Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: Steed and Mrs. Peel

When I see this title: The Avengers, what comes to mind isn't the comic book band of superheroes, or their recent movie.

Instead, I'm reminded of the British "spy-fi" series of the '60's, which had a longer history and was more stylistically convoluted than most fans remember.  The episodes I primarily recall are the ones with Diana Rigg, of which she only costarred in 51 out of the 160 episodes.  Then there were the subsequent episodes with Linda Thorson

While I consider myself a fan of the show, writing this review was enlightening for me.  I had no idea there were costars beyond Diana Rigg an Linda Thorson.  Like:  Honor BlackmanIan Hendry (the original costar) and Julie Stevens; along with the handful of other performers who were teamed up with Patrick Macnee for an episode or three. 

As to the graphic novel, Steed and Mrs. Peel reunites dapper secret agent John Steed with Emma Peel, shortly after she's reunited with her husband Peter.  The book consists of two stories compiled from the original comics.  In The Golden Game, Steed asks for Mrs Peel's help in finding his new partner Tara King

While in Deadly Rainbow, Emma and Peter revisit their honeymoon spot, only to find it's been covertly taken over by uninvited guests.

The novel effectively captures the quirkiness of the series and the banter between Steed and Mrs. Peel.  Equally quirky is the artwork by Ian Gibson.  He does an excellent job at portraying Steed.  But while Mrs. Peel is beautifully drawn, her figure and especially facial features, appear to be more stark and sharper than Diana Rigg actually was. 

Meanwhile, the supporting cast, extras and villains are often caricatures.  But this may be the artist's way of illustrating just how weird some of Steed and Peel's enemies were.

You don't have to be an avid fan of The Avengers to enjoy the graphic novel.  It certainly helps though, in order to understand the back story between Steed and Mrs. Peel.  To gain such knowledge, this Avengers Forever website, by David K. Smith, contains synopses and reviews of nearly every episode, along with other bits of Avengers trivia.  The site was semi-retired in 2008, but remains open when "...something truly extraordinary happens..." like in 2011 for the series' 50th Anniversary.

Mr. Smith's on-line encyclopedia also contains a link to a more up-to-date Avengers Declassified site.  But when I tried delving into it, my computer would lock up.  So be wary.

If you're doing your own on-line search, be sure to type "The Avengers British TV series" in the query box.  Otherwise, you'll be led to the Marvel Comics version.

And speaking of comic book producers, Boom! Studios continues to carry the Steed and Mrs Peel seris in two versions, Steed and Mrs Peel #1-6 (compiled in the graphic novel of this review) and Steed and Mrs Peel Ongoing #1 through the final Issue #11

Since I haven't delved into the not-so-ongoing Ongoing Series, I'm not sure how this fits into the stories I just read.  I'll never understand why comic book publishers run different story lines--it just confuses the readers--or at least it confuses me. 

But I did like how The Golden Game provides an interface between Tara King and Emma Peel, while Deadly Rainbow gives the reader more than a glimpse of Peter Peel. 

Overall I rate the initial Steed and Mrs. Peel graphic novel as 3.5-star material.  Better than a 3, but not-quite 4.  The only thing missing is the trailer and end credits.  (The better black and white version was taken off YouTube due to a copywright violation).

And any comic book or graphic novel is certainly better than the horrid 1998 film...

...which not even Uma Thurman in a pre-Kill Bill catsuit could save this box office cluster bomb from detonating.  The only people I know who like this movie, never saw the original series, which probably explains the generous 3.5 rating out of 10 on IMDB.

There you go:  A book and movie review rolled into one blogpost.

Anyway, I look forward to reading more about the "original" Avengers and maybe even someday collecting the DVDs that are available.

No comments: