Agent Carter is back! Quite a bit happened in the long-awaited season two premiere but in the interest of avoiding spoilers let’s kick off the first of my weekly reviews with a roll call of Agent Carter’s season two primary and supporting characters:
First and foremost, there’s Peggy, the character the show’s named after who made a strong impression in Captain America: The First Avenger and originally appeared in a Marvel comic in the ‘60s, an issue of Tales of Suspense, as a passionate memory of a thawed out Captain America. Deftly portrayed by Hayley Atwell, she shoots only after asking a series of rationally framed questions.
Next, Edwin Jarvis. The butler to Tony Stark’s dad Howard Stark in the Marvel TV/cinematic universe, he originally appeared in an issue of Tales of Suspense in the ‘60s, again as a lifetime butler to the Starks.
Next, Chief Daniel Sousa, the SSR division chief with a heart of gold and a bum leg. This character appears to have been invented by the writers of Agent Carter. His and Peggy’s ongoing Ross and Rachel will they/won’t they sexual tension serves as an ongoing love story for those interested.
Along with the relatively boring Chief Jack Thompson, another Agent Carter creation, returning from last season we also have Hugh Jones, played by Ray Wise. Hugh Jones’s first appearance in a Marvel comic was in an issue of Captain America comics in the early ‘70s. In it Jones is the President of the nefarious Roxxon Oil.
New this episode are Jason Wilkes and Whitney Frost. Whitney Frost is introduced in this episode as the wife of Senate hopeful Calvin Chadwick, Chadwick being another new character created for the show. Whitney Frost, however, and Jason Wilkes are names borrowed from Marvel comics, both again from issues of Tales of Suspense from the ‘60s.
I’m sensing a theme here. Seems to me most of the characters in this show that are actually based on Marvel properties are from issues of Captain America or Tales of Suspense from the ‘60s and ‘70s. In fact, Tales of Suspense is even mentioned in passing during the season two premiere, although it’s implied that it’s a series of movies rather than a popular comicbook title.
So, this is all great. It’s nice that characters from Marvel comics are actually being mentioned and used on the show. And, the writers seem to be using some of the right source material, contextualizing Peggy by using contemporary characters created by Marvel in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But, not to beat a dead horse, where are the characters who were created in or before 1947 when the show is meant to be set: Human Torch, Blonde Phantom, Namor? Obviously, and thankfully, we’re not likely to see a Super-Rabbit cameo, and, for reasons that are obvious to those who watched Netflix’s Jessica Jones, we’re not likely to see a Patsy Walker cameo, but would it be too much to ask to have Chief Sousa’s nurse girlfriend be named Nellie or to have Peggy cross paths with a manipulative redhead named Rusty? A notable first appearance of a super-heroine in 1947 is that of Namora … ‘nuff said.
Alas and alack, it seems that the creative team of Agent Carter is locked into a system of borrowing from comics from the ‘60s and ‘70s, mostly Tales of Suspense, and creating characters of their own when needed. This could be a great way to go about making a show like this especially since Peggy herself, as mentioned earlier, first appeared in a Tales of Suspense comic from the ‘60s.
If Agent Carter’s season two premiere is any indication, though, this tactic isn’t proving to be very effective at producing entertaining television, and, like Agent Carter’s sister show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this tactic throws too many familiar balls into the air only to let them all fall in order to introduce new characters created for the show. What happened to Arnim Zola, featured at the end of the last season of Agent Carter? Although like all good villains he may return, I fear Zola may have gone the way of Franklin Hall, who appeared in season one of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a great villain lost in time.