Tag Archives: Jaume Forns

Another Year, Another 104 Commandos

2017 is a big year for Commando comics; this, their 56th year of production, will see the arrival of their 5000th issue. That surely puts them at the top of the comics’ numbers pile. The countdown begins with this set of four – Nos 4983-4986, on sale 12th January 2017 (UK).

It makes you wonder what the secret of their longevity is, and how much longer they can last. After all, the Second World War, which is Commando’s stock-in-trade, only lasted (thank heavens) six years. Later wars don’t seem to have the same appeal so surely the well must run dry at some stage. Or perhaps not.

Putting that aside for the moment, how has Commando managed to carry on when the last British War comics — Warlord and Battle — sank in the mid-80s? Paul Cockburn in Comic Heroes Issue 30 tries to answer the question by speaking to a few of the people involved. Rather alarmingly, however, the article ends with a comment from DC Thomson’s heritage titles editor Kirsten Murray, “Despite Commando being 55 years old, we feel its potential is still largely untapped, so keep your eyes peeled for lots of exciting Commando this year.” That smacks a bit of the “Great News For All Readers” announcements your favourite 70s comic carried just before it was merged with another title.

Let’s hope that’s not the case as Commando and The Beano don’t seem a very good fit. Let’s also hope that we don’t have to keep our eyes peeled, let’s hope whatever they do hits everyone square in the eye so it can’t be ignored.

The “last man standing” must be helped to remain upright.


The Sentinel – Commando No 4983

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Over thousands of years ago, the Tyrrhenian horde besieged the tiny island of Rhodes. Although the Rhodian warriors were outnumbered, they were not afraid, as they were led by their General Theron and his friend, Nereus. But little did Theron know, his biggest enemy slept within the confines of his own camp.

By 1942, Theron had become a legend – the location of his tomb a mystery that plagued archaeologist Gennaro Soccino. Conscripted into the Italian army stationed in Rhodes, Soccino became obsessed with finding the resting place of Theron and…The Sentinel.

 Story: Steve Coombs  Art: Morahin  Cover: Ian Kennedy


 

The One They Couldn’t Catch – Commando No 4984

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Moto the Clown paused, sweat running from his face. He was about to walk along a steel wire, fifty feet above ground, suspended between two giant pylons. This had always been the climax of his circus act.

But Moto wasn’t in the circus ring now. This time there would be no applause from the audience. The only sounds he could expect to hear was the harsh crackle of Schmeisser machine-pistols.

Story: Powell  Art: Sostres  Cover: Ken Barr

Introduction 

This unusual outing from October 1967 is a little different from a traditional Commando adventure, which is what makes it such a rare gem worthy of another airing! While the story about a clown who joins the army does push the boundaries a smidge, how many other Commandos could boast such a plotline? A marvellous script, art – Sostres’ interior line work is simply spectacular, and Ken Barr’s whimsical yet enticing cover combine seamlessly to create this delightfully zany yarn.

The Commando Team

The One They Couldn’t Catch, originally Commando No 289 (October 1967)


 

Mountain Strike – Commando No 4985

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Lieutenant Alan Barkley was tasked with assembling a team to embark on a special ground mission, deep behind enemy lines in Burma. These soldiers would face gruelling conditions, putting their skills to the test, all whilst carrying a 3.7-inch calibre howitzer up treacherous mountain peaks.

Rookie medic, Ben Ellis, did not expect to be enlisted for this task, and his fellow soldiers questioned his capabilities. But they soon found that venturing into enemy territory with a deadly weapon in tow takes courage and cunning to survive.

Story: Ferg Handley  Art: Jaume Forns  Cover: Janek Matysiak


 

Very Important Passenger – Commando No 4986

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Ferrying a VIP to England from North Africa might sound like a simple enough mission, but not when it’s a worn-out old bomber only fit for the scrapheap that you’re given to do the job.

And it doesn’t help when your Very Important Passenger panics at the first sign of an enemy aircraft…or when he pulls out a revolver and points it at your head!

Story: K.P. MacKenzie  Art: Terry Patrick  Cover: Terry Patrick

Introduction 

Accusations, air raids and an unpredictable passenger creates the foundations for this soaring tale. Despite completing dangerous air missions, transporting an unusual stranger may just be Frank Roach’s most difficult challenge yet. A tale of trust, filled with action from start to finish, Very Important Passenger is brought to life by Terry Patrick’s wonderful artwork.

Sit back and enjoy as we take to the skies with Frank “Finny” Roach and Sergeant Judd Stott in K.P. MacKenzie’s high-flying adventure.

The Commando Team

Very Important Passenger, originally Commando No 2453 (March 1991)

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Commando Issues 4947-4950 – On Sale 8th September 2016

Commando Issues 4947-4950 – On Sale 8th September 2016

 

The Experts — Commando No 4947

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Lieutenant Doug MacKay was a no-nonsense agent of the Special Operations Executive – used to doing things by the book.

When tasked with uncovering vital intelligence plans from a Nazi safe deep behind enemy lines, the unyielding operator did not expect to be paired with Private Alex Drake, a former criminal but an expert safe-cracker.

Drake was under no illusion that if ever it looked like they might be captured, his SOE mentor would rather kill him in case he cracked under interrogation. It was an uneasy alliance, to say the least.

Story: Ferg Handley  Art: Carlos Pino  Cover: Carlos Pino

 


The Golden Gun — Commando No 4948

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A real hero’s gun.

A Colt .45, the long barrel gleaming with gold plate, cunningly engraved. The butt of ivory, the whole weapon as perfectly balanced as a bird and on a hair trigger.

Many a time cowboy film star Brad Landon had got himself out of a movie tight corner with a lightning draw and the bang-bang of a blank from the Golden Colt. But now he was Lieutenant Brad Landon, British Army, and in the thick of the Dunkirk retreat. The draw had to be faster, and the golden gun was spitting real lead instead of blanks…

Introduction

Unusual, almost fabled objects such as our eponymous handgun have been a Commando staple throughout the decades. They are a good device for propelling a plot forward and also, as you’ll see here, a handy way to geographically move the story along too – from a rearguard action at the beaches of Dunkirk to the arid deserts of North Africa.

The late Ken Barr’s rendering of the Golden Gun itself is wonderfully lurid and dramatic too. It’s almost as if this book was tailor-made for the Gold Collection itself.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

The Golden Gun, originally Commando 249 (February 1967), re-issued as Commando No 903 (January 1975)

Story: Newark  Art: Alonso  Cover: Ken Barr

 


Flying Feud — Commando No 4949

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As a tail gunner on an Avro Lancaster bomber, Sergeant Lex Duffield was used to danger in the sky.

However, more even danger soon appeared in the unlikely form of a fellow Lanc rear gunner – the reckless and short-tempered Sergeant Tommy Deakin – and inevitably they clashed.

Fate soon intervened and they faced a threat neither could possibly have imagined – and they would just have to work together to survive.

Story: George Low  Art: Jaume Forns  Cover: Ian Kennedy


Master Spy — Commando No 4950

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A good spy never gets caught. He tries to become so much part of the enemy set-up that he’s never even suspected…until it’s too late. And, even then, the best of the breed always have an escape route — even although it’s back into the lion’s den!

 

 

 

Introduction

I’ve always maintained that espionage is fairly difficult to tackle successfully in comics because, as a genre, it tends to involve lone characters telling us what is going on in their heads via lengthy thought balloons.

However, author Alan Hemus takes advantage of our 63-page format to give us an excellent set-up and back story for our hero, Georg Hofmann. We get a chance to see what motivates him to risk his life as he works under deep cover amongst an insidious enemy.

Master Spy has a great script and art, all perfectly topped off by Ian Kennedy’s stunning cover.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Master Spy, originally Commando No 2489 (July 1991)

Story: Alan Hemus  Art: Rezzonico  Cover: Ian Kennedy

Every One’s A Winner…Maybe

So, I’m looking at the cover of Commando No 4942, admiring Ian Kennedy’s art and wondering how the editor (Ian Forbes) delivered the brief to him. “Well, Ian, we have a British soldier in jungle uniform with an arrow sticking out of the middle of his chest.” Mr Kennedy is no doubt composing the cover in his mind’s eye when Ian Forbes adds, “And he’s not dead, and there’s no blood.”

How do you make a cover out of that? Yet somehow he has, relying on the reader’s inquisitiveness (ie, what the hell’s going on here?) to draw their attention.

Just goes to show that the obvious isn’t the only way to go.

But what really got me was the coloured panel across the top of the cover. Win! Be a tank commander for the day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that on a Commando cover before.

Interesting idea?

Commando Nos 4939-4942 are on sale from August 11th, 2016 (in the UK).


Retreat-Or Die! — Commando No 4939Comm_4939_coverMaster

Staff Sergeant Sid Charlton was a born soldier, tough and resolute. Caught up in the Allied retreat from Norway in 1940, he and his men were determined to live to fight the Germans another day — but they were cut off from the most direct route to the coast.

Led by an intelligent but inexperienced young officer, Lieutenant John Barclay, they had to take a dangerous detour through hostile territory. Commandeering a stolen enemy truck, the retreat was on…

Story: George Low  Art: Jaume Forns  Cover: Janek Matysiak

 


Flying Flea — Commando No 4940Comm_4940_coverMaster

When war came to the island of Silau, south east of New Guinea, the pilots of a Royal Australian Air Force squadron laughed at two freakish-looking planes already operating there.

“Pop” Onslow and his son, Willie, ran an air-freight business which used an ancient Vickers Virginia bomber and an odd little crate called a “Flying Flea” — the Aussies reckoned it looked like a motor bike with wings.

When Willie took the Flea into the air and ran rings around the latest Tomahawk fighter the RAAF men considered letting the plucky civilians join the war effort.

Introduction

The little machine at the heart of the late Ken Barr’s wonderful cover is, of course, a real aircraft and not some kind of artistic license on our behalf. Created by Frenchman Henri Mignet, his HM14 was known colloquially as the ‘Flying Flea’ because of the translation of its nickname, ‘Pou du Ciel’ — literally ‘Louse of the Sky’.

