Monday, 5 March 2007

Charity shop comics: Commando #2366

My addiction to comics makes it impossible for me to pass a charity shop without checking it for treasure. Sadly most people are savvy enough to realise that old comics are worth money, so my dream of happening upon Fantastic Four #1 will never come true.

Nevertheless, I cling grimly to the hope that there are still silver age gems lurking in some undiscovered corner of my local Sue Ryder.

While I wait for the sunny day when I happen upon these beauties, I thank the comic gods for small gifts such as last week's discovery of seven 1980's Commando comics in the Hackney branch of Oxfam.

At 10p each it was impossible not to buy these little classics. Any guilt I felt over wasting my cash on more junk was quickly assuaged by the knowledge that I was helping to save the lives of poor Africans.

Huzzah for the healing power of war comics!

Best of the lot is probably...

The harrowing tale of Joe Preston, a young idealist who drops out of medical school to train as a fighter pilot, only to see his best friend blown to bits by the Nazis before the two of them even take to the air.

Child's play for the mighty Luftwaffe


Any right minded hero of a Commando comic would be driven insane by this and wreak a terrible revenge on the Hun, but our man Joe comes over all shellshocked...

Grow a pair of balls Joe!

Unable to face the thought of combat, Joe seeks a transfer to the Air Ambulance Service and before you can say "coward's way out" he's on board a converted wellington bomber saving allied lives in the jungles of Burma.

While on a routine airlift, Joe happens upon a wounded kamikaze pilot.

Showing signs of the shellshock which forced him out of the RAF he pisses off his entire squadron by turning down the chance to finish the injured man off.

Understandably shocked by Joe's disgraceful show of compassion our boys refuse to help the crazed medic with his plan to save the man's life.

For some reason this fellow is all too keen to lend a hand though....hmmmm

In the world of Commando comics you should NEVER trust a foreigner

Let alone two

And so inevitably

Kamikaze Hijack!

With a live grenade in his hand the hijacker easily takes control of the air ambulance and demands that the pilot fly him to the nearest Japanese air strip. But in an AMAZING twist, another Kamikaze pilot shows up and shoots the ambulance out of the sky

Remarkably the crew (and the plane) survive the crash landing. But alone in the jungle with a bunch of Britishers our Japanese friend begins to get antsy and when Joe tries to reenter the air ambulance to treat his patients he nearly comes a cropper. But just as the hijacker is about to fill him full of lead...

Salvation comes crashing out of the undergrowth in the form of Tom Croft, a deranged soldier who has been missing in the jungle since the start of the war and who, as Joe discovers, hates the Japanese...


When a bunch more Japanese soldiers show up on the scene, Croft eagerly jumps into the fray, but Joe stands back until the Japanese start slaughtering his patients and fellow crew members

At last Joe sees sense. His refusal to kill is all wrong. He's in a Commando comic in the middle of the Burmese jungle surrounded by bloodthirsty assailants, it's kill or be killed...

No Joe, no!

The daft sod hesitates and is about to be shot when the grenade which the hijacker used to take control of the air ambulance mysteriously explodes killing the Japanese.

GOD has intervened on Joe's behalf and our man at last seems to have learned his lesson. He even manages to raise a smile as the crazed Croft gets to work on the survivors of the grenade blast.

And back in blighty with injured air ambulance pilot Eddie Ball in tow, Joe has a beautiful moment of Commando style clarity.

Vermin have to be exterminated

A hardcore moral even by Commando standards, but a poignant note to end on.

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