In the world of covert ops and espionage, World War II is almost legendary in its stories, both fictional and real, of code breaking, infiltration, assassinations, and intelligence gathering. Spy fiction has used the WW2 backdrop to tell stories both grounded in realism as well as pulpy and farfetched. Most of these stories center on male secret agents that run from suave and seductive to gruff and lantern-jawed; however, past this archetype, there’s a legion of women agents – vamps, femme fatales, and secret agents, too – with their own stories to tell.
Stalkings is a graphic novel that tells the story of five OSS agents: Nancy “Lips” DeLeon; Christine “Beauty” Darling; Virginia “Peg” Alexander; Molly “Red” Boyd; and Violette “Cinder” Kane. Each lady brings her own special talents (assassination, interrogation, blending in, etc.) while they go on a variety of sorties against the Nazi forces. Even with their successes, the unit is placed under the command of Vincent King who turns out to be a Nazi agent. After killing one of the ladies, the rest of the unit “stalks” him across Europa, seeking revenge and justice.
Per the introduction, Stalkings originally began as a weekly, one-page comic, with each page being a self-contained portion of the narrative, such as a character introduction, a mission, and so on. This piecemeal aspect of Stalkings, combined with the black-and-white art, conveys the story in an almost newsreel-like fashion. In this regard, the readers of Stalkings are getting their story in a condensed, shortened fashion, just as folks during WW2 would’ve when they went to the cinema.
The story is firmly rooted in the espionage-thriller genre, with gunfights, scenes of seduction, and escaping from un-escapable situations; however, the graphic novel has a few humorous moments, such as when the ladies are cracking a joke in French (“Molly, what are you thinking about?” “I need to practice my French.”) and their prisoner laughs with them, before getting an elbow to the face. A parachuting, cigar-chomping Winston Churchill also makes for a lighthearted scene.
Stalkings is a celebration of the ladies of espionage and intelligence gathering which the writers acknowledge in their introduction, naming off luminaries such as Hedy Lamarr (actress and inventor), Mata Hari (who is also currently receiving the comic book treatment via Dark Horse), and Virginia Hall (OSS agent). The comic is not just a celebration of these femme fatales, but an engaging story of intrigue, double crosses, action, and, ultimately, gruesome revenge.
Creative Team: Alex Dandino (author) and Evan Peter (author, artist)
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