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Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Mike Battle: Stirred, Not Shaken!

For years Sgt Mike Battle, the creation of artist-writer Graham Pearce, has been defending America (and sometimes her allies) from harm... but in his latest adventure he has to call in some help in the form of a certain British Secret Agent to thwart enemies of democracy.

Issue #12 of the popular Indie comic Sgt Mike Battle: The Greatest American Hero! “reprints” the titular hero’s adventures in the 1960s when he was an Agent of STARS AND STRIPES. The big difference this time is that the communist threat is so deadly that he has to team up with the suave spy Roger Knightly to save the world.

“Yes, Roger Knightly is a suave British Secret but he isn’t James Bond” explains writer/artist Graham Pearce. “Roger has drunk more martinis, killed more bad guys, blown up more underground bases and swept more women off their feet than James Bond. There aren’t many people that Sgt Mike Battle looks up to -- but Roger is one of them”.

Pearce explains that the latest issue isn’t just a Sgt Mike Battle/James Bond crossover. “There’s much more going on but I can’t say too much without ruining the end. I’ve only been playing up on the James Bond angle because the book came out the same time as Quantum of Solace”.

While it would appear that Pearce, a self-confessed walking James Bond encyclopaedia, is only spoofing Ian Fleming's Secret Agent, Pearce explains the main influence on the latest issue. “It’s all inspired by Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. comics! They are some of the most visually stunning books I have ever read and I still can’t believe they are over 40 years old. They are so unique and so iconic that I simply had to try and do my own version of them.

"Also, it makes sense because Mike Battle was originally a parody of the World War 2 version of Nick Fury so it was inevitable that I would also do some stories about him working for a 1960s covert intelligence agency with a ridiculous acronym”.

Whereas most of the previous issues of SMB:GAH have been self-contained, issue #12 is slightly different. “Yes, elements of the story do continue into #13 but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy #12 on its own," says Pearce. "It can be read a single story, albeit a story where the characters have another adventure in the next issue. I also make each issue so that you don’t need to have read the previous ones to understand what is going on. Every issue is the prefect jumping on point.

Pearce is known for playing around with and subverting comic clich├ęs in SMB:GAH and issue #12 is no exception. “If anything I go a bit overboard. There are some many elements of James Bond and Nick Fury to play around with that is was a struggle to get them all in. The obvious ones are things like the Bond girls, gadgets, the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier, Life Model Decoys and lots of ridiculous acronyms. They're all in there -- and there are even a few other references to other comics that will amuse readers.
• SGT. MIKE BATTLE: THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO! #ISSUE 12, 36 PAGES, Colour cover, b/w interiors, £1.50, available now from www.sgtmikebattle.co.uk or grahampearce8@netscape.net

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