The second of Egmont's series of 'Classic Comics' specials--the first being the Roy of the Rover Souvenir Special that came out in April—and one I've been looking forward to. Although it suffers the same problem of extracting one or maybe two episodes from a long-running series, it's a great selection. You get the first ever episodes of "D-Day Dawson" and "The Bootneck Boy", two episodes of "The Sarge" (drawn impeccably by Mike Western), two episodes of "Johnny Red" (ditto Joe Colquhoun, a nice little taster for the upcoming Titan volume), two each of "Day of the Eagle" and "Hellman on the Russian Front", complete yarns featuring "Major Eazy" and "Rat Pack" plus a couple of features.
I wasn't a reader of the early Battle Picture Weekly. It arrived just as I was leaving Valiant behind in 1975 and switching to Speed & Power, so the first issues I picked up weren't until 1977 and the merger with Action. There I rediscovered some of my favourite artists—Mike Western, Eric Bradbury and Joe Colquhoun, all on top form—and kept reading for some time. So the magazine works for me as a nostalgic dip into the past but might leave newcomers with a sense of frustration not knowing what happened next (for instance, German forces have the Sarge and his section surrounded in a farmhouse... you turn the page... and... Hellman's heading off to Russia). Newcomers might want to wait for Titan's Best of Battle (progressing steadily towards completion, last I heard) which will include a similar line-up—Rat Pack, D-Day Dawson, The Sarge, Darkie's Mob, Hellman, Bootneck Boy, Johnny Red. For the rest of us oldies, the Battle Picture Weekly Classic Comics is a great little reminder of those great old days when you could walk into a newsagent and still find half-a-dozen boys' comics on the shelves each week. Hell, even picking it up in W. H. Smiths, sole distributor for these Egmont specials, was nostalgic.