Garth – Strip Checklist – Part 01

Strip dates given are those of their original appearance in the British newspaper the Daily Mirror, first compiled by Geoffrey Wren and Ann Holmes and updated by Ant Jones and Philip Harbottle

See Also: Garth: An Introduction

• Garth – Strip Checklist – Part One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight (Reprints)

The very first episode of Garth © Daily Mirror

The very first episode of Garth © Daily Mirror

Garth
Writer: Don Freeman & Stephen Dowling
Artist: Stephen Dowling & John Allard
Published: 24th July January 1943 – 11th March 1944 (B175 – C61)
Number of Episodes: 197

The opening Garth adventure was set in a mythical “Lost Horizon” type of world. Creator Steve Dowling was an admirer of Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates, and its mysterious Far Eastern setting.

Lashed to a raft, after days adrift, delirious and suffering from partial amnesia, Garth is washed up on a strange shore. Here he is found by an attractive native girl, Gala, who administer the kiss of life.

Gala is a member of an underground opposed to the tyrannical rule of a High Priest, who plans to invade a neighbour country. Garth agrees to help her cause by pretending to act as a figurehead ruler under the High Priest.

Using his great strength and cunning, Garth defeats the tyrant and his murderous High Priestess Ola – and helps Gala’s father find his long-lost daughter. Garth then travels on by balloon, hoping to reach western civilisation and restore his memory.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

• Lew Stringer has some page of “Garth the Strong” from the 1946 Daily Mirror reprint Garth – Man of Mystery on his Blimey Blog here

Garth - Children of the DawnChildren of the Dawn
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling & John Allard
Published: 13th March 1944 – 5th August 1944 (C62 – C186)
Number of Episodes: 125

Garth’s balloon crashes in icy mountains, and he encounters an isolated race of cave people. He rescues a girl from a ritual sacrifice (whom he christens ‘Dawn’) and teaches her rudimentary English. Dawn wants Garth as her mate! Embarrassed by her attentions, Garth moves on down river in a log canoe, rescuing the beautiful dark-haired Karen Karolenskaya from drowning. Karen is hard and sophisticated, the antithesis of the clinging Dawn. She introduces Garth to Professor Jules Lumiere, the leader of her scientific expedition that includes a Japanese explorer looking for mammoth remains.

Garth shows Lumiere the lost tribe, and they are joined by the besotted Dawn, to the cynical amusement of Karen (who also has designs on Garth). They find an entire mammoth preserved in a glacier, and after Garth saves the party (with Karen’s help) from the treacherous Japanese, they transport the mammoth (encased in ice) back to Lumiere’s island laboratory.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - The Island LaboratoryThe Island Laboratory
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling & John Allard
Published: 7th August 1944 – 16th September 1944 (C187 – C222)
Number of Episodes: 36

With this story, the plotline develops into science fiction. Arrived at Lumiere’s island, Garth finds an ultra-modern scientific research centre, Dawn is dressed in modern clothing and continues her education – and her rivalry with Karen for Garth’s affections. Lumiere carries out a successful experiment to resuscitate the frozen mammoth, which runs amok. Only Garth’s strength saves the party.

Lumiere then offers to help Garth regain his memory by putting him under the influence of his ‘recapitulator’, an electronic gizmo designed to put those under its influence into a trance, when they will experience their past lives as a speeded-up dream. Garth is to relive his past reincarnations up to the moment when he lost his memory.

Lumiere warns that during moments of crisis or peril, he must utter the Indian evocation “KARMA” in order to pass safely to his next existence. Karen and Dawn also volunteer to share Garth’s trance.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - The Seven Ages of GarthThe Seven Ages of Garth
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling & John AllardHe opens fire
Published: 8th September 1944 – 20th January 1946 (C23 – E17)
Number of Episodes: 413

In this epic story, Garth is regressed back into seven former lives. He adventures variously as a British slave during the Roman occupation of Britain, a 12th century Crusader, a participant in the Wars of the Roses, an Elizabethan sea captain, a Cavalier fighting the Roundheads, and in a climactic final previous life he is an Englishman caught up in the French Revolution. In each segment, Garth lives the last weeks of an earlier life as a man of that period in time and he finally comes to a bloody and heroic death.

Thanks to Lumiere’s foresight, Garth is conditioned to visualise the word ‘KARMA’ at the moment of death, enabling him to jump to his next life. Throughout the tales, Karen and Dawn (avariciousness and virtue respectively) share Garth’s lives in their own earlier incarnations.

Written during the exigencies of wartime, these fascinating stories are both frank and brutal.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - The Saga of GarthThe Saga of Garth
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling & John Allard
Published: 22nd January 1946 – 20th July 1946 (E18 – E171)
Number of Episodes: 154

In this last phase of his trance, Garth relives his earliest years in the present.
Shipwrecked off the island of Thule, the baby Garth is washed ashore in a crib with a strangely inscribed sword. He is adopted by Ragnar, leader of a community descended from Vikings, and his wife Thora. With his great strength of mind and body as he matures, Garth seems destined to succeed Ragnar as leader.

Ragnar’s renegade brother, Sven, leads a gang who loot wrecks washed up on the isle. Enraged to discover his daughter Gerda plans to marry Garth, Sven tries to shoot him. Seeing his action, Gerda runs to warn Garth – straight into the line of fire. Garth kills Sven in retribution, and buries Gerda where she died, along with the sword found in his crib.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - The Awakening of GarthThe Awakening of Garth
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling & Dick Hailstone
Published: 22nd July 1946 – 19th October 1946 (C172 – E249)
Number of Episodes: 78

Garth joins the Royal Navy, to fight the Nazis. His ship is sunk in the China Seas, and he abandons ship on a raft, eventually being washed up on a strange shore to be found by Gala.
His memory restored, Garth has Lumiere fly him to Thule, to see his adoptive parents. Lumiere’s mystic ray has imbued Garth’s body with an electro-magnetic energy, causing any electric machinery near him to cut out. These powers enable Garth to prevent the government from turning Thule into a radio and electronics centre, and return control of the island to Ragnar.

Karen and Dawn have followed Garth, but still mourning Gerda, he tells them he is not interested. Rebuffed, Karen flies off, leaving Dawn behind. Lumiere perforce becomes her guardian.

Because of his unique powers, Garth is then recruited as a special agent by the foreign office to undertake a top-secret mission in India…

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - The Quest of the G-RayThe Quest of the G-Ray
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling & Dick Hailstone
Published: 21st October 1946 – 26th April 1947 (E250 – F99)
Number of Episodes: 159

British Intelligence tells Garth that a Russian scientist, Oscar Villani, has established a scientific citadel behind an energy barrier in a remote area of India. He is working on applications of the same electro-magnetic energy suffusing Garth (the “G-Ray”) to threaten the world. Only Garth can penetrate the energy barrier. Lumiere puts Dawn in a Finishing School and accompanies Garth on his mission to neutralise Villani. Captain Stark, a double agent (working for Villani), captures Dawn fleeing the Finishing School and learns of Garth’s mission. Posing as a British agent, he accompanies them, with Dawn disguised as Ali, his Indian boy servant/

Stark plans to overpower Garth and deliver him to Villani so he can learn from him the secret of his G-Ray powers. Stark’s brutality to Dawn causes her to reveal Stark’s treachery, but Stark succeeds in shooting and wounding Lumiere and trapping Garth in a deep animal-trap pit.

Then, unexpectedly, enter Karen, engaged on the same mission as Garth, but working for the Russians. After aiding Lumiere to recover and then rescuing Garth from the pit, she joins forces with him. Stark is killed, but Dawn is captured by Villani.

Posing as a defector willing to assist him, Karen gains Villani’s confidence. She learns that he has built the Brain, a fantastic electronic computer, with which he is able to keep the superstitious locals in subjection. Garth penetrates the citadel to rescue Dawn. Expecting his attack, Villani has programmed the Brain to hate and destroy Garth by projecting deadly G-Rays – only to get in its line of fire and be destroyed himself.

Garth - Garth Versus The BrainGarth Versus The Brain
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling and Dick Hailstone
Published: 28th April 1947 – 15th August 1947 (F100 – F194)
Number of Episodes: 95

Having wrested control of Villani’s citadel, Garth invites the formerly oppressed local people to occupy it. But as Villani died the Brain had absorbed from his mind all his cunning and guile. Garth gradually loses the radiant energy from his body, but the immobile Brain still retains it, and the power to destroy assailants entering its machine room.
Garth activates a switch operating a super-metal insulating door to the room, so there is a stand-off.

The Brain broadcasts sound waves throughout the city and outside, exhorting the brutal Janus, Villani’s former Janissary whom Garth had exiled, to gain recruits to attack the city and kill Garth.

Garth realizes the Brain is vulnerable to a dynamite explosion from the cellars beneath it, and risking his life succeeds in blowing it up. Janus is killed in a final showdown with Garth, thanks to an invention of Lumiere’s derived from the insulated door.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - Deep WatersDeep Waters
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling and Dick Hailstone
Published: 16th August 1947 – 24th January 1948 (F195 – G21)
Number of Episodes: 137

Scientists worldwide are researching the G-ray, following Lumiere’s discovery that it can be maintained with glaucosite, a mineral found only on the ocean floor, its purity increasing at greater depths. Glaucosite has been discovered off Crater Island in the Indian Ocean. Spurned by Garth, Karen elects to join her own government’s mission there. Soon afterwards Garth and Lumiere are similarly engaged by the British government.

En route with Dawn, their plane is attacked by another flyer and shot down over the ocean. Garth catches a glimpse of one of his attackers – a white bearded man. They are rescued by a passing British government ship, the “Research.” Captain Steel informs them that he is bringing scientific equipment for Lumiere to Crater Island. On arrival they find many nations on the same mission, and in the international saloon bar they come across Karen, who faints at the sight of Garth.

At the quayside, Garth sees the white-haired man disembarking from a private yacht. Steel identifies him as Baron Von Grimm, a “harmless” hermit author studying folklore. Before Garth can challenge him, they learn that some presumed monster in the deeps has been decapitating divers. On his first undersea exploration Garth catches a glimpse of figures lurking in a marine forest, but is then attacked by a giant swordfish.

Meanwhile, Von Grimm encounters Karen who challenges his earlier story to her about witnessing Garth’s plane crash through mechanical failure.

Garth vanquishes the fish and returns to the surface convinced that the divers were killed by a human agency. Whilst Lumiere is assembling an apparatus to adapt Garth’s body to withstand pressures at greater depths, Garth follows Karen as she visits Von Grimm’s private estate. He pretends to be a writer, descended from the famous German brothers. Karen discovers he is lying, but before she can warn Garth she is badly concussed. Garth rushes her to hospital, then rejoins Lumiere, who adapts his body to withstand pressures at greater depths than other divers can go.

Garth descends to the deeps, but is drawn by a powerful current into a submarine cave beneath a volcanic island known as Moaning Isle. Here he discovers the wreck of a ship, before returning to the surface. News of his discovery reaches Von Grimm, whose men have been killing divers before they can discover the cave entrance. The wreck has a cargo of gold bullion, which Von Grimm is planning to salvage.

After Garth makes his third descent, the now-recovered Karen volunteers to receive Lumiere’s de-pressurising treatment, so she can warn Garth. In the deeps she aids Garth in battling with Von Grimm’s men, shooting one, whilst Garth decapitates another killer with his own sword.

Pursued by the “Research” Von Grimm’s yacht enters a cleft too narrow for the larger vessel to follow, so Garth and Karen swim ashore to locate its hiding place. They are ambushed by Von Grimm and his band of Lascars. In the ensuing struggle, Garth hurls Von Grimm into the creek, to his presumed death. However, he survives and is picked up by his yacht, which returns to Crater Island. Here he recruits some unscrupulous characters from the other expeditions to aid him in salvaging the gold. He is observed by Dawn, whom he kidnaps and takes back to his estate, instructing his men go ahead of him to Moaning Isle.

Returned to Crater Island, Garth sets off for Von Grimm’s estate in search of Dawn. As Garth fights his servant, Von Grimm’s bungalow is set on fire, and Von Grimm escapes, carrying Dawn over his shoulder. Pursued by Garth, he plunges over the rim of an extinct volcano. Garth believes he has committed suicide – taking Dawn with him!

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - Into the AbyssInto the Abyss
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling and Dick Hailstone
Published: 26th January 1948 – 10th April 1948 (G22 – G86)
Number of Episodes: 65

Lumiere plans to salvage the gold by descending from the “Research” in a bathysphere, from which Garth can swim to the wreck and attach cables to the gold chests. Special apparatus will then draw both gold and Garth back to the bathysphere against the current.

Whilst these preparations are made outside the cave entrance, Von Grimm’s men have neared the cave by descending from the surface down a network of lava tunnels, to await Von Grimm’s arrival. He has fooled Garth by descending hidden steps inside the crater.

However, the powerful current drags not only Garth but the bathyscape containing Lumiere and Karen, into the flooded cave. It strikes and jolts the wreck like a cannon ball, uncorking another shaft up which they are ejected in a waterspout into a cave above. The jolted wreck settles back, resealing the shaft. Basalt pillars in the caves impregnated with glowing glaucosite provide the underground with illumination.

Garth frees the dazed Lumiere and Karen from the battered bathysphere, and then explores the network of tunnels alone, seeking a way out. With his knife he carves a trail on the walls, to find the way back.

Von Grimm, with his captive Dawn, has rejoined his men. He leaves her with them whilst seeking his old escape route from the cave of the gold ship. As he and Garth converge in the tunnels, Garth is suddenly attacked by a gigantic spider emerging from a hole in the rock walls. Observing Garth’s death struggle, Vin Grimm decides to follow his marked trail, which leads him to Lumiere and Karen. He overhears Lumiere telling Karen of his plan to raise the gold ship to the surface of the Isle by dropping depth charges, forcing it up the shaft on a waterspout. He ties them up at gunpoint, then goes to rejoin his men and implement Lumiere’s explosives plan.

Meanwhile, with his knife and super strength, Garth fights free of the spiders, and then rescues Dawn from Von Grimm’s gang. Von Grimm returns, and as Garth closes with him, a recovered gangster smashes a rifle butt on his head, stunning him. During the struggles another giant spider has dragged Dawn back to its lair. Leaving Garth for dead, Von Grimm and his men return to the cave and set their explosives before withdrawing to the safety of their camp above. Lumiere and Karen are left behind to die in the explosion.

As Garth recovers, he hears Dawn’s cries, and finds her embedded in a vast web: the spider – its normal prey bats – has stored her in its larder. Garth kills the spider and slashes Dawn free. They return to the cave just in time to free Lumiere and Karen, dodging beneath a rock archway as the depth charges explode. The explosion is heard up above by Grimm, and also by Captain Steel and his men, who have landed on the island to search for Garth.

Grimm leads his men to the surface to find the wreck. Below, Garth snatches a lifeboat swept from the wreck, and his party are able to sail it on the swiftly rising waters up the lava tunnels to the surface.

Up above, Von Grimm slips into a ravine now filling with the rising sea. His frightened men abandon him. Von Grimm struggles to a ledge – only to be devoured by a giant spider! Garth and his party discover the wreck now floating on the surface, whilst Captain Steel’s men capture the gangsters as they emerge, before picking up Garth’s party and returning triumphantly to Crater Island.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - Olympic ChampionOlympic Champion
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling and Dick Hailstone
Published: 12th April 1948 – 20th September 1948 (G87 – G225)
Number of Episodes: 139

Whilst working with Lumiere on Crater Island, Garth is invited at short notice to compete in the 1948 London Olympic Games. Lumiere offers to fly Garth in his new rocket plane, accompanied by Karen and Dawn. But the still experimental plane flies off course and crashes in a lake in a lost valley where a colony of Greeks have preserved their old way of life since the fourth century.

Emerging safely from the lake thanks to Lumiere’s patent escape hatch, they are attacked by Greek soldiers who mistake them as Persian invaders. Garth repulses them with his prodigious strength, but without causing any fatalities, earning their respect.

Their advent has been observed by Colchas, a priest to the oracle of Apollo. Pythia, the Oracle’s priestess, is enamoured of Garth, so she pronounces that he has been sent by the Gods to compete in their Olympiad.

Garth goes along with the story to give Lumiere time to enlist the help of Colchas to recover his plane from the lake. Colchas knows their origin and wishes to preserve the colony’s isolation.

The local culture demands that whilst in training for the games, Garth is separated from Karen and Dawn, who are placed under virtual house arrest by Milo, Captain of the Guard who is plotting to overthrow the government. His plan depends on his winning at the Games, so he arranges for an archer to assassinate Garth. Dawn is able to foil the attempt by dropping a heavy vase on to the archer’s head, killing him before he can fire his arrow. Milo has Dawn arrested for murder. He is enamoured of Karen, who plays up to him to learn his plans, and warns Garth. His and Lumiere’s intervention at Dawn’s trial clears her.

Garth duly wins the Games – and helps to prevent the overthrow of the government by Milo, in alliance with the now hostile Pythias, who has been spurned by Garth. She is shot by Karen as she attempts to stab Garth in the back. Garth slays Milo and the revolt is crushed.
The friends leave in Lumiere’s repaired plane, only to find it had been sabotaged by Pythias. They bale out by parachute. Garth is last to jump, and finds himself descending alone into the next valley, which Colchas had warned them to avoid at all costs!

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - The Wonder WomenThe Wonder Women
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Stephen Dowling and John Allard
Published: 21st September 1948 – 8th February 1949 (G87 – G225)
Number of Episodes: 120

Being the last to bale out from their sabotaged aircraft, Garth is separated from Lumiere, Dawn and Karen. Whilst they land in the mountains, Garth’s parachute lands him in the next valley – the realm of the fabled Amazon women – a region they had been warned to avoid. He encounters an abjectly timid man, Fidelius. He speaks in Greek, a language which Freeman had been careful to have Garth learn in the previous story. Fedelius warns him that if any of his women overlords find Garth, he is as good as dead. Before Garth can hide, he is found by two mounted Amazonian warriors, Thalassia and Antiope, who fight over who shall kill him first. Thalassia kills her opponent, only to find that Garth has found concealment.

She rides back to the city, to warn that Garth’s advent may be the prelude to an invasion.
Fidelius counsels Garth to discard his western clothes and dress in the slain woman’s garments after they bury her, so that he might slip into the city unnoticed. He hopes that his enlightened mistress, The Lady Delia (Thalassia’s sister), may be willing to help Garth escape.

Garth learns that the Amazons raid neighbouring states to find men as husbands – but as soon as they become fathers, their wives kill them. And no woman may marry until she has slain a man. The only men allowed to live are those perceived as weak and unsuitable for breeding; these types are taken as servants to the women.

Garth then witnesses a strange public gathering in the city’s market square. Queen Hippolyta is about to carry out the long-delayed execution of her own infant son, Nemo, to prove to the assembled women that she is fit to continue serving as their warrior Queen. Garth intervenes, wresting a dagger from her hand. He is promptly accused by Thalassia as being the male spy who had murdered Antiope. Garth counter claims that it was Thalassia who killed Antiope in jealous rivalry, before subduing and spanking her. This public humiliation cements her enmity towards Garth.

