Missing in Action – The Lost Stories

Action - Spot the Difference

When Action was withdrawn after the 16th October issue, work was already well underway on the next seven issues of the comic. The 23rd October issue went to press, but was destined to be pulped rather than distributed. The issues that should have followed didn’t even get that far. Much of the prepared material was either completely recycled or edited for sensitive content. A single episode of “Hell’s Highway” suffered thirty-three changes before being re-presented on 4th December. Belardinelli had completed work on “Death Game 1999” to its scheduled conclusion. All but two of these issues are gone forever. “Probationer” simply disappeared and no pages survive. “Look Out For Lefty” escaped the same fate by a narrow margin, but was soon reduced to a run-of-the-mill soccer strip.

Two issues of uncut material remain, plus two non-sequential pages. “Hellman of Hammer Force” had political references removed, most notably by having Stalin cut from an episode. The story was rewritten, taking Hellman away from the Russian Front altogether, thereby removing a plot in which Stalin puts a bounty on Hellman’s head. “Dredger” was edited for violence and language, but two unedited episodes remain.

Six episodes of “Hook Jaw” exist, although panels have been edited for violence. These six episodes were cut down to one issue and released on 4th December, the day Hook Jaw died. Finally, all bar two episodes of “Kids Rule O.K.” still exist, taking us to its desperate conclusion.

Collected here are those remaining strips scheduled to run after the 23rd October 1976. Some strips give a good account of themselves, some are fragmentary. Sadly, much of the original artwork was cannibalised for revisions in the post-ban era or destroyed completely. Some art exists only in bromide form, the original pages having been cut up or dumped, other pages remain intact. Many pages are simply missing.

Unfortunately the 23rd October issue is not in my possession, so is not presented here in full, but I have obtained some of those pages, and they are here for you to enjoy. It’ll never redress the balance of losing Action in its prime, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

So, for one last time, prepare to enjoy…

Death Game 1999 – TO BE ADDED


Hell’s Highway –  TO BE ADDED

Hook Jaw – TO BE ADDED

Kids Rule O.K. – TO BE ADDED

Look Out For Lefty! – TO BE ADDED

Text © Moose Harris 


See this section’s Acknowledgments section for more information