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 4935
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 4936
“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”…
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 4937
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 4938
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!
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