If you’re not an aficionado of British genre television of the 1960s, you may as well leave now: there’s nothing to interest you here. The bowler hats and tight-fitting leather jumpsuits might look intriguing, and you may even know The Avengers as a classic British TV series (not the Marvel superhero team), but if you aren’t already totally committed to the characters, then there’s really not a lot else going on here.
This book revives John Steed and Emma Peel, the two smart-arsed protagonists of some of the most popular episodes of The Avengers. Steed looks like an umbrella-twirling city gent but is actually an agent of some repute, whose umbrella and bowler turn into deadly weapons. Emma Peel looks like a slinky proto-superhero, designed to be easy on the eye, but with superior martial arts skills and a phenomenal intellect, which we’re conveniently reminded of here as she pauses to beat people at chess at any opportunity.
This collected edition of four monthly comics gathers A Very Civil Armageddon, complete with arch-enemies from the TV show, a criminal organisation called the Hellfire Club, which uses trickery, illusion, deception and murder to push its own agenda of world domination. Run by brother and sister megalomaniacs, it’s up to Steed and Mrs Peel to foil their plans.
For anyone not interested in the show, it’s a meaningless exercise in pointless nostalgia. You’d think that Mark Waid’s creative urges might be better pointed at creating something new, rather than reviving characters that might have been cutting edge in 1965, but look misogynistic and dated to a modern eye.
Even if you were into the show enough to want more, I’m unconvinced that this story, which feels like something the writers of Scooby-Doo might reject as too implausible, is going to cut the mustard, and it isn’t helped by art that looks rushed and careless. Maybe go back and watch it on DVD again, instead, so your memory of a beloved TV show isn’t tarnished by this half-hearted nonsense.