On this day, 2 March 1974: Valiant and TV21
On this day, 2 March 1974 ... that David Attenborough off of the wildlife programmes on the telly might have seen giant turtles and the flying snake of Borneo, but has he ever seen Victorian elasticated escapologist extraordinaire Janus Stark free himself from bondage in the basket of a hot air balloon, reanimated Ancient Egyptian Kid Pharaoh defy drowning while chained to a chunky chum at the heel, time-travelling tough guy Tim Kelly (Kelly's Eye) bounce back a bombardment of bullets in a Wild West wrangle, or a clutch of callow cadets from the School of Spies recce a rotten research station? Probably, in fact, if IPC sent him a courtesy copy of this issue of Valiant.
If you haven't yet heard the latest instalments of John Wagner's brilliantly revealing and entertaining conversations with Michael Molcher on the 2000AD thrill-casts then I can't recommend them enough, not only for Wagner talking about Judge Dredd but for the insights into his earlier years in and out of IPC/Fleetway - his work on some of the girls' comics, Battle and then Valiant, of which he was appointed editor towards the end of its run. He is pretty scathing about the general content of Valiant when he took over, and this 1974 issue is a good example of what he was talking about. I enjoyed hearing him voice particular opprobrium for Captain Hurricane, possibly my least favourite of all IPC comic strips.
Last time I wrote about Valiant I focused on the Kid Pharaoh strip. At the risk of becoming boring I have to single out this one again simply because I still find the audacious storytelling quite fascinating, and also because – intentional or not – there seems to be a gay subtext to the story, which is interesting in the sense that it’s highly subversive for 1974. It's hard to argue that the story doesn't have a homoerotic tone, at least if one is looking for it, and in this latest adventure Kid is manacled to the ankles (manankled?) of another wrestling buddy, Frank Jennings, for the crime of 'grappling in Pyrania' - which sounds fairly euphemistic to me.