The uneasy Queen Hippolyta, thankful for the interruption, declares that Garth is to be imprisoned at her palace, pending a formal trial, and that her son’s execution will be postponed “in view of this serious matter.”

The story then quickly develops in a complex – but beautifully clear and concise – manner, as Garth learns more palace secrets. Hippolyta had not executed her husband Laertes, as prescribed by law. She substituted the body of a slave to make the deception. Laertes (in disguise) is employed in the royal stables, and at night occupies a permanently locked room adjacent to Nemo’s sleeping chamber. At night he slips into Nemo’s room to lovingly gaze at his sleeping child.

Garth, with great cunning, manages to train the oppressed male servants into a fighting force able to form into a phalanx using shields, and effect to a bloodless coup, overthrowing the women’s rule. He also overcomes a bid by Thalassia to overthrow her ruler, but it is the formerly timid Fidelius who accidently kills Thassalia. He is so overcome that he flees into the mountains. The ruthless, oppressive Amazonian way of life is transformed as men and women are declared equals, and Laertes is installed as King alongside Queen Hippolyta, ruling jointly, with Nemo nominated as successor.

The story abounds with satire and light humour, whilst still being action-packed and occasionally dark. In a clever piece of plotting, Garth learns from Fidelius – who eventually recovers himself and returns from the mountains – that he had met Lumiere, Karen and Dawn, who had an encampment in the mountains. But they had fallen under the sway of a sadistic white hunter, who was on safari with a party of natives. Fidelius observes darkly that the hunter’s tent is hung with the skins and heads of wild beasts, and of men too – !

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - Man-HuntMan Hunt
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 9/2/49 – 9/7/49 (H34 – H16)
Number of Episodes: 129

As in all Freeman-scripted stories, the action in this story follows on directly from the previous one, with Garth still separated from his friends in Africa. Eventually linking up with Lumiere, Dawn and Karen, Garth finds that they have been captured by a white hunter, Captain Cain. Satiated after a lifetime of hunting Cain is on the edge of insanity. Infatuated with the beautiful Karen, he refuses to let his prisoners go, unless she remains and agrees to marry him. Only then will he give Lumiere and Dawn supplies and directional maps to enable them to find the nearest settlement. Lacking weapons or directions in the African wilderness, they are unable to make a break for it. Garth offers himself as bait, inviting Cain and his men to hunt him down and kill him before he can reach the next town, through jungle and across desert. If Garth succeeds, the party goes free. If Cain kills Garth, he gets to marry Karen.

The basic plot has resonances with the classic novel (filmed by M. C. Cooper in 1932) The Most Dangerous Game, aka The Hounds of Zaroff. The man-hunt unfolds in spectacular fashion, with an intriguing sub-plot involving an abortive attempt by Karen to escape and assist Garth, the failure of which aids him indirectly. The climax of the story has Cain and Garth fighting an exciting duel in the desert, with the town only a few miles distant.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth 14 - Selim the SlaverSelim the Slaver
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 11/7/49 – 26/11/49 (H163 – H282)
Number of Episodes: 120

With Garth a magnanimous victor in the Manhunt, he has gained Cain’s respect and friendship. They are recuperating from their ordeal in the town of El Wadi, whilst Lumiere, Dawn and Karen await their return some miles away at Cain’s base camp. Garth and Cain witness a procession of warriors through the town, bearing the carriage of the notorious Sheik, Selim the Slaver. Cain informs Garth that Selim’s power and influence is such that the authorities turn a blind eye to his nefarious activities. Selim conducts business from a “floating city” – collapsible buildings assembled on board a great raft, which floats down river to a fresh location after Selim has conducted his business.

Returning to Cain’s base camp, Garth and Cain learn that Selim’s raiding party have kidnapped Dawn and Karen, leaving a badly wounded Lumiere behind. Acting on Cain’s advice that the authorities will be hard to convince and slow to act, Garth decides to play a lone hand to rescue the girls. Whilst Cain remains behind to look after Lumiere and try and convince the authorities to send a force to El Wadi, Garth returns there with the help of Nimrod’s loyal black tracker, and Ahmed, a young local trader who had assisted him in the previous story. He manages to gain an audience with Selim, posing as the reputedly wealthy Captain Cain.

As Cain, Garth offers to buy the two white women that he understands Selim is holding to be sold as slaves. Selim is initially taken in, and agrees in principle, but tells Garth that he is awaiting the arrival of another rich prospective bidder, and that Dawn and Karen will be sold to the highest bidder. After making his presence known to Dawn and Karen, Garth can only agree to await the auction, remaining aboard the floating city as Selim’s “guest”.

Meanwhile, Cain has offered a reward for the rescue of Garth and the girls and persuaded the commandant of police to lead an unwilling expedition against Selim. Garth tells Selim that he has no money on him, but that he holds unlimited credit at the bank of El Wadi. The suspicious and cautious Selim agrees that Garth’s black guide, Nimrod, can return there to collect the money – but with an escort of Selim’d men. Garth had been banking on Nimrod meeting Cain’s reinforcements en route and guiding them to the floating city. The mysterious “other client” arrives at the raft by helicopter, and turns out to be a white man named Gorgon, whose face is completely hidden behind a close-fitting flesh-coloured mask. Gorgon tells Garth that he wants to buy a white woman to become his wife.

Dawn and Karen are paraded at the auction and Gorgon is smitten by the beautiful Karen. A spirited bidding war ensues, until Garth wins with a fantastic bid of £50,000, outstripping his rival’s limit of £40,000.

Meanwhile, Nimrod has overpowered Selim’s escort and met with Cain and the police, and is guiding them to Selim. But one of Selim’s men has survived and escaped, and is able to warn Selim, who promptly order’s Garth’s arrest, and for the city to get on the move. After a terrific scrap, Garth is overpowered by sheer weight of numbers. Witnessing his impressive struggle, Gorgon decides to intervene as Garth is about to be killed and thrown in the river. He offers Selim his previous bid of £40,000 for the two women – but only provided that Garth is also sold to him. Selim agrees.

Gorgon visits the imprisoned girls and informs them that he has bought them – and Garth. He learns from their reactions that Karen loves Garth, and tells her that he is willing to let all three go free – but only on condition that Karen agrees to marry him. He wants a willing wife who will represent him in places where he can’t appear because of his facial deformities. Gorgon then visits the captive Garth, and tells his strange story.

He had begun life in a fair, not as a showman but as the show – a human monster. But he was too hideous even for that, so he had taken up the business side, running sideshows, circuses and boxing booths. Eventually he had become one of the richest boxing promoters in Europe. Now he needs a beautiful woman to stand by his side in society. Garth is enraged to learn that Karen has consented to be his wife, but being under Selim’s armed guard is unable to attack Gorgon. Gorgon then pays Selim his money. Selim is confident that by effecting a speedy exodus he has escaped Cain’s forces, and can successfully hide in the jungle. But young Ahmed has escaped and leads Cain and Nimrod to Selim’s new camp site. Cain then leads an attack.

Selim’s men are overcome, but Cain is shot and dies in Karen’s arms, watched by the loyal Nimrod who, enraged, murders Selim with a dagger in his stomach. Cain is buried where he died, mourned by Garth’s party and Nimrod, and Karen confirms to Garth that she intends to keep her promise to marry Gorgon.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth and the Glove GameGarth and the Glove Game
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 28/11/49 – 3/6/50 (H283 – J131)
Number of Episodes: 159

Sam Gorgon has learned from press reports and letters from his manager and Chief Trainer in London that his star boxer, Irishman Paddy O’Braune, is out of control and running wild. He decides to fly back to England to sort matters out, taking Karen with him. Lumiere is still not recovered from his wounds, and when his ward Dawn loyally agrees to stay and look after him in Africa until he recovers, Garth elects to accompany Karen and Gorgon on the plane to London.

On arrival at the airport, they are met by the trainer, Tich, who tells them that Paddy – whom Gorgon had been building up for an imminent championship bout – has broken training and gone “berserk”. Gorgon asks Garth to be a guest at his country house (whose extensive grounds also serve as a training camp) and Garth accepts the role of Karen’s chaperon and protector until the marriage. He learns that the fighter had been permitted a limited amount of drugs to combat his pre-fight nerves. But when they arrive at Gorgon’s country house they are met by a rampaging Paddy who, after knocking out a policeman who had tried to serve an assault summons, now savagely assaults both his trainer and Gorgon, only to be kayoed as he tries to tackle Garth.

On examining Paddy’s arm, Garth sees it carries a mass of puncture marks. They realize that the fighter must himself have got hold of a supply of needles and drugs. After the police arrive to arrest Paddy, Gorgon despairs that Paddy’s arrest will soon be splashed in all the papers, and that his reputation as a promoter will be ruined. He offers to release Karen from their engagement, but she stands by him.

Gorgon explains that he had been building up his fighter through a series of contests to meet the British Champion, Dandy Denkins, managed by a rival promoter Mrs. Silverado, in a winner-takes-all match. She is the widow of Syd Silverado, a man who had earlier nearly ruined Gorgon. Sam has guaranteed everything – stakes, gate money, the venue itself, and if he can’t put his man in the ring on the agreed date, he stands to be ruined. Karen comes up with the suggestion that she could persuade Garth to take his place. Gorgon is so elated by the idea – the contract would allow a substitution – that he takes of his mask to kiss Karen. She screams and shrinks away, repulsed by his bestial appearance.

Garth agrees to fight Mrs. Silverado’s champion, but only on condition that Gorgon releases Karen from her engagement if he beats Denkins. Gorgon shakes on the deal, and Garth goes into training. In due course Paddy is discharged by the court provided he takes a course of medical treatment to cure his drug addiction.

When Garth goes riding with Karen and Gorgon, he is shot at by a hidden assailant and narrowly escapes death by spurring his horse as he spots the glint of a gun barrel in the bushes. Karen’s horse bolts, and in the confusion, the gunman slips away across the fields.

The next day, Gorgon is driving Garth into London when they encounter a road block, and as Sam looks out of the car window, a dagger is thrown at him. He only escapes death because the knife embeds itself in his well-filled wallet!

Gorgon tells Garth that the only venomous enemy he’s ever had was the late Syd Silverado. Could his reclusive widow, whom Gorgon has never seen, be carrying on the vendetta? Silverado had died after shooting himself in order to spite Gorgon. It was his only way out from bankruptcy and disgrace – he owed Gorgon a fortune that he couldn’t collect after his death.

The story rapidly develops into an intriguing mystery, through a series of exciting action scenes, including more murder attempts when Gorgon’s circus lions are released by the bearded and mysterious and eccentric Diego, whose farm adjoins Gorgon’s estate. He is revealed as being in league with Denkin’s manager, the shady Cliff Clay.

As an unknown quantity, Garth is obliged to have a couple of warm-up fights to prove he is a worthy opponent for the champion. The ingenious story is full of near slapstick humour, but also has some dark satiric undertones dealing with the crooked side of post-war professional boxing. This was the heyday of British boxing icons Bruce Woodcock and Freddie Mills, and a British Heavyweight story would strike a responsive chord with Mirror readers.

When Gorgon eventually gets to meet Mrs. Silverado, he takes off his mask in order to shock her into confessing that she is behind the attempts at murder and to ruin him – only to learn that she had been blinded because of her faithless husband’s affairs. She had hated him, and greatly admires Gorgon.

Further twists involving the identity of the would-be murderer, help build up to an exciting climax when Garth (with a badly injured left arm!) gets to face Denkins in the ring. Of course, he wins by a dramatic knock-out, and both villains meet their deserved deaths. Sam Gorgon loses Karen as his fiancée – but gains the blind but beautiful Mrs. Silverado as a replacement! His mission accomplished, Garth announces his immediate retirement, and Paddy O’Braune having underwent a successful rehabilitation, rejoins Gorgon’s boxing stable.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - Journey to JasonJourney to Jason
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 5/6/50 – 23/12/50 (J132 – J305)
Number of Episodes: 174

Garth, recovering at Sam Gorgon’s home, along with Karen, is surprised to receive a visit from a sculptor who asks Garth to pose for a giant statue of himself. It has been commissioned anonymously by someone “in high quarters”, and is to be shipped abroad when completed. Karen tell Garth the contents of an “extraordinary” letter she has received from Professor Lumiere, sent from a new secret observatory – the address of which has been censored -from where he has apparently observed a “flying saucer” headed for Earth!

The newspapers are full of a story that a new planet – named “Jason” – has wandered into the solar system from interstellar space. The press reports come from an observatory in El Wadi, and when Garth’s completed statue is collected by a lorry with a military escort, and the sculptor tells him it is to be shipped to El Wadi, he is intrigued. Lumiere, his statue, and the new planet are obviously somehow connected. He cables to Lumiere that he is returning to El Wadi. Karen elects to stay behind to help the blind Sylvia Silverado prepare for her wedding to Sam Gorgon.

Alighting from his plane at El Wadi, Garth is met by Lumiere – and an escort of American troops. Lumiere has been appointed as Director of an international stellar research station. Elaborate secrecy is being maintained following the crash landing in the desert of a flying saucer from Jason. Their ship is destroyed but its alien crew of two diminutive humanoid aliens have survived, and are being held captive. Lumiere tells Garth that he has learned from the aliens – who are telepathic – that they were advance scouts for a planned invasion of Earth. Jason was originally a planet revolving around a star in Argo Navis. Its highly evolved scientific inhabitants have discovered the secret of near immortality but are facing over-population. Discovering how to navigate their entire planet through space by atomic power, they set out to find another world to which they could migrate, and are now in orbit around the Earth.

Lumiere’s plan is to send Garth’s imposing statue by a remote controlled rocket to Jason. As a representation of mankind, he hopes it will impress its inhabitants (who are physically puny) giving them a broad hint to ‘keep off the grass! It will have a warning note written by the hostages not to attack Earth and seek to destroy such a godlike race of giants. The Jasonites themselves are weak, and fear the physical prowess they lack. The hostages consent to write the letter on Lumiere’s promise that they will be given a rocket in which to return to their own world, if the message was heeded.

The rocket with Garth’s statue is duly launched, and lands on Jason. But the strategy does not work – Jason moves threateningly nearer to the Earth. The hostages inform Lumiere and Garth that this is a prelude for either bombarding the Earth with super weapons, or actually to impinge upon it, for a mass landing. But they are grateful for how well they have been treated, and impressed by Garth. They offer to plead for the invasion to be called off, if Lumiere will allow them to return to Jason – taking Garth with them as an ambassador for Earth.

The plan is agreed.

Their spaceship takes off, and on the journey Garth names the aliens Romulus and Remus. They are both over a hundred years old, and are the latest generation, the population needing to be rigidly controlled. Garth is appalled on learning that there are no children or young men and women on Jason – but the aliens let slip that there is one beautiful young woman, the product of the union of an advanced Jasonite and a ‘Hoolig’ – an unmentionable race of primitives who still dwell on the surface – the advanced Jasonites living mainly in underground cities.

Jason has a very light gravity and a dense atmosphere which enables people to swim in it – akin to flying. They teach Garth how to control his breathing of the dense air. The low gravity is a consequence of Jason having suffered aeons of excavation, which have almost hollowed out the planet.

(It should be noted that Freeman’s brilliantly original plot device of aliens being able to “fly” in a dense atmosphere was shamelessly and quite blatantly plagiarised three years later in the Dan Dare story “Operation Saturn”!)

Using Lumiere’s guidance system, Garth pilots the rocket to a landing, only to encounter very dense clouds that are caused by a planet-wide thermal system which maintains a uniform heat and enables the roving planet to move unharmed through interstellar space. The clouds cause Garth to overshoot the designated landing area, and the rocket lands in one of the Hoolig reservations.

The Hooligs are a primitive race whom the Jasonites had enslaved until, with the advance of science, they became obsolete, and are confined to reservations on the surface. They are avoided and feared by the Jasonites because of their physical strength. Although they are almost immortal, the Jasonites can be killed by physical violence.

On reaching a Hoolig settlement they find that Garth’s statue had landed there, and has been set up as a sort of idol which the Hooligs worship. Presently a flying craft arrives, dispatched by the Leader to collect them. Garth is taken underground to meet the Leader, Alpha.

Alpha has learned English and converses freely with Garth after an awkward initial encounter. He respects Garth and confides to him that Jason is beset with problems posed by the Hoolig reaction to the arrival of his effigy. He symbolises their aspirations as a race – strength, virility, grace – the human qualities they admire, and which the advanced Jasonites lack. They regard the statue as having fallen from their heavens, to lead a Hoolig revolution on Jason. Alpha had moved Jason nearer to the earth as a device to divert public attention from its internal troubles. By attacking Earth he had hoped to solve his racial problem and gain more territory.

Alpha shows Garth a projection of the beautiful Zeta, the last born child of a Jasonite father and a Hoolig mother, both of whom were liquidated for their offence. The Jasonites keep her because of her great beauty, which inspires their sculptors, artists and architects. But lately the Hooligs had been claiming her as their goddess until Alpha let them keep Garth’s statue instead.

Alpha’s television devices allow him to see the Hooligs marching to that part of their city serving as an entrance to the underworld, ostensibly to demand Garth’s release. Alpha is about to activate their death ray defences when Garth stops him, offering to meet the Hooligs himself and tell them to go back.

Alpha is not absolute Ruler; he is head of a Council, on which he has a bitter rival, Omega, who is in favour of the invasion and of destroying the Hooligs. However Garth is backed by Alpha and is allowed to meet and disperse the Hooligs peacefully, on his promise to meet them later.

Alpha conducts Garth down into the bowels of the planet, where Garth sees the giant robot, Phi, who pilots Jason through space from a vast atomic power house at the core of the planet. He is responsive only to the Leader’s voice.

Garth returns to the surface with Alpha and visits the beautiful Zeta, who has already fallen in love with Garth from observing him earlier. Garth’s visit stirs jealousy in the heart of Skal, a sculptor who has been modelling Zeta on his arrival. Alpha shrewdly observes that Garth has revived old emotions on his planet, as well as bringing new ideas and perspectives. He conducts Garth to the Star Council – the inner Council of Five – Alpha, Omega and three others – who are elected by an outer Council of one hundred. Garth makes an impressive plea to the Council to reconsider their decision to invade Earth. He warms them that humanity shall fight them to the death. Invasion would only unite the peoples of Earth – just as the Hooligs are already uniting on Jason to overthrow their soulless regime.

Omega then intervenes to advocate destroying the Hooligs, killing Garth, and proceeding with the invasion. But he is outvoted, and Garth is spared to visit the Hooligs, and the larger issue of invasion is to be put before the Council of one hundred. Omega threatens to bring about Garth’s death and Alpha’s resignation, and flies off, after donning special headgear to screen his thoughts from being read by the others. To counter this threat, Alpha gives Garth special tablets which will render his body impervious to the Jasonite death ray.

