Tag Archives: Fugitive story

Traitor’s War (1991)

Published: Commando #2472 (1991), reprinted Commando #4085 (2008)

Artists: Janek Matysiak (story); Ron Brown (cover)

Writer: Alan Hemus

Many names of the artists in girls’ comics are now very familiar to us, such as John Armstrong, Mario Capaldi, Douglas Perry, Veronica Weir, Maria Dembilio and Norman Lee. But what about their offspring? How many of their children have followed them into the comics industry, and what samples of their work might be around? Here is one sample, which is drawn by Janek Matysiak, the son of popular DCT artist David Matysiak.


In the Savoy Alps, 1943, Andre Huot has lived peacefully as a shepherd after losing his father Henri in the Battle of France. Then his Uncle Humbert, a small-time crook, arrives to rope him into joining “the gang”. No, not gangsters, he says (well, not gangsters of that variety, anyway). He means the Milice, also known as the Militia, the (hated) French anti-Resistance paramilitary organisation with a reputation to rival the Gestapo. It’s all in a good cause, he tells Andre: “we are the law…the noble service that keeps peace in France”. And to show he means business in having Andre join the Milice, Humbert casually shoots Andre’s beloved old dog dead, saying it would have been left to starve: “I did it purely out of kindness”. Of course, he just considered the dog a liability that would have no place in Andre’s Milice career.

Andre is soon picking up Milice training and impresses their lieutenant, Bernard Aubray. But despite the indoctrination from Uncle Humbert and his Milice training, he isn’t developing a genuine belief or loyalty in the Milice because he has no loyalty in serving the Germans as they do. Moreover, he came in from a sheltered, quiet country life. This made him a bit green and naive, and therefore hardly one for committing atrocities. So he soon has doubts about what he is doing, which causes increasing confusion about which side to be on.

It starts when Andre meets the Gestapo man the Milice serves: Doctor Gert Sigmund, known to them as “Herr Doktor”. Herr Doktor is, of course, one very nasty Nazi, and the Milice fear him as much as they respect him. When Andre protests to his uncle about serving Germans, the reply is that the Germans are the bosses now, and serving them is the way to keep you out of trouble.

Andre grows ever more troubled at the brutality of Herr Doktor’s Milice operations. He is dragged into watching acts of torture, roundups, and slaughter of fellow Frenchmen in retaliation for acts of sabotage and being forced to kill some people himself. He is revulsed to see his uncle torture an elderly man (watch this space) for information about a sabotaged train. Uncle Humbert reassures Andre it’s all a necessity to keep the peace, but that doesn’t help Andre’s conscience or clear up his confusion. And Andre is soon finding other reasons not to enjoy life in the Milice. He has noticed how his fellow Frenchmen hate the Milice, and for this reason none of them go outside their HQ alone. He feels an outcast among his own people and a virtual prisoner at Milice HQ. Even so, he doesn’t seem to realise what he is in the eyes of his fellow countrymen – a traitor.

But that changes one spring day in 1944. Andre is part of a raid on a house in Burgundy to bring down four Maquis (French Resistance) members. One Maquis man survives, Diderot (probably an alias or code name, as his name is later revealed as Marcel Blum). He got shot in the leg and finds himself facing Andre. He says, “Militia, eh? A traitor who serves the Boches.” Because of his injury, Diderot is taken to hospital for treatment before being turned over to the Gestapo.

Being called a traitor is the turning point for Andre. Though still a bit confused about which side to take, he decides to rescue Diderot, and takes advantage of his guard duty at the hospital to do so. There are problems in gaining Diderot’s trust, even when Andre allows Diderot the use of his gun. When Andre shoots down pursuing Germans during the getaway (in a car with the licence plate JANEK1), Diderot finally believes him and directs him to a safe house, where they part ways. Diderot rejoins the Resistance and Andre takes off quick, not wanting the Resistance to see his Milice uniform; at least he is now clear he does not want to take the Milice side anymore. After a change of clothes, he is heading home to his shepherd’s hut.

But shortly before he gets there, he sees German soldiers opening fire on a British unit (Birdy (Sergeant), Whacker (Corporal) and Eustace (Private)) who drove up from the Mediterranean. His confusion finally clears up about which side to be on, and he joins in to help the British against the ambush, forming an inseparable foursome with them. And so he joins the unit known as the Kitehawks, an unusual unit consisting of British soldiers and Maquis men. The latter Andre had been trained to regard as terrorist-saboteurs during his time in the Milice, but now he is accepted as one of them. The Kitehawks take their name from their leader, Captain Jim Hawkes. They accept the story Andre gives, but he has kept the Milice part secret. If they find out, it’s the firing squad for him.

Andre becomes part of Dog Section, the S.A.S. section of the Kitehawks, and his knowledge of the region makes him a useful guide in their sabotage missions against the Germans. They make rapid progress in the region, and when D-Day comes, they enter the south of France on Operation Anvil (later Dragoon) to liberate France from the south, making more and more progress in liberating the country. Andre, who had joined the Kitehawks with no rank, is promoted to Private, but then gets wounded and put in military hospital. And the more the Kitehawks penetrate France, the more the risk grows that Andre’s Milice past will catch up one way or other…

And then, while Andre is still recovering in military hospital, it finally happens. How exactly it happened is not explained, but in comes the old man tortured over the sabotaged train incident. He identifies Andre as one of Aubray’s unit, adding that Aubray has now been hanged for his crimes.

