On this day, 8 June 1985: Battle Action Force
On this day, 8 June 1985 … Battle Action Force circa 1985 mostly comprises some battles, some action and various degrees of force. Old favourites Johnny Red and The Sarge are still going, as is Charley’s War Mark II (the post-Pat Mills version set in the Second World War), and half the comic is occupied by the Action Force toy tie-in strips. My heart sank a little when sitting down to read this issue because I suspected it was mainly going to be lots of shouting and explosions and angry men.
But buried in the middle was something a little different. The Nightmare stood out for me because it’s drawn by Mario Capaldi, whose clean lines and solid shadows I know from Misty, Jinty and Tammy. It’s a more sensitive style than I’m used to finding in Battle, lending itself to good storytelling rather than exploding aeroplanes. I enjoyed this episode of The Nightmare – in which a young lad, Ian Wilson, is on the run across Britain during the Blitz, pursued by a shadowy assassin who has already put his parents into comas – and was prompted to read as much as I could find in my collection from the rest of the story. The Nightmare was quite a saga – running from January 1985 to October 1986 – and very much a story of two halves. The first half, mainly drawn by Capaldi, was set in Britain and had a relatable, realistic if unlikely feel to it; the second half, mainly drawn by Jesus Redondo, in which Ian is taken to Germany and forced to join the Nazi Youth, has a more fantastical feel but remains a strong human narrative to it. It’s hard to feel a great deal of warmth for Battle during these last few years of its proud run, but The Nightmare is a hidden treasure worth uncovering.