BRITISH AGENT 99

 
Full Name: Alan Douglas
Codename: Agent 99
Nationality: British
Organization: British Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: William Churchill, jr.
Time Span: 1941 - 2013
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Alan Douglas is British Agent 99, an agent with the British Secret Service.
       Though a British citizen, Douglas is living and well entrenched in Hollywood in the U.S. being quite famous for the swashbuckling movies that made great use of his agility and athleticism. While making these highly successful adventure movies, Douglas also became well taught in the art of make-up and costuming, skills that would prove very useful in his later cloak and dagger endeavors where taking one another persona would get him into secret places or out of tight spots.
       Douglas chose the entertainment business rather than the military like his much decorated and honored father, General Douglas of the British Royal Army, but it would be his father's service that would change the son's life. During the early battles between Britain and Germany at the start of WWII, the elder Douglas fell in battle and died. When, thousands of miles away, the younger Douglas heard of his parent's sacrifice, he decided he must put his movie career on hold and return home to do his part in the struggle.
       Instead of joining the military, he applied to the British Secret Service (probably MI-6 but never mentioned) and was readily accepted. With his considerable acting skills, his abilities at disguise and his knowledge of numerous foreign languages, he was a natural to become a secret agent. The renown he had amassed for his movies would work both for and against him, though, as when not in disguise, he was instantly recognized wherever he went in Europe.
       Willingly or coincidentally, Agent 99 becomes the nemesis of lead Gestapo agent Karl Vern from the first recorded adventure until the last, plaguing his enterprises and foiling them on several occasions.
       In the last known operation, Alan Douglas is asked by President Roosevelt to assist in destroying a Gestapo spy ring operating in the U.S., starting with those up to no good in Hollywood, Douglas' old stomping grounds. There he again confronts Vern but he is assisted by a young costumed crime and spy fighter, the Black Cat, aka Hollywood movie star and America's sweetheart Linda Turner.

BOOKS

Number of Books:1
First Appearance:2013
Last Appearance:2013

1 Film Fun #3 - British Agent 99 Film Fun #3 - British Agent 99
Written by Steve Miller, L. L. Hundal
Copyright: 2013

Nuelow Games presents the complete 4-issue series in one volume combined with several articles about or "by" Linda Turner, aka the Black Cat.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:4
First Appearance:1941
Last Appearance:1942

       The early days of comic books ('38+) saw numerous titles containing a wide assortment of characters in each issue. Harvey Comics, created by Alfred Harvey in 1941, followed that line but gave each participant 10-12 pages to tell the tale rather than a more common 4-6 pages. Since adventure and action were the purpose of the stories, this added space is filled with derring-dos and rowdy fisticuffs rather than character development so we do not learn that awfully much about British Agent 99 but it certainly gave 99 a lot of room to do a bunch of different things in each of the books.
       Alas for whatever reason, 99 did not last past 4. Neither did the comic book. Pocket Comics, the magazine that presented the Douglas adventures, came into existence in August of 1941 and stayed for only 4 issues before leaving.
       One interesting aspect of Pocket Comics was that instead of being 'normal' comicbook size, it came out as a digest which the publisher promoted as being pocket-sized, hence the name.
       Issue 1 had the characters of Satan (wow!), Red Blazer, Spirit of '76, the Black Cat, the Phantom Sphinx, British Agent 99, and the Zebra, each with 12 pages, as well as Spin Hawkins with 4 pages.
       Issue 2 saw Spirit of '76 battle Satan in 24 pages followed by Red Blazer, the Zebra, the Black Cat, The Phantom Sphinx, and British Agent 99 12-pages adventures, a Spin Hawkins 4-page story, and a Private Pinky 2-page. It also had a text short story about the the Black Cat.
       In Issue 3 there was an 11 (maybe 12) page story about Spirit of '76, 12-page stories each about the Zebra, Red Blazer, the Black Cat, 10 pages of adventures each for , The Phantom Sphinx, and British Agent 99, Spin Hawkins with 7 pages, Private Pinky with 2. Also there were two 2-pages text short stories, one with the Zebra and the other about the Black Cat.
       Finally, Issue 4 gave 12-page stories each for the Black Cat, Spirit of '76, and Red Blazer and 10-page stories for , British Agent 99 (joined by the Black Cat), The Phantom Sphinx, and the Zebra. Private Pinky had a 2-pager, a character named Simpy had a single page, and Spin Hawkins had an 8-page adventure. There were also two text short stories, one with someone called Captain Freedom and another with the Black Cat working with Spirit of '76.
       Most of these characters would disappear like British Agent 99 when the comic came to an end. One, the Black Cat, would live on for a very long time in other comics as well as her own.

1 'Let Me Help You, Sultana' 'Let Me Help You, Sultana'
Published by Harvey Comics
Contributors: William Churchill, jr. (writer and artist)
Copyright: 08/1941

From Pocket Comics #1 - As one of his first missions, Agent 99 is sent to xxx to safeguard Sultana Zaida of Libya who is danger from the Gestapo.

2 'Back To Belgrade We Go' 'Back To Belgrade We Go'
Published by Harvey Comics
Contributors: William Churchill, jr. (writer and artist)
Copyright: 09/1941

From Pocket Comics #2 - Having gotten the Sultana safely out of Yugoslavia, Agent 99 heads back to Belgrade to assist rebels in their fight against the current regime and its pact with the Nazis.

3 'Getting To Moscow Is Murder' 'Getting To Moscow Is Murder'
Published by Harvey Comics
Contributors: William Churchill, jr. (writer and artist)
Copyright: 11/1941

From Pocket Comics #3 - Agent 99 sneaks the Yugoslav king out of the country to Greece but is then asked to head to Moscow to get Russian help to fight the invading Nazis. Vern wants to stop him at all costs.

4 'Lucky Black Cat' 'Lucky Black Cat'
Published by Harvey Comics
Contributors: William Churchill, jr. (writer and artist)
Copyright: 01/1942

From Pocket Comics #4 - When word of Hitler's advance towards Russia comes, Alan Douglas is given sealed orders to be delivered to America. His trip is filled with peril but arriving in the States, the attacks get worse. He is joined by the Black Cat, a costumed crime and spy fighter.

MY COMMENTS

       Many of the war-time spy comics are less than memorable and British Agent 99 might easily be considered one of them, especially since he came and went so quickly. Yet there is something about the series that I very much liked and a considerable amount of potential that alas did not have a chance to come.
       The quality that did come through did so because Harvey Comics gave it 12 pages instead of the usual lesser 4-6 so each story could develop a bit. Even better each adventure was packed with a lot of action. A bunch of different things happen in each issue and Alan Douglas, Agent 99, did a grunch of traveling.
       More important than the actual stories themselves, though, is the slice of history that these tales presented. It is important to remember that they were written as the events were unfolding or as I saw referenced elsewhere using the popular saying 'ripped from the headlines'. Yugoslavia was in the pocket of the Axis but there was such a tremendous amount of partisan guerrilla activity going on that control was tenuous at best. The Soviet Union, seen so commonly as the horrible purveyor of evil communism, was also an uneasy ally prompting Churchill and Roosevelt to take the 'enemy of my enemy' approach.
       So the stories were alright and the history quite interesting, making the series not a great one but good enough to check out.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

YOUR OPINIONS
Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

Register