Omega and his men kidnap Zeta, knocking Skal aside. She is taken to Omega’s dwelling and locked in a transparent bubble prison, following which he returns to the Council and informs them that as Minister for Internal Affairs he is holding Zeta as a hostage to prevent Garth leading a possible Hoolig uprising.

Meanwhile, Skal alerts Garth before he leaves with Omega to visit the Hooligs, and instead directs Garth to Omega’s dwelling. Garth bursts in, and after brushing the guards aside, smashes Zeta’s prison and frees her, intending to take her to the Hoolig country for her own safety.

Despite Omega’s effort to destroy them using his ray machine, Garth and Zeta escape the city, together with the loyal Skal, and reach Hoolig territory. Garth learns their simple language from Zeta, and teaches them morality in order to prepare them to share eventually in the running of their planet.

At length Alpha loses control of the Star Council and a civil war breaks out between the adherents of Alpha and Omega, using chemical and ray weapons. Romulus and Remus are refugees from the conflict and join Garth and the Hooligs, bringing this news.

Omega is gaining the upper hand, and sends out a fighting craft which ray-blasts Garth’s statue, whilst the Hooligs take refuge in their caves. Garth, who is impervious to the rays, leaps into action and brings down the craft by smashing into the cockpit. The crew meekly surrender, and tell Garth that Alpha has been wounded – perhaps fatally – and that as the robot Phi is no longer receiving his instructions, Jason is now careering through space.

Garth returns to the city and comes upon the dying Alpha being tortured by Omega and his men to record new instructions that will make Phi (who presently only obeys Alpha’s voice) obey Omega as the new Leader. Garth springs into action to free Alpha, and his mighty blows kill Omega by crushing his skull.

Just before he dies, Alpha – who has been afflicted with a new ray weapon to which he was not immune – manages to record his verbal instructions to Phi, so that the robot will obey Garth’s voice. Garth descends to the internal regions and by playing the recorded message manages to get Phi under his control and to return Jason – which had been careering towards the sun – to a safe Earth orbit. The violent gravitational changes cause havoc on the surface of Jason.

As Garth is ascending he is confronted by the sudden appearance out of thin air of a new figure – the “Thinker”, the Chief Scientist on Jason. He explains to Garth that he had built Phi, and had hitherto solved all the material and scientific problems that the Council had put to him. On the outbreak of the Civil War he had made himself invisible during the conflict, and awaited the outcome to see which Leader he should obey. Garth tells him that with both Alpha and Omega now dead, he has assumed temporary Leadership and tasks the Thinker to determine Jason’s future whilst he ascends to the surface to see who has survived the cataclysm. He also charges him to solve the problem of how he can return to Earth.

On the surface, Garth discovers that a few Jasonites have survived the general discussion and he rallies them to his support before hastening to the Hoolig territory. He finds that Zeta and some others who obeyed her had survived in the deep shelters – but that many other Hooligs had marched on the city and had been swept off into space when Jason went into reverse. Garth tells the survivors that both Hooligs and Jasonites must now unite to rebuild life on the shattered planet. Under his leadership, new buildings arise, including an impressive new temple (“dedicated to a power that is above us all”) and in it Garth is asked to officiate at the wedding of Zeta and Skal. Garth hopes that the example should soon provide a balanced population.

Considering his work on Jason done, Garth instructs the Thinker to take Jason back to its original constellation – after he has solved the problem of his return to Earth. After several days the Thinker comes up with an amazing solution. Not by spaceship, but by Garth travelling in Space-Time: instead of following the usual course through curved space, Garth will take a straight line through the fourth dimension, overtaking time and arriving almost instantaneously at his destination.

The Thinker has constricted a cloak to cross space and a helmet to control time. Wearing them Garth will be insulated against heat, cold and friction whilst the ‘no time’ factor eliminates the need for breathing. The Thinker warns that if Garth goes a fraction off his course he might arrive on Earth a few thousand years earlier or later, but by taking off again from a high point, he may be able to try again to reach his target – the desert observatory, 1950.

Garth bids farewell to his friends on Jason, and then in his Space-Time flying kit, leaps into space on his fourth-dimensional journey back to Earth…

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Space-Time Traveller J306Space-Time Traveller
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 27/12/50 – 12/5/51 (J306 – K113)
Number of Episodes: 117

This story begins a three-story sequence in which, for the first and only time, Garth took on the trappings of the US superhero Superman. Despite what has been widely written and parroted, his origins in 1943 actually had nothing whatsoever to do with Superman. But now, “Space-Time Traveller” was clearly the start of an experiment to try and gain US newspaper syndication for Garth by the Daily Mirror.

Although Garth was being successfully syndicated all around the world – in Australia and New Zealand, European countries, India, and elsewhere – he had not cracked the most lucrative American market.

The story opens as Garth emerges on a mountain side over a desert on Earth, and at first thinks he has materialised in El Wadi, where his previous adventure, “Selim the Slaver”, took place. He caches his Space-Time helmet and cloak in some rocks, in case they reactivate and whisk him off elsewhere.

As he descends to the plain, he spots approaching riders, whom he assumes are friendly Arabs. But when they attack him, he quickly realises he is must be far back in the past, and that they are mounted Tartar warriors. He is actually in the Gobi desert, and by the look of things, around the time of Kubla Khan and the Tartar conquest of Cathay (China).

Garth runs back up the mountainside to retrieve his cloak and helmet. He struggles into his cloak, but before he can don the helmet, Tartar warriors again catch up with him. To escape them, he launches himself into space and glides down to the plain below, where he plucks the startled Tartar chieftain from his horse. A Tartar bowman takes aim at Garth, but the impressed Chieftain stops him, commanding that the flying “wonder man” be spared.

At this point, Garth discovers that the Thinker on Jason has somehow contrived things so that he can understand and speak the language of whichever country and time era in which he emerges. Utter fantasy of course, but at least author Freeman was recognising that Garth would not be able to communicate otherwise (unlike sloppy and cynical writers who ignore this basic axiom). Freeman knew that by his simply acknowledging the paradox, readers would be happy to suspend their disbelief and buy into the fantasy for the sake of getting on with an exciting story.

Garth tries to explain to the chieftain that he comes from a world beyond his ken, but the impatient Tartar cannot understand and asks Garth to join his force as a warrior. He, Tamar, a chieftain of the tents of Boriat (a family privileged to drink the milk of Imperial white mares) is leading an army of the great Khan, to conquer a province of Cathay. Before Garth can reply, a warrior arrives with Garth’s helmet. Garth demands its immediate return to him. Tamar asks Mangu, his magician, whether or not he should return the helmet. The sly magician counsels that Garth would likely work great evil with his “magic helmet”. Tamar concurs and decides to take the helmet and place it in a shrine at his encampment. Garth is obliged to accompany Tamar and his men.

At the encampment, Tamar invites Garth to go inside his tent, but warns him not to touch the threshold, because he regards it “as a bad omen.” Tamar questions Garth again about his origins, but Garth demands the return of his helmet before he will explain further.

Meanwhile, the superstitious Tamar has sent a guard to command Mangu to cast his spells to determine if the flying man is friend or foe. Tamar then tells Garth that they are to embark on a 30 day march across the desert to attack the city of Sair-Kin in Cathay. He wants Garth to travel with his cavalry. He is interrupted by the excited arrival of Mangu, who – afraid and jealous of Garth – claims that his oracles have decreed Garth as a foe who should be slain. But the unfortunate Mangu has touched the threshold of the tent. This enrages Tamar who orders that the transgressing magician be given the bastinado.

As night falls, Tamar takes Garth with him into the desert to pour his privileged family’s mares’ milk over the sands “to placate the demons of the desert who lure travellers to destruction with music and strange voices.” Garth explains that the so-called “singing sands” are just the wind blowing across the dunes as they cool after the heat of the day. Tamar protests by saying that he himself has seen “phantom armies” crossing the desert. Garth counters by explaining they were simply mirages. At that moment, the magician passes nearby, being carried on a litter after his punishment, and calls out that Garth is speaking falsely because a “phantom army” is even now passing their camp. Sure enough, a cavalcade of horses and a caravan is clearly visible in the distance.

Garth warns Tamar that it is a real procession, and challenges Tamar to approach it and see for himself – unless he is a coward. Stung, Tanar calls for volunteers to join him in investigating, ordering Garth to be secured. If he does not return safely by dawn, Garth is to be slain.

When dawn breaks and Tamar has not returned, Mangu (who covets Garth’s “magic helmet”) orders men to kill Garth, only for Garth to escape into the air after donning his flying cloak. Garth finds that the cloak is only good for fairly short hops without being linked to the helmet, and eventually falls to earth. He is about to be shot by a pursuing bowman when the returning Tamar intervenes.

Tamar castigates Mangu, because it had been a Chinese caravan passing by. Garth had spoken the truth and the magician had lied. Tamar and his men had slain the Chinese party and taken booty, but he had spared a young boy who was wearing the imperial yellow. A royal prisoner could prove useful. Mangu is seized, his fate to be decided later.

Tamar rewards Garth by giving the royal captive to Garth’ care as his slave, until such time as the great Khan claims him. Garth is reluctant until he realises that the captive is actually a young woman. A tent is provided for Garth, and when they are alone Garth learns that she is the Princess Peach Blossom who had been crossing the desert for an arranged marriage to the young Prince Tao of Sai-Kin, the city Tamar is heading towards to sack.

Tamar summons Garth and invites him to give the word for Mangu’s execution by beheading. However, Garth insists that his life be spared. Tamar agrees, but then reveals to Garth that he was fully aware the ‘boy’ is a girl. He believes she can be a useful hostage and can be exploited when they reach the defended gates of the city. He hints that he can gain her co-operation by torture, but hopes that Garth can gain her co-operation by forming a relationship with her. Garth has no option but play along for the moment.

Tamar resumes his march on the city, Garth at his side, with his precious helmet in the care of Mangu, following behind the main army. The advance is known, and they encounter obstacles and ambushes. Garth has to side with Tamar and his flying power and physical strength rout the attacks, eventually helping them break through the great wall of Cathay. Garth gets the defenders’ lives spared, and tells them they must return to the Prince Tao in Sai-Kin and tell him that “the Bird-Man” will deliver the Princess to him safely. He must persuade the king not to resist the Tartars, and Garth will guarantee that he will live to reign over the city with her.

Space-Time Traveller K52

As they camp for the night, Garth tells the Princess that he knows it is fated that all Cathay will come under the control of the Tartars, so all he can do is to try and save as many lives as he can.

The next day, whilst awaiting the arrival of his main forces, Tamar reveals to Garth how he intends to capture the fortified city, which is surrounded by a deep river. He will send the Princess across the river with some of his men disguised as her Chinese retinue. When the gates open to admit her, Tamar will launch a three-pronged attack, put the defenders to the sword and sack the city.

Garth persuades him to first allow him to fly over the river and the city wall, and to try and bring about a peaceful surrender. He hopes to make Prince Tao persuade his old father the King to abdicate. Khan can then allow Tao’s homage.

Space-Time Traveller K56On arrival in the city, Garth finds that King Tsu is a coward, and ostensibly ready to surrender if his life is spared. But that he should abdicate in favour of PrinceTao is problematical when he reveals the Prince is not really his own son, but that of a slave, secretly adopted and passed off as his son to avoid a civil war because he has no issue.

Space-Time Traveller K69

The watching Tamar sees a huge display fireworks exploding above the city, and Peach Blossom tells him that it portends that Garth has is either being welcomed, or they are celebrating his capture. Tamar can only wait impatiently whilst the matter is considered by both parties in the city.

Space-Time Traveller K76

That night, Peach Blossom succeeds in creeping away from Tamar’s encampment, and reaching the bank of the river. Her torch signal is spotted by Prince Tao from the battlements, and he picks her up by sampan.

The next day, the King tells Garth he agrees to surrender, and will let Tamar decide who will be the vassal king, always provided his own life is spared. Garth then returns to tell Tamar, leaving the palace by what he believes is a special gate…only to find himself trapped in a high-sided labyrinth of poison thorn bushes, on which are hung the bodies of the king’s enemies who attempted to escape. Garth does not have his flying cloak because it had been confiscated on his arrival in the city.

 

The treacherous king has Tao and the Princess seized and turned over to his torturers, who he instructs to first tear out their tongues. Tao is to be wrapped in Garth’s cloak, so that the king can subsequently claim to Tamar that he had killed Garth to gain the cloak.

Space-Time Traveller K95

When Garth fails to return, the angry Tamar shouts across the river to the King on the ramparts, threatening to attack. The King tells him that he is ready to surrender, but that Prince Tao had killed Garth and thrown his body in the river. To punish him, Tao’s tongue had been torn out, and he was scheduled to die.

But after the King leaves, the head torturer confesses to the Prince that he is loyal to him and cannot carry out his orders. Wearing the cloak, Tao flies over the maze to find and rescues Garth, warning the Princess to pretend to be dumb.

He finds that Garth has just discovered a trapdoor in the ground leading to an underground passage. It seems clear that it had been installed there by the King so that he could view the remains of his enemy’s bodies impaled on the thorns. Instead of escaping, Garth elects to descend into the passage with Tao, and to confront the King back in the palace.

Meanwhile, King Tsu has opened the gates to welcome Tamar and his men. Tamar demands to see the Princess, and Tsu – believing she has had her tongue removed – readily gives the order for her to be brought from the prison. But the uninjured Peach Blossom immediately begins to blurt out the truth of what has happened, and the discredited King realises he is doomed. But he still has another card to play: at his signal a trail of gunpowder leading to explosives hidden under Tamar’s chair has been lit. At that moment, Garth dramatically bursts into their room, and the angry Tamar leaps up from his chair to assist Garth in seizing the King. Trying to get away, Tsu stumbles across Tamar’s vacated chair and is blown to pieces in an explosion intended for the chieftain.

Space-Time Traveller K101

After some initial hesitation and misgivings, Tao becomes enamoured of the Princess and agrees to marry her and share the throne of Sai-Kin, accepting the Khan’s rule. With Tamar able to take the city without bloodshed, Garth’s bargain is fulfilled, and he demands the return of his helmet – only to learn that the traitor Mangu has fled to seek out the Khan in his city of Kanbalu, taking the helmet with him. Using his restored cloak, Garth flies off in pursuit.

The Khan has left his palace with his bodyguard on a tiger-hunting expedition, and Mangu has reached his camp, and been granted and audience as Tamar’s astrologer. Mangu claims that he fled from the traitor Tamar because he was in league with a white magician who had befriended Khan’s enemies. He has brought with him that magician’s “magic helmet” to prevent it being used against the Khan. However he goes on to elaborate that any wearer of the helmet is rendered invulnerable and can defy any death threats. Intrigued but suspicious, the Khan decides to put it to the test. He instructs his bodyguard to force Mangu – wearing the helmet – to enter the cave that is the tiger’s lair.

He is immediately attacked and savaged to death, but then the tiger suddenly emerges from the cave and leaps on the Khan. The flying Garth arrives at the same moment, and swoops down to grab the Khan’s fallen spear with which he kills the tiger, saving his life.

Garth then relates the full story of his exploits to the astounded and grateful Khan. The Khan decrees that Tamar shall be made governor of South Cathay and Tao can rule over the city as a free king. He wishes to recruit Garth as Chief of his magicians, but having regained his helmet Garth declines – the only reward he wants is to be allowed to go on his way in peace. He climbs to a mountain summit and then dives off – disappearing into the fourth dimension! His space-time adventures continue…

Mention needs to be made of Dowling and Allard’s exceptional artwork. Whilst still executed in Dowling’s usual deceptively straightforward and quickly-executed “workmanlike” and utilitarian style (Dowling was also responsible for a second Daily Mirror strip Ruggles, which he also wrote!) the inspired fantasy storytelling of Freeman here caused them to move it up several notches. The panels are punctuated with dramatic atmospheric black areas and silhouettes and astonishing cinematic perspectives, cleverly compressed into the four small daily panels, including some intricately detailed scenes akin to Chinese willow-pattern plates. The Garth strip had entered its golden age!

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - Titles K114The Phantom Pharaoh
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 14/5/51 – 6/10/51 (K114 – K239)
Number of Episodes: 126

Garth materialises atop an Egyptian pyramid. Flying down to the dwellings below, he is hailed by a reverent crowd as “Horus, the Hawk-God”. He realises that he has landed in Ancient Egypt.

He is approached by an arrogant figure who introduces himself as Ptah-Hotep, High Priest of Memphis. Realising that he has been mistaken for a God, Garth turns to try and scale the pyramid for another take-off, but he is hemmed in by the crowd and his cloak snatched from his shoulders. He manages to retrieve the cloak but is unable to fasten it, so he runs along a colonnade leading into the pyramid entrance. The High Priest tells the crowd that as the God Horus is entering the tomb of the ancient king, he alone can follow him, together with the temple guards.

Garth had been hoping to hide in the pyramid galleries until nightfall, but he has to go deeper inside to avoid his pursuers. He bumps against a stone block which opens into the sepulchral chamber of an ancient queen and is startled to see a young woman standing alongside a huge tomb.

Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - K121She quickly ascertains that Garth is a fugitive – like herself. As the High Priest and guards approach, she tells Garth that she will be killed if caught, so Garth raises the massive lid of the sarcophagus, bidding her to hide inside.

The High Priest enters and exclaims that the sarcophagus is open, but before he can investigate, Garth hustles him outside, and asks to speak to him alone. Ptah takes him into the temple of Ptah, the God of Memphis, after whom he had been named. Garth is obliged to take off his winged helmet and cloak in this holy place, before following the High Priest into the inner shrine. Here Ptah admits he is not sure if Garth is a God or a man, but if he is indeed a God he can be of great help to him and his fellow priests.

Their power is being threatened by “the Phantom Pharaoh”, ruler of the great house of Thebes, capital of the Upper Nile. The pharaoh has repudiated all the Egyptian Gods, and declared himself an ordinary man. Additionally, since the death of his wife Queen Nefri, he hides his face behind a golden mask. The High Priest wants Garth to lead an uprising against the pharaoh. But Garth refuses to get involved in palace politics, and goes to retrieve his space-time kit from where he had left it. However, on the High Priest’s instructions, the guards have hidden it.

Having guessed that Garth possesses no special powers without the helmet and cloak, Ptah threatens to denounce him as a tomb robber unless he agrees to help him in putting his nominee on the pharaoh’s throne, when they will be returned. Garth is obliged to accompany the High Priest to his riverside palace. He leaves Garth to sleep on the matter.

Garth has no desire to get mixed up in the political intrigue, but senses that the mysterious girl is somehow involved. Determining to find her, he leaves his room to search for his space-time kit. He overhears the High Priest detailing two guards to guard the room where the helmet and cloak have been taken. Garth overpowers the guards by slamming their heads together, and is about to don his space-time kit when the High Priest unexpectedly returns and enters the room. In hastily donning the helmet Garth accidentally reverses the winged controls and discovers that it has rendered him invisible.

Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - K138Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - K139Donning his cloak, Garth flies invisibly to the temple during the night, and observes the girl slipping out, accompanied by a Nubian dwarf. Garth lands and renders himself visible, but the girl is disinclined to linger and talk with him. Before slipping away, she gives Garth a sacred scarab ring and tells him that this will grant him an audience with the pharaoh at Thebes.

Dawn is breaking as Garth returns to the High Priest’s palace. Finding Ptah glowering over the still unconscious guards, Garth speaks to him invisibly before reappearing. The cowed Ptah – now in awe of Garth – claims that he had acted for the best. Suddenly noticing the scarab ring of the dead Queen, he jumps to the conclusion that Garth is a tomb robber. He admits that he has been robbing the pyramid himself to finance his planned revolt against the pharaoh, and promises to share the spoils with Garth if he helps him place his ally, Harmhab, the Nomarch (Governor), on the throne.

Garth asks to meet this Harmhab and they travel upriver to his island fortress. Garth learns that it is surrounded by sacred crocodiles, and a human sacrifice is being made. When Garth sees the struggling figure of the Nubian dwarf, he dives overboard to save him. Garth’s unexpected arrival scatters the crocodiles, and the dwarf escapes to the opposite bank. A guard informs Ptah that the dwarf had been caught travelling secretly through the Nomarch’s domains, with ‘a strange woman’. She had escaped, and when the dwarf would not talk Harmhab had ordered his execution.

Ptah conducts Garth into the presence of Harmhab, whom he informs of his plan to use Garth – posing as the God Horus – to arouse Egypt against the pharaoh who denies the Gods, and then nominate Harmhab as his pious successor. Garth remains silent, but has now made up his mind that he will not assist a man who throws people to crocodiles. Harmhab tells the High Priest that he has received news that Ptah’s brother, the High Priest of Ammon-Ra has died at Thebes. His priestly office now falls on his brother – and also the post of Grand Vizier to the pharaoh. Ptah is anxious to return and claim his inheritance. The cowardly Harmhab – disturbed by the spies from Thebes – is unwilling to become involved as yet, so endorses Garth accompanying Ptah back to Thebes as his protector.

Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - K156Whilst Garth and the Ptah sail back down the Nile to Thebes, the valiant dwarf has stolen and ass and has ridden ahead of them. En route, he has encountered a band of roving Hyskos warriors, here called ‘Bedawins’ (after Bedouins), and told them that he was fleeing from their mutual enemy, the High Priest. The Bedawins arrange an ambush by blocking the river with a huge log, where it narrows at a rocky gorge.

Spotting the bowmen poised atop the rocky bank, Garth operates his helmet’s invisibility control and flies ashore. Looking down, he spots the leader who is directing the ambush. Garth plucks him from his horse, holding the leader in mid-air. The terrified archers cease firing at the uncanny sight. The invisible Garth orders the leader to call off the attack, before revealing himself as the God Horus. He learns that the young leader is Mahmud, a prince of the Hyskos. The pharaoh had been kind to his wandering tribe.

Sensing that Mahmud’s fighting force could be useful later, Garth instructs him to await his call to arms. Garth then returns to Ptah’s barge, which continues its journey unmolested. The High Priest is aware of Garth’s intervention causing the attack to cease, but ignorant of the details and the new allegiance Garth has formed.

When Garth and Ptah arrive at Thebes and approach the temple, they come upon a small procession. The High Priest is furious to learn that the mummified body of his brother is being carried to a tomb in the temple, but – by order of the pharaoh – entirely without the usual pomp and ceremony accorded to a priestly brother of Ammon-Ra. Whilst Ptah harangues the temple guards at this insult, Garth takes the opportunity to slip away unnoticed, and flies across a lake to the great house of the pharaoh.

Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - K171

Garth is challenged by a guard, but the Nubian dwarf arrives and takes charge, welcoming Garth. He conducts Garth for a personal audience with the pharaoh.

Garth declares that he comes as a friend and shows the ring. The masked pharaoh acknowledges that he has good reports of Garth from his spies. He explains to Garth that he is determined to abolish the ways of his past ancestors who have oppressed the people by claiming divinity and building vast pyramids and wasteful tombs, and to stop the priests enslaving people with superstitious sacrifices to a dozen different Gods. He has proclaimed that there is only one God.

Garth congratulates him for being an enlightened man, but questions how he can hope to gain the acceptance of the people whilst hiding his face behind a mask. At Garth’s question the pharaoh becomes strangely disturbed and sweeps out, telling Garth that Pepi – the dwarf – will bring him to resume the audience again tomorrow.

Pepi tells Garth that since the Queen’s simple funeral, the pharaoh hides his grief behind the mask. When Garth asks what has become of the woman who had given him the ring, Pepi tells him to forget her, because he will never see her again. As they emerge on the palace steps, an angry Ptah arrives and announces that he has been accepted by the people as the new High Priest of Ammon-Ra. He demands a state funeral for his brother, and asserts that he is also the Vizier now. To his astonishment, Pepi dismisses him, informing him that the pharaoh has made him first minister. He tells Ptah to retire to a villa that has been reserved for his retinue.

Garth and Ptah’s retinue are led to the villa, where they are confined almost like prisoners. Looking out over a parapet across the desert to a cliffside, Ptah tells Garth that Queen Nefri lies there in a simple rock tomb. He has moved his brother’s body nearby until he can arrange a more fitting funeral. He suspects that his brother may have been poisoned, so intends to inspect his body during the night, while the guards are sleeping.

That night, Garth rises ahead of the High Priest and flies invisibly to the largest of the rock tombs. He reads an inscription, “Here lies Nefri, beloved wife and Queen of a Pharaoh who was no God, but married her as a man.” When Garth looks inside the sarcophagus, curious to see the face of the Queen, he is astonished to find instead the body of a man.

Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - K184He hears voices outside – Ptah is telling two servants that he is now satisfied that his brother had not been poisoned. He bids them to wait whilst he recites a prayer over the Queen whilst he is here. When he enters the tomb, Garth invisibly lifts him up bodily and flies him back to his bedroom in the villa. Disguising his voice he tells the terrified Ptah to repent for disturbing the Queen’s eternal sleep. Ptah calls out to Horus, convinced he has been bewitched. Garth – his flying kit removed – emerges from an adjoining chamber. He scoffs at Ptah’s story – that he had been carried off by Osiris, the Prince of Darkness – and tells him he must have been dreaming.

Next morning Garth and Ptah resume their audience with the pharaoh. Ptah makes three requests: a state funeral for his brother, acceptance of his claim to the temple of Ammon-Raa, and the rank of Grand Vizier which goes with it. The pharaoh refuses all three requests, and reaffirms that the worship of ancient Gods is ended, and that his loyal former slave Pepi is now his Grand Vizier. He instructs Ptah to return to Memphis, whilst he has a private audience with his companion.

After Ptah leaves, Garth makes himself invisible. The pharaoh instructs the guards to search for him, and leaves the court. Garth follow the pharaoh to a boudoir, and waits for him to show his face as he disrobes. To his astonishment, the pharaoh stands revealed as the girl he had seen in the pyramid – Queen Nefri!

Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - K193Garth materialises and questions the Queen as to why her husband was in the tomb in her place. Nefri explains that her elderly husband had died before their marriage was consummated. Fearing that the priests would install the nefarious Harmhab on the throne and further oppress the people, she had become the Phantom Pharaoh and made out that it was the Queen who had died. Nefri is determined to carry on her late husband’s policies to break the power of the priests.

With the benefit of history, Garth realises that despite her bravery, Nefri’s reforms cannot succeed. But he pledges to help her, and to return the next day.

Garth flies to the villa to check on what Ptah is doing. Ptah is relieved to see him, and Garth informs him that the pharaoh is set on his reforms, and plays for time when Ptah presses him to lead the revolt, saying he will only make up his mind after his next audience with the pharaoh. Ptah loses patience and sends a messenger to Harmhab instructing him to advance with his army on Thebes. He expects Garth to help him by denouncing the pharaoh in the temple of Ammon-Ra.

Garth flies invisibly to the palace and materialises in the Queen’s chamber where she has prepared herself alluringly for his coming. He warns her of the coming attack and Nefri vows to fight the attackers and appeal to the people to support her. Garth again expresses doubts that the people will listen whilst she wears the mask, so Nefri appeals to him to protect her with his god-like powers. Meanwhile, Ptah has bribed the palace guards to let him slip into the chamber to eavesdrop on Garth’s audience. He overhears Garth admitting that his powers are only due to the helmet and cloak.

As Nefri declares that she is enamoured of Garth and embraces him, Ptah reaches out from his concealment behind a curtain and snatches the space-time kit. Making his escape from the palace, he has superstitious misgivings about meddling with the helmet and cloak. He leaves it at the foot of a statue of Ammon-Ra in the temple, before calling on the guards to follow him to the tombs to see for themselves who really lies there.

Garth - The Phantom Pharaoh - K218Garth realises that Ptah may be about to reveal the Queen’s secret, so he summons the palace guards and she removes her mask. Just as Garth is making a speech to justify her actions, a crowd storms the palace shouting their belief – planted by Ptah – that the Queen had murdered the true pharaoh, and that Garth is no god. However, his mighty strength is sufficient to scatter the crowd, and to allow him to escape from the palace with Pepi and Nefri, via a water gate, and escape down the river in her private canoe that has been kept provisioned for a hunting trip.

After hiding in papyrus reeds until it is safe to emerge, they reach the opposite bank of the river. Garth tells the Queen and Pepi that he has a plan, and leads them on a trek across the rocky desert.

After three days their supplies are exhausted, and Garth calls a halt. He then sets a fire blazing, using dead palm trees. As he had hoped, the huge palls of smoke act as a signal that is seen by Prince Mahmud and his Bedawin forces. Garth introduces the young Prince to the Queen, and – as he had shrewdly anticipated – they are mutually attracted to each other.

"The Phantom Pharaoh" was one of Garth strips reprinted in the Portuguese series Antologia Bd Classica, published by Editorial Futura between 1982 and 1988, alongside the likes of Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician in this issue (No.7)

“The Phantom Pharaoh” was one of Garth strips reprinted in the Portuguese series Antologia Bd Classica, published by Editorial Futura between 1982 and 1988, alongside the likes of Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician in this issue (No.7)

Mahmud’s forces, led by Garth, lay an ambush in a rocky defile for Harmhab and his advancing army. Arrows rein down on the unsuspecting army, and their rout is completed by a cavalry charge. Nefri is distraught at the slaughter, and unwisely emerges from concealment to make an appeal to stop the fighting.

Harmhab, thrown from his carriage and cowering nearby, seizes his chance to grab the Queen as a hostage. Garth, meanwhile, is directing the Bedawins, and calls on Mahmud to hold back his men as he calls on the Egyptians to surrender to their Queen.

Pepi hears his Queen’s cries for help as she struggles with the obese Harmhab, and the valiant dwarf goes to her rescue. However, the great bulk of Harmhab soon overwhelms him, and the Queen covers her eyes as the loyal Pepi is killed. Snatching up Pepi’s small sword, Harmhab advances on the Queen, intent on her death. But Mahmud arrives in his chariot and thrusts his spear clean through Harmhab’s back, killing him and saving Nefri.

With Harmhab dead, his army yields. Alongside Garth and the Queen, Mahmud leads his triumphant forces back to Thebes, where the Queen is hailed by the fickle populace. As Mahmud escorts Nefri to her palace, Garth follows Ptah-Hotep, who has fled into the temple. Garth recovers and dons his space-time kit as the abject Ptah cowers before him and begs for his life. Surprisingly, Garth orders him to accompany him back to the palace to pay homage to the Queen.

The magnanimous Nefri spares his life when the High Priest promises to work with her for the good of the people. Garth observes that Egypt is not ready for sudden religious reform, but tells the Queen that with Mahmud by her side, she can bring about social change.

Garth orders a second throne to be placed alongside the Queen’s, and tells the Prince: “It’s all yours, Mahmud – Good luck… and good-bye.” And with that he vanishes and flies towards the nearest pyramid…!

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth Wings of the Night K240

Wings of the Night
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 8/10/51 – 17/3/52 (K240 – L65)
Number of Episodes: 136

The story opens in the country house of fight-promoter and entrepreneur Sam Gorgon, and his blind wife Sylvia, whom we last met in the “Garth and the Boxing Game” story.

Sylvia tells her husband that she has found a famous surgeon willing to perform an operation to try and restore her sight. However the process will be long and difficult, and involves her going away for some time. Gorgon is supportive and agrees, whilst privately having severe reservations. How will his wife react when she sees the hideous face he keeps hidden behind a mask?

They throw a lavish fancy-dress farewell party for their friends. After the guests finally leave, Sylvia senses that someone else is present. Gorgon is astonished to see Garth sitting in a bay window, wearing his space-time kit. He remarks that he had not noticed Garth amongst his other fancy-dress guests. Garth casually tells him that he had been invisible, only briefly hinting at his new abilities, adding cryptically that he has travelled thousands of miles to check on how he and Sylvia were getting on.

Sylvia comments that Garth must also have second sight, as he has arrived at a crisis in their lives. She wants him to stay and support Sam whilst she is away. She goes to arrange a room for Garth, leaving Sam to explain. Gorgon tells Garth about the operation, and confides his misgivings about the restoration of her sight. When Garth tells him not to worry, Gorgon suddenly removes his mask – revealing a startling, hairy bestial visage. Garth cannot help looking away in revulsion. Gorgon remarks that if a strong man like Garth shrinks from him, what will be his wife’s reaction?

Garth Wings of the Night K246The next morning, Sylvia departs in a chauffeur-driven car to the surgeon’s clinic. Garth suggests to the depressed Gorgon that they go riding, and he can tell him about his travels since he had left England and flown to join Lumiere. Out riding, Garth concludes his narrative by telling Gorgon that on his return out of time, he had first tried to find Lumiere at his desert laboratory. But he was no longer there, and no one had been able to tell him where he had gone – or why.

Gorgon has been scarcely listening and suddenly – apparently deliberately – bolts his horse into a high wired fence. The entangled horse hurls Gorgon into the air, and he falls heavily. Garth calls in a doctor and Gorgon is confined to bed – mercifully not seriously injured, but deeply concussed.

The doctor tells Garth that Gorgon seems to have lost the will to live because he is worried about his wife’s reaction on seeing his grotesque face. He remarks that he knows of only one great scientist who might be able to help Gorgon – Professor Lumiere, who unfortunately is presently out of the country. Pressed by Garth, the doctor reveals that Lumiere is on a secret mission behind the iron curtain, at the ‘Castle Mortiska’ in the Carpathian Mountains. He is studying a very peculiar case involving the daughter of a Slavonic count.

In the next few days, while Gorgon lies sick and listless, Garth wires Lumiere at the Castle Mortiska and exchanges messages. Lumiere tells Garth that he cannot leave his patient, who is “in peril of losing her soul”, but offers to treat Gorgon’s face if Garth is able to bring him out to the castle, where he has an equipped laboratory. The girl’s mother, the dowager Countess, has approved their stay at the castle, and Lumiere’s international eminence as a scientist has got them travel permits on medical grounds.

Garth persuades Gorgon to undertake the journey to the Carpathians. Because the political situation is unstable with reputed brigands and bandits, Gorgon packs a rifle, and Garth takes his space-time kit. Their journey promises to be both dangerous and macabre, since Lumiere has used the term ‘Nosferatu’ (the un-dead) to describe the perils facing his patient at the castle.

The two travellers arrive at a remote inn in south eastern Europe, and using Gorgon’s wealth are able to hire an old jeep through the innkeeper, who also finds a guide for the first stage of their journey. The castle is perched on a precipice above thickly wooded foothills. The guide is nervous and says he can only take them as far as the village in the pass – then they will have to seek one Janos, who alone is prepared to carry mail to the castle Mortiska, which has an “evil reputation”.

The next day the three men set off through the forest in the jeep. The guide warns them to look out for armed bandits – the Tzigany (gypsies), dispossessed Boyars who are against the workers’ government.

Sure enough, a felled tree blocks their path – they are about to be ambushed. Garth dons his space-time kit, adjusting his helmet for invisibility. Using his great strength he lifts the tree upright, allowing the jeep to pass. But as Garth releases the tree it falls back onto a young gypsy who has risen from cover to investigate. Still invisible, Garth lifts the tree aside, and rejoins the jeep, materialising in the back.

Garth Wings of the Night K264At length they halt for refreshments, and the guide tells Garth that the ill-famed House of Mortiska has been left to die out by the government. The deceased old count lies in the family vault, and his young son and heir had been believed killed in the revolution, leaving only the old countess and her sick daughter. When they arrive at the village at night, the guide askes to be allowed to take the jeep and drive on to the frontier post. He is reluctant to spend the night in the village, because the superstitious villagers are half savages – believed “to draw lots to put out their babies for the night-flier.” He adds darkly “that the wolves or the vultures carry on the good work now.”

Garth and Gorgon call at the dwelling of Janos to seek lodging for the night, and to engage him to guide them to the castle tomorrow. But the superstitious old man takes fright on seeing Gorgon (“the man without a face!”) and refuses to admit them. So Garth and Gorgon set out themselves on the steep climb through the moonlit woods, the armed Gorgon looking out for wolves. But they are also being watched by bandits, who attack them.

Garth is giving a good account of himself, but has to desist when he is threatened by a gypsy holding a rifle. Protesting that they are not enemies of his tribe, merely Englishmen visiting the Mortescu, they are conducted at gunpoint to Marko, the chief of the bandits at a Tzigany camp in a clearing. Garth recognises their chief as the man he helped by freeing him from the heavy tree, and declares himself as his rescuer. Marko accepts them as friends, and offers his hospitality for the night. He offers to lead them to the castle, but they must delay until the following night as he dare not risk being seen by day, especially near Mortiska.

Nightfall finds the three men approaching the castle, and Marko hastens away, not wanting to be seen by the dowager countess, explaining cryptically that she would be angry to see ‘a mere gypsy as her daughter’s suitor.’

Garth Wings of the Night K283Nearing the castle, Garth sees above them the dark shape of an enormous bat leaving a tower window, and hears what sounds like a wail of fear or anguish. They are admitted to the castle by an agitated Lumiere, who is thankful at Garth’s arrival. He instructs a servant, Igor, to look after Gorgon, and invites Garth to follow him up a flight of steps to the chamber of his patient, the lady Sonia.

They find Sonia sprawled unconscious on the floor. Lumiere declares that she has suffered “a relapse” and instructs Garth to carry her to his laboratory. He gives her a blood transfusion, using blood from Garth. As the girl lies in a deep sleep, her colour restored, Garth notices a small scar on her neck, which prompts him to ask Lumiere about his referencing ‘Nosferatu’ in his letters, and the ‘night flier’ being spoken of by the villagers.

