There was a time, in the 1960s, when all the good guys needed was an acronym, some cool gadgets and maybe a catsuit or two to be cool.  Sadly, the days of Matt Helm, Mrs. Peel and Ilya Kuryaken are far behind us in the new post-modern cynical age.  I’ve been complaining for a couple of years now about the fact that all super spy agencies in pop culture are now corrupt and evil, and it’s starting to feel like I’m just another old man yelling at a cloud, but I miss the heyday of SHIELD.  I miss watches with lasers, belts which double as parachutes and petticoats that have a full chem lab built into them, and so decided that perhaps we should look back in fondness with today’s K.E.W.L query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) will always vote the super-agents of T.H.U.N.D.E.R., thanks to the stellar work of Wally Wood and company (and also Iron Maiden) asking: Which fictional super spy is the coolest of all?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. He’s semi fictional but counts: Hattori Hanzo. Feudal Japan spy who served to be Shogun, Ieayasu Tokugawa and saved his life in more than one occasion. He’s been fictionalized and adopted to pop culture so much that 99% people see about him is either made up or vastly exaggerated. Nonetheless, he’s become your legendary prototype of pop culture “Ninja”.

  2. Matthew, you’ve touched a pet peeve of mine. As someone who fell in love with the synidicated Mission: Impossible in the 80s, it was hard to see five movies to date all featuring traitors either currently or formerly within the ranks of the IMF!

    To me,the original team of Phelps, Rollin, Cinammon, Barney and Willy will always be the greatest spies ever.

  3. Matty, I agree with you 100% on the cynicism. You are just not an angry old man yelling at the kids to gt off his lawn. On the flipside, I have to go with the greaest spy of all time. Bond. James MFing Bond.
    Especially Mr. Connery. He had gadgets that were usually of the time and not so fanciful as we found in the Roger Moore era nor the Brosnan days (still liked him though). Daniel Craig brought the ruggedness back that was in the books but missing in the movies.

  4. My favorite spy is Bob Howard of the novel series “The Laundry.” He’s a glorified IT guy who’s as bland and nerdy as they come, and yet he’s a British secret agent. His spy organization investigates Lovecraftian phenomena, and grows its ranks by drafting civvies who have stumbled upon Elder God stuff, which informs a lot of the setting. Which means backstabbing makes perfect sense because normally just annoying obstructive beureaucrats jockey for position here with tools like killer computer programs and cameras that function like Medusa eyes. And Bob has to deal with them and file the TPS reports once he’s done.

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