Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Follow the Leader Episode 136: The Black Widow ( and Other Spies as Well)


Redartz: Ah, the first "Leader" of August. The year just keeps rolling along, doesn't it? 

Well, hope you don't mind if I lead off with a comment or two about what's been up on this end. Since I was down recuperating, my wife and I have been binging on espionage-themed entertainment. From streaming "Jack Ryan" to watching an old "Cool McCool" cartoon on YouTube, we've been indulging in the spies. And, we're still working our way through all the James Bond films, in order (currently up to "The Man With the Golden Gun".  That said, you can probably guess what's coming. 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: in addition to thinking up a topic for the week, you all can ponder upon your favorite spies in tv, film and comics. This blog, hopefully, will Not self-destruct in five seconds...

15 comments:

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I dig spies! Every since a very wise man spoke about Kim by Kipling being the first spy movie, I've been hooked.

And speaking of Bond, what say ye about the female partners he had in each?

This made me think of the Black Widow and her being a spy.

So, to pile on Red's theme, and Bronze Age themes, who drew the the best BW that would do James Bond proud should he have teamed up with her?

I have a favorite sexy BW from Amazing Adventures which (I think?) was a product of Gene Colan and Bill Everett? Also, Colan's depiction of BW in the latter part of his DD run, say issues 85 - 95! Gene the Dean indeed!!!

(Red - you may enjoy reading Eric Ambler's many spy novels he wrote from roughly 1935 - 1960. Really, really good stuff. I think he is considered the first writer of the genre. Le Carre's earlier works are superior too and I just finished reading his autobiography "The Pigeon Tunnel" which I can recommend getting from your library!)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Kim by Kiping being the first spy book, not movie... duh.... Kim was written like 1900.

Edo Bosnar said...

My favorite spy? Hmmm, Maxwell Smart, maybe? Yeah, that's a bit of a tongue-in-cheek response, but I'm not as much of a super-spy guy as I used to be (had a serious Bond phase when I was a teenager), and I really do like spoofs of the spy genre - even that dream sequence in that one episode of Gillgan's Island. However, I do like to occasionally read a good espionage novel, although I prefer the more grounded stuff by guys like Le Carre or Forsyth.

As to the other question posed by CH, I think the by far best depiction of Black Widow as a Bond character, or even a headliner in her own espionage film was done by Paul Gulacy in that b&w story in Bizarre Adventures. I was actually reminded of that rather recently, when our good pal Doug reviewed the story over at his blog back in March.

Mike Wilson said...

Favourite spy? Well, I guess James Bond is too easy, so I'll say John Preston from The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth; it's a book I've read multiple times and one of my favourites. I also like John Clark from Tom Clancy's books; Without Remorse tells his "secret origin" and it's my favourite Clancy novel.

As for Black Widow, I like the way Colan drew her, but as Edo pointed out, it's hard not to love Gulacy's rendering.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, hey - you do comment in the first person here.

Are you really into Kipling? Conrad's Secret Agent is much better than Kim.
If you have a bit of a thing for old fashioned spies, then you might be interested in my favourite - Reilly, Ace of Spies.
That was a British tv show from the end of the 70s based on the life of Sidney Reilly, an intelligence agent from around the time of the first world war, who Fleming used as the model for Bond (although personally I can't stand Bond).
The first episode is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTrvj0h8iJY

Second fave - SHIELD by Steranko!
But thats more for Jaunty Jim than Nick Fury. The aerial assault on the Yellow Claw's Sky Dragon had a big impact on me as a kid when it was reprinted in Marvel UK's Captain Brexit.
(Funnily enough, the British version of SHIELD in the lead feature was called STRIKE, which seems somehow appropriate for the 70s...)

Also, Shadowplay (Bought To Light) by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz, a sort of comic book history of the CIA. Sienkiewicz also did Coup d'Etat, a great set of JFK assassination trading card around the same time...

-sean

Redartz said...

Charlie- can't go wrong with Colan ( or Bill Everett, for that matter). But one of my favorite versions of Natasha is the one by Jazzy Johnny Romita, when she debuted her 'new look' in Amazing Spider-man 86. She added some more 'amazing' to Amazing.

Also thought Frank Miller and Klaus Janson did well by her in Daredevil.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hi Sean -

I read Kim, from 1901, b/c of the spy nature of the story. I then tried some other Kipling but it just didn't catch fire with me.

I shall try your Conrad suggestion from 1907 next!

I think I may have seen a Reilly or two! Is there a storyline where he is in Vladivostok or Port Arthur and the Japanese fleet shows up? I intended to watch more but I think the video quality was bad via the cable provider.

