Steel yourselves for some jazzy, classic action adventure from the Treasury of British Comics. Sharper than Bond, cooler than The Saint – the indefatigable British spy John Steel is back, as Rebellion recalls another of its classic characters from the golden age of spy fiction back into action – for a 128-page comic book special out in November 2020.
The John Steel Files will collect two Steel stories featuring stunning art from legendary artist Luis Bermejo, who drew later episodes of Eagle‘s classic strip “Heros the Spartan” in the 1960s, and, in US comics, worked on titles such as Creepy and Vampirella.
While Book Palace have published limited edition black and white collections of John Steel, this Rebellion project offers two never-before-reprinted comics, coloured by breakout colourist Pippa Bowland (2000AD), with a brand new cover by V. V. Glass (The Last Witch).
Originally a secret service agent during World War Two, Steel first appeared in Super Detective Picture Library #157 in September 1959 and became a regular in the pages of the publisher Fleetway’s popular Thriller Picture Library from November 1960, a line of 64-page digest-sized black and white comic books that ran serialised stories, usually consisting of two comic panels per page.
Steel’s exploits helped make Thriller Picture Library one of the best-selling titles on the newsstand and it featured a variety of war, spy, and detective heroes such as ‘Battler Britton’, ‘Spy 13’, and ‘Dogfight Dixon’.
Bermejo took over the series in 1960 and may have influenced the decision in early 1961 to transplant Steel from World War Two into the Jazz Age. Gone were his spying exploits, in favour of life as a private detective.
Influenced by the contemporary sophistication of the early James Bond novels, Steel found himself in a world of jazz cafes and shady deals. This switch was reflected in the title of Steel’s stories too – this collection will feature the classics “Play it Cool” and “Bullets in the Sun“.
Luis Bermejo Royo’s diverse career spanned Spanish, British, and American comic book industries and his style is instantly recognisable on series such as Adventures of the FBI, Apache, Tarzan, John Steel, Johnny Future, Vampirella, Captain Thunder, and his adaptations of Lord of the Rings and books by Isaac Asimov and Raymond Chandler. He passed away on 12th December 2015.
As previously reported, 2000AD publishers Rebellion acquired the comic book archive of publishing giant IPC in 2016, creating the largest library of English-language comics in the world. The Treasury of British Comics is dedicated to bringing back into print the best from more than a century of comics and breathing new life into this internationally important repository of classic characters.
• The John Steel Files lands on 11 November, priced at £7.99, and will be available from comic book stores, the Treasury of British Comics webshop, and the 2000AD apps
• Buy the Book Palace John Steel from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)