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
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
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
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
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
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
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)