Steed and Mrs. Peel #0 is good. It’s very good, in fact. It’s better than the 90s comic of the same name written by Grant Morrison (recently reprinted by Boom!)—and that was a lot of fun itself. But Mark Waid gets the tone of the show and the specific crackle of the best Brian Clemens or Philip Levene banter between Steed and Emma. The cadence of the dialogue feels right in a way that few tie-in writers have ever really nailed before.
From the teaser, following the pattern of the color Emma Peel episodes, we cut to a brief “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” sequence, and it was here that I knew I was completely on board with this take. The gimmick by which Steed contacts Emma (which I won’t divulge) is not one the show ever used—but very easily could have been. In a comic, though, this particular gag functions on a meta level that wouldn’t have come across on TV. (And it also manages to sneak in a subtle reference to “The Winged Avenger.”) From there, Steed leads Mrs. Peel to the site of an aged corpse in the clothes of one of their agents—and it’s not the first time they’ve seen this scenario.
Avengers TVcomics of the time. At one point, Steed battles a bearded “Father Time” wielding a scythe, which is exactly the sort of imagery that popped up in those two-tone comic strips in the Avengers annuals! But the writing here, as I already mentioned, is infinitely superior to most of those stories.
The artwork is fantastic on a level of channeling Sixties pop art pop culture (in its best moments recalling the work of Mike Allred), but less successful in depicting the series’ stars. I’m guessing that Boom! were unable to clear likeness rights for the actors, because these Avengers look very little like Diana Rigg and (especially) Patrick Macnee. That’s a shame, because a sequence in which Steed is “aged” into his 80s would have been a great opportunity to depict Macnee as he looks today! (One panel comes close.) It also seems unfair that Marvel was able to get away with using Peter Wyngarde’s likeness in their X-Men comics that "borrowed" TheAvengers’ Hellfire Club (as a character named “Jason Wyngarde,” no less), but here in an official Avengers tie-in, a brief flashback of has “Brimstone” character, Cartney, bears little resemblance. Cartney is also at the center of my only real nerdy nitpick about this book, too, and that’s that no character played by Peter Wyngarde would ever “favor rather a D-class fragrance,” as described here! But Mark Waid was prepared for my gripe, and has Emma quickly explain, “Oh, no pinchpenny he. But, it must be stressed, the honourable John Cleverly Cartney did incline sharply toward the vulgar…” And perhaps that can be said of Wyngarde. Okay, Waid, you’re off the hook on that one.
Follow the link here to read my reviews of some past Avengers comics.
NOTE: If the variant covers depicted here seem odd to Avengers fans, they won't to comic book fans. They're homages to classic X-Men covers from the era when that comic was homaging The Avengers, thus completing the circle of homage.