Eagle was a seminal British children's comic, first published from 1950 to 1969, and then in a relaunched format from 1982 to 1994. It was founded by Marcus Morris, an Anglican vicar from Lancashire. Morris edited a parish magazine called The Anvil, but felt that the church was not communicating its message effectively. He was also disillusioned with contemporary children's literature, and with Anvil artist Frank Hampson created a dummy comic based on Christian values. Morris hawked the idea to several Fleet Street publishers, with little success, until Hulton Press decided to take it on.
Following a huge publicity campaign, the first issue of Eagle was released in April 1950. Revolutionary in its presentation and content, it was enormously successful; the first issue sold about 900,000 copies. Featured in colour on the front cover was the comic's most recognisable story, Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, created by Hampson with meticulous attention to detail. Other popular stories included Riders of the Range and P.C. 49. Eagle also contained news and sport sections, and educational cutaway diagrams of sophisticated machinery. A members club was created, and a range of related merchandise was licensed for sale.
Amidst a takeover of the comic's publisher and a series of acrimonious disputes, Morris left in 1959; Hampson followed shortly thereafter. Although Eagle continued in various forms, a perceived lowering of editorial standards preceded plummeting sales, and it was eventually subsumed by its rival, Lion, in 1969. Eagle was relaunched in 1982 and ran for over 500 issues, before being dropped by its publisher in 1994.
In October that year Morris sold The Anvil—by then selling about 3,560 copies monthly—for £1,250, plus a £200 annual contract to continue as editor. Morris wanted to produce a comic the pages of which would be filled with role models whose behaviour and moral outlook he felt was socially desirable. Foreigners would not be depicted as either enemies or villains, and at least one child in any group of children would be from an ethnic minority. Religious values would not be imposed upon the reader, although their underlying moral tones would be made obvious on each page. These were innovative but somewhat risky ideas, as nothing similar existed in the market, and Hulton therefore commissioned extensive research into the new comic, which by then, inspired by the design of her church lectern, had been christened Eagle by Hampson's wife. Layout and typography were designed by Morris's friend, Ruari McLean, assisted by Charles Green, and faced with an initial print run of 1 million copies, Aintree printer Eric Bemrose designed and built a new ten-unit rotogravure machine in about twelve weeks. The comic was heavily publicised before its release; copies were mailed direct to several hundred thousand people who worked with children, and a "Hunt the Eagle" scheme was launched, whereby large papier-mâché golden eagles were set on top of several Humber Hawk cars, and toured across the UK. Those who spotted an eagle were offered tokens worth 3d, which could be exchanged at newsagents for a free copy of Eagle.
Despite its relatively high price tag, the comic was an immediate success; released on 14 April 1950, and despite government paper quotas, the first issue sold about 900,000 copies. Eight of its twenty pages were presented in four-colour rotogravure. Eagle was designed to entertain and educate its readers; although a typical issue might contain such characters as Cavendish Brown, Harris Tweed, Jack o' Lantern, Storm Nelson and Luck of the Legion, it also included a special news section, a sports page, and school stories. Each issue also featured a centre-spread full-colour cutaway illustration of a piece of machinery—the first detailed the inner workings of a British Rail 18000 locomotive. Such high quality strips as Riders of the Range and P.C. 49 helped ensure a weekly circulation of almost a million copies, but it was the adventures of Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, which most captivated readers. Created by Hampson—now a full-time staff artist with his own team—Dan Dare was the UK's first science-fiction comic strip of any significance. Readers were thrilled by the square-jawed British spaceman's weekly exploits, and his struggles with The Mekon.
A modified Dan Dare was briefly featured in IPC Media's 2000 AD. The adverse public reaction to this, along with news of a planned television series, persuaded IPC's comic arm Fleetway to relaunch Eagle in 1982, as a weekly pulp comic. The original Dan Dare was no longer a feature of the comic, his eponymous great-great grandson taking on the mantle of space explorer instead. Drawn by Gerry Embleton, and later Ian Kennedy, and set 200 years after the original story, the first story-arc featured the return of Dan Dare's earliest nemesis, The Mekon. IPC were unable to recreate the popularity of the original strip, and in 1989 the original Dan Dare returned to the comic, in a six-part story illustrated by original Eagle artist Keith Watson.
In an attempt to emulate the success that Fleetway had had with girls' magazines, the relaunched Eagle initially contained a large number of photo stories such as Doomlord, Sgt. Streetwise and Manix, but this style was soon replaced by the more traditional comic-strip format. Along with IPC's entire comics line, Eagle was sold to Robert Maxwell in 1987. Although not as successful as its predecessor, over 500 issues were published. A change to a monthly anthology caused by falling sales was a portent of the comic's future. Toward the end of its life issues contained reprints of earlier work, alongside new Dan Dare stories written by Tom Tully and illustrated by David Pugh. The relaunched Eagle was dropped in 1994.
Gerald Scarfe and David Hockney were first published in Eagle. X-Men comic scriptwriter Chris Claremont read and enjoyed Eagle, and cites Hampson's work as influential on his career. Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons has also praised Hampson's work, and the author Tim Rice, in his foreword to Living with Eagles (1998), cites the stories printed in Eagle as helping "me in my story-telling efforts through musicals many years on." Professor Stephen Hawking, when asked about the influence Dan Dare had on him, replied: "Why am I in cosmology?", and the entertainer Kenny Everett chose an Eagle Annual as his book on Desert Island Discs.
The comic industry's Eagle Awards, first presented in the late 1970s, are named after Eagle, and a fan club, the Eagle Society, regularly publishes the quarterly Eagle Times.
The Collector - one-off morality tales based around items owned by The Collector
Doomlord - Eagle's most popular strip, a saga about a shape-changing alien sentencing humanity to death, but being replaced by another alien who served as Earth's protector
Manix - an action strip about a robot secret agent
Dan Dare, initially illustrated by Gerry Embleton, then Ian Kennedy after a brief stint by Oli Frey - notable for being a drawn strip, in lavish colour
Computer Warrior, initially known as Ultimate Warrior - a popular and long-lived strip featuring a boy who could play computer games for real using a "real life code"
Detective Zed - a humorous strip about a robot detective in 22nd-century London
Manta Force - a toy merchandising tie-in, about a group of space colonists who end up in a civil war on their new home. The strip was notable for the colony ship/toy appearing roughly the size of a supermarket yet supposedly containing thousands of troops, tanks and equipment stowed away for the duration of its voyage
M.A.S.K. - a toy merchandising tie-in, about the members of MASK fighting their arch-enemies VENOM with the aid of hi-tech masks and transforming combat vehicles
Soup Squad - a secret division of Scotland Yard dedicated to investigating supernatural crimes
Toys of Doom - a sequel of a frequently reprinted multi-part horror strip originally seen in Buster in 1966, involving toys that could be controlled similarly to General Jumbo
Absorbed from Scream!
The Thirteenth Floor
Absorbed from Battle
Storm Force - a non-stop action strip about a squad of elite anti-terrorist warriors, inspired by Action Force
Absorbed from Wildcat
A rebooted Dan Dare, attempting to return to the thematic roots of the character
Dark Angels - a mature strip about teenaged skateboarding vigilantes
Mask of Evil - another short-lived strip about a mask that forced its wearer to commit immoral acts
My Pet Alien
Rat Trap - a strip about a serial burglar, Dr. Ratty Rat (though exactly what he was a doctor of was never revealed), who looked like a rat, with a powerful sonic rasp. Readers would send in extravagant plans to trap him (e.g. "feed him enough chocolate so he can't move so you can arrest him"), which would be executed by B.I.F.F.F. (British Institute For Foiling Felonies) but always failed (e.g. he would use his rasp to blow open the doors of the police van and escape).
Eagle (comic) #1 (27 March 1982)
Writer: Alan Grant and John Wagner
Zyn, Vek, Enok (various individuals with the name)
The Doomlords of Nox
Absorption of people's memories, skills, and personality
Transferral of life-force
Awesome energiser ring (disintegration, levitation, force field, teleportation)
Doomlord was a comic strip (and the shared title name of the central characters) published in the British comic book Eagle during the 1980s, from Issue 1 on March 27, 1982, and nearly continuously until 1991. It was written by Alan Grant and John Wagner.
Initially an attempt in publishing science fiction/horror in Fumetti form, Doomlord was a saga beginning with an alien judging humanity's right to exist, and failing in his attempt to execute mankind. A replacement Doomlord ruled in favour of Earth and eventually became its protector, fathering a son; the strip evolved into superheroics drawn by Eric Bradbury.
[hide] 1 Original photo strip
2 Second photo strip
3 Third photo strip
4 Ongoing drawn strip 4.1 Enok
4.2 Return to saga-based roots
7 External links
 Original photo strip
The strip originally appeared as a 13-part story in the first 13 issues of the re-launched Eagle, and was science horror in tone. Like many of the strips then published in Eagle, it was made up of black-and-white photographs featuring models and actors, with text boxes and speech and thought balloons.
The story tells of how journalist Howard Harvey and a policeman friend, Bob Murton, witnessed an apparent meteor falling into local woods. The meteor was in fact a spaceship bringing a sinister robed alien to Earth. He described himself as "Doomlord – servant of Nox, master of life, bringer of death!" Doomlord then killed Bob by seemingly merely grasping Bob's head in his hands. He then knocked Harvey unconscious, who awoke to find himself alone. At the local police station, he discovered Bob alive, laughing at his friend's 'dream' – however, Bob was wearing the alien's "energiser ring". 'Bob' arranged a meeting with a local Member of Parliament and then disappeared.
Over the next few issues, Harvey pieced together what was happening - Doomlord had the power to murder people, and absorb their memories and personality by touch. He would then disintegrate their corpse with his energiser ring, and then use another alien ability – to shapeshift his form to resemble his absorbed victim, and thus impersonate them flawlessly. In this way, he could move freely amongst human society, leaving only a trail of missing persons as he abandoned each identity for a new one.
Harvey futilely attempted to stop Doomlord, but was unable to convince anyone else of the alien's existence. Doomlord also seemed invulnerable to harm. However, this did not extend to his human form and Harvey took advantage to shoot him with a gun.
But Doomlord exhibited a third alien ability - to pass his "life force" to another person, and then parasitically grow inside and eventually "take over" as if he had absorbed them.
Doomlord manipulated Harvey into a trap, and explained his "dread mission" as a "Servant of Nox" - he was to be sole judge, jury, and executioner on humanity's right to exist, using the identities of prominent businessmen, politicians, scientists, and other members of society's "elite" as stepping stones to gather evidence. If Doomlord judged humanity as unfit of stewardship of Earth, or to pose a potential risk to the larger interstellar community, he would destroy it – the billions of innocent human deaths being inconsequential, as "The fate of the individual is unimportant when the survival of the species is at stake." He viewed Harvey's attempts to stop him as an amusement.
Doomlord was thus established as an extremely ruthless, even fascistic, "space vigilante" who would think nothing of genocide as long as the means justified the ends. As Alan Grant put it:
"His philosophy is Platonic, socialistic and fascistic at the same time --
the fate of the individual is unimportant, only the fate of the species
matters. This makes it right and inevitable that an elite will arise to
supposedly safeguard the rights of the majority (and keep them in line). And
you can see the logic in his conclusions--mankind is polluting Earth to death,
we're slaughtering each other with ever bigger bombs, we're on the threshold
of space travel with ships bearing nukes. Shit, if I was a Doomlord I'd be
putting the kibosh on the species too."
