Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wham! Smash! Pow! The Odhams line of comics (Part One)


One of my earliest childhood memories was my father bringing home the very first issue of Wham! , an anarchic comic that founded the short lived but fondly remembered line of "Power Comics" as they came to be called.

Wham! rapidly became a must read comic for the young boy that I was at the time. The features included the antics of Biff in full colour on the cover, The Tiddlers (a version of the Bash Street Kids) with a twist that teacher was a good mate to the rowdy children (billed as Britain's most popular teacher, Super-Sir!), General Nitt and his Barmy Army and Danny Dare, Dan Dares number one fan! 

Most of all however it was the adventures of Georgie's Germs that was the main attraction. This wonderful little strip told the tale of the battle between Mum and the germs that inhabited Georgie's body. 


Mum hardly ever won the day and Georgie was as dirty as he'd always been.

There were some adventure features such as Kelpie the boy wizard but Wham! is probably remembered most for including adventures of the Fantastic Four, amongst the first appearances of Marvel supeheroes in British comics.

The title, launched to utilise the talents of Leo Baxendale of Beano fame lasted for 187 issues until merging with its' younger stable mate Pow! in January 1968.




The second and most successful of Odhams line of comics was its' sister title Smash!  

Slightly different to Wham!, Smash! carried a higher content of adventure stories, though humour strips abounded. These included Bad Penny, Percy's Pets, The Swots and the Blots (two rival gangs of school children in one class), Grimley Feendish (the rottenest crook in the world) and The Nervs, who lived inside Fatty.

The title also published reprints of Batman newspaper strips (in colour on the front cover), a British created superhero The Rubber Man (think Elongated man of DC comics fame) plus the early adventures of The Hulk. 

This is only comic that I am aware of that carried rival DC and Marvel characters in its pages.

Smash! went on to last 257 issues, though the end of the run was a complete revamp bearing little relation to the Power Comics line of which it had been a part. As we will see in part 3 of this series it was taken over by IPC.


The final title of this particular trilogy of comic goodness was Pow!, home to both Spider Man and Sgt Fury & his Howling Commando's of Marvel Comics provenance, though it did have it's own line of humour with The Group and The Dolls of St Dominic's (think St Trinians and you get the idea).

Pow! only ran for 87 issues, absorbing it's older sibling Wham! with issue 53.

Despite their short lives these titles have become collectible as fans of a certain age (like myself) seek out the nostalgia of childhood in the sixties.

They certainly were among my favourites!

Happy memories.......

Upcoming:

Part Two will cover the two other titles in the Power Comics stable: Fantastic and Terrific.

Part Three will look at the demise of Power Comics.

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