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JOHNNY LAWLESS

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Full Name: Johnny Lawless
Series Name: The Lawless Touch
Nationality: British
Organization: European Special Corps
Occupation Other - Thief

Creator: Kelvin Gosnell, Barry Mitchell
Time Span: 1979 - 1980

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Johnny Lawless is a thief for the European Special Corps.
       Lawless takes tremendous pride in being in his line of 'work' - "villainy, blagging, thievery - call it what you like !. I'm a thief - a very good thief."
       He is also an agent, of sorts. He admits to being an operative, albeit coerced, for what he enjoys referring to as 'Eurofuzz secret service' but he does so while making sure we know he is first and foremost a thief. He works for them simply because "it was either that or a long stretch in Brixton. No choice really".
       As a thief, he sometimes took special orders as in the spot of breaking and entering and stealing that he does in the first recorded adventure. He was hired to retrieve something from a safe in a guarded house and he took great pleasure and pride in pulling it off. It is afterwards he learns that the beautiful woman who hired him for the thievery was setting him up. That woman, whom everyone working for her calls 'Mother', gives him a choice.
       "You've got the wrong bloke!", he declares to her when she chides him for being a few minutes late for the the briefing on his first assignment, helping catch a few bad guys. "I'm a villain, born-and-bred. I'm not going to be much good at catching other villains! Honor amongst thieves!"
       Lawless is a man likely in his early 30's, in terrific physical shape. Ruggedly handsome with lush blond hair brushed back, Lawless has a tremendous, almost irresistible love of taking exciting actions and risks. He enjoys taking a personal touch to his thieving, what he refers to as "the Lawless Touch", but is also quite comfortable using modern technology, such as a motorcycle helmet with special speakers inside aiding his hearing tumblers when cracking a safe as well as a collapsible hang-glider.
       It is not surprising to learn but it is important to state that Lawless, when he is pushed to handle an assignment, is not above finding a way to profit from his forced missions. Yes, he carries out the tasks given him, even going above and beyond what he is told to do, but does like getting something out of it.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:8
First Appearance:1979
Last Appearance:1980

       Johnny Lawless appeared in 7 graphic adventures over 12 issues of the comic book called Tornado from IPC Magazines. But when Tornado merged with 2000 A.D. he did not return.
       His 8th graphic adventure was in the Tornado Annual for 1981 that was published in late 1980.
       All 8 stories would be reprinted in the graphic novel "The Lawless Touch" in 2017 by the publisher known as Rebellion.

1 Something Was Wrong Something Was Wrong
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Kelvin Gosnell (writer), Barry Mitchell (artist)
Copyright: 1979

Printed in Tornado #11 (June 2, 1979) with 6 black & white pages.
Johnny Lawless takes a second-story safe cracking job that is bound to fail and is then recruited/extorted by a government agency by a woman called Mother.
Click here to read the story.

2 How To Hi-jack A Hydrofoil! How To Hi-jack A Hydrofoil!
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Kelvin Gosnell (writer), Barry Mitchell (artist)
Copyright: 1979

Printed in Tornado #12 (June 9, 1979) with 4.5 black & white pages.
Lawless's assignment is to break into a drug lord's safe to learn about his activities. He decides he wants in "on the kill" which will lead to his being on a hydrofoil in a gun battle. He finds saving the day can be profitable.
Click here to read the story.

3 Dying George [or] Steal A Man Dying George [or] Steal A Man
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Kelvin Gosnell (writer), Barry Mitchell (artist)
Copyright: 1979

Printed in Tornado #13-14 (June 16-23, 1979) with 8 black & white pages.
Johnny Lawless is surprised to find that his latest theft-mission is to 'steal a man'. An ECO agent named DuBois was captured and was being held in the Volgan embassy in London. Lawless has to find a way to sneak in and get him out. To accomplish this, he enlists the aid of fellow crook, 'Dying George', a man whos schtick is to fake injuries in car accidents.
Click here to read the story.

4 The Tornado The Tornado
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Robert Tufnell (writer), John Cooper (artist)
Copyright: 1979

Printed in Tornado #15-17 (June 30 - July 14, 1979) with 12 black & white pages.
News reports talk of revolution in the Mid-East country of Qurain as communist-backed Qurain Liberation Front tries to take over the capital. Britain's interest comes from the fact that a sales tour for their latest fighter aircraft, the Tornado, was in Qurain at the time. Though the government worries about the fighter falling into the Soviet's hands for study, they have forbidden direct action. That leads Mother to team Johnny Lawless up with a hotshot, albeit annoying pilot to sneak into Qurain and steal the plane.
Click here to read the story.

5 Honest Sid Honest Sid
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Kelvin Gosnell (writer), Barry Mitchell (artist)
Copyright: 1979

Printed in Tornado #18 (July 21, 1979) with 4 black & white pages.
Johnny Lawless needs the assistance of his mentor and former teacher, his Uncle Sid, who has long since retired from the thieving game and taken up legitimate ways of earning a living - he owns Honest Sid Used Car Emporium. The job he needs help with is hijacking a semi carrying with boxes of money. And Lawless was stealing it for the E.S.C.
Click here to read the story.

6 Hot Wheels Hot Wheels
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Robert Tufnell (writer), John Richardson (artist)
Copyright: 1979

Printed in Tornado #19 (July 28, 1979) with 3.5 black & white pages.
The job given Johnny Lawless by the E.S.C. seemed quite simple - break into a garage and steal a car. Lawless was not expecting to be met by a guard with a large wrench aiming for his head - or for the pursuit car and the guy shooting at him.
Click here to read the story.

7 Dogs of Death Dogs of Death
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Steve MacManus (writer), Mike White (artist)
Copyright: 1979

Printed in Tornado #20-22 (August 4-18, 1979) with 12 black & white pages.
Being sent to Monte Carlo might seem a dream vacation but for Johnny Lawless, after 4 days of nothing but waiting (and using a neat device to cheat the slot machines), it is boring. Then he is passed a note telling him his real assignment is to monitor Marcel Dumas, a top contract killer. Dumas is suspected of being in the area to eliminate a top E.S.C. leader. Lawless is to find out who the target is and who is doing the hiring. Oh, and maybe stop a trained killer.
Click here to read the story.

8 Winston Winston
Published by IPC Magazines
Contributors: Steve MacManus (writer), Mike White (artist)
Copyright: 1980

Printed in Tornado Annual 1981 with 5 black & white pages.
[plot unknown]

8.5 The Lawless Touch The Lawless Touch
Published by Rebellion
Contributors: Kelven Gosnell (writer), Robert Tufnell (writer), Steve MacManus (writer), Barry Mitchell (artist), John Cooper (artist), John Richardson (artist), Mike White (artist)
Copyright: 2017

A graphic novel containing all 8 Johnny Lawless stories.

MY COMMENTS

     This was a fun, entertaining, too-short series which patterned itself, IMHO, after the terrific It Takes A Thief and Spider Scott and Evan Tanner, all of which came a decade before.
     The writers were able to put across a very affable rogue who is coerced into fighting on the side of the angels while still taking time during these sanctified missions to do a bit of naughty thieving. Of course, he was stealing from bad guys so we would not only not care, we routed for him.
     And the artwork was really, really well done. Lots of action scenes brilliantly drawn making reading enjoyable to the eyes.
     I would have loved to have had more. Eight is all there was.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

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