Eve­lyn Cream

Comic Heroes - - Front Page -

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.

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