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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Leopard From Lime St. Volume 2

Originally published between June 1977 and July 1978, these six stories continue the adventures of the Leopard from Lime Street in a second volume of reprints from the pages of Buster. There's not much back story to catch up on if you missed the first volume, and that's neatly summarized in the opening panel:
After being scratched by a radioactive leopard, 13-year-old Billy Farmer found that he had somehow developed the strength and agility of the mighty jungle cat, and the ability to lick his own anus.
I may have made that last bit up.

Billy was Britain's answer to Peter "Spider-Man" Parker, an orphan living with his aunt Joan and uncle Charlie, the latter a conniving waster always on the look-out to score a quick reward for the little effort as he can muster. As the latest story opens, Charlie has his eye on a £1,000 reward offered by local newspaper owner Thaddeus Clegg and is convinced that Billy will lead him to the lair of the Beast of Selbridge. By coincidence, £1,000 is also the price of a hip operation at a specialist clinic in Austria that Aunt Joan needs in order to walk properly again.

The publicity attracts a chancer by the name of Bert Flanagan who own a run-down travelling fun-fair. He wants the Leopard as a sideshow attraction and, captured, Billy finds himself on exhibition behind bars at Campbell's Circus.

It's surprising that Uncle Charlie doesn't twig that Billy is the Leopard. It takes only one glance for new girl Debra Stevens to realise that there's something strange about Billy, a natural athlete who runs scared of doing athletics. (Two firemen find it suspicious that he calls a cat a "friend" when Billy has only just met the cat... that's the level of suspicion the Beast has caused in Selbridge!)

Over the coming weeks, Billy is catnapped by an eccentric millionaire, tracks down an escaped leopard ahead of a hunting party, struggles to control violent urges when he dons a new leopard costume, is blamed for a series of muggings in the local area, goes ghost hunting at a haunted cinema and foils a gang of would-be bank robbers.

Billy's acrobatic and action-packed adventures were penned by one of Britain's best scriptwriters, Tom Tully, who knew just how to keep his audience on the edge of their seat and anticipating next week's exciting installment. Combined with artwork by the twin talents of Mike Western penciling and Eric Bradbury inking, and you'll soon be swept along by Billy's efforts to help his aunt, avoid being bullied at school and by his uncle, and do right by the unappreciative citizens of Selbridge. The Leopard From Lime St. ran for almost a decade, so there are plenty of other stories waiting to be re-told in further volumes. Fingers crossed.

The Leopard From Lime St. by Tom Tully, Mike Western & Eric Bradbury. Rebellion Publishing ISBN 978-1781-08678-0, 13 June 2019, £14.99. Available via Amazon.

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