Thursday, 28 January 2016

Lion and Eagle (1969)

In 1969 when Odhams gave up publishing comics the two remaining titles were taken over by Fleetway. Smash!, the last of the "Power Comics" line was completely transformed losing its Marvel characters (after the licence ran out) and being transformed into something more akin to a regular boys "paper" as they called British comics in those days.

The Eagle however underwent the famous "mergers" that publishers used to boost sales of one comic when another was slacking. Probably the higher costs of publishing the Eagle in it's normal format was another factor. So out with the larger size, colour and higher quality paper and in with the regular black and white newsprint format.

A sign of the times.


Choosing a place to start collecting British titles can be difficult, but I was lucky enough to pick up the key "merger" issue and the first 5 following it so all the stories start anew.

And there's some good stuff inside.

Turvilles Touchstone (almost, but not quite Catweazle in it's concept)  begins in this issue as young Tom Turville inherits a run down Hall with a hidden secret, one that his so-called lawyer wants as well. But neither reckon on the existence of an alchemist locked in a spell sitting in the basement for the past few centuries...

There is the inevitable football story Carson's Cubs which had been going for some years but I skipped over having no interest in sport.

Then there was something far more interesting.

Following in the theme of people out of time a group of Roman gladiators find themselves in Italy during World War II. Swords and pikes vs modern weapons. The outcome is certain yes? But no. The "Ratzi's get their comeuppance until the flame throwers come out. Enter The Gladiators.

There's also Lightning Storm about a disabled lawyer set in the states who mixes stock car racing with crime fighting.

Paddy Payne comes up next. A story about a fighter pilot taken out of his squadron for something a little different. Find the traitor in Bomber Command.

The Waxer continues with PC Mike Martin being taken off duty because no one believes his story about melting wax criminals. Who would? Robot Archie also makes an appearance. There's strange goings in the jungle as they emerge from "The Castle" a time machine.

Even motor cycle cop Zip Nolan survives the merger. Can you spot the clue lads?

The the sole strip from Eagle is Dan Dare, in glorious black and white I'm sad to say. Why is space command empty after Dan and his chums return from 10 years in outer space?  And who is that watching them. Find out next issue.

Lion and Eagle ends with two quite "left-field strips. Gargan (a boy and his Yeti) and Oddball Oates who smokes a herb to get fantastic athletic abilities. Can't be the 'erb most college students used to inhale. They'd be out like a light. Just saying.

Did I mention Mowser? He's still there giving that pesky butler a hard time!

Highly readable. Reserve copies at your newsagents lads!


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