If you happen to want to read some turn-of-the-century stuff, though not spy related, I do recommend Booth Tarkington. America's most famous and prolific author that nobody today has ever heard of. The Magnificent Ambersons and The Gentleman from Indiana are classic. You can get originals from 1910 or so for a few bucks on ebay. Booth is a Hoosier like Red and me, which accords him all the dignities known to man!

Anonymous said...

Thats the one Charlie, there was an episode of Reilly about the Japanese in Port Arthur.
Hadn't heard of Booth Tarkington at all, although I have seen the Orson Welles version of the Magnificent Ambersons (it gets a good write up, but its no Citizen Kane).
I had to look up "Hoosier".

-sean

Humanbelly said...

Honestly-- not much of an espionage-genre enthusiast myself, either. I'm. . . not sure (or can't recall) if I've ever watched an entire Bond film from beginning to end. Surely I have, but. . .

Mission: Impossible always bored me to death.

Mind you, I LOVED The Prisoner. . . but that's almost a side-genre all its own, right?

Oh! There's one exception-- a show I didn't care for as a kid, but TRULY loved when it was playing on Antenna TV until a few short years ago: I SPY. However, like all of his shows, it was yanked completely out of syndication once the scales of justice finally, finally caught up with Bill Cosby's career-long run of absolutely loathsome behavior (crimes). And it made a show I was in the midst of re-discovering unwatchable for me. Couldn't separate the artist from the art, in this case.

Colan's Natasha is indeed my favorite representation.

Side note on the Black Widow: During the Kooky Quartet era, when she was Hawkeye's love interest and pretty much an unofficial member of the Avengers, she was portrayed in newspaper headlines as basically being a "famous" spy-- not a "former" one or "notorious" one, but more as an "active" one. Which is the most hilariously "Stan Lee" nonsensical thing ever-! If a working spy is makin' the headlines, ya gotta assume they're probably not terribly well-suited to their profession, y'know?

HB

dangermash said...

I have nothing to add to the spies conversation. I only have here to hear Charlie talking about himself in the first person. It's not something we often get to experience in the U.K.

Edo Bosnar said...

HB, I share your love of The Prisoner, and would agree that it's not necessarily a spy show - it's more like the espionage apparatus eating one of its own, which makes for a top-notch psychological drama.

The Prowler said...

I will say this about that:

If we're listing our favorite spies, I do have to start with Diana Rigg's Emma Peel from The Avengers TV Show. She truly put the "sizzle" in the spy game.

In late 1983 early 1984, Marvel Fanfare ran a four issue Black Widow story line that featured George Perez on art and co-plotting. I have it scanned, I just need to get in uploaded and posted for any who wish to read them. I would say look for it in the next four days...

(Living on free food tickets
Water in the milk
From a hole in the roof
Where the rain came through
What can you do, hmmm?
Tears from your little sister
Crying because she doesn't have
A dress without a patch
For the party to go
But you know she'll get by
'Cause she's living in
The love of the common people
Smiles from the heart
Of a family man
Daddy's gonna buy you
A dream to cling to
Mama's gonna love you
Just as much as she can
And she can
It's a good thing
You don't have bus fare
It would fall through the hole
In your pocket and you'd lose it
In the snow on the ground
You got to walk into town
To find a job
Tryin' to keep your hands warm
When the hole in your shoe
Let the snow come through
And chill you to the bone
Somehow you'd better go home
Where it's warm
Where you can live in
The love of the common people
Smile from the heart
Of a family man
Daddy's gonna buy you
A dream to cling to
Mama's gonna love you
And she can
Living on a dream ain't easy
But the closer the knit
The tighter the fit
And the chills stay away
'Cause we take 'em in stride
For family pride
You know that faith
Is your foundation
With a whole lot of love
And a warm conversation
But don't forget to pray
It's makin' it strong
Where you belong
And we're living in
The love of the common people
Smiles from the heart
Of a family man
Daddy's gonna buy you
A dream to cling to
Mama's gonna love you
Just as much as she can
And she can
Yes, we're living in
The love of the common people
Smile's from the heart
Of a family man
Daddy's gonna buy you
A dream to cling to
Mama's gonna love you
Just as much as she can
Living in the love of the common people
Smiles from the heart
Of a family man
Daddy's gonna buy you
A dream to cling to
Mama's gonna love you
Just as much as she can
Living in the love of the common people
Smile's really hard
On a family man
Daddy's gonna buy you
A dream to cling to
Mama's gonna love you
Just as much as she can
And she can...)

The Prowler said...

They're posted. Enjoy...

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Horse 47 said...

Colin!!! YOU hit the sweet spot of fun spy stories! Who could ever forget the cover to Sparky Annual 1974 featuring "I - Spy"!!!

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