Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Party's over - Action 18th Sept 1976

Here it is then, the infamous issue that started the snowball that lead to the "banning".
What to make of it after all these years?

Starting off with the cover and the "policemans going to get a hiding" thing. Okay, its depicting "Kids Rule OK!", where there are no grownups left. And that's patently an older bloke being - sort of - menaced by the youth. And there's a policemans helmet nearby. So the assumption is that its a Bobby that's about to get a kicking. And i can sort of see where folk would think that.
But, consider: ALL the background folk are coloured blue. So the oldboy's clobber might be just be more of the same.
And that "youth" isn't even looking at him as he swings the bike chain.
And that helmet could be anyone's.
Figure it's a cover that's whatever you want to make of it. Which is plenty for the detractors, not helped by what's inside:

Dredger has a barking mad, make no sense, tale in which he and Breed are sent to South America to get back some plans. They're up against a couple of Dredgers old mercenary friends, but our heroes beat them - only to give the plans back to them in London so they can sell them to the British goverment. What? Bredd, quite rightly, asks why go to the bother of getting the plans from his friends if only to give them back to them, Dredgers frankly stupid reply is "Make sure they went to the right people". Makes no sense. At all. a piss-poor tale. But nothing here to create waves yet...

Kids Rule Ok is a whole kettle of whatnots - teens opening fire on teens, pretty clear instructions on how to make molotov cocktales and the Hells Angels turning up at the end. Very gritty stuff with some suitably nasty, grim artwork. Even now, fancy a shower after reading.

Death Game 1999 is as lame now as back then. Only death by flipper does anything to amend the tedium.

Hell's Highway. Here's a thing. Never read it when it first came out as i had it down as a cashin on the CB radio craze that was all the rage back then and couldn't have cared less about a couple of truckers. But this is the first episode and i hadn't realised that it was actually borderline horror story. Even now, these shots of the inhabitants of the town and the truck are pretty darn creepy. Will have to go back and re-read as soon as i can.

Hookjaw. Last issue was noticible for the unheard of device of having the hero killed by the bad guy. So here we have Rick Mason's severed head on display in the first panel, only to be forgotten straight away as folk try to leave the island that's torn apart by the volcano. Here we have such oddities as "sharks being able to sense fear in the water up to five miles away", Great White's in the English Channel and Hookjaw knowing how to upend a hovercraft. Odd stuff, with even odder art. Sola's magnificent run had been long gone and here we have this duff replacement. Kind of glad the awful colouring covers so much up.

Hellman's MUCH better, despite equally poor art. The fella's having to recruit a bunch of convicts for his new tank crew and he does in a typical Action way - enter the prison yard driving a King Tiger Tank alone, cover it oil so folk can't climb up it to murder him and deflect knives with a handy door. In the nd, he's got them on his side and they await the coming Russina army alone.

Look Out For lefty is where Martin Baker in his excellent Action book reckons they pushed it too far - an opposing player is bottled mid game and the inference is that its Lefty's girlfriend what did it, thanks to a "Good old Ange!" thought bubble. You don't actually see here do it, but its pretty clear she did. Pretty near the knuckle for a title of its time, aimed at the age group it was aimed at.

Finally we have the end of Green Grudge's War and its very strange. After week in week out of Green seething about Bold but never actually doing anything, here he gets a perfect chance. And shoots him with a German rifle. But the guys not dead and, somehow, gets to the rescue boat before Green. And when Green wades out to it, he's so stunned that his nemesis is still alive, he freezes and gets shot in the back and dies. That's it. No build up, no offbeat payoff to the tale. Its like the powers to be wanted it stopped and stopped it they did. Nice Belardinelli art though.

Summing up, yep they sure seemed to be pushing it with a few tales. If only editoral had decided to just have one strong tale and the rest pretty regular, maybe things might've turned out different.
A rather spectacular "AYIEEEEEEEEGH!" from that guy getting fried in Death Game 1999.
A short "AAAEEE!" from a bloke tipped into the sea in Hoojaw.
A slightly overlong "AIEEEEE!" from Big Max in Hellman.
And a perfect 100% "AIEEEE!" from a rap across the knuckles with a bullet belt in same.


Robert said...

I have the Martin Barker book in the house and I really like it (I'm actually a little too young to have read Action first time round). I agree with Martin's (and your) synopsis that it was Look Out for Lefty that signalled the death knell. The difference was between the really OTT stuff of the fantasy strips and the potentially very real 1970s scenario of football hooliganism. One can perhaps appreciate at this distance why a sympathetic character bottling someone on the pitch was actually a rather spectacular (and forgive the pun) own goal on the part of the editors.

Mangamax said...

Absolutely right - like the Auton doll in Pertwee's Who story, it was just a tad too close to everyday life and therefore had more resonance.