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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Commando 5435-5438

Commando issues 5435-5438 are out today! With two issues commemorating 80 years since the Battle of Crete, using ANZAC, British and local Resistance perspectives, as well as Catalina bombers defending downed airmen, and a very suspect situation in Operation Husky…

5435: A Soldier’s Honour

Many of those who fought on the shores of Greece were evacuated to Crete when the mainland fell to the Nazis. It was a bitter loss and one that would be echoed on the island too. And so, it became another race to escape the deadly fallschirmjägers as the Nazis took Crete in their iron grasp. But with escape, you are always leaving someone behind.

Honouring 80 years since the Battle of Crete, Brent Towns’ follow up to #5423 ‘Tassie Devil’ focuses on bitter corporal Ted Olsen, who’s just as stubborn as the Tasmanian sergeant before him. Will they all make it out of Crete or is something else more important?

Story | Brent Towns
Art | Morhain & DeFeo
Cover | Ian Kennedy

5436: Death Patrol

The night sky over the central Mediterranean erupted into flaming death. The Allied invasion of Sicily, codename “Operation Husky”, had begun. But for Lieutenant Bob Hanson and Brigadier Mullen, the airborne attack was to pose a terrifying problem. They didn’t know it yet, but soon they were to meet up with the death patrol!

Allan’s high-tension tale twists through Cortes’s detailed depictions of the Sicilian countryside, which is anything but serene when you cannot trust the men around you but need them to survive!

Story | Allan
Art | Cortes
Cover | Lopez Espi
Originally Commando No. 404 (1969).

5437: The Amazons of Crete

Inspired by the Amazon legends her grandmother tells her, when the Germans come to claim her island, Cretan Demi Karas is ready for the fight. She is strong, she is brave, and her aim is true, ready to send an arrow into the heart of any Nazi!

Ferg Handley’s story offers a refreshing perspective on the action in Crete and Carlos Pino’s stunning interior and cover art is as fluid and expressive as always.

Story | Ferg Handley
Art | Carlos Pino
Cover | Carlos Pino

5438: Hunters of the Night

After the flak and searchlights of Nazi-occupied Europe, the North Sea was the one remaining obstacle for the returning crews of bomber command — and a grim obstacle at that. They seldom relaxed until they sighted the English coast, for they knew that there was little hope of survival if they ditched into the icy water… Their only solace was that RAF Coastal Command’s flying Catalinas were ready to defend and rescue any ally in those deadly waters.  

Millar’s stunning cover teases the grey-painted wing of the  Catalina, like the fin of a shark — a sight that struck fear in the heart of any prowling Nazi vessel as the aircraft swooped out of the night sky to rain destruction!

Story | RA Montague
Art | Carmona
Cover | Millar
Originally Commando No. 1679 (1983).

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 12 May 2021

Written by by Alex De Campi (Madi) and drawn by Eduardo Ocaña (Messiah Complex), Full Tilt Boogie is a brand new all-ages series from the powerhouse of British comics, 2000 AD!

A planet-conquering, prince-rescuing, and ramen-eating new space opera, described by The Hollywood Reporter as “Saga meets The Last Airbender”. 

Tee, along with her grandmother and cat, is a wannabe bounty hunter, odd-jobbing across the galaxy in her ship the Full Tilt Boogie, constantly on the lookout for the bigger, better payday. Some days, though, it’s less bounty-hunting and more baby-sitting, especially when they rescue the narcissistic Prince Ifan from Debtor’s Prison. Accidentally sparking an intergalactic war, suddenly Tee finds herself chased across the universe by sacred knights and unstoppable undead warriors. Planet conquering, prince rescuing, and ramen eating – it’s all in a day’s work for the crew of the Full Tilt Boogie!

As well as the paperback edition (listed below), there is a limited edition hardcover available from the 2000 AD Web Shop, priced £19.99. Here's the link.

2000 AD Prog 2231
Cover: Cliff Robertson / Dylan Teague (cols).

Judge Dredd: Easy Money by Michael Carroll (w) Simon Fraser (a) Gary Caldwell (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davies (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Intestinauts - Symbiotic Love Triangle by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Future Shocks: Goodbye to Zane by John Tomlinson (w) Anna Morozova (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Feral & Foe II by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Full Tilt Boogie by Alex De Campi & Eduardo Ocaña.
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108907-1, 13 May 2021, 64pp, £9.99. Available via Amazon.

Pedal to the metal! Tee, along with her grandmother and cat, is a wannabe bounty hunter, odd-jobbing across the galaxy in her ship the Full Tilt Boogie, constantly on the lookout for the bigger, better payday. Some days, though, it’s less bounty-hunting and more baby-sitting, especially when they rescue the narcissistic Prince Ifan from Debtor’s Prison. Accidentally sparking an intergalactic war, suddenly Tee finds herself chased across the universe by sacred knights and unstoppable undead warriors. Planet conquering, prince rescuing, and ramen eating – it’s all in a day’s work for the crew of the Full Tilt Boogie!

