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JOHN STEEL

 
Full Name: John Steel
Series Name: John Steel, Special Agent
Codename: The Shadow
Nationality: British
Organization: British Military Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Unknown
Time Span: 1959 - 1967

ABOUT THE SERIES

       John Steel is an agent with British Military Intelligence.
       [I really know so little as yet about Steel, largely because his recorded adventures are very hard to get hold of. The small amount I do know comes largely from other sources on the web.]
       Steel was for several years a police officer in London. He must have been good at his job because he reached the rank of sergeant at what seems to be a relatively young age (he looks to be in his early 30's to me in the pictures of his first missions). But his age would have been sufficiently high to cause the Royal Army to turn him away when in 1939 and the outbreak of World War II, he tried to enlist and was denied.
       That did not stop this determined man from finding other avenues for service and soon MI-5 decided they liked what they saw and gave him a chance. [While one source said MI-5, since the missions Steel would do for whomever took him all over Europe and thus outside the U.K. proper, I wonder.]
       Steel would have many harrowing adventures during those War years and barely escaped death on many occassions.
       When the War came to its end, Steel decided he did not want to return to the police force and instead started his own private investigative company. It would seem obvious from the locales these new types of missions, recorded in "Casebooks", took place in that his experiences during the War and the contacts he made doing them would come in handy in getting business. Steel would remain quite busy for some time. Certainly the names of some of the casebooks gives the definite impression his connection to British Intelligence, whichever group he worked with, remained a good one.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:53
First Appearance:1959
Last Appearance:1967

       Fleetway Publications, Ltd. had a wide range of magazines going out every month. Several of them carried a similar name with them, "Picture Library". It would be in several different ones that John Steel - Special Agent would find his adventures told.
       The first was Super Detective Picture Library. That magazine saw usually four different issues each month and had done that for some time. It wouldn't be until #157 in September 1959 that John Steel shows up and he would continue to appear usually once a month until its final issue, #188, in January 1961.
       Even though he was there when it closed, he had already made the transition to a sister publication, Thriller Picture Library, which had an even longer pedigree. John Steel showed up in #343 in December 1960 and would, just like before, appear nearly once a month until #443, February 1963.
       Just over three years would pass with no word on Steel. Then in the inaugural issue of the new Buster Adventure Library he would reappear. In these adventures, the Second World War was over but England was still in the process of mopping up. Steel would see himself referred to as "special agent" but he had transitioned to being a private investigator though MI-5 still called now and then.

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MY COMMENTS

       I could not get my hands on any of the adventures of Steel while he was fighting Nazis during WWII but I did read several when the War was over and he was still operating for MI-5, making the move to being a private eye. They were very well written with good, solid plots, nasty characters who decidedly needed thumpin', and some support people worthy of interest.
       Whoever was doing the writing knew what he was doing and the artwork, black and white, was very well done. I can see why he held on as long as he did because a John Steel - Special Agent story was a lock on a good tale worth the half-hour to read it.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

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