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Comic Book / SpyBoy

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SpyBoy is a comic book series created in 1999 by writer Peter David and artists Pop Mhan and Norman Lee, and published by Dark Horse Comics.

The series centers around Alex Fleming, an ordinary teenage boy who is secretly part of a project to create the world's most deadly and effective secret agent. Unfortunately, while the world's various spy agencies are after him for reasons of their own, Alex himself is unaware of his super-ruthless sleeper persona. The adventures start when Alex's SpyBoy identity is activated, throwing SpyBoy into various death-defying situations around the world while Alex struggles to maintain relevance against his super-capable alter ego.

The basic idea for SpyBoy came from Dark Horse, who hired Peter David to develop the concept, including the cast and their back-stories. David has lamented that the ideas he had for the series' run were not completed, as Dark Horse chose not to continue with it.

A crossover 3-issue miniseries, SpyBoy/Young Justice, was published in 2002. Also SpyBoy: Final Exam, a 4-issue spin-off limited series by the same authors, was published in 2004, serving as the Grand Finale.

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Abnormal Ammo: SpyBoy's gun, the Magnum Opus, fires a variety of these.
  • Anti-Hero: The SpyBoy persona. Because of his cold and sometimes ruthless methods, this trope doubles with '90s Anti-Hero.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Butch give an epic discourse to both Anita and Gila at the end of the Confidential arc.
  • Art Shift: During the middle of the Marispan affair (or the beginning of the Bet Your Life arc) the art changes from anime-style to something out of Mike Mignola's mind and back again.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Downplayed. Alex always liked spy movies and he's a fan of James Bond, being honored that his last name was Fleming. But converting into a Teen Superspy as the way he did (being a Manchurian Agent all his life and without memories of being SpyBoy when he's in trance) and with the background he later discovered (his parents being super spies and her mother who was supposed to be dead is the Big Bad), made Alex forget about what he loved in the beginning.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A very infamous one; SpyBoy is confronting the villainous Madam Imadam, when she drops this bombshell in the last page of the issue;
    "I am... your mother—"
    [next issue]
    "—'s sister."
  • Banana in the Tailpipe: Messed with in the first issue, where Bombshell blows up the bad guy's car by tossing what appears to be a lit cigarette into the tailpipe. The car blows up a few seconds later. Considering that Bombshell is an explosives expert, however, it's not quite as far-fetched.
  • Bathroom Brawl: Before he discovers that he's a Manchurian Agent Teen Superspy, Alex is attacked by a couple of bullies in the school bathroom after classes.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: For Butch, it doesn't matter if Anita is her mother or not, she's the only person who ever gave a crap about him and he loves her deeply and the reason of why he is self-defined best friend with Alex.
  • Becoming the Mask: This is literally with Anita, for her mask became her permanent face after the Time Skip.
  • Betty and Veronica: Played with Bombshell and SpyGirl. While the former is initially the blunt, reliable one compared to the more exotic, worldly SpyGirl, she is also much more abrasive to Alex than the almost cheesily supportive Japanese agent.
  • CamelCase: Officially the name of the protagonist as well the series are written as this. Also counts for SpyGirl and similar.
  • Changeling Fantasy: Alex wishes at the beginning for one to escape his crappy school life until he realizes how brutal the espionage world really is. For Butch, it's to escape the living hell that is his family life... it never truly sticks.
  • Character Name Alias: SpyBoy's partner Bombshell attends his sleeper personality's high school under the name "Marta Hari."
    • When Young Justice infiltrated said high school, they used even more obvious aliases, including Rob Roy (Robin) and Helena Troy (Wonder Girl). Mercifully the charade didn't last long.
  • Children Raise You: According to Rita Moody.
  • Cliffhanger: Final Exam, and with it the entire series, ends this way. SpyBoy is incriminated as a terrorist alongside his father and their gang, Anita is discovered, Lori shows she was also a spy all along and offers a very dubious offer to Alex while he's suffering an existential crisis, and the last page is Spyboy being torn between Anita and his dad, promising they can start a new life together. It is either the most epic or the most sadistic ending you would ever see.
  • Cool Bike: The SpyCycle.
  • Crossover: With Young Justice, also written by Peter David.
  • Darker and Edgier: Don't let the design and quirky humor fool you, this a very bloody and violent adaptation to the usual teenager spy theme.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: SpyGirl during SpyBoy's "Manga Affair" and Alex's mother to Butch's mother.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Both Anita and Lori are discovered or otherwise lose their fake identities at the end/
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Even Schweitzer finds a little absurd the reaction of his father to the Class president's campaign: hire a hitman to take both Alex and his ex-girlfriend.
  • Distaff Counterpart: SpyGirl.
