- The House of the Silver Sword– Diana: #01 (23 February 1963) – #07 (06 April 1963)
- Suzette of the Silver Sword – Diana: #86 (10 October 1964) – #93 (28 Nov. 1964)
- Suzette of the Silver Sword – Diana: #178 (16 July 1966) – #186 (10 September 1966)
- Suzette of the Silver Sword – Diana: #212 (11 March 1967) – #219 (29 April 1967)
- Suzette of the Silver Sword – Diana: #264 (09 March 1968) – #275 (25 May 1968)
- Art: Don Walker (series 1-2), Jesus Redondo (series 3-5)
One of the first stories to appear in the Diana comic, although only 7 episodes long, it returned for a further 4 series. The story follows a promising young fencer, Suzette Jamieson. In the first series The House of the Silver Sword, 14 year old Suzette is determined to become a great fencer like her famous ancestors. Her teacher advises her she shows promise but needs more that 1 lesson a week if she wants to win the Championships. Suzette knows this won’t be possible as her parents struggle to afford what they do provide, but then a letter from her Aunt Claire arrives. She has invited Suzette to stay with her, as her mother has described her as bossy and bad-tempered, Suzette isn’t sure about the offer, but her parents tell her it is a good opportunity. Her Uncle Henry, a famous fencer will be able to give her daily lessons during her stay. Meanwhile at Beaugarth house, Aunt Claire and Uncle Henry are discussing Suzette’s arrival. Aunt Claire wants to make sure their home and the famous silver sword that has been passed down through the generations is left to a true Jamieson. Her other niece, Glenda, has been a disappointing swords-woman in that regard. Glenda overhearing this, starts scheming against Suzette as she wants the fortune for herself.
While Glenda acts nice to Suzette, two serious accidents happen after her arrival, the canopy on her bed falls down and sharp piece of metal is left in her glove. Luckily she escapes both incidents unscathed. Her Uncle Henry is much kinder and softer than Aunt Claire but also no fool, right away he suspects Glenda of having a hand in the accidents and tells Suzette, but she can’t believe someone would be so spiteful. Glenda continues her campaign against Suzette, she slashes a painting of ancestor and sets Suzette up to take the fall. Henry clears her name by proving she couldn’t have reached so high. Then on the day of the qualifiers she sends a fake telegram saying Suzette’s father is ill and she needs to return home immediately, luckily a train mix-up means Suzette finds out her father is fine and gets to compete in the heats for qualifying for championship. As a last desperate attempt Glenda throws Suzette’s fencing gear in a duck pond. Glenda is exposed, although Suzette has to go to competition in the soiled gear. This leads to mockery by the other competitors, and she has a run in with her biggest competition, Moira Parr. Despite these obstacles, Suzette goes on to win championship and weeks later Suzette now the owner of the silver sword also has her portrait added to the Jamieson collection at Beaugarth House.
When Suzette returns in the sequels the stories are now known as Suzette of the Silver Sword. In the 2nd series Suzette’s father’s business is failing, and she has no choice but to sell her silver sword for some money. As she is about to sell it she sees a young girl, Wendy Carstairs, being terrorised by some toughs. Suzette scares them off and is offered a job by Mr Carstairs as companion to his daughter, he also buys the silver sword but says she can use it any time and he would also like her to teach Wendy to fence. Since moving to the house, there has been a campaign to get the Carstairs out. Wendy who has already lost her mother, is a very timid and scared girl, Suzette helps protect her and also build up her confidence. Suzette helps fight off the gang attacking the house several times, and also does some investigating. Finally they pretend to leave the house for good and see that the gang had hidden stolen jewellery in the house which is why they wanted the Carstairs out. While waiting for the police Suzette and Wendy keep the gang occupied. Mr Carstairs in gratitude says Suzette can keep the silver sword and the money from the reward for her father.
In the third series, Suzette is in Austria, to compete in a Fencing Contest. After a minor bus accident she gets separated from group and comes across a girl being attacked. She saves the girl, Annalise and is invited back to castle where she lives with her guardians, the Wagners. Suzette is told Annalise is due an inheritance but only if she can prove she is a good swords-woman like her ancestors by taking a test on her 16th birthday. Annalise while technically good, has been put off by the attacks and then the appearance of the Black Swordsman, a fencer dressed all in black who Annalise thinks is the ghost of a man who killed an ancestor 100 years ago. While Suzette certainly doesn’t believe in ghosts, it does seem he has knowledge of the castle with an ability to disappear quickly (it turns out there are secret passageways in the castle). In discussion with the Wagners, it seems the likely culprit is Annalise’s cousin, Rudolf, who will inherit everything if she fails her test. Suzette spars with the black swordsman several times and also with the return of the men who attacked Annalise the first day she met her. Suzette comes up with the idea to pretend Herr Wagner was badly injured in one of these skirmishes, this finally gives Annalise the motivation to fight back. Together they take down the Black Swordsman and his hired men, and reveal that it was Rudolf behind the mask. Annalise does well on her test and has proven herself honourable and brave, deserving of her inheritance.
