Monthly Archives: July 2016

Wot did you read on your holidays?

Besides the Victor (and other) summer specials, I recall that there seemed to be more Commandos in the shops than usual and that some of them were from some months, even years past. According to former editor George Low, DC Thomson’s distribution department used to box up random copies from the firm’s printing works (they owned their own back then) and send them out to newsagents for the summer holiday demand. It must have worked as they did it for many years apparently.

So, I read a lot of extra Commandos in the long holidays, but the best summer reading experience by far was the year I was stuck in bed for a day or two. A pal who was a Valiant man brought round (with some help) about two years’ worth for me to read.

I’d never been so happy to be off-colour.

The latest Commando issues (4935-4938) possibly include one of your holiday reads from way back when. They’re on sale from the 28th July 2016 (UK).


Firebrand! — Commando No 4935Comm_4935_coverMaster

 

Siblings Ian and John Jenkins were both RAF pilots. Ian was the elder, calm and confident. John was younger and hot-headed, a definite firebrand. Based in the North-East of Scotland, they protected the coast against attack from the marauding Luftwaffe.

However, when tragedy struck, John found himself embroiled in a mystery — one that involved death, destruction and even espionage. And it seemed there was a family connection. The firebrand was determined to find the answers…whatever the cost.

Story: Colin Watson  Art: Janek Matysiak Cover: Janek Matysiak

 


Fighter Ace — Commando No 4936Comm_4936_coverMaster

“Flame Squadron” they were called in the RAF But to the baffled pilots of the Luftwaffe they were known as “Flame Devils”.

When an aircraft was shot to pieces, cartwheeling across the sky in a mass of flames, somewhere in that blazing Spitfire a cool fighting brain still functioned, a finger still pressed the firing button. Long after any pilot must have perished, each plane carried on flying.

As the Luftwaffe’s terror grew, one of Germany’s top spies was sent to ferret out the secret of the “Flame Devils”…

Introduction

This curio from 1966 has a vaguely supernatural premise about indestructible Spitfire pilots who can seemingly survive the flames of aerial battle — Commando with a pulp fiction, or even science-fiction, flavour. Then, however, author Boutland’s (first name unknown) [but probably David according to this well-researched piece on Bear Alley] story veers into espionage territory, making it more of a traditional tale — but one that’s certainly well-drawn by Arias and with a moody action cover painted by Buccheri.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Fighter Ace, originally Commando No 206 (March 1966), re-issued as No 843 (June 1974)

Story: Boutland  Art: Arias  Cover: Buccheri

 


Making His Mark — Commando No 4937Comm_4937_coverMaster

When World War II broke out Mark Enfield quit his office job and enlisted in the army. Although enthusiastic, he was quite puny and unfit. Nor was he a very good shot — and many noted the irony that he shared his surname with the famous Lee-Enfield rifle that they used.

He became a target of bullies among his fellow recruits in basic training and this continued when they went into battle.

However, Mark was determined to stand up to his detractors once and for all, especially when his unit was tasked with destroying a strategically important bridge which was in enemy hands.

Story: George Low  Art: John Ridgway  Cover: John Ridgway

 


Burning Skies — Commando No 4938Comm_4938_coverMaster

 

During the war most people served in the same unit all the time. However, Jack Banham was different. He was in an Italian jail, then a front-line trench with the Greek army, then the observer’s cockpit of an Italian biplane. At one time he was even a colonel in the Greek army…

…Or was it the Greek air force? Months afterwards he still wasn’t sure. Not that it mattered, for by that time he was a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm!

Introduction

In some ways it’s a pity that this tale’s original working title wasn’t used. Veteran Commando author RA Montague called it ‘Jack Of All Trades’. This neatly sums up the multifarious activities of our protagonist, Jack Banham — on his journey from being a civilian treasure hunter to a soldier, then eventually fighting in aircraft.

This relentless yarn rarely pauses for breath. Proof once more that Commando’s 63-page format allows a story room to go to unexpected places.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Burning Skies, originally Commando No 1116, (April 1977), re-issued as No 2436 (January 1991)

Story: R.A. Montague  Art: Frederico Maidagan  Cover: Ian Kennedy

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Commando Issues 4931-4934 – On Sale 14 July 2016

Commando Issues 4931-4934 – On Sale 14 July 2016

 

Mark Of The Lion — Commando No 4931Comm_4931_coverMaster

 

Sergeant Bill Marsh seemed to bear a charmed life — or so his men said. Time after time he missed death by a hair’s breadth. What his men didn’t know was that Bill had been told by an African witch-doctor that he would be killed by a lion — and there weren’t any lions in France.

