DC Thomson’s Commando Issues 5011 – 5014, on sale now in all good newsagents and various digital platforms, deliver a hotpot of unique wartime adventures, ranging from World War Two Home Front detectives to grizzled Yankees in the Vietnamese jungle.
While “Flight of Fancy” and “Killer Commando” tackle different genres, delivering time honoured Commando themes and stories with a Science Fiction twist and Film Noir flair, “Launch the Wildcats!” offers a different perspective on the Germans in World War Two, and “The Hill“, with its Vietnam setting, tackles notions of duty and pacifism. There’s certainly something for everyone in these issues!
Commando 5011 – Flight of Fancy
Story: George Low Art: Rezzonico & Vila Cover: Ian Kennedy
“No, it can’t be? A flying saucer! It’s right here in front of me…just like in those comics!”
In a singular George Low story, Commando dips its toe into the realms of Science Fiction as World War Two Private Roger Brown, general knowledge mastermind, encounters a flying saucer! Roger’s squad immediately dismiss him, thinking he’s gone mad. But was the aircraft only a figment of his imagination, or could it possibly be one of the Nazis’ experimental “Vengeance Weapons”?
The otherworldly ideas of this issues are highlighted by the stand out greens and reds of Ian Kennedy’s cover, contrasting the alien nature of the aircraft against the natural forest backdrop. However, Rezzonico’s interior art keeps Commando’s military realism intact, featuring detailed illustrations of Tiger Tanks, Panzers, PIATs and Flugkreisels.
Commando 5012 – Launch the Wildcats!
Story: McOwan Art and Cover: Gordon C. Livingstone
Originally issue 332 (May 1968) and 1039 (June 1976)
Giving the rare perspective of a British subject raised in Germany, McOwan’s story shows that there is prejudice on both sides, and emphasises a varied view of the Germans, many of whom hated the Nazis. These blurred enemy divides are highlighted in Gordon C. Livingstone’s action packed cove, as deep blues bleed into reds and purples across the page.
Franz Braun, really Frank Brown, attended school in Germany, cared for by his loving aunt and uncle. But as he grew, Nazism tightened its grip on his adopted homeland and Franz was forced to return to Britain. Then, when the war started, Franz fought against the country that had raised him in order to free it from its oppressive government.
Commando 5013 – The Hill
Story: Ferg Handley Art: Rodriguez Cover: Janek Matysiak
It’s January, 1968. Rookie troops are stationed on Hill 466, A.K.A. Little Round Top. There’s booby-traps, deadly wildlife, sweltering heat – and the North Vietnamese Army is closing in, but the men must defend that hill with their lives. This tension is felt from page one as Janek Matsiak’s cover puts you right in the action, seating you inside a helicopter looking out at a fight of armed choppers hovering over the tangled green mass of the Vietnamese jungle. However, what makes this story unique is the characters’ view that, unlike the two world wars, this fight may have no reason…
An ensemble of characters, different motives and reservations are voiced against and in for the Vietnamese war, but thanks to Rodriguez’s detailed illustrations, each character is distinctive.
Ian Kennedy’s second cover in the collection, the close-ups of the hero and villain, complete with a fedora, trench coat and silencer pistol are all reminiscent of the Film Noir style it pays homage to, which C T Rigby takes full advantage of in the interior art.
Mike Knowles’s story is a tale of old versus young, when a rogue Commando, trained as an expert assassin, can no longer see the line between right and wrong. After killing his ex-smuggling partner during an air raid, decorated Dunkirk veteran Kenneth Bagnall thinks he has gotten away with murder – but hot on his tail is veteran civilian policeman Ernest Hallows.
But who will win this deadly game of cat and mouse…?
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