Lumiere says they can discuss these matters later, because he is anxious to assess his new patient. He tells Gorgon that he can commence treating him tomorrow, and reveals that Sonia is suffering from a “wasting disease, common in these parts.” Which was why the government had given him permission to study her case.

The next morning Garth meets the old countess, who is wheelchair bound, and does not speak English. Garth remarks that he can hardly believe Sonia comes from the same family.

Sonia comes down, restored by Garth’s blood transfusion, and she and Garth talk on the battlements, whilst Lumiere examines Gorgon’s condition. Sonia thanks Garth, speaking perfect English. She tells him she has been educated in England, but had been recalled by her mother to look after her when her husband died. Her brother was also believed to have died whilst fighting against the liberation.

They are joined by Lumiere and Gorgon, and Lumiere advises that having completed his diagnosis, he needs to sleep on the problem. He charges Garth to look after Sonia, and explains the background to her case. For centuries, there has been a tradition of vampirism in the Mortescu family. Many a count in the past was said to become Nosferatu – neither dead or alive, his body possessed by a demon who preyed on the living, flying forth from the family tomb at midnight, and sucking the blood of any man, woman or child who unwittingly invites him in. The villagers believe that the late Count Mortis is such a vampire. Lumiere is reluctant to accept the tales, and believes that Sonia’s symptoms – including the now vanished scar on her neck – are psychosomatic, caused by her brooding on the family tradition. He takes Garth to the family chapel nearby and shows him the massive tomb, topped by a stone slab.

Whilst Lumiere sleeps, Sonia shows Garth over the castle. She leads him to a room she has been forbidden to enter by her mother and Lumiere, but shows Garth where they have hidden the key above the door. Garth decides he should investigate inside. It turns out to be a library, and whilst Garth is examining the books, Sonia slips away and exits the castle by a secret stairway. Garth finds a book written in English, ‘Mysteries of the Mortiska…the secret history of a sinister Balkan family’.

The countess passes by the open door of the library. As she angrily propels herself inside, Garth just has time to secrete the book in his shirt before her wheelchair crashes into his high steps and sends him tumbling. Igor excuses her action by saying she is almost blind, and had thought Sonia was in the library.

Garth exits the castle, searching for the missing girl. He spots her talking to a man in the distance, on the outskirts of the woods. It is Marko, who has risked the daylight in answer to a signal from Sonia to meet her. She confides that her dreams are getting worse, and that she is frightened, but reluctant to go away with him and leave her mother. As Garth hails Sonia and runs up, Marko slips away into the woods. Sonia pretends to Garth that she had been alone, and just taking the air.

Lumiere continues to sleep during the day, and that night Garth shows Gorgon the book, from which he has learned that the vampire can only enter a house by invitation, sometimes taking the form of an animal – usually a bat.

Late in the night, Garth patrols the battlements outside, from where he can watch Sonia’s bedroom window in the tower. Inside her room, Sonia has opened the window to admit the huge bat-like figure of her father. As he is about to bite her neck, the night flier hears Garth’s hurrying steps on the stairs, and escapes via the window. On entering Garth sees Sonia in a deep sleep. He shuts the window.

Garth Wings of the Night K308The next morning, Gorgon discusses with Garth the book he had left with him. He quotes a passage revealing that anyone bitten by a vampire gradually loses all moral sense and becomes a vampire themselves.

Garth realises the full extent of the danger Sonia is in, and questions her as to who was the young man she was with yesterday. She admits that he was a young gypsy she had met in the woods one day, who was being hunted by the government. He had been kind to her, and she regards him almost like a brother – and he shares her family name, Marko.

They go out for a walk, and spot a convoy of government troops approaching the castle through the pass. Garth guesses that they mean to round up the gypsies. Telling Sonia to return to the castle, Garth hastens to find the Tzigany camp in order to warn Marko. Thus forewarned, Marko’s men can disperse into the mountains.

Returned to the castle, Garth tells Sonia he will be on the battlements watching over her that night. When she asks to kiss him – to give her “strength and courage”, Garth is shocked to find that she has drawn blood from his neck.

At the midnight hour, armed now with Gorgon’s rifle, Garth spies the night flier approaching the castle, and immediately opens fire. He follows a blood trail to the family chapel. Inside, he realises that the tomb is so massive he will need a crowbar and pick to prise open the heavy lid. Returning to the castle he hears the sound of shots in the distance – the government troops are harrying the gypsies.

The next morning Lumiere awakens, having solved the problem of transforming Gorgon’s hideous face. He sends for Janos to take a letter to the state hospital requesting the special drugs he needs. Garth, after a further study of the book, has established that in human form a vampire ‘has the strength of ten men, and only a stake driven through its heart will liberate the imprisoned soul.’ He instructs the woodcutter Janos that when he returns with the drugs for Lumiere, he should bring him a long, sharpened wooden stake.

Gorgon retires with Lumiere to his laboratory, so that he can remain under observation, whilst Garth pursues his own stratagems to protect Sonia. He learns from the book that a vampire casts no reflection in a mirror, and on donning his full space-time kit, finds that this applies to him also. He resolves to confront the vampire on equal terms.

As he removes his helmet and cloak, the vampire has entered his room via his open window and attacks him from behind. Garth hurls the creature over his shoulder, and thus thwarted, it escapes through the window. Before Garth can re-don his space-time kit to pursue it, it has returned to the chapel. However, once outside Garth sees that there is a light in the library.

Rendering himself invisible, Garth enters the library and discovers the old countess is about to burn some documents over a candle on a table. He snatches the papers from her hand before she can destroy them, causing her to faint in alarm. Garth finds that one of them is Sonia’s adoption papers, written in English. An English baby, she had been adopted by the late Count Mortiska, and so is not the natural child of the Countess.

On questioning Igor about this, he learns that Marko, the young Lord lost in the revolution, had been born to the Count’s first wife. So Mark and Sonia are not brother and sister. Garth remarks bitterly that ‘the selfish old hag’ had recalled Sonia from the safety of England to share her dangerous durance in the cursed castle.

The next day the old countess keeps herself to her room. Janos returns to the castle with the drugs for Lumiere, and also brings a carved a stake for Garth. As Lumiere gets to work on Gorgon, Garth dons his space-time kit and flies invisibly to the chapel with the stake – and the tools to open the tomb. But on seeing the Count’s apparently living body lying helpless, he is seized with revulsion, and cannot bring himself to slay in cold blood. He resolves that he will have to face him at night, when he is in demonic form. He leaves the stake in the chapel, for when he returns.

Meanwhile, Government soldiers have assembled, heading for the castle where they suspect Marko may have sought refuge. Garth flies invisibly back to the castle ahead of them.

He tells Sonia of his fear that the troops have rounded up the Tzigany, and are headed to the castle to arrest Marko if he seeks safety there. As they talk in Sonia’s room, two soldiers enter the castle. Captain Ordog questions the old countess, telling her that his men are pursuing the rebels, and that he suspects that their leader is the Count’s son, who may have sought refuge in the castle. Sonia overhears the conversation and tells Garth that she had thought her brother (whom she had not seen for years, whilst in England) was dead. Garth decides it is time to tell Sonia the truth about their relationship. Sonia confesses that she loves him, and believes that Marko also loves her.

Captain Ordog then informs them that they are under house arrest, whilst he searches the castle for Marko. In fact, Marko is still hiding in the woods. The officer enters Lumiere’s lab, and on catching sight of Gorgon’s face, reels from the room in horror. He orders the room to be locked as Lumiere resumes his operation.

As night falls, the two women are asked to retire to their rooms and stay there. Ordog tells Garth to stay up with him all night, passing the time playing cards. The old countess tells Igor that she will carry her own candle as he pushes her chair to her bedroom on the ground floor.

Towards midnight Garth, already wearing his cloak as he plays cards with Captain Ordog, suddenly puts on his helmet, making himself invisible. He ties up the astonished officer, telling him dryly that he can complain to his government later. He seeks out the other soldier who is guarding Sonia’s door, and knocks him out. But on entering, he finds her room is empty! The window is closed, so Garth deduces there is a hidden panel somewhere. He discovers it, and behind it a secret staircase leading to outside the castle. He realises she has gone to warn Marko not to come to the castle.

Elsewhere in the castle Lumiere has completed his treatment, but tells Gorgon to keep his mask on all night. In her bedroom, the old countess has snapped, driven mad by thoughts of remorse and thoughts of revenge against the revolutionary guards. She deliberately drops her candle, setting the room alight.

In the woods, Sonia is vainly seeking Marko at their old trysting place, but harassed by the troops he has already sought refuge in the family chapel. As he enters, his father suddenly emerges in demonic form from his tomb!

Whilst Garth is searching for Sonia in the woods, the girl is hurrying towards the chapel, having deduced that Marko might have headed there. His pursuers have had the same idea and they have arrived at the chapel ahead of her – only to be savagely attacked and scattered by the emerging vampire.

On hearing screams the girl thinks that the troops must have caught Marko. As she runs to the chapel she sees a lone figure waiting and runs to him – only to find that it is her vampire father! He tells her that he needs her blood to keep him alive, and pounces on her.

Garth Wings of the Night L47

Her piercing scream is heard by Garth, and he flies to the chapel, swooping down on the vampire as he struggles with Sonia. A terrible aerial battle then ensues above the swooning girl.

The grappling figures move high into the sky, whilst below lurid tongues of flame are leaping up from the castle of Mortiska. Below, Marko has recovered after being attacked inside the chapel, and emerges carrying Garth’s stake. He tells the recovering Sonia how he had been attacked by her father, and had found the stake near the tomb. Sonia realises that Garth must have left it there, and looks to the sky, where a fight to the death is underway.

The vampire has the strength of ten men, and its raking talons eventually tear Garth’s flying cloak to shreds, causing him to plummet to earth like a stricken eagle. Now shorn of both his cloak and helmet, Garth lies stunned and helpless as above him the vampire wheels triumphantly.

As the vampire swoops down, Garth recovers and grabs the stake Marko had dropped, bracing himself – and the demon impales itself on the point, the stake driving clean through its body. Marko and Sonia watch as the demon’s face changes in death to the gentle and calm face of their father as they remembered him. Garth tells them that the evil spirit has left his body, and they lay the count’s body back in the tomb. As Sonia and Marko pray over the body, Garth turns to look at the castle and sees that it is engulfed in flames. Realising that Lumiere and Gorgon had been locked in the lab, and that he had left the two soldiers immobilised, Garth races towards the castle.

On reaching the castle Garth is relieved and elated to see five blackened figures staggering out. Lumiere tells Garth that Igor had found and freed Captain Ordog, who had the keys to the lab. After rousing the soldier, he had freed Lumiere and Gorgon, but the mad old countess – who had started the fire – had perished in the flames.

They all watch throughout the night as the castle burns down to a smouldering ruin. Garth and Captain Ordog – who have bonded – watch with satisfaction. Garth remarks that there had been a curse on the family, and the captain tells him that he can report to his masters that his mission was a complete success: he had been tasked to disperse the Tzigany and liquidate the Mortescu family. He gives Garth a pass that will allow them to cross unchallenged across the border – and if a young gypsy and his sister are among the party, no questions will be asked.

After recovering some of their possessions from the castle, Garth and his friends head across the border, and Gorgon invites Marko and Sonia to be guests at his home, and start a new life in England. Lumiere tells Garth that before the fire started he had actually completed his treatment. His injections will take time to work, and Gorgon must continue to wear the mask until they reach England.

Several days later Sylvia, her sight restored, waits anxiously on the steps of Gorgon’s country mansion as a car draws up. Gorgon flies into her arms, delighted that she can now see him – but he is still wearing his mask. Once they are inside the house, Lumiere instructs Gorgon to remove his mask. But the nervous Gorgon wishes to do so alone in his room. The confident Lumiere tells Sylvia to follow him.

In his room Gorgon removes his mask before a dressing table mirror – and sees reflected in it his new – and normal – face, and his wife’s behind it as she looks over his shoulder.

All is resolved happily: Marko learns that he is to be offered a job as an interpreter, and becomes engaged to Sonia.

Garth tells Lumiere how he killed the vampire of Mortiska. Then, after showing him the remains of his Jasonite cloak and battered helmet, he tells him the full story of his journey to Jason. Lumiere informs Garth of his intention to return to the desert observatory at the International Research Station and make a full analysis of the fragments of the space-time kit.

Garth agrees to join him, and speculates that he will no doubt share his “next nightmare” after he has slept on his findings, giving a broad hint about the next story!

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - Space Time Rivals L66Space Time Rivals
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 18/3/52 – 5/7/52 (L66 – L159)
Number of Episodes: 94

Now returned to the International Research Station at El Wadi, Lumiere uses its resources to do a thorough analysis of the remains of Garth’s Jasonite space-time kit. Garth remains in England, as a guest at Sam Gorgon’s home, waiting for Lumiere to send for him. Several days pass before Garth receives a telegram from Dawn, who is acting as Lumiere’s secretary at El Wadi:

PLEASE COME AT ONCE. PROF. LUMIERE HAS BEEN ASLEEP FOR A WEEK. CANNOT WAKE HIM.

Garth sends a telegram to say he is coming at once, and Gorgon and Sylvia see him off at the airport. On boarding his plane, he is surprised to find that Karen is also a passenger on the same flight. She tells him she has a secretarial job at the desert observatory. On arrival at El Wadi, Garth is met by a military escort, and he offers Karen a lift to her office. To his surprise she declines, informing him that she is working for a foreign government – Boravia. Colonel Bluff, the commander of the British forces there, explains to Garth that as soon as the risk of interplanetary invasion from Jason had been averted, the various governments had fallen out. It is no longer an international enterprise – all the governments are now working independently. They are competing against each other to find the secret of space-time travel!

Garth - Space Time Rivals L73

Garth reaches Lumiere’s department, and Dawn conducts him to where Lumiere lies sleeping on a divan, fully clothed. He is being watched by a worried doctor who wants to revive him – to save his life. Garth warns him to leave his friend to awaken in his own time – when he has solved the scientific problem he is working on. (Lumiere’s amusing eccentricity of being able to solve scientific problems by sleeping on them was a recurring feature of Freeman’s stories, but would not be continued by later writers.)

Meanwhile, Karen has reported to her boss in the Boravian section, General Rataban, who is both a scientist and a soldier. He tells her that the conquest of space-time travel is a military operation, and that his country must get it first – at any cost. Work on the secret is well advanced, but there is a final equation that still eludes him. He is immediately alerted when Karen informs him that Garth has arrived in the British section, and may be the catalyst that can supply the answer.

In Lumiere’s quarters, Dawn shows Garth a blackboard covered with equations and formulae, that were unresolved – at which point Lumiere had resorted to his deep sleep technique. She confides to Garth that she hopes he won’t solve the final equation, because she fears that it would involve Garth in some mad adventure into space or time.

Karen arrives at the British section on horseback, having crossed the desert from the Boravian section, and asks to see Garth. She tells him that she had heard the professor was sick, but Garth sees through this as an excuse when Karen (who, like Dawn, is enamoured of Garth) tries to vamp him.

Lumiere suddenly awakens, with a cry of “Eureka!” having solved the final equation in his usual fashion. After refreshing himself with food and drink, Lumiere goes to his blackboard, followed by Garth, Dawn – and Karen. He quickly inserts the vital missing equation – and, unseen, Karen carefully copies it in lipstick on her mirror compact.

Garth - Space Time Rivals L78

As Lumiere excitedly expounds his scientific reasoning, Dawn counsels him not to talk whilst Karen is listening, but Lumiere just laughs when he sees Karen may have been taking notes – “even if she did, I doubt if she could understand them!” Garth interposes to say that Dawn is right, because Karen is now working for a rival power. Karen says languidly that if they don’t trust her, then she will take her leave.

Lumiere and Garth escort her outside to her horse, and as she rides off across the desert, Garth suddenly notices the glint of a rifle barrel in the leaves of a nearby palm tree. He grabs a lump of rock, and hurls it unerringly at the palm tree. A shot rings out, and an Arab gunman falls from the tree. It had been an assassination attempt on Lumiere.

On learning of the incident, Karen protests to her ruthless boss, General Ratablan, who admits that he had ordered the hit on Lumiere. Karen then produces her compact and asks dryly: “Can you read lipstick?”

Meanwhile Lumiere is explaining to Garth the fruits of his research on the Jasonite fragments. Although they were composed of elements unknown on Earth, Lumiere is confident he can create them by transmutation of terrestrial elements, using a new cyclotron which he is having constructed. Whilst this work is underway, Lumiere encourages Garth to scout around on horseback and check on the movements of Karen and the Boravians.

Using binoculars, Karen sees Garth approaching her section, and rides out to meet him. After some verbal fencing, they dismount and settle at an oasis where Karen again vamps Garth, and asks if he is in a relationship with Dawn, and where she stands. Exasperated, Garth repeats his standard response to Karen: he simply regards Dawn and herself equally – but only as friends. Whilst they are talking, three Arabs have stealthily crept up behind them.

They are soon routed by Garth’s enormous strength, and flee into the desert on camels. Garth accuses Karen of being complicit in an attempt to kidnap him – much to her distress, as she had not been involved. Garth rides back to report the incident to Colonel Bluff.

Garth - Space Time Rivals L90

Bluff tells him that the Arabs have dispersed; it will be almost impossible to prove they were sent by Boravia, and he wants to avoid an international incident by accusing them. Lumiere then invites Garth to see the machine he is constructing – a machine for travelling through time. Meanwhile, Karen has returned to the Boravian section, and berates Ratablan for his attempt to kidnap Garth. Ratablan tells her that he is no longer concerned about Lumiere or Garth, because he has now solved the secret of time travel, thanks to Karen copying Lumiere’s equation. A Boravian time machine is even now under construction.

Later, Garth and Dawn are relaxing at the side of the swimming pool in their swimming costumes, when Lumiere runs up to announce that he has complete his ‘space-time globe’, and he wants to make its first practical test. Dawn throws a towel over her bikini and follows Garth and Lumiere to the control room. They learn that the globe has a transparent, permeable wall that they can pass through like a soap bubble – but unlike a bubble, it will not burst.

 

Garth - Space Time Rivals L97

Lumiere indicates the extremely delicate controls which incorporate a left-hand switchboard for travelling into the past, and a right-hand one for futurity. He demonstrates how it works by setting a dial for millions of years into the past – the Mesozoic era. Just as he does so, Dawn’s heavy towel accidentally brushes the controls, activating the machine. It vanishes with a blinding flash and an implosion of air! The technicians summon Bluff who sees from a second control board – in sympathy with the globe – that they have been projected back to prehistoric times.

Garth - Space Time Rivals L102

Lumiere’s space-time globe materialises some 150 million years in the past, in the Jurassic period, and from the globe they gaze in wonder at lumbering saurian monsters in a swampy jungle landscape, adjoining a lagoon.

Although Lumiere had intended to investigate the future first, he is happy to stay where they are and make notes and records of the Mesozoic era.

