Review by Win Wiacek
The (other) Avengers was an incredibly stylish British TV show enormously popular all over the globe, mixing witty, thrilling and sophisticated drama/lampoonery with two classic lead characters. British Agent John Steed was suave and urbane, accompanied by dazzlingly talented amateur sleuth Mrs. Emma Peel. The show remains an enduring cult icon, with all the spin-off that entails.
The new adventures of Steed and Mrs. Peel began with A Very Civil Armageddon in 2012, reintroducing the faithful and newcomers to a uniquely British phenomenon and saw the grand dames of Spy Fi tackle old (TV) enemies The Hellfire Club at the height of the 1960s. The intrigue resumes here and now with Steed and Peel clearing up loose ends by attending a highly suspect gala soiree in ‘Ballroom Dance Fu’ by Caleb Monroe and Yasmin Liang. The scoundrel du jour under investigation is wealthy rogue Lloyd Cushing, but the true target is scurrilous brainwasher Mr. Blackwell – the sinister mindbender who facilitated the Hellfire Club’s schemes and previously warped Mrs Peel into their Queen of Sin. Sadly, despite a minimum of murders and the defeat of their foe, our heroes are left little wiser, and blithely unaware that the schemes of a hidden mastermind are still proceeding apace.
Main event ‘The Secret History of Space’ then kicks off with the abduction of British Air Chief Marshal Trevor Seabrook’s wife. The hidden villain’s ultimate aim is achieved when the distraught airman – head of the UK’s Space Program – hands over an item long stored and forgotten in a research facility. Investigating the extortion, Steed and Peel are baffled to learn that the top-secret booty is a decades-old empty glass jar!
Diligent investigation leads the Derring Duo to a warehouse where old enemy Dr. Peter Glass (another TV series recruit) has been continuing his deadly experiments into optical lasers. It’s quite the conundrum since Steed clearly remembers killing him.
Normality is restored before a final story in which our heroes voyage to a small Welsh mining town where an unlikely cluster of suicides (24 in one month) has the Ministry deeply concerned. After both almost simultaneously succumb to manic death-urges, simple deduction leads to an outside influencer callously operating with malign intent and methods in ‘Tawdry Little Endings’.
Wry, sharp and wickedly satisfying, these classy cloak and dagger dramas are sheer delight for staunch fans and curious newcomers alike and this volume also includes a wealth of covers and variants gallery. A final outing for Steed and Mrs Peel is provided in Steed and Mrs Peel Vol. 3: The Return of the Monster.