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JOHN STEEL

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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.


1 The European Diamond Gang The European Diamond Gang
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 09/07/1959

From Super Detective Picture Library #157 - [Plot Unknown]

2 Riddle of the Sands Riddle of the Sands
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 10/05/1959

From Super Detective Picture Library #160 - [Plot Unknown]

3 Unknown Traitor Unknown Traitor
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 11/02/1959

From Super Detective Picture Library #161 - [Plot Unknown]

4 Operation Treachery Operation Treachery
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 01/04/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #165 - [Plot Unknown]

5 War in the Jungle War in the Jungle
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 02/01/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #167 - [Plot Unknown]

6 Gateway To Glory Gateway To Glory
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 03/07/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #169 - [Plot Unknown]

7 One-Way Journey One-Way Journey
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 04/04/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #171 - [Plot Unknown]

8 The Fuhrer Plot The Fuhrer Plot
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 05/02/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #173 - [Plot Unknown]

9 Desert Spy Desert Spy
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 06/06/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #175 - [Plot Unknown]

10 Operation 'Tina' Operation 'Tina'
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 07/04/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #177 - [Plot Unknown]

11 Cargo X Cargo X
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 08/01/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #179 - [Plot Unknown]

12 Wings Of Escape Wings Of Escape
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 09/05/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #181 - [Plot Unknown]

13 The Hidden War The Hidden War
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 10/03/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #183 - [Plot Unknown]

14 House Of Bamboo House Of Bamboo
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 11/07/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #185 - [Plot Unknown]

15 The Reign Of Terror The Reign Of Terror
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 12/05/1960

From Super Detective Picture Library #187 - [Plot Unknown]

16 The Shadow - School For Spies The Shadow - School For Spies
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 01/02/1961

From Super Detective Picture Library #188 - [Plot Unknown]

17 Mission To Maru Mission To Maru
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 12/1960

From Thriller Picture Library #343 - [Plot Unknown]

18 Operation Freedom Operation Freedom
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 01/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #347 - [Plot Unknown]

19 The Debt Of Honor The Debt Of Honor
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 02/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #351 - [Plot Unknown]

20 Meet Me In Lisbon Meet Me In Lisbon
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 03/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #355 - [Plot Unknown]

21 Downbeat Downbeat
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 04/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #359 - [Plot Unknown]

22 Blues For Danger Blues For Danger
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 05/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #363 - [Plot Unknown]

23 Violent Tempo Violent Tempo
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 06/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #367 - [Plot Unknown]

24 Bullets In The Sun Bullets In The Sun
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 07/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #371 - [Plot Unknown]

25 A Picture Of Guilt A Picture Of Guilt
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 08/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #375 - [Plot Unknown]

26 Play It Cool Play It Cool
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 09/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #379 - [Plot Unknown]

27 Dead Heat Dead Heat
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 11/1961

From Thriller Picture Library #387 - [Plot Unknown]

28 City Of Shadows City Of Shadows
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 02/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #395 - [Plot Unknown]

29 Motif of Murder Motif of Murder
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 03/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #399 - [Plot Unknown]

30 The Rising Tide The Rising Tide
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 04/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #403 - [Plot Unknown]

31 The Town That Died The Town That Died
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 05/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #407 - [Plot Unknown]

32 The Devil's Lair The Devil's Lair
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 06/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #411 - [Plot Unknown]

33 The Demon Drums The Demon Drums
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 07/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #415 - [Plot Unknown]

34 One False Step One False Step
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 08/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #419 - [Plot Unknown]

35 The Big Take The Big Take
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 09/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #423 - [Plot Unknown]

36 The Eye Of The Hunter The Eye Of The Hunter
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 10/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #427 - [Plot Unknown]

37 Shakedown Shakedown
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 11/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #431 - [Plot Unknown]

38 The Silent Enemy The Silent Enemy
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 12/1962

From Thriller Picture Library #435 - [Plot Unknown]

39 The Fatal Blow The Fatal Blow
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 01/1963

From Thriller Picture Library #439 - [Plot Unknown]

40 Gunpoint! Gunpoint!
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 02/1963

From Thriller Picture Library #443 - [Plot Unknown]

41 Dateline For Danger Dateline For Danger
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 07/1966

From Buster Adventure Library #1 - [Plot Unknown]

42 Catch Me A Killer Catch Me A Killer
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 08/1966

From Buster Adventure Library #3 - [Plot Unknown]

43 Showdown Showdown
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 09/1966

From Buster Adventure Library #5 - [Plot Unknown]

44 Death Deals A Joker Death Deals A Joker
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 10/1966

From Buster Adventure Library #7 - [Plot Unknown]

45 Terror Calls The Tune Terror Calls The Tune
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 11/1966

From Buster Adventure Library #9 - [Plot Unknown]

46 Tomorrow You Die! Tomorrow You Die!
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 12/1966

From Buster Adventure Library #11 - [Plot Unknown]

47 Death Shadows The Hunter Death Shadows The Hunter
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 01/1967

From Buster Adventure Library #13 - [Plot Unknown]

48 Savage Waterfront Savage Waterfront
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 02/1967

From Buster Adventure Library #15 - [Plot Unknown]

49 Dead Man's Tale Dead Man's Tale
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 03/1967

From Buster Adventure Library #17 - [Plot Unknown]

50 The Big Fix The Big Fix
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 04/1967

From Buster Adventure Library #19 - [Plot Unknown]

51 Who Is My Enemy Who Is My Enemy
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 05/1967

From Buster Adventure Library #21 - [Plot Unknown]

52 Invitation To Death Invitation To Death
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 06/1967

From Buster Adventure Library #23 - [Plot Unknown]

53 The Devil Of Antiga The Devil Of Antiga
Published by Fleetway Publications Ltd.

Copyright: 07/1967

From Buster Adventure Library #25 - [Plot Unknown]

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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