Saturday, 25 February 2017

Comic - The Incredible Adventures of Janus Stark

Throughout the sixties and seventies British comics were never really at ease with superheroes, the big weeklies still all being about plucky fighter pilots and aristocratic footballers with an emphasis on some mooring in the real world. When they did try the strain resulted in some of the oddest heroes and villains seen in comic form, not to mention a great number of anti-heroes - the British Invasion of the eighties was as odd as it was because guys like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison had grown up with strangeness like The Spider and the House of Dolmann along with their issues of Batman.

One of the more popular curios was Janus Stark. Inhabiting the penny dreadful Victorian England, Janus was a near-inexplicably (there was some vague hand-waving about him having a flexible bone structure - British comics certainly didn't do origins, you read what was on the page and were happy with it) rubber-limbed escapologist who found fame in the music halls. Naturally he wasn't just a performing turn but a champion of the underdog who used his abilities to right wrongs and redress cruelty against fellow weirdos.

Created by Tom Tully, long-time writer for The Steel Claw and Kelly's Eye and later for The Robo Machines, with art from Argentine maestro Francisco Solano López, at that point in his career on the run from the Junta for his part in some satirical works, Janus started out having adventures in Smash!, where he had taken over from reprints of Fantastic Four (and was thus seen as something of a nod to Mr Fantastic) and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Cursitor Doom and His Sporting Lordship until the title folded in 1971. Janus was popular enough to actually survive the dreaded amalgamation that followed however, and continued in the pages of flagship book Valiant.

This strip comes from the 1977 Valiant Annual (though it was likely a reprint by then, the weekly had folded shortly before and Fleetway's M.O. was to use backlogs for the strip sections of the annuals by this stage) and features Stark going up against some not especially PC pirates during a trip to provide "our lads" in the Crimea with some much-needed amusement.


No comments:

Post a Comment