Joe 90: Top Secret The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History
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Joe 90: Joe 90 Top Secret - 1969

Joe 90 MastheadBy the start of 1969, it was starting to become fairly obvious the success enjoyed by the Century 21 studios was on the decline. Captain Scarlet had not been as financially successful with regards to marketing and merchandise, and a spate of other spin-offs (Candy, Solo and Project SWORD) had failed to capture the imagination of TV21 which had peaked with Thunderbirds and Lady Penelope. The latest television series, Joe 90 which had made its debut in autumn 1968, was not an instant hit yet Century 21 and City Magazines saw that the market was open for another comic.

In many ways this was true. TV Comic was aimed at the young end of the market but the merger of TV Tornado into TV21 in late 1968 had left a gap. While science fiction and space adventure were still catered for by TV21, even though it was rapidly being diluted by strips like The Saint, Tarzan and Department S, there were still new series appearing. Rather than incorporate these into the muddled TV21, a new comic would bring a fresh readership. Whether it was planned all along to launch the new comic into TV21 - a not uncommon practice to boost circulation of an existing comic - is not known. In hindsight (always the easiest of viewpoints) it might have been better to keep the Anderson and SF strips in TV21, and have the comtemporary ones in the new title. Certainly ITC's new series The Champions could have given it a ready made title.

World Intelligence NetworkJoe 90: Top Secret No.1 appeared in January 1969. Of the four television strips it introduced, Joe 90 was probably the weakest but the most appealing to front the comic, as the World Intelligence Network provided a ready-made editorial sounding board. Like TV21 before it, and to a less successful degree Solo, the readership of the comic could be made 'agents' and issued - as free gifts in subsequent issues - a WIN badge and decoding book. The BIG RAT computer was also utilised as a generic features focus to cover any subject of interest.

BIG RATAs with most Gerry Anderson strips, the first Joe 90 at least was allegedly written by editor Alan Fennell, with some other instalments written by Angus Allan, Howard Elson and Chris Spencer. Each story was a one-off, and while most of these were quite well written the brevity of each story left little in the way of possible development. Most of the installments were drawn by Keith Watson, who had already illustrated Captain Scarlet in TV21. Watson was better known as the artist who single-handedly restored Dan Dare to some semblance of his former glory for the 1960s Eagle, but what is relatively unknown is he wrote the latter instalments of the Joe 90 strip for this title (see conclusion of festure below). Occasional other installments were drawn by TV21 regulars Rab (Agent 21) Hamilton and Michael Strand, who had drawn Stingray and Lady Penelope. Relative comic newcomer Martin Asbury would also draw a few installments before going onto football strip Forward From The Back Streets in TV21 & Joe 90. While fronting the comic for over half of the first initial 34 issues, Joe 90 was rapidly overcome by two other strips which did catch the public imagination and were given far better treatment.

The first of these was Land Of The Giants which, like Joe 90, had appeared on British screens the previous autumn. Drawn in full colour on two pages, beginning with a three-part adaptation of the first episode 'The Crash', artist Gerry Haylock's dynamic style made an immediate impact. In what can only be described as 'photo-minimalism' he captured the likenesses of the cast perfectly with a few lines and a wash of colour. From issue 23 of Joe 90:Top Secret onwards, he would also contribute colour artwork covers for Land Of The Giants for 8 of the 12 remaining issues.

The other four covers were taken up by the new television phenomena Star Trek as it made its debut on British television in the summer. Of course, appearing in Joe 90: Top Secret from the first issue, most readers would probably not have realised it was a television series until then. Like Land Of The Giants, the strip was in full colour by another artist of considerable talent. Harry Lindfield was a master of likeness and captured the cast perfectly, even those characters not destined to become regulars, such as Lt. Bailey from 'The Corbomite Manouvre' who appears in a few issues. Lindfield also managed to get the sleek grace and power of the USS Enterprise to perfection and three of his four covers for the strip depicted the starship. It is unfortunate that the scripts Lindfield was working from at first were nowhere near as colourful and inventive as his artwork. But the strip had several years ahead of it and would continue through a variety of comic mergers, and artists such as Mike Noble, Jim Baikie, Harold Johns, Carlos Pino, Ron Turner and John Stokes, before finishing in 1973.

The other ITC series The Champions did not fare so well, also suffering from three pages in black and white and one issue stories like Joe 90. Jon Davis handled the early issues before Michael Strand took over. Strand would become the main artist on Joe 90 after the merger with TV21. While both competent artists, their ability to capture the likenesses of the cast fell short of the standards being set by Haylock and Lindfield, and was even being outdrawn by Joe 90.

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Joe 90 Top Secret issue 1Joe 90 strip guide - part one

Note: The main titles come from the 'next week' caption of the previous week, some of which are in code, and are marked *

Alternative secondary titles are also given (i.e. 'Joe Becomes A Most Special Aquanaut') and marked
.

Other titles, such as 'Super Secret Agent' (issue 19) come from inside the comic itself and are marked
°.


Collision Disaster (aka Most Special Aquanaut!)
Issue 1, week ending 18 January 1969
Writer: Alan Fennell (?).
Artists: Frank Bellamy (colour cover),
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Colliding with a Lebanese tanker, the merchant vessel S.S. Wrexham
sinks off the coast of Bahdan, a small sheikdom in North Africa. Because it is carrying an illicit cargo of 12 ground-to-air missiles, Joe 90 must take on the brain pattern of Chief Navy Aquanaut Commander Simpson to salvage them before the Behman military find them.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 1, dated 29th July 1994
Notes:
This first story is supplemented by brief biographies of the main characters.
This free gift in this first issue was a cardkit of Mac's Jet Car - It Really Works! said the front cover...

Mac's Car Model

Secret Aircraft Stolen! (aka A Fight In The Sky For Pilot Joe!)
Issue 2, week ending 25 January 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Michael Strand. 3 b/w pages.
Test pilot Ronald Case steals the CT54 Auto-bomber on its third flight. Taking on the brain pattern of Case's co-pilot, who is in hospital after Case slugged him, Joe 90 flies an supersonic fuel-carrier in pursuit. A battle in the air takes place before the carrier disables the CT54, and a gas cylinder is put aboard to knock Case out. Joe must now make a death-defying transfer down the fuel line and take control of the stolen plane before it loses airspeed and goes into a dive...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 1, dated 29th July 1994
Notes:
From this issue, the story continues to start on the cover by a painted introduction by an unknown artist.
This story is supplemented by photos and details of the contents of Joe's briefcase.


Sabotage! (aka Iron Curtain Mission For Joe)
Issue 3, week ending 01 February 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Political agitator and saboteur Charles Vodor has planted a bomb at a chemical works in Novograd with the intention of it being blamed on the West and causing a conflict. But in the process of being caught by WIN agents Vodor is fatally wounded. With only 12 hours to find the bomb before it explodes, Joe 90 is given the brain pattern of Vodor recorded before he died.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 2, dated 12th August 1994
Notes:
This story is supplemented by more photos and information about Joe's Dorset cottage home.
While the 1994 reprint was still titled Sabotage!, the subtitle was Joe's Mission - To Find A Deadly Bomb!


Joe Becomes A Potholer!
(aka Scientist Kidnapped! and Britain's Top Potholer!)
Issue 4, week ending 08 February 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
WIN agents pursue kidnapped Doctor Steadman to caves in Derbyshire. Joe 90 has to take on the brain pattern of a pot-holing expert to rescue before the kidnappers deadline expires.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 4, dated 9th September 1994
Notes:
This story is supplemented by more photos and information about Mac's Lab.


Oil Rig Disaster! (aka Take-Over Spy Ship!)
Issue 5, week ending 15 February 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
A disaster strikes oil rig RX-60 but Shane Weston thinks the only ship capable of rescuing the crew was responsible and may try to salvage secret early warning equipment. The ship Boritsa has captured the crew and got the equipment but Joe takes on the brain pattern of WIN agent Commander Vincent to see how they like a taste of being hi-jacked themselves...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 2, dated 12th August 1994
Notes:
This story is supplemented by a quiz on the previous four features. The answers can be found by using the code breaker given with issue 2.
While the 1994 reprint was still titled Oil Rig Disaster!, and subtitled Take-Over Spy Ship!, it also bears a third title of Joe 90 To The Rescue!


Joe 90 Top Secret issue 1McClaine Missing
(aka Professor McClaine Missing! and Trouble For Joe!)
Issue 6, week ending 22 February 1969
Writer: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Saturday morning and Joe is visited by Sam Loover and Shane Weston, who tell they think Professor McClaine has defected. He called them and they have come to Joe before telling the Government. Left alone, Joe take on Mac's own brain pattern to try and get to the bottom of the mystery.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 4, dated 9th September 1994
Notes:
This story had a photocover (left) rather than a painted introduction, but this was omitted from the 1994 reprint.
From this story on, until issue 29, the top of pages 2 and 3 were now used to print names and photos of agent readers.
The reprint was titled Mac Goes Missing.


Master Forger*
(aka £1,000,000 For Free!†)
Issue 7, week ending 01 March 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
When a million pounds in perfect forged notes is dropped over London with the intention of ruining the economy, Joe 90 is given the brain pattern of forger Risky Mulvaney to investigate a potential fraud at the banknote printers.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 3, dated 26th August 1994
Notes:
The 1994 reprint titles was altered slightly to One Million Pounds For Free!


Joe 90 Top Secret issue 1Prince 90!*
(aka Joe Becomes A Prince To Save A Life!
)
Issue 8, week ending 08 March 1969
Writer: Unknown.
Artist:
Martin Asbury. 3 b/w pages.
Nine year old Nardaz Khan is the future Prince of the Lions of the Asia country of Bhunistan, but if he returns home his uncle may kill him to seize power. With the brain pattern of a top WIN agent, Joe 90 must act as a decoy and be escorted by three bodyguards to bring the potential killers into the open...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 7, dated 21st October 1994
Notes:
This story had a photocover rather than a painted introduction (right).
The reprint was titled Prince Of The Lions.


Safari Ambush! (aka Big Game Hunter)
Issue 9, week ending 15 March 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Martin Asbury. 3 b/w pages.
When
research scientist Professor William Hughes goes missing while lion hunting in Umtali, Shane Weston believes it is so he can explain the workings of a consignment of new missiles the country has stolen. Joe 90 is given the brain pattern of African tracker Mr. Kwano to find him, after fixing a safari competition to enter the country.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 3, dated 26th August 1994


Rally Driver Joe!*
(aka Joe Joins A Race To Stop A Spy!† and Rally Driver!)
Issue 10, week ending 22 March 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Berlin has been cordoned off after the theft of blueprints from a security centre. With the brain pattern of race driver Reeves Best, Joe 90 is directed to enter the Euro 69 rally which WIN believes may be the only way the plans can be smuggled out.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 5, dated 23rd September 1994.
Notes:
This story would appear to be contemporary (i.e. 1969) rather than the accepted early 21st century setting.


Himalayan Terror Trail! (aka Mountaineer Joe Makes A Daring Rescue Bid!)
Issue 11, week ending 29 March 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Martin Asbury. 3 b/w pages.
WIN agent John Rushton is making his escape with a secret Chinese cypher machine, over the Himalayans Mountains. But a fighter fires missiles and causes an avalanche, injuring Rushton and trapping him in a crevasse. With the brain pattern of Doctor Kubrek, Joe 90 attempts to reach him but the Chinese are waiting for the West to pinpoint Rushton so they can get the machine back.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 5, dated 23rd September 1994
Notes:
The reprint was erroneously titled Himalayan Terror Trial.
The layouts of the Joe 90: Top Secret covers made it difficult for reprinting in the new Joe 90 comic, and part of the supposedly masked date and text is visible.


Joe Joins A Circus*
(aka Crotian State Circus Visit! and Joe Joins The Circus!)
Issue 12, week ending 5 April 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
The Crotian circus has set up on the outskirts of London but Joe 90, with the pattern of animal trainer Bud Grey, runs away to join it. He discovers, as WIN suspected, the circus has been used as a cover for foreign agents and the gun of the human cannonball will in fact fire an atomic shell into the heart of London...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 6, dated 7th October 1994


Find A Formula!
(aka Appointment With Fear! and Find The Formula!)
Issue 13, week ending 12 April 1969
Writer: Unknown.
Artists:
John Cooper (colour cover), Martin Asbury. 3 b/w pages.
Gregori Rostov is both a fuel scientist and renowned amatuer sculptor but he disappears from the London Museum of Modern Art while waiting to contact a WIN agent. Beieved to have been liquidated by enemy agents, WIN's only clue is a message 'the expression of innocence'. With the brain pattern of Sam Loover and then Rostov himself, Joe 90 discovers a sculpture of the same name that may contain the secret data WIN needs...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 3, dated 26th August 1994


Joe 90Rocket Expert
(aka Emergency! andJoe 90... Rocket Expert)
Issue 14, week ending 19 April 1969
Writer: Angus Allan (?).
Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Probe Alpha is the first rocket to be completely programmed and launched by computer. But as the countdown commences at the Pan European Rocketry Research Station at Saltmarsh, a foreign power jams the signal and takes control. Only ninety minutes remain and Professor McClaine must attempt to free control otherwise the rocket will explode on launching, wiping out a large area of East Anglia. But when the saboteur wounds Mac, it is up to Joe to complete the mission...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 7, dated 21st October 1994.
Notes:
The name 'Probe Alpha' and the wholly computer controlled launch recall the similar events in the Captain Scarlet of Spectrum mini-album, suggesting this story may also have been written by Angus Allan.
We're not even going to ask how Sam Loover managed to land a W.I.N. jet at Mac's cottage...
The reprint masks most of the original front cover (right), covering the photo insert and resetting the text.


Most Special Bodyguard*
(aka Cortez Arrives Home and Disaster!)
Issue 15, week ending 26 April 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Presidential candidate Juan Cortez is the only man who can possibly oppose dictator Carlos Pranado of Santego. A failed attempt to kill him in a plane crash upon returning home prompts WIN to act, and Joe 90 is given the brain pattern of top Latin agent Steve Marina. He is enrolled at the same school as Cortez' son Paolo in order to befriend him and be in a position to prevent further attempts...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 7, dated 21st October 1994.


Joe the Reporter
(aka Town Of Shame! and Most Special Reporter)
Issue 16, week ending 3 May 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
After the Gorston Globe reveals the gangster history and methods of Mayor Enrico Ratchello, their offices are bombed and destroyed. WIN agent and reporter John Linklater is caught in the explosion and put in a coma but Joe 90 is given his brain pattern to continue the mission. Posing as an elevator boy, Joe is able to plant a microphone on Ratchello and finds him linked Eastern spy Igor Gregorov...
Joe 90
Reprinted: The New Thunderbirds issue 81, dated 25th November 1994.
Notes:
The date of the Gorston Globe - May 3 - was also the date of that issue of Joe 90: Top Secret.
The adverts 'Buy Corgi Toys Now' and 'Pete Corri Home Loans' that appeared on the Gorston Globe newspaper (above) were masked for the reprint. Pete Corri was a designer on TV Century 21, and letterer on the 1990s Fleetway comics!
The photo of Ratchello is actually Sir Humphrey Burton in 'To Catch A Spy' from The Secret Service.
At the end of the story, Joe is reading a comic called Century 22!


Issues 17 & 18, week endings 10 & 17 May 1969
No Joe 90 strip while two part competition is run.


W.I.N. Agents Ambushed (aka Spy Catcher and Super Secret Agent)
Issue 19, week ending 24 May 1969
Writer: Unknown.
Artists:
John Cooper (colour cover), Martin Asbury. 3 b/w pages.
There is apparently a traitor within the ranks of WIN so Joe is given the brain pattern of top co-ordinator Major Lawrence for a mission to Zurich. But when Joe suddenly detours to Berlin, Sam Loover and Shane Weston realise Lawrence must be the traitor! However Joe has sensed something is wrong and must complete his mission witout the traitor's brain pattern...
Reprinted: The New Thunderbirds issue 83, dated 23rd December 1994
Notes:
The reprint was titled Spycatcher.
The front cover start to this story (below left) was omitted from the reprint.

Joe 90

Joe Ninety - Speed Boat Ace!
(aka WIN Security Trap! and Speedboat Ace!)
Issue 20, week ending 31 May 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
When a trap to catch a government security driver suspected of passing secrets and materials to the enemy is bypassed, Joe 90 - with the brain pattern of speedboat ace Terry Haydn - gives chase along the river and finds the package is due to be shipped out to a waiting submarine
Reprinted: The New Thunderbirds issue 82, dated 9th December 1994
Notes:
The reprinted was titled Speedboat Ace!
The painted front cover start to this story (above right) was omitted from the reprint.


Ski Champion
(aka Break Out!, Most Special Marksman and Most Special Skier)
Issue 21, week ending 7 June 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Two dangerous spies have escaped from a North Canadian security prison and taken over a space tracking station, threatening to kill Professor Mark Brome if anyone approaches. Joes is given the brain pattern of skiing ace and pistol champion Pete King to get into the base.
Reprinted: The New Thunderbirds issue 86, dated 3rd February 1995
Notes:
The text introducing this story was duplicated when reprinted.


Most Special Jockey* (aka Death Chase)
Issue 22, week ending 14 June 1969
Writer: Unknown. Cover Artist: Unknown.
Artist:
Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
When a WIN agent carrying information about the 'Hadebos', a fanatic anti-western terrorist group, is killed the only clue is a schedule for a horse race. Exiled King Kemir is a target for the group and his love of horse racing may be linked. Joe 90 takes on the brain pattern of jockey Eddie Brampton to ride Kemir's horse as the the King is so well protected, any attempt must be coming from somewhere on the racetrack itself...
Reprinted: The New Thunderbirds issue 87, dated 17th February 1995.
Notes:
This was the last story to start on the cover of Joe 90: Top Secret.


Amazon Action!
Issue 23, week ending 21 June 1969
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Joe 90
On a mission in South America, Sam Loover becomes trapped with a band of international criminals in a mineshaft. The only hope of resue lies in Joe 90, with the brain pattern of mine demolition expert Senor Veracruz, entering the mine through a small tunnel. But inside, Joe finds a tribe of local Incas know a secret way into what they consider to be their treasure vault and hamper his efforts...
Notes:
This strip has not been reprinted.


'Splashdown'
Issue 24, week ending 28 June 1969
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Keith Watson
. 3 b/w pages.
Lazlo Kirsch is the third scientist to go 'missing' after a plane crash in ten days, and Professor McClaine is set up as bait. With Joe 90 having the brain pattern of airline pilot Bill Turner, he and Mac fly to the science festival in Athens. The air stewardess is in league with Kramer, an enemy agent, and they knock out the pilots and eject with Mac in the escape unit...
'Splashdown'
Notes:
This untitled strip is based on the TV episode 'Splashdown' by Shane Rimmer, and has not been reprinted.
Considering the liberties taken condensing the screenplay into three pages of strip, it is a remarkably faithful adaptation with some lines remaining the same. Only minor details, such as names and numbers, are changed and the submarine omitted.
However, like Rally Driver in issue 10, it assumes a contemporary 1969 setting which jars a little with the Zero X-like ejection pod used on the airliner - even modern ones don't have these!
A photo insert from the actual television episode promoted the strip on the front cover.


Chess-Players and Clock-Makers*
(aka Joe Becomes A Champion At Chess)
Issue 25, week ending 05 July 1969
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Keith Watson
. 3 b/w pages.
Joe 90
WIN agent Jack Saunders is the fourth victim of a plot to upset world peace that centres around an international chess championship in Rogoda. Joe 90 is given the brain pattern of enemy spy and chess-master Boris Voroski, with WIN arranging for him to enter the championship. Joe must protect Italian champion Emillio Vuozzi, who is also concerned with world peace plans, and foils one attempt but unknown to him a chess piece has been fitted with an explosive device for the tounament itself...
Notes:
Issue 25 of Joe 90: Top Secret would be the last to mention the Joe 90 strip on the cover.
This strip has not been reprinted.


Illicit Diamonds Flood Gem Markets!
Issue 26, week ending 12 July 1969
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Keith Watson
. 3 b/w pages.
Joe 90
Illegal diamonds in Amsterdam have been traced to a mine at Kimberley in South Africa. With the brain of diamond expert Heinrich Statton, Joe 90 infiltrates the operation and finds a gang of thieves are using a 'diamond magnet' to obtain the supply from a nearby tunnel.
Notes:
This strip has not been reprinted.


Issue 27, week ending 19 July 1969
Writer: Keith Watson (?). Artist: Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
WIN agents throughout Europe have become the targets of assassins using arson. Given the brain pattern of a firefighter, Joe 90 foils another attempt in the docklands but learns WIN Headquarters itself has been targeted...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 5, dated 23rd September 1994
Notes:
With the demise of Century 21 Publishing in the spring of 1969, production of the final issues was undertaken by Martspress. It is conceivable Keith Watson wrote the scripts for the strips he illustrated from this point.
The 1994 reprint was titled Firefighter


Disaster Strikes 'Lost Plateau'
Issue 28, week ending 26 July 1969
Writer: Keith Watson (?). Artist: Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Joe 90
Severe earthquakes and torrential rains have completely sealed off the 'Forbidden Land' of the plateau of Kattmontor, which no Westerner is allowed to enter. But ruler San-Al-Beth, reputed to love children, has allowed aid to enter. WIN are suspicious of his activities and smuggle Joe 90 into the country where he finds a foreign power has set up a missile base...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 6, dated 7th October 1994
Notes:
In a nice attention to detail, Joe's hard hat uses Arab numerals - his number being '1254'.
The 1994 reprint was titled Civil Engineer, and artist Andrew Skilleter's cover depicts Joe driving a bulldozer from this story.
The text introducing the reprint of this story was duplicated as part of the new layout, though the first line was changed to Disaster Strikes Forbidden Land!


Issue 29, week ending 02 August 1969
Writer: Keith Watson (?). Artist: Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
The star attraction of Bennett's Sideshows is the 'Wall Of Death' and rider Mark Payne. But Payne is also a top enemy agent and manages to photograph details of Wallicombe Missile Base while performing his act there for the officers. Taking the brain pattern of stunt-rider Toby Jackson, Joe 90 attracts the attention of Bennett with his skills. But Payne realises Joe could blow his cover and a battle of skill breaks out on the 'Wall Of Death'...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 2, dated 12th August 1994
Notes:
The 1994 reprint was titled Wall Of Death


Issue 30, week ending 09 August 1969
Writer: Keith Watson (?). Artist: Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
With Sam Loover creating a diversion, Joe 90 is smuggled into a shipment of guns run by gang chief Jack Kane to a warehouse in east London. When he is discovered, Joe creates enough havoc to scare Kane into fleeing by helicopter...
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 3, dated 26th August 1994
Notes:
The 1994 reprint was titled The Gun Runners
From this issue, the Joe 90 strip was three full pages, utilising a new masthead (below) which would continue to be used through its run in TV21 & Joe 90.

Joe 90 Masthead

Issue 31, week ending 16 August 1969
Writer: Keith Watson (?). Artist: Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Atomic scientist Peter Haddon enjoys his hobby ski-diving as much as his work. But when a mysterious stranger hi-jacks his latest jump and kidnaps him, Joe 90 must take on the brain pattern of ace sky-diver Terry Tasker to retrace the flight and effect a rescue..
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 4, dated 9th September 1994
Notes:
The 1994 reprint was titled Skydiver.


Issue 32, week ending 23 August 1969
Writer: Keith Watson (?). Artist: Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Joe 90
Shane Weston, on orders to protect Crown Prince of Hertznov on a visit to Britain, has run into problems with the Prince's advisers. They insist his own bodyguards are more than adequate but the Prince's own boredom and need for someone to play with give Weston the chance to use Joe 90. Using Shane's own brain pattern, Joe is caught off guard when he removes his glasses for a bout of friendly boxing and both boys are kidnapped...
Reprinted: The New Thunderbirds issue 80, dated 11th November 1994.


Issue 33, week ending 30 August 1969
Writer: Keith Watson (?). Artist: Keith Watson. 3 b/w pages.
Joe 90
Joe is given the brain pattern of thief Abe Merton in an attempt to find out if Bernard Wing is actually a courier for a foreign spy-ring.
Reprinted: Joe 90 issue 1, dated 29th July 1994
Notes:
The 1994 reprint was titled Joe Becomes A Safe Cracker!


Issue 34, week ending 06 Septmber 1969
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Rab Hamilton. 3 b/w pages.
When cricketer 'Sixes' Stevens is injured in a car crash, Joe 90 must take on his brain pattern to take his place when Shane reveals he is also working for WIN. At an end-of-season cricket festival at Sir John Passen's stately home, Lord Southwold is taking a break from secret Middle East negotiations and plans are afoot to make him reveal details of the treaty by foreign agents.
Reprinted: The New Thunderbirds issue 88, dated 3rd March 1995

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Joe 90 issue 18Exactly halfway through its run (suspiciously so, in hindsight), a two part competition replaced the Joe 90 strip. This was billed as YOU Can be JOE 90, with a quite superb prize of 'a week of action'. Among the hovercraft ride and trips to Brands Hatch and Biggin Hill was the chance to visit the MGM Studios at Borehamwood to see Gerry Anderson's new series UFO being filmed!

With the demise of Century 21 Publishing in the spring of 1969, production of the title, as well as TV21 & TV Tornado, from the end of May were taken over by Martspress. This is evident from around issue 27, as the secret codes stopped and the editorial content switched to generic features. Contractually, it would appear all the artists continued without break, although Keith Watson received a call from the new company. As friend and fellow artist Andrew Skilleter relates, 'Keith... was contacted by this bunch of people who didn't seem to know what they were doing. And it was involving the Joe 90 strip. I understand they were in some grotty office... and they had this comic to put together. They were in this terrible panic about everything because they hadn't got any scripts, or the scripts they had were terrible, and Keith offered to write them himself. So as I understood it, whatever artwork Keith did for Joe 90 at that time were also written by him.'

While not quite as lacklustre as Solo had been, Joe 90: Top Secret was destined to only run for a few issues longer. The latter TV21 issues had reverted back to newspaper style covers in an attempt to recapture some of its former glory but the comic no longer seemed to have the same editorial flair of its earlier years. By the time the Joe 90: Top Secret annual appeared in the shops that autumn, the two titles had merged into TV21 & Joe 90. Rather than continue the numbering of either, this was launched as a 'new series' of TV21 and started at issue 1 again. For those expecting the line-up of strips to remain reasonably Anderson oriented, as the title implied, only Thunderbirds and Joe 90 remained, and then only for several months.

In July 1994, reprints from Joe 90: Top Secret formed the basis of the fourth comic title to join ex-TV21 editor Alan Fennell's revival of Supermarionation comics. By this time, the three previous titles Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet had already merged into The New Thunderbirds. Unfortunately, unlike the three other series which had enjoyed an early evening slot and respectable ratings, Joe 90 was screened early on Saturday mornings with virtually no fanfare. Added to this, both the series, the comic and any new planned merchandise resorted to a new logo to apparently avoid confusion with the original version and that of 'G.I.Joe'!

Photo panel for 'Splashdown'For the Joe 90 reprints, as most of the strip had been in black and white, the originals were photocopied and these coloured by inks. This process had already been used to colour material for other series, notably Captain Scarlet which also used the cover and internal black and white pages in TV21. Unfortunately, while reasonably successful for the intended younger readership, this tended to lose the subtle grey airbrush tones of the original. Also, the irregular layout of the colour front pages tended to make these a nightmare to integrate in the new layouts, and two were omitted.

To make up the page count, Agent 21 from TV Century 21 was resurrected as a back-up strip and coloured in the same way, with supplementary material culled from the first two TV Century 21 annuals.

Of the 32 original strips, 22 were reprinted in Joe 90. Another complete Joe 90 strip was taken from the 1969 annual, Night Climb drawn by Keith Watson, appearing in the seventh and final issue. With no real television support, the new title was extremely short-lived and merged into The New Thunderbirds with the first strip appearing in issue 80, dated November 11th 1994. Six further Joe 90: Top Secret strips would appear, and two more from the annuals: Rat Trap from 1968 and Break Down from 1969, both drawn by Ron Turner. With sales declining, it was announced issue 89 would be the last but that a new comic Thunderbirds Are Go would appear soon. However Joe 90 did not survive the move and made his last appearance, ironically with the final Joe 90: Top Secret
strip, in issue 88 before disappearing to that Most Special Place in the sky...

- - - - - - - - - - - -

On to Part Two of this series.

- - - - - - - - - - - -


The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History would like to thank:
Andrew Frampton
& Andrew Skilleter
- for his help with this feature.

Version 1.3 - 01.09.06


Any comments or notes about any of the strips, please contact technodelic@blueyonder.co.uk.

All text © The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History, and its respective writers, and may not be reproduced without permission.
All images © their respective copyright holders



Twizzle
Torchy the Battery Boy
Four Feather Falls
Supercar
Fireball XL5
Stingray
Thunderbirds
Lady Penelope
Zero X
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
Joe 90:Top Secret - 1969
Joe 90 - TV21 & Joe 90
Joe 90 - Countdown, 1971
The Secret Service
UFO
The Protectors
Space 1999
Terrahawks
Space Precinct
Non Television
Supplemental
Links
Yahoo Group
Guestbook
Credits
Index
Index
A Technodelic Website A Technodelic Website