Continuing his series collecting his creator-owned “Combat Colin” strips from Marvel UK’s Transformers comics, Lew Stringer has added another thoroughly enjoyable assemblage of anarchic comedy to his fast growing “Lewniverse” range with Combat Colin #3.
This time out, we’re treated to stories featuring The Brain (as well as a number of returning villains such as Professor Madprof), a fantastic parody of The Prisoner (guest starring Brickman), and a hilarious one-off “Giggly Sisters” strip in which a monster is defeated with kindness and a nice cup of tea.
Along the way, Combat Colin faces nosey reporters, malevolent magicians, super -powered pick pockets and more, in strips that never forget the target audience of kids perhaps heading to the beach for their summer holidays or who are more than happy to enjoy a good fart joke at the expense of a bank robber.
The world of Combat Colin is utterly bonkers, of course, and with these stories, the focus is very much on Colin and partner in adventure, Semi Automatic Steve. With his trans-dimensional pockets capable of producing the right weapon to deal with the latest threat, a hot line to the police to alert him to dangers, a Combat Tank and seemingly unlimited funds to pay for all that weaponry (and even a space rocket), this always strip offered limitless possibilities for storylines. The inventiveness on show in this Collection is absolutely extraordinary… and the resulting strips thoroughly entertaining.
For me, one of the highlights of the issue have to be the Kirby-esque “Underworld Men”, servants of The Brain, who is turning our brains to mush with crap TV (yes, it was happening in the 1980s, too). They look like Weetabix brought to life to me.
I also liked how one villain is defeated not by anything Colin throws at him, but a kid’s activities with a simple bucket and spade; and the wonderful cut out and keep Combat Planes, Combat Colin Code Guide and other bits around the edges of the strips themselves, drawing on Lew’s earliest influences, the “Power Comics” such as Wham! of the 1960s, which he grew up reading and writes about in the issue.
I’ve enjoyed Lew’s work for decades now, right back to his early days working on and publishing in fanzines in the late 1970s, when we’d meet on occasion at the London Westminster Marts. Since then, he’s carved an amazing career across countless comics and magazines, including, currently, TOXIC and Doctor Who Magazine.
(I’m also looking forward to seeing his art for a strip playing to all his considerable strengths as a cartoonist I wrote for an as yet unannounced comic later this year).
It’s great to see his early work re-published in these new self-published editions and I look forward to reading Combat Colin #4 sometime in 2019.
• Combat Colin, Derek the Troll, Pedantic Stan, and Brickman, reprinting stories of mine from long ago. You can order them directly from Lew’s website here