So now you have my nominees for best Commando for the 1960s and the 1970s and you also have my recommendations for the honourable mentions for the 1960s so I had better list my honourable mentions for the 1970s and this could be quite a list.
I am going to work my way through the issues from the start to the end of the decade and see which ones comes up. And by February 1971, I have already got an absolute stunner in issue 529 The Deadly One with a fantastically moody cover by Jordi Penalva, gritty artwork by Victor de la Fuente and a cracking strip by Hardy. You have a one-eyed ex-Commando major put in charge of the biggest bunch of villains in the British Army and it’s hard to figure out which of them wants to fight the enemy more!
It’s that good, it’s not been reprinted once but twice!
Next one up is from 1974 and features the art of two artists that I have been fortunate enough to meet and that is issue 825 From Out Of The Sea. Another glorious Ian Kennedy cover and internal art by Cam Kennedy, this is a fairly serious story about how one Chief Petty Officer is shown that his hatred for all things Norwegian has blinded him to the good in that country. Written by the great Eric Hebden, it also is one of the few to touch on broken families with Red Larsson having to deal with the fact that his father had abandoned his mother in pre-war England.
1974 was a good year for Commando and it is proven by the fact that the next honourable mention was published a mere 2 and a half months later and that is for issue 845 Ten Tough Paratroopers with an atmospheric cover by K C G Walker and internal art that helped my love affair for Pat Wright’s comic work. The script is credited to Bernard Gregg but the plot bears an uncanny resemblance to the plot for issue 4 Mercy For None. The hook for this issue is that a Commando raid is planned on a German establishment, but the narrative is driven along by the use of a doggerel that bears more than a passing resemblance to the doggerel used by Agatha Christie for Ten Little Indians.
I am now going to jump to 1977 and go next for issue 1106 Wagger’s War which has a lovely Ian Kennedy cover, internal art by Ferreira and is written by one of my favourite Commando script writers, Cyril G Walker. Wagger is a dog that gets caught up in the maelstorm that is the British Expeditionary Force’s retreat to Dunkirk and Wagger helps his temporary masters along the way. This is a story that is full of pathos and will leave you smiling at the end.
And now we move into 1978 which to me is one of my favourite years for Commando issues. When you have to put out 104 issues a year, it can be hard to have every single issue a hit, but to me every issue in 1978 hits the spot. Before anyone even tries to say it, this is a personal opinion and every year I am cheering on the Editorial team to outdo themselves and make me pick the latest year as my new favourite but one issue might not hit the spot for me and then I revert back to 1978 as being my favourite. And I have just spent the last hour looking at the issues since 2008 and every year it has come down to one or two issues where I was not a fan of an original story or the story that has been reprinted to make me realise that it has been pretty close each and every time.
So now, let’s look at the honourable mentions of what I class as my favourite year. First up is one of my all-time top ten Commandos and that is issue 1196 Ace Without Honour. An amazing cover by Ian Kennedy and rock solid internal art by the late Gordon Livingstone backs up a great script from Bill Fear where we learn that not all the villains are those that we are fighting against. Sometimes they can be the people on our own side.
Next up we have a touch of the supernatural with yet another Ian Kennedy cover (considering that Ian has done over 1200 original covers, it would be surprising if I did not pick an issue with one of his covers!) in issue 1209 Beware The Cat with another script from the pen of Cyril G Walker. Ibanez’s darkly atmospheric style perfectly suits this spooky story of revenge by a fortune teller from beyond the grave.
My final pick from 1978 is another great supernatural story that was published as issue 1230 Cards Of Fate with a cover by F D Phillips, the story art by Gordon Livingstone and the script by Cyril G Walker in which the bullies of a RAF Squadron find out that the cards they are dealt can cost them a lot more than the money they are gambling with.
Moving on to 1979, I have to nominate one of the funniest issues in issue 1296 That Man’s A Menace and this is based around the fertile spying country that Egypt became during WWII due to both sides romping through it as if it was some military playground for all the armies to try. However in this issue we have a well meaning Sid who ends up as the bodyguard to one of the top British Military Intelligence spycatchers due to him being the luckiest bloke in the Allied Forces! Once again, we have a great Ian Kennedy cover backed up by more great art by Gordon Livingstone with a script by the relatively unknown Bryan Perrett.
Surprisingly my next issue for a honourable mention is also scripted by Bryan Perrett and that is issue 1320 The Magic Blade. This is a supernatural story about a meteorite that saves the Broderick clan during one of the many inter-clan battles and will rescue the clan three more times before the charm is taken from the Broderick clan as violently as they received it. Another great cover from Ian Kennedy and internal art from one of my favourite art teachers Mr Fleming. Now if anyone is in the Glasgow area and can confirm that they knew an art teacher with the surname Fleming can you please let me know if his name is either Peter or Arthur!
Moving on to my last pick for the decade, I am now in 1980 and it is issue 1466 The Man With No Shadow. Again, this is another issue that features a great team with an Ian Kennedy cover, Jose Maria Jorge doing the story art and Cyril G Walker writing the script. From the talks that I have attended, I understand that Cyril’s scripts were a lot of work but when you get an issue like The Man With No Shadow then I am so glad that the team took so much time to get Cyril’s scripts into a usuable format.
And that concludes my look back at the best of the 1970s Commando comics. Now all I have to do next is figure out which of the 1980s issues is my favourite from that decade!