Category Archives: Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds: “Chain Reaction”

Original run: TV21 #227 – #234

Writer: Spencer Howard (aka, John Theydon?)

Artist: Frank Bellamy

Often regarded as the last great Thunderbirds story in TV21, “Chain Reaction” rightly deserves that title. It’s a rip-roaring, world-destroying (sort of!) story that sees International Rescue put just about all their resources to use as they battle one of their toughest enemies yet – nature!

“Chain Reaction” initially follows International Rescue’s attempts at diverting a space freighter falling to Earth on a crash-course for San Francisco. Although a diversion into the Pacific is successful, the freighter , colliding with a dormant volcano, triggers a series of natural disasters that threaten to spread virus-like unless International Rescue can act fast – even if that means getting caught in the crossfire of erupting volcanoes, vast tidal waves, and land-destroying earthquakes!

A Tracy brother sacrificing his life? Pretty normal day for TV21 then!
A Tracy brother sacrificing his life? Pretty normal day for TV21 then!

The most apparent element of “Chain Reaction” is the plot device of nature being the villain of the day. Such an element was actually something that was hinted at in the television series, with several episodes using the effects of nature to counterbalance the technological wonderland of 2065 (think “The Mighty Atom”.). Here however, such a tactic is exploited to its full potential, with the end result being a riveting story that commands an inventive use of the Thunderbird craft as they battle nature’s disasters. Nowhere in this strip will you find your usual Thunderbird-1-holds-something-up-whilst-waiting-for-Thunderbird-2-plot-fodder. TV21 stories always made room for delivering new and exciting methods for the Thunderbirds to rescue people.

The people in need of rescuing here however are perhaps the one bad thing about this strip. An island full of tribesmen is in the line of an earthquake, meaning International Rescue have to save them. The use of tribesmen may be somewhat politically incorrect by today’s standards (cue their stereotypically shocked reaction of seeing a Thunderbird for the first time), however the flip-side of this is that they arguably lend “Chain Reaction” that vintage, retro-futuristic flavour.

Perhaps another way “Chain Reaction” doesn’t quite work is Frank Bellamy‘s artwork.

Now now children, no need to throw your toys out of the pram!

“Chain Reaction” has all the usual jaw-droppingly gorgeous illustrations and colours that we expect to be the bare minimum in a Bellamy-drawn strip. However, throughout “Chain Reaction”, Bellamy’s panel work looks crumpled and rushed, such as the space-based first instalment’s first page. It doesn’t totally spoil the strip as such, far from it, as much of the strip is drawn with depth and perspective. But the minuscule panels do pop up across the whole strip, suggesting there’s an unshakable feeling that Bellamy was perhaps tiring of his work with TV21. After “Chain Reaction”, Bellamy would only illustrate three more Thunderbirds adventures: “Jungle Adventure”, “Danger in the Deep” and “Seeking Disaster”.

Bloody Hell!
Bloody Hell!

Nevertheless, “Chain Reaction” is a raucous story for Thunderbirds, despite its shortcomings and a feeling of the overall adventure for Thunderbirds in TV21 drawing to a close. The plot itself, rumoured to have be written by John Theydon (the man behind those glorious paperbacks!), skips along at a brisk pace, and has a magnificent scope to it, thanks to multiple location changes and an aforementioned creative handling of all five Thunderbird craft in action.

Their are moments when the Tracy boys feel slightly out of character, due to their excessively grim reactions to the shifting disaster that plague their mission, not to mention a captured Scott almost being sacrificed by the tribesmen! But if anything, we can perhaps take this as another clue to the strip being penned by Theydon rather than Alan Fennell.

There have been instances in Thunderbirds‘ history where pitting International Rescue against more primitive forms of technology resulted in some admittedly underwhelming story-telling, but here it all works splendidly, as the climax sees I.R. having to shift the  unreasonable tribesmen from their island home before it’s destroyed. The balance between the uncooperative tribesmen, who can’t understand the danger their in (cause, you know, tribesmen and all… !) and the natural disasters looming towards everyone makes for a grand tale of high adventure and danger.

“Chain Reaction” is a testament to how TV21‘s slimming of multiple plot strands made for concise yet breath-taking content. Trimming down the story and characters to their barest essentials in an effort to fit them within the scaled confines of a comic but without loosing any sense of scope, what you’re left with is a thrilling ride for all.

Is “Chain Reaction” in your top Thunderbirds comic strips? Let us know in the comments section or send us a Tweet! You can read “Chain Reaction” in Egmont’s Thunderbirds: The Comic Collection Vol. 1 and Egmont’s Thunderbirds Comic: Vol. 4!