  • Doting Parent: Rita Moody truly believes that Butch is the kindest person you could ever met.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: SpyBoy had a modest one of these hidden out in the woods.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Say what you will about Gila's ruthlessness, but she has a soft spot for orphans and shed tears hearing Butch's family life.
  • Evil Matriarch: Butch's mom was a physical and emotional abuser.
  • Faked Rip Van Winkle: In "A Manchurian Candy-Date" has Bombshell waking up years in the future in a hospital, her legs atrophied and her long-distant parents happy to see her awake. Comic relief Butch, his face scarred, says she's been in a coma for almost a decade after a raid that went bad, killing Alex's father. Alex reverted to his Spyboy persona full-time and has since become a ruthless crime boss. After physical therapy, Bombshell is sent to kill Alex...but when she looks at her aged face in the mirror, we see her true form as it turns out she's been brainwashed by an enemy to kill the real Alex in the present. Her mind sees everything as part of the delusion (attempting to "fire" a sheet of papers like a gun) before Alex is able to get through to her.
  • Fake Memories: As we learn in The M.A.N.G.A. Affair, the SpyGirl we've been following is actually a totally different person who was given fake memories of the original SpyGirl when she died — assuming that "original" girl wasn't also some other person who was just brainwashed into thinking she was SpyGirl.
  • Fanservice: As the cheesecake cover of SpyGirl above indicates, the series had plenty of this. Bombshell had her own version of that same cover, and then there's the various Femme Fatales SpyBoy comes up against.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Bombshell's fake identity is Marta Hari.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The opposing spy teams are named S.H.I.R.T.S and S.K.I.N.S. The good guys occasionally team with their oriental counterparts, M.A.N.G.A.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Among other gadgets, Alex's goggles include a version of the flash that allows changing between the Alex and Spyboy personalities.
  • Good Feels Good: Butch and Anita, both times.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: S.H.I.R.T.S for United States and M.A.N.G.A for Japan.
  • Happily Adopted: Butch doesn't care Anita is not his real mother; she is the only person who has ever gave a crap about him.
  • I'm Going to Hell for This: SpyBoy is sharing a plane with Bombshell. She warns him not to look back while she changes, and so he promises not to turn around while staring at her reflection in the sheer surface in front of him. His Super-Deformed alter ego informs him that he's going to hell for this.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Amusingly enough, in the comic book crossover between SpyBoy and Young Justice, Robin actually asks SpyBoy's team if they indeed took the Stormtrooper Marksmanship course — never realizing that he was also displaying Stormtrooper level of accuracy.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: SpyGirl can be found giving constantly bra and panty shots.
  • Instrument of Murder: Yoma Ma - a villain on Spygirl's TV show - uses his violin to fire bows like arrows.
  • Joshikousei: SpyGirl spends most of her time in her sailor fuku school uniform (although it is possible that this is a costume from her TV show and not a real school uniform). However, given her age, she is almost certainly a high school student as well as being an actress and a secret agent. Either way, this is her standard outfit till she transfers to Alex's school in the U.S. and starts wearing casual clothes to blend in.
  • Knows the Ropes: Professional Killer Hanging Chad is an expert with the lasso and uses it hang his targets.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: S.H.I.R.T.S. (Secret Headquarters International Reconnaissance, Tactics, and Spies) had their invisible headquarters suspended between the tops of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. (This was retconned out of existence after 2001, for obvious reasons.)
  • The Load: This seems to be Butch's place.
  • The Mafia: Schweitzer's father seems to have connections. How far and how big is left vague during the Butch affair but is clearly a nobody compared to the power Gila can muster.
  • Mama Bear: Rita Moody would go to any lengths to protect Butch. Even more epic because she is in fact Anita Fleming, Alex's mother and she literally sacrificed her face, identity and contacts to keep protecting him.
  • Manchurian Agent: Alex is a good version.
  • Manga Adaptation: SpyBoy: The Manga Affair is done by the same people, but it is deliberately drawn in a more traditional Manga artstyle than when compared to the original comic.
  • Missing Mom: Alex's mom was killed during a mission, forcing the Fleming family to lay low for more than a decade.
  • Most Common Superpower: Bombshell.
  • Mr. Smith: In this world most cover names go with Girl, Guy, Dude and in one case Main Man.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently Bombshell managed to reunite with her parents during the Time Skip.
  • No One Could Survive That!: SpyGirl didn't. The one we know is a different person brainwashed into thinking she was the original.
  • Older Than They Look: Annie Mae is probably over eighty, but she looks and had quirks like a 5 year old girl. It is rumored in universe than she became eternally young after drinking the blood of a mermaid.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Is never truly revealed what the echelon truly is or what are his goals.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Behold the cover of SpyBoy #3!
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: SpyGuy disguises himself as a substitute teacher named "Guy Mcguffin".