Devlin Waugh: Blood Debt by Rory McConville, Aleš Kot & Mike Dowling.
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108767-1, 13 May 2021, 176pp, £16.99. Available via Amazon.

Vatican exorcist, freelance paranormal investigator and altogether dashing rogue, Devlin Waugh is in the business of getting up close and extremely personal with the occult! This time he'll have to rescue his debtor brother Freddy from a casino suspended over an unending interdimensional void, save Brit-Cit from a plague of mutagenic nightmare spores, and befriend a possessed demonic dildo, all while negotiating boyfriends ex- and current...

Friday, May 07, 2021

Comic Cuts — 7 May 2021

Not that this is going to have any impact on their sales, but Specsavers really are crap. It has now been 18 days since my eye test and there's still no news on when I will be getting my new glasses through — paid for in full up front, let's not forget.

My eye strain is getting worse, some days developing into headaches. As a life-long wearer of glasses, I've always taken a break mid-day to give my eyes a rest from computer screens, but Monday was almost entirely lost after I dozed off at about 1:30 in the afternoon, after lunch, and didn't wake up until 6:30 in the evening. I'm a firm believer in letting your body tell you what it needs, and I must have needed sleep, although I don't remember having a rough night. I think it must have been the eye strain.

My sight for mid and distant objects hasn't changed much, so I'm still enjoying our walks and I can watch TV without any problems; but I have been dragging my heels about work for over a month... not just the time I have been waiting since my eye test appointment but the two weeks wait I had after booking it. Mind you, I began noticing the strain months ago, and should have done something about it in January rather than waiting until I'd had my first dose of the vaccine.

Hopefully there will be happier news by next week.

Talking of which, on Saturday week — the 15th of May — I will be on a panel as part of this year's Lawless comic convention, streaming live on Youtube. I'm part of the History of British Comics panel alongside David Roach, Paul Gravett and John Freeman, with Tony Foster of ComicScene fame and the recently launched History of Comics series as host.

You will be able to watch Lawless: The Bunker on Youtube and Twitch; there will be supporting podcasts. There isn't a schedule yet (I'm writing this Thursday evening), but you can find the full guest list here. To give you a taste... guests will include John Wagner, Pat Mills, Ian Kennedy, Mike Collins, Glen Fabry, Greg Staples, Ian Gibson, Steve MacManus and Simon Furman.

I think this will be the first virtual British comic convention of the year, but I'm guessing it won't be the last. There have been a few in the US (including the San Diego Comic Con) where pre-recorded panels have been streamed. It will be interesting to see if this works. It'll be just as interesting to see if my set-up works, as I'm hoping to broadcast from my office so that I have access to my own computer and files, should anyone want to ask any tricky questions.

If you have any, we should be on for 90 minutes from mid-day.

I'll try to include various links next week.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 5 May 2021

Tummy trouble? Bowel bother? Alimentary anxiety? You need The Intestinauts… micro-bots designed to get right to the bottom of the problem… before heading out the bottom of the problem.
And in 2000 AD Prog 2230, the micro-bots made for all your medical maladies return in the new series Intestinauts: Symbiotic Love Triangle, by gross-out merchants extraordinaire, Arthur Wyatt and Pye Parr.
    Carefully wiping down all surfaces and keeping a good social distance, because the last thing anyone wanted was to need to get the Intestinauts exploring us internally… we chatted to Arthur and Pye…

Arthur, Pye, we’re getting a new Intestinauts in Prog 2230. Is it another Tharg’s 3Riller or a longer series this time around?

AW: Symbiotic Love Triangle is a 3Riller, so three parts. I’m hoping the next one we do may go bigger – all the way up to six! There’s a couple of one part thrills I’ll pitch some time as well, maybe we’ll get to do a one-pager again just to keep people on their toes. Intestinauts can be effective at any scale!

For those who didn’t have the pleasure of these heroic micro-bots fighting intestinal injury, digestive distress, and alimentary ailments, can you give us an idea of both what’s gone before and what to expect here in the new series?

AW: We all love spaceports, and their boundless opportunities for unfettered commerce and exciting new culinary opportunities, but what about when exotic cuisine and/or alien gastric parasites cause intestinal distress? That’s when Intestolab Biotech’s Intesinauts come in…

(For more from this interview, visit the 2000AD website.)

