Avengers Assemble…We’re Needed

Welcome back, True Rotten Ink-lievers!  Juliet here, on this momentous occasion where we’ll be covering one of the greatest team-ups to grace both the page and the screen. I’m talking about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, John Steed and Emma Peel.  That’s right, I’m joining you to talk about The Avengers….but not those Avengers. We’ll be looking at the spies played by John Macnee and Diana Rigg in the 1960s British television show, The Avengers, and their 2012-13 comic book series from Boom Studios.  So grab a bowler hat and a stiff drink, readers, we’re needed.

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Although knowledge of the show is more widespread these days, there are many people that don’t realize that the Avengers existed both before and after the Emma Peel years.  The show premiered in 1961 from the English ABC (Associated British Corporation), focusing on the espionage adventures of Dr. David Keel with Patrick Macnee’s John Steed showing up in the first episode offering his assistance.  Steed would remain in the assistant’s role for all of series one, which was cut short due to an Actor’s Equity strike. When production resumed in 1962, Steed was now the focus of the show partnering briefly with Dr. Martin King and Venus Smith and more permanently with Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman.  It was during this time that the show as we know and love it really took shape: Steed’s look was established as the bowler-wearing English gentleman spy, while Cathy donned leather catsuits, which Emma Peel would also adopt along with the latest in mod fashion.

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In 1965, the show was sold to the American Broadcasting Company (also ABC) and became one of the first British shows on to air on American television. The show moved from shooting on videotape to 35mm film, and in October, Diana Rigg debuted as Steed’s new partner Emma Peel.  We’ll discuss more about Steed and Peel momentarily, but for now let’s focus on the show itself. Along with Emma Peel, this new era of the Avengers introduced science fiction, fantasy and the occasional fetishistic elements to the plot. With the fifth series (aka season since we’re talking about British TV) in 1966, the show began shooting in color.  This was also the year that several of the show’s signature elements were introduced.

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Two of the best known elements that in truth only lasted for 15 episodes, are “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” and the “Steed does/Emma does” tags, both appearing at the start of an episode after of course the murder or inciting incident for the case had been established. We’d see Emma doing something ordinary. She’d then receive or encounter the message “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” at which time Steed would appear from seemingly nowhere and their adventure would begin.  The tag would show up under the episode title and give a comedic description of each character’s actions during the episode. For example, in “The Winged Avenger,” the tag is, “Steed Goes Birdwatching. Emma Does a Comic Strip”

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Diana Rigg left the show in 1967, gone was Emma Peel and gone were the sci-fi/fantasy elements with her.  The producers opted to return to the more realistic spy adventures that viewers had seen in the Cathy Gale era, and this time Steed’s partner was Tara King, played by Linda Thorson.  This sixth series would also introduce the characters of Mother and Father who would be central characters in the 1998 movie remake of the Avengers (more on that further down). But series 6 was to be the last as, although the show was popular in the UK and Europe, in the U.S. it was airing opposite the then number 1 show in the country Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and just couldn’t compete.  When the show cancelled in the U.S., the finances became unsustainable and Avengers ceased production in May 1969.

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Now that we’ve talked about the history of the show, let’s get into the characters and the people who portrayed them.  Born of a noble family and having served in the RAF in WWII (like his portrayer Patrick Macnee), John Steed is an agent in an unnamed British intelligence agency that some claim exists in the same universe/canon as James Bond.  In his initial appearances in Avengers, Steed was less refined than the character we’d come to know and love, but fairly quickly, he adopted the signature suave look of a three-piece suit, bowler hat, and umbrella, which would become his signature look. Steed is both sassy and sauve, and although he can be playful, when the time comes, he’s an ace spy and is well verse in hand to hand combat and swordsmanship. The role of Steed came around at the precise right time for actor Patrick Macnee.  After serving in WWII for England, he began his acting career in Canada with smaller roles but didn’t meet with much success. By the late 1950s, he was smoking and drinking to excess and had nearly given up on acting opting to produce documentaries when he was offered the role of John Steed, which he would play until 1969. Macnee helped establish the character’s look and personality, insisting, for example, that Steed never use a gun, in part because of the horrors that Macnee had witnessed in WWII.  He wrote two novels based on The Avengers and later hosted a documentary about the show. Macnee would go on to be in a James Bond film, Magnum P.I., The Howling and more, including a cameo in the 1998 Avengers remake (I promise, we’re getting there). Patrick Macnee died in June of 2015 at the age of 93.

