A Comic Book Review: ‘Combat Colin #1’ by Lew Stringer

Combat Colin #1 is an independently released comic book written and illustrated by the prolific humour strip artist Lew Stringer. This issue is a compilation of Combat Colin’s earliest adventures which first saw print in the vintage British weekly comic Action Force back in the 1980s. It is prefaced by an introduction from Stringer himself, giving the reader an intriguing insight into the titular character’s initial inception and creative development from a light-hearted Rambo pastiche to the bobble-hatted, camo-jacket-sporting, yampy badass we know today.

As the pages turn, the reader is treated to a rib-tickling progression as the story and character evolve from a modest half-page gag strip to a full-throttle, full-page extravaganza of absurdity. Even in the earliest episodes which were originally published under the name Codename: Combat Colin, the character is fully formed and humorously polished. A well-meaning yet dimwitted protector of the peace who collects military grade weaponry as avidly as I collect funny-books. Whether our haplessly hilarious hero is cleaving through his dad’s greenhouse with a machete or accidentally blowing the roof off the family home with his beloved grenade-launcher, the laughs come thick and fast.

It is also in these high-octane half-pagers where Colin becomes acquainted with his loyal bazooka-toting sidekick Semi-automatic Steve, the pair form the ultimate daft duo and their larger-than-life antics take the fun to an explosive new level that demands a broader margin. As the strip expands to its full-page format, Stringer seizes the opportunity to take the reader on a guided tour through the wonderfully wacky wider world of Combat Colin. The creator lets his extraordinary imagination run free, skillfully crafting a majestically madcap array of serialized stories for our reading pleasure. Throughout these gloriously surreal interlinking tales Colin and Steve face a collection of sublimely eccentric foes, from their arch nemesis Dr. Nasty with his dreams of world-domination and stylish goggles to the ice-cold villain Aunt Arctic of the Antarctic and her army of Kung Fu Penguins.

Combat Colin #1 is a genuinely memorable collection of action-packed stories that hit the reader right in the chuckle muscle. Stringer’s classic art style and distinctive wit is a winning combination that will visually intoxicate any and every British comics fan, his work on this title is a hybrid of the timeless cartoon brilliance of Leo Baxendale and the manic no-holds-barred hilarity of The Young Ones.

From the opening panel to the final caption it is easy to see why Colin has been going strong for 30 yampy years, and if the comic gods are smiling on us he’ll stay with us well into the future.

 

 

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