Tag Archives: John Gillatt

RiNG RAiDERS #6: FiNAL BOARDiNG CALL

This is something of a bittersweet review. On the one hand it’s the best issue of Ring Raiders the team produced, but it’s also the last. I can remember back in 1989 I’d always go and check out the shelves first before asking for my reserved copy, and my heart sank when I scanned through this exciting looking latest issue and saw the announcement. At this point it really did seem all the comics I was interested in weren’t lasting long at all. I was devastated with the news for this particular one.

What a cover to kick off my favourite issue, Ian Kennedy really showing he understands the subject matter, his love of aviation clearly apparent. Skull Leader Wraither was one of my two favourite characters and to see my favourite toy planes on the cover was a thrill. It still takes me right back now. Inside, two new serials and a new regular feature begin. It’s obvious this was never planned to be the last issue. However, it may be the final fortnightly but it wouldn’t be the finale. More on that below.

But let’s not be down, there’s more of the finest 80s licensed action strips to enjoy and there’s been a bit of a shift about inside to keep things fresh. Where previously Battle Zone ’99 introduced us to each issue, it’s replacement story is moved so that Tom Tully‘s Freedom Flight, rattling along to its big finish can take point, opening the comic with some blistering action that’s been building since #1. Sandy James‘ colour work makes quite the impact as the first thing we see inside, it’s just a shame something went wrong with the printing process with several pages of this issue.

Skull Squadron‘s plan finally gets revealed as Calvador is the perfect place for them set up a power base to take South America. The rebels are fully aware a heavy price will be asked of them for this help but they continue regardless. It’s clear this is only one part of a much bigger plan and interestingly leader Scorch is monitoring from thirty-two years into the future. Obviously (much like Doctor Who) in the world of Ring Raiders time is fluid, always in flux. I appreciated major plot details only coming later rather than being laid out in the first episode too. Despite being based on toys, the comic told its stories in a mature fashion, treating us as readers with attention spans who’d stick with them. I appreciate it all the more now.

The first of two new stories is Castle of Doom , written and drawn by the same team as the previous Bomber Blues, James Nicholas and Don Wasejewski respectively. It takes Trackdown‘s previous position as the second strip. Trackdown always felt like the main story, even though I’d no idea just how long it would last. It felt like it had deliberately slower pacing to begin with, like it was building tension and settling in for a long run. So when Castle of Doom took its place it instantly felt like an important story. I wasn’t wrong.

Set in 1789 it sets up a fascinating plot involving my two favourite characters. Wraither (from the cover) in his P51 Mustang ‘Galloping Ghoul’ appears in the skies over a hauntingly atmospheric castle proclaiming to be a sky demon. The owner of the castle is already a disciple of this winged deity, but the local mayor sees him as a threat. After Wraither fires upon him, pushing him over the edge of the castle turrets he turns on his hypnotising mind control ray over the assembled masses, instructing them that on this exact night two hundred years hence their descendants must rise up and assassinate every single person in the castle.

Returning to the skies he and his Vulture Wing prepare to exit through time again. Wraither and his dark, faceless persona is the perfect Skull Squadron leader for this mysterious tale and I was just as excited to see the Raider sent to investigate would be none other than Wing Commander Yasuo Yakamura in his cool X-29 ‘Samurai Flyer’ jet. These were my first two toy planes and perhaps as a result of them being bundled together in one of the Starter Packs they seemed destined to be mortal enemies in the comic.

Certain scenes remained tucked away in my memory refusing to leave because they had such an impact on me, they were that amazing to this Ring Raiders fan.

Skull Squadron targeting this particular castle in this particular time zone for just a few moments has the Ring Raiders completely confused. Yasuo is on standby and in his X-29 can get there quicker than anyone. I can still remember the palpable excitement of this first instalment as a kid thanks to the characters involved, but also because James sets up a genuinely interesting mystery here.

As Yasuo stalks the skies above Vulture Wing we see his inner thoughts trying to work out what’s going on. Even when he engages the enemy he remains a man of few words, thinking his retorts to Wraither instead of shouting them out over the radio like the other pilots. The cliffhanger has the mayor hanging on to a tree sticking out from the cliff face and Yasuo having to leave himself wide open to attack in order to save him. With my favourite planes locked in combat and an intriguing set up in play it was an agonising wait to see what would happen next. (If we even got to find out!)

