In Review: Fleetway Picture Library Classics – John Steel

Fleetway Picture Library Classics - John Steel

Authors: Various
Artists: Luis Bermejo, Reg Bunn
Publisher: Book Palace Books, April 2020
Number of pages: 272
Format: Flexi Cover; Black & White illustrations
Size: 6″ x 8″ (165mm x 215mm)
ISBN: 9781907081903 | Book Palace (including Preview) | AmazonUK

The Book: Four complete John Steel Case-Books featuring the suave, sophisticated and successful private detective

The Review by Norman Boyd: I have read a lot of comics, graphic novels and e-comics in my time, but I have always avoided Commando and Thriller Picture Library comics, as I saw them as crudely drawn and ‘baby-ish’ due to there being two panels per page.

Well, I’m glad to say I’ve now grown-up! I was given a copy of John Steel and felt obliged to read it but was really pleasantly surprised to have my prejudices overturned. This was really good.

The four reprinted stories in one volume are now 50 years old and bits of them do read that way. But overall the stories hold up as entertaining, distracted and interesting.

John Steel - Blues for Danger

Blues for Danger” has lovely Luis Bermejo artwork that introduces us to Steel as he moves into a flat above a cafe. He is “down with the cats”, as they say. The story concerns itself with a young jazz player who is wrongly accused of murder. Steel soon sorts that out, as well as predicting where the next murder might take place – a riveting tale.

John Steel - Violent Tempo

Violent Tempo” starts with a man shot in the back staggering into the cafe leading Steel to investigate what happened. the chase leads to a crumbling building and a car ride to find Emmet his old enemy. A jazz festival provides the backdrop to their confrontation.

The Reg Bunn artwork on this tale is beautifully restored. he was renowned for a lot of cross-hatching, so Book Palace deserve a medal for that alone!

John Steel - City of Shadows

City of Shadows” is about Nazi hunting in Cold War Berlin. In London, Eddie Clay starts his car and which is blown up on ignition, taking him with it. Steel chases over to Berlin to investigate what Clay found out and finds himself chasing from Berlin to Cologne and … to another jazz festival, where his friends are performing. Bermejo’s art works really well, creating shadows and mystery.

John Steel - The Rising Tide

The Rising Tide” is where Steel betrays his employers, the British military and works with criminals in Hong Kong’s underworld. But all is not what it seems in this exciting tale in a grim surrounding.

All in all, a very entertaining read with art that has to be savoured and appreciated. My only complaint is not Book Palace’s fault – we sadly don’t know who wrote these great tales!

Norman Boyd

Buy John Steel from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Fleetway Picture Library Classics on Book Palace

  • Blues For Danger -Thriller Picture Library #363 first published June 1961
  • Violent Tempo. Thriller Picture Library #367 first published July 1961
  • City of Shadows. Thriller Picture Library #395 first published February 1962
  • The Rising Tide. Thriller Picture Library #403 first published April 1962


Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Collections, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Reviews

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1 reply

  1. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, this looks like a great book to read. I love to read old classic comics like this and it makes a change from the war and the usual super-hero stories we see today. I’ve put in an order for it through Amazon and will receive it next week. I read somewhere that this is limited to 500 copies? Anyway, if this is to my liking, I’ll be checking out the other Fleetway Picture collections.

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