Thunderbirds Comic: Volume 1 by Gerry Anderson and Frank Bellamy
|Thunderbirds Comic: Volume 1 by Gerry Anderson and Frank Bellamy|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Not quite F-A-B, but this series of reprinted original classic comics looks like providing a worthwhile hit for many a nostalgia fan.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 48||Date: August 2014|
|Publisher: Egmont Books|
Meet the Thunderbirds. If you don't know anything about the Tracy family and their International Rescue organisation, then I'm not sure where you've been. For people of a certain age (OK, mine, at least) they were the staple of Saturday morning cinema clubs, a highlight of BBC2 when repeated teatime, and even managed to make those 3D rotating card-a-vision things worthwhile. They've been in cinemas since then, of course, but now with the world needing everything everywhen we've got a welcome chance to look back at some of the original comic book spin-offs, that probably haven't been much seen since then. With five volumes of these books on the cards, it's worthwhile sticking to the first and seeing just what these retro delights – or otherwise – could bring.
Well, surprisingly, things hold up well. I know there's no Internet surveillance and mobile phones, but when frantic signals flash back and forth there's still an urgency to the drama that doesn't look dated. Here we get a madcap plan based on manmade earthquakes in Iran, a mysterious ship returning from the depths of the solar system that needs saving at all costs, and problems with the first day of a new highway between Antarctic mineral reserves and Australia. All three adventures are presented in six, seven or eight double-page spreads, that were the centrefolds for 1960s comic TV Century 21, with little in the way of wasted space or recapping, and the economy of the format also helps the energy of the stories.
With the only credit going to artist Frank Bellamy, it's hard to know who to thank for these works, but the team behind them knew their stuff. There's a raft of cliffhanging moments, lots of drama and baddies that are immediately recognised by the team if not us, and you can never be sure given the enemies involved exactly what's going to happen.
I might for any other franchise say the comics were doing what the TV series couldn't, but this isn't the case here – for Thunderbirds was always famous for giving us the adventure and thrills that a minuscule budget and some imagination could provide. So it's no surprise here to see Brains hanging by his fingertips on a cliff-face, the International Rescue craft avoiding missiles with aplomb, and more. What you don't get is also worth note – it's disappointing there's no Thunderbird 3 at all in this first triple bill, and with the snappiness of the stories you certainly don't get the long-drawn-out, oft-repeated yet ever-so-watchable launch sequences. There's no great pay-off – certainly two stories here end with some pathetic non-quip, and there are no modern sensibilities – this is 2067 and we still have noble savages in jungles and people evoking the curse of Irzan.
But beyond that are many merits – notably, to repeat, the drive of these short dramas, and of course the chance to revisit what we once knew and loved in new yet of-the-time action pieces. The fact the comic artwork hardly changes the Tracy faces from their original puppet forms is testament to how iconic the series was, even back in its day, and this cycle of books is bound to be a piece of how it's recalled with pleasure even in these allegedly more sophisticated days.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
For more retro comics, we recommend the series including Modesty Blaise - The Young Mistress by Peter O'Donnell and Enric Badia Romero. Old-fashioned sci-fi hardly comes much better in graphic novel form than Meteor Men by Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell.
You can read more book reviews or buy Thunderbirds Comic: Volume 1 by Gerry Anderson and Frank Bellamy at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Thunderbirds Comic: Volume 1 by Gerry Anderson and Frank Bellamy at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.