As Commando rolls on towards its 55th birthday in June this year, it’s safe to assume that it doesn’t sell in the numbers that once it did, and yet it endures, doling out hot rations of action and adventure every two weeks. But here’s the thing, would it sell more if it changed to be more in line with the other comics on offer today? Is it just trading on nostalgia and a habit-buying by its readers?
That’s a discussion for a separate place, for now we can be grateful that it provides good stories of a bygone era with a bygone sensibility. Along with its size, that’s a Unique Selling Point.
Commando Issues 4895-4898 – On Sale 10th March 2016 (UK)
Home Front Heroes — Commando No 4895
The crew of a Boulton Paul Defiant night-fighter were puzzled. Why was an Airspeed Oxford trainer aircraft flying above England under cover of darkness? The gunner wondered if perhaps something secretive was going on.
How right he was. But there was no way that he could have known that the Oxford was being flown by a German crew, and was an integral part of an audacious plan by the Nazis to snatch back one of their spies.
At times the Home Front was almost as dangerous as the Front Line.
Story: George Low Art: Mario Morahin Cover: Ian Kennedy
Preview: Home Front Heroes
The Great Escape — Commando No 4896
Ted Malloy knew him as Corporal Don Granger of the Australian Army, his best pal, young, dark-haired and full of spirit.
The Kachins, a Burmese tribe, knew him as “Urgu” — their Holy Man, chief and river god, tall with a lined face, bronzed skin, a mop of snow-white hair, and no memory of any past.
Ted and Don were the only two men ever to escape from “Death Valley”, the dreaded Japanese labour camp, where men died by inches under the blazing sun and the whips of the guards.
The tale of how Ted got clear and how Don became Urgu truly is a thrilling one.
It did not come as much of a surprise to learn that a Commando book carried this title. It appeared a mere two-and-a-half years after the cinema release of director John Sturges’ classic prisoner-of-war movie in July 1963.
However, this story has only appropriated the movie’s title as the setting and content are completely different. In fact, with its jungle tribes and allusions to river gods, our tale probably owes more to the fantasy fiction of author H. Rider Haggard, but given a gritty, World War II twist.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
The Great Escape, originally Commando No 198 (January 1966)
Story: Spence Art: Victor De La Fuente Cover: Scholler
Preview: The Great Escape
The Mortar Boys — Commando No 4897
Brothers Vic and George Adams were part of a Pacific Expeditionary Force mortar team. They had been tasked with engaging the Japanese on Mono Island in the South Pacific.
Their superior officer, Lieutenant Jeff Danten, was not keen on mortars, seeing them as a waste of time compared to a decent machine-gun. It didn’t help that Danten was also impatient and reckless, too eager to get into battle without decent tactics.
It looked like the Mortar Boys had more than just the enemy to worry about…
Story: Mark Blackham Art: Vicente Alcazar Cover: Janek Matysiak
Preview: The Mortar Boys
Fight To The Last — Commando No 4898
When Fred Burke made a vow to his dead mate that he would fight to the last to see the war won, it wouldn’t be his fault if the Allies lost, for Fred was a man of his word. So in Fred’s book anything went — like breaking out of a prison camp for a start, then after commandeering a civilian vehicle, battling alongside the partisans to hold a vital bridge. Fred just went on fighting and fighting…
This is a relentless tale where Lance-Corporal Fred Burke is driven by a promise made to his best friend that he will never give in until the War is won.
It’s a testament to the work of all the creators involved that, despite the fairly straightforward premise, our hero is so full of determination that we can’t help but admire his integrity and courage and are with him every step of the way.
Therefore, in terms of script, art and cover, Fight To The Last remains a classic, textbook Commando to this day.
Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
Fight To The Last, originally Commando No 1108 (March 1977), re-issued as No 2443 (February 1991)
Story: N. Allen Art: Mones Cover: Ian Kennedy
Preview: Fight To The Last