The character flashback story this time centres around Wing Commander ‘Never’ Evers, in the appropriately titled Never Say Evers Again, written by Scott Goodall with John Gillatt back on drawing duties. This is the first we’ve really seen the character other than crowd scenes and I never owned his toys, both of which are real shames because he’s a fun character with an interesting past. Enrolled as an officer cadet in NATO‘s flying school he was cocky and lazy in equal measure. Caught skiving off sick from a routine training mission, his instructor puts him under open arrest.

Now, Evers loves his rock and rock and especially playing it so loud he annoys everyone around him. His imprisonment takes place at the far end of the base in unoccupied accommodation which just happens to be beside the records department for NATO. In the end we find out the arrest was deliberate, his instructor is working for Skull Squadron, and when Evers’ hifi speakers blow a fuse and silence engulfs the area he hears a noise and discovers the theft of computer records in process. His instructor was using Evers’ relocation and his loud music to cover his tracks you see.

Having a double-cross like this is similar to last time but Evers is such an enjoyable character I didn’t care, especially when it led to this final sequence. My only complaint is that there isn’t more of this particular aerial battle. The brief bit of action we’re given is fab and a great climax to a character study strip, but how I wish it was longer. Another aircraft that wasn’t part of the Ring Raiders toy line too, which was always a nice addition to the comic and heightened my interest in finding out more about them as a kid.

He’s on the cover, he’s the star of a brand new strip and now Wraither is also in charge of the letters page. None of the contributions mention him and he isn’t happy about it as you’ll see. This is one of the things I loved about our comics this side of the pond, how the characters would interact with us in often cheeky, sarcastic ways. I never sent anything in myself. It had become a bit of a habit by this stage but Ring Raiders simply didn’t last long enough for me to get around to it. This would be the last we’d see of the readers too, as the special the following year wouldn’t contain any more of these pages.

Part six of writer Angus Allan and artist John Cooper‘s Trackdown is our penultimate strip. Wing Commander Thundercloud is right on the tail of Skull Leader Blackjack, but can’t do anything except follow for fear of setting off the Doomsday Device if he opens fire. All the Skull pilot has to do is wait it out until he’s home free, but suddenly he dives and stands his Harrier jet on its nose! It’s a shocking move but in the end it shows how tactical and sadistic Blackjack can be.

Established in both the toy line and the comic, Blackjack can remotely control his Harrier. In this day and age of drone warfare and those silly driverless cars it’s easy to forget things like this and K.I.T.T. in Knight Rider were science fiction, and exciting sci-fi at that. So he ejects after aiming at a biplane far below, expertly manoeuvring himself so he lands on its tail. I love how this is depicted in the art, especially the angle from above the ejection.

The maniac tosses out the pilot of the biplane and takes his young son hostage, although he does tell him his dad had a parachute and will be safe, as will the boy if he just shuts up. He doesn’t intend to kill (although it’s meant to look like he could), just to use the kid as means of dropping his pursuing Ring Raider. Scorch himself radios through to the Air Carrier Justice, telling them Thundercloud has a choice; either follow the Doomsday Device to stop it reaching Skull Squadron, or rescue the boy.


“The future of the world against one boy’s fate? No contest!”

Joe Thundercloud

It’s a brilliant twist that I’d completely forgotten about, even though I reread these about five or so years ago. I remember the thrill of this particular chapter as a kid and it’s another key reason why this was my favourite issue; all the stories are firing on all cylinders, the comic had really come into its own, it was confident in its characters and the universe within which it was playing.

In the end Thundercloud radios in that he’s going after the device, that one boy’s life can’t compare to the whole world. The Ring Raiders listening in are horrified but Ring Commander Vector is defiant, he says he knows Thundercloud isn’t going to abandon the boy. So what’s he doing? Vector asks the professor what would happen if they beamed the device up but can’t get an answer. It seems everything is in Thundercloud’s hands. It’s an impossible situation he’s in as the Harrier and the biplane set off in different directions.

The cliffhanger gives us no possible clues as to the outcome. Can you imagine my reaction to this knowing there wouldn’t be another issue in a fortnight? Only with hindsight am I able to say reading the Special (with another five chapters of Trackdown to read all at once) was incredibly exciting, and that if the comic had continued #7 would’ve contained the single most exciting piece of strip action I’d ever come across up to that point. That’s not just hyperbole, as you’ll see next time.

I’ll leave my final thoughts on the whole story until then but suffice to say Angus and John created something truly special for me with this. It’s a story that has stayed with me all these years, certain scenes tucked away in my memory refusing to leave because they had such an impact on me, they were that amazing to this Ring Raiders fan. The eleven chapters made this the comic’s first true epic at 44 pages in total.