  • Parental Abandonment: Alex suffers from the "Mommy Dead Syndrome", doubly so because her mother is actually next to him... deeply caring for his Vitriolic Best Buds Butch.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: It never works.
  • Punny Name: As with much of David's work, SpyBoy is littered with wordplay.
    • Madam Imadam, who works for an organisation known as the Palindrome.
    • Annie Mae, Japanese techno-mage-something.
    • REMbrandt, the artist of dreams and a Shout-Out to painter Rembrandt van Rijn.
    • Yoma Ma, which is both a play on famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and a Your Mom joke (say it out loud).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Butch gives a unintended one to his deceased mother at the end of Confidential.
  • Rogue Agent: Seems to be a possible future for Alex.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: SpyGirl spends most of her time in her sailor fuku school uniform (although it is possible that this is a costume from her TV show and not a real school uniform). Either way, this is her standard outfit till she transfers to Alex's school and starts wearing casual clothes to blend in.
  • Serious Business: During the election for Class President, Schweitzer's father hires a hitman to take out both Alex and his ex-girlfriend.
  • Shout-Out:
    • SpyBoy's civilian identity is Alex Fleming, a nod to James Bond's creator Ian Fleming. Continuing the theme, his father's first name is Sean (after Sean Connery).
    • Marta Hari is also one to real life spy Mata Hari.
    • To The Powerpuff Girls (1998) of all things in one issue.
    • An internal example: In one of the first numbers, Alex's grandfather is seen watching The Mask when a group of ninjas tried to attack him in his house.
  • The Sociopath: The SpyBoy persona may be the ultimate badass, but it is impulsive, mission-oriented, has no problem applying brute force solutions without hesitation and is impossibly (even violently) rude. Whoever programmed this guy really didn't thought that empathy (even faked) would be useful for whatever kind of missions he was going to be deployed on.
    Young Girl: He... He took my sister... He...
    Spyboy: Shut up. [applies injection]
    Young Girl: What are you doing?!
    Spyboy: General anti-toxin. Should counter the tranq effects. Now shut up.
    Young Girl: Can you save my sister?! She's in danger—!
    Spyboy: Not as much as you'll be if you don't shut up.
  • Split Personality: SpyBoy himself is an artificial persona buried inside a normal high school student named Alex (arguably making him a Badass Normal Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can). Or, possibly, Alex is an artificial persona created to provide SpyBoy with a perfect cover. This is one of the main ethical questions explored by the series, in its more serious moments.
  • Spy Versus Spy: S.H.I.R.T.S. (Secret Headquarters International Reconnaissance, Tactics, and Spies) versus S.K.I.N.S. (Supreme Killing Institute).
  • Suggestive Collision: One instance has Bombshell falling with her breasts landing square on Butch's face. She lifts herself off him without a word (though looking mildly annoyed) while he lays there smiling goofily.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Either it gets more silly or more awesome every single time.
  • Teen Superspy: Naturally. Alex Fleming is secretly one of these, and didn't know it until the first issue.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: The comic skipped the 13th issue, but eventually it appeared as a miniseries that is numbered as 13.1, 13.2 and 13.3. Very bad things happen to a cast member in it.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Grenades are Bomshell's preferred weapons.
  • Time Skip: 1 year in Final Exam.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: SpyGirl when she discovers that she is not the original, but a double replacement, and that her past life as Yukio was not hers in the first place.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Alex is attracted to Bombshell, but she's only interested in SpyBoy. Becomes a double Two-Person Love Triangle when SpyGirl shows up and becomes hot for Alex/SpyBoy as well.
  • Un-Installment: The series skips issue number 13, but the miniseries The MANGA Affair published later contains issues 13.1, 13.2, and 13.3.
  • Unified Naming System: The two rival spy organisations are S.H.I.R.T.S. (Secret Headquarters, International Reconnaissance, Tactics, and Spies) and S.K.I.N.S. (Supreme Killing Institute).
  • Unlucky Everydude: Alex, before becoming SpyBoy and also when he comes back during a mission.
  • Unreliable Narrator: It resulted that the first meeting with SpyGirl in #10 was a complete fabrication by M.A.N.G.A.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Butch's relationship with Alex, SpyGirl and Bombshell.
    • Bombshell and SpyGirl are literally two breaths from killing each other most of the time.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: Alex is sharing a plane with Bombshell. She warns him not to look back, and so he promises not to turn around while staring at her reflection in the sheer surface in front of him. His Super-Deformed alter ego informs him that he's going to hell for this.
  • We Have Reserves: This seems the default reaction to all the enemies of SpyBoy, sending henchmen to their death without blinking and eye and the response of M.A.N.G.A to SpyGirl's demise.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Barbie Q and Taketmatesa are never see or heard again after being hit by a wave in the Marispan casino.
  • William Telling: In a Funny Background Event, Arrowette entertains a crowd by having two teammates hold Butch for this stunt.