Here’s the intel on Commando Issues 4731-4734, on sale from today, 14th August 2014 in all good newsagents and for iPad and iPhone via iTunes. The 12-month World War One saga, every story drawn by Keith Page, continues with a story set in the mines at Messines, which downthetubes readers may recall was a major story arc in Battle‘s “Charley’s War”, so it will be interesting to see how Commando handles the same period. (The opening pages of “The Miners Of Messines”, to its credit, does touch on the terrible conditions for workers in the private mining industry before the war).
This set of releases includes not one but two Ian Kennedy covers – always a bonus.
Commando No 4731 – The Miners Of Messines
Story: George Low Art: Keith Page Cover: Ian Kennedy
On the morning of the 28th June 1914 two pistol shots fired in a Sarajevo street had plunged the world into war and pitched men of all nations against one another. By 1917, men faced one another over a narrow strip of No-Man’s-Land, unable to advance without incurring massive casualties.
One group, though, could move across that gulf much more easily, for they were tunnellers who operated deep in the earth. Yet even they were far from safe. This is the story of…The Miners Of Messines.
“As a tribute to those who served during the years 1914-1918 — on the Home Front or at Front Line — Commando has produced a series of stories of characters caught up in the tumult of the First World War,” editor Calum Laird reminds us. “None of them are real people but we’d like to think that the experiences they have will not be a million miles from what actually happened to so many.
“Last month, our story took our heroes into the battle for Vimy Ridge and this time it’s another ridge which dominates proceedings. However this one’s at Messines but the lads at the core of this tale aren’t fighting up its slopes, they’re burrowing underneath. Not a yarn for the claustrophobic.
“I hope you enjoy this and the other stories in the series as much as we have.”
Commando No 4732 – Jungle Ace
Originally Commando No 115 (May 1964), re-issued as No 635 (April 1972)
Story: Fitzsimons Art: Medrano Cover: Chaco
He flew alone, and he piloted a plane the like of which the RAF had never seen —a jet-black Mosquito.
The only thing in all Burma feared by the all-conquering Japanese, the Mosquito came upon them like a screaming black shadow and as mysteriously disappeared, leaving utter destruction in its wake.
Meet the pilot, the man who built this terror plane, the one they called “Lone” Wolfe.
“First of all, a warning — this story does not paint the Japanese in a very good light,” notes Calum of this re-presented story from Commando’s past, when no-one thought twice about being jingoistic. “Actually that’s a bit of an understatement. So if you’re easily offended, steer clear.
“That said, it doesn’t paint the ‘hero’ in a particularly good light either. He’s obnoxious, cordially disliked and a man obsessed with war and killing.
“The foregoing doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but in actuality the Fitzsimons narrative works well, pulling you along at a pace that lets you ignore other considerations. Helping out considerably is Medrano’s very precise black-and-white art. As pin-sharp and well-proportioned as any, it puts him right up there with the best comic aviation artists.
“Chaco’s cover is a lovely piece, but don’t be misled. This is an air story.”
Commando No 4733 – Danger On Board
Story: David Turner Art: Rezzonico Cover: Janek Matysiak
HMS Apollo was one of many Royal Navy destroyers which escorted vulnerable merchantmen as they steamed beyond the North Sea and across the dangerous waters off Northern Russia. Doubly dangerous, for the Germans seemed to know their every move, with an alarming number of ships being sunk by Kriegsmarine U-boats and destroyers.
Midshipman Johnny Clark began to wonder if the enemy had some kind of help in obtaining their information. Surely none of the Apollo’s men could be a traitor… could they?
Commando No 4734 – The Hunt Begins…
Originally Commando No 2295 (July 1989), re-issued as No 3859 (November 2005)
Story: Cyril Walker Art: Ibanez Cover: Ian Kennedy
The valley entrance was dominated by the rock carving of a huge tiger, poised as if guarding the pass.
To the Japanese soldiers it was a chilling reminder of the talk of the natives…that a giant man-eating tiger stalked these parts. But to their ruthless officer this was nonsense. He was enjoying his favourite sport of hunting down escaping POWs, and he wasn’t going to let any superstitious rubbish get in his way!
“For me, Commando’s toughest tales have always been set in the unforgiving jungles of the Far East, notes Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor. “This really hit home when the Gold Collection started to re-visit the earliest jungle stories originally published from 1961 onwards. Having been too young to read them first time round, I was genuinely surprised by just how hard-hitting and gritty they were.
“Although ‘The Hunt Begins…’ is from 1989, it certainly evokes those edgy 1960s classics, with some unrelenting action and a monstrous villain at its core.”
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Art and covers featured © DC Thomson
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.