2000 AD Prog 2230
Cover: Pye Parr.

Judge Dredd: The Penitent Man by Kenneth Niemand (w) Tom Foster (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davies (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Visions of Deadworld: Transpolar by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Intestinauts - Symbiotic Love Triangle by Arthur Wyatt (w) Pye Parr (a+l)
Feral & Foe II by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Time Flies
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108987-3, 5 May 2021, 118pp, £7.99. [DIGITAL ONLY]

In the midst of an air raid over Nazi Germany in World War II, Squadron Leader Bertie Sharp is given a new mission by time travelling agent Trace Bullet; to locate Hermann Goring, who has been kidnapped by time pirates, and take him back to 1945 before millions die in the resulting time disruption. As Bertie and Trace set off in their time travelling JCB, their interdimensional adventures take them to heaven, hell, and beyond… Collected digitally for the first time, Time Flies is an outrageous time travelling comedy from comics superstar writer Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys), with art by Philip Bond (Tank Girl), Jon Beeston (Judge Dredd Megazine) and Roger Langridge (Snarked!).

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Golden Age Masterworks

The Golden Age Masterworks series was launched in January 2019, with a programme of titles that ran through to June, since when only a couple of new titles have appeared. Whether this is a sign of low sales or the influence of the pandemic reducing the number of releases in 2020-21 I don't know. Hopefully there will be more.

Doomsday Morning by C. L. Moore
ISBN 978-147322326-4, 10 January 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Comus, the communications network/police force, has spread its web of power all across an America paralyzed by the after-effects of limited nuclear war. But in California, resistance is building against the dictatorship of Comus and Andrew Raleigh, president for life. For now Raleigh is dying and the powers of Comus are fading. It's the perfect time for the Californian revolutionaries to activate the secret weapon that alone can destroy America's totalitarian system and re-establish democracy.
    Yet Comus too has powers at its disposal, chief among them Howard Rohan. A washed-up actor until Comus offers him a second chance, Rohan will head a troupe of players touring in the heart of rebel territory.
    Howard Rohan, double agent, caught between the orders of Comus and rebels demands. Which side will he choose? Who will he play false - himself, or the entire country?

Galactic Patrol by E. E. 'Doc' Smith
ISBN 978-147322470-4, 10 January 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
The space-pirates of Boskone raided at will, menacing the whole structure of interstellar civilization. Master-minded by a super-scientist, their conquering fleets outgunned even the mighty space cruisers of the Galactic Patrol.
    When Lensman Kim Kinnison of the Patrol discovered the secret Boskonian base, it was invulnerable to outside attack. But where a battle-fleet would meet insuperable resistance, a single infiltrator might penetrate the Boskonian defenses - if he had the guts to take on million-to-one odds. Kinnison had guts enough to take on the odds - even with the future of the civilized Universe riding on his shoulders . . .
    Galactic Patrol is the first self-contained novel in E. E. 'Doc' Smith's epic Lensman series, one of the all-time classics of adventurous, galaxy-spanning science fiction.

Fury by Henry Kuttner
ISBN 978-147322255-7, 10 January 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
The Earth is long dead, blasted apart, and the human survivors who settled on Venus live in huge citadels beneath the Venusian seas in an atrophying, class-ridden society ruled by the Immortals - genetic mutations who live a thousand years or more. Sam Reed was born an immortal, born to rule those with a normal life-span, but his deranged father had him mutilated as a baby so that he wouldn't know of his heritage. And Sam grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and the law, thinking of the Immortals as his enemies. Then he reached the age of eighty, understood what had happened to him and went looking for revenge - and changed his decaying world forever.
    Fury is a powerful, dark and compelling novel that explores the sensual, bloody and urgent nature of humankind's striving.

The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke
ISBN 978-147322236-6, 10 January 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
It is the twenty-first century. On Mars a dedicated group of pioneers - among them some of Earth's finest brains - struggle to change the face of the planet . . .
    Science fiction writer Martin Gibson finally gets a chance to visit the research colony on the Red Planet. It's a dream come true - until he discovers the difficulties and perils of survival on another world . . . and the very real terror it holds

Earthlight by Arthur C. Clarke
ISBN 978-147322237-3, 7 February 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
The time: 200 years after man's first landing on the Moon. There are permanent populations established on the Moon, Venus and Mars. Outer space inhabitants have formed a new political entity, the Federation, and between the Federation and Earth a growing rivalry has developed. EARTHLIGHT is the story of this emerging conflict.
    Two centuries from now there may be men who do not owe allegiance to any nation on Earth, or even to Earth itself. This brilliant story tells of a time when man stands upon the moon and the planets, tells of men now divided by the vast stretches of the Solar System but once again torn by jealousy and fear. With vaulting imagination Arthur C. Clarke describes life on the strange, awe-inspiring surface of the moon, scene of a most fantastic and exciting contest of arms.

