Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History
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Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: TV21, 1968

Despite some slightly far-fetched strips towards the end of its first trimester, the second saw a return to stronger stories. It is perhaps ironic that the first of these would not actually involve the Mysterons at all, but it was an interesting change of pace to see Spectrum investigate incidents that could be their work - something hinted at in the episode 'Manhunt'.

Captain ScarletHowever, it was the third strip that began the ball rolling for a classic run of stories. As if in response to a Mysteron-less story, We Will Destroy The Indestructible is almost a Spectrum story without Captain Scarlet. Popular TV21 mythology has it that 'Area Purple' - the mid-Northern area of England - in the Shade set-up was the one that sent in the most correspondence to the publication, and indeed they reached the final of the running knock-out competition (see Part 1 of this guide) - being pipped at the post by ATV Midlands own Area Pink. This led to a backlog in replies and colour-coded Shade passes being sent out. So this story was reworked to feature Captain Purple instead, and he meets a brave but tragic end that Scarlet would otherwise have survived. It has to be speculated though, at what point in the commissioning of the strip this happened, as Purple bears a remarkable likeness to Scarlet in the artwork. Whereas other faceless Spectrum officers had all been so much Mysteron fodder in past issues, Purple was given a full heroes obituary (left), and his replacement - ex-undercover agent Austin Backus - made news in issue 187 by taking over the role. Which was undoubted a relief to all his Shades patiently awaiting their passes.

An earlier failed attempt to control an amnesiac Scarlet obviously sowed the seeds for the Mysterons, personifed as ever by Captain Black, to make a few attempts to capture, recondition or destroy him, or possibly all three - and not necessarily in that order. The eponymous Metal Monsters of the next story initially turn out to be little more than a means to blackmail Scarlet into going to Mars for a quick brainwash. And lo and behold, if it isn't the master computer from TV Tornado's ex-sister strip The Mysterons - one almost wishes for a 'Come in, Captain Scarlet... I've been expecting you.' denouement at this first of confrontations. Somehow, 'At last we have you!' doesn't quite cut it...

The 'ah HA!' moments start to fly thick and fast, as the Mysterons try to knock Cloudbase out of the game for their own purposes, only to be hoist in their own petard and Captain Black is finally captured. Oh, what a lost opportunity it is for at least one frame where perhaps we learn a little more about him. But in the all-action TV21, Black slips out of Spectrum's fingers again all too quickly. And after - once more - capturing Scarlet for a quick kick in the ribs in return for all the wrist slapping he has been getting recently ('We, the Mysterons, will kill you... er... again!?
'), he sails off into the sunset. And a short twilight of more fanciful stories again.

Captain Scarlet

It is not that the next three stories are bad, but they veer off the track again. World Airforce Alerted
does at least ask the question 'is there a time limit to retrometabolism', and the fact the Mysterons have to use more technology than usual to reconstruct the dinosaurs seems to partially answer that. The image of the Mysteron complex in the heart of the Amazon is also a nice juxtaposition, and it is a pity this came at a time past specially staged photos, as it would have been lovely to see this 'for real'.

Captain ScarletSpectrum Sensation is so close to being a classic it is almost unfair to deny it that status. Its underlying logic is a little flawed, as it was established in TV21 continuity that there was a need for Spectrum before the Mysteron threat, so if the War of Nerves ended, should this need still not exist? But any reason to see the Mysterons launch a fully fledged attack on Earth, and in a much more satisfying way than the episode 'Attack On Cloudbase', is to be applauded. The conclusion will probably divide readers, not only for the 'indestructible stand-off', but the fact the Mysterons capitulate so easily. Scarlet seems in a position not only to force the Mysterons to end their attack, but stop the war forever. This could so easily have been made the last ever story, and all the more satisfying as that. Writer and editor Howard Elson recalls wanting to bring the War Of Nerves to end, and begin a new story arc for Captain Scarlet. "I wanted to kill off the Mysterons," he recalled recently, "I never thought things were ever thought through enough, bodies were left all over the place without any explanations. I even spoke to Tony Barwick, the script editor for the series, about it and he said it didn't matter — they just left so many loose ends not tied up if that makes sense. But that was their philosophy." So one has to ponder if this was as close as he came to doing that, only to have the whole situation reset in the final frames. But as he clarifies, "Alan Fennell with all his foresight predicted the series would still be around well into the future, so we kept things as they were. However, we did flirt with killing them off on several occasions." For its wild abandon with the established format, and some nice character moments for a suddenly rehumanised Conrad Turner, it gives the strip a satisfying reboot, for those readers who had perhaps only joined at the merger with TV Tornado a few weeks earlier.

In light of this, one has to wonder how close the following story, with aliens from Alpha Centauri landing on Earth, came to being the start of the 'new' adventures as well. It was not a new idea in an Anderson strip either, as reptilian aliens from that star system had already appeared in the final Mysterons strip in TV Tornado earlier in the year. The stories have a vague similarity that makes you wonder if the same writer was not involved in both, but we may never know for certain. Likewise, A New Threat! has a great idea but flawed execution - trapping Scarlet to send him deep into space is really cool - but ends in a pulp sci-fi fantasy which could have been another potential different direction for the strip. But at least with Holiday of Terror we return to the basics of the series, even if the 'crash Cloudbase' scenario had already been done before, and would be again in the Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet annual.

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

Captain Scarlet strip guide - part two

Captain ScarletScarlet Goes Into Space! (Story Eleven)
Writer: Scott Goodall (?).
Artist: Mike Noble.
Colour cover, 2 pages b/w, 1 page colour.
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 176, dateline 01 June 1968 (Scarlet Edition)
Scarlet Goes Into Space!
Space freighter Callisto is returning from Galaxy 7 but when it enters the Earth's atmosphere, there is a cry over the radio and the ship crashes. This is the third such incident to strike ships returning from Galaxy 7, and while there has been no Mysteron threat, Colonel White sends Scarlet and Blue to investigate. The radio officer of the second ship survived the crash, so Scarlet visits him in hospital and senses he is not a Mysteron. But when a nurse brings in a pot plant, the man dies of sheer fright. White has no option but to send Scarlet and Blue to Planet 24 in Galaxy 7 but their investigations turn up no Mysteron activity. They opt to fly the next freighter back to Earth, when Doctor Banner of the World Biological Organisation requests approaches them. He has a new species of vine as a specimen, and needs to urgently return to his laboratory on Earth. Blue refuses, but as preparations for lauch are made, a dark figure steals aboard. On course for Earth, Scarlet bursts into the flight cabin with the news there is a Mysteron on board...

