Wednesday 10 June 2009


The series 'V For Vengeance' first appeared in the Wizard comic back in 1942 and reappeared in the 50s and 60s. The final series was called 'Red Vengeance' and was published in 1961.
"The big blue saloon slowed as it passed the entrance to the Tuileries Gardens in Paris. Even though it was two o'clock in the morning , and the car carried Otto Leben, Chief of the Gestapo in Paris, the German chauffeur obeyed the red warning of the traffic lights.
Not for more than a few seconds was the car held up, then the light changed to green, and it glided forward, yet during those few seconds the door of the off-side had opened softly and a huddled figure jumped out into the road, rolled over then rose quickly and silently.
This figure slipped swiftly through the entrance to the gardens, so grey and indistinct, with a shabby grey suit, grey felt hat, and grey-masked face. There were grey gloves on his hands, and on his feet grey rubber shoes. He merged into the shadows beneath the archway and vanished."
So begins the first story to feature 'the Deathless Men' with their trade mark limp.
Otto Leben, the Butcher of Paris is dead and it is down to Himmler's right hand man Colonel Von Reich to catch the killer.
'The Deathless Man' proves to be a former inmate of Buchenwald Concentration Camp who is recorded as having died nine months earlier. With the death of this character the Gestapo believe that the threat is over - but when one Deathless Man dies there is another to take his place each one called Jack followed by a number. Another man to leave a note pinned to a body with 'V For Vengeance' written on it with a list of names that includes those of Hitler, Goebbels and Goering but with the name of the deceased crossed out.
As each weekly part came out the story never flagged for the suspense came not just with the ways that the Deathless Men killed their target but whether they would live or die.
In one story one of the Deathless Men assasinates Adolph Hitler only to discover that the target is a double.
The identity of Jack One is disclosed in the very first story and this is a British Secret Service Agent named Aylmer Gregson who had infiltrated the Nazi party before the start of the Second World War and risen in the ranks of the Gestapo to become Heinrich Himmler's right hand man - known as Colonel Von Reich.
This revelation early on might seem a bit odd to some but he was set to have adventures of his own and when he aids the escape of one of his men from a tight corner it appears to be the fault of a junior officer.
The entire first story can be read in 'The Golden Years Of Adventure Stories' that I blogged about in the previous post. I bought this book for one of my sons last Christmas - but the 'V For Vengeance' brought back snippets of memories of these stories. I would love to see them all re-issued in one book in their original text form.
There is a knock-on to this story for I thought that these stories had been turned into a book when I spotted 'V For Vengeance' by Dennis Wheatley. I was only a comic reading kid at the time and had never heard of Dennis Wheatley and, although the book had nothing to do with 'the Deathless Men', I was hooked on the Gregory Sallust novels.
But then that is the way things worked back then one thing led to another. Maybe, there is a case for text comics like the Wizard and Adventure to make a return.


David Cranmer said...

The "Deathless Men assasinates Adolph Hitler" issue sounds intriguing. And sadly I've never read any of the original V stories.

Btw Patti tagged me with a meme and I've tossed the hand grenade to you. It's on my blog.

Ray said...

Thanks - I'll get right on it (the meme that is).

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Great post, ray