With Agent Carter on the small screen, it was a shoo-in for her to appear in the pages of Marvel Comics again, but what sort of mission could bring the world’s greatest super-spy out from the cold? Your Major Spoilers review of Operation S.I.N. #1 awaits!
Previously in Operation S.I.N.: Peggy Carter’s history is a twisted one, owing mostly to the ever-advancing march of time in our world comparative to the comic book time of the Marvel Universe. Originally seen in flashback by Captain America after his awakening, she was revealed to be the older sister of Sharon Carter, Captain America’s on-and-off main squeeze. Of course, that was in 1966, when it was logical to have an older sister who fought in the war. These days, she’s been retconned as Sharon’s aunt, and was seen in the Captain America film series as an associate of Cap and the Howling Commandos, and has been shown to be a smart, capable combatant and intelligence agent in her own right. But what happened to her after the war ended?
AGENT CARTER, AT YOUR SERVICE
We open with post-war Peggy getting ready for bed, listening to the radio newscast (which, incidentally, posits that this story takes place somewhere around 1951, with talk of the ’52 Olympics and Julius & Ethel Rosenberg’s espionage trial), before lying down to sleep. It’s only a few moments before she is attacked by armed men, and we get our first action sequence. First off, kudos to artist Rich Ellis, as the sequence is not only clean, exciting and well-choreographed, he makes a sequence of a woman fighting off armed soldiers in her nightgown (and combat boots) a moment of total badass without it being highly sexualized or vulgar. During the battle, Peg discovers the source of her attackers, and sets off to confront her assailant: Howard Stark. I really enjoy the interaction between Stark (played as a Mad Men-era version of his cocky offspring Tony, right down to his comments about the windows being unbreakable, so there’s no sense in chucking him out of one) and former Agent Carter (who has little patience for his misogyny and pig-headedness.) Stark reveals that he has a mission for her, and that it’s in one of the most dangerous places for an American to be circa 1961: the heart of Communist Russia.
SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN
The rest of the issue is cloak-and-dagger stuff which reintroduces a couple of familiar names from the past: Woodrow McCord, who served as Howard’s field guy and recently died in the pages of ‘Original Sin’; and Tania Belinskaya, who shares a name with the second Red Guardian, a former member of the Defenders. Though she’s written as a young girl here, it’s difficult to see how those stories can still exist in the new Marvel Universe. (Of course, if they re-arrange the time stream like the rumors say in the next couple of months, it’s all a moot point, anyway.) They discover strange things afoot in the shadow of the Kremlin, and this issue ends on a cliffhanger moment which may or may not involve extraterrestrial forces. It’s a nice showcase for Peggy, certainly, but the use of the Original Sin trade dress makes it feel like a relic already, as that crossover has been superseded by Axis, Spider-Verse and half a dozen other earth-shattering moments.
THE BOTTOM LINE: GOOD STUFF, FEELS INESSENTIAL
That’s kind of a shame, especially given that the comic is better than I expected it to be. The use of Agent Carter as our central character is nice, and the setup of important Marvel Universe things happening in the years between World War II and the “a few years ago” beginning of the Marvel Age is always welcome, as it seems kind of unlikely that so much could happen so quickly, then leave a 50 year gap of nothin’ before the madness kicks off again. Operation S.I.N. #1 has some of the issues that come with both crossover madness and retroactive insertion of stories, but manages to be both entertaining and well-drawn, with a compelling lead character, earning it a solid 3 out of 5 stars overall. I would love to see more of the adventures of Peggy Carter, especially now that she’s more than just a plot device/lost love for Captain America..