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The Avengers – Thorpe and Porter, England, 1966.

Story One: 'The Mohocks'

‘In the early 18th century there existed in England a club called The Mohocks after the Mohawk Indians of North America. Dedicated to violent horseplay, the members, sons of wealthy families, terrorised ordinary citizens and did not stop at murder and mutilation in their wild escapades’.

This story takes place in the West Country market town of Dunminster – a suitably English venue for The Avengers. The Mohocks talk in a mock Olde English laced with a taste of modern violence – ‘Whoa, Gentlemen! That’s very fine. Now I prithee stand back while I put in the old boot’, declares their leader as they attack a local man with the very English weapons a cricket bat and a brolly and the cliched Mohican weapon of a tomahawk.

The Mohocks attack an innocent postman

The Avengers become involved when Steed visits his old friend Sir William for a short break and hears that Sir William’s Gardner, Gater, has been badly beaten-up by the gang of ruffians. The next day, he is out walking when he is accosted by the gang, who declare that they are going to jam his bowler had over his ears. Steed routs them, but one produces a cosh and knocks him to the ground. They escape and it emerges that he has been saved from serious injury by his steel-lined bowler. Seeing them scarper, Steed decides to stay on and put them straight. He contacts Mrs Peel to tell her that he’ll be staying on a little longer due to the ‘wonderful air’. She tells him that she knows that it’s The Mohocks he’s after because she reads ‘news as well as fashion’, and that she’ll be down to help him the next day.

As they rendezvous in Dunminster, The Mohocks are carrying out a cowardly attack on a milkman nearby. After the attack they remove their masks and move on. They espy Steed and Mrs Peel conversing, and their leader tells one of their number to tail Mrs Peel so that they can ‘give her some treatment later’.

Steed makes a startling confessionLater that night they jump Mrs Peel in Hogg Court as she heads to the Bull and Crown to meet Steed. Much as Steed had done the previous day, Mrs Peel gives the villains a good hiding and they flee. In the panic, one of them loses his blonde wig. They head off to the Bell Inn, where the barman tells Steed and Mrs Peel that they are regular customers James Rippendale and John Erker. Steed makes the connection between the Mohock named Jerker and John Erker. He decides to visit the Sports Department of Rippendale’s, the Department Store owned by Rippendale’s father, and where John Erker is employed.

Steed confronts Erker, who challenges him with a sword. Steed unsheathes his swordstick and knocks Erker’s sword to the ground. Mrs Peel shows up and they head off to James Rippendale’s flat. Unknown to them, a meeting of The Mohocks is underway, but The Avengers make short work of them, with Steed finally knocking out ‘the last of The Mohocks’. (His joke, not mine).

General comment – This comic is much maligned (and has been in the past by me), but the majority of opinion on it seems to be based on the artwork, and it is pretty  awful. The stories are, however, much more in keeping with the feel of season four than those in TV Comic and Diana. The artwork in The Avengers strips in Diana may be celebrated, but those strips have never been maligned for the quality of their storylines in the same way that the strips in this comic have been dismissed for their extremely poor artwork. There is the argument that they are leftover Danger Man strips due to Steed being referred to as Drake in a couple of instances, but this is a loose argument, the writer or the artist could have been working on a Danger Man project at the same time and thus have his head turned. However, this lean towards the slightly more realistic helps keep the strips' feet on the ground – this could have also been because the writer had been familiar with the slightly more serious Gale era. There is none of the frippery of the TV Comic or Diana strips.

Back to Thorpe & Porter Index on to Story Two