Andre is court-martialled and sentenced to death in a drumhead trial that has little regard for his good record in the Kitekawks: “Too many of your kind turned their coats when it became obvious their German friends were losing the war”, ignoring that Andre joined the Kitehawks before D-Day. It’s a French military court, and the French didn’t have much mercy for collaborators when France was liberated from the Nazis. Fortunately, Diderot/Blum happens to be there for another hearing, and gives evidence that Andre went against the Milice and saved him from the Gestapo. The court agrees to reverse the verdict and release Andre.

Andre, still recovering from his injury, is given a month’s sick leave. He heads back to his shepherd’s hut – only to find Uncle Humbert, Herr Doktor and a Gestapo goon named Bloch have taken refuge there as fugitives from justice and planning to flee over the Alps. When the Nazis see him in British uniform, they turn on Humbert. Humbert tries his usual ploy of talking his way out of it, but Herr Doktor orders Bloch to shoot Andre. Humbert tries to intervene, which causes him to take the bullet instead. It also gives Andre the chance to draw his concealed weapon, enabling him to kill both Nazis. He burns down the cabin along with the corpses of the Nazis and buries Uncle Humbert next to the very dog he killed. He then departs, vowing never to return, and hands in Herr Doktor’s ill-gotten gains along the way.


We begin with the Matysiak Jr artwork, as this was the reason for the entry. Matysiak Jr’s website shows that military history and Commando are a huge part of his portfolio. The illustrations of his war scenes on his site at https://janekmatysiak.carbonmade.com are utterly breathtaking and make your mouth water so much you could laminate them and put them on your wall.

A large proportion of Matysiak Jr artwork in Commando are covers, and examples include “The Fighting Sappers” #4691, “Night and Fog” #4464, and “Desert Heroes” #4697. Given how beautiful his digital/painted war scenes are, it’s no wonder he was a popular choice for Commando covers. A site of Commando listings where Matysiak Jr is listed as a creator can be found at https://commandocomics.fandom.com/wiki/Category:Janek_Matysiak. Oddly, “Traitor’s War” is absent from the list. Perhaps it was an oversight, but there are always updates.

Viewing interior Matysiak Jr artwork in Commando gives a different perspective of his style, as it appears in black and white instead of the colour and paintwork of the Commando covers. So the pencils, pens and inkwork can be seen more clearly. They render war, amiability and brutality with refined lines and elegant cross-hatching, which does not make it look heavy or rushed. The artwork really gives the impression that time and care were taken in rendering each line. The style is one that can bring off so many different sides to the story: the sinister Nazis, the gentle demeanour of Andre, more hardened commanders, the loud, brash Uncle Humbert, the battle and sabotage scenes, the time period, and the background scenes in which the various parts of action take place, from the Savoy Alps to the train tracks where enemy trains get blown up.

Now, we move on to the story and the character development. First, the villains.

Herr Doktor is pretty standard Commando fare of being one sinister, cruel and totally irredeemable Nazi. But he gets little development and far less part in the plot than Nazi nasties usually do in Commando. He isn’t playing the role of the main antagonist who drives the story all the way to the final panels, which is what Commando villains usually do. Neither is Aubray. Although the old man calls Aubray “the accursed Aubray”, he remains a minor villain who appears even more briefly than Herr Doktor.

By far the best villain is Uncle Humbert. He gets the most development and substance, is a more rounded villain, and he is far more of a plot driver than the Nazis. After all, if not for Uncle Humbert, none of the action would have taken place. Besides, it is obvious Andre would never have gone to war without a push of some sort. Despite his father being killed in the war and now old enough to fight, he just spends his days as a shepherd. Uncle Humbert, in spite of himself, gave Andre that push.

From the moment Humbert appears, he grabs your attention, and he stands out in all the panels he appears in. One of his greatest strengths as a villain is that he’s smooth talker and has a knack for talking his way out of trouble or, as in the case of Andre, talking someone into something. And it’s easy to understand his motives. Having always been a crook, he went into the Milice because it enabled him to what he would do in the world of crime and gangsters, but without fear of the law, because it’s all within the jackboot law of occupied France. Also, in Humbert’s view (or what he says), it’s all righteous: “we are the law…the noble service that keeps peace in France”. Plus there are a lot of perks in being Milice, such as getting the best of everything from the Germans, including non-rationed food and living in style with flash cars and such.

Humbert has the distinction of being the only villain to redeem himself, with his action to save Andre from the Nazis. It is not clear if he meant to sacrifice himself by taking the bullet or just got in the way of it while trying to intervene, but he is still the only villain in the story to die an honourable death. He has earned a measure of respect from the reader and pity from Andre, who decides he was “foolish and greedy” rather than evil (though the people who suffered under him and Aubray’s unit might have different views!). Andre burying his Uncle next to the dog he killed was even a gesture to keep him company.

The theme of a good man who is initially on the German side but changes sides because of Nazi atrocities has been done elsewhere in Commando, such as “Snowbound“, Commando #5517. But because the villains take a bit of a back seat in the plot, it’s less of a hero vs villain and more the journey of Andre Huot, both in terms of his career in soldiering and his character development.

