Battle

a.k.a.: Battle Picture Weekly, Battle Picture Weekly and Valiant, Battle Action, Battle Action Force, Battle Storm Force

Publisher: IPC

Format: Weekly anthology title

First Issue: 8th March 1975

Last Issue: 23rd January 1988

Absorbed: Valiant, Action

Absorbed into: Eagle

Strips: Action Force, Battle Badge of Bravery, Battle Honours, The Black Crow, The Bootneck Boy, Canine Corporal, Carver, Charley's War, Cold Steele, The Commando They Didn't Want, Cooley's Gun, Coward's Brand on Bradley, Crazy Keller, The Dangermen, Darkie's Mob, D-Day Dawson, Death Squad, Destroyer, Dredger, The Eagle, Fighter from the Sky, Fighting Mann, Flight of the Golden Hinde, Gaunt, The Fortrose Falcon, The General Dies At Dawn, Glory Rider, Great Escapes, Hellman of Hammer Force, HMS Nightshade, Hold Hill 109, The Hunters, Iron Cross of Courage, Invasion!, Invasion 1984, Joe Two-Beans, Johnny Red, King of the Yanks, Kommando King, Lofty's One Man Luftwaffe, Major Eazy, Merrill's Marauders, El Mestizo, Night of the Jackal, The Nightmare, One-Eyed Jack, Operation Shark, Panzer G-Man, Private Loser, Rat Pack, Rattling Rommel - the battle-scarred war wagon, The Red Baron, Ryan's Revenge, Sailor Small, Samurai, The Sarge, Sergeant Without Stripes, Skreamer of the Stukas, Soldier Sharp - The Rat of the Rifles, The Spinball Wars, Storm Force, Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain, The Team That Went to War, They Can't Stop Bullet, Unknown Soldier, War Dog, The Wilde Bunch, Yellow Jack, Y for Yellow Squadron

Comments: As two of the largest producers of comics in Britain, IPC and D.C. Thomson regularly tried to match one another's successes. Thus, when D.C. Thomson's new Warlord title proved highly successful when launched in 1974, IPC tasked freelance writers Pat Mills and John Wagner to work with IPC editor David Hunt in developing a war-themed comic to target the same market. Developed in secret, Battle Picture Weekly debuted in March 1975 with a starting line-up featuring Rat Pack, D-Day Dawson, Battle Honours, The Bootneck Boy, Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain, Lofty's One Man Luftwaffe, Day of the Eagle and Flight of the Golden Hinde, plus a done-in-one text story, The Headfirst Hero. Once Battle Picture Weekly proved itself to be firmly established, Mills began working on a new title, Action, while Wagner transferred to Valiant, a former IPC powerhouse which was now suffering from ailing sales.

As ever with British weekly anthologies, there was a rapid turnover of series, with new stories brought in as old ones concluded. Two that would prove enduring were Major Eazy and Darkie's Mob; the first of these would even cross over with Rat Pack. Meanwhile Wagner's attempt to save Valiant proved unsuccessful, and on 23rd October it was absorbed into the now-retitled Battle Picture Weekly and Valiant, with One-Eyed Jack, Soldier Sharp - The Rat of the Rifles and The Black Crow all making the transition, joined by new strip Panzer G-Man. The hundredth issue introduced Joe Two-Beans and Johnny Red, the latter of which would go on to become the title's longest running series. More new series followed, including El Mestizo, Operation Shark, The Sarge and Gaunt, before another merger, this time with Action on 19th November 1977, changed the title to Battle Action and shook up the line-up once again, bringing in Dredger, Hellman of Hammer Force and The Spinball Wars.

