Original run: TV Century 21 #130 – #136
Artist: Frank Bellamy
Writer: Alan Fennell
Politics was something that the Anderson’s puppet shows always seemed to be a part of but was played down immensely. These were of course shows designed mostly for children to enjoy, and having references to government goings on the futuristic worlds of 206-whenever would surely go over their little heads. That doesn’t bother “The Revolution” however, and in doing so TV Century 21 gave readers one of the best Thunderbirds stories never seen on TV.
“The Revolution” mixes a truly dramatic rescue with treachery in underprivileged communities who aim for the same prize, but use very different methods. The story itself hows the darker side of the seemingly perfect futures that Gerry and his team were keen to project in their TV shows. Foreign third-world settlements were unseen in Thunderbirds, but here they play a vital role.
“The Revolution” concerns a band of Nicaraguan citizens who attempt to cause a small amount of havoc for their greedy, uncaring government to hear via causing damage to The President, a newly launched atomic liner. Their plan goes astray when they manage to run the huge ship aground, but cause the canals to burst and flood their homes. All the while, several Nicaraguan rebels take matters into their own hands and threaten to kill those on-board the liner. International Rescue find themselves doubly full when having to deal with a stranded ocean liner that’s causing villages to flood and rebel soldiers making the situation worse through violence.
This strip is simply glorious. End of.
Oh, you want to read more about it? Alright then.
The initial villain of the strip, Juan, is one of the most balanced villains in all Thunderbirds fiction. Initially using his plan to run the liner aground, he never wishes to injure anyone in the process, and is shocked and disgusted when his plans go wrong. He even manages to save Gordon from being crushed by the shifting liner in Thunderbird 4.
The plot itself has a brilliant level of pace to it, as the Thunderbirds attempt to save the liner without realising several particularly nasty rebels lie to nearby army forces and tell them that International Rescue has come to help the rebels destroy the liner.
The strip itself, while glorious in its execution of story, has a rather bittersweet ending. The liner is saved, but Juan’s reason for attacking the liner in the first place is to better his life for himself and his surrounding communities. That’s never truly resolved, and in fact Juan’s admission of his faults lands him in even further trouble.
But “The Revolution” still packs a whopping punch – the action, the drama, the rescues, and the artwork are all explosive – quite literally, as there’s several scenes near the end where the Nicaraguan army attack Thunderbird 1 and 2 believing them to be rebels. In just those panels alone, Bellamy shows us all why he was such a force to be reckoned with.
Despite its uneven ending, “The Revolution”, with its mixing of politics with dramatic rescues, gives International Rescue one of the finest comic-based adventures its ever had. Viva el Thunderbirds indeed!
You can read “The Revolution” in Eaglemoss’s ‘Gerry Anderson: The Vintage Comic Collection Vol. 5 and Ravette’s ‘Thunderbirds to the Rescue’!