On this day, 12 November 1977: Action
On this day, 12 November 1977 … Following its return from the ban in late 1976, Action struggled to reclaim the popularity it had enjoyed in the first eight months of its run. It limped through 1977 for another 50 issues with a line-up of heavily sanitised comic strips before today’s publication which announced that it would be merged into Battle. It was a mercy killing. The content was barely recognisable from the visceral Sevenpenny Nightmare which had created such scandal in the summer of 1976. In this final issue I counted seven on-page deaths – three in Dredger, two in Hook Jaw and two in Hellman on the Russian Front – none of which displayed any form of dismembered body or actual blood wounds (Hook Jaw came closest with a trail of blood in the water after the shark had closed his chompers on his villainous victims). The language is fairly mild: ‘You stupid oaf!’, ‘Rubbish!’ and ‘Four-eyes!’ is about as bad as it gets, apart from Dredger’s casual racism which appears to have a free pass. Even that chap who looks exactly like Battle sub-editor Steve MacManus but isn’t really him is distinctly less lairy.
On reflection, there is little to set this final issue of Action apart from the likes of Lion or Valiant, which it had been intended to replace, but in a comic which had been created with the intention of offering something completely different the more traditional tone of storytelling was never going to work. Through long, hard experience I’ve learned that it’s hopeless to try to be something you’re not to try and please the established ways of the world; Action could have taught me that lesson a long time ago.