On this day, 19 June 1971: Jet
On this day, 19 June 1971 … Have you ever had a Cadbury’s Creme Egg easter egg, all wrapped up in the proper foil, and hoped that this year, finally, they might have fulfilled the promise of the packaging and made it into a proper, giant Creme Egg, with a thick chocolate shell and filled with sticky, gooey fondant, but you unwrap it and bite into it only to discover that it’s just another hollow egg? I’m sure you have. Well, in my opinion Jet is the Cadbury’s Creme Egg easter egg of IPC comics of the 1970s and 1980s. Or, more simply, the Sea Monkey™. Jet always looks as though it’s going to be bloomin’ fantastic, with exciting, colourful covers, and stories based on brilliant, totally bonkers concepts, but bite into it – or let it hatch in a tank of water with specially-formulated Growth Food™ solution – and one finds that it’s all a bit nothingy.
I know, I know, I’m a middle-aged twenty-first-century man looking for substance in something written forty-five years ago for kids. But I do think this was all a bit disappointing, even compared to what else was being produced in adventure comics at the time. Perhaps Jet was intended for a slightly younger readership, and deliberately played up the humour (it later merged with Buster rather than Lion, Valiant or Tiger). That’s all fair enough but it just seems a bit of a mismatch with how it’s presented.
Von Hoffman’s Invasion is probably the pick of the bunch in this week’s issue, as the Nazi scientist’s one-man blitzkrieg on rural Britain sees him create a pack of giant doggies. Bala the Briton, offering such promise with its dramatic cover image, turns out to be two pages of lots of beardy men talking about myths and legends. The log-rush towards a wall of deadly spikes is actually the cliff-hanger at the end of this week’s story so there’s no pay-off to the cover tease at all.
Elsewhere, The Dwarf is a diminutive criminal mastermind outwitting Superintendent Smarmy of the Yard through technical jiggery-pokery and his ability to hide in small spaces. Sergeants Four sees Alf, Taffy and Jock (the English one, the Welsh one and the Scottish one, believe it or not) steal a tank in order to rescue a birthday cake from a French patisserie for Big Paddy (the Irish one). Adare’s Anglians is the most hilarious and mind-boggling of the lot, as the honorable but time-frozen subjects of New Anglia, a tiny, forgotten British Atlantic island, put together a football team to avenge England’s shocking elimination from the World Cup.