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Saturday, 26 July 2008


I lived for this comic book when I was a kid and I've still got an old collection tucked away in the bedroom wardrobe. I got this every week without fail - clutching my pocket money in my grubby hands I'd run down to Ronnie Wray's, my local newsagent (I thought this was the best shop in the world when I was a kid) and part with my pennies for the current issue.

When I read it, I'd reread it and then swap it with my mate Terry Jones for his 2000AD which he had every week. That way we'd each get to read each comic and only buy one.

This, I suppose, was the prehistoric version of file sharing.

Sometimes I'd tear out the posters and stick them to my wall - immediately regretting this as it ruined the comic and I couldn't swap it, meaning I'd miss out on this weeks adventures in Flesh or Judge Dredd. Mind you, the posters were often so good that I would not be able to resist.

The Comic, although containing many strips that glorified war in the boys own adventure type way, was far more realistic than most UK boys comics of the time. It was one of the few comic books of the time to feature main characters who were less than perfect and in some of the strips the artwork looked like a nightmarish Peckinpah version of the war.

The best strips over the years were - in no particular order:
Charley's War
Major Easy
Rat Pack
Johnny Red
D Day Dawson

The comic initially had a main character who was a kind of wartime secret agent which was in direct competition with IPC's Comics Warlord character Lord Peter Flint. But although Battle's character was never as successful as Peter Flint, the overall comic was far better than Warlord.

Warlord was good but it was much more reserved and didn't have the blood and guts of Battle. In Battle main characters would actually die, leaving the readership stunned.

Yeah, out of the two Battle would always have the edge.

It still reads well today and TITAN Books are releasing THE BEST OF BATTLE GRAPHIC NOVEL series - much in the same vein as the ROY OF THE ROVERS graphic novel covered in an earlier post.

Way to go - let's turn back the years and kill some Hun, blast some Nips and fall in behind Captain Hurricane for a full frontal assault.

Extract from the BATTLE WEBSITE

The first in the 'new wave' of comics from IPC Magazines Ltd. Following in the footsteps of D.C.Thomsons Warlord, Battle was a hard hitting war comic that was the inspiration for the controversial Action comic.

The first issue (8th March 1975) covered as many varied aspects of the war as possible. The Army was repesented by D-Day Dawson. The Air Force by Lofty's One Man Luftwaffe, The Navy by the ancient Flight Of The Golden Hinde. Secret Agent was Mike Nelson, who also occupied the two centre coloured pages. Special commandos were Rat Pack. Wannabe commando was one of my personal favourites, The Bootneck Boy, and finally we had the Japanese interest in the great story, Terror Behind The Bamboo Curtain.

There was also a true story double pager about the Battle Of El Alamein. There was even a one page written story about a boy who lied to join the Foreign Legion. With the coloured back page detailing unusual secret weapons used during WW2, this just about wrapped up the very first issue of Battle. All this in just 32 pages....Great Value!



Steve M said...

I used to get this every week too, starting with #1.

Johnny Red was my favourite story, used to really like the artwork for this. Wish they'd put all the JR stories out in a book.

Major Easy was definately a cross of Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood.

There was a story about a German that I liked a lot, can't remember it's name right now.


Hi Steve

The German was Hellman of Hammer Force - groundbreaking for a UK comic book to have a German hero.

Yeah Major Easy looked exactly like James Coburn. But by way of Clint and Lee Marvin.

Steve M said...

A quick bit of checking and it turns out to be Panzer G Man - which I think appeared in the comic before Hellman.


yes I'd forgotten him.