Back in the present day, Karen has called to see Lumiere to warn him of Ratablan’s breakthrough, but learns that he has departed into the past. She looks at the duplicate control board, and makes a careful note of the time setting before riding back to Ratablan to give him the news. For his part, Ratablan has completed the construction of his own ‘time sphere’, a solid metal sphere with an observation window. He looks at Karen’s readings and decides to visit the same period, lest Lumiere gain a scientific advantage. He summons Smitz, the toughest of his officers, and invites Karen to join them. Karen readily agrees, but first changes into as bathing costume to make her level with Dawn in her battle to win Garth’s affections.

The Boravian globe vanishes into time, emerging very near to Lumiere’s craft on an atoll in the lagoon. As Garth watches, Karen is the first to disembark from the metal sphere. But her arrival has been noticed by non-human eyes too, and a monster plunges towards her. Lumiere identifies it as a plesiosaur. Karen is swept off the islet by a powerful lunge of the sea-dragon’s head, into the turgid water. Garth leaps from the globe to rescue her, and finds that he has mysteriously gained the power of flight. Diving into the water he drags Karen away from the jaws of the plesiosaur, just as Ratablan and Smitz emerge from their sphere.

Suddenly, a new monster enters the fray – identified by Lumiere as an ichthyosaurus – and seizes the sea dragon’s neck in its terrible teeth. Ratablan urges the armed Smitz to shoot at the creatures.

Garth carries Karen back to Ratablan’s islet. Meanwhile, Lumiere and Dawn have ventured out from their globe, and like Garth discover that they too can now fly. Lumiere deduces that they have absorbed some of the properties of the globe. He congratulates Ratablan on having reached the same conclusions as himself, but Ratablan concedes that Lumiere’s transparent craft is superior to his. He instructs Smitz to put his weapon away – Lumiere has earlier objected to the destruction of any monsters – and invites Lumiere to look over his sphere. Garth remarks to Karen that his sudden friendship is suspicious, but Karen urges that they should all be friends, and hints that Garth’s rescue of her was a sign of his own regard for her. Garth insists it was just common humanity as Dawn comes up and professes that she is terrified.

They all set off to take up Ratablan’s invitation to inspect his sphere. Whilst Garth’s party is able to fly, the two Boravians and Karen have to follow in a rubber dinghy. Arriving ahead of them, Lumiere whilst trusting of a “brother scientist”, heeds Garth’s warning by immobilising his globe’s controls.

Meanwhile, Ratablan has instructed Smitz to conceal weapons under camping gear in the dinghy, and recruits the peeved Karen to distract Garth whilst he plans to “handle the simple professor.” They arrive in the dinghy, and Ratablan announces that he has brought a tent to protect the ladies from the fierce Mesozoic sun. For his part, Lumiere has lit a fire to scare off monsters and insects.

As the two scientists converse, Garth announces his intention of diving into the lagoon to gather oysters to help sustain them, as they had left without food supplies. Dawn urges him not to risk his life, but Karen dives in to follow Garth down. Underneath the water she kisses Garth, and continues to vamp him after they return to the surface.

Garth - Space Time Rivals L122

Ratablan is having no joy in prising out of Lumiere the secret of how his time-globe works, and is annoyed that he has not absorbed the power of flight through being in the globe. Lumiere explains that the radiation is no longer active, because he has neutralised it.

That night, they all enjoy the prehistoric meal of oysters, and Lumiere tells the dismayed Dawn that they will be staying another day in the past, in order to complete his scientific report on the era. Ratablan invites Dawn and Karen to sleep in the tent, whilst the men take turns in mounting guard over the camp fire, whilst the others sleep.

Inside the tent, Karen taunts Dawn by claiming that Garth had kissed her underwater. Distracted by Karen’s mockery, Dawn rushes out of the tent – to where some pterodactyls are hovering. Her screams rouse Garth, who seizes a burning brand from the fire, and flies to her rescue, driving the creature away. Dawn asks Garth if he had kissed Karen, and Garth tells her it has been the other way round. Ratablan overhears their conversation, and muses to himself that he has found Garth’s Achilles’ heel.

Next morning, Lumiere finds the enormous footprints of a diplodocus or brontosaurus and Ratablan agrees they should follow them, as they are harmless herbivores. Garth stays behind to guard the globe and the two girls, and Smitz is sent to guard the sphere on the islet.

As he leaves, Karen asks him to give her a gun from the dinghy; she has a hunch that she may need it. She turns back to discover that a massive triceratops is nearby and Garth and Dawn have climbed up a tree to escape it. However, the monster lumbers past, having lost interest in them.

Garth - Space Time Rivals L134

Meanwhile, Lumiere and Ratablan are filming a brontosaurus which has managed to get itself bogged down in a swamp. Suddenly it is attacked by a tyrannosaurus. Lumiere decides that Garth would wish to witness this battle of the giants, and flies back to fetch him. On the way, he finds that he is losing the power of flight, and arrives on foot. Whilst Lumiere remains, Garth flies off to watch the battle, following the footprints. Dawn impulsively flies after Garth, feeling safer in his presence. But as happened to Lumiere, they begin to lose their power of flight, just managing to reach the waiting Ratablan.

They all watch as the tyrannosaurus kills the brontosaurus. But when it begins to rend its body Dawn faints in horror. Whilst Garth tries to revive her, Ratablan puts his plan into action. He opens fire on the tyrannosaurus, drawing the maddened monster towards Garth and Dawn before running off. With Garth having lost the power of flight, he lifts the unconscious Dawn over his shoulder and climbs the nearest tall tree, where they are trapped.

Back at the camp, Lumiere is explaining to Karen that his powers of flight have been lost because the radiation from the globe has dissipated. She realises with horror that the same thing might have happened to Garth in the vicinity of the tyrannosaurus. A tremendous electrical rainstorm breaks out, and Lumiere and Karen rush to take shelter in the globe. At the height of the storm a huge wave sweeps over the islet and carries Ratablan’s sphere away into the sea, leaving Smitz stranded outside it, until he too is swept away by a second wave.

When Ratablan staggers through the now weakening storm and reaches the camp, he is appalled to see the islet virtually submerged and his sphere floating in the sea. As the storm ends, Lumiere and Karen emerge from the globe, and Lumiere tells Ratablan that Smitz had also been lost in the sea.

Dropping all pretence at friendship, Ratablan tells them that Garth had Dawn are also lost, since he had left them under attack from the tyrannosaurus. He boasts to Karen that he has succeeded where she failed. Karen runs off into the jungle with her gun, to try and rescue Garth.

At gunpoint, Ratablan demands that Lumiere tells him which reading on the dial will take them back to the present. Realizing that Ratablan does not understand the use of the right and left panels, Lumiere tells him “1952”, which from the present setting of the controls will actually precipitate him into the year nineteen thousand five hundred and twenty.

The globe, with only Ratablan aboard, disappears into the far future, and Lumiere spots that Smitz has been washed ashore – alive. As Lumiere helps him ashore, Smitz learns that Ratablan has abandoned them both.

Meanwhile, Garth is desperately trying to beat off the claws and jaws of the tyrannosaurus with a branch torn from the tree. As Karen arrives she sees that the weight of the dinosaur is now splitting the tree, which is beginning to totter, and Garth and Dawn are thrown heavily onto the marshy ground. Quickly recovering, Garth snatches Dawn up into his arms and staggers clear just as the massive tree falls across the tyrannosaur, temporarily pinning it to the earth. Karen pours shot after shot into the great saurian’s head until it lies dead.

Garth - Space Time Rivals L153Garth looks wonderingly at Karen, remarking that she appears to have defied her boss to come to their rescue, and Karen asserts that she is on his side, which he must surely now believe after all that has passed. Watched sadly by Dawn, Garth takes Karen into his arms and kisses her.

The three of them then return to Lumiere’s camp where he greets them thankfully. Garth asserts that it is now time to leave the past – but looks round in vain for the globe. Lumiere informs him that it has been taken by Ratablan by force of arms, but that he had tricked the General into far futurity. He adds that the Boravian sphere was not submerged, but had washed up on another islet, which they can reach in the dinghy. With Smitz’s help he can make any necessary repairs, and then they can pursue Ratablan into the future in his own machine.

The sphere is made operational, and Lumiere pulls the lever which sends them off on their second voyage into space-time – into the mysterious future!

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - Flight into the Future L160Flight into the Future
Writer: Don Freeman
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 7/7/52 – 25/10/52 (L160 – L255)
Number of Episodes: 96

As Lumiere is piloting Garth, Smitz, and the two girls into the year 19,520 in the space-time machine of his rival, General Ratablan has already unwittingly arrived there in Lumiere’s stolen time-globe.

Garth’s party materialises on a sun-kissed beach. As they emerge they see three very happy young children playing on the sands. They show no sign of fear of strangers, and when questioned by Garth confirm that the year is 19,520 “by the old reckoning.” They run off to “fetch Great Gran… Mother’s gone to Venus!”

A few moments later, a beautiful woman arrives in a flying car, and explains that she is looking after her grandchild’s children while their parents “are spreading peace in the planets.”

Garth - Flight into the Future L163

The woman is not surprised when Garth tells her they have travelled from the past. She informs them that “a poor madman” had recently arrived, and they realise that she is talking about Ratablan. She offers to take Karen and Dawn on a tour in her ‘jetabout’ whilst the men report themselves to “the District Welfare Officer.”

They enter a nearby futuristic building, where the ‘Welfarer’ – an apparently young man – is awaiting them, watching their arrival on his desk televiewer screen. He remarks that they seem to be “more reasonable than your forerunner – you are not armed with explosive toys as he is.” He explains future mankind has reduced life to its essentials – they live in tune with “the eternal verities – love, beauty and kindness.” The climate is controlled, and youth and beauty are preserved into old age. War has been abolished, and Earth is trying to spread the doctrine of peace among the other planets… a perfect welfare state.

Garth - Flight into the Future L166

Garth - Flight into the Future L167

Garth - Flight into the Future L168

The Welfarer tells them that when Ratablan had learned he was not in his own time he had become somewhat unhinged, and tried to claim the future for Boravia. He takes them to see Ratablan in the hope that they might be able to help him.

They find General Ratablan strutting about in his military uniform in a world of his own imagination. He is armed, and on seeing Garth and Lumiere opens fire. However the Welfarer raises his arm and some mysterious force deflects the bullets into the air. Garth grapples with the half-crazed general and disarms him. The Welfarer decides that Ratablan is incurable, being not so much mad as simply wicked: as such he must be isolated. He summons two men and instructs them to remove Ratablan to “the island of exiles.”

As Ratablan is escorted from the room he makes a desperate appeal to Smitz to join him. Smitz has a moment of struggle and then yields to his years of indoctrination and training, and joins Ratablan. The Welfarer orders that their time-sphere shall be sent with them, and if they choose to use it to escape, so much the better.

The Welfarer tells Lumiere that his own time-globe has been recovered, and is now in the building: they are free to use it and return to their own time. But Lumiere asks they be allowed to stay, to learn more of this future age. The Welfarer explains that there is no government as such, but that they are directed by a voluntary Council of Elders with a Chairman – ‘the Wise One.’ However, the Chairman is presently in space, on a peace tour to other planets.

Meanwhile, Karen and Dawn are relaxing with “Grannie” on the holiday beach. She introduces them to her son – Baldur, a great athlete. Noting his fine physique, Karen remarks that he should meet Garth. Garth and Lumiere are at that moment returning to the beach, accompanied by the Welfarer. They are using a moving road, with Garth electing to run alongside. As they arrive, they see the time-sphere being airlifted to the island of exile.

Karen introduces Garth to Baldur, and in a friendly throwing contest, Garth far outdistances Baldur. The Welfarer questions them as to how they would like to spend their time, whilst awaiting the return of the Wise One from space; they are free to pursue whatever are their interests, whilst staying in Great Grandma’s holiday home. Lumiere elects to inspect the nearby research laboratories; the girls and Garth have chosen pleasure and sport, and so Baldur is appointed their guide on a holiday tour of Europe.

Garth - Flight into the Future L181

 

The Bovarians on the island of exile are startled by the arrival of their time-sphere, being lowered from a hovering flyer. As its two crewmen land, Ratablan – instead of escaping into time – elects to stay and pursue his sinister plan for conquering the future for Boravia.

Garth - Flight into the Future L184

Baldur conducts Garth and the girls (now fitted out in attractive futuristic costumes) to an ‘atomic transference depot’ – a matter transmitter. They are disintegrated and instantly reassembled at a receiver in the Alps in Europe, where eliminating trials for the Olympic Games are in progress.

Garth - Flight into the Future L188

Garth - Flight into the Future L193Garth tales part in a futuristic ‘ski-skimming trial’. Wearing special skis, he skis down a snow-covered mountain side and finished by skimming over a lake. He records a new record time. To celebrate, Baldur takes them to a ‘spring dance’ that night. Another futuristic innovation – the dancers cavort acrobatically on a giant trampoline!

While Garth and the girls amuse themselves on holiday, on the isle of exile, Ratablan is successfully corrupting the two guards with his anachronistic ideas of power and their need to liberate themselves from “the tyrannical power of the so-called Wise One”.

Eventually Garth’s party is growing bored of winter sports, so Baldur next takes them – this time by rocket ship – to an area of the Sahara that has been made fertile by climatic control, and used for ‘sand sports’. Here, artificial wind machines drive ‘land yachts’ at colossal speed across vast areas of sand moistened by water piped from the Mediterranean and Baldur takes Karen ‘gliding’, flying bat-like in double harness. But Garth is growing restless, feeling a need for action to some real purpose, rather than just fun and games.

Meanwhile, the Welfarer has been uneasily watching Ratablan’s activities on his televiewer. He decides to take his personal flyer and investigate for himself. When he questions the two guards they tell him they are just ‘humouring’ Ratablan, but the Welfarer senses they are lying. He consults Lumiere, who tells him – after watching Ratablan on the televiewer, drilling his new troops – that they have undoubtedly been corrupted. The worried Welfarer admits that whilst the world is prepared for any outside planetary attack, they are not prepared for violence within the state. Especially worrying is the fact that the whole world is dependent on the ‘Master Ray’, a vast machine broadcasting power worldwide. If Ratablan should tamper with that…! He decides to recall Garth to deal with him.

The Welfarer broadcasts to the two guards on the isle of exile, telling them that they are to be recalled. New guards are despatched in a “subskimma”, a futuristic submarine. But Ratablan persuades the original guards to distract the newcomers when they arrive, so that he and Smitz can knock them unconscious, and then they capture the captain and his craft.

Baldur – having been contacted by the Welfarer – tells Garth that he must return as a matter of urgency. Karen and Dawn offer to return with him. They take the first stage of their journey by rocket plane. Meanwhile, General Ratablan is heading back to the English coast in the captured submarine. Garth’s rocket touches down at the Alpine Resort’s Atomic Transference depot, but Baldur finds that the depot is busy with returning holiday makers, and they must wait until the following morning.

On learning that Garth is held up in the Alps, the Welfarer decides to send Lumiere in person to bring him back as quickly as possible.

Ratablan’s craft surfaces at the coastal resort, and ploughs up onto the beach. His ‘shock troops’ leap out and begin to attack everyone at the resort who resists them as they make for the Welfarer’s headquarters – the first time there has been conflict in a thousand years. At great Grandma’s holiday home, her three great-grandchildren are watching the exciting events on the beach through the window. On seeing the Welfarer’s jetabout (with Lumiere aboard) taking off into the sky, they run out of the house “to see the fun.”

Ratablan orders his men to snatch the children, who may be useful as hostages. Great Grandma tries to stop them, but is brutally knocked aside. Ratablan bursts into the Welfarer’s office and captures him – but only after the Welfarer had contacted the Wise One by radio and warned him what was happening.

Garth - Flight into the Future L223Ratablan then goes to the control board of the ‘Master Ray’ and, using his scientific knowledge, disables it, turning off the broadcast of power world-wide – just as Lumiere is being disintegrated for his journey to the Alps. Lumiere is trapped in a state of ‘suspended disintegration’!

Next morning Garth is roused by an agitated Baldur who informs him that the broadcast power has mysteriously failed. They cannot now use the transference depot, and all forms of transport are similarly disabled across the entire European region. Garth suspects that the Master Ray has been sabotaged and resolves to return across Europe to the English channel by any physical means possible – on foot if need be.

Garth - Flight into the Future L228Meanwhile, across the channel, the Welfarer’s building is being besieged by an angry crowd. They are addressed from the roof by Smitz, using a megaphone. When he informs the crowd that the Welfarer is a prisoner and that General Ratablan is now their new Leader, this announcement is initially greeted with derisive laughter – until Smitz adds that if any hand is raised against Ratablan, then the three captive children will be hanged! The children, their necks in nooses, are paraded in view on the roof. The crowd are instructed to enter the Welfarer’s building one by one, and declare their allegiance to the new regime. Ratablan then prepares to address the cowed crowd, with details of his new regime.

In Europe, Garth and his companions are racing across the Alps using ski-skimmas. When Dawn suffers a fall, Garth leaves her behind at a rest chalet. The rest of the party press on, switching to horses when leaving the snow. Eventually both Karen and her horse are exhausted, and she, too, is left behind, as Garth and Baldur continue towards the coast. But on reaching the shoreline, Garth’s hope that they can cross the channel using a sail boat is dashed. The atomic blowers used to provide wind for their regattas are out of action, and there is no natural wind that night. Garth unhesitatingly plunges into the sea attempting to swim the channel, leaving an admiring Baldur on the shoreline, gazing after him.

Garth - Flight into the Future L237

Meanwhile, Ratablan taunts the captive Welfarer, telling him that he has now gained power by disrupting all services and recruiting the impressionable young to his cause.

Whilst Garth is heroically ploughing his way across the moonlit channel seas, in grim, primeval fashion, Smitz is querying with Ratablan why he has not turned the Master Ray back on – he fears it may soon cause unrest and a backlash. Ratablan points out that the Welfarer had radio’d the Chairman to return from space – but without radio guidance from Earth he cannot land. The Chairman’s spaceship is now in Earth orbit, circling a dark and unresponsive world, unable to establish contact and return to save the welfare state.

As dawn breaks, an exhausted Garth crawls out of the sea – very fortuitously! – at the same spot where the time-sphere had first landed. He is found by great Grandma, who helps him back to her home for much-needed rest and food before he can resume his mission. They bring each other up to date on events, and Garth is appalled to learn that Ratablan had struck her down with a club, and kidnapped her grandchildren.

Meanwhile. Ratablan is making another rooftop address to the populace. He again parades the three children, but this time he tells the crowd that they are three young heroes who have ‘voluntarily’ joined his party – an advance guard of youth who now salute the Bavorian flag as a rallying call for all young neo-Bavorians.

Watching and listening from great Grandma’s apartment window overlooking the Welfarer’s building, Garth is sickened by this recreation of the Hitler Youth movement. He resolves to act immediately. Striding across to the sentry outside of the new-Leader’s HQ, he poses as a “new recruit for the party”, and so gains admittance.

