Mina Murray Casanova Quinn Meru Sasha Bordeaux Peter Wisdom The Baroness
She’s a little bit vampirey, yes, and a proto-superhero. But in Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mina Harker née Murray – protagonist of Dracula, now again using her maiden name – is first and foremost an agent of the Crown, recruited by Campion Bond of British Intelligence to put together a team to protect the Empire against Devil Doctors and Martian Invasion. Prim and buttoned-up she may be, but she’s also the right woman in the right place at the right time. There’s a touch of the Mary Sue to this mutant British Secret Service agent, an Essex rebel with “hot knife” energy powers, introduced by Warren Ellis in Excalibur and soon proving to be tougher, cooler, more ruthless and competent than any of the so-called leads; by the time of Captain Britain And MI-13, he was a more self-regarding British Nick Fury, leading the defence against vampire invaders. A polarising character: for him not to be infuriating he has to be written very deftly indeed. In Matt Kindt’s Dark Horse series MIND MGMT, true crime writer Meru soon finds herself caught up in a bizarre world of superspies and psychic abilities. All along, Meru is manipulated by retired psychic super-agent Henry Lyme, who needs her help in taking down his old agency, MIND MGMT, which be believes to be out of control. Ever-twisting, with a film promised, and building an audience issue-by-issue, this is one to watch. Marvel ran its GI Joe: A Real American hero comic series from 1982-94, tied-in with the Hasbro toy line and a couple of TV series; it told surprisingly complicated, character-led stories – considering it was all about an unlikely elite unit battling theatrical terrorists Cobra, a Marvel invention clearly based on SHIELD’S HYDRA. Many of the major characters were extensively expanded upon by the comics, but some were totally original creations, including sexy baddie the Baroness, who was on the page long before she was ever an action figure. One-time Batman supporting character, created by Queen & Country’s Greg Rucka, and who’s twice worked for government spy agency Checkmate; she’s been turned into a cyborg, shows increasing “ends justify the means” attitudes, and enjoys on-off romance with superhero Mr Terrific. Consider her DC’s answer to SHIELD’s Maria Hill. Created by Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá for their ongoing Image Comics series Casanova, our super-thief hero gets blackmailed into working as a double-agent in a vast, complex alternative universe-jumping espionage game; his dad runs spy outfit EMPIRE, his twin-sister is their top agent, and evil outfit WASTE (a Thomas Pynchon reference!) are… well, it’s too complicated to go into here. The whole thing stumbled when key creators went on to other projects, but a restart is promised soon, making this the perfect time to jump on board.