Grey Lensman by E. E. 'Doc' Smith
ISBN 978-147322471-1, 7 February 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Somewhere among the galaxies is the stronghold of Boskone - a network of brilliant space-criminals whose hunger for conquest threatens the continued existence of all known civilisation.
    But where is this stronghold? Boskonian bases are scattered across the universe - hidden by gigantic thought-screens that defy penetration. The best minds in the Galactic Patrol have tried. And failed. Now it is up to Lensman Kim Kinnison, using his fantastic powers, to infiltrate the Boskonian strongholds, find the location of the enemy's Grand Base - and smash it forever.
    But Kinnison doesn't know that the power of Boskone reaches further than anyone dreamed - into the Galactic Patrol itself . . .
    Grey Lensman is the fourth self-contained novel in E. E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman series, one of the all-time classics of adventurous, galaxy-spanning science fiction.

Second Stage Lensman by E. E. 'Doc' Smith
ISBN 978-147322472-8, 7 March 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Kim Kinnison, Number One man of his time, had faced challenges before - but rarely one as daunting as this. To him fell the perilous task of infiltrating the inner circle of Boskone, stronghold of galactic civilization's most deadly foe. Kinnison had to become a loyal Boskonian in every gesture, deed and thought. He had to work his way up through the ranks of an alien enemy organization, right into the highest echelons of power. Then it would be he who issued the orders - orders that would destroy his own civilization . . .
    Second Stage Lensmen is the fifth self-contained novel in E. E. 'Doc' Smith's epic Lensman series, one of the all-time classics of adventurous, galaxy-spanning science fiction.

Northwest of Earth by C. L. Moore
ISBN 978-147322254-0, 7 March 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Among the best-written and most emotionally complex stories of the Pulp Era, the tales of intergalactic bootlegger Northwest Smith still resonate strongly more than 75 years after their first publication.
    From the crumbling temples of forgotten gods on Venus to the seedy pleasure halls of old Mars, the thirteen stories in Northwest of Earth blaze a trail through the underbelly of the solar system. The quick-drawing smuggler of the spaceways who would become the model for countless science fiction heroes, Northwest Smith is SF's original outlaw.

Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore
ISBN 978-147322252-6, 4 April 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
These are the classic tales of blood and honor that catapulted C.L. Moore into the legendary ranks of such acclaimed writers as Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs in the golden age of sword and sorcery. First published in the magazine Weird Tales in the 1930s, Moore's fantastic medieval adventures are heightened by a savage, romantic vision that helped define the genre, earning her recognition as a Grand Master for lifetime achievement by the World Fantasy Convention.

Children of the Lens by E. E. 'Doc' Smith
ISBN 978-147322473-5, 4 April 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
It was beginning to look as though no one could prevent the annihilation of the civilized Universe. For a weird intelligence was directing the destruction of all civilization from the icy depths of outer space.
    Kim Kinnison of the Galactic Patrol was one of the few men who knew how near the end was. And in the last desperate stratagem to save the Universe from total destruction, he knew he had to use his children as bait for the evil powers of the hell-planet Ploor . . .
    Children of the Lens is the sixth self-contained novel in E. E. 'Doc' Smith's epic Lensman series, one of the all-time classics of adventurous, galaxy-spanning science fiction.

Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke
ISBN 978-147322234-2, 2 May 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
In the year ten billion A.D., Diaspar is the last city on Earth. Agelss and unchanging, the inhabitants see no reason to be curious about the outside world. But one child, Alvin - only seventeen and the last person to be born in Diaspar - finds that he is increasingly drawn to what lies outside the city walls. Even though he knows the Invaders, who devastated the world, may still be out there...
    Later rewritten, expanded and republished as The City and the Stars, this early novella by one of the greats of science fiction remains a powerful and evocative depiction of the future of humanity...

Judgment Night by C. L. Moore
ISBN 978-147322253-3, 13 June 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Released in 1952, Judgment Night collects five Moore novellas from the pages of editor John W. Campbell, Jr.'s Astounding Science Fiction magazine:
    "Judgment Night'' (first published in August and September, 1943) balances a lush rendering of a future galactic empire with a sober meditation on the nature of power and its inevitable loss;
    ''The Code'' (July, 1945) pays homage to the classic Faust with modern theories and Lovecraftian dread;
    ''Promised Land'' (February, 1950) and ''Heir Apparent'' (July, 1950) both document the grim twisting that mankind must undergo in order to spread into the solar system;
    ''Paradise Street'' (September, 1950) shows a futuristic take on the old western conflict between lone hunter and wilderness-taming settlers.
    Chosen by the author herself as the best of her longer-form writing, these stories show a gifted wordsmith working at the height of her talents.

The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
ISBN 978-147322768-2, 19 September 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
In the vastness of space, the crimes just get bigger and Slippery Jim diGriz, the Stainless Steel Rat, is the biggest criminal of them all. He can con humans, aliens and any number of robots time after time. Jim is so slippery that all the inter-galactic cops can do is make him one of their own.