Ratablan is haranguing the seated figure of the Welfarer – tightly bound to his chair – when the excited children burst in to inform him that he has “a huge recruit for your army.” Ratablan turns and gives a cry of alarm at the menacing figure of Garth striding through the doorway.

Garth - Flight into the Future L245The baffled new Leader snatches up his club, but Garth fells him with a tremendous right hook, to the admiring delight of the impressionable children.

As Garth is busy untying the ropes holding the Welfarer, by a tremendous effort Ratablan recovers enough to stagger to his feet and escape to the roof outside. Garth and the Welfarer race after him. As Ratablan is about to address the people for help, a vengeful Garth picks him up bodily, whirls him round, and hurls him off the roof. He crashes to the ground at the feet of the crowd – dead. A spontaneous cheer breaks out from the crowd in support of Garth and the death of tyranny.

Smitz has meanwhile fled the scene, and made his way back (by raft) to the isle of exile, and the time-sphere.

The Welfarer switches the Master Ray back on, and its broadcast power is restored to the world of 19,520. Lumiere is restored to his physical form, and realises that Garth must be back. Out in space, the Chairman’s spaceship regains contact, and drops out of orbit to land.

In due course, the Chairman gives an audience to Garth, Lumiere and the returned Dawn and Karen in the Welfarer’s office. After listening to the Welfarer’s account of how Garth destroyed the menace of Ratablan, the Wise One decrees that Garth should return to his own age, “where there is still plenty of work to do!” He adds that space-time travel has long been understood – but that it had been decided it would be wrong to develop it, and unwise to go back or forward in time.

Lumiere admits that he has reached the same conclusion himself, and announces that they will now return to their own time. After Garth bids goodbye to great Grandma and the children, and Lumiere throws the switch for 1952 in his time-globe, he remarks that he has heard that Smitz has gone ahead of them, and wonders if he fully understands the workings of the time-sphere.

In fact, he evidently did not, because in the Barovian section of the International Research Station there is a tremendous explosion as the time-sphere returns and destroys itself. The Barovian technicians conclude that the space-time experiment is demonstrably a failure.

Lumiere’s time-sphere returns safely, and as Garth and Lumiere emerge, it is clear from their exchanges that Lumiere – and author Freeman – do not intend to continue their time voyages.

Sadly, in point of fact, Flight into the Future was to be the final story Garth story by writer Don Freeman.

John Henry Gordon Freeman was born on 23rd April 1903, and had worked at the Mirror since 1918. He quickly gained a reputation as a reliable troubleshooter, first taking over the writing of “Uncle Dick’s Children’s Corner” feature in 1938 when its creator, Bertie Lamb died. Before long, he had also taken over the writing of the Mirror’s most famous strip, Jane, and also Belinda. He came to be regarded as the Mirror’s staff strips scriptwriter, filling in on all their strips whenever the original writers were indisposed. He was the ideal man to reshape Garth, when he took it over in the autumn of 1943.

The saga of Garth was to run for more than 50 years – the longest running single character newspaper adventure strip in the world. Although Steve Dowling originated him, the credit for creating Garth as we know him today lies with one writer above all others – Don Freeman. Freeman created nearly all of Garth’s basic plots; his work is the bedrock on which the saga was to be built. Freeman’s facility was remarkable, the more so when one realises that he was writing several other disparate strips for the Mirror at the same time!

Moreover, all of his stories followed on directly, one into the next, so that in a real sense, the first 21 stories of Garth, spanning ten years, were one gigantic story. A masterly mosaic that no other writer ever attempted.

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth - Invasion from Space L256Invasion from Space
Writer: Hugh McClelland
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 27/10/52 – 14/2/53 L256 – M39
Number of Episodes: 94

Hugh McClelland’s single Garth story, Invasion from Space, began in October 1952, and has long been a puzzle to serious devotees of the strip, because of its very distinctive artwork. Whilst clearly drawn by Dowling and Allard, it is somehow different – it has a sort of neat, meticulous look about it, a pleasing sharpness of line. It also has some amazing attractive shading. The usual Dowling/Allard style was much looser and less detailed.

I asked John Allard how this change in the artwork (which was limited to this single story) had come about, and he revealed to me the surprising answer to this intriguing mystery!

McClelland was then the Mirror Strips Editor, and wrote and drew the Mirror’s Jimpy strip, and some of his earlier strips had been short-lived. When Don Freeman fell ill and was unable to write Garth, McClelland had the wheeze of not only writing a story, but drawing it as well!

“Steve (Dowling) was naturally pretty upset by this,” Allard told me. “He thought McClelland was trying to put him out of a job!”

Dowling’s strong objections prevailed, and McClelland’s version was never used. Instead, Steve asked John Allard to completely redraw the strip from McClelland’s original in pencil, which he then inked and revised. Dowling was careful not to look at McClelland’s version himself.

The result was a fascinating hybrid of all three styles – McClelland, Allard, and Dowling!

The absent Freeman was also the scriptwriter for Belinda, and the Mirror brought in a new writer, Peter O’Donnell, on the recommendation of Ted Holmes (who was then scripting Just Jake), to write Belinda. He did such a good job of this that when Freeman returned, and resumed Belinda, the Mirror management asked him to hand over the writing of Garth to Peter O’Donnell.

Many years later, O’Donnell wrote about how he had been appointed to Garth, and suggested that it was because the strip at that time “was somewhat in the doldrums.”

That may well have been O’Donnell’s own perception at the time, but the statement was factually incorrect, and an unfair slur on Freeman (and McClelland, for that matter). In point of fact, prior to his illness, Freeman’s Garth had been on top form. After the “Superman slant” to gain American serialisation failed, Freeman had deliberately ended the experiment and penned two absolutely cracking stories, in Space-Time Rivals, and Flight into the Future.

The real reason behind the change of scripter was recorded by Freeman himself years later, when the Daily Mirror ran a tribute article and interview with him following his retirement after 50 years sterling service. In the article Freeman revealed:

Garth - Invasion from Space (Atlas)

The cover of the Atlas edition of Garth – Invasion from Space, published in Australia

“When Bart (Guy Bartholomew) went and Cecil King took over he thought that I had too much to do.” The Mirror interviewer added:

“This was when Belinda was still going strong and Don was also writing the scripts for Garth. He gave up Garth but kept on writing about Belinda.”

The article paid this tribute:

“Don Freeman’s work for the Daily Mirror spanned 50 years and survived seven changes of editor. During that time he produced hundreds of plots and stories for characters that are known all over the world.”

Despite having been reprinted in the Australian Atlas Garth comic, McClelland’s story has been completely overlooked by successive commentators. This is unfair, because the story is actually a very good one.

The story opens with Garth and Karen relaxing by the pool at the desert Observatory, some days after their return from the future. Garth is confiding to Karen that Lumiere has been acting oddly lately – strangely uncommunicative. At which point, Dawn runs up excitedly to tell Garth that Lumiere wants to see Garth immediately. This strip is sadly the last appearance of both Dawn and Karen, who had been sharing Garth’s adventures for some nine years.

On joining Lumiere in his office, Garth is told that he has made an alarming astronomical discovery. He shows Garth a photograph of what appears to be the explosion of a dark star – a nova. The spectrograph indicates that the light of the explosion is very recent. At that moment there is a terrific concussion that shakes the walls and floor of the office, causing the roof to collapse. Garth holds up the roof beams whilst Lumiere scrambles to safety.

Outside, they see that the Observatory is on fire. Colonel Bluff, the station Commander, tells them that the damage is worldwide and that all communications are down – some mysterious force is interfering with radio. Lumiere is convinced that the Earth has been struck because of the exploded star – possibly by a large asteroid. He is anxious to return to London and the government authorities. Garth counsels that they get to the airfield and commandeer a plane.

They are fortunate in that the airfield is used as a refuelling stop for large international airliners and they are able to return swiftly to London in a Comet. On arrival they find that London has been devastated: Nelson toppled from his column, the National Gallery gutted by fire. Lumiere makes for the Admiralty, which is still intact.

The Admiral is relieved to see them – he has been trying to contact Lumiere on behalf of the government, to recruit his scientific knowledge to aid recovery from the worldwide disaster, in which millions have died. All radio communications, including radar, are being blocked by interference emanating from a fallen asteroid. The only means of communication is by telegraph, where lines are still standing. Lumiere is tasked with finding the asteroid and the cause of the interference, following which a following expeditionary force can be despatched to destroy it.

Lumiere’s quest begins when he and Garth join the Admiral on a tour of Europe in a Comet, where they see vivid images of a collapsed Eiffel Tower, and a flooded runway at Gibraltar, which gives Lumiere an important clue. He interviews a local fisherman and learns that whilst there had been tremendous earthquakes and mountain avalanches, the sea level had risen by three feet. Lumiere deduces that the asteroid must have struck a part of the earth where the surface was thin – this absorbed the shock by giving way, but the asteroid then rolled into the sea, causing the water level to rise by one metre.

They return to the Admiralty in London, where they receive reports via cables from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. The South African oceanographic dept. have reported an increase of 10 degrees temperature in the Antarctic current. Lumiere realises that the asteroid must have crashed in the Antarctic.

The Australians have sent a photo-reconnaissance flying boat to survey the Antarctic but 400 miles from the ice barrier the plane’s engines cut out as their ignition fails, and they have to land in the sea. But a Canberra, with its jet engines, is able to maintain flying and its pilots discover the vast asteroid floating in the sea. Flying lower to photograph it, they discover two groups of figures upon it who are fighting each other with strange weapons and missiles. One of the opposed groups opens fire on the aircraft, which manages to escape and report back to its base in Australia. This news is cabled to the Admiralty in London, enabling Lumiere to deduce that of the two alien factions fighting each other, only one of them is hostile to Earth. His plan is that they should seek out the friendly faction, and join in their struggle as an ally. The logic of his plan is confirmed when a Shackleton aircraft crashes on the asteroid and it crew are savagely massacred by the hostile alien faction.

An international expeditionary fighting force is quickly assembled by several nations in the region. A cruiser, the H.M.S. Somerset, is despatched from the Falklands to make a surface survey of the asteroid. Three flying boat fighter craft are modified to accommodate the Admiral, Lumiere and Garth, and they set off on a series of long hops across the world. Garth’s co-pilot is a young Sub-Lieutenant known as ‘Snooge’. When he recklessly goes swimming on a stopover in Mombassa, he is threatened by a shark, and Garth has to rescue him by slaying the shark with a knife.

(This episode was probably inserted by McClelland to enliven the long eventless journey to the Antarctic, and is the only “padding” in the story – although it maybe does serve as a ‘bonding’ rationale for “Snooge” bravely fighting alongside Garth later on).

At length, they are on the final stage of their journey, their planes based on an aircraft carrier, the Good Hope. Garth and Snooge take off to search for the Somerset, and as their plane nears the asteroid they discover that the cruiser has been wrecked on an ice flow. As they fly closer they see that there is no sign of the crew on the ship, and we get the first glimpse of the aliens – large humanoid figures with crab-like heads and articulated limbs.

The aliens open fire on Garth’s plane with hand-held large ray weapons connected by a tube to a power canister fixed on their backs. As they are turning way, Garth sees a signal lamp in some dark hills flashing a heliograph message: “Cruiser attacked – had to be abandoned – fighting with allies. Need interpreter – Hawkins.”

They report back to the Good Hope. It is decided to fly Lumiere to the signallers in a helicopter, with Garth and Snooge in an escort plane. Both craft are fired on from below as they approach the hills, but are able to make crash landings. As they scramble out and meet up, they see a group of three aliens advancing upon them. Garth and Snooge try to recover weapons from their plane, but are forced to duck behind it when the aliens open fire. They crouch in the wreckage and when one of the investigating aliens comes upon them, Garth springs up and attacks it.

The alien is immensely strong, and as Garth holds him down, Snooge succeeds in wrenching his ray gun free. With it, he is able to blast the remaining two aliens. As Garth struggles with the alien Snooge succeeds in ripping the power-canister from its back, gaining full possession of the deadly weapon. Garth is unable to hold the alien down any longer, and it then bounds away in a series of incredible leaps.

The alien’s two-unit weapon (a gun with connected canister) is extremely heavy, so it is attached to a sledge salvaged from the helicopter. As the others pull the sledge over the ice, Snooge sits on the sledge as a ‘tail-gunner’ and blasts at the ever-increasing number of aliens who are surrounding them. Garth’s party mounts an escarpment to make a last stand. The aliens have not fired on them – they are evidently planning to take them alive, presumably for interrogation. But they have forgotten the alien’s strength and jumping power, and they leap up the escarpment. But when all seems lost, another force comes up from behind them, and opens fire on their attackers. They are smaller humanoid aliens, wielding their own strange weapons. They succeed in keeping the hostile aliens at bay until Garth’s party reach the asteroid, pulling the sledge with the captured weapon behind them.

A tunnel opening in the asteroid is uncovered, and Captain Hawkins and his crew from the ‘Somerset’ call out to them. Once they are safely inside, the heavy metal door is closed. Inside the tunnel, Garth’s party are introduced to their allies, the ‘Aristarchians’ who had earlier rescued the crew of the Somerset. They meet Rhenu, the Chief or King of the Aristarchians, who has picked up some rudimentary English. Whilst the Aristarchian scientist examine the captured gum of the crab-men, Crawford narrates everything he has learned from Rhenu.

The crab-men are interplanetary marauders – buccaneers of space, roaming the universe, pillaging and destroying. They invaded the planet of Aristarcha, whose inhabitants were threatened with annihilation. They decide to evacuate to their moon, leaving explosive charges to blow up their home planet and the invaders. This was the cosmic explosion seen by observatories on the Earth. But the crab-men had followed them to the moon and escaped the explosion.

The moon had been hurled into space by the explosion… a plot which was an astonishing and quite uncanny anticipation of the premise behind the famous Gerry and Sylvia Anderson Space: 1999 television series, nearly a quarter of a century later!

Garth - Invasion from Space M1 - M5

The war with the aliens had continued in the tunnels, with which the moon was riddled. The crab-men have captured the aircraft hangars of the Aristarchians. Garth determines to lead a force of six marines, with Scrooge and Attu – an alien who will act as a guide to the hangars. Once they are recaptured, a man can be sent back to inform the main party.

Garth and his eight companions climb outside and make their way across the asteroid. As they near the hangars they find an armed sentry guarding it, so they lob a grenade to take him out before Garth leads a charge. They are attacked by a second guard. Garth grapples with him and they fall over the edge of a precipice into the patch of sea between the ice field and the asteroid. Garth is the first to swim back to the surface, and scale the side of the asteroid. Reporting back to Lumiere, and hastily changing into warm clothing, he tells him that the crab-man had shown no distress whilst in the very cold sea. Lumiere realises that they will be able to flourish in the polar regions, and use them as a base to threaten the Earth. They must do everything they can to prevent the crab-men using the aircraft.

Garth takes a bunch of Aristarchians with him to assemble and fly the aircraft. As Garth and his party climb the side of the asteroid to the hangars, Snooze tells him he has arrived just in time – a mob of crab-men are assembling to attack them. Garth tells them to lock the hangar doors, and then leads the crab-men away on a chase. He is eventually captured and taken prisoner. He is led to another part of the asteroid and brought before the crab-men’s leader. A special helmet is placed on Garth’s head – an electronic gizmo for thought-transference.

The leader then questions Garth, making clear that the aliens intend to enslave mankind as soon as they have recaptured the spaceships of the Aristarchians. Their own spaceships are in hangars on that part of the asteroid which is submerged in the sea. Engineers are working on a method of retrieving them, but this will take some time. Garth is imprisoned in a coffin-like ‘magnetic cell’.

Garth - Invasion from Space M16

Garth - Invasion from Space M17Meanwhile, Snooge has returned to report to Professor Lumiere. Rhenu has a televiewing device and has located Garth in his cell in the crab-men’s HQ. All the tunnels leading to it are guarded. But Rhenu knows of a heavily damaged disused tunnel. He and Snooge set off through the tunnel to rescue Garth.

On reaching the cavern containing the cell, Snooge lowers Rhenu down on a rope from the roof of the cavern. He has a device to release the cell’s magnetic lock. On being freed, Garth impulsively picks up and re-dons the tele-thinker helmet. The crab-men are thereby alerted to his escape, and they are recaptured. Their leader is elated is exultant that his arch-enemy Rhenu has been delivered into his hands. But Garth and the aliens are unaware that Snooge is watching from the tunnel doorway in the cavern roof. Snooge calls to Garth and throws down a rope, and then explodes a smoke grenade, blanketing the chamber in darkness. Garth discards his helmet and climbs up the rope carrying Rhenu. They slam shut the heavy metal tunnel door just as the crab-men open fire from below.

They quickly hurry back through the narrow tunnel, whilst their larger pursuers are hampered by having to widen it. Snooge asserts that a demolition squad can blow up and block the tunnel after they are reunited with Lumiere. When they arrive back, they learn that the crab-men are digging new tunnels to reach their part of the asteroid. The surviving Aristarchians abandon the hangars and trek across the ice barrier to join the cruiser ‘Good Hope’.

Lumiere has a plan. Rhenu will fly him to London in one of the ‘flying saucer’ aircraft of the Aristarchians – capable of making the journey in less than one hour – and returning with “the greatest weapon” humanity possesses to destroy the asteroid. Scrooge elects to go with them to learn how to pilot the craft. Garth and the marines stay behind to play Horatio and guard the hangars with their captured weapon. It is vital to prevent the alien invaders leaving the asteroid.

They are successful, and the flying saucer returns. Lumiere has brought with them ‘Lord Farthing’ to prime ‘the weapon’. ‘Farthing’ is a sly reference to Sir William Penny, one of Britain’s leading atomic scientists, who had helped develop the atomic bomb. Farthing sets the bomb to explode in ten minutes time, and everyone evacuates back into the flying saucer. Garth alone stays behind with the gun to hold off the attacking crab-men as the saucer soars up into the sky.

A rope is thrown down to Garth and he makes a daring leap to it and is carried aloft. Once Garth is safely aboard the saucer increases speed and streaks up into the stratosphere. They have barely reached a safe distance when the explosion occurs, and the illustration shows a tremendous iconic mushroom cloud.

Rhenu reflects that although all the crab-man on Earth have been destroyed, others of the malignant race still swarm elsewhere in the universe.

Looking back from space they see that the ice shelf has melted and formerly extinct volcanoes on the south polar continent are erupting. Lumiere invites the Aristarchians to stay on the Earth to lend their advanced scientific help to assist in the vast task of reconstruction. Back in London he works with Rhenu on methods of repulsing any further attacks from space – including the construction of artificial satellites to warn of the approach of alien intruders.

Garth takes his goodbye of Snooge at an airfield and warns him that they must remember to keep the existence of the Aristarchians a secret.

