Mark Waid is a solid comic book writer, and he’s one to be relied on when it comes to relaunches – especially for commercial titles. His Daredevil, and Hulk series are excellent, and his past series for the big two have included such titles as the excellent Kingdom Come. I say all this upfront because it stresses how much I wanted to like Steed and Mrs Peel, the relaunch of classic 60’s TV show The Avengers from Boom Studios. With Waid on the title it seemed to me that we would get the right tone, somewhere between camp and fun, whilst telling interesting, exciting stories.
The frustrating thing about Steed and Mrs Peel is that on first glance, it all seems to be there. The leads are well written, funny and their interactions are straight out of the TV show. The weirdness is there too – with villains dressing up in fake beards and togas, running around calling themselves Father Time. Furthermore, the stories are brief. The prologue is a self-contained single issue, and is followed by a short three-issue arc. In a world of decompressed comics, it’s a breath of fresh air to be presented with a complete story in such a short space.
However, here’s where the problems lie. First and foremost, the story is almost too brief. Threats are brushed off and there is very little character development outside of the titular characters. We are introduced to a new(ish) Hellfire Club, and whilst their motivations make some kind of sense, you spend so little time with them, that they barely seem to be a threat. Perhaps this is all part of the joke, and the comic does at times aim for a kind of nonchalant 60’s vibe (and at times, admittedly succeeds). Likewise, the climax of each story feels incredibly rushed. It’s not helped by the art, which isn’t bad to look at by any stretch, but is paced terribly. Emotional or action packed moments are squeezed into panels too small to care about, and any impact they might have on the reader is reduced enormously.
Any Cop?: There is plenty here to recommend to fans of the series, but to a casual comic book reader this is merely passable.