Part 2 - Issue 177, dateline 08 June 1968 (Green Edition)
Mysteron Aboard Space Ship!
Captain Scarlet
Putting the ship on automatic, Scarlet leads Blue to investigate the rear freight locker he heard sounds from. But it is actually Doctor Banner, who had smuggled himself on board with his plant specimen - the last surviving one. As the plant reacts violently to pressure change and is unique, Banner seeks fame for the discovery. But on re-entry, the vine mutates wildly in reaction to the retros firing. It is the plant specimens that caused the previous crashes, and Banner dies in its choking grasp trying to protect it. Impervious to gunfire, it grabs Blue, and Scarlet has to use concentrated carbon dioxide from a fire cylinder to weaken it. As the ship plunges out of control through the atmosphere, Scarlet puts Blue in a life-boat capsule and ejects him. Changing course by a few degrees, Scarlet crashes the freighter into the Pacific.

Captain ScarletHue Goes There?:
Although unnamed, it seems Captain Magenta finds Captain Blue at the end.

Reprinted:
TV2000 - issue 43/1968 as Captain Scarlet Bedreigd! (Captain Scarlet Threatened!)
The New Thunderbirds issues 77 to 78.

Notes:
Interestingly, this story does not feature the Mysterons nor Captain Black. So it can perhaps be surmised they had nothing to do with the mutated vines, making the crashes a series of tragic accidents causing by an unwittingly Doctor Banner.
One also has to ponder if 'Doctor Banner' is also a nod to The Incredible Hulk - after all, his vine does grow and become violent!
This would appear to be a reworking, possibly by Scott Goodall, from an earlier strip for the last Fireball XL5 annual (which he also contributed to) called The Creeping Menace.
Oops! The reprint of this strip's second part in issue 78 of The New Thunderbirds, also featured the newsflash for the Thunderbirds story that appeared on the cover of issue 177 of TV Century 21 (left) as well. Pity that story had already been printed back in issue 22 of Thunderbirds The Comic...
Mike Noble discusses the Callisto, and other aspects of this story, of this story in this interview.


Captain ScarletCaptain Scarlet And The Killer Whales (Story Twelve)
Writer: Unknown.
Artist: Mike Noble.
Colour cover, 2 pages b/w, 1 page colour.
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 178, dateline 15 June 1968 (Magenta Edition)
Captain Scarlet And The Killer Whales!
"We shall destroy the fruit of the North!"
Captains Scarlet and Grey are patrolling the Arctic Circle after a report about Captain Black, when they spot two Eskimo hunters in trouble from a pack of killer whales. Missiles destroy the whales, and the Spectrum officers are invited to meet with the Angakok - the head man of their village. But Black is leading the whale attacks, and when the sole survivor of another hunting party returns, he accuses Scarlet and Grey of being in league with him because of they wear the same uniform. Cut off from their helicopter, the two officers are forced to flee into the Arctic wilderness. The Mysterons make their threat, and the killer whales under their control strike at the World Fisheries hatcheries - to destroy the 'fruit of the North' - the fish...

Part 2 - Issue 179, dateline 22 June 1968 (Scarlet Edition)
SURVIVAL! Spectrum Men Face Frozen Death...
Scarlet is forced to carry the near frozen Grey across the ice-fields, with little hope of rescue, as part of it breaks up. The Angels have been called in to investigate the whale attacks, and try to launch their own attack in Black's boat - but he is protected by a large flock of Mysteronised sea-birds. As Destiny's flight lands to reconsier the situation, they spot Scarlet and Grey adrift on an ice floe. While grey recovers, Scarlet sees a possible hope in an old electricity cable in Penguin Bay. Scarlet uses a boat as a lure, and Black directs his whales after him. In the bay, Scarlet dives for the cable, and uses his own body as a conductor to electrify the water. The whales are killed, and the Air Force will deal with the birds - but what of Scarlet? His body is pulled from the water, and Doctor Fawn thinks he will recover. But this may be the closest Scarlet has ever been to death.
Captain Scarlet
Reprinted:
TV2000 - issues 26/1969
The New Thunderbirds issues 75 to 76.

Notes:
This story, as with the earlier We Will Destroy The Observatory Network strip, shows Scarlet to withstand electric current and live.
A Spectrum hovercraft, as seen in the episode 'Traitor', is seen at the end of part 2.


Captain ScarletStory Thirteen (aka "We The Mysterons Will Destroy The Indestructible")
Writer: Unknown.
Artist: Keith Watson.
Colour cover, 2 pages b/w, 1 page colour. (180)
Colour cover, 3 pages b/w. (181)
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 180, dateline 29 June 1968 (White Edition)
New Mysteron Threat!
"We the Mysterons will destroy the Indestructible"
Colonel White is certain Captain Scarlet is the target, and confines him to his room on Cloudbase until the threat is over. But meanwhile, Ralph Denning is killed and reconstructed by the Mysterons while water-spinning near San Diego. Called by his colleagues, Denning gets into his uniform - that of the W.N.S. Indestructible! A ferry sub takes them to 'Indestructible' - an undersea city for extractingminerals from the ocean. White calls on Scarlet, who has been making a list of other possible 'indestructible' targets, and narrowed it down to three with that name: a World Space Patrol rescue craft, a town in Arizona, and the undersea city. Colonel White himself decides to cover the city with Captain Purple, and starts a system of x-ray scanning to detect Mysterons. But Denning is already in action, and opens the waste pipes...

Part 2 - Issue 181, dateline 06 July 1968 (Blue Edition)
War Of Nerves! Is Scarlet Their Target?
All personnel are eventually scanned - except Denning who is missing. As earch is started when White notices it is getting hot. As all the air is purified from one plant, the conclusion seems obvious - but on arriving and opening the doors, White, Purple and Admiral Clay are knocked back by a wall of water. The sea-cocks are open, and in four hours the air will be unbreathable. Purple gives covering fire while White tries to get to the purifier controls - but the colonel is winged. As they pull White clear, Purple shoots Denning - then is himself trapped in the room. With the sea-cocks jammed, Purple is doomed - and hears how the Mysteron planned this as a trap for Scarlet. The city is evacuated just before it explodes, killing its sole occupant.
Captain Scarlet

Hue Goes There?:
Captain Purple gives his life to try and save the undersea city of Indestructible.

Reprinted:
TV2000 - issue 34/1969 as Onverwoestbaar Verwoest (Indestructible Destroyed)
The New Thunderbirds issues 82 to 83.