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Dame Diana Rigg made her stage debut in 1957 and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959.  When Elizabeth Shepherd, originally slated to play Emma Peel, left the production, Rigg auditioned for the role having never seen The Avengers.  She was an instant star, despite making very little money for her work on the show, which is what ultimately drove her to leave after two years. Rigg went on to star in both film and television roles, including a stint hosting Mystery on PBS (taking over for Vincent Price), and she continued her work on stage. More recently, she’s captivated a new generation of TV viewers as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.  As for Rigg’s most iconic role, Emma Peel is a great mix of brains, battle-readiness, and sex appeal. She’s an accomplished scientist and martial artist who dabbles in many other fields, especially when it aids her investigations with Steed. Born Emma Knight, Mrs. Peel’s husband Peter is a pilot whose plane went down in the Amazon rainforest prior to her work with Steed. Peter was presumed dead for many years, returning as a plot device to write Emma off the show and introduce Tara King when Diana Rigg decided to move on.  Though the leather catsuits were introduced in the Cathy Gale era of Avengers, they became Emma Peel’s signature look along with the mod styles of the day. A quick wit with a silver tongue, Emma was the perfect verbal match for Steed, and their back and forth was part of what made the show such a joy to watch.

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I first encountered The Avengers on VHS at my local library.  I was lucky enough to grow up with two awesome libraries close by, one of which had an amazing selection of science fiction paperbacks and the other sported any amazing VHS selection, featuring a lot of British television and foreign and classic films. In the same way I have an affection for both really good and really cheesy science fiction, I adore both really good and really cheesy spy movies and TV shows, and I feel like The Avengers fall right in the middle.  It’s as classic as James Bond, but has an entirely different feel that’s so completely of its era. In the last five or six years, I’ve managed to watch the entire Emma Peel run of the show on DVD thanks to Matt, who bought me the Emma Peel Megaset after we found it at Half Price Books. In the same spirit as ST:TNG and the X-Files, I have certain favorite episodes that I go back to again and again, but I can also watch the series as a whole all over again and enjoy it, securing The Avengers’ spot among my all-time favorite TV shows.

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In 1998, Warner Brothers and director Jeremiah Chechik (of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fame) sought to revive Steed and Mrs. Peel for a new generation on the big screen.  The film, simply titled The Avengers starred Ralph Fiennes as John Steed, Uma Thurman as Emma Peel and Sean Connery as weather obsessed villain Sir August de Wynter. Rumor has it that Warner refused to pre-screen the film for reviewers to prevent negative reviews after test screenings prompted the studio to cut it from 115-minute to 89 minutes, removing key plot elements.  An original cut of the movie has never emerged, though Jeremiah Chechik has offered Warner Brothers a director’s cut for free. The movie as it stands is universally regarded as one of the worst movies ever, but I have to tell you something, dear readers: I love it. Okay, okay, it’s by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but I see the campy potential in the look and feel. Plus, it came out at a time in my life where I was actively seeking out very cheesy spy films and novels, the more bizarre, the better….and this one is certainly bizarre.  To parrot Stefon from SNL, this movie has everything: Uma Thurman with a bad English accent, giant teddy bears, a weather device, human sized hamster balls, Patrick Macnee as the Invisible Man, Eddie Izzard. If you have an open heart for utterly ridiculous trash, give it a try. It has little to nothing to do with the original TV series, but it’s silly fun if you’re up for that sort of thing.

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In terms of merchandise for the TV show, the modern fan can enjoy the series on DVD as well as a plethora of Steed and Mrs. Peel-themed goodies on sites like Etsy.  More classic gear includes trading cards, and most interesting, paperback books. The first novel, simply titled The Avengers and written by Douglas Enefer, was published by Consul Books in 1963.  It’s the only book of the original run to feature Cathy Gale. Many novels featuring Emma Peel and Tara King would follow in the UK and US, including several co-written by Patrick Macnee who was one of the first actors to write licensed spin-off fiction of their own shows.

