Swipe File: Steed And Mrs Peel #0 And The X-Men

Here’s the Mike Perkins. cover for Steed And Mrs Peel #0 from Boom this September.

But here are two more variant covers by Josh Corvey… and the Hellfire Club comics that inspired them.


Of course this is far from Steed And Mrs Peel’s The Avengers swiping from X-Men. It originally happened the other way round.

This comic is a sequel to the Avengers episode A TOUCH OF BRIMSTONE, the one Chris Claremont and John Byrne swiped the Hellfire Club from, an episode censored in the UK and banned in the USA when it originally aired in the 1960s.

Claremont and Byrne raided the TV Avengers pretty liberally: the Hellfire’s Black QueenJean Grey had an outfit that is derived from Emma Peel’s “Queen of Sin” character in that episode.

The story engine in both tales are similar: in The Avengers, Emma Peel goes in undercover to the Hellfire Club, gets drugged, and is forced into the “Queen of Sin” get-up. In the same way, during the Dark Phoenix Saga, Mastermind brainwashes Jean Grey into her Black Queen outfit.

The longest-lasting effect the Hellfire Club’s had on the X-Men mythology is the White Queen. Emma Frost’s name is a direct reference to Mrs. Emma Peel’s name. The White Queen’s lingerie outfit is the direct opposite of Emma Peel’s black costume.

According to John Byrne himself the “homages” don’t stop there:

I first encountered Peter Wyngarde, as an actor, on the Avengers episode “A Touch of Brimstone”, which dealt with Steed and Emma having an encounter with the Hellfire Club. Later he turned up on a British series called Department S, and its spin-off Jason King (the name of his character). When Chris Claremont decided he wanted to do a Hellfire club arc in UNCANNY X-MEN (he had just seen the above mentioned Avengers episode) as part of the “darkening” of Phoenix, I suggested the “in-joke” of having Mastermind, in his disguised form, resemble Peter Wyngarde and, mixing character and actor, that his name be Jason Wyngarde. (Chris seemed to have some small problem remembering if this was supposed to be Mastermind’s real name, or one MM had made up. It is refered to both ways in the story arc.)

Furthermore, the leader of the American Hellfire Club was Sir Patrick Clemens — the first name is an homage to Patrick MacNee who played Avenger John Steed, the last name is a tip-of-the-hat to Brian Clemens who wrote “A Touch of Brimstone.” Patrick Clemens’ lover, Diana Knight, is a reference to actress Diana Rigg who played Mrs. Emma Peel. Emma’s maiden name was Knight… The Black Queen of the London branch of the Hellfire Club is Ms. Steed, a reference to MacNee’s character John Steed.

The rest of the Hellfire Club are references to other famous actors: Sebastian Shaw is JAWS actor Robert Shaw:

Harry Leland is Orson Welles (Welles played Harry Lime in THE THIRD MAN, Leland is a character in CITIZEN KANE)

and Donald Pierce is Keifer Sutherland’s father, Donald Sutherland (Pierce is a reference to the character “Hawkeye Pierce” Sutherland played in the movie MASH).

And just for a reminder, here’s a look at that original episode.

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Swipe File we present two or more images that resemble each other to some degree. They may be homages, parodies, ironic appropriations, coincidences or works of the lightbox. We trust you, the reader, to make that judgment yourself.  If you are unable to do so, please return your eyes to their maker before any further damage is done. The Swipe File doesn’t judge, it’s interested more in the process of creation, how work influences other work, how new work comes from old, and sometimes how the same ideas emerge simultaneously, as if their time has just come. The Swipe File was named after the advertising industry habit where writers and artist collect images and lines they admire to inspire them in their work. It was swiped from the Comic Journal who originally ran this column, as well as the now defunct Swipe Of The Week website.

Bleeding Cool's coverage of San Diego Comic Con 2015 is brought to you by Valiant's BOOK OF DEATH #1 – in stores July 15th. Visit ValiantUniverse.com for more information.


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