Two interesting Commando’s…

Commando comics almost entirely concentrate on World War 2, and with good reason, as there’s such a huge range of stories and scenario’s that can be derived from such a large conflict. However at over 4100 issues (with a lot of reprints, mind) diversification becomes increasingly nessescary. This usually results in stories set in World War 1, Korea or small civil wars set in made-up countries. Science Fiction and Westerns are two much rarer Genre’s, the former last being seen in “War Games” from 2007 (and that was a reprint, and the story was ‘framed’ by WW2) and the latter in “Devil Canyon”, also from last year, which featured some ex-Yankee soldiers looking for lost gold.

commando 4139 01
In the current batch of issues is another Western, issue 4139, titled “Rebel Army”. This time following an ex-Confederate (the politics of the confederation are completley left out, naturally. Though i suspect for the average trooper on the ground they meant little anyway… slaves still cost money that the poor people didn’t have!) officer called Samuel Watts and his former sergeant and business partner Nate Bridges. The story takes them to Argentina after a double-cross by another passenger. Searching that passenger’s cargo they discover he is a gun-runner and decide to sell the weapons to the Argentian government. Told the army already have enough weapons, the two are sent inland to link up with a militia that is suppressing Indian revolts. However after another betrayal and witnessing several acts of brutality, switch sides and defeat the militia. Finally collecting the money they are owed, they ride into the sunset, unable to decide between owning a farm or saloon.

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The “slight wrap around” cover is normal for Commando. The area the other side of the knife used to be black, but in recent times has had a photograph or other art used to liven it up. Ian Kennedy drew the cover, and is far and away the most prolific Commando cover artist. 

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The background to the story told in four quick frames. The way comics should be done! “Garijo”, one of Commando’s stable of Spanish/South American artists (i’m presmuming) has done the interior art. There’s a lot of detail packed in.

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Sam and Nate are enticed into the Militia, by being asked to deliver thier weapons in person 

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But they later switch sides, demonstrating the deadly power of one of the main weapons they found in the gun-runner’s stash, a four-barreled Nordenfeld machine-gun.

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…and battle commences! 

Meanwhile, an interesting science fiction Commando from 1994, which i have wanted to read for a long time since seeing it on http://britishcomics.20m.com (currently down) is issue 2774 – “Space Watch”. Today i was wandering Lincoln and decided to look at a book stall on the indoor market which sells Picture Library comics on and off for 40p. Imagine my delight when i discovered this issue! However, it became a proper “Never meet your heroes” moment when i discovered that the story was, in fact, terrible. I’ll let the scans do the talking here…

commando 2774 01

Nice cover, Commando has only recently (within the last year) started to include credits (though for a time before that allowed the interior arists to sign the first or last frame). As this is well before the crediting era at DC Thomson i have no idea who did this, but other people can probably make identifications. 

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A nice wrap-around cover and a rather brief and confusing description of the story in question. This issue is from a ‘short’ period when the barcode was located on the front of issues rather than the back.

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The story is set in “the twenty-first century”. Japan wants to bring back whaling, and sometimes ‘pirates’ kill whales anyway. In order to get thier own way, Japan decides to go to war with the “World Environmental Council”. Except wars in the future are fought on computers in virtual reality between small teams of experts. So far so never-going-to-happen. The story reeks of early 90’s which will presumably put paid to it’s chances of being reprinted, when the reprint cycle reaches 1994. You won’t be missing much.

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The virtual reality war is set even further in the future, in 2442 to be precise. Once in the VR world the characters (the WEC team are made up of British, American, French and Russian men… to fight against Japan. So far so WW2) take on the personality of characters in the world. Note the commander of the Zakrun battle fleet (Japan) claiming his fictional space navy on a fictional planet have “never lost a war”. Also they have a huge starship which “is not finished yet”. This only adds more unessescary complexity to the story, if you ask me they should have done away with the VR, Whale-saving guff and just made it a straightfoward story actually set in 2442.

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Weather the participants in the space battle (which is so confusing and messy it’s not worth describing, though it is fought much like WW2 air battles) can actually die in real life if they die in Virtual Reality is none too clear. The Russian doesn’t and the American isn’t mentioned. Neither are any of the Japanese. The Frenchman is killed for real though, but that is because of attacks by hackers who are trying to murder the British man (who is the last remaining ‘real’ player in the game by the end).

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The hackers, paid by some kind of Arabic Mafia boss, ‘complete’ and send in the massive space battleship, Satori, against the sole surviving Earth ships, the Pennsylvania and a single space frigate. Satori‘s powerful laser cannons narrowly miss the escape pod from the other large Earth ship, Ark Royal, and it is the shock of these near misses which kills the frenchman in real life as well as the VR world. But still the Earth fleet manage to outwit Satori and win the game, keeping Whaling illegal.

At the end of the story we re-join the pirate whaling ship in time to see the crew arrested. The Mafia boss is also unimpressed with the hackers and has them killed. What a dissapointment after wanting to read this story for so long. I wonder what Starblazer is like…

2 Comments

  1. The Space Watch cover is by Ian Kennedy as well. He would be well used to drawing sci-fi having drawn most of the covers for DC Thomsons sci-fi digest Starblazer and having drawn Dan Dare for IPC in the 80’s

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