Thunderbirds: “Brains is Dead”

Original run: TV21 #162 – #167

Writer: Scott Goodall

Artist: Frank Bellamy

#162
TV21 #162

Brains is murdered! The Thunderbirds are destroyed! Tracy Island sinks! Jeff lamps one right up the Hood’s conk! I should probably apologize if you’re unfamiliar with TV21 and all those spoilers have ruined this particular Thunderbirds strip for you. In all honesty however, given the very name of this strip, one almost feels like they can say whatever they like about it without worrying about those dratted spoilers.

But spoilers aside, “Brains is Dead” is another pretty darn tootin’ encapsulation of how the TV21 comics did things the TV shows couldn’t. Unfortunately, “Brains is Dead” is dragged to almost subterranean levels due to Scott Goodall‘s convoluted script and unfamiliarity with Thunderbirds. We’ve covered a handful of Goodall-penned Thunderbirds strips – “The Antarctic Menace”, a weirdly violent strip yet strong all the same. “Revolt on Jupiter”, solid enough, but would probably have been better off as a Fireball XL5, Zero-X or Captain Scarlet strip. And lastly, “The Earthquake Maker”, a fairly bog standard Thunderbirds adventure, but one I hold close to my heart as it was my first ever experience of TV21!

Well if you're not going to bother SOUNDING like Brains then Gordon will probably think he is indeed still dead!
Well if you’re not going to bother SOUNDING like Brains then Gordon will probably think he is indeed still dead!

“Brains is Dead” stands as yet another entertaining enough outing for the Tracy family, but someone really should have sat Goodall down with the series bible and make sure he was glued to it from cover to cover! As the title implies, Brains is seemingly electrocuted at the hands of the villainous Hood, but just like a 1960s rapscallion, the Hood has a far more devious plan up his sleeve, one that involved the near-total destruction of Tracy Island!

For all the notoriety this strip has for a member of International Rescue seemingly being killed off, it’s the invasion of Tracy Island that makes this story such fun. Frank Bellamy, ever the legend, takes Goodall’s clunky script and pumps as much life into it as he can. His depictions of the Hood and his menacing army (when did the Hood find the time to recruit one of them anyway?) blasting away sections of Tracy Island are to die for!

However, Goodall’s script remains downright dodgy. Unlike the Stingray strips, which were often simply not that exciting, Goodall’s script is riddled with plot-holes. One of the biggest ones for me is when Jeff and Kyrano discuss launching Thunderbird 4 to go after the Hood’s army once their attack on Tracy Island reaches an interlude. The villains have succeeded in damaging Thunderbird 2, leaving Kyrano perplexed as to how TB4 can be launched. He’s adamant that TB4 can’t be put into action without TB2, meaning that he and Jeff have to drag Pod 2 (yep, Pod 2, not Pod 4!) to the beach and send TB4 off from there.

bid2
Devious artwork with devious character lets you know how devious he is!

Goodall clearly missed “Terror in New York City”, as an awful lot of fuss is made in getting TB4 to as close to the beach as possible! Likewise, he seems to think Tracy Island is completely lacking in any female influence whatsoever, as Tin-Tin and Grandma aren’t seen or heard of at all. “Brains is Dead” is littered with moments like the above, including moments where characters’ personalities just don’t match up to their TV counterparts (just look at how much fun Kyrano has with that laser gun!), a lack of familiarity with the internal running of International Rescue (Scott and Virgil are seen just chilling out in their uniforms), and unresolved moments in the story itself. The biggest of these is probably whatever becomes of Alan. The Hood’s army manages to obliterate TB3 mid-launch, but we never know if Alan survived!

Even the Hood’s plan has more holes than the M21 during rush hour. Why does he disguise himself as Brains? Where did that pair of glasses come from that Gordon treads on? Does the Hood really have to dispose of Brains completely once he discovers Tracy Island? And has mentioned, where, why and how does the Hood has a heavily armed group of mercenaries prepared to do his bidding?

TV21 #167
TV21 #167

“Brains is Dead” stands apart from other TV21 strips for all the wrong reasons. It has some interesting and exciting ideas, but its execution is nothing short of a shambles. Bellamy does what he can, but it’s almost as if his glorious artwork only highlights everything that doesn’t work with Goodall’s story. I wouldn’t blame you if you chose to give this Thunderbirds adventure a miss.

Is “Brains is Dead” not high up on your list of favourite Thunderbirds strips either? Let us know in the comments section below! You can read “Brains is Dead” in Egmont’s Thunderbirds: The Comic Collection Vol. 1, Egmont’s Thunderbirds Comic Vol. 2 and Ravette Books’ Thunderbirds: Shockwave!

Thunderbirds: “Solar Danger”

Original run: TV Century 21 #83 – #98

Writer: Alan Fennell

Artists: Frank Bellamy (#83 – #92), Don Harley (#93 – #98)

TV Century 21 #86
TV Century 21 #86

I guess it was only a matter of time before we got round to reviewing this juggernaut – seriously, this strip is  HUGE! It ran for nearly twenty issues in TV Century 21, that’s five months, nearly half a year! The fifth TV Century 21 adventure for International Rescue, “Solar Danger”, aka “Destination Sun”, “Operation Sunburst”, and “That One with the Giant Space Monster and the Sort of XL5 Crossover”, offered readers a dizzyingly fun début adventure for Thunderbird 3, but how does it stand up?

Pretty darn well, if you want a short, sweet review – but let’s expand!

“Solar Danger”, not unlike the first TV Century 21 tale for the poor man’s Tracy brothers those square-jawed space daredevils in Zero-X, “Solar Danger” is essentially two stories in one, with the first story aflame with some badass cosmic rescuing as Alan and Brains attempt to stop the sun from creating a meteorite colossal enough to destroy Earth. Spiralling out from their efforts, story number 2 then sees Alan and Brains having to tango with some Jurassic Park-worthy space monster on Venus.

solar1
That’s no moon, that’s a space stati… wait, no it’s not!

From my perspective, it’s rather difficult to review this as one story, because both the tales presented to us here are vastly different, even though one directly following on from the other,  but the division between stories is heightened by Bellamy taking on the actual sun-based part of the story whilst Harley tackles the Venus half. It’s not quite as loose as how “Talons of the Eagle” sequels “Mission to Africa”, but it’s close. Because of this, I’d be tempted to give “Solar Danger” a thumbs down. Was Fennel so excited at the thought of Thunderbird 3 getting its own adventure nearly a year after Thunderbirds had been introduced in TV Century 21 that he thought “F**k it!” and gave us two stories at once?

Mind you, both of these adventures are equal in their enthralling level of entertainment, the one thing TV Century 21 constantly mastered (put your hand down Joe 90, we’re pretending you don’t exist), and it’s hard to imagine a better opening blast for Thunderbird 3 in this comic.

solar2
This is what Jeff looks like in the morning before his coffee.

So let’s make things easy for ourselves and make this our own two-in-one offering for you. First up, “Solar Danger: Part Bellamy”!

-gives first half of comic a quick skim through-

Bloody Hell.

If people had a hard time swallowing the bitter pill that was Thunderbirds Are Go‘s take on real world physics, I dare them to read “Solar Danger”! The danger of the sun vomiting up enough physical matter to form a meteorite-type object capable of pulverizing everything in its wake is simple enough to digest, and makes for awesomely, stupidly fun reading, but if you didn’t enjoy how Thunderbirds Are Go tackled hydron colliders, you’d best find another comic.

Nevertheless, “Solar Danger: Part Bellamy” stands tall as not just another great example of what a fine working relationship they had, but illustrates how epic the proportions of their relationship could be taken. Bellamy’s depiction of International Rescue’s mammoth space rescue craft has such depth and scale to it, resulting in a story that’s dazzling to gawp at. I could almost let the included examples speak for themselves – I’m running out of ways to describe how awesome Bellamy’s artwork is!

solar3
“Don’t you come near me waving that red poky thing in my face!”

Harley’s artwork on the other hand is, unfortunately, less impressive. Throughout “Solar Danger: Part Harley”, his take on the Thunderbird machines and the I.R. boys appear muddy and lack the intricacy of Bellamy’s renditions, but he still brings a decent level of life to Fennell’s constantly galloping script. Ironically perhaps, he fares better when doodling away at the alien landscapes of Venus, complete with bizarre vegetation and Fireball XL5-worthy monsters. Arguably, Harley’s artwork matches the speed of Bellamy’s script, with it’s attention to thick, bright colours and panel sizes that rarely stray beyond medium.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition against Bellamy’s far more direct and eerie take on Venus, but when you gaze at that ocotpus-like creature in the final panel of Bellamy’s half, which takes up almost half of the 10th instalment’s second page (and looks gorgeous against the gargantuan Thunderbird 3 on the other page), you’re bound to be left certain as to who was artist better suited to this story.