Andre’s growth starts with him being a simple, sheltered country youth who’s never been so far from his Alpine home before. So he’s not difficult to be led on, and Humbert takes advantage of that. And Andre does go along with Humbert, despite knowing his uncle is a crook and witnessing the shocking fate of his dog. Of course, if Andre had refused his uncle’s offer, he could have used force – he has the gun, after all. Also, arriving in town’s a real culture shock for the country boy. So he’s a bit bewildered, which makes him even easier to indoctrinate.

At first glance, there’s plenty to impress Andre in joining the Milice: the rich, non-rationed food of the best kind, the smart blue uniform that looks so intriguing, the smooth talk, the praise for good work, the weapons training, and the programming that the Milice is “the noble service that keeps peace in France” and the people they hunt are dangerous terrorists who must be crushed to keep that peace. Uncle Humbert would be great at running a cult, and Andre would be easy prey for it.

As Andre is still too easy to be led on, he’s not breaking away so readily as other Germans in Commando stories have against the brutalities of the Nazis. The indoctrination vs his horror at the atrocities and the red flags that being in the Milice is leading him down the wrong path can only cause confusion in his mind. The shock of discovering how the other side sees him – a traitor – must have reminded him that his father fought the Germans, not helped them as his uncle says they should do. At any rate, by now all Andre can really think is that he wishes his uncle had stayed away. Even when he makes the decision to help Diderot escape, he’s still not sure in his mind that he’s doing the right thing. It’s his heart he’s following, which must be the only thing he can follow at this point.

Even after Andre doesn’t want to be part of the Milice anymore and now regards that intriguing blue uniform as “traitor’s clothing”, he’s still got that confusion in his mind. And when he joins the Maquis section in the Kitehawks, he’s still affected by Milice indoctrination (looking on the Maquis as terrorist-saboteurs). This must have taken a little while to overcome, but finding himself much happier and productive in the Maquis than the Milice would have helped considerably. And so would the very core of Andre Huot – a good-natured man of integrity. This remains intact throughout the story and could not be destroyed or corrupted. It prevented Andre from actually succumbing to the wrong side and helped him to turn to the right side before he paid the price for being on the wrong side – and nearly did.

Look after Lorna! [1973]


Meryl Mertz and her friend Heidi are looking after an abandoned baby. The baby turns out to be Princess Lorna, heir to the throne of Livonia, and soldiers and bounty hunters are looking for her everywhere. So in addition to the demands of baby care they have to constantly hide her and rescue her from constant dangers.


  • Artist: John Woods


  • Look after Lorna! – Debbie: #11 (28 April 1973) – #30 (8 September 1973)


The Ride-away Randalls [1978]


When Mr Randall is transferred to Scotland his three children are left in Cornwall and put in the care of landlady Mrs Pendellin. Unfortunately Mrs Pendellin dies and the authorities cannot trace the father. So Welfare intend to put the children into care and sell the ponies, but the children are having none of this. Instead, they saddle up and go on the run from Welfare and in search of their father.


  • Artist: Andy Tew


  • The Ride-away Randalls – Debbie: #279 (17 June 1978) – #295 (7 October 1978)

Lonely Lucy [1976]

Published: Spellbound: #01 (25 Sep. 1976) – #10 (27 Nov. 1976)

Episodes: 10

Artist: Jordi Franch


The splash page of the first episode of this story immediately establishes that it is set in the days of highwaymen. It’s also set in the days of lingering witch superstitions, as our protagonist Lucy Pilgrim is to find out.

Lucy’s mother has just died and her cruel aunt and uncle have a bombshell for her: her mother adopted her as a baby after she was found abandoned, and her real parents are unknown. Aunt and Uncle don’t want Lucy and are taking her to an orphanage. At least they allow her to retain her bracelet, which has strange marks her adoptive mother never explained. It brings Lucy comfort, and we can guess it’s the key to finding her true parents.

On the way to the orphanage their coach is held up by a highwayman, Gentleman John. When John see how the cruel relatives are making Lucy sit outside the coach with the driver in drenching rain and without any rain protection, he is appalled at their treatment of her. He forces them at gunpoint to take Lucy’s place and has Lucy take their place in the coach. John also reacts oddly to Lucy’s bracelet. He allows her to keep it, saying “Where you’re going ‘tis best kept hidden” and wishes her luck.

The orphanage is just as cruel as Lucy’s aunt and uncle. Even the other children in the orphanage pick on her once they see she comes from a higher-class background, there are a few kinder exceptions. Their bullying grows worse when they see Lucy is left-handed. They call it the mark of evil and brand Lucy a witch. When Lucy faints from her ill-treatment, the staff throw water over her and throw her out on the street for a while, anticipating she will come crawling to be let back in.

Instead, Lucy runs away and bumps into Gentleman John again. John and his horse Midnight got shot in a clash with some soldiers. Lucy, who has been taught nursing by her adoptive mother, tends to both of them. John is outraged to hear what people are calling her because she’s left-handed, but unfortunately for Lucy that’s not the end of it. John also needs food, and the only way Lucy can get it is…to go back to the orphanage. She also finds they’re looking for her as the Governors are coming. She pretends to have fallen ill from the way they treated her earlier, which gets her special treatment and good feeding – with a bit of blackmail she applies on them while the Governors are around. Once they’re gone, Matron has Lucy sleep in the outhouse as punishment for the trouble she caused.