So ends McClelland’s sole foray into Garth – an unjustly forgotten and creditable “fill-in” whilst the Mirror found a long-term replacement scripter. The final panel of M.39 shows the face of the villainess in the next story, showing that Peter O’Donnell had already been quickly appointed, and the legend reads, “But evil is already lying in wait for Garth…”

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Warriors of Krull
Writer: Peter O’Donnell
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 16/2/53 – 13/6/53 (M40 – M140)
Number of Episodes: 101

This was the Garth debut story of Peter O’Donnell, taking over from Don Freeman as the new regular writer. O’Donnell is on record as saying that when he took over he made the decision to jettison both of Garth’s regular girlfriends and companions, Dawn and Karen, because – in his opinion – “they were doing nothing for the strip.”

He was perfectly entitled to his opinion, but what is regrettable is that he made no attempt to write them out. In Dawn’s case, he simply ignored her and she was never mentioned again. This was a poor show, because Lumiere had been acting as her guardian, assuming responsibility for housing and educating her, teaching her both English and the mores of civilisation. As his ward, she had progressed to being his Secretary.

Admittedly, she was a difficult and fanciful character. As created by Freeman, she had actually been a primitive cave girl – a member of a lost tribe of stone-age people, whom Garth had saved from ritual sacrifice in Children of the Dawn (1944). Naturally, she had become fixated on Garth, and, to his great embarrassment, had wanted to become his mate.

Karen had been introduced in the same story, but she was completely different: she was a highly sophisticated adventuress, selfish and amoral, and had a Russian background and connections.

Freeman’s clever, continuous plotting ensured that they stayed together in subsequent adventures. Garth never fully trusted Karen because of her Soviet sympathies, but she genuinely loved him, and frequently risked her own life to save Garth’s. For Dawn, she had an amused contempt, but was jealous of her associations with Garth. She nevertheless taught Dawn how to dress, and generally helped and supported her.

For his part, Garth was genuinely attracted to Karen, but had rejected her advances because he was still grieving over the tragic killing of his childhood friend and fiancée Gerda (as seen in The Awakening of Garth, 1946).

Contrary to O’Donnell’s opinion, the dynamics of this situation with the two girls had directly contributed to some great stories and plotting (see especially The G-Ray, 1946/7, and Man Hunt, 1949) but it was now wearing thin. To that extent O’Donnell was correct: the situation was not going anywhere, and needed a resolution.

In my opinion, this resolution could have made a really great and satisfying story. Dawn could have met and married another young man and moved on, and Karen could have died heroically and tragically, sacrificing her life for Garth. Freeman’s memorable characters deserved to be decently written out, and doing so could have made a slap-up story. But O’Donnell sadly chose to duck this challenge and start with a clean slate, with no explanation.

Garth - Warriors of Krull M40 - M43

At first, it looked like Karen might be continuing as a character when Garth is approached by a taxi driver as he leaves the Ministry where Lumiere is working with government officials. He is handed a letter, signed ‘Karen’, asking him to meet her as a matter of urgency. He is driven to a country house, but on arrival he soon learns the letter was a fake, sent by a sinister foreigner. Trying to fight his way clear, he is subdued by a jab from a hypodermic syringe that renders him unconscious.

When he comes around, he learns that he is on a ship, along with several other outstanding sportsmen and athletes who have been similarly kidnapped. The ship’s captain, Venner, reveals that he is well paid by Hakil, Garth’s abductor, to regularly kidnap sportsmen and ship them to a certain point on the high seas. They are well looked after, but closely guarded by Venner’s armed crew.

Garth is introduced to some of his fellow captives: Forsythe, a famous big game hunter, Bosco, a circus strongman, Rakumi, a judo expert, a wrestler, Cadrali, and Jimmy Trent, a boxer. Forsythe has been allowed to retain and maintain his favourite rifle – but his ammunition has been removed.

Garth - Warriors of Krull M53

At journey’s end, they learn that they are being taken to the island of Krull, which is not on any maps, and is unknown. The ‘lost’ island is in the midst of a Sargasso sea of weeds, and covered by a perpetual mist.

(This fanciful conceit was probably lifted from the film King Kong).

Garth - Warriors of Krull M58A flying boat lands nearby, and the prisoners are transferred into the sea-plane. Garth meets the pilot, Squadron Leader Booth, who is also a prisoner. His plane had made a forced landing on Krull three years earlier – the island’s first contact with the outside world for centuries. Booth and his crew were captured and forced to do the bidding of the island’s rulers, on pain of death for each other.

Garth - Warriors of Krull M61

On landing, they are taken to a villa by Hakil, and meet Pierre Durand, an expert swordsman. From him Garth learns that they are to take part in gladiatorial games to satisfy the sadistic appetites of a wicked Queen, Zelda. They fight to the death, against Krullian gladiators – and sometimes each other.

Garth - Warriors of Krull M69All Zelda’s guards are armed only with swords and daggers, and dressed as ancient Romans. Zelda, Durand reveals, “has the beauty of a goddess…and the heart of a fiend.” Forever seeking new sensations, seducing victorious gladiators and then torturing them when she tires of them, she now “combs the outside world for its greatest fighting men…to make her sultry blood run faster as she sees them conquer or die in the arena.”

Durand introduces another veteran captive Piet, an expert with a whip. Piet informs them that he and Durand are to fight two black panthers in the arena tomorrow, and Garth and the rest of the newcomers will sit with Zelda to watch.

The next day, Garth is brought before Zelda. She lashes his face with a gold chain, reminding him that he is her slave, and dare not retaliate or raise a hand against her otherwise his companions will suffer and die.

At length, Durand and Piet are brought out into the arena, pitched against two black panthers – sword and whip against fang and claw. At first it looks as if they may succeed in killing the savage animals, as Piet’s whip separates the panthers – but as Durand lunges with his sword to impale one of the leaping beasts, his foot slips on a patch of blood left by an earlier contest. He falls heavily and the panther soars over his head. As Durand turns to face certain death, Garth decides to intervene. Rising from his seat, he dives into the arena, landing on the panther’s back.

Garth - Warriors of Krull M74

As Garth’s iron muscles tighten on the panther’s neck, Durand retrieves his dropped sword – and is faced with the dilemma of saving Garth or going to the aid of his friend Piet, who is about to be overwhelmed by the other animal. Garth tells him to save Piet, and succeeds in snapping the panther’s neck. The arena rocks to the wild cheering of the appreciative crowd, as Zelda orders the three combatants to be brought before her.

Durand’s smooth talking results in Zelda letting him and Piet live to fight another day, and they are dismissed – but Garth is ordered to stay: “A man who kills a panther as if were a rabbit intrigues me…”

As Zelda moves closer to Garth he insults her by saying there is “not much to choose between a panther and a tigress” (meaning herself). Enraged, Zelda tries to stab him with a dagger, but Garth grips her wrist and disarms her. The guards then attack Garth, but he manages to fight them off by grabbing a dropped sword. Zelda is impressed by his strength and prowess and tells Hakil to call off his men. Hakil warns that Garth is dangerous and should be killed, but Zelda overrules him. She orders that Garth be allowed to return to the others, and then brought before her that night to “dine well…with me!”

Later, in the quarters of the captives, Garth asks Durand what he can expect. Durand tells him that if accepts Zelda’s advances he could become her favourite and so escape the perils of the arena. Garth tells them that he intends to fight, and meanwhile he intends plotting how they may all escape. He asks Forsythe to accompany him whilst he talks with the sea-plane crew. Durand leads them to the cliffs on the coast and points out the path that leads down to a vast cave, where the sea-plane is kept.

Booth tells Garth there is no possibility of escape – his plane is only ever given enough fuel to fly to the pick-up point in the Sargasso weeds. No shipping ever visits that area, and the island’s petrol store is always heavily guarded. But Garth points out that collectively, the captives represent a terrific fighting force, and if properly co-ordinated they might succeed in grabbing the petrol they need for a getaway.

However, Booth adds that there is another snag: too many passengers! His old plane could never carry all the captive gladiators, plus his original crew – and those remaining would be cruelly slaughtered.

Whilst accepting this, Garth remarks that he has “an idea simmering” in his head, and he may return to see Booth later when he has worked it out.

After they have returned to the others, Hakil arrives to conduct Garth to Queen Zelda’s palace. He tells Garth that the laws of Krull require that Zelda must shortly choose a consort. If – as seems likely – she is about to choose Garth, he warns him he must not try to seek power for himself: “The consort’s throne is not for you!”

In the palace, Zelda’s servants are instructed to leave her alone with Garth. She invites him to enjoy the food and wine prepared. Elsewhere, Hakil is conferring with members of the High Council of Krull. They are the powers behind the throne, and agree that Garth must not be made the Queen’s consort, or they will lose their power.

Meanwhile, Garth calmly and politely repulses Zelda’s efforts at seduction – but she has prepared for that. She pulls back a curtain to reveal Forsythe being forced to kneel at a chopping black, with a guard poised to decapitate him with an axe if Garth does not agree to become Zelda’s consort. At that moment, Hakil arrives and demands to speak urgently with Zelda. Taking advantage of this distraction, Garth explodes into action, snatching a knife from Zelda’s belt and throwing it at the guard, before running to Forsythe’s assistance to grapple with the remaining guards.

Zelda is furious with Hakil, who urges her to forget about taking Garth as her consort, and threatens her not to risk defying the High Council of Krull. Hakil tells Garth and Forsythe that if they return to their quarters, their altercation will go unpunished and be overlooked. Zelda warns Garth that if he agrees to leave, then she will ensure that his next appearance in the arena will be staged so as to result in his certain death. Garth calmly raises his captured sword in gladiatorial salute, saying: “Till I salute you again, Majesty…from the arena!” and takes his leave.

Later that night, Garth convenes a meeting of all the captured gladiators, along with squadron leader Booth, and reveals his plan of escape. He has noticed that there are plenty of stores in the cave housing the sea-plane, and that Booth and his crew are not closely guarded. He charges Booth with the construction of a wooden glider that could be towed by the sea-plane, to accommodate the remaining half of the captives. Forsythe is to supervise a committee comprising Trent, Rakumi and Durand to find out exactly where the petrol is stored and all details of how it is guarded. When Trent asks Forsythe why Garth has not included himself in the party, Forsythe grimly informs him that he expects Garth to die in the next round of gladiatorial contests because he has upset Queen Zelda.

Several days pass, and Booth supervises the secret construction of the glider in a secondary cave, of which are the Krullians are unaware. Jimmy Trent and Hakumi lead a raid on the petrol store and knock out the guards. They then take an inventory of its contents – without taking anything – and report back to Garth and the others, confident that the guards will be too scared to reveal that they had been overpowered. The result of the raid has revealed that there isn’t enough petrol for a long flight, but Garth is not discouraged because of something that Durand has told him.

The Frenchman’s exploits in the arena have won him female admirers, and he has been deliberately developing a relationship with a woman who is the friend of a high official. From her, he has inveigled information on the exact date and time of the next rendezvous between the sea-plane and Captain Venner’s yacht, which will be bringing in a new supply of petrol. Garth is telling the others that he now has a new and better plan, as the scene shifts to Zelda who is inspecting the caged animals used in the arena, to decide on something spectacular that will result in Garth’s death. She has settled on the idea of using two giant gorillas.

Later, Garth and his comrades are discussing their plans for the getaway, now set for dawn on the day after the arena combats, when Hakil arrives to give Durand the programme for their next ordeal. The last combatants are to be Garth paired with Forsythe, but their opponents and the nature of the contest are not revealed. Hakil cryptically remarks that “the item should be most entertaining!”

The arena is packed for the greatest series of gladiatorial contests yet staged. In the preliminary bouts, Garth’s companions manage to win through. Finally, Garth and Forsythe are led into the arena, and learn their fate. They are manacled and chained to the wall on opposite sides of the arena, unable to move very far because their chains are anchored by large heavy iron balls. Forsythe alone is armed – but his rifle contains only one bullet.

A gate is raised at the far end of the arena, and through it emerge the two huge gorillas, goaded to a fighting fury on Zelda’s instructions.

Garth drops to his knees and loops his thick chain around its metal ball, holding it taut. He yells across to Forsythe to take aim at the ball and try and break the chain.

Forsythe, a crack shot, succeeds in splitting the chain. The gorillas both move towards him, attracted by the flash and sound of his shot. Garth grabs the end of the severed chain holding the metal ball, and with his mighty strength uses it as a flail to smash his wall shackle. Thus freed, and carrying his improvised flail, he moves across the arena to help the imperilled Forsythe.

Garth - Warriors of Krull M111

Garth - Warriors of Krull M112

Garth - Warriors of Krull M113

(In 1992, when John Allard invited me to write scripts for Garth, I learned that one of my uncles – Bill Hardwick, the father of the noted television actress Claire “Charlie” Hardwick – had been a great fan of Garth in the 1950s. He congratulated me on my commission and told me that he still vividly recalled Garth’s arena battle with gorillas in a story he could not now remember – and was utterly dumbfounded and delighted when I presented him with a photocopy of Warriors of Krull!)

Garth swings his flail to kill one gorilla by striking it on the back of its head, but is grabbed from behind by the other one. He flings it over his shoulder, then as the maddened beast gets up and charges him, he hurls the heavy iron ball directly at its head, killing it. A storm of wild cheering breaks out in the arena, and the furious Queen Zelda orders the captain of her guard to send twenty men down into the arena to slaughter Garth and Forsythe.

Watching from one of the arena entrances Durand and the other gladiators overpower their guards, and rush out into arena to fight alongside Garth. A titanic pitched battle rages in the arena between the gladiators and the guards, and Hakil is alarmed by the ugly mood and shouts of the crowd, who are clearly enraged by Zelda’s actions. Cries rung out: “Let the giant live!” and “We want sport – not Zelda’s butchery!”

Ignoring Zelda’s protests, Hakil orders the captain to call off his men to placate the angry crowd, and Garth and the gladiators are allowed to return to their quarters.

Garth decides to implement his plan immediately, and during the night the petrol store is raided, and the drums of petrol are rolled down a grassy slope to the sea, where Booth and his men have small boats waiting to take them to the cave and fuel the sea-plane, to which the glider is attached.

In the palace, the smouldering Zelda gives her dagger to her personal assassin and orders him to kill Garth while he sleeps. He discovers that the gladiator’s quarters are empty, and reports back to Zelda. She immediately rings alarm bells, summoning Hakil and the guards. She orders a patrol to search for the gladiators and another to put the airmen under guard.

Garth and Rakumi are keeping watch at the top of the cliff path leading down to the cave. They spot a Krullian patrol of six men coming through the cleft leading to the cliff top, and ambush them. They succeed is seizing the weapons of the leading two, and are able to kill the rest – except for one man, who runs away to raise the alarm. Garth orders Hakumi to get back to the cave, and to tell the others to take off immediately, and not to send anyone to assist him as he remains behind to guard the cleft. He rolls a massive boulder into position, so that only one or two men at a time can pass through.

Zelda, Hakil and a large force of guards arrive, but Garth, fighting heroically, is able to hold them off long enough for Booth to pack the gladiators into the glider, whilst his co-pilot and crew rev up the engines of the sea-plane and tow the glider out of the cave entrance into the open sea. On hearing the engines, Garth suddenly breaks off his fight at the cleft and runs to the cliff edge – where he then executes a long, daring dive off the cliff edge, down to the sea below. Bobbing to the surface, he is hauled aboard the glider by Booth. The sea-plane takes off, towing the glider, watched by Hakil and Queen Zelda.

Garth - Warriors of Krull M130

On his yacht, Captain Venner observes the sea-plane emerging from the mist as expected, but is puzzled and alarmed to see it is towing a glider. The tow-rope is cast off, and Booth manoeuveres the glider to crash land squarely on the deck of Venner’s craft. Garth and the gladiators burst out and attack the surprised crew. Captain Venner is about to shoot Garth in the back when Piet’s whip lashes out and disarms him, and Jimmy Trent has the satisfaction of knocking the hated Venner out with a haymaker. With a full load of petrol, Booth flies two thirds of the party ahead in the sea plane, whilst Garth and his closest gladiator friends enjoy a leisurely sea voyage home.

With this story, Dowling and Allard’s artwork had to undergo a further transformation and upgrade because of O’Donnell’s panoramic ‘cinematic’ vistas and dialogue-heavy scripting. Their use of atmospheric black silhouettes was restricted by the need to show two or three identifiable speakers within a single panel, and the use of “big heads” with single word balloons was no longer possible.

Their line-work became tighter and crisper; they were the perfect illustrators for O’Donnell’s version of Garth, which was now entering a new Golden Age that would be unsurpassed by any other newspaper adventure strip.

I asked John Allard for his verdict on O’Donnell’s debut story, and he told me that the author “…seemed to think he was Cecil B. de Mille doing a Hollywood epic. There were far too many characters, and too much spectacle to squeeze into a daily strip. Later on, of course, Peter wrote some of the best Garth stories ever.”

Synopsis by Philip Harbottle

Garth in Hollywood
Writer: Peter O’Donnell
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 15/6/53 – 14/11/53 (M141 – M272)
Number of Episodes: 132

The Return of Malveno
Writer: Peter O’Donnell
Artist: Steve Dowling/John Allard
Published: 16/11/53 – 5/5/54 (M273 – N106)
Number of Episodes: 144

Note on strip codes / serial numbers, etc:

Each code letter (running A to Z, excluding the letter I) represents a year’s worth of Mondays to Saturdays, the days on which The (Daily) Mirror newspaper of London is published Thus in any given year there will be a maximum of 314 numbers assigned to a serial code Figures in brackets denote number of days the newspaper appeared that year Pre 1982 it was not published Sunday, Good Friday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day From 1982 it was published every day except Sunday and Christmas Day Stories 163, 164 and 165 appeared only in
the Mirror’s Northern Ireland edition. Thick writing = leap years

1943 = B (310)
1944 = C (310)
1945 = D (308)
1946 = E (309)
1947 = F (310)
1948 = G (311)
1949 = H (310)
1950 = J (309)
1951 = K (310)
1952 = L (310)
1953 = M (310)
1954 = N (310)
1955 = O (308)
1956 = P (310)
1957 = Q (310)
1958 = R (310)
1959 = S (310)
1960 = T (311)
1961 = U (309)
1962 = V (310)
1963 = W (310)
1964 = X (311)
1965 = Y (310)
1966 = Z (311)
1967 = A (309)
1968 = B (311)
1969 = C (309)
1970 = D (305)
1971 = E (304)
1972 = F (307)
1973 = G (309)
1974 = H (306)
1975 = J (307)
1976 = K (310)
1977 = L (310)
1978 = M (307)
1979 = N (309)
1980 = O (307)
1981 = P (309)
1982 = Q (309)

1983 = R (311)
1984 = S (313)
1985 = T (307)
1986 = U (310)
1987 = V (311)
1988 = W (314)
1989 = X (311)
1990 = Y (312)
1991 = Z (312)
1992 = A (313)
1993 = B (312)
1994 = C (313)
1995 = D (311)
1996 = E (312)
1997 = F (312)

See Also: Garth: An Introduction

• Garth – Strip Checklist – Part One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight (Reprints)

Garth © Daily Mirror

%d bloggers like this: