My Agent Can Beat Up Your Agent
If you looked, as we are about to, at the 700+ secret agents contained in this listing and had to imagine them going up against each other, how would you see it ending? Or, to use my title of "my agent can beat up your agent", who would your agent be and how do you think it would turn out?
Just as Harvey told Butch in the great Paul Newman movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, that there are no rules in a knife fight, you have to imagine there should be no rules in a spy fight. But it seems reasonable to impose weight classes, as in boxing and wrestling. Imagine James Bond going up against Mrs. Pollifax. Hardly sporting, old chap! Breaking the competitors down into groups might make things more "balanced".
Then, too, is the question of what kind of a fight the contestants would be in. Let us imagine that someone like Matt Helm issued a challenge to all comers. I might consider it being answered by Modesty Blaise if the cause was enough but I couldn''t see Cadbury showing up. If she had to take Helm on, she''d find a more subtle way and it would likely involve a Jacuzzi.
So, the issue becomes who belongs in what weight group and/or what kind of a competition is involved? And to do this “seriously” we have to compare apples and oranges sometimes in that there are heroes whose powers are so out there as to bring a smile to most readers. For this discussion, we are going to pretend all of them are possible.
FIGHT 1 - Hand-to-Hand Combat
The Destroyer, Remo Williams, wins without a doubt. His position as a Master of Sinanju, the sun source of all martial arts, means he can kick the butt, arm, face, you name it of any other opponent out there.
Should Remo be busy, though, I would put my money on Jonas Wilde, with honorable mention going to Victor Mace. Mace is probably the better fighter of the two but he has honor and a personal code. Wilde will do whatever it takes to win and survive. While Mace would not hit you when you are down, Wilde would prefer it – less chance of you hitting back.
Honorable mention has to go to Chant, a man who is almost as vicious as Wilde but still have honor like Mace.
FIGHT 2 - Edged Weapons
Most good operatives know how to handle themselves with a knife but few do so as a weapon of choice. The best of the bunch has to be Robert Sand, the Black Samurai, as his main weapon is the katana and he uses it like another arm.
Next to him I would ask Willy Garvin to be on my team. This companion and right-hand man to Modesty Blaise is an incredible threat when one of his throwing knives is available. If one isn''t, anything sharp will do. Handy man, our Willy.
FIGHT 3 - Hand Guns
If you go strictly on body count, Mack Bolan, aka the Executioner, wins not only because the tally per book would be so high but also the number of missions done so far takes the mark far outside the range of any other. Granted, his exploits have been written by lots and lots of people but that doesn''t take away from the fact that Bolan has the Grim Reaper on speed dial.
After Bolan, two guys are really close in capability. The Death Merchant, Richad Camellion did not has as many recorded adventures as his nearest rival, Nick Carter, Killmaster, but the percentages per mission feel about the same. I would not put any money on one over the other as both are experts with other types of weapons, too.
Honorable mention goes to Bucher, though using the word honorable with someone whose nickname is the Butcher seems suspect.
FIGHT 4 - Sniper
There are several spy guys who work as snipers and all are very good or they would have never been written about but my vote goes to Matt Helm. This grizzled old agent is an absolutely awesome shot at very long range and would have a lot of notches on his rifle butt if he did that sort of thing. He is incredibly patient and thorough and if he decides to go after you, you are gotten.
A not-so-close second would be Con Duggan of the Confirmed Kill series. He does not have tally sheet like Helm but he does have an incredible weapon created by his partner and that gives him a great edge. What he lacked in experience, with only 4 adventures to his credit, he makes up for in accuracy.
FIGHT 5 - Assassination
This category is for those whose job it is to kill someone else whether it is by long-distance sniping, up close gun shot, karate chopping, garroting, or, my personal favorite, making it look like an accident.
We have three gents who are a virtual tie in my opinion. John Rain, Samuel Carver, and Court Gentry are all exceptional men at taking out opponents who are doing everything they can to keep from being taken out. They do it methodically and efficiently. Rain has a terrific edge in Asia by being half Japanese and able to blend in in lots of places and, since Orientals are not unheard of elsewhere, can work just about anywhere in the world. Samuel Carver is known as the Accident Man because that is his specialty and he has earned the title. Court Gentry is not as accomplished as the other two but he has his own nickname, the Grey Man, given because he is so elusive. If any of these men are after you, you are a goner.
