On this day, 29 January 1977: Battle Picture Weekly and Valiant
On this day, 29 January 1977 … The one hundredth issue of Battle Picture Weekly has a dynamic, content-packed cover and the pages within live up to the hype. This must have been a fantastic comic to have and to read forty years ago – in a period (in which Action had been sanitised after its ban, and the launch of 2000AD was still a month away) otherwise lacking in thrill-power. I’m sure some readers may have been feeling a little shell-shocked following the traumatic final instalment of D-Day Dawson in issue 99, but this will have sent excitiment levels soaring again.
Most worthy of mention here is the first episode of Johnny Red, a story which would run for ten years as possibly Battle’s best-remembered tale. Johnny Redburn was a 19-year-old seaman in the Merchant Navy, regretting having failed his pilot training after being wrongly accused of assaulting an officer. This opening instalment provides the flashbacks to Johnny’s past and launches him into the skies on a path that will see him join the Russian air force.
Another new story is the soulful Joe Two Beans, plotting the journey of tight-lipped Native American soldier with a mysterious past. British secret agent Mike Nelson returns to the comic in the moody Operation Black Death, as do the convict patrol that is Rat Pack – deliciously teamed up here with another of Carlos Ezquerra’s creations, the louche Major Eazy. Favourites Darkie’s Mob, Panzer G-Man and One-eyed Jack all continue from the previous week to complete a stellar line-up, and the treats are rounded off with an info-packed cut-out-and-keep illustrated dictionary of World War II.