Review – The Best of The Victor 50th Anniversary Edition

Editor – Morris Heggie

Publisher – Prion Books Ltd

The Victor was an anthology comic launched by iconic British publisher DC Thomson back in 1961 and is your classic boys own adventure comic, it was full to the brim of squared jawed heroes taking on insurmountable odds or undertaking certain death missions but who were always home in time for a nice cup of tea at the end of the day and if they could teach the toffs a lesson along the way so much the better.

The Victor contained a unique mixture of strips that included war stories (both real life and fictional tales), sport, adventure and short written word stories. Issue number one sold a staggering 497,786 copies and by the mid 1960’s the comic’s weekly circulation was in excess of half a million copies. Unfortunately all good things come to an end and The Victor closed its doors on the comic world in 1994.

So here we are in 2010 with The Best of Victor 50th Anniversary Edition. The first thing to say about this book is that it’s absolutely stunning, you can really see the love that has gone into producing this hard back collection. The Victor’s front cover stories are lovingly reproduced throughout in the original coloured artwork while the strips themselves are black and white there are a few stories with red added to the mix as well. The pages also have a suitably aged appearance which just enhances the overall feeling of both quality and nostalgia.

Then there are the stories themselves, yes some of the language used has dated, the dialogue can be a little groan inducing at times and there are racial stereotypes abound (the Germans are Jerrys and the Japanese are Japoons – Ouch) But what you have to keep in mind is that the comic is a product of it’s time and also would you really wanted to read a cleaned up politically correct version? So if you can get over these little indiscretions you’re in for a treat.

They also don’t shy away from the odd violent death Morgyn the Mighty especially has some inventive deaths involving a host of jungle animals – more on that later. The artwork throughout is excellent and the draughtsmanship alone of the aeroplanes in the World War 2 strip I Flew with Braddock is a sight to behold.

Some of my particular favourites in this book were

Tough of the Track these stories are about working class hero Alf Tupper the Tough of the Track. Alf is the everyman hero, an exceptional athlete who always seems to run into trouble, usually brought about by the skulduggery caused by the Toffs at his running club. But Alf is a tenacious chap and always makes it to the track just in the nick of time, allowing him to run and invariably win, all fuelled it would seem by his love of fish and chips.

Morgyn the Mighty is The Victors homage to the Tarzan adventures. This collection brings together the strips entitled Seven Trials to Morgyn the Mighty. Morgyn is reputed to be the strongest man in the world and when Ompopo Valley is invaded by seven of the world’s deadliest hunters a game of cat and mouse ensues. Things get pretty rough for the ‘baddies’ quickly with Morgyn on their case and a few of them are dispatched to the great game reserve in the sky via some highly unusual methods usually involving Morgyn’s friends which happen to be the local wildlife. One of the hunters called Maurice has a particularly grisly death when he pulls a hidden gun on Morgyn only to be attacked by a monkey called Bobo and pushed into a river full of crocodiles – aieeee

Gorgeous Gus I think out of all the strips really needs to be seen and read to be believed. The Earl of Boote (see what they did there) is the new owner of Redburn Rovers Football Club. But not only is he the owner, he’s the clubs new centre forward who possesses a literally goal busting shot and is a real goal machine. Problem is The Earl of Boote or Gorgeous Gus as he is christened by the folks on the terraces (because of his airs and graces) if a bit of a fuss pot who likes creases in his shorts, his team mates passing him the ball ‘just so my man’ and he also has a habit of banging in a couple of goals into the back of the net and then waltzing off. Adventures and hilarity are abound as it’s up to the clubs beleaguered manager and Gus’s faithful butler Jenkins to make sure he shows up for games in the right attire and that he also stays for the whole game. Along the way Gus also teaches a football playing bully a few firm lessons, Huzzah for Gorgeous Gus!!!!

Also a special mention has to go to The March of the Prickly Giant a story that involves a giant hedgehog rampaging through the streets of London which is just a brilliant slice of B Movie inspired madness.

As a kid growing up in the 1970’s I was always lucky enough to get The Victor annual every Christmas, so this collection was a massive and welcome trip down memory lane and I loved every single page of it.

For me the only thing missing from this collection was the story The Taxi that went to War from the 1978 annual which was a firm favourite of mine back in the day but to be honest I’m just nit picking and as the editor Morris Heggie says in the introduction “I apologise to readers whose personal favourite I have clipped from these pages. My aim was to form the contents into one giant best-remembered edition of the Victor Comic”

This is a brilliantly put together love letter to a bygone era in comics that anybody who read British comics as a kid would be delighted to own and it would also make a welcome addition to any comic lover’s collection.

Reviewed by

GS Rating – 5/5. “Found U-boat, sunk it! Estimated time of arrival fifteen thirty hours. Put the kettle on” Sergeant Matt Braddock

GS Reviewer – Nick Roberts @nickroberts101

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