Sunday, December 16, 2012

War Picture Library 31 Airborne

There's a small problem with War Picture Library 21 Airborne - it is a terrible story. It begins well enough and as it is published in 1959 there are many words to read. Older pocket war comics have a higher word density than later editions. You just have to pick up a Thriller Picture Library to see the depth of writing that is involved.

Airborne is principally the story of Private Frankie Small who enlists in the paratroopers. He manages to pass all the rigorous tests (few people make it through) yet he has an Achilles heal. Despite being the son of a barge owner he is terrified of deep water. This fact is introduced nicely into the story in an unexpected manner - which is great writing, his phobia is then used again to prevent him from jumping in at a critical point in the story, yet he over comes his fear when he really needs to and of course he saves the day. All of this is very well written and introduced and handled though out the story.

Yet I kept having a disconnect with Frankie. He is a veteran from another regiment. He passes all the paratroop tests required of him for entry into the Red Devils. He can gun down Germans and show no remorse - yet he acts and looks like a scared school boy.

The story travels well until the captain and sergeant get captured. The German general who is interrogating them can't help himself and does that thing that bad guys do and has to tells his captives of his overly complicated and meticulous plan to foil any counter attack. They must have a subject at German General Staff School called "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?".

Needless to say armed with the knowledge of these plans, the deep water fear finally overcome and with a huge amount (thankfully admitted) good luck everything works out in the end. There is a absolutely radiant inner glow from Frankie as he takes his rightful place amongst his peers.

So the problem is this...

The story starts so well and the more the story moves along the less it has to do with the promise made at the beginning. It has very little to do with the excellent cover artwork and introductory paragraph. There are also some truly dreadful boys own adventure moments that otherwise mar a story that had such a promising start.

Is it only me or do I really expect too much?

So much promise at the start...

Look at those groovy hats.

Yeah! Slippy!! You got it? I don't.

Frankie looks like he ate all the cream pies.

You could say they left without telling you.

Bullets won't hurt you pair of wimps. But I will!

It's a little known fact that Germans are actually afraid of rough looking men who shout out these kinds of words.

Brush with the enemy? He killed the lot of them!

Nice shadow on that wall.

I've shown Mr Squarehead before - but this time look at Mr Bonehead looking like he's doing something.
For an issue about paratroopers there are certainly some good drawings of tanks in this story. This is a Tiger in case you missed it...

...and I think this is a Cromwell.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this as a kid growing up and had the comic for years though the cover was long gone. Recently sold the coverless copy but would love another copy with a cover. Up the spurs!


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