I think it’s fantastic when Commando features these real life curios and it is even better when they practically become characters in their own right — and that’s certainly the case here.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Flying Flea, originally Commando No 235, (November 1966), re-issued as No 911 (February 1975)

Story: McOwan  Art: Cicuendez  Cover: Ken Barr

 


Ram Raiders — Commando No 4941Comm_4941_coverMaster

It was a daring tactic known as the “Taran” — using an aircraft as an aerial battering ram. Major Ilya Bezkhov of the Russian Air Force had used it on several occasions and lived to tell the tale.

When the Royal Air Force took on a mission to deliver four Tomahawk fighter-bombers to the Russians, Squadron Leader Peter Deacon clashed with Bezkhov, whom he viewed as unhinged — a danger to himself and everyone else around him.

However, Bezkhov saw the interfering Englishman as a coward. Could they work together to defeat the might of the German Luftwaffe?

Story: Steve Taylor  Art: Keith Page  Cover: Keith Page

 


Kill Me If You Can! — Commando No 4942Comm_4942_coverMaster

 

It was only a bone, white and shiny, with odd painting and carving on it. An Aborigine mystic had said it would protect the wearer from any harm.

Well, if you’re an infantryman fighting in a modern war, you aren’t going to believe in that kind of thing, are you? Unless, of course, it starts saving your life — then you might begin to think there was something in it after all!

 

Introduction

Geography is, naturally enough, hugely important in Commando. Every tale must have a proper sense of place — the authors and, especially, the artists must evoke each location realistically enough to convince readers of the story’s authenticity and create a sense of drama and atmosphere. Here the dense jungles of New Guinea are brilliantly brought to life by interior artist Dalfiume and cover illustrator Ian Kennedy.

And, this fortnight’s Gold collection classic, Flying Flea (No 4940), is also set in the Far Eastern grandeur of New Guinea’s truly impressive landscape. That book is well worth a read too if you haven’t already done so.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Kill Me If You Can! Originally Commando No 1110 (March 1977), re-issued as No 2444 (February 1991)

Story: N. Allen  Art: Dalfiume  Cover: Ian Kennedy

Commando Issues 4907-4910 – published 21 April 2016

Commando Issues 4907-4910 – published 21 April 2016

 

Tough To Kill — Commando No 4707Comm_4907_coverMaster

With the German Blitzkreig in full flow, retreating British forces were headed for the evacuation at Dunkirk.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Campbell — a tough, impulsive Hurricane pilot who wasn’t so good at following orders — had ended up in the brig to teach him a lesson.

His base overrun, Jimmy was determined to fight the enemy with whatever weapon he could lay his hands on — even a cricket bat!

 

Story: David Turner  Art: Vicente Alcazar  Cover: Janek Matysiak

 


Gunboat Jim — Commando No 4908Comm_4908_coverMaster

 

 

“Gunboat Jim” was the nickname he earned in the end. But for a long time before that young Sub-Lieutenant Jim Potter was “Calamity Jim” to everyone.

He could never take the wheel of one of the high-speed flotilla’s boats without running her slap-bang into trouble.

 

 

Introduction

Our endearing eponymous character always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and doesn’t have much luck. Therefore, he is seen as a “Jonah” — a jinx on the high seas.

One particularly obnoxious fellow crewman is convinced that poor Jim Potter will bring down their ship but, since Jim is a true Commando hero, we know that he is made of sterner stuff.

This is a solid, entertaining sea tale, nicely drawn by Sostres.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Gunboat Jim, originally Commando No 213 (May 1966)

Story: Clegg  Art: Sostres  Cover: Buccheri

 


Escape Or Death — Commando No 4909Comm_4909_coverMaster

 

Captain Jon Laker and Lieutenant Rodney Smythe-Simmons were stuck in a remote P.O.W. camp in desolate Poland. Both came from aristocratic families and this made them viable candidates for an important Nazi prisoner exchange operation.

However, when the chance to escape unexpectedly came their way both men knew they had to seize it…or die trying.

 

Story: George Low  Art: Jaume Forns  Cover: Ian Kennedy

 


 The Long Chase — Commando No 4910Comm_4910_coverMaster

The Sunderland hurtled in like an avenging angel and two depth charges fell from beneath her wings. Seconds later two explosions signalled the end of the U-boat beneath her. Flight-Lieutenant Jack Gregory and his crew were jubilant, for the weary months of training and patrolling had paid off.

But they wouldn’t have been so happy had they known this was only the start of a long chase that would take them the length and breadth of a snow-covered Hebridean island…on foot!

 

Introduction

This is a fantastic air, land and sea story. I love it when Commando combines all three basic genre types and The Long Chase is a master class in doing so with complete success.

The remote Hebridean island here is an excellent, imposing setting for an adventure tale that never lets up. There’s a great script by Bill Fear, a dynamic cover by Ian Kennedy and fellow veteran interior artist Gordon Livingstone delivers stunning page after page, all rendered in his trademark style.

Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

The Long Chase, originally Commando No 1210, (March 1978), re-issued as No 2515 (November 1991)

Story: Bill Fear  Art: Gordon Livingstone  Cover: Ian Kennedy