Overview

Commando #4507

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Commando #4507

Credits

  • Words: Alan Hebden
  • Art: Olivera
  • Story Title: The Spy Catchers
  • Publisher: DC Thomson
  • Price: £1.50
  • Release Date: Jun 21, 2012

A stirring adventure/mystery with plenty of twists, turns, and red herrings…

North Africa in the Second World War and British army lorry driver Arnie Kershaw daydreams about his hero Bartlett, the spy-smasher protagonist of a series of popular novels. But when Arnie finds himself assigned to the mysterious Major Willoughby, at general headquarters in Cairo, he is launched full thrust into the treacherous world of espionage. Working undercover, can Arnie and Willoughby uncover who is the German spy hiding within two South African and Australian Long Range Desert Group units?

Commando’s eight issues a month publication rate and 50 years of continuous tales of derring-do make this war comic something of a British institution. Where it differs from 2000AD –  that other great survivor of the newsagent shelves – is that Commando has never embraced the cycles of reinvention and metamorphosis that have been such an integral part of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’s success. A Commando story now follows pretty much the exact same structure as it did when the comic debuted in the early 1960s and it’s that slightly retro, nostalgic element of the book that many would argue explains its longevity.

While the central theme of the issue is the world of espionage and spies, writer Alan Hebden’s approach is obviously far more Boys’ Own than Spooks in its realisation, as befits a Commando tale. It’s a stirring adventure/mystery with plenty of twists, turns, and red herrings but just enough telegraphing of the important plot points to allow the reader the slight smugness of always at least feeling they’re a step or two ahead of the story’s protagonists. Olivera’s eye for detail on the artwork ensures the audience is fully transported to the North Africa of 70 years ago, and his subtle visual characterisation gives every member of the cast a unique and distinctive personality.

Stories within stories abound in this issue culminating in an ending that, quite atypically for this most straightforward and reliably conventional of comics, almost flirts with the metafictional. Technically it may well be far into middle age but in every way that counts Commando remains in the very prime of life!

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