Sunday, June 17

Urrrraahhhhh! It’s June’s Commandos in the Sunday strip

The four latest Commandos for this fortnight have already hit the stores – and they have some interesting issues up for sale - check out these great little "light reading" and should be in stores in your news agents now..

June 2012 Commando releases

…was British Intelligence’s top secret programme for the breaking of messages sent by Germany’s Enigma machine. It was imperative that the enemy did not discover that the Allies had succeeded, or the cyphers would be changed and the war perhaps lost.
 In 1943 Captain Bob Draper and Lieutenant Andy Coates of the LRDG unexpectedly found themselves caught up in their own Operation Ultra. It was a deadly game of espionage and counter-espionage with all manner of double-crosses and treachery. This wasn’t just danger…it was ultra danger.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Rezzonico
Cover: Janek Matysiak
   Paul Daly was a Spitfire pilot — a pretty good one as the DFC ribbon he wore attested. But being a fighter pilot isn’t like being, say, an accountant. No, it’s a risky business and all too soon a Luftwaffe shell put paid to his flying when it smashed into his knee
Though part of him was glad to be out of danger, another part longed to get back in a cockpit once more, though he didn’t think he’d have to travel to Russia to do it.

Story: Mac Macdonald
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino

Johnny Grogan could do anything with that bulldozer of his. Build roads, clear forests, dig canals…he’d even make it sit up and beg if you asked him to. Then came the day when he had to do something new with it, the day he had to turn it into a tank!
   It was the Italian Army’s fault — they should never have tried to get tough with a guy like Johnny Grogan. For they found they had a new war on their hands — Grogan’s war!

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Here we have three members of the first Commando team to take to the field, playing their ‘A’ game, despite the hideous pun in the title willed on it by some editor or other. Eric Hebden’s tale takes you to the outer fringes of the Second World War to find a nicely-off-the-wall situation. This is something Commando has often done over the tears, avoiding the obvious, seeking the novel.
   With Gordon Livingstone settled into his stride as a Commando illustrator par excellence and Ken Barr’s stonking cover setting the right note this one is solid gold from start to finish. I think I might read it again.

Diggers Die Hard originally Commando No39 (October 1962)

Story: Eric Hebden
Art: Gordon Livingstone
Cover: Ken Barr

For fighter pilot David Morgan it was the proudest moment of his life when he was posted to the unit known as “Brigand Squadron”. They were famous for their brave deeds, and their motto was “Never run, never yield.”

   But he was in for a nasty shock when he arrived. These men weren’t fierce brigands, they were frightened sheep!
Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Commando Deputy Editor

That wonderful Spitfire cover is by Commando legend Ian Kennedy, of course. Many people wonder how he goes about his craft, and I hope he won’t mind me sharing a little insight here. Just how does the artist manage to make each aircraft look so dynamic? Well, it’s simple really. Every time Ian sits down at his drawing board he imagines that he’s actually in the cockpit himself — ensuring that every picture is unique. You see, Ian had always wanted to be a pilot…but selfishly, we’re glad that Mr Kennedy ended up drawing planes instead of flying them!

Brigand Squadron, originally Commando No 2073 (March 1987)

Story: Ian Clark
Art: Terry Patrick
Cover: Ian Kennedy

You can still get your Commando Comics from your local newsagent and also on line at their Web-store - either delivered to your door or electronically!  Click the banner below to see for yourself.
May 28th  2012 Commando releases
The Convict Commandos — Jelly Jakes, Titch Mooney, Smiler Dawson — and their commander Guy Tenby had been given another job. This time they were to hunt down Mussolini in his hide-out. Easier said than done when they weren’t the only ones doing the same.

   Guy, as usual, had a plan…but it wasn’t supposed to include Jelly hanging from the undercarriage of an airborne Fieseler Storch!

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Manuel Benet
Cover: Manuel Benet


The war in the Far East was almost over. Japan’s armed forces had been ground down and the country was on its knees. The Japanese hadn’t given in though, they hoped super-fighters like the Kyushu Shinden — Magnificent Lightning — could stem the flow of US bombers ravaging their country.
   They could never have guessed that the Shinden’s finest moment would come protecting the very enemies it had been designed to destroy.

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: John Ridgway
Cover: John Ridgway

Out of the night sky he came – a man with no mercy in his heart and a blazing tommy-gun in his hands, whose one ambition was to wreak destruction on all things Nazi. He became the Scarlet Pimpernel of German-occupied Europe.

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Women in Commando are a rare sighting but, like buses, when they do turn up there’s more than one. I counted at least three in here, and a bit of romance.

   Don’t think that it means that Stainton’s story isn’t an all guns blazing story as it is, running from the beaches of Dunkirk to a full-on Commando raid in France, and with barely time to reload along the way. His touch means that the espionage, beautifully pointed up by Ken Barr’s dramatic night drop cover, manages to be action-packed, not tension-filled.

   Add to that Alonso’s 100mph inside art and you have a solid gold winner. Makes you proud to be part of the Commando Team…

Night Raider originally Commando No35 (April 1962)

Story: Stainton
Art: Alonso
Cover: Ken Barr

The Second Battalion, Daleshire Light Infantry, had something to be proud of — their very own “battle flag”, a standard given to them after their heroic triumph over Napoleon’s finest troops. Carried into action, it would inspire the men to further brave deeds.
   So when one young officer’s courage failed him and the flag was captured, the thought of it in enemy hands made him vow to keep it safe — even after his death!

Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Commando Deputy Editor

Gritty action is undoubtedly what Commando does best. However, over the decades there have also been comedies, capers, historical epics, science-fiction and…ghost stories. Battle Flag is a good example of the latter. After a detailed framing sequence, veteran writer Cyril Walker cleverly weaves a tale with an eerie thread that runs throughout but does not overwhelm the action and adventure. Interestingly, the working title for this story was “The Flintshire Phantom”. That’s a good one and, had it been pitched today, I’m sure that it would have been used! Enjoy.   

Battle Flag, originally Commando No 2063 (February 1987) Commando 4502

Story: Cyril G. Walker
Art: Cecil Rigby
Cover: Jeff Bevan

You can still get your Commando comics from your local newsagent and also on line at their Web-store - either delivered to your door or electronically!  Click the banner below to see for yourself.
May 2012 Commando releases
Here is the low-down on the Commandos for early may, on sale . Alan Hebden’s Convict Commandos make a return for the first of two adventures — the second is out in a fortnight — while a Soviet tank does its best to burst out of one of our covers courtesy of Janek Matysiak’s pen. Meanwhile, we’ve been scurrying around in the archives for another pair of dusty but classic…well, classics. We’ll think you’ll like ‘em.
In action once again, the Convict Commandos — “Jelly” Jakes, “Titch” Mooney, “Smiler” Dawson and Guy Tenby — undertake their most dangerous mission yet.

 As if ruthless Nazis and silent stranglers weren’t hazardous enough, even the skies are loaded with death…and it’s raining down on them!

Story   Alan Hebden
Art       Manuel Benet
Cover  Manuel Benet

In 1956 the Russians invaded neighbouring Hungary to quell a popular uprising. The newly-operational T54 tank — successor to the wartime T34 — was used by them to devastating effect in the campaign.

When British Intelligence learned that Hungarian rebels had captured a fully operational T54, a team were sent to recover the mighty machine’s design secrets.

But with Hungarian government troops and the Russian Army on their trail, this mission was going to be no walk in the park!

Story   Alan Hebden
Art       Morahin
Cover  Janek Matysiak

Night after night the tunnel leading from the German prison camp grew longer. Day by day the hope of escape increased.
   Then came THE NIGHT…and only one prisoner knew that German fingers were ready to press machine gun triggers; that cold Nazi eyes peered through the gun sights…WAITING.

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

This is well-crafted tale and no mistake. Sort of “Ice Cold In Alex” meets “The Great Escape” to use a film comparison. The author manages to make what could be a tedious trek across the desert riveting by introducing a…well, let’s just say a wild card to stop spoiling it. It’s skilfully done and works really well.

The cover is a magnificent piece of work — you could almost see it as a film poster, too. There’s menace and fear in that face rendered in blues and blacks.

The inside art holds up its end well, lots of dark half-shadows matching the tension of the tale and plenty of movement when the action gets going.

   Well worth another airing 50 years on.

BreakOut!, originally Commando No 41 (October 1962)

Story   Henderson
Art       Ortiz
Cover  Ken Barr
With the Japanese war machine making swift advances through Java every day, it was vital that the country’s gold reserves were moved to safety. Captain Jan Ruiter was assigned this task. All he had to do was escort a train carrying the gold to the coast. An easy enough job, you might think. But not when the troops under your command are a bunch of rookies and a group of battle-hardened Japanese veterans are hot on your trail!

Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor
Every Commando story needs a good hero — so more than one must be even better. A mix of characters — and the ensuing conflict as they clash — is essential. Writer Alan Hebden is a master of making memorable characters. At first glance, the hero of Gold Train is Captain Jan Ruiter, tasked with transporting gold reserves to safety. However, for me, Aussie train driver Hogey Dubbs — and even his clanking, trusty steam engine “Esmeralda” is like a character — steals the show. Now let’s find out if they can stop the villains from stealing their gold!

Gold Train, originally Commando No 2102 (July 1987)

Story   Alan Hebden
Art       Terry Patrick
Cover  Jeff Bevan

The big news for this four is that for the first time in Commando’s 51-year history, a significant change has been made to its final appearance. We have changed from thicker, whiter paper for our story pages and increased the weight and rigidity of the cover for better quality and durability. This has resulted in a thicker weightier Commando which we feel (and initial feedback reinforces) better suits a product of Commando’s quality.

We hope that our fans will like the change. They can let us know what they think through our Facebook page.

You can still get your Commando comics from your local newsagent and also on line at their Web-store - either delivered to your door or electronically!  Click the banner below to see for yourself.
May 2012 Commando releases

It takes nerve and skill to hold a bucking, weaving Sea King in position over a casualty while one of your crew-mates is winched down to try to pluck him to safety. Lieutenant Jamie Price had both these qualities which helped make his crew one of the best in the business.

   Yet his brother Owen, a Sea Harrier pilot, ranked him only as a glorified bus driver, never missing a chance to sneer.

   He never dreamt that he’d have to trust his life to that bus driver in the hostile skies over the Falklands Islands.

Story: Steve Taylor
Art: Keith Page
Cover: Keith Page

The second in our mini-series of Falklands tales 30 years on.

So how did it come to pass that Warrant Officer Greg Blake was about to take on a menacing German Zeppelin during the First World War, armed with only a Martini-Henry rifle?

   It’s a thrilling tale — one which stretches back to the Boer War, and tells of a bitter blood feud that spanned a generation…

Story: Mac MacDonald
Art: Vila
Cover: Ian Kennedy

Like great birds of prey the gliders swoop into enemy territory, defying the might of the Luftwaffe and the savage assault of the flak batteries.

   Once on the ground their bellies open to spill out bands of fighting men who strike terror into German hearts — the famous airborne Commandos. They give no mercy — and ask none, these men who have been taught to kill…

Introduction by Calum Laird, Editor

Spoiler alert! In 1962, when this gold nugget was first unearthed, the plot device of the trainee who couldn’t quite cut it was new to Commando. We’ve used it many times since, because it’s still an excellent premise for a story. Eric Hebden makes fine use of it here.
 The inside art by Bonato has a clean, clear line to help the story-telling. He’s sparing in his backgrounds, keeping the emphasis where it should be, on the characters who are taking the fight to the enemy on his own ground.
   You can’t fault Ken Barr’s cover composition or execution for drama and colour — no wonder the original title was so small, no-one wanted to cover any of it up.

Glider Pilot originally Commando No 32 (April 1962)

Story: Eric Hebden
Art: Bonato
Cover: Ken Barr

Commando No 4494 — Don’t Give Up!
As a Japanese dive-bomber roared in to destroy their trucks, a group of British soldiers scattered for cover. Every man knew they now faced a long trek through the Burmese jungle, trying desperately to stay ahead of the enemy advance.
   It wouldn’t be easy, buy they must never give up.

Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

Commando stories are fictional, of course. However, our tales do not shy away from the grimness of war, while still providing solid action yarns.
   As a young Commando reader — many years ago — I always found jungle stories to be especially hard-hitting. I could just imagine being immersed in that all-encompassing, claustrophobic atmosphere, where the enemy could strike out of nowhere at any time…
   This story reflects all of the above, as a motley crew of heroes — including one man who, in reality, isn’t particularly heroic — strive against the odds to blow up a bridge while all the time ensuring that they “Don’t Give Up!”

Don’t Give Up!, originally Commando No 2105 (April 1987)

Story: R.A. Montague
Art: Cecil Rigby
Cover: Ian Kennedy
You can still get your Commando comics from your local newsagent and also on line at their Web-store - either delivered to your door or electronically!  Click the banner below to see for yourself.

