Commando: 50 Years A Home for Heroes, Ed by George Low

Achtung! For you, the war is never over
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The Independent Culture

Published eight times a month at the height of their popularity, the small, perfect-bound, black-and-white issues of Commando comics promulgated the archetypal view of British war comics: Heroic Tommies valiantly fighting on with a "Die, Ratzis, die!" against hordes of Germans armed with stock phrases such as "Gott in Himmel!" and "Schnell!"

Three things might surprise you about this book commemorating half a century of Commando. Firstly, its size. Commando comics were always the smallest on the market; this is a Big Bertha of a book, maybe four or more times the size of those pocketbooks. Secondly, Commando is still turning out fresh issues every month – the latest issues are numbered in the 4,400s. Thirdly, the stories are not as warmongering as your memory or received wisdom would suggest.

This collection, put together by the comic's former editor George Low, features six classic Commando tales. All of them are set against a backdrop of war, of course, and Germans, Japanese and Italian troops are regularly mown down in a hail of machine-gun fire by the bucketload. But the real conflict in Commando stories is portrayed between characters – on class, social or ideological levels. There are "bad" British characters portrayed as often as "good" Germans.

Text pieces show that the research and attention to detail is second to none, and a gallery of covers will have any overgrown boy or girl nostalgic for long hot summers, jumpers for goalposts, and sticks doubling as Bren guns.

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