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The Avengers first made it to comics in the U.K. as comic strips in TV listing magazines (similar to the US’ TV Guide).  Their first American outing was a 1968 collection of these strips released by Gold Key called John Steed Emma Peel because, of course, Marvel made it impossible for them to release a comic called The Avengers. In 1990 Eclipse released a three issue series called Steed and Mrs. Peel with script by Grant Morrison and art by Ian Gibson.  Boom Studios would re-release that series in early 2012. For our purposes, however, we’ll be covering the 2012-13 Steed and Mrs. Peel series from Boom Studios, written Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe. Before we begin our adventure, I must remind you that here at Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a 1-4 star scale and look for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get started, dear reader, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #0  *** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #0 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel investigate the mysterious of Agent Colin Whitcomb. Although the cause of death is straight forward (he was shot pointe blank), the strange part is that the missing agent has aged significantly.  Their only clue is the scent of a particular cheap perfume on Whitcomb’s body, sending the daring duo to the Hellfire Club, or rather the “New Hellfire Club” to investigate. There they meet the future obsessed Cartney who leads Steed into a fight with Father Time.  Meanwhile Emma outwits Futura, the automotan, and dons her outfit as a disguise to locate the missing Steed. Steed awakens older and grayer discovering that it’s no longer 1966, but the year 2000, and that he’s now a part of the National Archives, having served as an agent of much acclaim.  But of course Steed is on to the true plot of the Hellfire Club, using an aging serum to fool intelligence British agents. With Emma’s expert martial arts skills, the baddies, which include their old Hellfire nemesis Cartney, are defeated. With the aging serum’s effects wearing off, Steed treats Mrs. Peel to a concert.

When I first heard that Boom Studios would be doing a comic based on The Avengers, I was nervous to say the least.  The charm of the show is so particular – there’s a formula to the stories, but moreover the way Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg portrayed the relationship between Steed and Peel is so very specific.  I was hopeful once I saw that Mark Waid was writing, and he did not disappoint. This introductory issue was everything I had hoped for – it felt right at home in the universe of the show, teasing a time jump but keeping things firmly in the 1960s.  Longtime fans of the show got recollections of the Hellfire Club (**find out the name of this episode) and Emma’s spiked collar, cybermen (who also appeared in Doctor Who), the familiar “We’re Needed” start to the action. Most importantly, the dialogue was perfect.  I could hear MacNee and Rigg’s voices in my head as I was reading. Steve Bryant’s art is a good balance of realistic and stylistic and captures both the feel of the 1960s and the action well. I was pleasantly surprised by this one when I first read it in 2012, and 7 years later, it’s still a great read.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #1  ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #1 of 11

Masked men infiltrate a secluded base and launch a missile attack on London.  Steed and Mrs. Peel watch the carnage, along with Lord Bailey, in an underground bunker, but just as everyone has a moment to absorb what’s just happened, an alert sounds and our heroes leap to action.  A fire in the bunker forces Emma and a fellow scientist to lead everyone in the bunker topside, but once there, Mrs. Peel discovers something unusual. Although London is leveled and their instruments are showing radiation, there’s no effect on the soil or water.  There’s no time to question it further, however, because their fellow survivors spot a figure in the distance rapidly coming towards the group. The figure is some sort of mutated creature, and it’s not alone. Steed and Mrs. Peel battle the horde of monsters, and the book ends with them getting a vital assist from none other than the Hellfire Club.

This proper first issue of Steed and Mrs. Peel begins with action that’s sustained through the book.  Our heroes seem to be in some kind of post-apocalyptic disaster scenario, which is such a perfect melding of Cold War-era spy show sensibility and our modern obsession with post-apocalyptic stories (I see you, The Walking Dead and your many and varied progeny).  The action is such that we don’t get a lot of information about what’s happened other than London has apparently been nuked, and I like that because we’ll get to discover what’s happening along with Emma and Steed. The dialogue between the two is once again spot on thanks to the team up of Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe, and the artwork, this time from Will Sliney, is really great, classic looking comic style that lends itself to both action and dialogue well.  I know you’re probably wondering, like me, what the Hellfire Club is doing there and what they do or don’t have to do with this disaster so let’s get to the next issue.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #2 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #2 of 11

Steed, Mrs. Peel, and the British MPs they were previously sheltering with are now all guests of the Hellfire Club in their lavish bunker.  Although most of the other guests seem pretty comfortable, Steed and Emma are worried that they’ve not seen Lord Bailey, General Crampton or Mr. Stanton, the other scientist, since arriving. Although our heroes don’t yet know it, we see the general being brainwashed by a member of the Hellfire Club.  She and her brother, both the offspring of Cartney, chat a bit about how Steed and Mrs. Peel will of course be the hardest to break but it’s worth it get revenge for father. Steed and Mrs. Peel work on a plan over a game of chess. Emma goes to talk to Miss Cartney about the missing general, and gets attacked.  Later Steed stumbles into another brainwashing session and is also taken out, but when he awakens, it’s revealed that his attacker was Mrs. Peel, decked out in a familiar outfit, her Hellfire Club leather and spiked collar.

