Super Spy

Created by: Matt Kindt

ISBN: 1891830961 (Amazon)

Pages: 304

Super Spy

Over the last couple decades it has been a popular ploy in fiction to attempt the creation of a single story through the use of a multitude of narrative points. Novels will set forth what seem like a number of unrelated short stories that—only when all finished and seen from the outside—combine to form a single narrative thread. Numerous protagonists will weave in and out of story focus, each propelling the fictive direction according to their own story needs but all the while vectoring the story itself down the author’s intended path.

It’s not an easy thing to accomplish. More often than not, authors of such works are only moderately successful in the endeavor. While once the inventiveness of even attempting such a kind of story may have been enough to earn accolades, now that the form is no longer all that experimental (having been attempted over and again these last twenty years) readers require skill as well as invention. Many of these stories don’t hold together quite as well as an author should like, their narrative paths not quite intersecting so well as they should.

I’ve read many such books that—while showing promise from the start—have ultimately disappointed. Books whose final product failed to deliver with a compelling narrative force. Super Spy is not one of those books. While there are certainly a number of points in which Matt Kindt’s collection of WWII-era spy stories could have been better or more competently wrought, those are rare and in the end do little to diminish the work.

When I first approached Kindt’s book, I was not aware that he was weaving any sort of narrative tapestry. I thought Super Spy was merely a collection of short stories. It took the absorption of several stories before I came to realize that these stories were at all connected. It took several more to see that he was, through these disparate reflections, forging a single work. By book’s end, Kindt clearly and deftly presents his thesis: a portrait of the spy, a landscape of clandestine HUMINT.

Super Spy traverses the personal geography of the espionage circuit during the early-to-mid ‘40s. Touching on all manner of occupational involvement (from state-trained agents to assassins for hire to citizens caught up in their national loyalties to those bound up in the war beneath the war due to coercions of one kind or another), Kindt’s book grants a broad perspective on just who might become involved in the game of secrets and how their experience would likely end up.

Several years ago I was doing research for a book I was intending to write. A book set in the world of spies and secrets. After reading fairly extensively in an encyclopedia devoted to espionage (both trade and history), my story gradually weaned away from being at all related to spies and nations and evolved into something else. Still, reading that much history of the craft leaves one with a certain perspective. Espionage is not glamourous. And more often than not, its practitioners come to bad ends. Espionage is, in reality, much more le Carré than it is Flemming. And Kindt’s work reflects this.

While certainly not all of his protagonists meet bitter conclusions, it is most often the case that their lives, if not destroyed physically by bullets, knives, or bombs, come to other tragic conclusions, twisted by sadness, loss, regret, or any other dozen of the psychological bugbears that plague those who traffic in lies and deceptions. Super Spy, while occasionally humourous (depending on the story), is generally a darker sort of work. It peers into the human spirit in a period of great distress. There is, after all, a war on—and wars have ever been the destroyers of souls.

With few exceptions, Kindt’s stories are told without flaw. Art and word conspire together to craft unique narratives, each with purpose and goal, driving forward his story of secrets. Super Spy‘s greatest strength doesn’t lie in its inventive plotting or uncommon characterizations. (Many of his stories seem lifted from other works I’ve read or seen and most of his characters remain archetypical.) The book’s strength instead lies in the very human way in which it approaches a world that is far beyond the coping mechanisms of its contributors. These people, no matter how thinly sketched, are always people—are always worth the time of your consideration. They are just as sad, broken, and hopeful as real people are and when their stories end, those conclusions are just as stupid, pointless, and tragic as they would be in real life.

Super Spy‘s strength may be in its verisimilitude: not technical but rather, perhaps, spiritual.



Good Ok Bad features reviews of comics, graphic novels, manga, et cetera using a rare and auspicious three-star rating system. Point systems are notoriously fiddly, so here it's been pared down to three simple possibilities:

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