TV Century 21 #93
TV Century 21 #93

Bellamy’s script itself is a flaming fireball of fun, although the first half of “Solar Danger” fares better than the second, which has that rather tiresome plot device of International Rescue having to rescue International Rescue. “Solar Danger: Part Bellamy” also generates a genuine sense of frightening isolation for Brains and Alan as their attempts to battle against the sun puts them in life-threatening danger. There’s even a little cameo from Commander Zero and Space City!

“Solar Danger” as a whole also features plenty of action in its story for the mecha-heavy fans of Thunderbirds. All five get to shine in “Solar Danger: Part Harley” when Thunderbirds 1 and 2 have to be equipped for space in order to save Thunderbird 3 from death by alien sea monsters. Even though “Solar Danger: Part Harley” is something of a drag because of the aforementioned plot device, there’s still a lot of punch to it, but one can’t help but wonder why Jeff didn’t call for a bit more help from the World Space Patrol sintead of spending all that time kitting out Thunderbirds 1 and 2! Kinda making a plot hole into a plot crater when the W.S.P. made an earlier appearance!

solar4
I don’t think windscreen wipers are going to cut it.

But when you’ve got a story involving vomiting suns, ravenous alien monsters, and all five Thunderbirds getting some action, such balls-ups can be forgiven. It’s hard to imagine the TV show pulling this story off in screen form, which in turn gives us another example as to why TV Century 21 was such a hit. It remained extremely faithful to its source material and yet took huge plunges into the unknown, often trying to outdo what the TV show could deliver in terms of entertainment. It didn’t always succeed, but by golly it made for ruddy good reading, and “Solar Danger” is a great example of the mission TV Century 21 set out to accomplish.

Despite some jarring oddities in plot and artwork, “Solar Danger” continues to be one of the most exhilarating Thunderbirds adventures TV Century 21 ever produced. It sure ain’t perfect, and sometimes it’s a messy affair, but theirs buoyancy in the mess – it crackles with so much energy that once you’ve finished reading it, you feel the need to call International Rescue to come save yourself once they’re done on Venus.

Does “Solar Danger” get your blood pumping? Let us know in the comments section or send us a tweet! You can read “Solar Danger” in Gerry Anderson: The Vintage Comic Collection Volume 2, Century 21: Classic Comic Strips from the Worlds of Gerry Anderson Vol 4: Above and Beyond, and possibly Egmont’s upcoming second collection of Thunderbirds strips!

Thunderbirds: “The Antarctic Menace”

Original run: TV21 #155 – #161

Writer: Scott Goodall

Artist: Frank Bellamy

antarctic
TV21 #155

International Rescue have to deal with killer robotic penguins and gigantic, claw-ridden polar bears in this highly entertaining yet bizarre and rather gruesome Thunderbirds strip. “The Antarctic Menace” sees another of Century 21’s heroes go up against the villainous forces of Bereznik, the on-off enemy of TV Century 21.

In this adventure, Scott, Virgil and Gordon must save a group of oil truckers transporting vast amounts of raw minerals from Antarctic plants to Australian refining facilities across a vast trans-oceanic highway. But when an army of robotic penguins (!) launch an attack on the truckers, International Rescue must save the truckers and put a stop to whoever is controlling these mechanical monsters…

“The Antarctic Menace” is yet another Thunderbirds strip that’s pure 1960’s sci-fi hokum involving killer robot animals (which obviously go haywire), and shifting ships disguised as icebergs and a maniacal genius after precious fuel for the world of tomorrow. In short, it’s got all the makings of a classic Thunderbirds adventure, but there’s a nasty undercurrent to this tale.

Hug me, NOOOOOW!
Hug me, NOOOOOW!

That sense of nastiness comes in the form of International Rescue actually failing horridly in doing their job. Plug your fingers in your ears if you want to avoid spoilers because (or plug whatever into your eyes) the oil truckers die in a crashing inferno when they and I.R. attempt to fight back against Bereznik forces.

I don’t know about you, b that’s a real kick in the rollocks for this reviewer folks.

Thunderbirds was always the optimistic one in the Century 21 universe. They were the ones who saved people in trouble, not go round fighting Aquaphibians or Mysterons. It’s true that the day is still saved somewhat by the end of “The Antarctic Menace”, but here, International Rescue fall in the line of duty.

That failure gives “The Antarctic Menace” a rather sour taste, coupled with the other moments of violent action the strip has, such as the Tracy brothers and oil truckers chained to a wall of ice with a robotic polar bear on the prowl – if Virgil hadn’t intervened, would the others have been torn to pieces? Brutal stuff.

And you thought getting buried up to your neck in sand was bad!
And you thought getting buried up to your neck in sand was bad!