More of the mystery is unraveled and new twists appear in the second issue of this story arc.  While it’s no shock that the Hellfire Club is up to no good, what their goals are and who the mysterious Dirigent is remain a mystery. Also a mystery is whether or not this story ties in some way to the Cartney time-travel story in issue #0.  I like that we don’t know (and I genuinely don’t remember if it does from my first reading of this series seven years ago). As with issue #0, I love that this story is taking elements directly from the series and expanding them on the page, especially since they’re using one of my favorite plot elements that the Avengers shares with X-men: the Hellfire Club.  Is Emma once again brainwashed or she pretending to gain the trust of the Club? Onward to Issue #3, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #3 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #3 of 11

Steed is hopeful that the leather-clad Mrs. Peel is simply undercover, but alas, that’s not the case as she sends him through a wall behind which the younger Cartney is enjoying his lavish Hellfire existence. Steed snaps Mrs. Peel out of her brainwashed state using some trigger words they had developed “after the first few times someone tried this.” After Emma knocks her brother out, Miss Cartney arrives with her henchmen leading Steed and Mrs. Peel to flee.  They commandeer a motorcycle (and a new outfit for Emma) and lead the Hellfire Club on a chase into the nuked out wasteland. After fighting hand to hand with Miss Cartney, Emma shoots a flare, signaling the British Air Force, who she and Steed had secretly been in contact with after figuring out that the nuclear attack was a hoax and they the MPs had been kidnapped and taken to the South China Sea. Steed and Mrs. Peel sail off into the sunset, and back at the Hellfire Club the Cartney brother plots his next move.

Thus concludes the first story arc in Steed and Mrs. Peel…sort of.  Although they’ve solved the mystery of the fake nuclear blast and London’s destruction, something tells me that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Hellfire Club in the least.  This one is the last issue for which Mark Waid did the story and Will Sliney the art, but luckily scriptwriter Caleb Monroe sticks around for the rest of the series. There’s a temptation to say that the story wrapped up too quickly, but honestly it felt right in line with the TV show, and the pacing of these three issues felt like the pacing of the hour-long episodes.  So what’s next for Steed and Mrs. Peel? Let’s find out!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #4 ** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #4 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel have been invited to a ball. In full fancy dress, they, along with many British dignitaries attend the masked party of author Lloyd Cushing.  As part of the evening’s entertainment, they meet Mr. Blackwell, an eccentric conductor accompanied by his two Butoh dancers. But a party can never be just that for our two heroes as they’re soon called upon to investigate the murder of a man who turns out to the the real Mr. Blackwell.  Trading her ball gown for more action oriented clothes, Emma joins Steed in the ballroom where all of the guests are now missing. Steed tracks them outside where the Butoh dancers are to blame for the mass exodus. Meanwhile Emma confronts the imposter conductor, who turns out to be the Hellfire Club’s hypnotist Dirigent from their prior island adventure.  Dirigent explains that he can manipulate high frequency sound to bend people to his will, but he’s no match for Emma. As Steed and Mrs. Peel continue their previously interrupted dance, we zoom out, all the way to out space where a satellite baring the Hellfire Club logo looms over us all.

Upon first glance, the is your typical post-story arc issue, a one-shot where the characters get to have a minor adventure and perhaps some fun before the next big thing.  But actually, this issue, although basically a one-shot, continues our Hellfire Club storyline and presumably is going to bridge the prior arc with the one to come in Issue #5.  Although this one has significantly less action than the last few issues, there are some really nice things happening in the dialogue, both between Steed and Peel and among the other characters.  I feel like this was perhaps Caleb Monroe’s chance to provide some of his analysis on the original show and characters, and as I fan, I really enjoyed reading it. Yasmin Liang takes over on artist duties for this issue, and although she doesn’t capture Steed and Peel’s expressions as perfectly as Will Sliney did, she’s a great addition to this story, and I’m excited to see how she tackles the action scenes that are surely coming in the next book.  So let’s get to it!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #5  **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #5 of 11

The fallout from last issue’s ballroom party gone awry continues as Steed and Mrs. Peel find out that his friend Trevor Seabrook has been arrested for a theft related to his wife’s disappearance from the party. The curious part is that the kidnappers tasked Seabrook with stealing a seemingly empty jar, but the truth is the jar contains something that has regenerative properties, which is of course of interest to the Hellfire Club’s Dr. Peter Glass, previously presumed to be dead.  Seabrook’s wife is returned, Steed and Mrs. Peel begin to piece things together, and Glass unveils a special piece of tech as this issue ends.