At least the outhouse makes it easier for Lucy to slip back to John. John is recovering, but Midnight is suffering from infection and needs special care. Lucy insists on using the orphanage as the place to get food and supplies from despite its cruelties, as she refuses to use John’s dubious highwayman contacts on principle.

But when the resident black cat seems to protect Lucy from the children’s bullying and becomes friendly with her, her witchy reputation escalates to the point where the children actually believe she’s a witch and become really frightened of her. Matron decides Lucy has to go. She has Lucy boarded out to another position – and pocketing her wages – so she will make a profit into the bargain.

Trust Matron to have Lucy boarded out to a coal mine, with all its horrors, dangers and dreadful working conditions. And again rumours spread that Lucy is a witch once her fellow workers see she is left handed. At least Lucy is not far from John and can slip away to tend to Midnight, who is on the mend. She stays on at the coal mine because she fears running away will lead her pursuers to John. But she gets into big trouble when she speaks out at the colliery owner, Mr Tranter, when his nasty daughter insults her. Tranter orders that Lucy be roundly beaten in front of everyone, much to the delight of his daughter – and then straight back to work without any medical treatment. None of the workers offer Lucy any sympathy because of her left hand, and she’s on the brink of collapse.

But one of John’s men has seen everything and makes a full report to him. John retaliates by holding up the Tranters. But instead of robbing them he deprives them of their coach so they have to make a very long walk, and warns them to repent how they mistreated the “left-handed lass”.

Repent? If they had any brains they would realise there was a link between Lucy and the highwayman and have her arrested. Instead, when word gets back to the mine, the idiots actually think Lucy used witchcraft to summon Gentlemen John! Well, at least their fear prompts them to release her from the mine (so that’s the end of Matron’s profit there) and she is free to nurse Midnight. However, she begins to wonder if John actually knows something about her past because of the way he reacted to the bracelet when they first met. And now there’s no sign of him.

So Lucy goes in search of John, and fortunately Midnight is now well enough for Lucy to ride her. Unfortunately the constables spot her riding John’s horse, so now she is wanted as his accomplice. She traces John to a derelict inn, and is horrified to see he is in league with some cut throats. They are planning a big gold bullion robbery, which John is going along with rather reluctantly as he does not like their talk of murder. They just say, so what? They will be hanged anyway. John says he won’t help them without Midnight, so for this reason Lucy decides not to reveal herself or Midnight to him. She heads out to Hartford Hall, where John said he was hanging around, but hears some talk that suggests Hartford Hall has a sinister reputation.

Then gypsies steal Midnight and threaten to put a curse on Lucy when she tracks them down. She decides to use her left-handed reputation to her advantage and claims she has her own powers with it. When she puts on a witchcraft act with their fierce dogs they fall for it and return Midnight. But as they do so, they say that’s no wonder she has such powers above the ordinary with that bracelet of hers. But they refuse to elaborate and tell her to get the hell out.

As Lucy nears Hartford Hall she hears more sinister rumours about it: it has been taken over by “nameless forces” ever since a tragedy occurred there. She reckons John started those rumours to scare people away from the place. At Hartford Hall she finds John, and tells him what she overheard, and tries to talk him out of it. Instead, he holds her prisoner and leaves her in the care of Nursie Kate.

When Kate sees Lucy is left-handed she says someone very dear to her and John was too. She also says John is a Robin Hood type – he steals only ill-gotten wealth and does not keep it for himself. Lucy tries to escape from the hall and warn someone about John’s plot, only to fall into a deep pool of water and John finds her. He pulls her out and takes her back to Kate for nursing. Kate also reacts strangely to the sight of Lucy’s bracelet.

Lucy falls asleep and dreams of a woman, and she calls her “mother”. Lucy explores the hall and finds a portrait of the woman. The woman in the portrait is left-handed and wears the bracelet, and Lucy realises the woman must be her mother. She then overhears a conversation between John and Kate and learns that John is her father! Her mother had been a gypsy, and her tribe never forgave her for marrying the non-Romany John. When the mother died giving birth to Lucy, John could not bear to set eyes on his infant daughter. So Kate handed her over to the gypsies, who must have abandoned her.

Lucy tries to escape again and give warning, but gets into trouble when she tries to climb a ledge. John saves her. He says he turned to being a highwayman because he was “crazed” by his wife’s death. He knew from the first who Lucy was, but her disapproval of him being a highwayman prevented him from revealing himself to her. He agrees to give up being a highwayman if Lucy will live as his daughter, and she says she knew he was not a highwayman at heart.


The splash panel of the highwayman in the first episode would immediately have anyone hooked into this story. There is something so romantic about the highwayman (though I’m sure the reality must have been very different), and possible spooky connotations as the highwayman is often associated with ghosts and hauntings. The story has a lot to keep the reader engaged. It’s a tight, engrossing plot with a heroine who not only suffers cruelty but also superstitious prejudice, a mystery to be solved, fugitive elements, exploitation, dastardly plots, and an animal to be nursed back to health. The heroine is determined to keep up her nursing of Gentlemen John and his horse even when she is collapsing from a hard day’s work at the mine or enduring the severities of the orphanage. But will she be cut down by a witch-hunting mob or something the way they think about her being left-handed?

