Graphic Novel Review: Operation S.I.N: Agent Carter

Operation S.I.N - Agent Carter

Operation S.I.N - Agent Carter - Credit: Archant

After the end of WWII, and before the debut of the Fantastic Four, an unlikely team of disparate adventurers fight to protect the Earth from alien invasion...

(Panini Books)

The synergy between Marvel Studios and Comics is prompting some of the more unusual titles on the marketplace, including this period drama focusing on the stars of the SHIELD spin-off series Agent Carter.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, and the apparent deaths of Captain America and Bucky, the disappearances of the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, and the retirement of many other costumed mystery men, the responsibility for protecting the world from threats both internal and external lies in different hands…

Standing as the first line of defence against alien invasion is Woodrow “Woody” McCord, known as the Man on the Wall, genius inventor Howard Stark, and former wartime spy Peggy Carter, also known as Agent 13.

McCord is the main link between this series and the crossover title Original Sin, which further explained the history of the Man on the Wall and his role fighting extraterrestrial incursions, but you don’t need to read the other title to enjoy this largely self-contained narrative.

The discovery of an alien power source in 1950s Soviet Russia has attracted the attentions of the newly risen terrorist group Hydra, prompting Stark to drag Peggy out of retirement to ensure this alien tech is retained by the so-called free world.

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The duo join forces with McCord and Tania Belinsky, a young Russian girl destined to one day become Soviet superhero the Red Guardian, and pick up a peasant mutant called Mikhail who can transform into a giant bear (the later Ursa Major), before heading into the depths of the Soviet Union in search of answers…

Written before the debut of the Agent Carter TV series, the only real link with the show is the sparky and often fractious partnership between Peggy and Stark, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t an engaging Cold War action adventure expanding on a somewhat unknown period of Marvel history.

Yes, the comics Peggy is an American blonde instead of a British brunette, but she’s still a daring and courageous secret agent fighting to prove herself in a men’s world, and the character of Stark hasn’t changed in the slightest from the brilliant playboy seen on both the big and small screen.

Unlike DC Comics, which has done away with a rich timeline of superheroes dating back to WWII for the sake of appealing to a younger audience, Marvel continually embraces and develops this fascinating history with titles such as this, which only serves to further raise it above the storytelling of its rival company, and offers new reading experiences for today’s audience instead of patronisingly assuming they’re not interested in anything before 2010.