The Deathworld Omnibus by Harry Harrison
ISBN 978-147322837-5, 14 November 2019, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
The planet was called Pyrrus, a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural elements were designed for one specific purpose: to destroy man.
     The settlers there were supermen, twice as strong as ordinary men and with milli-second reflexes. They had to be. For their business was murder.
     It was up to Jason dinAlt, interplanetary gambler, to discover why Pyrrus had become so hostile during man's brief habitation.
    This omnibus contains all three novels in the Deathworld trilogy!

Sidewise in Time by Murray Leinster
ISBN 978-147322739-2, 3 September 2020, £8.99. Cover by Tithi Luadthong. Available via Amazon.
Ten selected short stories from the master of pulp, Murray Leinster - pen name of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, who's prolific career spanned the first six decades of the 20th Century. The Golden Age Masterwork of Sidewise in Time includes the Hugo Award-winning novella "Exploration Team".
    Full contents include: Sidewise in Time; The Runaway Skyscraper; The Mad Planet; Politics; Proxima Centauri; First Contact; A Logic Names Joe; De Profundis; If You Was a Moklin; Exploration Team.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Comic Cuts — 30 April 2021

I'm writing this through gritted teeth. Today (I'm writing this on Thursday) was meant to be the day I picked up my new glasses. It didn't happen.

I was phoned up by Specsavers on Wednesday and told that the two pairs of glasses that I was meant to be picking up both had flaws in the lenses and were being replaced. One pair might be available today, but only after the time my appointment was booked for; if (and there was no guarantee) they arrived on time and were, this time, OK, I would still have to book an appointment for some time next week to pick up the second pair, which everyone who read last week's column will know I didn't really want — it was a "buy one, get one free" offer while I would rather have a "buy one for half the price" offer.

This is the second time Specsavers have failed to deliver my glasses on time. Will I be going back to them in the future? No. Will I be trying to find a company that will allow me to reuse the frames of the three identical pairs of glasses I will shortly own? Yes. Especially when the cheapest frames on offer that I like currently cost £90 and will almost certainly leap in price again by the time I need the latest pair of glasses replaced.

It means another week avoiding too much time in front of the computer. It's frustrating, but unavoidable, so I'll again be concentrating on putting up some books and magazines on eBay, which, ironically, is how I have been raising cash to pay for the glasses.

I've put up a lot of hardbacks over the past few weeks in the hope that I can clear some shelf space, but the most popular items were some stray comics that I had left over from the last time I was eBaying stuff. The money is handy, don't get me wrong, but selling them doesn't save me much space. Offloading books is a tough game these days, with postage prices killing the market. The local second-hand book shop has taken a few, but only for credit as the owner has been shut for over a year and relies quite a lot on passing trade and students from the nearby University of Essex. It looks like I'm going to be doing some boot fairs this summer if (a) I can persuade someone with a car to do them with me; and (b) we get a summer (its overcast and cold here, not far off the edge of the North Sea).

Once I get my glasses (some time next week, I'm told, but they wouldn't commit to a day or a time for an appointment) I should be able to get back to writing within a day or two — I'll give it that long to acclimatize to the new lenses — at which point the eBaying may have to take a back seat again for a while. I really need to get on with some of the various projects that are stacking up. Hopefully it will be better news next time.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Commando 5431-5434

Commando issues 5431-5434 are out soon! With vengeful Gurkhas, mysterious British Officers,  Motor Torpedo Boats and treasure chests, this is a set you don’t want to miss!

5431: Lions in Burma

When a shifty British Officer is discovered in a crash in the deep Burmese jungle, Sergeant Obafemi Agbaje, of the 82nd West African Division, is honour bound to assist him. But the Sergeant can't shake the feeling that something isn't quite right about the chap!
    In Issue 5341, Heath Ackley’s story reminds us of regiments often overlooked in World War Two, to honour those whose bravery has been forgotten. Plus, with an lush green cover from Neil Roberts, alongside Paolo Ongaro’s expressive interiors — this is a Commando you’ll hear roar!
Story | Heath Ackley
Art | Paolo Ongaro
Cover | Neil Roberts

5432: Blade of Honour

”Kafar hunu bhanda marnu ramro” — ”Better to die than live like a coward.” This is the Gurkhas’ motto, a code of conduct that was to be upheld. But it wasn’t just for them, they expected their British Officers to also adhere to that same code of courage. So, why then was a Gurkha's blade, the razor-sharp kukri, poised to kill none other than a British Officer?! How did this come to be — well that is a story you'll have to read in Issue 5432 Blade of Honour!
    A classic Commando from the 1960s, Issue 5432 features art and cover by the late great Gordon C Livingstone woven with a twisting yarn by Eric Hebden.