April 2012 Commando releases

Commando No 4487 - Mission to Patagonia
 November 1982, a British Geological Survey team in the Antarctic make an extraordinary find — a downed Vulcan bomber. News of this amazing discovery brings Lieutenant Nick Tarrant of the SAS to the scene. There soon emerges the story of a clandestine operation that took place during the height of the Falklands War. The top secret tale of the…

Mission To Patagonia
 Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Benet
Cover: Benet
The first  of a pair of books with a Falklands theme to mark 30 years since the Task Force sailed to liberate the islands in the South Atlantic.
Commando No 4488 - Triple Whammy!
  Remember the antics of Hitler and Monty…? Or to give them their proper names, Fuhrer and Field-Marshal lookalikes Max Singer and Sid O’Brien. Well, they’re back for another madcap (mis)adventure– this time involving the SS, Soviets, Scotsmen and even Scousers in South America. Don’t worry it’ll all make sense…probably.
   Our death-defying doubles are in triple the danger and triple the trouble. But will this be their finest hour, or their final fling…?

Story: Mac MacDonald
Art: Carlos Pino
Cover: Carlos Pino
Commando 4489 — The Gold Collection - Gun Fury

 Red is the colour of courage. Like the ribbon of the Victoria Cross; like the blood that heroes spill; like the famous Red Beret of the Parachute Regiment, whose amazing story this is.
   Meet in these pages Cobber Kane, tough, wise-cracking Australian; Sergeant. Jim Parker, steady as a rock; “Blood ‘n’ Guts” Sanders, the hard-bitten RSM, whose one aim in battle was a VC to pin next to his MM…the kind of heroes who have made the Red Beret the badge of courage it is.

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Ken Barr’s cover sets your expectations for this story. The single figure, gun in hand, grenades at the ready and with a thick black outline to throw the image out, lets you know this is going to be an all-action story. If you were in any doubt, though, the first page, by Ortiz, with its dramatic title lettering underlines the cover’s promise.
   The story, penned by Elliot, doesn’t disappoint — any story where members of the Parachute Regiment capture and take over a Tiger tank has to be a winner.
   And yet, it doesn’t shy away from war’s darker side. In this story good men die, friends are lost, as conflict takes its toll. And that’s maybe not what you would expect.

Gun Fury, originally Commando No 24 (May 1962)

Story: Elliot
Art: Ortiz
Cover: Ken Barr
Commando 4490 — The Silver Collection - Full Speed Ahead!
The Channel war against the German E-boats was a tough one and Andy Simpson relished the task. From the chaos of Dunkirk to the Battle of Britain he was in the thick of the action. But he had an even more difficult problem ahead of him — to admit he could make mistakes.

Introduction by Scott Montgomery, Deputy Editor

This is a traditional sea story, which Commando has always done well. In the aftermath of Dunkirk, Lieutenant-Commander Andy Simpson, a motor torpedo boat skipper who has to make a split-second decision — and may well have made the wrong one — must face up to what he has done, however difficult this may be.
   Artist Keith Shone’s thick black lines are reminiscent of the style of our Spanish veterans, like Manuel Benet, for example. While Jeff Bevan proves once again that he was king of the sea covers — with those pale, watery colours offset by a striking explosion.

Full Speed Ahead!, originally Commando No 2077 (April 1987)

Story: Malcolm McDevitt
Art: Keith Shone
Cover: Jeff Bevan
 "Commando: War Stories in Pictures" was launched on 6 June 1961 and is still going strong today. Now - until the end of April you can see the first issues and a lot of the history of the comic at the National Army Museum of all places!
You can still get your Commando comics from your local newsagent and also on line at their Web-store - either delivered to your door or electronically! (wow it is the future) Click the banner below to see for yourself.

March  2012 Commando releases

 Commando No 4483 - The Fighting Penguins
 The RAF Regiment was formed during the Second World War. Its purpose…to defend airfields in the event of attack from the air or from ground forces. Some people scoffed at them — “Airmen who can’t fly?” they said, “They’re like penguins!”
   Well, these airmen might not fly, but by jingo they could fight!

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Twice a year we throw open our vaults and allow our readers, to choose a pair of stories they remember from times gone by which they reckon need another airing. For some reason, we’ve had a lot of requests from our friends in the RAF Regiment this year…sorry about the title, folks.

   Monty was great script-writer. All the "T"s would be crossed and the Is dotted, the very essence of a professional author. He also worked for the Ambulance Service in Norfolk, no doubt just as professionally. If you were going to have an accident there, during his shift would be as good a time as any.

   What can you say about the two artists who realised Monty’s script? Without them Commando would not be what it is. Without them boys would not have had art to copy on to the covers of school jotters. Without them there would have been no hilarious visitations to the Commando Office every week.