The scary thing is, this story is not far wrong in the superstitious prejudice Lucy encounters because she is left-handed. In earlier centuries, being left-handed really could get you accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Lucy also has other skills that could also get her accused of witchcraft, such as her skills with nursing and herbal remedies, the way she handles the gypsies’ dogs, and how the black cat at the orphanage befriends her. It is fortunate for Lucy that she was born too late to become a victim of the witch persecutions themselves or be charged with witchcraft, but the witch superstitions still linger among the lower and less educated classes. And they are enough to make Lucy’s life an additional misery to what she suffers at the orphanage and the coal mine. If not for those superstitions regarding her left hand Lucy would have some helpers and friends among her fellow victims at those places. Ironically, that same reputation also helps Lucy to get out of those same situations by making her oppressors too frightened of her to bother her much further.

From the moment we meet Gentleman John and the kindness he shows Lucy we know he is not a bad sort, even if he is a highwayman. He’s the hero in the story while everyone else Lucy meets (the aunt and uncle, the orphanage staff and children, the coal mine people, the gypsies and the cut throats) is villainous, and he dishes out comeuppances to several of them. We have to wonder why he is a highwayman at all and what made him one when he clearly has no criminal mind. It isn’t hard to guess that it’s something to do with Lucy’s the bracelet from the way he reacts to it, and unlocking the mystery of the bracelet will also unlock the mystery of the highwayman. Like Lucy, we want him to give up being a highwayman, especially when he starts plotting something downright criminal with the evil conspirators. It is at this point we begin to despair of him, and even more so when it looks like he will proceed with the plan when Lucy catches up with him. It becomes even more imperative to unlock that mystery.

It’s certainly a bombshell when Gentleman John is revealed to be Lucy’s father, and he rejected her as a baby because of a bad reaction to his wife’s death. However, this being the reason for him becoming a highwayman sounds less plausible if he using it as a form of crusade, to get ill-gotten gains off unsavoury types. Some other explanation would have worked better, such as him being cheated and robbed by an unscrupulous type who got away with it. But it’s a relief all around when Lucy finally succeeds in getting her father to stop being a highwayman. Let us hope the law does not catch up with him all the same.


Force of Evil (1985-1986)

Published: Suzy #170 (7 December 1985) – #181 (22 February 1986)

Episodes: 12

Artist: Andy Tew

Writer: Unknown

Special thanks to Lorrsadmin for help with episodes and scans


It is (at the time of publication) the future year of 1990. Britain has been invaded by the dictatorial Sin-Pact forces. Their oppression is making life increasingly harsh and cruel for the people they have invaded. At home, Carol and Joe Peel’s mother has to cook meals over a meagre fire because the power has been cut. Severe food rationing is in, and later we learn the British diet is deteriorating because the Sin-Pacters are keeping certain foods, such as milk, for themselves. Curfews are introduced, and even the slightest hint of resistance against the Sin-Pacters is met with severe punishment. For example, a prefect named Howard Preston at school is arrested for burning a Sin-Pact flag, which is punishable by death. Megaphones broadcasting Sin-Pact announcements are everywhere. The letter “S”, the Sin-Pact equivalent of the Nazi swastika, becomes the most hated letter in Britain, and it is popular for collaborators to be daubed and sprayed with the letter “S”.

Emotional and psychological effects of the oppression take hold. People grow frightened, paranoid, and suspicious of anyone suspected of collaborating or spying. Hatred takes its grip and people begin to lose their reason. And this is precisely what Carol is finding out. Her father, Paul Peel, went missing the day the Sin-Pacters invaded and everyone is whispering that he has turned traitor, though there is not a shred of evidence of that (yet). Carol finds everyone is shunning her because they suspect she is a collaborator too. The kids at school whisper their fathers are joining the Resistance and don’t want Carol to overhear.

It looks like everyone’s suspicions are confirmed when Peel appears on the big screen broadcasting Sin-Pact announcements, including lists of upcoming executions and Sin-Pact rules that are updated daily. The rules begin with: “Rule One – Sin-Pact soldiers are to be afforded utmost respect. This means attacks on their persons are punishable by death. Rule 2 – Sin-Pact property is also to be respected. Theft of weapons, transport and supplies will merit the same punishment.”

Carol can’t believe her father is a traitor. She thinks he must be being forced to make those broadcasts or something, perhaps under threat of what could happen to his family. She is determined to prove her father is innocent of treason. Standing behind Carol all the way is their dog Col.

But of course everyone else thinks otherwise. Once the father starts his broadcasts, the Peels are faced with full-scale hatred and harrassent, which begins with a brick being thrown through their window. When the Sin-Pact soldiers arrive to query the vandalism, Carol covers up for the neighbours, but they don’t appreciate it one bit. They want the Peels out, especially when they hear the Sin-Pact soldiers saying the Peels are to be highly respected. As the neighbours dare not attack the Peels directly now, they hit back in more subtle ways, such as giving them food rations that are unfit to eat. And when Preston is arrested for the Sin-Pact flag burning, his family declare revenge against the Peels if he is executed.

Mum sends younger brother Joe to Gran’s farm, but she sends him home with food. They wonder if Gran has disowned them, but then Gran had always hated her son-in-law. The marriage went ahead over her dead body, and when she appears later in the story she comes across as one nasty old bat.