This issue felt like the beginning of the next stage of the comic’s life.

This issue saw the first time new serials joined the fray, sitting alongside continuing stories. Others would end in what would’ve been #7. I was looking forward to seeing explosive finales and new beginnings, since each story could be so completely different than what came before. Each issue would’ve brought that sense of anticipation, never knowing when one would end or a new one begin. With this issue it felt like the beginning of the next stage of the comic’s life.

As I mentioned above the ‘Next Issue’ boxes were still present at the end of each strip but blanked out, although adding to the frustration was the ability in some cases to just about make out what they said. On the letters page Wraither talked about the next issue in a fortnight’s time and the comic was still asking for contributions. All of this just made the Special Announcement (in the space usually reserved for the Next Issue box) all the more shocking.

At the time I refused to believe it was due to bad sales with the way the first sentence was worded. It just didn’t make sense to me. The comic was too good for this to happen to it! The toys were on sale for Christmas, they were ace, how could it stop before all those new owners jumped on board? All of these thoughts went round and round in my twelve-year-old head.

Speaking with Barrie recently he told me the issue was already at the printers when news came down that the plug was being pulled. Needing to get an announcement into the issue but with no time to typeset anything he instead wrote the panel on his typewriter. It feels a bit like some wartime correspondence and very fitting for the comic. It’s just a shame about the news it carried.

The comic was too good for this to happen to it!

As Barrie says in his book Comic Book Hero, the industry was struggling as a whole at this time, many titles were failing no matter how good they were. Television and videogames were stiff competition and publishers seemed to be releasing licenced comics based on every new toy or cartoon product in a bid to try to reverse the trend. For a market already facing decline it was now also spreading itself too thin. Inevitably not many new comics survived.

I cut out the Ring Raiders Club coupon that had been in the comic since #3, thinking if the comic was ending at least I could join this. I never heard back. I asked Barrie if he knew anything about it but as far as he’s concerned this was run by Matchbox so unfortunately I’ve no information about it at this time. But let’s enjoy the rest of this fantastic final issue, shall we?

As I’ve mentioned several times during this series it was amazing to see these tiny toy planes brought to life, as it were. Now writer James Nicholas was going to be treating us to aerial photography and details of the real world aircraft every fortnight. At least, that was the plan but we ended up with just two parts in this and the Ring Raiders Special. But at least I did get to see a favourite character’s aircraft in this fact-file.

So our final strip is also a new story and while he may not appear in this part it’s clear from the icy cliffhanger and the name of the story, Operation Chill, who our big bad was going to be and I have no complaints whatsoever given how ruthless he’s been in previous stories. Living in Belfast now as an adult the not-so-subtle references which were lost on me as a kid are plain to see. On an unspecified modern day date a cruise liner of the Black Star line is travelling from Liverpool to New York when all radio contact is lost before the ship crashes through the docks.

Making clear references to the Titanic, writer Barrie Tomlinson and artist Carlos Pino return in what would turn out to be a fantastic story. It would be the mission that would introduce the Skull Squadron’s mobile HQ to the Ring Raiders, originally in a future fortnightly issue just in time for children like me to ask Santa Claus for it, potentially even the Christmas edition itself.

Yes, the base has featured in previous stories but remember this was a time travelling comic and it can tell its stories in any order it wished. We could see a character in action and then later down the line read about their recruitment, piecing together the timelines ourselves. The complex nature of the overall arcs could’ve made for excellent reading further down the line.

With all of the schoolboys and crew missing Bravery Wing and their commander Max Miles get their first comic mission and come under heavy fire when checking out the location of where the ship last checked in. But below there’s only ice and open waters. Where is the attack coming from? The big reveal was another part of the Special worth waiting for if memory serves.

Much in the same way as #6 of OiNK, this issue of Ring Raiders felt like all of the pieces had fallen into perfect alignment, making the cancellation all the more heartbreaking. Would it have had better sales earlier in its run and been given a longer chance if released just after Christmas? Probably not, because as much as I didn’t want to admit it at the time the toys just weren’t the success they deserved to be. But that didn’t put me off. The following year I continued collecting planes and accessories, stopping just short of the second series’ release. Perhaps they’d been successful just enough for the next series or maybe they’d already been produced. Either way, all merchandise including the comic and cartoon had been canned.

