Thursday 20 July 2017


From 1988: Last Issue Alert!  Years after the first predictions of its impending demise, BATTLE was finally overwhelmed by enemy forces (the enemy being changing tastes and a changing market) and plucked from the battlefield by - yup, you guessed it, EAGLE.

Given the deadlines and the on-sale date, it's easy to imagine that this issue, number 673, was put together just before the staff broke for the Christmas holidays and the end-of-year break.

By this time, despite the better printing that IPC/ Fleetway had switched to the previous year, BATTLE was a mere shadow of its former self.  The loss of the ACTION FORCE franchise had done some serious damage (although Marvel's glossy successor was faring little better in a tough market) and Stormforce, their in-house successors were more gimmick than traditional military might.  Charley's War and (as seen here) Johnny Red were really holding the fort... although one or both may have slipped into reprints by this point.  Overall, BATTLE followed the same slow decline as the other IPC weeklies... more and more reprints as budgets got tighter and tighter.

IPC had launched BATTLE back in March 1975 to counter the early success of WARLORD, launched by DCT the previous September.  Marvel UK also had a crack at their own me-too weekly, FURY, but that didn't work out so well.  Battle eventually outlived Warlord, which closed in September 1986.  The genre champion was, without doubt, Warlord's older sibbling VICTOR.  Launched in January 1961, it didn't retire from active service until November 1992.

Battle folded into EAGLE, management's go-to title for failing comics.  It's almost surprising that SUPERNATURALS and RING RAIDERS didn't go the same way but Fleetway opted to burn-off the remaining inventory from both early cancellations in end-of-run one-shots.  Stormforce had already been appearing in Eagle for a month-or-so, presumably part of a plan to prepare for the merger.  Or an indicator that the Eagle was also short of material pre-merger.  Charley's War and Johnny Red remained Eagle mainstays for the rest of its run.


  1. Might we suggest that DC Thomson's "Commando" was the progenitor of all of these War comics, and continues to outlast them to this day? (If wikipedia is to believed, it launched in 1961.)

    I'm not sure, perhaps Commando had a different audience to weekly anthologies. Any opinions?

  2. Interesting. I would lump COMMANDO in with the other - numerous - picture library digests of the time. Particularly WAR PICTURE LIBRARY (2103 issues between 1958-84) and BATTLE PICTURE (1706 issues between 1961-84). Both from IPC.

  3. I bow to your superior knowledge here. I was a US comic reader from an early age so the home-grown UK stuff is all a kind of mishmash in my mind.


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