Notes:
Keith Watson's design for the electrode rifle is at odds with the prototype seen in the episode 'Spectrum Strikes Back', but is a more practical design. Its look seems inspired partly by the 'electro-stunner' pistols seen in the Dan Dare story Safari In Space, which Watson - as a fan and later artist on the strip - would have been quite familiar.
The World Navy uniforms seem to be a pink variation of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol uniforms from Stingray. Or vice versa, depending which came first.
Spectrum apparently have submarines, and Colonel White and Captain Purple use one to reach Indestructible. These are also referred to in the ©1968 Captain Scarlet annual.
Captain ScarletThis seems to be the only strip to refer to x-rays as a method of detecting Mysterons, as opposed to Scarlet usually sensing them.
The design of submarine which Captain Scarlet uses to reach Indestructible is an interesting variation and update on the Stingray class (left).
The rank and colour for Captain Purple raises an issue - there was already a Lieutenant Purple piloting Cloudbase. Could this be the same person, promoted to field duty?
The second part of this story saw the fourth page of the Captain Scarlet strip become black and white.
Huh? The colourist of the 1990s strips makes the electrode rifle a bright red - which admittedly was the colour of the prototype seen in the episode 'Spectrum Strikes Back' - but Keith Watson had already shown his version to a metallic white.


Captain ScarletMetal Monsters!
(Story Fourteen aka Robot Challenge!)
Writer: Richard O'Neill (?).
Artist: Mike Noble. Colour cover, 3 pages b/w.
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 182, dateline 13 July 1968 (Magenta Edition)
Robot Challenge! Grim Struggle For Power
A tall steel robot advances, and Scarlet springs to the attack. But the robot is too strong, and Scarlet is held aloft - defeated. The fight is a test at World Robotics, and Scarlet - while impressed - is concerned what may happen is these invincible machines should fall into the wrong hands. He is reassured about security, but even as this happens, Captain Black drives up in a saloon car and shoots down both human and robot guards. Gaining access to the central control unit, Black causes an overload which blows back to the testing area. Simonds and his assistant are killed in the mayhem as robots run out of control, and Scarlet is knocked unconscious. He revives to find Black in control, and Simonds under Mysteron control...

Part 2 - Issue 183, dateline 20 July 1968 (Black Edition)
Scarlet Captured! Victory For Captain Black!
Scarlet leaps to his feet but is quickly overpowered by robots. Black threatens to have the robots destroy a city like Los Angeles or San Francisco, but it is a move to get Scarlet to go with Black to Mars - surrender to the Mysterons. Scarlet agrees, and is driven out into the desert where Black has a rocket concealed. Planet-fall on Mars, and Black brings Scarlet before the controller of the Mysterons - a giant computer. A savage mind-probe tries to bring Scarlet back under its control, and he passes out. But as Black goes to revive him, Scarlet strikes back and escapes. Back in the rocket however, he finds it under Mysteron control - and they threaten to destroy Earth's cities...

Part 3 - Issue 184, dateline 27 July 1968 (Magenta Edition)
Scarlet Escapes! ...But Mysteron Threat Remains!
Captain Scarlet
Scarlet is sure the electrode weapons will destroy the robots - but first he must get to Earth and warn Spectrum. He engages with a battle of wills against the Mysteron computer to get the rocket to lift off. Scarlet wins - but the Mysterons destroy the controls and radio, then order Simonds to prepare the robots to attack Los Angeles. Scarlet's ship is detected on Cloudbase, and the Angels are sent to destroy the unidentified intruder from space. But Scarlet bails out, and is rescued by Rhapsody's salvage cable. On the edge of the Nevada Desert, Simonds has his robot army ready - until all five Angels craft fly out of the sun and unleash a full missile attack. On the ground, SPVs launch a second attack, and electrode guns finish the brief war.
Captain ScarletAnd on Mars, Black receives an emotionless chastisement:
"Once again you have failed! The patience of the Mysterons is great - but we warn you, Captain Black, it will not last forever!"

Hue Goes There?:
Oops - for the 1990s reprints, in part 3 the colourist inadvertantly changes Captain Blue into Captain Scarlet at the top of page 3.

Reprinted:
TV2000 - issues 35 to 36/1968
The New Thunderbirds issues 84 to 86.

Notes:
There is no actual Mysteron threat in this story, which is presumably a trap for Scarlet.
Joe 90While never seen in use in the series, nor mentioned in any of the specifications in cutaways or annuals, it is shown here that the Spectrum saloon cars are armed with cannons.
To demonstrate the power of the robots in part 2, page 2, Black seemingly gets one to take apart... Captain Scarlet's hat? (We know it had his radio in it but as a test of strength it seemed a bit odd... )
The design of the Mysteron master computer (above) is Mike Noble's take on the version seen originally in The Mysterons in TV Tornado.
While journeys between Earth and Mars were usually suggested to take weeks, it appears the Mysteron spaceship may only take hours to make the trip.
Joe McClaine is seen reading issue 183 of TV21, featuring the second part of this story on the cover, in the episode 'See You Down There' (left).


Liquid Dynamite! (Story Fifteen)
Writer: Unknown.
Artists: Frank Bellamy: Colour covers
Don Harley: 3 pages b/w.
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 185, dateline 03 August 1968 (Green Edition)
Liquid Dynamite! Big Consigment Of Rocket Fuel For Woomera!
"Spectrum has stood in our way for too long! Now - we shall capture the base in the sky!"
Captain Scarlet
At Stansted Airport, a giant transporter plane is being loaded up with a cargo of rocket fuel to take to Woomera. Unkonown to the flight crew, the 'expert' handling the 'liquid dynamite' is Captain Black. The Mysteron agent kills the pilots, and their Mysteron reconstructions send out an emergency call that the cargo is insecure. With no airfield within five hundred miles, Stansted Flight Control finds Cloudbase is in the area, and calls for an emergency landing. But as the plane closes in, the Mysterons make their threat, and it crashes into the flight deck. Sixty tons of rocket fuel burst into an inferno, and despite the fire crews rumblings they can beat the fire, Scarlet tells White they should evacuate the base. As the last of the Spectrum personnel leave in helicopters, Scarlet puts Cloudbase into a crash dive into the sea...

Part 2 - Issue 186, dateline 10 August 1968 (Black Edition)
Cloudbase Crash Dive! Captain Scarlet Still On Board
Captain Scarlet
With its flight deck ablaze, Scarlet plunges Cloudbase into the ocean. Scarlet ejects to the surface, and moments later, the sturdy frame of Cloudbase rises beside him. Damage is not too serious, and Scarlet is picked up by a Spectrum helicopter. But as it departs, the unguarded Cloudbase is boarded by Captain Black and a helicopter force of Mysteron agents. As it lifts off, the Mysterons reiterate their threat that Earth is now unprotected. However, this is all part of a plan to break Black's network of Earth-based agents by getting them all in one place. All Spectrum personnel are taken up in a plane, for a daring parachute drop raid to take back Cloudbase. In a short and vicious battle, Cloudbase is reclaimed, but Black makes a bid for escape in a helicopter. Scarlet climbs aboard, and in a fight, the craft crashes back to the flight deck. The mission has been a success - and Captain Black has been captured at last!

Hue Goes There?:
Presumably it is Captain Blue who picks Scarlet up but in the coloured 1990s reprint, it looks as if Colonel White does.
The colourist for the strips also include orange, purple and rust coloured uniforms seen among the evacuated Spectrum personnel, as well as Ochre and Grey.

Captain ScarletReprinted:
The New Thunderbirds issues 87 to 88.

Notes:
The Mysterons take control of the plane over the South Atlantic, but this would surely not be on a course between England and Australia?
Interestingly, whenever the Mysterons make their threat, Don Harley depicts Lieutenant Green as taking a startled step back from his console.
Although Don Harley depicts it slightly differently, the configuration of the plane Spectrum use to board Cloudbase resembles that of the RTL 2 from the Thunderbirds episode 'The Cham-Cham', also seen as the TC193, from the Thunderbirds strip Talons of the Eagle.
Frank Bellamy illustrates the colour front covers of this story, the first two of five he would drew over the next few months.
For the reprint in 1995, the story was promoted by a cover showing a flaming Cloudbase being abandoned by three Angel Interceptors, painted by Andrew Skilleter.


Captain ScarletDe-Mysteronised! (Story Sixteen)
Writer: Unknown.
Artist: Mike Noble. Colour cover, 3 pages b/w.
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 187, dateline 17 August 1968 (Blue Edition)
De-Mysteronised! Captured Black To Undergo Operation
A defiant Black is brought before Colonel White, who asks Doctor Fawn if he can break the Mysteron control on him. Fawn attempts to do so but the Mysterons send power through Black, causing Fawn to pass out while alone in the opertaing theatre. Black uses a hand laser to cut his way out, and kidnaps Harmony Angel. Black attempts to escape with her as hostage in an Angel Interceptor. But with Spectrum forces in pursuit, Harmony ejects when Black is distracted, and the plane is destroyed. A sea search fails to recover Black's body, but Scarlet is sure they have not seen the last of him. And he is right, for on the sea-bed Black has found the wreck of an old German U-Boat submarine - and reconstructed it with the power of the Mysterons...

Part 2 - Issue 188, dateline 24 August 1968 (Black Edition)
Where Is Black?
"You will not see the Earthman, Scarlet, again! And the next blow... we shall destroy the monster of the deep!"
Black climbs aboard the U-Boat to find it fully armed with all torpedo tubes armed. As the Spectrum sea search prepares to return to base, Black launches an attack, and the two craft are destroyed. Scarlet is captured by Black, and as Symphony sights the wreckage, the Mysterons make their threat. While Colonel White ponders the riddle, Black tells Scarlet of the Mysteron plan - to destroy the new World Navy underwater battleship Leviathan, named after ancient sea monster legends. But after the ship is destroyed, Black plans to leave the U-Boat to rot in the deepest part of the ocean - with Scarlet trapped aboard...
Captain Scarlet

Part 3 - Issue 189, dateline 31 August 1968 (Scarlet Edition)
Black is unaware his hand laser has dropped from his belt, and Scarlet uses it to free himself and escape his cell. But the main bulkhead door to the control room is locked, and Scarlet determines he is in the bows where the torpedo tubes are. Black sights Leviathan, and fires a full salvo, unaware Scarlet is hanging on to one of the torpedoes! The defused missile crumple harmlessly against the hull, and Scarlet is pulled from the water by the crew. The U-Boat attempts to escape but Leviathan dives after it and captures it in a loading bay. It is empty though, and miles away, Black floats in a dinghy as he hears the Mysterons chide him for his failure.

Hue Goes There?:
Doctor Fawn's uniform is notably darker and browner than the one seen on television.

Reprinted:
The New Thunderbirds issues 88 to 89.

Notes:
Spectrum hovercraft make a second appearance in parts 1 and 2. However, rather than being piloted by officers in Spectrum uniforms, the crew appear to have naval uniforms with Spectrum flashes.
TV21 issue 187 would be the last to feature a photo on the cover, tied in to that week's instalment of Captain Scarlet, until issue 202.
Issue 187 features Spectrum Fotofiles of Doctor Fawn and Captain Ochre on the back cover.
The 1990s reprint omits some speech from frame 6 of page 3 of the first part. In it, Scarlet replies 'Save it, Adam! We've got to catch him first!'. Speech is also omitted from frame 2, page 2 of part 2 - the officer with Scarlet replies, 'S.I.G. Captain!'


Captain ScarletStory Seventeen (aka World Airforce Alerted!)
Writer: Richard O'Neill (?).
Artist: Keith Watson. Colour cover, 3 pages b/w.
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 190, dateline 07 September 1968 (Magenta Edition)
World Airforce Alerted!
"We will restart Earth's history from the beginning!"
As Manhattan sleeps, an alien flying saucer hisses in over the skyline. Where has it come from? Are the Mysterons at work again?
The saucer lands on the roof of the New York Museum of Prehistoric Remains, and Captain Black leads a group of men inside. Police arrive, and impervious to their guns, Black shoots them. The World Air Force has been alerted, and jet fighter Thor 1 closes in to attack the saucer as it lifts off - only to be blasted out of the sky. The next morning, Colonel White calls a meeting of Spectrum Captains to discuss the theft of the prehistoric skeletons. Scarlet is bemused, believing there to be a limit to the Mysterons recreative ray. UFO sightings over the past year show plenty of activity around the Amazon basin, and Captains Yellow and Emerald are despatched in an SPJ. However, over the area, their last communication indicates they are under attack. When local Spectrum forces find nothing but debris from the jet, Scarlet and Blue are sent in. Unable to cover the terrain in an SPV, they use thruster packs. But once in the air, they are attacked by a prehistoric pterodactyl, and Blue is carried off in its claws...

Part 2 - Issue 191, dateline 14 September 1968 (Blue Edition)
Terror From The Skies! Ancient Reptile Attacks Blue
Captain ScarletScarlet uses his thruster pack to burn the creature, and it drops Blue. Diving for cover into the trees, Scarlet finds Blue, who fell into the river, and the two strike out on foot in the direction the pterodactyl was taking. A crashing sound heralds the appearance of a brontosaurus, which is dealt with by an electrode rifle. But the biggest shock is finding a Mysteron city deep in the jungle. Leaving Blue to call in the Angels, Scarlet enters... and finds a machine recreating the dinosaurs from the bones. A shaft of light suddenly paralyses Scarlet, and he finds Black is there also. The Mysterons plan to take Scarlet's indestructibility away, but with his finger still on the trigger of the electrode rifle, he summons the willpower to fire and destroy the device holding him. Black orders the newly reconstructed Tyrannosaurus to attack, but the rifle despatches it and cuts a swathe of destruction around the complex. The Angels arrive, and follow their orders to destroy the city.

Hue Goes There?:
Captains Yellow and Emerald are sent to investigate UFO activity in the Amazon basin and are killed.
For the 1990s reprints, the colourist makes Captains Yellow and Emerald present at the mission briefing, but their actual colours seem more like Grey and Ochre.
Also in the reprints, the Spectrum officers who find the wreckage wear deep red, brown and orange uniforms.

Captain ScarletReprinted:
Thunderbirds Are Go! issues 01 to 02.

Notes:
This is the first time we see Mysteron activity on Earth besides Captain Black and reconstructed agents.
Oops - the colourist for the 1990s reprint gets Scarlet and Blue mixed up when they take off with their thruster packs at the end of part 1. He then colours Scarlet blue when evading the pterodactyl.
Oops part two - the colourist also gets Captain Blue and Doctor Fawn wrong in the last part, making them Colonel White and Captain Scarlet respectively. Colonel White is also given Blue's blond hair (left).
From issue 190, The Saint and Tarzan join TV21, replacing Stingray.


Title becomes TV21 and TV Tornado


Captain ScarletStory Eighteen (aka Wind Of Death)
Writer: Unknown.
Artists: Frank Bellamy: Colour covers,
Jim Watson: 3 pages b/w.
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 192, dateline 21 September 1968
"The wind will rise, Earthmen! The wind will rise!"
On the Russian section of the frozen Arctic Ocean, a new domed city has been built. Scarlet uses his 'sixth sense' to confirm a suspected saboteur is a Mysteron, and in his gratitude the chief of police shows him a huge fan system which heats and ventilates the city. But as Professor Levinski prepares to throw the master switch to start it, Scarlet feels faint again as he detects another Mysteron. Too late, the switch is thrown and there is a massive explosion. Black reconstructs Levinski, his staff and the fan, leaving Scarlet to recover hours later amidst the debris. Searches over the following days reveal nothing, but the Mysterons make their threat as winds have progressively getting stronger. Planes are grounded, and hurricane force winds batter Tokyo and New York. Captain Magenta barely makes it to Moscow to contact Scarlet, who is told the storm centre is in the Sahara Desert. But there is no transport which can beat the winds to get there...

Part 2 - Issue 193, dateline 28 September 1968
A special reinforced MSV, weighing sixteen tons and with survival stores for four thousand miles could make the journey, and Scarlet and Magenta set out on the perilous journey. Beyond a wrecked Bucharest, they find the wind has driven the Mediterranean Sea east, flodding Turkey but leaving the path dry for them. As they close in, they spot a giant fan through the driving sand. Safe at the calm centre of the worldwide storm, Black and Levinski spot the approaching MSV but are helpless when it opens fire and destroys the fan. Air pressure changes, and the MSV is blown around as a tornado sweeps the debris and Mysterons to oblivion. The damage may takes months to repair - but is the world is saved.
Captain Scarlet

Reprinted:
Thunderbirds Are Go! issues 03 to 04 as Winds Of Danger

Notes:
Given that no Mysteron threat has been made until well into the first part, the question is: what was Scarlet doing at the Russian Arctic City in the first place? A routine security sweep?
This is the first weekly Captain Scarlet drawn by Jim Watson, who had already contributed to the Captain Scarlet annuals, effectively trading places with Mike Noble who returned to Zero X. Watson would become the main artist on Captain Scarlet throughout its final year.
Oops! - For the reprint in Thunderbirds Are Go!, the text and photo promoting the strip refers to the MSV as a modified SPV.


Captain ScarletThe Football King
(Story Nineteen, aka Scarlet - Soccer Star!)
Writer: Howard Elson (?).
Artist: Mike Noble. Colour cover, 3 pages b/w.
Colourist (1990s): Graham Bleathman.

Part 1 - Issue 194, dateline 05 October 1968 (Spectrum Is Green)
Mysterons Threaten The Football King!
The Mysterons have threatened to kill King Abdul El Krim Ahmed of the Arab Nations. The King is also captain of the Assam Wanderers football team, and in order to protect him, Scarlet is forced to join them for the semi-final against Beruit City. After the game, Scarlet accompanies the King on a run but they encounter a group of Bedouin riders... led by Captain Black. As Scarlet holds them off with an electrode rifle, the King is told to make for the foothills. But he returns to aid Scarlet when the Spectrum officer is overwhelmed. Taking one of the horses, Scarlet becomes a human shield for the King until they ride out of range. Unfamiliar with Scarlet's powers of recovery, the King believes him dead when he keels over, and has the body frozen until Spectrum can arrange a military funeral...

Part 2 - Issue 195, dateline 12 October 1968 (Spectrum Is Black)
Scarlet Dead? Body Placed In Refrigerator!
Scarlet revives to find himself in the morgue freezer. As Cloudbase informs the King Scarlet is not dead, White flies out to join him. The King is amazed but White passes off the mistake as Scarlet having a very low heart beat rate. It is the cup final the next day, but en route to the grounds, the King's coach is held up by milling crowds. The King decides his team should go on foot, against White's better judgment, but Scarlet sees Black and gives chase. Black ambushes him, and it is a bruised Scarlet who staggers back to the grounds. With Spectrum forces on watch around the stadium, Scarlet has no option but to let the game go ahead with himself still in the Assam team. His sixth sense warns him Black is near, and the Mysteron is in one of the television camera stands with a rifle. At the last moment, Scarlet spots him and kicks the ball up, knocking Black off the stand. But... he just vanishes, and Scarlet has to be content with scoring the winning goal for the King.
Captain Scarlet
Reprinted:
Thunderbirds Are Go! issues 05 to 06.

Notes:
The Mysteron threat has already been made before the start of the story so we never get to see it in full.
It has to be pondered if Beruit is supposed to be Beirut, which gives an extraordinarily optimistic view of the unified world of TV21.
Mike Noble uses a more conventional design for the electrode rifle.
We see an interesting Arabic variation on the Spectrum outfit, worn by Captain Black.
King Ahmed's cry of 'What the... ?', on page 3 of part 1, was omitted from the 1995 reprint.
This was the only strip in the 1990s reprint runs to be coloured by cutaway artist Graham Bleathman.


Captain ScarletSpectrum Sensation (Story Twenty)
Writer: Unknown.
Artist: Mike Noble (196), Jim Watson (197-198).
Colour cover, 3 pages b/w.

Part 1 - Issue 196, dateline 19 October 1968 (Spectrum Is Red)
Traitor Black Gives In! Spectrum Asks Why?
After weeks of investigation, Captain Scarlet finally tracks down Lim-Po, the Mysteron controlling Chinese agents. He moves in on the enemy hideout, but a rifle sight is trained on the top Spectrum agent...
But the shot that rings out kills Lim-Po, who had circled around behind Scarlet with a knife. The rifleman is... Captain Black, who has no recollection of the Mysterons. He returns to Cloudbase with Scarlet, and submits to tests by Doctor Fawn. He finds no trace of Mysteron control, and Black is returned to duty. It seems the Mysterons are losing their power, and Scarlet proposes an attack on their city with an electrode cannon mounted on a spaceship. The cannon is built at the World Army Weapon Research Establishment at Fort Johnson, and successfully tested. A massive armed convoy transports it without incident to the Helsinki Space-Port, and it is fitted onto a spaceship. Scarlet is to be the sole pilot on the mission, and lifts off for Mars. As he flies over the complex, the Mysterons plead to be left to die in peace but having been tricked before, Scarlet needs to be certain of the end. Charge after charge destroys the city, and it does not reconstruct. A permanent World Army Force maintains watch for six more months - and nothing. Earth has won, and at a celebration dinner attended by the World President, Spectrum is told it is no longer needed as a separate force. All personnel and craft will be reassigned to other services...

Part 2 - Issue 197, dateline 26 October 1968 (Spectrum Is Orange)
Spectrum Finished - Captain Scarlet Gets New Job
Captain Scarlet
Cloudbase comes in to land at Glenn Field, where it is mothballed, and the Angels and their planes join the World Army-Air Force. The Spectrum Pursuit Vehicles are sent to the World Army, and the Saloon Cars and Maximum Security Vehicles to the Universal Secret Service. Colonel White joins the World President's staff in Unity City, and Captains Scarlet and Blue join the World Space Patrol, while Black decides to retire. At Space City, Scarlet and Blue, now under their own names Paul Metcalf and Adam Svenson, are welcomed by Commander Zero and sent to the training school on Mars. En route, they fly over the derelict Mysteron city, which is now a tourist spot! As they already have space wings, Metcalf and Svenson pass after a month, and return to Earth for their first mission. They will fly the brand new XL19 to Sector 58 and the Andromeda Galaxy - a round trip which will take a year. Colonel White, under his civilian name Grey, is enjoying his career but is called from a golf game to take a call from the World President. The Earth ambassador on planet Astra has hit the Kaplan leader, and Grey is to replace him. Meanwhile, ex-Captain Black - now retired plain civilian Conrad Turner - is enjoying a simple country life in Berkshire. But during a game of cricket, he disappears, and the voice of the Mysterons addresses everyone on Earth once more:
"This is the voice of the Mysterons! We know you can hear us Earth people... now it is our turn... you sent your men to destroy our city...and you though we were no more. So you disbanded your forces against us... your victory is now your defeat. For the one city you destoyed, we will build a hundred others... one in every major city on Earth... your troops sent against the cities will be destroyed and reborn into our service. These is no victory for you... our agents are invincible."
And as Captain Black reappears, once more a Mysteron agent, the voice of doom tells humanity:
"Your only surrender is death!"

Captain ScarletPart 3 - Issue 198, dateline 02 November 1968 (Black Edition)
Mysteron Shock! Earth's Major Cities Taken!
General Downside reports to the World President that the battle is going badly - his men are not trained to fight the Mysterons, who are taking over the fatalities. This is a job for Spectrum, but to reform the organisation will take time. Ambassador Grey is contacted, and boards an Astran ship to return to Earth. Scarlet and Blue are en route to Andromeda in XL19, and it will take a month for them to get back. The World President suggests using the untested Time-Space Experimental Ship, which could reach them in a day, and Zero condones the mission with Colonel Zodiac at the controls. As the President tries to requisition the Spectrum vehicles in readiness, and get Cloudbase airborne, the Mysterons construct a complex in Unity City, and the Council are forced to evacuate. The T-S Ship docks with XL19, and Scarlet returns with Blue and Zodiac to the solar system - but journey to Mars to take the fight back to the Mysterons. They destroy Scarlet's space-bug as he lands, but the indestructible man walks away from the wreckage. It seems a stand-off as man and Mysteron cannot destroy each other - until Scarlet blasts their retrometabolic ray machinery. Now both can be destroyed, and the Mysterons back down as Scarlet demands they restore the cities and people lost in the war - or he will carry out his threat. Scarlet has won, but he is warned never to return, or next time the Mysterons will be prepared to die too.
"The position is unchanged. Our vengeance on Earth will be satisfied... and next time, we will not surrender to the threats of Captain Scarlet"

Notes:
The first part of this story marks Mike Noble's last work on the strip.
While some strips had played hard and fast with the week-by-week reporting of the TV Century 21 newspaper reporting format, this story breaks it outright, and several months elapse over the first two parts.
The Century 21 Toys offices from Secret Agent 21, the Astrans from Fireball XL5, Commander Shore from Stingray, and Commander Zero, Steve Zodiac and Robert the Robot make cameo appearances in the strip. Lieutenant Ninety appears to have been promoted to the rank of Major.
Hmmm... General Downside. Bummer of a name in any war.
Captain Scarlet
It is interesting, if a possible deux ex machina reset ending, that the Mysterons reconstruct the destroyed cities and killed people as part of their surrender. Even if these are not under Mysteron control, does this mean they are indestructible?
This story was omitted from the 1990s reprints. It could be speculated, as issues 197 to 201 inclusive are missing from the British Library archives, that high quality scans were being acquired from this source. These missing issues were the possibly the reason this story, and the subsequent two, were not reprinted.


Captain ScarletStory Twenty One
Writer: Unknown.
Artist: Keith Watson.
Colour cover, 3 pages b/w.

Part 1 - Issue 199, dateline 09 November 1968 (Spectrum Is Red)

At the World Army - Air Force base at Nebraska picks up an unidentified craft entering Earth's atmosphere - way off the space lanes and big. Three of the new Thunderstreak fighters blast off to intercept and investigate, and find a large artificial spheroid. As Cloudbase monitors events in the belief the event may be Mysteron-related, the fighters launch a nuclear missile attack. The spheroid proves impervious to the attack, and lands in Derbyshire, England. Captain Blue believes its indestructibility is due to it being a Mysteron craft, but if it is - and they have openly landed on Earth for the first time - then Colonel White decides to take command of any operation personally. At the landing site, five hours since the object arrived, there is still no contact despite radio messages being sent on every wavelength. White gives the order to move in, and the SPVs flanking the object start to advance. Then a heat ray emits from the spheroid, and Captains Scarlet and Blue are forced to abandon their SPV and take cover as it melts. The other vehicles meet the same fate, and their officers retreat unharmed. Wanting to take no chances, White starts to call in an Angel strike but Scarlet stops him. The area is honeycombed with caves, and Scarlet believes he can get under the spheroid. Alone, he enters the caves and finds the underside - and a open hatch apparently expecting him. Inside, it seems empty - then he turns to see Captain Black...

Part 2 - Issue 200, dateline 16 November 1968 (Spectrum Is Green)
Spaceship Mystery! Scarlet And Black Held By Aliens!
Captain Scarlet
Black tells Scarlet he is unarmed, but like him he is now a prisoner. Scarlet is suddenly grabbed by two alien humanoids, and Scarlet finds his radio does not work - blocked by a foce field. The two men are taken to a chamber where they are both placed in cubicles and studied, and one alien now addresses them. It explains a psychoprobe has revealed their language, and that they are explorers from Alpha Centauri. They have already determined the difference between the human Scarlet and Captain Black - and now offer assistance to Earth in the war against the Mysterons. Black cries out in defiance and shakes off his guard, fleeing through the ship to find the weapon control room. Opening fire with the heat ray, Black forces the Spectrum forces outside to retaliate. Scarlet tries to warn Colonel White but the Angels have already fired their missiles. The alien ship starts to break up, and Scarlet pursues an escaping Black back outside into the caves. The ship destroyed, Spectrum search parties find Scarlet's body underneath. Because of humanity's fear of the unknown, the aliens who may have been allies have died, and White concludes solumnly the Mysterons have won this round.

Hue Goes There?:
Several officers are present to investigate the spheroid but none are identifiable by rank or colour, except Colonel White and Captain Blue.

Notes:
The first part of this strip simply has the title Captain Scarlet.
Hmmm - when standing to take command, Colonel White seems to be doing up his jacket belt. Does this mean he was sitting there with it undone? And why?
This story was omitted from the 1990s reprints (see Notes for Story Twenty).


Captain ScarletA New Threat! (Story Twenty Two)
Writer: Unknown.
Artists: Colour covers: Jim Watson (201),
John Cooper (203 & 204)
3 pages b/w: Jim Watson

Part 1 - Issue 201, dateline 23 November 1968 (Spectrum Is Blue)
Panic Stations! Exploded Planet's Debris On Collision Course With Earth!
"You know that the asteroid is now under our control, Earthmen. We shall use it to destroy Unity City!"
A asteroid three miles across, believed to be debris from a planet over ten thousand light years away which exploded, is heading for Earth. Mars Control sends two space force craft to destroy it but Colonel White realises the implications and tries to stop them. Too late, the asteroid is destroyed, and the Mysterons recreate it as a new weapon. Their threat made, Scarlet realises heavy electrode weapons will have to be used, and a spaceship is prepared. The Angels are launched to patrol the approach course of the asteroid, and be Earth's last defence if Scarlet fails. With only two hours before it enters the atmosphere, Unity City is evacuated. Impulsively, Destiny flies to her maximum ceiling, and her Interceptor engines fail on the edge of space - right in the asteroid's path. Scarlet and Blue lift off, but will they be in time to save her - and Earth... ?

Part 2 - Issue 202, dateline 30 November 1968 (Spectrum Is Black)
The Agony Of Captain Scarlet! 'Destroy Asteroid' Command Means Death To Destiny Angel!
Harmony Angel contacts Captain Blue and tells him Destiny is missing. The asteroid changes course, and goes into orbit. Colonel White is taking no chances, and orders Scarlet and Blue to proceed with its destruction but then they spot the Angel Interceptor, empty, on the surface. Both wearing spacesuits, Black has Destiny at gunpoint, and taunts Scarlet - telling him to come and rescue her. White will allow one rescue attempt - if Scarlet fails then Blue must destroy the asteroid and anyone on it. Scarlet lands on the surface, but loses sight of Black. He has doubled back to the Interceptor with Destiny, and the aircraft inexplicably lifts into space. Scarlet witnesses the impossible flight, but a wave of pressure then crushes him to the surface. The asteroid has changed course again, and is moving fast out of orbit. Blue attempts to fire on it but the electrode bolts fall short. Destiny turns up back on Cloudbase - freed by Captain Black with a message. The Mysterons never intended to destroy Unity City - the asteroid is a trap for Captain Scarlet, and it is now travelling out of the solar system at almost the speed of light...

Captain ScarletPart 3 - Issue 203, dateline 07 December 1968 (Spectrum Is Red)
Death-Trip For Scarlet!
Spectrum Helpless!
With the asteroid nearly out of the solar system, Cloudbase is helpless. Even Scarlet, regaining consciousness, realises that far beyond the range of Mysteron power, he may no longer be indestructible. The asteroid enters the atmoshere of a strange planet and burns up, but miraculously Scarlet survives to find himself caught in a giant net... or web! Leaving his spacesuit, Scarlet confronts a giant spider-like creature, and kills it with his gun. A giant anthill heralds more terrors, and he is attacked by the huge creatures before being pulled clear by... a human riding a giant butterfly! Back at his camp, Scarlet finds they are the crew of the space freighter Sirius, which crashed three years ago - and he is marooned with them...

Part 4 - Issue 204, dateline 14 December 1968 (Spectrum Is Blue)
Life Sentence For Scarlet? Trapped On Planet Of Giant Insects!
Captain Scarlet
Scarlet asks to see their ship - an XL class vessel fueled by cadmite, caught in another giant web. But there is no acid in which to dissolve it to liquid for fuel. Scarlet has an idea, and primes the craft while some of the crew find a wasps nest to stir up. With the wasps close behind their butterfly, the crew rejoin Scarlet, who uses the butterfly as bait. The spider appears, but the wasps attack it, and in the strange battle, Scarlet gets a wasp to 'sting' through the hatch - and gallons of sting acid melt the cadmite! With fuel reading on the gauges, the ship is able to lift off and return to Earth.

