Comic Watch: Spy vs. Spy

Comic books have broken into the mainstream, with films and TV shows being constantly adapted from them. With comics no longer for a niche audience, it makes sense to know which comics are worth reading. Welcome to Comic Watch – your personal guide to the world of comics.

With this year celebrating 50 years of James Bond, it makes sense to shed light on a well-known spy comic. While the Big Two comic book companies, Marvel and DC, have both dabbled in spy fiction with organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. and Checkmate, the most well-known spy comic is one that most people don’t even take seriously. Debuting in Mad Magazine in 1961, “Spy vs. Spy” tells the story of two spies, one dressed in black and another in white, as they constantly try to outdo each other only to hurt themselves in the process.

The comic strips have no dialogue, but their hilarity comes in the various forms of slapstick the spies use to one-up each other. In many ways the “Spy vs. Spy” strips get to the very heart of early comics’ desire to entertain. Their simplicity is what makes them great. But even if you don’t read the comics from Mad, the Spies are still prominent in various Mad TV shows, commercials and video games.

Earlier comics tried to spice up the formula by introducing a third spy, a “Woman in Grey” who always triumphed since the spies loved her. While these strips literally gave the normal black and white conflict shades of grey, the comics are still largely simple in showing the rivalry between the two spies. “Spy vs. Spy” may not be the most morally ambiguous spy comic, or the most action packed, but it certainly is the most recognized and downright funniest spy comic of all time.