Despite what is happening to them, Carol won’t have a bar of the Sin-Pact soldiers and remains loyal to Britain. For example, when the Sin-Pact soldiers give them better food rations, Carol refuses it, saying they must not use enemy food. The mother says it won’t do any good to starve themseves, and has accepted everything the Sin-Pacters have given the family because they are the family of the honourable Paul Peel. This illustrates the difficult position of principle versus survival, an all-too-common situation in wartime.

The Peels hear about possible retaliation from the Preston family. Mum uses a special phone the Sin-Pacters have given her in order to talk to Officer 98z about this (he has occupied prison cells behind him marked “death row”). He arranges for them to be given false identity papers and relocated to a new town.

Carol finds the address of the ration warehouse on the box of rations and heads out to find it in the hope of tracking down her father. Col comes with her. On the way she sees her father broadcast another announcement that all builders must give priority to Sin Pact projects and miners must mine coal for export to the Sin-Pact stockpiles. When Carol crosses into Sin-Pact territory she sees watch towers being built and comments, “They seem determined to turn every British town into a prison camp.”

Then Carol runs into the Resistance and tells their leader she is looking for Sin-Pact HQ to free her father. But when the leader finds a photograph of the hated Peel on her (very bad mistake, Carol!) and she says it’s her father, the Resistance tie her up. She manages to free herself.

The Sin-Pact men arrive. The Resistance try to pass themeselves off as farm workers. The Sin Pact men say they don’t need farmers, which sounds pretty odd as they surely need farmers for food production. Most likely it is just their excuse for sending them to Furze Common Warehouse. They capture Carol too and bring her along.

On the way the truck has a road accident occurs, which enables the Resistance to escape. Carol stays on in the hope of finding her father, but it has the Resistance becoming even more convinced she is a spy.

At the warehouse Col is taken to patrol with soldiers; a soldier says dogs are not for friendship but to enforce discipline. A Trustee (a prisoner who reports misbehaviour in exchange for lighter work) takes Carol to the barracks. A prisoner pushes a large box on the Trustee from above, which hurts her leg. Carol realises she will be next for an ‘accident’ if anyone at the warehouse finds out who her father is. She steals an opportunity to smuggle herself to Sin-Pact HQ in a food truck, but Col unwittingly spoils her escape when he joins her in the truck, so the Sin-Pact men find them.

However, the Sin-Pact men recognise Carol, for they have been on the lookout for Paul Peel’s daughter. They send her to rejoin her family at Gran’s farm. Gran has always branded Dad a bad lot; Mum had to defy her in order to marry him and Gran clearly still resents that. She is also angry at how Sin-Pact is taking the produce she makes for themselves. Gran starts taking it all out on her relatives, especially Carol, who still protests her father is innocent of treason.

Then there is a broadcast from Dad announcing the latest lineup of people who have been executed. Among them is Howard Preston. Joe throws a welly at the TV screen because he is so disgusted at how Dad is smiling as he reads out the death list and says he never wants to have anything to do with his father again.

Gran sees kids stealing her crops and chases them off. The kids call her a meanie who can’t begrudge a few carrots and turnips to the starving. As they take off, they call Gran a “mean old witch” (we certainly agree) and say they will burn an effigy of her alongside the one of the “Sin-Pact guy” they are going to burn that night.

That night Carol discovers the effigy of the “Sin-Pact guy” means her father, and realises what will happen to her family if these hate-crazed people find out they are related to him. Gran is not concerned at seeing Dad being burned in effigy, but takes umbrage at the sight of her own effigy joining him in the fire. She blames Carol, saying it’s her fault for running away, and calls Carol a spy that Sin-Pact planted on her. Gran now makes Carol take her meals outside, and Mum does not stand up to Gran.

Being forced to eat outside makes Carol vulnerable to more harassment from the villagers. They call her an informer, daub “S” on her clothes and equipment, and then throw her into a trench and open the sluice gates on her. Carol is in real trouble because she cannot swim.

Then a mysterious figure appears and helps Carol out with a rope. He disappears before she can get a good look at him. He leaves a note telling her to leave the area immediately and don’t stop to say goodbye at the farm. Carol decides to have another crack at finding Sin-Pact HQ. Mum and Joe join in; the stranger had left a note explaining the attempt on Carol’s life. Mum apologises for not standing up to Gran.

They all set off, stopping at a diner for food. However, the Sin-Pact men arrive, looking for travel papers. The waitress offers to help them to hide in the kitchen, but betrays them and locks them in. They smash a window to make it look like they have escaped while in fact they are hiding in the disused frying cabinets.

The Sin-Pact men fall for the ruse. But the Peels have to double back through the café to collect Col, which means they could be spotted again. They hide under the Sin-Pact lorries, and hear a broadcast recalling the lorries to Sin-Pact HQ. The lorries go north, so the Peels head in that direction too. The waitress is not rewarded for betraying the Peels.

However, the Peels have to walk there, and it begins to tell on their feet and shoes. They bump into a girl who says Sin-Pact is requisitioning her ponies for transport, but she suspects it’s for food. The Peels offer to help – and getting themselves some transport – by taking the ponies away before Sin-Pact does. Assuming the Peels are from the Resistance, the girl agrees.

As the Peels ride along, Carol discovers she is the only one left in the family who believes her father is not a traitor and there must be a good reason for his conduct. Even Mum has come to think he is the traitor everyone says he is.

