It’s like “Downton Abbey” meets the X-Men in “Agent Gates,” an awesome, spot-on new parody by Camaren Subhiyah and Kyle Hilton from Andrews McMeel.
I love when my geek worlds collide.
Hilton is the artist who did a series of great “Downton Abbey” paper dolls for Vulture last year. He has parody paper dolls from several other cult series on his website. He’s an artist with a realistic but not overdone style that I’d like to see more of in the comic world. He reminds me of Stuart Immonen from his days on “Legion of Super-Heroes.” And I love his facial expressions, especially with the Countess Dowager.
But as good as the art is, the parody rises and falls with the writing, and Subhiyah mostly nails it.
In this universe, Gates is the valet for the dashingly dumb Lord Crawhill. He’s an agent of the Secret Intelligence Service. Others in the house, mostly downstairs but with one important ally upstairs, are also agents, a noble line of defense against threats to English security.
The first threat is a German bad guy, staying at the house on his way to the embassy in London. But he has a much more nefarious plot in mind until Gates is able to subdue him. And it’s somehow tied to another impending visitor, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It’s up to Gates and his allies to prevent an early start to World War I.
All the familiar names are here, if twisted a bit in parody: Mr. Larson, Mrs. Kewes, Thompson, Mrs. O’Malley. Upstairs there are daughters Margaret, Ethel and Cythia, along with lawyer and heir Martin. And the Countess Dowager, of course.
It’s all in great fun, and the characters are great parodies of their counterparts, especially poor Lady Ethel. Lord Crawhill might be bit too dim, but his heart’s in the right place: Devonton Abbey.
Subhiyah also has a fun grasp of light superheroics, even if I don’t agree with the characterization of esper abilities. Neither empathic nor telekinetic abilities include mind-reading, but that’s my only real quibble.
All the agents gain their abilities with the help of the Philospher’s Stone, even Gates’ bionic-style leg. And I’m going to hope that Subhiyah was keeping with the sexism of the times (and a common comic book trope) in giving the women the passive powers like telepathy.
I hope the adventures of Agent Gates continue as long as “Downton Abbey” remains a hot show.
Speaking of “DA,” I must say I like the third season much better than the second, but I thought Shirley MacLaine was sorely underused, especially considering all the hype surrounding her arrival. I was looking forward to a lot more cutting banter between her and Maggie Smith.