Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Commando: Codename Warlord - Iain McLaughlin

The Coward. The Lord. The British Agent. In comic pages for the first time since 1991, Flint is back... and someone needs his help. Professor Von Bessner has defected, but he has been imprisoned by the Nazis he refuses to serve. It's Flint's job to get him out!

(Lord Peter Flint is another long-running character from British war comics who's making a comeback in recent issues of COMMANDO. This is the first story about him that I've read, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's almost non-stop action, something that doesn't always work, but author Iain McLaughlin has a nice touch with it and I plan to read more of his work, including his second Codename Warlord story. Below is what Wikipedia has to say about Lord Peter Flint.)

Codename: Warlord: He was a British secret agent and can be considered a World War II James Bond. His real name/cover was Lord Peter Flint, a despised conscientious objector who refused to participate in the war. His usual opponents were the Gestapo, Abwehr and Japanese intelligence, who (despite his cover) seemed to know his true identity and referred to him as "Flint".

His boss in London was the Churchillian (in character and physique) and probably purposefully so, secret service head 'Kingpin' who was to Warlord as 'M' is to James Bond. Warlord's mannerisms and idiom were Edwardian English upper class with such phrases as 'old chap', 'then I'm a Dutchman' and the casual (having just thwarted the Germans single-handedly again) 'toodle pip' (meaning 'goodbye') as he made his usual breathtaking escape to retake the mantle of his alter ego, the stay at home English gentleman, Lord Peter Flint.

Recurring enemies were Karl Schaft, an honourable German Abwehr agent. He was the mirror image of Flint in that both were patriotic and top agents. Adolf Gruber was very much the stereotyped evil Gestapo agent and had met Flint before the war when he had been a servant for one of Flint's German friends. A stable accident left Gruber with a limp and he blamed Flint for the accident.

The storyline borrowed from The Scarlet Pimpernel the idea of a seemingly upper-class fop actually being a daring wartime agent. Flint's ability to live in the real world as a flawed human being but hold secret his knowledge of his other 'superhuman' traits (the British 'stiff upper lip') is analogous to the modern era's 'Superman'.

The character 'Fireball' in Warlord's sister comic Bullet (who ended up being incorporated into Warlord after Bullet was cancelled) was later revealed to be the nephew of Lord Peter Flint, and an older Flint made occasional guest appearances in the Fireball strip.

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