Roger Ebert wrote in his review of The Thin Man (1934) that “William Powell is to dialogue as Fred Astaire is to dance.” The famous film’s characters of Nick and Nora Charles are among many duos both silver screen and television have had to offer over the years, delivering dialogue rich in wit dry as a martini, repartee and riposte sharp as any rapier. Among so many selections, few stand out so sharply as the characters of John Steed and Emma Peel, first brought to us in the 60s, at the height of the British spy spectacular. Although outlandish plots by nefarious ne’er-do-wells, ingenious gadgets and devilish devices are also hallmarks of the genre, nothing made The Avengers so memorable as their dialogue.
Rapid-fire interchange between Steed and Peel is perfectly portrayed throughout this first 128-page collection of the ongoing comic from Mark Waid, Caleb Monroe, Steve Bryant, and Will Sliney. The action moves along briskly, propelled in large part by the interaction between two star spies at the height of their Great Game. True to the original, the escapade always starts off in the middle of a scene, leaving the audience to put the pieces together as the subsequent action unfolds, always drawing the disparate pieces back together into a cohesive whole. In this regard, perhaps the best recommendation that can be made is that the reader immediately begins to crave a sequel, awaiting Steed’s classic, slyly delivered catchphrase:
“Mrs. Peel, we’re needed.”