Story | E Hebden
Art | Gordon C Livingstone
Cover | Gordon C Livingstone
Originally Commando No. 365 (1968).

5433: Dead Man’s Chest

Five men found the Dead Man's Chest, hidden in a cave on a tiny Scottish Island. Their eyes were all greedy but soon one of them decided he didn't want to share! Issue 5433 is a story which would make even Robert Louis Stevenson proud! A tale of treasure, treachery, and terror from writer Colin Maxwell, as he unfolds twists and turns from the shores of rainy Scotland all the way to the sands of North Africa and back!

Story | Colin Maxwell
Art | Khato
Cover | Graeme Neil Reid

5434: The Fiord Fighters

A Commando harking back to the Silver era of war comics! The fearsome fiord fighters from Norway were desperate to take the fight to their homeland! Unfortunately for their CO, Lieutenant Rolf Amundsen, his Royal Navy superior liked to do things by the book — and only by the book! But Rolf wasn’t to be beaten, as he was specifically selected by the British Commandos to aid them on a mission that would take his Motor Torpedo Boat and his crew right back to Nazi-occupied Norway!
Story | McDevitt
Art | Ruiz
Cover | Sutton
Originally Commando No. 1678 (1983).

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 28 April 2021

Thistlebone returns this spring with the second series, Poisoned Roots – bringing back all the horrors we experienced in the first series.

For those who perhaps haven’t caught up, writer Tom Eglington and artist Simon Davis offer the following to help you catch-up on series one?

TC EGLINGTON: Thistlebone is a folk horror tale following the story of Avril, a woman who survived an abduction from a bizarre cult as a child. Decades later she is drawn back to the woods where she experienced her ordeal. Disturbing memories and dark forces stir as she recalls her past.

We tried to create something disquieting, atmospheric and beguiling with Thistlebone, punctuated with stabs of genuine horror. It is realistic, but there are aspects that have a dreamlike quality as the reader experiences sections of the first story through Avril’s viewpoint, memories that are distorted by her confused mental state. Simon’s artwork was been perfect for this, as his style conveys mood so well.

SIMON DAVIS:  Yes, everything Tom said. I have a love of the genre that’s referred to as Folk Horror…one inextricably linked to nature, isolation and the old ways. We hadn’t worked together before yet shared a love of the genre and get on well, so this seemed the perfect opportunity to create something new together.

Hopefully it was unsettling. Because of modern society’s general disconnect from the natural world…food production, species depletion etc… I feel that nature holds a lot of primal fears for the modern city dweller. I think setting the first story in the overpowering presence of a forest already creates a feeling of unease and oppressiveness. It’s a folk-horror story in a lot of ways…the fear of modern industrialisation, myth and fear.

(More revelations from this interview can be found here.)

2000 AD Prog 2229
Cover: Dermot Power.

Judge Dredd: The Penitent Man by Kenneth Niemand (w) Tom Foster (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davies (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Visions of Deadworld: Transpolar by Kek-W (w) Dave Kendall (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Future Shocks: Regarding Henry by Mark McCann (w) Glenn Fabry (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Feral & Foe II by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Thistlebone: Book One by T. C. Eglington & Simon Davis
Rebellion ISBN 978-178108778-7, 29 April 2021, 64pp, £12.99. Available via Amazon.

The secluded rural village of Harrowvale holds a dark past—that years earlier, on a farm bordering the vast tracts of woodland, it hosted a cult that was seeking to escape civilisation and find purity in the old ways, namely worshipping an ancient deity called Thistlebone. Led by the charismatic Jasper Hillman, their pagan beliefs grew ever more radical to the point where they held the young Avril Eason captive with the intention of sacrificing her. But Avril escaped…

"Simon Davis' artwork really is some of the best he's ever done. Magnificent." —

"hits all the right buttons ... More please." — All-Comic

"Feels like visiting a novel by Stephen King. The eerie atmosphere, the supernatural undertones but, perhaps most importantly, the grounded approach to storytelling." — Multiversity Comics

Friday, April 23, 2021

Comic Cuts — 23 April 2021

Finally, I managed to get an appointment to see an optician this week, so headed into Colchester on Tuesday for the first trip into town since last November. With the lockdown easing and plenty of shops open, it was a lot busier than I've seen it for over a year. There has been some attempt to keep people separated by drawing a line down the middle of the wider pathways and asking people to keep to the left. From my experience on Tuesday, a lot of people don't know their left from their right, or can't read, or don't care.

The trip started badly as I arrived at the bus stop only for the bus to roar past me just as I was turning to face it. After that, things went rather more to plan. I got to my appointment on time, I had the eye test, picked out some new frames and paid the extortionate amount demanded because my eyesight is terrible and they have me over a barrel. Prices have shot up from around £150 for the glasses I'm wearing to £250 for the new pair which have identical frames. Identical. To justify the increase they're doing a two-for-one offer, so I'm getting a second pair free, because, you know, people often like to wear two pairs of identical glasses, rather than pay half the amount just to own one pair.