In the 4th series Suzette is hired to teach a group of actors to fence for the parts in the play “The Three Musketeers”. The lead female is Sara Lawrence but someone uses her fear of spiders against her shocking her and harming her voice. Suzette first suspects her understudy Joan may have a hand in it as she has the most to gain, but Joan is quickly cleared. The next likely suspects is one of the men playing the musketeers, especially after an accident at fencing practice where the swords button is removed. The “Spider Man” continues to strike at Sara, and also Suzette to stop her interference. She is lured into a trap where she is bitten by black widow spider, but luckily is found and brought to the hospital in time. After another encounter with the Spider Man, Suzette narrows her suspects down to two, Tony who plays D’artagnan or John who plays Porthos. After nearly drowning at the hands of the Spider Man, Suzette helps set up a trap luring him out with Sara’s return to stage. She catches John in the act of trying to attack Sara, but with Suzette’s swift actions, John is bitten by his own spider. John had attacked Sara to get revenge on her father who had paralysed his sister in a car accident. Then they reveal Sara is still safe and it was her understudy pretending to be her. For the actual show Sara is able to return and have a successful performance, sharing applause with Suzette for all her help.
In the 5th series Suzette is forced to be bodyguard to Julie Diamond by her crook father when he kidnaps her parents. Things are dangerous as rival gang run by Costello wants to get Julie as revenge on Diamond, but Julie does not know any of this so is quite annoyed to have Suzette around all the time. Julie meanwhile wants to star in an ice show, which makes Suzette’s job more difficult but she convinces her to audition in disguise under a pseudonym. Julie proves she can get the part without her father’s name. Julie makes the mistake of trusting her friend Rod, he plans to betray her for money, but Diamond gets to him first. He tells Julie he paid him off, but actually has him locked up in part of the house. Suzette has some sympathy for Rod after seen he has been beat up, but he tries to use her sympathy to escape. He is foiled but now Suzette is more on her guard. When Julie’s disguise is accidentally exposed at a rehearsal, Suzette has to join the show to protect her. It all comes to a head when Costello’s men come to ice rink and attack, a fight breaks out between the two gangs while Suzette tries to protect Julie. The Costello gang are defeated but one confesses it was revenge for Diamond taking jewels that Costello had robbed. Diamond goes to jail and the Jamieson’s are released. Suzette attends the ice-show and ca friendship has grown between her and Julie, se knows she wasn’t aware of her father’s criminal activity and will continue to be there to help her of her own free will now as a friend.
When reading the first series, it seemed like a standard story of a jealous relative trying to make protagonist look bad while acting nicely to their face. It is not a story that I thought would spawn many sequels and yet Suzette continued to have adventures, although very little in common with the first series. She is of course and an accomplished fencer, which comes in handy, but her inheritance, Beaugarth House, aunt and uncle aren’t even referenced again after the 2nd series. Instead she ends up finding herself with mysteries to solve and young girls to protect. There are some common threads across some of the series such as Suzette happening upon girls being attacked is an occurrence in 3 of the stories, (although in the last series it is a set up by Mr Diamond to test her) and her teaching 2 of the girls fencing, but all the stories stand on their own. It’s funny in the first series Suzette seems a little naive, not believing her cousin could be so nasty, whereas in later series no-one if above suspicion for her, perhaps her experience made her less trusting.
While the first couple of stories were fine, personally I think the stories got stronger later, the fifth story is my favourite. While she is still a fencer, they don’t feel the need to make that a big point in the 5th story, Julie has no interest in learning fencing unlike Wendy and Annalise in the earlier stories. In the 4th series it makes a change to have Suzette unknowingly teach the antagonist about fencing, and Sara who she protects is a singer. In the fifth series they go a step further, the only time fencing is used is for defense, Julie has no interest in fencing but proves herself an excellent skater. It is nice that the friendship grows between her and Suzette, as she starts of a bit antagonistic towards her. This story also has the most stakes, as Suzette’s parents are kidnapped so their well-being is dependent on her doing a good job body-guarding Julie.
Diana had high quality paper and really gives the artists to show their range, Don Walker in the first 2 series really can show his range with more shading. The first series goes into more particulars about fencing, I am not that familiar with the sport but the stances do look convincing to me, so I believe Don has done good job depicting the sport. I do like his work, but Jesus Redondo is really the best on this series, though that may be in part due to him given more interesting things to work with in the later series. It is interesting to see this earlier style of Jesus, while recognisable as his, it is a lot more subdued than his later work.