Honorable mention goes to Jonathan Hemlock. He was especially dangerous because he used his earnings to buy paintings and he loved art over everything else. He had incentive. And a very strange and spooky boss.
Also worth mentioning is Miss Susan Melville. Just as no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, no one would expect a matronly spinster school teacher to be a paid assassin, which is why she survived like she did. Would you like some arsenic in that tea, dearie?
FIGHT 6 - Seduction
Since all''s fair in love and war, the use of seduction as a weapon cannot be ignored. Getting into a target''s inner sanctum to plant a bug on a phone or a knife in a back is a dangerous pastime not meant for the meek. It is important to remember that if one is discovered, one is deep inside the enemy''s territory with no back-up.
On the female side, I would give the prize to Eve Drumm, the Lady from L.U.S.T., as she not only is fantastic at her job, she loves it so much it hardly seems work. “I''d do it for free” seems to be her motto, although anyone she might tell that to is likely dead. She is closely followed by Virginia Box, the Girl from H.A.R.D., another woman who throws herself into her work so completely. Drum, though, has far more experience.
Honorable mention goes to Cadbury, a woman I love to hate, and Su-Lin Kelly, a lady who has the benefit of being able to clone herself and so really does not have to get herself out of a jam.
On the male side, Rod Damon wins easily though he has an unfair advantage of actually teaching his craft in addition to practicing it. I mean, he does not have to woo his way into a boudoir, he is practically dragged there and often paid for his services. Next to him might come Derek Flint, an agent who is not a satyr but is irresistible to women largely because he respects them so much. Finally, there is Johnson Johnson, an agent who sails around the world on his yacht, the Dolly Bird, and rescues women getting involved in all sort of trouble. Despite his goofy name, women drop everything, sometimes literally, to be with him.
FIGHT 7 - Commanding the War
Since the purpose of the job is to get a mission accomplished and not just to fight, it is important to consider those whose planning will help the agent get into a case and out of it again, alive and successful. No spymaster ever goes without losing an agent or two now and then but the good ones keep the loss column sparse.
Four men vie to my top prize in the spymaster business. Paul Bannerman, Mama''s Boy, wins because he so craftily thinks so many moves ahead of anyone else and still is able to adjust at a moment''s notice. He is a very dangerous man who has the absolute love and devotion of his people. Messing with Bannerman is the perfect way to end it all.
After him comes close behind George Smiley and Charles Russell. Neither of these gentlemen would be thought of as particularly dangerous but their brains and their cunning and their experience make them men that will win in the end.
And the fourth man of this group is Jim Phelps. When you are only given impossible missions and you pull them off week after week for years on end, and even come out of retirement to start again, you deserve credit.
FIGHT 8 - Getting the Job Done
Okay, it is not really a fight category but it is a good one and if I had to choose one agent to send into a country, any country, to get a job done whether it was taking out a bad guy or a research facility, getting a coded message to a deep-cover agent or getting one back, or just doing whatever the Old Man in whatever dusty office employs you, I would look to one of three men. First and foremost would be Quiller, the agent who hates guns but still survives. Next would be Sam Durell, the Cajun, who has more scars and aching joints than a body should have to deal with. And finally I would ask Deveraux, the November Man, who is so certain of his abilities he does not need more than one name. (Okay, that last is stupid but I liked the way it sounded.)
Now, I will grant you that these three agents are old-timers and no longer in the game but in their day they were so very good and incredibly dependable that I would not want anyone else.
If I had to choose, though, from the current era of agents, I would have an impossible task deciding as they are all good. Harvath, Rapp, Malone, Kealey, Wells, Grave, and on and on (apologies to those I did not mention). These guys'' adventures are over the top sometimes but they get the job done and live to tell about it.
FIGHT 9 - Miscellaneous
In this final category, I would just say that if I needed someone for one particular type of job, it would be:
a) Protection – Tara Chace
b) Confusion – Maxwell Smart (h.m. to Eddie Brown)
c) Stealing – Alexander Mundy (h.m. to Spider Scott)
d) Investigation – Milo March (h.m. to Calder and Behrens)
e) Interrogation – Jack Bauer
f) Survival, plain and simple – Charlie Muffin.