Spies in the desert, World War One camoufleurs, and more, in new Commando comics, out this week

Commando comics Issues 5523 - 5526

Brand-new Commando comics (Issues 5523 – 5526) are out Thursday 17th March, 2022, and available digitally now, featuring water colourists in the Somme in World War One, rival truck drivers, spies in the North African Desert, and a deadly aircraft carrier prowling the Pacific…

Andrew Knighton’s new story for Commando 5523, “Set the Somme”, drawn by Klacik, highlights the work of camoufleurs, whose work became important to confusing the enemy, as the use of aerial reconnaissance began, and the position and proximity of the opposing trenches on the Western Front made it easier to detect troops both on and behind the front lines. Armies needed to find new ways to hide from, observe and deceive enemy forces.

One of French camoufleur Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola's camouflage blouses (September 1916). Photo: Museum of the Great War of the Pays de Meaux.
One of French camoufleur Lucien-Victor Guirand de Scévola’s camouflage blouses (September 1916). Photo: Museum of the Great War of the Pays de Meaux

The French Army became the first to create a dedicated camouflage unit in 1915. The word “camouflage” comes from the French verb meaning “to make up for the stage”. Its practitioners, many of whom were artists, were known as camoufleurs, and one of their creations was the cagoules, paint-splattered hooded cloaks, to prevent themselves from being seen by aerial observers as they manned long-range artillery.

The following year the British Army established its own camouflage section under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Wyatt, who went on to fight the Bolsheviks in Russia after World War One. It was known as the Special Works Park RE (Royal Engineers), and the Imperial War Museum has a short item about their work, “5 Facts About Camouflage In The First World War”, here.

Commando 5523: Home of Heroes – Set the Somme
Story: Andrew Knighton | Art: Klacik | Cover: Neil Roberts
Buy the digital edition from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Commando 5523: Home of Heroes - Set the Somme, cover art by Neil Roberts

Captain Archibald Rankin had been on the front line of the Great War for two years. He was a no-nonsense officer type, who wanted nothing more than to get his men through alive. So why, when he asked for reinforcements to his beleaguered line, did they send him men armed with paintbrushes and scenery, led by a pompous nitwit of an artist?

Rankin didn’t care if he was Sir Reginald Bluth the famous landscape painter commissioned by the King — he wanted fighting men, not camoufleurs!

For all the fun of the story idea, centring on a rather eccentric camoufleur, this story is actually pretty brutal in places, and i was a little disappointed there was no insight from any of the characters into how the soldiers might have felt about tricking their enemy to win a battle. The story instead plays to a regular Commando trope of regular soldier versus a new, and odd combatant, eventually finding common ground.

In this, it’s a bit of a disappointment, for all that it spotlights an unusual part of World War One, often overlooked. Klacik’s art brings across the harsh realities of close quarter war, but some of the figure work is, sadly, rather at odds with the action as it must have been described in the script, some action lacking energy.

If you’re curious about the work of camoufleurs, you may want to check out The Neglected Majority: Les Camoufleurs by Elizabeth Louise Kahn, although be warned, it isn’t cheap!

There’s a great “Camoupedia” blog about camoufleur, too, online here

Commando 5524: Gold Collection – Battle-Wagon
Story: Smith | Art: Alonso | Cover: Lopez Epsi
Originally Commando No. 422 (1969)
Buy the digital edition from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Commando 5524: Gold Collection - Battle-Wagon, over by López Espi

In the whole British Army, there was no truck driver as dashing or daring as Corporal Bill Bragg… that’s what all Bill Bragg’s men believed. But one day, when Bill was driving flat out, he heard a truck horn behind him blare out an angry request to pass.

At the wheel of the pursuing truck was Corporal Mike Maguire who was never happy to be second to anybody… not even to big Bill Bragg. It was the start of a private war that made the real war look like a picnic.

A classic Commando from the 1960s’ vault, with Smith’s masterful writing and Alonso and Lopez Epsi on artwork duty. This isn’t one to miss!

Commando 5525: Action and Adventure: Sink the Shokaku!
Story: Brent Towns | Art: Morhain | Cover: Keith Burns
Buy the digital edition from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Commando 5525: Action and Adventure: Sink the Shokaku!, cover by Keith Burns

A secret, third Shokaku-Class Aircraft Carrier carries eight twin dual-purpose guns, twelve anti-aircraft guns and over seventy-two aircraft — a heck of a threat for the Royal Australian Navy in the South Pacific! But there are two rowdy and tenacious captains who won’t rest until it goes under! A regular couple of Ahabs, this is one white whale that will never get away from them.

Another story in the hugely successful HMS Wombat and Tiger series from Brent Towns doing what he does best! He’s teamed up with Morhain and Keith Burns on art yet again making this a universally amazing issue!

Commando 5526: Silver Collection – Hot Sand Cold Courage
Story: CG Walker | Art: Nebot | Cover: Jeff Bevan
Originally Commando No. 1770 (1984)
Buy the digital edition from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Commando 5526: Silver Collection - Hot Sand Cold Courage, cover by Jeff Bevan

The war in the Western Desert was a game of cat and mouse, with each side desperately trying to find out what the other was planning. When the Germans seemed to be gaining the upper hand, it was up to British Intelligence and a very cunning agent to set the balance right.

A silver era issue come to play again with CG Walker on script and Nebot and Jeff Bevan on art.

Commando Comics is online at www.commandocomics.com | DC Thomson – Subscriptions | Facebook| Twitter | Commando Comics on AmazonUK

Issues 5523 – 5526 – Full Cover Gallery

  • Commando 5523: Home of Heroes - Set the Somme FULL, cover art by Neil Roberts
  • Commando 5524: Gold Collection - Battle-Wagon, over by López Espi
  • Commando 5525: Action and Adventure: Sink the Shokaku!, cover by Keith Burns FULL
  • Commando 5526: Silver Collection - Hot Sand Cold Courage, cover by Jeff Bevan FULL

Commando Comics is online at www.commandocomics.com | DC Thomson – Subscriptions | Facebook| Twitter | Commando Comics on AmazonUK

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.



Categories: British Comics, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: