Looking at “Steed and Mrs. Peel” #0 — the first issue in the all-new ongoing series from Boom! Studios based on the television show “The Avengers” — Mark Waid and Steve Bryant seem to have captured the overall feel of the era quite impressively. But at the same time, there’s still something missing, and it’s what keeps “Steed and Mrs. Peel” #0 from being a must-read.
Waid has mimicked a lot of the trademarks of the 1967 color episodes starring Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg. Everything from the overall pacing of the story (complete with the separation of the duo and the eventual rescue) to the “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” opening tag that existed for the first half of that season before eventually being quietly retired. Reading this issue #0, I felt like Waid had clearly not only watched the episodes but was a fan in his own right.
The problem with “Steed and Mrs. Peel” #0 is the same problem that a lot of the color episodes of the television show also had when compared to the black and white episodes from the previous year; they’d lost that extra zip and pizazz that the series once had. “Steed and Mrs. Peel” moves at a slow pace, and while it never crosses the line into boring, it’s hard to keep from feeling like things need to move a little faster. By the time Steed’s been brought into the future, the ending is feeling obvious enough that it’s just forestalling the inevitable.
Still, there are things I like about the story. It plays well with the series continuity without being a barrier to any new readers (although I suspect the return of the Hellfire Club is happening here because of the lure for “X-Men” readers), and Waid does a good job of showing Emma Peel’s strengths and abilities as she breaks into the Hellfire Club. It’s got all the elements of a 1967 episode of “The Avengers,” and that does include the strengths associated with that era.
Bryant’s art isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. I think some of the problems with the overall flow come from the unenergetic pages from Bryant. The fights feel stiff (and if you’ve ever seen Rigg in action in “The Avengers” you know that wasn’t the case) and a little too posed. The likenesses are mostly good though; Steed and Peel look like themselves, although the aged Steed a little less so. I love Bryant’s designs of what people would be wearing in the far-away year 2000, though, and that’s more of what I’d like to see from Bryant here.
“Steed and Mrs. Peel” #0 is an all-right introduction to the new series (although I’m not entirely sure why it isn’t an issue #1 instead), but there needs to be some more energy and fun for this series to be read month after month. It’s got a lot of promise, though, and I’m definitely going to come back to take a look at issue #1. Until then, though, I’m pulling out my DVDs of the black and white Steed and Mrs. Peel episodes. That’s exactly what I’m hoping future issues from Waid and Bryant will resemble a bit more in terms of tone. Can we get there? I think so.