I forked out an extra £30 to have the second pair tinted, so I can have prescription sunglasses.

My eyesight is not great. I've worn glasses my whole life and things have been getting worse over the past twenty years. I need a significantly stronger prescription every two years, but I'm starting to struggle six months before that. Once the little clock on my computer screen becomes unreadable, I know its time for new glasses. Probably six months after I should be getting them, but I'm often waiting for a cheque to come in because, as you've seen, it's not a small chunk of change to buy glasses any more.

I wouldn't feel so aggrieved if they didn't charge for new frames every time. I've just paid for identical new frames at a cost of £90 — but now I'll have three pairs with identical frames, so next time I'll ask if I can reuse the frames and let them have the older glasses (the ones I'm wearing now) or sacrifice the sunglasses if I have to. I'm sure they'll come up with some reason I can't, but it must be worth a try.

I'm hoping to pay for the new glasses with some sales on eBay. Take a look via the link to the left, as I have quite a few books up, mostly hardbacks as I need to clear some space. There's a lot of biographies at the moment, with a few more to follow, some tied into my interest in science fiction, many — the Lord Northcliffe bios — relating to the early history of comics and story papers, plus books by Cecil King and Hugh Cudlipp, chairmen of I.P.C. / Fleetway Publications. This is your chance to find out where I get my information from!

I'm hopefully going to post some more books on eBay this weekend, but while I managed to sort out a couple of shelves earlier this week, I'm tied up a little with some paying work — a French language edition of one of the books that appears under the Bear Alley imprint.

In the meantime, perhaps someone can explain why I have four copies of Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy on my shelves.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Rebellion Releases — 21 April 2021

Rebellion have announced that the latest episode of Future Shocks Radio has now dropped – and 2000 AD subscribers can listen to it exclusively on the 2000 AD app!

The fifth episode of the brand new series of audio adaptations of classic Future Shocks from the pages of 2000 AD includes adapatations of Burping Hitler by Rob Williams and Simon Gurr (2000 AD Prog 1887, 2014) and Beware the Men in Black (2000 AD Prog 286, 1982) by David Perry and Jesus Redondo!

Future Shocks Radio is available exclusively to 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine subscribers.

Produced by two-time BAFTA winner Nathaniel Tapley (Have I Got News For YouThe News Quiz) with an exciting team of writers and creatives, Future Shocks Radio offers bold, witty takes on classic stories with well-known performers like former Blue Peter presenters Konnie Huq and Janet Ellis, comedians Rufus Hound and Al Murray, Eastenders actor Nitin Ganatra, Hollyoaks actor Lizzie Roper, and Spitting Image voice actor Steve Nallon, as well as compelling new voices like 2020 BAFTA-winner Gbemi Ikumelo and a veritable torrent of comic talent.

If you are a print or digital subscriber you can access the exclusive free podcasts by signing in to the 2000 AD app with your Rebellion ID – the same email you use to control your digital or physical subscription.

2000 AD Prog 2228
Cover: Leonardo Manco.

Judge Dredd: The Penitent Man by Kenneth Niemand (w) Tom Foster (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots by TC Eglington (w) Simon Davies (a) Simon Bowland (l)
Sláine: Dragontamer by Pat Mills (w) Leonardo Manco (a) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Tharg's 3rillers: Chorus & The Ring by James Peaty (w) Mike Collins (a) Dylan Teague (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
Feral & Foe II by Dan Abnett (w) Richard Elson (a) Jim Campbell (l)

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Review: Battling Britons

Justin Marriott has built himself a publishing empire, with Paperback Parade, Men of Violence, Hot Lead and The Sleazy Reader as a backbone to a range of one-shots like last year's Pulp Apocalypse. I take my hat off to him.

His latest publication is Battling Britons, a 162-page collection of reviews by various hands of various war-themed strips published in British comics. The earliest date from the early Sixties (issues of War Picture Library, War at Sea Picture Library) and the latest from only a few years ago (an issue of Commando). His introduction reveals that Justin was an irregular reader of comics, but rediscovered them while compiling reviews for another book, Paperbacks at War. Planning to include a handful of comics, he bought some back numbers of pocket libraries, only to re-discover their quality. Thus the seeds for Battling Britons were sown.

The volume looks at strips from the pages of War and Battle picture libraries, Commando, Battle Picture Weekly, Victor, Warlord, Valiant, Eagle, and elsewhere. It begins with a whistlestop history of war comics in the UK before it reaches the meat of the book: over 200 reviews across 140 pages. The strips are listed in alphabetical order, which helps randomize them, so a 1964 Air Ace Picture Library is followed by stories from Battle Picture Weekly, War Picture Library, Commando and Warlord.