Image taken from eBay

Not long after Ring Raiders disappeared a new partwork was published called Airplane and I bought the first dozen or so issues. If I couldn’t buy the comic anymore maybe I’d find out all about the aircraft to go with my toys. The first issues were all military craft which had coincidentally featured in the Ring Raiders range but it wasn’t long until it was focussing solely on commercial airlines and I became bored and cancelled it. Hey, I was 12 years old!

I’ve already mentioned the Ring Raiders Special and this came out in February 1990 so watch out for it on the blog a few months from now. Barrie wasn’t sure if it would see publication when he wrote the announcement, given how quickly it had to be written up. But he and his team did produce it in the end and all of the stories from this issue got the remainder of their full runs printed in one big issue.

That won’t be all you’ll read on the blog next year about this fantastic comic or the toys that inspired it. For now, make sure you check out the two remaining comics still being read in real time that make up the Barrie Tomlinson trilogy this winter. Wildcat and Super Naturals continue and are both excellent titles.

So long Ring Raiders, you will be greatly missed but all these decades later you remain a very favourite comic. I hope that shows how much of an impact your six issues made to this reader anyway.

SUPER NATURALS: BLOCKBUSTER ADVERT

When I was building up to OiNK‘s own read through I wrote about how IPC Magazines promoted its release in new ways compared to previous comics. These included a four-page ‘Blockbuster Advert’. Rather than a regular advertisement these actually added four pages to those comics and acted as a large pull-out promo which could be enjoyed separately, just one week after the preview issue had also been given away. By 1987 Fleetway had taken over IPC’s comics and decided to employ this tactic for Barrie Tomlinson‘s Super Naturals tie-in.

So, one week after the free preview comic and on the same day as the premiere issue went on sale (Hallowe’en 1987) came the Super Naturals’ own Blockbuster Ad. At the same bigger-than-A4 size of the comic itself it surely must’ve made an impact when Sandy JamesSkull fell out of readers’ regular comics. Unfortunately just like the preview issue this wasn’t given away with OiNK so I didn’t discover it until decades later. The exact range of comics that included this is unknown but I think it’s a given the likes of Eagle and the licenced Mask would have.

So it was included in the issues released on 31st October, the perfect day for some added spookiness to tempt new readers over. Inside, the layout shows off all the main highlights of the issue that was in stores that very day, including that bloody doll as drawn by Francesc Masi. (I mean this endearingly because I loved being scared by that thing.) A few of the toy characters are shown in their new comic form and there’s a preview of three of the strips, perfectly highlighting the creepy artwork to be found in this very different publication. I must admit though, I’m not entirely sure what the “Be Patient” is all about.

The back page highlights the free gift and the physical details of the comic. I always did love the way Fleetway would draw pages behind the cover, something they did with adverts for their annuals. It gives the impression of a thick, meaty read and that was no word of a lie with Super Naturals!

Back on Hallowe’en 1987 I discovered the comic by accident in the shop, but if this had fallen out of one of my OiNK’s I’d have been right back down to the newsagent straight away anyway!

There was definitely a big promotional push behind Super Naturals both in terms of the toys and the comic.  It was all set to be a hit for Tonka and Fleetway, but alas it was not to be.  But let’s not get hung up on that, Instead let’s enjoy the journey through all the regular issues and specials to come, with the review of #2 coming on Sunday 14th November 2021.

SUPER NATURALS #1: PERFECT TiMiNG!

I’ve never really been into Hallowe’en and could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve really celebrated it. The first time I did anything remotely tied to the season was in 1987 when I sat down on the evening of Saturday 31st October with this Sandy James cover, wearing a mask of a rotting face and read the comic it had come with. That comic was the first issue of Super Naturals from Fleetway and surely its release date was the perfect bit of marketing in itself!

I ended up only buying the second issue before being distracted by something else (easily and often done back then) and I’ve gone into more depth on how my fascination with these new toys and comic returned too late in the introductory post. Right here, right now, I’m ready to read this complete series in real time and enjoy every page along the way I’m sure. As mentioned last time the first story is a reprint of the preview comic’s origin story. Of course, I didn’t originally know this and I’ve a vivid memory of pouring over this particular page from The Legend of the Super Naturals for a long time.

I think it was because of the panel on the top-right. John Gillatt‘s depiction of terrified church goers, fleeing their place of sanctity on the same night I was reading the comic was a powerful image to someone who was only approaching their tenth birthday in a couple of months. The way their faces are cloaked in shadows makes their eyes almost blank with fear, the fact the comic chose a church of all places to have these supernatural entities explode into our world, the date giving it an immediacy when read. These all combined into something that seared itself into my memory.

