It’s has been over a week since I said that I would start this review and I have surprised myself by how much I have written on each issue so far and been surprised by how much there is to the early issues, but D C Thomson were past masters in creating a comic that would hit the ground running and establish itself with surprising speed. And so, without further ado, let’s see what the cover of issue 3 is like.
Once again, the comic is led with a cover inspired by the Union Jack Jackson story and this shows how with a little effort, the staff of D C Thomson could create some serious impact with a splash page cover. We see three US Marines being cut down in an engagement with the enemy. The enemy are not shown but by using the words Jap Ambush in a font that strongly mimics Japanese characters and then putting that across the picture, your mind is filling in the blanks for the comic. Beautifully done and we forget how strong an impact some of these covers could have on us.
To show how strongly that cover works, the free gift details almost appears as an afterthought and as a reader, you find it acceptable that the free gift is relegated to the background.
Now we move on to the stories, we find it is a case of another issue another island to amphibiously assault for Union Jack Jackson and we also find that Marine Sean (yes he has a first name) O’Bannion does not want his new bestie to go back to the Royal Marines so he is doing his best to intercept any mail that could recall UJJ to the Royals.
We see the US Marines undertake another amphibious assault and we should be thankful that they seem to be up against such small Japanese garrisons.
Phalanx Code: 2C2C
Moving onto Bomber Braddock, we have Braddock being tasked to fly to Norway to collect a Norwegian who worked in the atom plant and he holds priceless information for the Allied cause. A bloodless episode, but it had its’ brushes with authority when Braddock clashed with the Royal Air Force Military Police over his standard of dress and then he clashed with the planner of the operation when he took a Westland Lysander instead of the Andover Anson that was recommended.
And in these four panels, you can see why Keith Shone was a go to artist for many of the D C Thomson editors. When it comes to aerial art, there are only three artists for me and Keith is one of them.
Phalanx Code: 0C0C
The Wingless Wonder crew faces a tough time when their young native helper, Kuasa, is captured by the Japanese. The crew follow the native vessel to the enemy harbour and rescue their young assistant while causing havoc and mayhem to the Imperial Japanese Army.
And this is where it becomes difficult to judge the death count as we are not told how many Japanese are there, how many natives or did they all die? In this instance as we have a Japanese Army Lieutenant in charge, then I could probably assume that it is a platoon from the Japanese Army in situ and as a platoon averages around 50 men, then I can guestimate a death toll of around that figure.
Phalanx Code: 0c0C50E
Next up we have Fire Away! and it is notable in that it references a TV show that was highly popular at the time but was pulled from the schedules when growing awareness of how insulting it was began to work its’ way through British society.
However, when we look at today’s society and the attitudes of many, we should not be surprised that many never realised how insulting blacking up was back in the 1970s. And I have just noticed that two other highly popular TV shows are mentioned with Dad’s Army and The Good Old Days both getting a name check.
Now I have to smile as I am writing about popular culture and I like to reference it in the titles of many of my articles, so when I am not using them to title my articles, I find unexpected references to popular culture of the times in the comics I am reading. I don’t always spot or understand the references but I do my best to find them.
The next story is Deadshot Davie which is another Weapons In Action tale and this time the star of the show is the venerable Lee Enfield .303 rifle. This is a story based around its’ use during the retreat to Dunkirk and how Private Davie Adams uses it to deadly effect. As someone who has fired weapons professionally, it still amazes me how accurate this weapon was at any range over 1,000 yards let alone 3,000. The longest range I ever fired on was 400 metres and the deviation at that distance is over a metre in any direction, so I have the utmost respect for anyone that can shoot accurately at that distance and further.
This appears to be the same artist that illustrated the Boys Anti Tank rifle from the previous issue and I am now unsure that my guess of Doug Maxted is even close.
However, I have had some feedback from one of my fellow comic fans and Shaquille is one of those experts that I mentioned previously. For anything Gerry Anderson related, I would struggle to think of anyone more knowledgeable than Shaquille. And he has made the suggestion that it is the artist Patrick Williams. Once I can find out more, I will update you all.
Phalanx Code: 0C11C
The next story is a real treat for any comic fan and certainly makes me smile. The story is the latest episode in the life of Lord Peter Flint and how he has to go undercover from the beaches of Dunkirk in order to steal industrial diamonds for the Allies from the Belgian Central Bank before they are used to support the German war effort.
And I think you can understand the reason for the smile when you see the art.
After all, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of Ron Smith art?
For a story that is full of action, it is remarkably short on casualties.
Phalanx Code: 0C1C
Next up is our latest part of Spider Wells and Spider discovers that his stepfather is still alive and takes this opportunity to turn the table on Skinner’s bullying ways. However, Skinner’s snide comments have been enough to help block Spider’s application to join the RFC from being approved. So he is off to fight in the trenches now that his basic training has been completed.
Phalanx Code: 0C0C
We have one more episode from Young Wolf and he faces a new enemy in the shape of Mr Cavendish, the new teacher, who appears to have a serious issue with young Samson and Chung.
Again it is an action packed episode full of knock out action, but surprisingly bloodless.
Phalanx Code: 0C0C
In the second episode of The Long Walk, the crew begin to put some distance between the crash site and themselves but they are being tracked down by a particularly tenacious unit of Gestapo officers.
Unfortunately the Gestapo catch up with them and it is down to a firefight that allows the crew to escape but not without a cost to the crew.
Phalanx Code: 1C2C
That only leaves us with the back cover and that advertises the free gift that comes with issue 4.
And that brings us to the end of this issue and a combined Phalanx Code of 3C16C50E. This is a relatively low count of death but there is certainly action aplenty for those reading the comic back in 1974.