Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Jesus, man, put that away. You perforate my Commie and I will put you six feet under a preacher with my bare hands.
"Our game has two rules, cowboy. One, wives and kids are off limits. Two, we don't shoot at each other's operatives. Because once we let that devil out of the bottle, we'll never get him back in.
"Where does a man who speaks no English go, in the middle of the night, with no clothes, a bag of state secrets, and a bottle of vodka?"
"Um... a really good party?
"Wherever he is, whoever has him, they won't get far if they cracked open that vodka. No sirree Bob.
"It's laced with my own special recipe. Sodium pentothal and L.S.D.
"Ol' Pete Stomparelli is smarter than the average bear, yes he is."
Hmm... what Pete Stomparelli, local FBI field agent, is, in fact, is a complete dickhead.
He is also a contender for my favourite comics villain of the year! Utterly loathsome and spectacularly incompetent in equal measure, yet so cocksure of his own overblown abilities, he's the veritable dictionary definition of a loose cannon, indeed, that proverbial car hurtling around a blind bend on the wrong side of the road at high speed just waiting for that inevitable, multiple pile-up car crash to happen. It will, trust me.
Good Ol' Pete Stomparelli has been entrusted by the C.I.A. with keeping a Russian, codename CKGROUPER, spying for the Americans in Hong Kong, safe and sound upon his hasty arrival in L.A. He's attempting to stay out of the clutches of the Russian authorities who've decided to recall him to Moscow for a friendly little chat...
Just overnight, mind, that's all Pete needs to do, until the C.I.A. operatives tasked with bringing Codename CKGROUPER in - along with his handy list of every Soviet undercover agent in the East including those who've infiltrated the U.S. forces in Vietnam - get there as fast as they possibly can to take charge. Not least because they have precisely zero confidence in the Bureau...
It's fortunate then that our man Pete is bang up to the task. Ah...
A dynamic duo of Russian agents have been dispatched to re-acquire the defector then whisk him - figuratively not literally, that would be all a bit 'Ello 'Ello - and his list, back to the Motherland. They are decidedly more competent than Pete and promptly extract him from the not-so-safe house with ease. But not so much more competent that they proceed directly to the K.G.B. Residenz in San Francisco, instead deciding to have a rather saucy party with some dirty hippies out in the desert first to see what American 'freedom' really feels like. It's a bring-your-own-bottle sort of affair, so good job they brought along the special vodka that Pete kindly left...
From there it only gets hazier, indeed rather spaced out, as the situation spirals more and more out of control for everyone concerned. A tight-run operation along the lines of THE COLDEST WINTER this is not, and therein lies all the fun! Will the Ruskies somehow manage to get their man and / or the list to the 'safety' of the Residenz, or can Pete Stomparelli and his by now incandescent C.I.A. chums finally manage to do something right and head them off in time?
This is a great bit of fun writing from Alex GRINDHOUSE De Campi that minded me of the TV show 'The Americans' but set in the early seventies when the sixties dream had well and truly died and one certain Richard Milhous Nixon was settling into the White House, rather than the frosty Reagan years of the cold war proper. Actually, I think Nixon might well be Pete Stomparelli's idol: he has more than a touch of the oily huckster about him.
Very fine lined art from Tony Parker, admirably kinetic in the action sequences, and neatly coloured by the mysteriously named Blond. I have no idea whether that's Mr. or Mrs. Blond and whether they prefer their inks shaken but not stirred, but between them, they've created some very vibrant art here. The full-on psychedelic freak-out experience amongst the sand dunes is particularly spectacular., I must say. A final mention for the lettering, which is a little bit different from the norm and done by Alex herself as she usually does (there's a gag in there somewhere about wanting to have the last word but I think the pun is over at this point...) and just adds that little extra unusual period feel twist to the whole badly aimed shooting match. On the various protagonists parts that is, not Alex, as once again, she's right on the mark.