This is coming from someone whose Reminders app on his iPhone is always full because he has a head like a sieve, so the fact this memory has stuck with me should say a lot. I won’t go into detail on the story here because I’ve covered it already in the preview issue’s review, but I felt I had to hold back on describing reading this page until now. This was how I first read it so it seemed more fitting for this review. After that heart-pounding beginning it was on to something a lot lighter.

Moving into more comedic territory, Ghostlings was very appropriately illustrated by Anthony Williams (Sinister Dexter, The VCs, Batman) who I knew from the ghostly goings on of an equally comedic variety in The Real Ghostbusters. So who were the Ghostlings? These little helper spirits were Spooks, who in a previous life had been a court jester and can now switch between that form and a traditional ghost, Mr. Lucky the magician who could transform into a giant rabbit, Hooter the wise old wizard whose spells were hit and miss had an owl form and See-Thru, who was a take on The Invisible Man and whose holographic toy could lose its bandages.

There’s such potential within this comic.

The evil Super Naturals had their own Ghostlings. Scary Cat the witch could change into a hissing cat (although I assume in the comic she wouldn’t be constantly hissing), Rags was an Egyptian Pharaoh and mummy, Weird-Wolf was a very 80s villain in his punk teen and teen wolf variations and finally Vamp-Pa wasn’t a fatherly old gentleman bloodsucker, he was a vicious vampire and a bat, obviously. In their own story they want to be seen as more than assistants assigned by Specter, who we actually see take form which I don’t remember happening. Weird-Wolf decides to crash into our world at a rock concert to cause a bit of havoc.

It’s not exactly a grand evil scheme, but that’s the whole point of these characters, they wish to play with the bigger kids and impress them by causing a little chaos and showing their potential. It’s a fun set up but as Spooks and his pals give chase the doorway inside Ghostworld changes randomly and they end up in a setting more befitting his previous life, in the court of Henry VIII! Well, I didn’t see that coming. A fun, light-hearted strip to ease the tension for the young readers. Or, it was giving them a false sense of security before the next story.

The Doll appears to be the most memorable of all the strips in the comic if social media responses are anything to go by, and it’ll soon become clear why. David Wickham and his older brother Simon move in with a temporary foster family after their dad’s accident, their mum having died when they were very young. They’re soon settling in and making friends and it’s all so idyllic to begin with. Illustrated by Francesc Masi (Jackie, Warlord, Bonanza) like a traditional, wholesome comic story it puts the reader at ease. A classic bit of misdirection.

I think it’s worth mentioning this was a year before Child’s Play hit cinemas.

David soon finds an old ventriloquist’s dummy hidden away in the back of a closet and immediately takes a shine to it. Simon just thinks it’s ugly. He’s more concerned with his baby brother playing with what he considers a girl’s doll. David wants to show off his discovery of what he thinks is just a forgotten toy and goes to ask Frank and Louise if he can play with it. Frank’s reaction is one of outright anger and he snaps the doll out of David’s hands. Louise tries to explain that it belonged to a previous foster child who had an accident while under their care, and the doll just brought back painful memories. When the kids are in bed though, Frank tells Louise he doesn’t understand how it was still in the house, he thought he’d got rid of it years ago, and he throws it in the bin outside.

David isn’t happy one bit. He gets angry when talking about it in bed with his brother, a side to him that Simon has never seen before. He doesn’t understand why his brother is acting this way just because of a doll he found only moments before. Of course, we know by now it’s not just a doll. Aside from the title page, when you look closely at some panels of the strip you can see the doll giving a little side-eye here and there. It’s subtle but it’s clear it’s not being done by the person holding it.

The strip ends with a noise outside as the bin lid clatters onto the ground. Thinking it’s just cats digging about the trash again, Frank goes to have a look. While he’s on his way we get that lovely creepy image above of a hand slowly rising up under its own power. Two staring eyes lear over the rim and this is where the story ends for now. I think it’s worth mentioning this was a year before Child’s Play hit cinemas.

Kids love being scared by their chosen entertainment. Whether it’s Doctor Who, or Hallowe’en games, or storybooks etc. Tabloids try to rile parents up with fake outrage about such things but kids love this sort of thing. It’s a safe scare. The Doctor will arrive and she’ll save the day for example. Or we’d know it was just our friends jumping out at us from the dark. Or we could always put down the book, but we never did. The Doll did frighten me back then but I lapped it up. I’d never known a comic could do that and the strip was a hot topic amongst friends at school, copies being passed back and forth with those children whose parents didn’t allow them to read it.