Then, while watering the ponies, Carol and her family bump into the Resistance leader. The Resistance leader now thinks Carol is not a spy, just a loyal, misguided daughter who genuinely believes her father is innocent, though he does not. They set off for Sin-Pact HQ with ammunition stolen from them. However, a signal had been put in the ammunition pack, at Peel’s suggestion, which gets them discovered and captured. All members of the Resistance are being rounded up and put in a shed at Sin-Pact Headquarters. Peel does not even seem to recognise his own son, and for the first time, Carol begins to wonder if her father is a traitor after all. It looks like Col the dog is turning traitor too, because he jumped into the staff car with Peel, looking so happy. Or is the dog the only one left who does not believe Peel is a traitor?

On Peel’s orders, the Sin-Pact men direct the prisoners to put on protective suits to test their efficiency. The prisoners think the suits are defective and it’s a ruse to kill them all. But as soon as the prisoners don the suits, the Sin-Pact soldiers are surprised to see the gas flooding in ahead of schedule and they are all knocked out.

From a loudspeaker in a helicopter, Paul Peel speaks: He is really a British agent working undercover as a traitor and collaborator. His infamous broadcasts were in fact coded messages. The gas will keep the Sin-Pact soldiers unconscious for 15 minutes, during which time the Resistance are to tie them up, commandeer their vehicles, and load the vehicles with as many weapons as possible. They are to rendezvous with units at secret checkpoints waiting for those lorries and weapons. Clearing out Sin-Pact is not expected to be too difficult because the Sin-Pact leaders have now been captured. So Carol’s belief that her father is innocent of treason has finally been vindicated!

When Dad lands, he is demanding explanations as to why his family is present; he had expected them to stay out of trouble after the way he had to rescue Carol from the trench. Carol explains that she could not believe he was a traitor and was trying to prove it. Dad appreciates the family loyalty and apologises for what he had to put them through as part of his cover. They are quite understanding and are so glad to be together again.


If this story had appeared in one of DCT’s more common titles like Bunty or Mandy, or been reprinted in Bunty (the title Suzy merged into), there is little doubt it would still stick with people and be well remembered. Instead, it has fallen into obscurity because it appeared in a less-known title that is very hard to find these days. Hopefully this story will now receive more well-deserved recognition. It’s not just because it’s such strong stuff from beginning to end. It’s also because there arguably has never been anything quite like it in girls’ comics before. I certainly haven’t seen anything like it elsewhere, anyway.

There is some hint Sin-Pact may not occupy the whole of Britain (the British government is still around somewhere, though underground). Perhaps the country is divided into an occupied zone and a free zone, as France was during World War II. Or maybe they do occupy the whole of Britain, since the British Government has gone underground. In any case, their invasion has been so recent they are still setting up their occupancy; for example, they are still building their watch towers.

The story gives no details on exactly who the Sin-Pact invaders are, where they come from, or what their political and religious dogmas are. They have an Asian look, but their “S” emblem is clearly English. There is no mention of a leader or founder of Sin-Pact a la Adolf Hitler. Just how or why they invaded Britain is not discussed either, and there is no mention of international intervention. Nor does the story explain just what “Sin-Pact” means (but we can imagine the jokes about it!).

There have been zillions of stories where the protagonist has to pretend to be a collaborator who’s in with the bad guys in order to be the secret helper, and in so doing suffer the hatred of the very people she is trying to help in secret. “Catch the Cat!”, “Detestable Della” and “Hateful Hattie” are some of the better-known of these stories. However, the reader usually knows that the supposed antagonist of the story is in fact the secret protagonist and is with her all the way. But not in this case. Paul Peel as the secret helper working undercover as a collaborator is not revealed until the end. Until then, the story is taken from the viewpoint of the people who assume he (or she) is the hated collaborator and do not know that he/she is in fact the secret helper.

There have been other stories where the secret helper is not the protagonist but the apparent flunky of the main villain, such as Jojo the Clown in Tammy’s “Circus of the Damned”. At first the flunky has the protagonist fooled, but gradually clues emerge that has the protagonist suspect the truth. But that does not happen in this case either. No clues are forthcoming that hint Paul Peel may in fact be a secret helper; all the way until the end he looks a traitor.

“Force of Evil” also draws on the formula of a father being wrongly accused and the daughter setting out to prove his innocence while he’s in prison or on the run. Except that this case we don’t even know if the father is innocent but he sure is acting like he’s guilty!

“Force of Evil” uses all these basic formulas, but is so unique in turning them completely inside out in the way it does. The story keeps the reader guessing right up to the end as to where Paul Peel’s loyalties actually lie and why he is working with Sin-Pact. Is he a genuine traitor or is there a good reason for his actions, as Carol hopes and believes? We have no clues to help us, only Carol’s loyalty and faith against all the evidence that looks so black against him. Her mother and brother hope that, but eventually they get worn down and come to belive he must be a traitor. And when it looks like Peel has betrayed his own family, Carol finally begins to wonder if she has been a victim of false hopes after all.

The story very cleverly has Carol never guessing that her father might actually be working undercover. If that had happened it would have given the whole game away for the reader. Instead, she always assumes her father is doing it under duress, but her father’s such a good actor that even Carol herself begins to doubt that towards the end. Thank goodness she didn’t need to wait too long to get her answer!