Or were there? Nobody could foresee the monster which Bill would soon have to face.

 

Introduction

Only in Commando can you begin with a framing device that takes on the form of a mystical African curse, which then encompasses the retreat at Dunkirk via the development of a top secret, prototype enemy super-tank. Meanwhile, our hero thinks that he is invincible ever since he is cursed to be killed by a lion — and that seems unlikely in France.

All of these plot threads are expertly woven into a fantastic script by veteran author C.G. Walker, with great art by C.T. Rigby and a wonderful montage cover by Ian Kennedy.

My thanks to reader Bob Whalley for suggesting that we revisit this gem of a story from yesteryear.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Mark Of The Lion, originally Commando No 608 (December 1971)

Story: C.G. Walker  Art: C.T. Rigby  Cover: Ian Kennedy


The Lost Army — Commando No 4932Comm_4932_coverMaster

 

Strange things happen in the African desert — especially in the “Region of Devils”. But these three lost L.R.D.G. soldiers had never seen anything as weird as this…being helped in their desperate mission by Persian soldiers straight from the pages of history 2000 years ago.

“Prof”, Jack and Duncan didn’t know whether to be glad — or just plain terrified!

 

Introduction

Courtesy of interior artist Jose De La Fuente, this book is full of stunning imagery— of a lost Persian army from 525 B.C. seemingly returned to fight in the arid desert of North Africa in World War II.

However, one of my favourite sequences is much more straightforward but still typically dynamic — on page nine, one of our Long Range Desert Group heroes manages to bring down a Stuka dive-bomber armed only with a Thompson sub-machine gun. Fantastic stuff, and there’s a great cover from the sadly-missed Ken Barr too.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

The Lost Army, originally Commando No 222 (July 1966), re-issued as No 867 (September 1974)

Story: Skentelberry  Art: J. Fuente  Cover: Ken Barr

 


Night Intruder — Commando No 4933Comm_4933_coverMaster

Pete Owen was a fine pilot in a Mosquito night-fighter squadron, with a growing number of kills to his name.

Then he shook everybody by flying his plane, complete with the latest top-secret radar, across the Channel into German hands. He’d been playing a traitor’s game all the time, it seemed.

But why was he now in a German prison camp? And why was he spending every minute planning an escape? All he’d get in Britain would be a firing squad.

Introduction

This air/espionage/Prisoner-Of-War genre-twisting yarn is wonderfully illustrated by Repetto. He drew five Commandos book — of which this was the second — but over a short, if fairly prolific, period between November 1967 and March 1969. It’s a pity he didn’t do any more, as his line work is detailed and dynamic, and his night scenes are very atmospheric. And the late Ken Barr wraps it all up with a typically dramatic cover.

My thanks to reader Geir-Erik Nicolaysen for suggesting that we revisit this classic.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Night Intruder, originally Commando No 307 (January 1968), re-issued as No 1011 (March 1976)

Story: McOwan  Art: Repetto  Cover: Ken Barr

 


Reluctant Assassin — Commando No 4934Comm_4934_coverMaster

 

The order was simple — “Kill Mackheim”. The reason was also simple — he was a masterful German general who could thwart the Allied advance in this region of Italy.

Captain Harry Brown, a skilled assassin, was already in the area, operating with the partisans. He was the obvious choice for the job, but there was one snag — he had lost the will to kill in cold blood…

 

Introduction

Alan Hebden is a name familiar to UK comic fans. Incredibly inventive, his scripts appeared in the likes of Battle and 2000AD in their 1970s glory days and beyond.

Alan’s first Commando credit was “Night Of Fear” (No 984, November 1975) and he has continued writing for us ever since. Indeed, the author’s popular, long-running “Convict Commandos” series will continue in the near future.

This story, however, shows how Alan can take what might initially appear to be a straightforward premise but he puts his own, unique spin on it in terms of characters and plot. So, just what would happen to a killer who lost his killer instinct…? Read on and find out.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Reluctant Assassin, originally Commando No 2481 (June 1991)

Story: Alan Hebden  Art: Salmeron  Cover: Mike Cox