The interesting thing about this issue is that both everything and nothing happens, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like the prior issue, this one was low on the action but high on information that’s obviously leading to the next chapter in the Hellfire Club’s evil plans that Steed and Mrs. Peel are constantly working to unravel.  

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #6 **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #6 of 11

Through a flashback and conversation, Steed and Mrs. Peel reflect on the aforementioned Dr. Glass and his death, for which Steed was an eyewitness.  Seabrook’s wife is awake but only repeating the words “bleeding heart” so Steed and Emma decide to regroup. On the way, however, Emma is tricked by Glass’ assistant Jamie and kidnapped.  Meanwhile, Steed is nearly ambushed when inquiring about Seabrook’s stolen empty jar, but soon our heroes are reunited in Glass’ lair where it’s revealed that the mad doctor survived his untimely death using special goggles sported by three versions of Jamie that allow him to time travel. As Glass is apprehended, one of the Jamie’s slips away to inform someone on the other end of a video camera that this phase of the plan has failed.  Steed and Mrs. Peel end our issue reflecting on the practicality of time travel over a drink as a rocket launches on the horizon.

One of the things that I really love about this series is the layered story.  Each arc leads to another and contributes to a larger story. This is especially interesting because the show generally did not do this, but I wish it had.  All of that said, this wasn’t the most exciting arc. Granted, this issue had more action than the prior two, but the payout felt a bit weak. Although thinking of it in the grand scheme of a larger story makes even a weak arc feel important.  So let’s get to the next one, and hopefully we’ll find out who Jamie was talking to and what dastardly plans they have in store for Steed and Mrs. Peel.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #7  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #7 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel are sent to a small Welsh mining town to investigate an unprecedented wave of suicides. Posing as scientists (though Steed is the only one posing, as he points out), they begin their investigation by consulting with Dr. Mortimor, a psychologist specializing in suicide.  After tea with Moritmor, our duo walks back to the inn where they’re staying, taking the scenic route to stop by some of the scenes of the some of the crimes. On a seaside cliff where several people fell to their deaths, both Steed and Emma seem to lose control of themselves and nearly jump off the cliff, the other stopping them just in time. They of course realize that Dr. Mortimor and his terrible tea is to blame.  The evil doctor explains that he’s not a murder, merely an experimenter in the weaponization of suicide. Steed, Mrs. Peel and the gathering crowd of villagers are less convinced of this excuse.

What a breath of fresh air after that slightly lackluster last arc!  Although the story was a bit predictable, it shone because of both the art (great panel structure in this one!) and the writing.  We got a lot of great little moments of Steed and Emma quipping back and forth while working to solve the mystery, and these moments are golden.  I didn’t realize how much of this was missing from the prior issue until I read this one. The chemistry between them, both in the dialogue and the artwork, was so spot on, and this definitely felt like an episode of the show that I would have loved. With that, let’s see what our next issue has in store!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #8  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #8 of 11

The Cartney family is back!  Steed and Emma’s beachside holiday is interrupted with the news that Joan Cartney has been broken out of jail by a strange silver man.  While Steed and Emma investigate, knowing there’s more to this than meets the eye, the Cartney siblings are reunited with their father who is alive, but not well. Donning costumes to make them look like Steed and Emma, the younger Cartneys set out to fulfill their mission of killing our heroes by blowing up Steed’s flat, while their father undergoes a procedure to rejuvenate his body…as a Cybernaut.

With last issue’s palate-cleanser, I’m ready to dive into a new story arc, and this one sets up our story nicely.  It’s no surprise that the Cartney’s are back, and we learn that it was, indeed, them that Jamie was contacting in Issue #6.  As we set up our villain’s story, we once again get really cozy fun interactions between Steed and Peel, making me thinking that writer Caleb Monroe has gotten into the same comfort zone that Mark Waid began the series with.  I’m eager to see where the Cybernaut story is going so let’s get to the next issue!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #9  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #9 of 11

While Cybernaut Cartney shops for a suit, his children learn that even a bomb can’t take down Steed and Mrs. Peel.  The siblings’ bickering about what went wrong is interrupted when their intended victims confront them, and quickly things turn into a street fight (with swords!). The Cartneys get away, but of course that was the plan as Steed, harkening to the original Cybernauts TV episode, plans a transponder his umbrella which he allows them to escape with.  After a quick wardrobe change, Steed and Mrs. Peel head to the Hellfire Club’s base of operations where they spy General Seabrook smuggling army tech to the enemy. Although they’re able to sneak in undetected, Cybernaut Cartney uses his super strength to bust through a wall and grab our heroes.

