The Avengers are about to collide with a different kind of Hellfire Club in a new ongoing series from BOOM! Studios. “Steed & Mrs. Peel,” featuring the characters from the influential 1960s British spy series “The Avengers,” launches in August, following up on BOOM!’s recent reprint of the 1990 Grant Morrison/Ian Gibson “Steed & Mrs. Peel” miniseries. Mark Waid is writing the zero issue that opens the new series, and co-writing from then on with Caleb Monroe (“The Remnant,” “Hunter’s Fortune”), with art by Steve Bryant (“Athena Voltaire”).
“James Bond by way of Dr. Who” is Waid’s shorthand for the enduring appeal of “The Avengers.” Featuring dashing secret agents John Steed and Emma Peel taking on criminals, conspiracies and supernatural phenomena, the writer gave CBR News a description of the classic television series he plans to translate for a modern comics audience. “Steed and Peel tend to investigate cases with an odd angle to them,” Waid said. “Houses built as giant killing machines, towns abandoned by their citizens, killers with methods that are pure science-fiction.”
As for the main villains for the new series, readers will be introduced to none other than the Hellfire Club, albeit one decidedly different from the organization who has given the X-Men trouble throughout the years. A diabolical organization that debuted in the 1966 “Avengers” episode “A Touch of Brimstone,” Steed and Mrs. Peel’s perennial thorn in the side served as a direct inspiration for writer Chris Claremont’s Marvel version. The X-Men’s longtime nemesis, and Cyclops’ current lover Emma Frost was even named after “The Avengers” main character Emma Peel.
“Their original Hellfire Club was the direct inspiration for the X-Men’s, right down to the corsets. Since we’ve seen so much of that in the X-Men since, I went a different way,” Waid said, explaining that the Hellfire Club in this new series will have a slightly different outlook than the one seen in “A Touch of Brimstone.” “The original Hellfire Club fetishized medieval times. The new Hellfire Club similarly fetishizes the future; the theme is the 21st century, and it’s reflected in all their clothes and tech and surroundings.” Of course, since the comic takes place in 1969, the vision of the future is a bit retro. “It’s way more ‘Barbarella’ than anything you see outside your window right now!”
“A Touch of Brimstone” is known not only for influencing the creation of the X-Men’s Hellfire Club, but also for a climactic scene featuring star Diana Rigg (Emma Peel) in a rather revealing costume as the Queen of Sin, complete with a corset, spiked collar and high-heeled leather boots. While the upcoming comic may feature the Hellfire Club looking toward the future, Waid guarantees that the Queen of Sin outfit will make an appearance. “That was a specific request of BOOM!’s Matt Gagnon,” he said. “We’re all pretending that it was because he thinks it’s best for the story and not because he’s a perv!”
As the ongoing series progresses, The Hellfire Club will continue to play a prominent role. “The Hellfire Club turns England upside-down — almost literally,” Waid says. “Look for more of 1969 filtered through a modern sensibility — but I sure hope you dig camp and pop art.”
And what about that other Hellfire Club? When asked about the possibility of an official “Steed & Mrs. Peel” crossover with the X-Men, Waid certainly seemed game for it. “I, personally, would give anything to see Emma Peel and Emma Frost join forces. God help anyone in their way — I’ll make some calls!”