It is also unusual that the main figurehead of the villainy is the one who is the secret hero. Paul Peel may be a ‘flunky’ for Sin-Pact, but they are such colourless and indistinct villains that none of them can be called a main villain. The only one out of Sin-Pact who gets any distinction as a main villain is Paul Peel himself, until he is revealed as a pretend villain.

The Sin-Pact villains would be developed more if Carol had been conducting a one-girl war of resistance against them as the protagonists do in stories like “Catch the Cat!” and “Wendy at War”. But although Carol remains staunchly opposed to them, her fight is not with them. Her goal is to prove her father’s innocence, and this pits her against the the face of public hatred. And it is for this reason that the people who hate Carol’s father or assume Carol is a collaborator emerge as far more powerful and dangerous villains than the Sin Pact men. They also more distinct characters, particularly the horrible Gran, who is far more rounded than any of the Sin-Pact men. We are not at all sorry to see Gran burned in effigy, even if we’re still not sure about the effigy of Paul Peel.

The story does not shy away from the grimness of war and callousness of enemy occupation, and people’s psychological and emotional reactions to them. As they say, it is bringing out the best in people and the worst in others. Even supposedly decent people are reverting to a more animal level as starvation, desperation, hatred and trauma take hold. Others are using it to unleash axes to grind; Gran, for example, is clearly using the whole situation to vent long-standing hatreds towards her son-in-law and make excuses for carrying out the nasty behaviour that is clearly her nature.

It makes no bones about the horrors of lynch mob behaviour towards even suspected collaborators, which makes it an even darker wartime story. It also shows that different reactions to war and occupation can divide households. Carol, for example, refuses to have anything to do with receiving enemy supplies but her mother thinks there is little choice but to do so. The debate over whether or not the father is a traitor also has the family quarrelling. All the same, the mother and brother tag along with Carol to find Sin-Pact HQ, even if they don’t believe the father is innocent as Carol does.

While other people have reverted to more bestial behaviour, Carol is one who never loses her courage, principles and compassion, not even in the face of all the horrible treatment she gets on all sides. She takes time out to help others despite her own problems, such as the girl who is about to lose her ponies to Sin-Pact. She has far more backbone than her mother, who does not stand up for things she believes in as much as Carol does. She does not even stand up to her mother for her horrible treatment of Carol. This may be rooted in Mrs Peel’s upbringing; from the looks of it she grew up under the thumb of a domineering mother and it was not until she married that she began to think for herself. But even as an adult, it looks like Mrs Peel still has problems exerting her will and being assertive when needed. No wonder Gran hates her son-in-law. We can just see the look on her face when he receives his knighthood and OBEs (those are coming, surely?) and being honoured as the man who saved Britain by making himself the most hated man in Britain!

Sleeping Beauty from the Stars


On the stern planet Xerox, a beauty queen is banished to the planet Peutridd for playing practical jokes. En route to Peutridd, she escapes aboard an Earth space capsule and falls asleep. On Earth, she is awakened Sleeping-Beauty style by a kiss from reporter Percy Prince. With Percy’s help she takes the name of Stella Saturn and gets a job as a fashion model. But when the Xeroxians discover Stella’s escape they send two of their Collectors to recapture her, which forces her and Percy to go on the run.

Sleeping Beauty



  • Sleeping Beauty from the Stars –  Mandy: #958 (25 May 1985) – #969 (10 August 1985)




Billie Brewster lived with her Aunt Cora in Paradise Flats, Wolverley. Aged thirteen, Billie was fanatically keen on athletics, particularly running. But her running had landed her in trouble with the School Attendance Officer and with the Wolverley Education Council.

Tough girl Billie returned in several sequels (with a new artist) including when she runs away from Paradise House, a home for girls. She is trying to track down Mr Watt, the father of one of the girls in the home.


(Billie Olympics Here She Comes- 1976, Art: Andrew Wilson)


(Billie at Paradise House – 1980)


  • Art: Andrew Wilson (Billie Olympics Here She Comes)
  • The three sequels were drawn by the same unknown artist


  • Billie – Olympics Here She Comes – Mandy:  #493 (26 Jun 1976) – #505 (18 Sep 1976)
  • Billie – Mandy: #569 (10 December 1977) – #578 (11 February 1978)
  • Billie – Mandy: #643 (12 May 1979) – #653 (21 July 1979)
  • Billie at Paradise House –  Mandy:  #722 (15 November 1980) – 738 (7 March 1981)


Little Phantom of the Opera


In Victorian times, Evie lives secretly in the old Opera House and keeps herself well hidden because she fears the workhouse if discovered. She discreetly helps out at the theatre and comes to the aid of performers with problems. This starts rumours of a friendly ghost in the Opera House.



  • Art: Len Potts


  • Little Phantom of the Opera–  #272 (1 April 1972) – #288 (22 July 1972) [no episode in 283]
  • Reprinted – Mandy:  #715 (27 September 1980) – #730 (10 January 1981)
  • Reprinted – Mandy: #1199 (6 January 1990) – #1212 (7 April 1990)


The Girl with Flaxen Hair


According to an old family curse, flaxen-haired Rosemary Polworth is not to see the second full moon after her thirteenth birthday. Rosemary does not believe it, but runs away rather than see her parents suffer on the night she is foretold to die. However, the parents send an agent out to find her, and he is not a pleasant type.




  • The Girl with Flaxen Hair –  Mandy: #637 (31 March 1979) – #649 (23 June 1979)