Thunderbirds: “Blazing Danger!”

Writer: Alan Fennell

Artist: Frank Bellamy

Original run: TV Century 21 #52 – #58

Much like how “The Earthquake Maker” introduced me to the wonderful strips of TV21, “Blazing Danger!” introduced the world to Thunderbirds as an exciting and substantial force to be reckoned with as a comic, and not just a TV show. 2417073-tv_century_21_v1965_052__1966__pagecover

The first Thunderbirds strip to delight readers via the dynamic duo of scribbler Alan Fennel and doodler Frank Bellamy, “Blazing Danger!” packs an almighty punch with a script that’s heavy on the thrills and has some nice world-building elements to boot. The artwork is a blitzkrieg of explosions, dramatic panelling and gorgeously drawn vehicles – which also give way to an odd sensation when reading the strip. The Thunderbird vehicles illustrated by Bellamy are rather different in style to Bellamy’s usual drawings. They seem far more rooted in being as realistic as possible, as do the characters, who appear more human and less puppet than in any other Bellamy-drawn Thunderbirds strip. Given that this was the first ever Thunderbirds strip, such differences in style can be put down it being early days.

“Blazing Danger!” is set in the very early days of International Rescue, and begins with Lady Penelope and Parker arriving for the first time on Tracy Island and being introduced to the Tracy family via Jeff. At this point, Thunderbird 5 is unmanned, which gives way to International Rescue being involved in a deadly forest fire via John overhearing a radio conversation between Lincoln, a ruthless baddie who wants to take over Canadian Engineering from his fishing friend, and his cohorts. 2417078-tv_century_21_v1965_057__1966__pagecover

His plan is to kill his friend and make it look like an accidental forest fire, which he’s in fact responsible for, but in true TV Century 21 fashion the fire gets out of control, and its up to the Thunderbirds to save both Lincoln and his friend.

The story itself has an enjoyably predictable pace to it – villain’s plan goes awry, Thunderbirds arrive to save both parties, all appears to end on a happy note. However, the story kicks up a few gears when the impending fire spreads to nearby homes and Lincoln succeeds in stealing International Rescue equipment in order to make his escape!

A race against time puts several of the Tracy brothers in danger, and allows Scott to show his more brutal side as he tries every trick in the book to stop Lincoln from escaping.

“Blazing Danger!” introduces the bare bones of the Thunderbirds concepts to new readers in a tightly scripted and visually powerful manner. While Bellamy would go on to gain a more unique, and frankly better, style of artwork when drawing the adventures of International Rescue, “Blazing Danger!” fires on all cylinders as the perfect introduction to Thunderbirds as a comic strip.

Have you read “Blazing Danger!”? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments section below!

You can read “Blazing Danger!” in Carlton’s ‘Thunderbirds: Classic Comic Collection’ and ‘Gerry Anderson: The Vintage Comic Collection Vol. 1’!

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