Over the next few years Battle Action remained relatively stable, introducing new tales including Crazy Keller, Skreamer of the Stukas, The General Dies at Dawn and Fighting Mann. But without question, the most notable addition was the epic Charley's War, considered by many to be the best British comic strip ever produced. Despite this, by 1982 sales were beginning to decline, so the comic was retitled simply as Battle, and shifted its focus away from war stories, adding Truck Turpin, The Hunters and The Fists of Jimmy Chang. However, sales continued to drop, so when IPC struck a deal with Mattel to produce comics based on the revamped Action Man toys, and in July 1983 an Action Force strip was added to Battle. When this proved highly popular, promotional Action Force mini-comics were included in IPC titles over five subsequent weeks, and then on 8th October Action Force was added as an ongoing strip, with the comic being retitled Battle Action Force. The toys began to dominate the title, with further tie-in strips being added, with only Charley's War, Johnny Red and reprints of older tales not part of the licensed material. On 4th October 1986 Charley's War concluded, and then disaster struck when Marvel snatched up the Action Force rights, causing their abrupt departure on 29th November 1986. The only non-reprint strip was now Johnny Red, and editorial elected to swiftly conclude that too, taking long-running writer Tom Tully off the series then rushing the strip to an end three weeks later, on 17th January 1987. A week later the comic renamed itself Battle Storm Force as it added in new series Storm Force, a clear attempt to copy the recently departed Action Force. Other than this, the only new series was Invasion!, with the rest of the comic rounded out by reprints. Battle's days were numbered, and the last issue was published on 23rd January 1988. A week later it merged with Eagle, with Storm Force and reprints of Johnny Red and Charley's War making the transition.

1975
In the first issue:


D-Day Dawson


Lofty's One-Man Luftwaffe


The Flight of the Golden Hinde


The Bootneck Boy


The Eagle


Battle Honours


The Terror Behind the Bamboo Curtain


Rat Pack

Later additions in the comic's first year:


Coward's Brand on Bradley


The Fortrose Falcon


Battle Badge of Bravery - "True stories of heroic boys at war!"


King of the Yanks


They Can't Stop Bullet


Sergeant Without Stripes


Destroyer! - 15th November, 37th issue


Merrill's Marauders - 15th November, 37th issue


Great Escapes - 15th November, 37th issue


Y for Yellow Squadron - 15th November, 37th issue

1976


Iron Cross of Courage - 10th January, 45th issue


Major Eazy


Ryan's Revenge - 14th Feb, 50th issue


Cold Steele


Fighter from the Sky


The Team That Went To War


Hold Hill 109!

Unsung Heroes of War
12th June, #67

Rattling Rommel
10th July, #71

Yellow Jack


Darkie's Mob


Operation Shark

Unknown Soldier

One-Eyed Jack - 16th Oct, #86


Panzer G-Man

Soldier Sharp

The Black Crow

1977


Johnny Red

Joe Two Beans

Operation: Black Death


El Mestizo


The Sarge

Gaunt

Sea Wolf

The Red Baron
Sep 24, #134

Dredger
Nov 19, #142

Hellman


Spinball Wars

Secret Force
24 Dec, #147

1978


Crazy Keller

Samurai

Skreamer of the Stukas

The General Dies at Dawn

1979


Charley's War

HMS Nightshade

Glory Rider

Canine Corporal - Jun 16, #223

Carver - Sep 15, #236

The Dangermen

Kommando King

War Dog

1980


Cooley's Gun

Death Squad


Fighting Mann

1981

The Wilde Bunch - Jan 3, #296

The Commando They Didn't Want - Apr 11, #310

Sailor Small - Sep 12, #332

Devil Water - Sep 26, #334

Clash of the Guards - Oct 3, #336

Storm Attack - Dec 26, #347

1982

Fighting Regiments - Jan 16, #350

Fighter From the Sky

Truck Turpin - Feb 27, #356

The Hunters

The Fists of Jimmy Chang

Fight for the Falklands - Aug 21, #381

1983

Jetblade - Jan 1, #400


Invasion 1984 - Mar 26, #412

The Douglas Bader Story

Action Force - Jun 4, #422

Operation: Bloodhound - Oct #8, #440

Q-Force

Desert Strike

Attack! - Dec 3, #448

Sky Raider

Tank Hunt - Dec 17, #450

1984

The Black Major - Jan 14, #454

Action Force

The Coward - Nov 3, #496

1985

The Nightmare - Jan 19, #507

1986

Night of the Jackal - Dec 6, #605

1987

Death's Head - Jan 3, #609

Storm Force

Invasion!

Cosmic Cowboys - Sep 19, #646

Battlehawks - Oct 31, #652

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