Big Finish released its fifth volume of Avengers Comic Strip Adaptations based on four 1960s Avengers comic strip stories featuring John Steed and Tara King. In this recast version, Julian Wadham and Emily Woodward play Steed and King with their superior Mother played by veteran British Actor Christopher Benjamin (Jago & Litefoot.)
The box set opens with “Whatever Next.” Steed and King are summoned to headquarters by Mother to witness a heroic saving of the world through Soviet and US Cooperation. The reason for the cooperation? An eerily correct prediction from a man who claims he got the information from aliens. Steed and King are on the case and quickly find themselves marked for murder.
This story is clever, fun, and moves at a solid place. At it’s core is an entertaining mystery that introduced a lot of twists and red herrings before turning in an unexpected solution. Overall, this is a solid opening story for the set.
In the second story, “How Does Your Garden Grow,” Steed and King are called into investigate when giant plants endanger the operation of a British Airbase.
As a story, this is a superb vehicle for Tara King, as we learn she’s an expert pilot. She gets to shine and show her stuff several times. We get a decent enough mystery that has a nice twist and sets the stage for some lovely aerial dog fights, which are well-realized over audio.
In, “A Very Civil War,” An armored van is robbed carrying new Bank of England notes. However, both the van and the stolen money is recovered or is it? Steed senses something’s wrong and sets off to find the truth.
This story has a good mystery as to what happened. But it’s much more of a hook. Once Steed begins to look into it (as Steed himself observes), the solution becomes rather obvious. It’s all a lead in to the classic Avengers situation of infiltrating a quirky group of people (in this case re-enactors of the English Civil War) to find out what’s going on.
This is very much a standard Avengers story but realized well. It makes for a breezy fifty minutes of entertainment and does out a good measure of mystery, swashbuckling action, and more than a bit of humor, with just a touch of light flirting. Overall, a thoroughly satisfying listen.
The sets concludes with “Mother’s Day.” Mother is set to go back to her old school for sports day as the guest of honor after the first honoree had to drop out. However, Steed and King look into it and find a string of mysterious deaths and disappearances surrounding all the other members of Mother’s Sports Day championship back in the 1930s.
This is a good old-fashioned romp. The story gives us a big mystery to be solved, but also there’s plenty of fun cases of impersonation and trying to maintain cover, wacky motives, insane murder attempts, and then there’s Mother’s Aunt with her constant pronouncements of doom.
This episode also sees the return of Linda Thorson (the original Tara King) to the Avengers franchise in another part and she turns in an absolutely superb performance in an interesting part.
This is the last announced Avengers project from Big Finish as of this writing. While I hope there will be more, if this is the last Avengers story they do, this is a wonderful release to go out on.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5
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