Just to clear up some online misinformation, some people think The Doll was written for another comic aimed at older kids and was simply printed here to fill space. This is rather insulting to the team behind the strip and the comic as a whole. Just because it’s a toy licence it can’t possibly be scary? The fact The Doll did scare us shows these people are wrong. Francesc Masi even drew the cover to the final issue and inside that edition the story was given a proper conclusion. This was written for Super Naturals and is another reason why this comic deserves more attention and recognition.

Sandy James returns for the double-page poster above, showcasing The Tomb of Doom, the gateway to Ghostworld and he does a superb job of turning the plastic toy into a creepy monstrosity. We then move on to The Scary Cat Challenge. Hosted by the Ghostling, she’d ask readers to send in their ideas for a scary story and, if chosen, the team would turn that idea into a fully fledged comic strip. There was even a tenner for each one used! That was big bucks to us back then. But the real thrill must surely have been seeing your idea brought to life on the page.

Of course the first few stories couldn’t be based on these yet so instead the comic’s writers (as yet unknown to me) came up with some of their own. In The Hunchback of Hinkley Rest a typical teenage game of Dare goes horribly wrong when Ian agrees to spend a night in the local cemetery and accidentally wakes someone up. That someone is the late Cornelius Grudge, a gentle, lonely hunchback who just wants to make friends, but who was bullied by children when he was alive because of his looks. He never gave up on people though and here he comes out to keep Ian company.

Despite opening up to the boy, Ian and his friends do exactly the same thing as people had done throughout Cornelius’ life. They fear him because of his looks, they think he’s a monster and call the police in, who in turn instantly think he’s a criminal or monster of some kind, all based on how they perceive him with their eyes. In the end he’s forced to return to his grave, the police thinking he’s run off, leaving only Ian to know the truth. It’s actually a sad tale in the end, if rather simplistic. But the downbeat ending adds another layer to the comic and the atmosphere is thick, thanks to artist Jim Watson (Scream, Commando, Battle Action Force).

We’re back into Super Naturals territory with a two-page introduction to all the characters which builds upon the card given away with the preview issue. Sandy James is once again on hand and his character models add so much personality to the toys, really bringing those little green holograms to life. In fact it was Sandy who designed the comic’s take on the toys, a process we’d be let in on in a future special feature.

It’s these characters we return to for the final strip of the issue in part one of Mount of Athos. While at this stage readers would be unaware of how long each of the individual stories were to last, the opening page of this gives the impression of a real epic. I just love the grand scale of Lionheart and Skull in battle. The scenario for these characters is such a huge idea, it’s really is capable of being truly epic and this page below sums it up perfectly for me. There’s such potential within this comic.

In reality, Athos would last a handful of issues before another Super Naturals tale would begin in its place, but that epic feel remains. This is testament to the art of Alan Langford (Eagle, Judge Dredd Megazine, 2000AD), who brings a mature feel to this toy licence tale. The story involves the Monastery of Athos and the Sacred Coffer relic which contains the remains of Saint Servius, known as The Essence of Perfection. As a symbol of all that is good it’s the perfect target for Skull and his group.

All the players are here and more of their abilities are shown off in the heat of battle. Best of all we see Snakebite transform himself into his giant snake form. Snakebite does this to terrify the monks into revealing the location of the coffer in order to save their own lives. I think this image is incredible. This is the kind of horror-action our imaginations would’ve been full of when playing with the toys, but we’d never have been able to imagine it brought to such horrifying life.

For fans of the toys everything they could possibly wish for is here in #1 of Super Naturals. All the characters are introduced, their abilities have been established, toy likenesses elaborated on and more importantly they’re well developed for a first issue. For young fans of children’s horror comics the licenced strips offer spooky adventures (alongside some comedy) and the extra content brings an anthology feel and the promise of real chills to come. It really is the best of both worlds.

It’s a great start. I really hope this read through can bring some overdue attention to this forgotten comic, it’s a truly unique title and deserves a place in the history of UK comics alongside Scream! and, if it had been given the chance of a long run, maybe even giving the likes of Transformers a run for its money with the scale of its story. For now we close off issue one with another competition on the back page from Tonka, this time the two vehicles are up for grabs but strangely aren’t shown!

Next week on Sunday 7th November 2021 I’ll take a look at the four-page Blockbuster Advert found in some of Fleetway’s comics as part of the marketing for Super Naturals, followed closely on the 14th with issue two’s review. With all three of editor Barrie Tomlinson‘s comics now being read side-by-side, this could be a great winter on the blog!