EMMA PEEL

Real Name: Emma Knight Peel

Identity/Class: Human;
   British citizen 

Occupation: Chairman of Knight Industries, adventurer 

Group Membership: Knight Industries

Affiliations: John Steed, the "Ministry" (an unspecified branch of British Intelligence)

Enemies: Unidentified Corpsman 

Known Relatives: Peter Peel (husband), Sir John Knight (father, deceased) 

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: A flat near Primrose Hill, London, U.K.;
    formerly a flat near Hampstead, London, U.K. 

First Appearance: (Television) "The Town of No Return," The Avengers (2nd October 1965);
    (Comics) TV Comic#720 (2nd October 1965);
    (Marvel Comics) Doctor Who Magazine#173 (15th May 1991);
    (Earth-616) Captain America I#401 (June 1992)

Powers/Abilities: An exceptional martial artist and fencer, Emma Peel is also a scientific genius, specializing in chemistry. She was also an excellent artist, fashion designer and businesswoman, running her late father's company, Knight Industries.   

Height: 5'8"
Weight: Unrevealed
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black

History:
(The Avengers TV series) - Emma Knight took over her late father's corporation at the tender age of twenty-one, and lost her husband, test pilot Peter Peel, when his plane crashed in South America. Possessing a yen for adventure and skills to fit, she became secret agent John Steed's partner, though being more capable than many of the trained agents she encountered, she never actually joined the Ministry, remaining officially an amateur.  

(Doctor Who Magazine#173) - Steed and Peel visited Bonjaxx's bar on the spaceport of Maruthea, located at the dead center of the space-time vortex, a popular destination for time-travelers and reality-hoppers, and attended the owner's birthday party. When a barroom brawl broke-out, Steed found himself hoisted into the air by a member of the Corps (probably a Captain Britain variant, based on the costume), but before he could be punched, Peel intervened, tapping Steed's assailant on the shoulder. 

(Captain America I#401) - On Earth-616, Steed and Peel visited the Laughing Horse Bar on the Lower West Side of Manhattan, where Peel watched her partner play pool (or snooker) against a Humphrey Bogart-lookalike (see comments)

Comments: Created by Brian Clemens and Marie Donaldson, introduced to Marvel by Gary Russell, Mike Collins and Steve Pini, and introduced to Earth-616 by Mark Gruenwald, Rik Levins and Danny Bulandi.

   Emma Peel joined the Avengers in the first episode of the fourth season, replacing John Steed's former partner Cathy Gale, whose actress, Honor Blackman, had left to take the role of Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. Almost always called Mrs. Peel by Steed, she was initially played by Elizabeth Shepherd, but the role was recast after one and a half episodes had been recorded, and was taken over by Diana Rigg, who then refilmed the episodes Shepherd had done. Rigg played Peel for two seasons before she too left to take up a role in a Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and her character was replaced by Tara King (actress Linda Thorson); within the show, the reason for her departure was the discovery that her husband, who had been lost and believed dead during a trip to the Amazon, was alive.

    Despite only being in The Avengers for fifty episodes out the 161 made, Emma Peel became the most iconic of Steed's partners, clad in skintight black fighting suits and throwing opponents around with her martial arts skills.

   Peel made her comic debut the same day her first TV episode aired, on 2nd October 1965 in TV Comic#720; as the comic's title might suggest, TV Comic featured strips based mainly on cartoons and television shows, and The Avengers shared that first issue with the likes of Popeye, Doctor Who and Beetle Bailey.

    When Gold Key decided to test the waters of the American market, they reprinted some of TV Comics' Avengers strips in what proved to a be one-shot; because Marvel held the American comic trademark to the Avengers' name,  Gold Key called their title John Steed Emma Peel, and most American comics based on the show have used a similar name combination, since Marvel holds the trademark for comics using The Avengers in the title.

    Peel was so popular that in addition to the comic strip based round the show, she got her own spin-off strip The Growing Up of Emma Peel which appeared in the girls' comic June and Schoolfriend from January through April 1966, telling of her youthful adventures before meeting Steed. 