Captain ScarletNotes:
The opening frame of this strip is unusual, apparently showing a scene on the alien planet 10,000 years ago as it is being destroyed.
In a nod to continuity, Scarlet attempts to use his willpower to override the path of the asteroid, in a similar way to getting the rocket to lift off from the earlier Metal Monsters strip.
Hmmm... a planet of giant insects, with killer ants and friendly butterflies? Captain Scarlet on The Web Planet perhaps?
The giant spider looks suspiciously like the Ranosian insect from The New Zero X strip, also drawn by Jim Watson, at the beginning of the year. Is it possible Scarlet was somewhere else on Ranos, in the Boroshone galaxy?
It is interesting that Scarlet refers to the Sirius as 'an old-type XL ship', as there was nothing to suggest these were obselete when he and Blue were put in command of XL19 scant weeks ago.
TV21 issue 202 featured a photographic cover, of Captain Scarlet in a spacesuit from the episode 'Crater 101', in place of artwork. This same photo had also appeared previously, flipped the wrong way, on the cover of issue 157.
This story was omitted from the 1990s reprints (see Notes for Story Twenty).


Captain ScarletHoliday Of Terror! (Story Twenty Three)
Writer: Richard O'Neill (?).
Artist: Keith Watson. Colour cover, 3 pages b/w.
Colourist (1990s): Unknown.

Part 1 - Issue 205, dateline 21 December 1968 (Spectrum Is Green)
Captain Scarlet Begins... Holiday Of Terror!
Captain Scarlet, under his civilian name Paul Metcalf, travels to Dorset for a holiday with his uncle Ivan. But while there he gets dizzy spells which make him suspect his uncle is a Mysteron. This warns him enough not to drink the drugged brandy, and he retires without raising the suspicion of Captain Black and another Mysteron. who attempt a kidnap in the night. Scarlet locks them in his room and drives off, only to find a local garage attendant is also a Mysteron when his fuel runs low. Suspicions are raised on Cloudbase when they cannot contact Scarlet, and the Angels are launched. Black has escaped, and drives a vehicle into the path of Scarlet's car. Captured, Scarlet is helpless as he is takem to a remote barn, where a Mysteron computer awaits to bring him back under their control...

Part 2 - Issue 206, dateline 28 December 1968 (Spectrum Is Black)
Mysterons Battle For... The Mind Of Captain Scarlet
"Soon the Mysterons will be avenged - Cloudbase will be destroyed!"
Scarlet uses a Tibetan monks' trance to hold off against the Mysteron computer. Black continues with his plan, and disguises himself as Captain Scarlet and returns to Cloudbase as the Mysterons make their threat. 'Scarlet' is given control - until Lieutenant Green realises it is an imposter as the real Scarlet's uniform is still on Cloudbase. Too late, 'Scarlet' puts Cloudbase on a crash dive for New York City, and holds Colonel White and the others at gunpoint. A recovered Scarlet escapes his cell, and rewires the Mysteron computer to neutralise all agents in the area. Black keels over, apparently dead, giving Colonel White the chance to stop the crash course. But Black revives and, still in his guise as Scarlet, manages to get to his plane and escape.
Captain Scarlet

Hue Goes There?:
Someone with a strong sense of continuity was paying attention to colouring the 1990s reprint - it looks very much like Lieutenants Peach and Purple could still be the pilots for Cloudbase (see We Will Destroy Unity City).

Reprinted:
Thunderbirds Are Go! issues 07 to 08.

Notes:
For such a personal blow against Captain Scarlet, the death of his uncle is swept aside rather easily. The Mysteron uncle also disappears halfway through part 1, never to be seen or referred to again.
Captain Black decides to play 'The Hood' in this story, using a rubber mask disguise.
Black's cry of 'Aaagh!', on page 3 of part 2, was omitted from the 1995 reprint.
This was the last Captain Scarlet strip to be reprinted in the 1990s, and was superbly coloured - almost in the style of Keith Watson himself.

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

Captain ScarletWhile publicity for the series was considerably less now, the editorial Shades of Opinion, usually hosted by Colonel White (and signed by Howard Elson) continued to grow. Often reports were about Mysteron activity or reader's new designs for futuristic craft, but occasionally other Captains would raise an issue and respond directly to their area Shades on more personal matters. This could lead to some quite controversial correspondence, and the seemingly casual question 'How do you Shades feel about girls joining Spectrum?' in issue 186, led to reader D. Brady of Walthamstow nearly causing an all out war of the sexes with his breakdown of what 'Spectrum' should stand for (right) six weeks later. And six weeks beyond this, A.P. Crooks (gender unspecified) of Area Cream countered with a different breakdown in which girls were 'Super, Pretty, Exquisite, Cute, Terrific, Radiant, Useful' with the 'M' standing for 'Males and females together'.

Caning, pocket money, even racism, were brought to the fore over the months. Spectrum may have been an apolitical organisation, but it had its finger on the pulse of topical issues - even if no stance was made. While irritating to some readers perhaps wanting an older and responsible view, the usual phrase 'Well, what do other Shades think?' was usually offered to provoke more discourse. And in hindsight, it gives an intriguing snapshot of the views of children at the time. More so, than the usual younger fare who simply wrote in saying they liked or disliked certain strips.

Strangely, the merger with TV Tornado illicited little initial response in Shades of Opinion regarding the new content, but what there was showed the usual division. Regular contributor among the readers, Stephen Baxter of Liverpool (yes, the Stephen Baxter - now acclaimed SF novelist) thought the merger made the title better than ever, and even suggested a 'fourth-dimensional story', like Dr Who or The Time Tunnel should be added. At the opposite end of the Spectrum, Nicholas Honner of Kent thought TV21 'has lost the 'something special' which used to distinguish it from all other comics... and this has happened since Spectrum took over!' Honner angled for Fireball XL5 and Stingray to be brought back in place of The Saint and Tarzan, and wanted to know, as did Colonel White, what other other Shades thought.

The growing response throughout TV21's final year would lead to an attempt to get back to basics... but was it already too late?

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

On to Part Three of this series.

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


The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History would like to thank:
Angus Allan
Keith Ansell
Mike Dennison
Howard Elson
Scott Goodall
Ronald Kroon
Graeme Walker
and Steve Wright
- for their help with this feature.

Version 1.2 - 01.09.05


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




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