The reviews are written by a handful of contributors: Marriott himself, Steve Myall, Jim O'Brien and James Reasoner, with introduction and afterword by Paul Trimble and Gary Martin Dobbs respectively. It's a book that's best dipped into, so let's dip in... Justin isn't keen on 'Beware the Cat', a 1978 issue of Commando involving an astrologer targetted by Hitler because he didn't predict an assassination attempt... 'Johnny Red' gets five grenades (that's the star system) for its gritty storylines and likeable hero... 'Nazi Nightmare' (another Commando) is described as "A souped-up version of the famous thriller The Boys From Brazil"... 'Cope's Crusaders' (from Wizard, 1975) are a group of Brits caught unarmed on a Greek island, holed up in a castle that they defend using ancient weapons... 'Winged Vengeance (Spike, 1983) features a good Luftwaffe pilot, but doesn't impress Jim O'Brien as he begins opposing his own side... 'Cadman' gets four well-deserved grenades, a backstabbing, self-serving weasel who tries to avoid danger at every turn...

You get the picture. There are one or two surprising omissions ('Darkie's Mob' and 'The Sarge' being two instances) but thanks to these descriptive and entertaining reviews, I now want to find and read almost every one of these unlikely yarns. You will, too.

Battling Britons, edited by Justin Marriott
Justin Marriot, 6 April 2021, 162pp, £8.00. Available from Amazon.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Comic Cuts — 16 April 2021

I've had a pleasingly lazy week, having taken a couple of days off around my birthday. I spent most of it sorting out books, trying to clear some shelf space and generally tidy up shelves that have just had books shoved on them to stop them piling up on the floor. The nice thing is that I stumbled across a small pile of old Combat Library stories that I'd thought lost.

I bought them years ago with little idea who was writing them — I picked them up simply because I was interested in the publisher, G.M. Smith / Micron, and I recognised one of the names (W. H. Fear) as someone who had written science fiction for John Spencer / Badger Books and westerns for Digit Books. Later, I spotted that two of the more prolific writers for Combat Library were from the same pen as one of the writers who was particularly prolific over at Digit Books.

Some while back I went through my Digit collection — far (far!) from complete — and pulled out a dozen books all by the same author. I've since figured out who the writer is (Macgregor Urquhart) and how to separate out the similar works of another prolific writer for the same company (T. C. P. Webb). I need a bigger pool of Digits to identify all of their work (did I mention my Digit collection is way incomplete), and more checks need to be made in Combat Library.

Eagle Times
enters its 34th year of production with their Spring issue, and it shows no sign of diminishing its interest in the original comic, which celebrated its 71st birthday on 14 April.

This issue leads off with an entertaining deconstruction of Charles Chilton's long-running 'Riders of the Range' story featuring Geronimo, which author David Britton shows is lacking in many areas, with little historical detail and a rather formulaic plot and outcome.

My favourite of all the articles is Ernest Reed's look back over 'The Phantom Fleet' storyline, comparing it to the original script treatment by Alan Stranks and some accompanying scientific research by Eric Eden. This is a delightful peek behind the curtains at how Frank Hampson's studio took a Dan Dare script and adapted and improved upon it. I can't wait for episode two next issue.

More curtain twitching can be found in two other features this issue. Jeremy Briggs' article on one of L. Ashwell Wood's cutaways also show the blueprints and floor plan for the National Radio Show studio, which broadcast from Earl's Court in September 1953, that Wood used to create a cutaway drawing for Eagle; and there are more sketches on show from the Hampson studio's Ideas Book, this time featuring the Autek, an "automated equinine" or "mechanical 'orse" (or, as the author notes, something that looks a little too much like a sit-on lawn mower).

There are three more big features this issue (the 48 pages feels packed!), with Steve Winders taking a look at 'The Golden Man', the last biography to feature on Eagle's back page, illustrated by Robert Ayton, in 1961, and David Britton seeing how the artwork of various Eagle artists was recently re-used for a series of humorous 'adult' Ladybird books. Britton is also responsible for the third and final part of 'The Story of a Train That Went nowhere', based on a 12-part outline for a proposed Eagle feature.

There is also the usual P.C.49 story, plus Adrian Perkins remembers Ready, Steady, Go!, and Jim Duckett serves up another Eagle tidbit in the 43rd episode of 'In and Out of Eagle'.

The quarterly magazine is the journal of the Eagle Society, with membership costing £29 in the UK, £40 (in sterling) overseas. You can send subscriptions to Bob Corn, Wellcroft Cottage, Wellcroft, Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9EF; subs can also be submitted via PayPal to Back issues are available for newcomers to the magazine and they have even issued binders to keep those issues nice and neat.