With the last issue being mostly set up for the new story, I was worried this one would be more of the same.  But happily, this issue is heavily on wonderfully drawn action with some great dialogue to accompany it. The way the panels mimic the style in which the show was shot is a really nice touch and combined with the coloring gives the book such a great retro feel.  My only concern moving forward is that there are only two more issues, and I honestly can’t remember if the book ends at the conclusion of an arc or if we’re going to be left hanging. I guess there’s no way to find out until we get to the next issue….

AvengersComic10Steed and Mrs. Peel #10  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #10 of 11

Cybernaut Cartney is about to kill our heroes but Emma appeals to the villain’s hedonistic side, saying that if he kills them now, it’s all over. This is much to Joan’s chagrin as Steed and Mrs. Peel have been a thorn in her side for far too long, but father knows best…..only Cartney isn’t really her father. Joan and her brother discover documents in Cartney’s desk revealing that they’re a young married couple who went missing and were subsequently brainwashed by Cartney in what he calls, “my greatest practical joke of them all.” After her husband (formerly her brother) is killed by Cartney, Joan sneaks back to the prison to get help from a former ally.  Meanwhile Jamie is torturing Steed in the Hellfire Club dungeon forcing Emma to strike a bargain with Cartney – Steed’s life for her hand in marriage. The issue ends with Cartney presenting Emma to the rest of the Club as his fiance and the new Queen of Silver.

This issue has so much going on!  The reveal about the Cartney siblings (or rather the not Cartney, non-siblings) was really great.  I truly didn’t see that coming, and in addition to being a great twist, it packed an emotional punch.  Cartney’s line about this being “my greatest practical joke of them all” was an amazing touch. In this issue we get more about Cartney’s weird obsession with Emma, which is framed in both flashbacks and present moments, something I like because it really gives the reader the sense that Cartney is an absolutely twisted villain.  I also loved the touch of the Silver Court being introduced to the Hellfire Club. But my concern from last issues remains; there is a lot to resolve in one issue to wrap up both the arc and the series. I suppose the only way to know how that works out, however, it to read on.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #11 ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99   Boom Studios    #11 of 11

We open in a church where Cybernaut Cartney stands at the altar with a silver bedecked Mrs. Peel.  The officiant asks if there are any objections to the union, and right on cue, John Steed drives his car through the window of the church.  He shouts Emma’s trigger words, but she doesn’t need to be un-brainwashed this time, she was merely buying time for Steed. While a battle ensues in the church, Joan sneaks into the room containing John’s human body that’s feeding the Cybernaut and gives him the brainwashing serum, prompting the Cybernaut to seek out its human body to destroy it. Emma and Steed follow, and Emma uses the aging serum from all the way back in issue zero to prevent the Cybernaut from destroying human Cartney.  But alas, he dies shortly thereafter anyway. The issue ends with Joan escaping to make a better life, and Emma and Steed watching the sun set and reflecting on this latest chapter in their adventures together.

This issue does a pretty good job of wrapping things up.  Yes, the Steed crashing the wedding scene is ridiculous, but it fits the show quite well.  I really liked that the aging serum from issue 0 comes back into play, but the sequence of Cartney dying anyway was slightly confusing.  The ending with Steed and Emma watching the sunset was quite lovely, and I do like that the Hellfire Club story wasn’t so final that they can’t come back again in some future series.  Speaking of future series, Boom Studios would try for another arc in 2014 called Steed and Mrs. Peel: We’re Needed, but alas, what was to be a six issue series only made it three, and quite honestly those issues didn’t hold a candle to this series. Avengers22

Part of the reason I chose to cover this particular comic version of The Avengers is that, in my opinion, it’s the most faithful to the spirit of the show, and despite a few missteps, uses the structure of comics to create an ongoing story in a way that the show didn’t back in the 1960s (though I suspect a modern rendering would).  For our next update, we’ll be leaving the world of spies, but staying in the 1960s as Matt kicks of a month of Kaiju updates in anticipation of Godzilla: King of the Monsters with a look at Reptilicus. In the meantime, read a comic or three, and support your local horror host!

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