On this day, 25 May 1974: Valiant and Lion
On this day, 25 May 1974 … This merger must have been a big one its day – a coming together of two heavyweight titles, equivalent perhaps to Eagle’s takeover of Tiger in 1985, or Buster incorporating Whizzer and Chips in 1990. Valiant was not quite twelve years old in May 1974, while Lion had been on the shelves more than twenty-two years. Both had been huge names on the Fleetway then list in the 1960s, but as the mid-seventies approached it looks as though they were dating fast. Valiant, the younger of the two comics, was the winning title in the merger and so entrusted with the readership base of Lion. This was probably Valiant’s last big change to turn the ship around (although it took over Vulcan in February 1976, that was essentially an anthology of reprints), but sadly it wasn’t enough and Valiant was folded into Battle in October 1976.
The headline story here is the joining up of two stories in Captain Hurricane Meets Steel Commando. I’m no great fan of Lion’s Steel Commando but Valiant’s Captain Hurricane is possibly my least favourite serial of all that I cover regularly on Great News For All Readers so I feel sympathy for the big tin trooper. After that opening four-pager, it’s interesting to discover that only a few other Valiant strips make it into the new publication, namely Kid Pharoah and the humour strips Challenge Charlie, Billy Bunter and The Nutts. Lion brings Adam Eterno, Zip Nolan and Mowser to the party. Then, refreshingly, there are a good quantity of completely brand new strips for either title: modern-day Robin Hood gang The Lincoln Green Mob, competition-based The Lost World-style Valley of the Giants, Injun-based western Trail to Nowhere …, and, pick of the lot, time-travelling sorceror’s apprentice Danny Doom. Danny at least would have been better off transporting to a different time and place – 1979’s Tornado would have been a better home.