About to become familiar to a whole new generation of fans with Marvel’s luxury reprints of Alan Moore’s Marvelman/Miracleman strip, the grinning Evelyn Cream is as chilling a freelance government agent as you’ll find. A hulking black man with sapphires for teeth in the employ of Sir Dennis Archer of The Spookshow, he’s hired to track down and kill our hero’s alter-ego, Mike Moran. But what other agendas are in play…? What’s that, you say? Disney’s idle, irritable fowl a secret agent? But yes! Donald had quite a comic book career from the ’40s onwards, initially under cartoonist Carl Barks, who developed the character beyond anything seen in the animated films; this Donald talked more and quacked less, and swung between hero, villain and average Joe as stories demanded.
The ongoing Paperon Intelligence Agency tales are in this tradition; here Donald (codename: Qu-Qu 7, it makes sense in Italian) and Fethry Duck are secret agents working for spymaster Scrooge McDuck. As the codename joke above may suggest, these relentlessly silly tales were first created in ’60s Italy for European audiences. The inky, scratchy, yet totally controlled noir look of Sean Phillips’s art creates, in Wildstorm series Sleeper, a world where you totally believe writer Ed Brubaker’s unlucky Holden Carver – an International Operations agent deep undercover in supervillain Tao’s criminal outfit – can trust no one. In time he turns and becomes a true criminal, but Holden sees a third way – the problem is, will he be allowed to take it?
21You know these guys, even if you were never a big reader of Mad – the American humour mag that was the last survivor of the notorious EC Comics (and is now owned by DC). The wordless Spy Vs Spy strip first cropped up in 1961, the creation of exiled Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohías. Here we have two pointy-nosed, identical, almost mouse-like spies – one in black, the other in white – of the old-school anarchist type, forever running round with fizzing, bowling ball-sized bombs, keen to outwit each other. Sometimes black wins, sometimes white. An icon of the cold war, Spy vs Spy is simple, highly graphic and fascinating: Prohías would sign each strip in Morse code. He was a 007 parody of course, created by Comic Heroes’ very own Mike Perkins, with help from writer Tony Bedard, for CrossGen. The name of his strip – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – is a version of a phrase that’s been lurking around the spy world since forever, and was notably used by the great John Barry for “Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” on Thunderball.
The CrossGen version lasted just five issues – it was killed when the firm went under – but had great fun with the ’60s spy milieu; as many have speculated about Bond, “Charles Basildon” is just a codename for MI6’s reigning top spy, and the current version is a bit of an amoral dirtbag whose partners keep dying on him.