But if you’ve got the stomach to look past these points, then “The Antarctic Menace” is still an adventurous read. There’s plenty of action and danger with every instalment, and Bellamy brings Goodall’s death-laced script to life in the usually fab manner.

“The Antarctic Menace” is a story that lives up to its name, and although its stop-the-mad-scientist entertainment factor can’t be denied, the strip’s frivolous approach to life leaves a bitter aftertaste in one’s mouth. International Rescue don’t even seem that bothered when, in all, technicality, they fail in their mission. Oh well, at least Bellamy knew how to draw some badass robot polar bears.

Have you read “The Antarctic Menace”? What did you think of it? Sound off in the comments section below! You can read “The Antarctic Menace” in Ravette’s Thunderbirds… Lift Off! and Egmont’s Thunderbirds: The Comic Collection Vol. 1

Thunderbirds: “Revolt on Jupiter”

Original run: TV21 issues #179 – 183

Artist: Frank Bellamy

Writer: Scott Goodall

tb3
“Hey Alan, let’s take our only means of space rescue for a nosey peak at my old enemy. I’m sure no-one will need our help while we’re gone.”

For all of International Rescue’s adaptability for tackling any kind of rescue, on or off this planet, we rarely saw rescues based in the depths of outer space. Thankfully, TV21 would often step in to give us wild and wonderful strips that perhaps wouldn’t have felt at home on the small screen. “Revolt on Jupiter” is a fine example of that expansion, but it’s debatable whether it’s a solid enough adventure for International Rescue.

As the strip’s name suggests, “Revolt on Jupiter” is chock-full of deceit and betrayal as Jeff Tracy learns that his old alien rival Kranol, after decades worth of uprising against humanity on Jupiter, now appears willing to make peace with the Earth. Understandably sceptical, Jeff and Alan venture into space to visit Kranol, where they become entangled in a web of deadly deceit as Kranol becomes hunted down by his very own son, Tragan.

TV21 #
TV21 #179, the first instalment of “Revolt on Jupiter”

There IS something of a flaw in “Revolt on Jupiter” – what would happen if Thunderbird 3 was needed during Jeff’s jaunt to visit Kranol? It’s rather out of his character to use an I.R craft unless someone is in grave danger. Mind you, there was that time when Brains and Tin-Tin went treasure hunting… Additionally, the inclusion of aliens in the world of Thunderbirds was always something I found a tad jarring, but “Revolt on Jupiter” presents it’s non-humans as intelligent civilisations – it’s not quite like International Rescue go up against space monsters, that was Zero-X’s job.

jupiter1
So yeah, Thunderbird 3 can float and stuff.

The strip has all the galloping excitement that was the usual standard of TV21, but at just five chapters, it feels a tad short. Nevertheless, Tragan keeps things spirited as a truly ruthless villain, who refuses to accept defeat at the hands of International Rescue, even during the finale when he and his rag-tag army of revolutionaries crash-land to Earth and all hell breaks loose.

Artwork-wise, it’s far more morose than our last space-based adventure with the Zero-X dudes. Frank Bellamy’s take on the unknown depths of space  is far darker (both figuratively and literally!) than Mike Noble’s. Noble painted his space with a tuck shop-amount of stars and gave space itself a warm blue/purple haze, whereas Bellamy’s comics landscapes are far bleaker, almost nothing but dark emptiness, illuminated only by his jaw-dropping scribbles of Thunderbird 3.

TV21 #180, the second instalment of
TV21 #180, the second instalment of “Revolt on Jupiter”

But no amount of fab artwork detracts from the fact that “Revolt on Jupiter” feels like it would be far more at home were it a Captain Scarlet or Zero-X strip and not a Thunderbirds one. Throughout, International Rescue tangle to-and-fro with Tragan and his destructive ways, but they don’t actually perform any sort of rescue. “Revolt on Jupiter” is a fun adventure but feels rather out of place for a Thunderbirds story.

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

You can read “Revolt on Jupiter” in Signum’s ‘Century 21: Classic Comic Strips from the Worlds of Gerry Anderson Vol. 5: Menace from Space’ and Egmont’s ‘The Gerry Anderson Comic Collection’!

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’!

Thunderbirds: “The Revolution”

Original run: TV Century 21 #130 – #136

Artist: Frank Bellamy

Writer: Alan Fennell

2417156-tv_century_21_v1965_132__1967__pagecoverPolitics 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.

2417162-tv_century_21_v1965_136__1967__pagecoverThe 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!

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

You can read “The Revolution” in Eaglemoss’s ‘Gerry Anderson: The Vintage Comic Collection Vol. 5 and Ravette’s ‘Thunderbirds to the Rescue’!