussions of that." The comic, however, is not Austin Powers, Killam explained to the panel audience. "We didn’t want it to be making fun of the franchise and how ridiculous," he said. "It's more, how wonderful is the ridiculous."
The ridiculous, in this case —the idea that Bond (or, rather, Steele) has been having so much unprotected sex over so many years — wrestles with the complicated mythology of the Bond Girl. "Obviously, Bond has roots in misogyny," Killam told us. "It’s amazing what having a daughter will do to change your perception on just male and female roles. I also think there’s something very feminine about the character of Bond. He's very sensual in himself. So it only makes sense that of the five kids we meet, the alpha, the strongest, and in many ways the most macho is actually the female." That alpha is the South African Saalinge M'Chumba, the only one of the children with espionage experience. One of the male members of the team is a "cowardly lion" MMA fighter and underwear model. There's also, of course, the possibility that more than the initial five kids are out there. "He was very much like Johnny Appleseed," Andreyko said of their super-spy.
For now, according to Killam, the kids have their own problems: "Daddy issues galore."