   I bet you’re all glad Commando wasn’t without them. I know I am.
   If you’d like to see a story again, let us know and we’ll put it into the queue for September.

The Fighting Penguins, originally Commando No 1368 (November 1979), re-issued as No 2692 (September 1993)

Story  R A “Monty” Montague
Art     Gordon Livingstone
Cover Ian Kennedy 
Commando No 4484 - The Cage
 For over five hundred years the iron cage had hung there, swinging grimly outside the castle wall. No one knew how many wretches had suffered and died over the centuries, imprisoned by those stark, rusting bars.
   Now it held a strange assortment of prisoners — a British sergeant, a German army officer and two German soldiers. A strange assortment yes — but they all had one thing in common. They were all to be shot at dawn…

Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor

As I said, twice a year we throw open our archives to allow our readers another chance to read a well-remembered story. This is the second one of the pair that they asked for and as usual, it doesn’t disappoint.
   Monty’s characteristically structured story revolves around hatred of an enemy and how, if it takes over, there can only be one outcome.
   Galindo, who drew 26 stories for Commando, displays a secure hand — especially when tackling rain and darkness, two notoriously difficult subjects for a comic artist.
   Penalva’s cover is exactly what you would expect from a master of his craft — you can hear the crack of thunder accompanying the lightning and feel the rain on your face.
   If you’d like to see a story again, let us know and we’ll put it into the queue for September.

The Cage originally Commando No 758 (July 1973), re-issued as No 1955 (January 1986)

Story  R A “Monty” Montague
Art     Galindo
Cover Jordi Penalva
Commando No 4485 - The Death Dealers
 If you’ve already met…TOM, DICK and HARRY, you’ll know that when they’re around there’s plenty of action and trouble, plenty of grief — usually for Nazi Germany,
   If you haven’t, the pleasure’s all yours.

   But hang on to your hat, don’t relax your trigger finger for a second…for they’re a rough, tough trio. Fast-moving, hard-hitting, they give no quarter and expect none – one of the reasons Germans call them…

 Introduction by Calum Laird, Commando Editor
This Gold Collection story hasn’t seen the light of day since 1962 so it’s a rare treat.

   Tom, Dick and Harry were Commando’s first recurring characters, having first appeared in Closer Than Brothers , No 19 (November 1961). Then they were in the jungle, here they are on Crete and given form by Cecil Rigby who would draw for Commando for nearly 40 years. Heavy and dramatic use black ink is a trade mark of his pages.

   Eric Hebden hands our heroes a special mission, his fiction populated by fanatic enemies and double-dealing rogues. The trio are no supermen, though, and come unstuck…but I’d better not give away the story.

   Ken Barr’s cover comes at you with a tidal wave of action, and a Nazi dagger thrown in for good measure.

The Death Dealers, originally Commando No 19 (March 1962)

Story  Eric Hebden
Art     Cecil Rigby
Cover Ken Barr
Commando No 4486 - War In The Snow
 When a Wellington bomber with a very special cargo on board crashed in Norway, things were bad enough, but to make matters worse the Nazis had found out about it. So the race was on to reach the plane, with both the Germans and British speeding towards the crash site. On one side, a special snowmobile. On the other, a team of huskies!

Introduction to the Silver Collection story by Scott Montgomery, Commando Deputy Editor

In hindsight, the middle of summer — July 1987 — may have seemed like an odd time to publish this gripping, but decidedly wintry-looking tale. But perhaps not, as Commando has often been ideal summer holiday reading, whether on a sunny beach or stuck inside a caravan with rain bouncing off the windows (yes, I am talking from experience).
   Nevertheless, Denis McLoughlin’s icy art is spectacular here. Look at the page opposite: those snowflakes almost come out of the page and make you shiver.
   Keith Walker’s dynamic representation of a German snowmobile is also brilliant. Keith was a staff artist — now enjoying his retirement — who could find himself working on the Bunty or the Beano…and everything in between.
   Finally, a typically exciting script from Alan Hebden, which contains the longest single word I’ve ever seen printed in Commando! (Hint: It’s on page 22)

War In the Snow, originally Commando No 2104 (July 1987)


"Commando: War Stories in Pictures" was launched on 6 June 1961 and is still going strong today. Now - until the end of April you can see the first issues and a lot of the history of the comic at the National Army Museum of all places!

You can still get your Commando comics from your local newsagent and also on line at their Web-store - either delivered to your door or electronically! (wow it is the future) Click the banner below to see for yourself.