   Marvel creators were well aware of the British show, and the name coincidence, as evidenced by dialogue in Avengers I#83, when Jeanie Thomas is introduced to the Avengers and asks which one of them is Mrs. Peel.

    Later, in Defenders I#51, Moon Knight compares his teaming up with Nighthawk as a "regular John Steed and Emma Peel combo." Nighthawk, for his part, wanted to know which of them was Peel.

    While in both cases these are clearly nods to the TV show, the framing of the comments allows for them both to be referring to real people, though it's perhaps worth noting that Steed and his partners were never, to my knowledge, ever actually called "the Avengers" within the show. 

   Then, famously, the show influenced Chris Claremont and John Byrne's X-Men run; the idea for the enduring X-Men foes the Hellfire Club came from The Avengers' "A Touch of Brimstone" which aired on 8th February 1966, a story considered so risque at the time that the U.S. banned it! In that story, Steed and Peel took on the Hellfire Club, and while most comics fans know that Peel's "Queen of Sin" outfit is undeniably the inspiration for the Black Queen's costume in the X-Men, it's perhaps less well known that that Peel was brainwashed just like Jean Grey into joining the Club, and that Marvel's Inner Circle are all decked out like the Avengers' TV series' Hellfire Club. 

   So it was probably inevitable that Steed and his most famous partner, Emma Peel, would turn up in Marvel Comics sooner or later, and more surprising that there's only been two tiny cameos that I could find. Maybe they've just been too busy elsewhere in the Omniverse - Steed and Peel have been busier over at DC where they showed up in Superman II#13 pursuing the Toyman, attended an agent's funeral in DC's adaptation of another British series, The Prisoner, mixed with a bar full of superheroes in Kingdom Come#2, and ran into the 1966 Batman. Peel has a significant role, under her maiden name of Knight, in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, and in LoEG: Century 2009. Steed and Peel also turn up in Simpsons Comics#87, which I mention mainly because they do so in the company of the fourth Doctor. At the end of Bonjaxx's party in Doctor Who Magazine the fourth Doctor arrives at the bar; we know he has form for dropping people off in 616, so maybe that's how Steed and Peel got there to appear in Captain America I#401, travelling from Maruthea via Springfield to Earth-616?

   As always with profiles for characters brought into the Marvel universe, for the most part I'm only acknowledging allies, enemies and adventures explicitly shown to count for the 616 version, with an overview of the other tales featuring the character to provide a general understanding of their life. These other tales might also be true for the 616 version, but we can't know for sure.

    Steed's fellow player in the Laughing Horse Bar might be Sam Spade (given how many other literary, TV and movie cameos are present) or maybe Clive Reston's pal Richard. Steed's attacker in Bonjaxx's bar is definitely a member of the Corps, and could even be 616's Captain Britain, but it's impossible to say for sure.

   The London Hellfire Club's Black Queen, Emma Steed, takes her name as a portmanteau of Emma Peel and John Steed, and bears a passing resemblance to Emma Peel. There is also a John Steed-lookalike character on Earth-616, Powell McTeague. Though his debut sets him in 1959, it is still conceivable that Powell and the Black Queen are the pair we see in the Laughing Horse Bar, though I prefer to think otherwise.  

Profile by Loki.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Emma Peel has no known connections to:


images: (without ads)
Captain America I#401, p14, pan 3 (main image)
Doctor Who Magazine#173, p6 (story)/32 (overall), pan 5 (during brawl in Bonjaxx's)
TV Comic#720, p2, pan 1 (first ever TV Comic appearance of Steed and Peel)
Avengers I#83, p7, pan 3 (the Thomases name-drop Mrs. Peel)
"A Touch of Brimstone" (Peel as the Black Queen...er, I mean the Queen of Sin)


Appearances:
Doctor Who Magazine#173 (15th May 1991)- Garry Russell (writer), Mike Collins (pencils), Steve Pini (inks), John Freeman (editor)
Captain America I#401 (June 1992) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (pencils), Danny Bulandi (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)


First Posted: 01/31/2019
Last updated: 01/31/2019

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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