Comic Book / Commando
Commando For Action and Adventure
, formerly known as Commando War Stories in Pictures
, and colloquially known as Commando Comics
, are a series of British comic books
that primarily draw their themes and backdrops from the various incidents of the World Wars I and II. The comic, still in print today, was an Alternate Company Equivalent
to the earlier Battle Picture Library
and War Picture Library
series, which have since been discontinued. The comic is noted for its distinctive 7 × 5½ inch, 68 page format that became a standard for these kinds of stories.
The general tone is more The Guns of Navarone
than Saving Private Ryan
; the horrors of war are still there, but they don't overpower the stories. Over the years, the "Boy's Own Adventures" attitude has been toned down a bit, but it's still a mostly optimistic view of war, viewing it more as a necessary evil than a fun time for the boys.
This comic book contains the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Few and far between, as the stories tend to take place during WW2 and before. However, Soviet Lieutenant Yana Belinky, a pilot belonging to the infamous Night Witches is this in spades. Particularly notable that she is shown to be perhaps the most toughest and most capable character in the entire three part "Nachthexen Saga" - she is an ace pilot, quick witted and can survive in wilderness even while recovering from a bad leg injury. She is simply put, badass. She was also the first female lead character ever in Commando, appearing first in the story "Operation Nachthexen " in 2013.
- Another recent, notable female character is Dr. Jane Mallory who is an agent of the "Office of Scientific Investigation" (OSI). She can also hold her own in battle, is a remarkable undercover agent and has intense rivalry with Guy Tenby, an MI-6 agent who leads the Convict Commandos.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: DC Thomson published Commando which was clearly inspired by War Picture Libraries from rival publisher IPC.
- Anyone Can Die: And they do.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: In Charlie's Tank, a group of plucky British soldiers trapped in occupied France liberate a World War I tank from a museum and use it to escape the Nazis.
- One of the weirdest examples has to be when an old Panzer Mark IV breaks itself out of a museum once it gets hit by a freak lightning, coming to life in the late 70's to avenge something that happened decades earlier during the last days of WW2.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Quite a few mavericks and lone wolves appear in Commando, and more often than not they're left to get on with things because they're that good at what they do, any eccentricities are overlooked.
- Depending on the Writer: Can often mean the difference between, for example, US troops being a bunch of okay guys who want to help others live as free as they do or stupid/overconfident/touchy Yanks who think they can do whatever they want, whether The Big Guy is a Gentle Giant or a Boisterous Bruiser, or whether or not All Germans Are Nazis.
- General Failure: One of these usually turns up - often on the British side. The reason they're allowed to be a Bad Boss is because he's got a relative who's high-up in the ranks. One issue decided to play it Up to Eleven, and have a stupid Italian officer whose uncle was Benito Mussolini.
- Gratuitous German: Usually German commands, ranks, swearing and interjections, and usually grammatically correct.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Usually made by the aforementioned General Failure to make up for being such a Jerk Ass.
- Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: Rarely happens as actual underwater combat - usually in the most historically common version; that is, sinking another submarine that has surfaced with deck cannons or torpedoes. One particularly sad example is when a gloryhound Nazi officer manages to sink his own submarine by disregarding safety precautions when using a then state-of-the-art acoustic torpedo.
- Laser-Guided Karma: There has never been a Karma Houdini in any issue of Commando. Ever.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The standard reaction to anything which possibly affect fate, such as good-luck charms.
- The Neidermeyer: Officers who aren't well liked by the enlisted men often show up. If they're seen from the perspective of the troops, they're usually of the aforementioned General Failure type, but when they're an important character themselves, their story is typically about them winning the respect of their troops. A relatively popular example is to team up a unit of rough and ready ANZACs or a snarky American, usually a Texan, with a by-the-book Englishman.
- It's not too uncommon to have a Sergeant Rock mistaken for a Neidermeyer.
- One-Man Army: Occasionally shows up in quite a few stories. In particular, Gurkhas tend to be depicted as cunning but extremely skilled badasses who are willing to fight off entire Japanese battalions by themselves.
- PG Explosives: As mentioned in the "Editing Commando" chapter of the 2011 50 Years A Home For Heroes, the editors kept a close eye out for any unduly gory scenes in close-ups.
- Pin-Pulling Teeth: Not featured as much as you'd think, but they're certainly there.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Ties in with PG Explosives above, as the aim was to avoid any images that were deemed too gory.
- Recurring Character: Usually averted, owing to the fact that that there's too many to keep track of. However, Commando has been sneaking in a few recurring characters over the years, mostly by writers who are so established within the company that they can more or less get away with it.
- The most notorious example is the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits Ramsey's Raiders, who've made it through an astonishing 17 issues. That's a lot.
- A recent addition are the Convict Commandos first appearing in 2011, and have since appeared in 24 stories to date. The convict commandos are, as their name would imply, formerly imprisoned soldiers now working for their pardon in all kinds of covert operations. Despite their nickname none of them have actual commando training, save perhaps their leader Guy Tenby, an MI-6 agent and a soldier as tough as they come.
- Shown Their Work: Commando staff pride themselves on knowing the ins and outs of the armies they depict.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Started going closer and closer to cynicism throughout The '80s and The '90s, but since the Turn of the Millennium its taken a few steps back to a happy medium.
- Survivor's Guilt: Is a common trope, particularly in, but not limited to stories involving aerial combat. Commonly a bomber pilot loses half or his entire crew, or a fighter pilot loses his favourite wingman or the whole wing. It usually makes them become the heroic version of The Atoner, Death Seeker, or Not Afraid to Die, or any combination thereof. Often it is revealed however, that not everyone died as they believed, or that they are somehow convinced it was not their fault (often by the other survivor), and almost always they get over it at the end of the story.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Given this comic's long life, every example given on this trope's page has come up at least once. Though it's far from unusual to see at least some Nazis depicted as honest, dutiful and brave, albeit on the wrong side.
- Translation Convention: All of the characters, regardless of nationality, appear to speak English even if there are no native-English speakers present. Exclamations such as "Himmel!" and "Mein Gott!" and insults such as "Dummkopf!" and "Schweinhund!" usually go untranslated, however.
- Upper-Class Twit: Often an officer, who is also The Neidermeyer
- War Is Hell: Usually present, and various issues take pains to point it out.
- Whole Episode Flashback / How We Got Here: It'd be quicker to list the issues of Commando that don't use these tropes.
- Worthy Opponent: A frequent trope, usually a patriotic officer or soldier who disdains Nazis.
- Yellow Peril: With the success of The Bridge on the River Kwai, this became more popular during The '70s, and considerably less so afterwards, thanks to a healthy dose of Values Dissonance. In fact, the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy seem to have disappeared altogether from modern Commando issues.
- Not counting reprints, the last time was probably in 1993. And even then, it was mostly about a Japanese-American being The Mole for the Allies.
- #4002 Borneo Prince and #4003 Island Of Terror! are both from 2007. Both involve the Japanese.
- As of recent, Commando issues seem to be featuring the Imperial Japanese army, navy and air force again, although not as much as issues involving the Nazis.