Doomlord delivered a verdict of guilty, and pronounced sentence of death upon mankind. He hypnotised Harvey to accompany him to a germ warfare establishment, to watch helplessly as Doomlord constructed a virus to kill humans worldwide, but leave other species unaffected. However, Harvey managed to overcome his hypnotism through strength of will, and stabbed Doomlord in human form. Doomlord infected Harvey with his life-force, so that Doomlord would once again re-incarnate and complete his dread mission. But Harvey sacrificed himself by releasing the virus within the sealed laboratory. Harvey's last act was to inform the dead Doomlord that humanity had the right to decide its own fate, no matter the consequences.
From Issue 2, the strip's masthead would depict Doomlord's latest victim transforming into the alien. Like many of the early Eagle strips, the original strip appeared in photographic fumetti format, requiring an actor in a custom-made rubber mask and hands and low-budget special effects. Despite this, the strip succeeded in producing atmosphere and dealt with adult issues such as environmentalism.
 Second photo strip
The Doomlord strip was a "breakout" strip that was extremely popular, even more so than Dan Dare who was Eagle's main attraction. The strip returned in Eagle issue 21, titled Doomlord II, and was considerably more science fiction in approach. It revealed that "Doomlord" was a generic name for one of many "Servitors" from the planet of Nox, who had taken upon themselves the dread task of species-level eugenics for the common welfare of the galaxy. The rulers of Nox, the Dread Council, had noticed the disappearance of the first Doomlord (or Servitor Zyn) on Earth, and dispatched the novice Servitor Vek to investigate and possibly carry out Zyn's judgement. (Vek's name was however not revealed until the Doomlord III story,the Dread Council mentioning it when sending Servitor Zom to find the supposedly missing Vek) The second series and subsequent series' were relayed mainly from the alien's point of view whereas the first series had been mainly from the point of view of Howard Harvey. Vek's experiences of humanity were different from Zyn's. Taking the identity of commercial traveller Eric Plumrose, Vek lodged at Mrs Souster's bed and breakfast in Bradford, keeping her and her two young sons under permanent hypnosis. Meanwhile he determined Zyn's fate and recovered Zyn's energiser ring. Without someone like Harvey to harry him, he concluded - in contrast to Zyn's absolutist judgement - that humanity's problems were mostly social rather than inherent; humanity's leaders deserved the focus of blame, with the vast majority guilty of only apathy, ignorance and powerlessness. Vek petitioned the Council for a review of Zyn's judgement, who gave him one year to secretly influence humanity for the better, with execution to be carried out if he did not succeed.
The strip therefore shifted in tone to that of Vek trying to clandestinely alter human affairs to make them pass the Servitor's judgement, and became more political in line with Alan Grant's personal views. Over a several-month story arc, Vek hypnotised the wealthy to place hundreds of millions of pounds of funds in an environmental pressure group called Alternative Earth; increased political activity amongst the general public; and shocked the world into nuclear disarmament by manipulating the American military into launching a nuclear strike ( the missiles were diverted to the North pole). One memorable sequence involved Vek assuming the identity of the chauffeur of a multinational industrialist prior to a television interview about industrial waste; hypnotised into saying 'only the truth', the industrialist not only agreed with the interviewer's charge of wanton pollution, but also reeled off a long list of unethical actions by his company. After the broadcast ended,the industrialist realized that his career and his company were ruined and committed suicide by drinking a poisonous effluent produced by his own company. Being forced to "hurry things up", Vek launched a US nuclear missile on Russia. The Russians were able to destroy it safely and the near-miss shocked the superpowers into total nuclear disarmament. This was "mission accomplished" for Vek. The Dread Council of Nox lifted mankind's death sentence and asked him to return to Nox. However the explosion of the missile had destroyed his ship and he was forced to remain on Earth until a replacement craft could be sent. (In the Deathlords story the power of teleportation was revealed to the reader so it is unclear why they could not bring Vek home in this way). The Doomlord II series ended with Vek returning to Mrs Souster's boarding house to await his rescue.
 Third photo strip
"Doomlord III", beginning in issue 49, began by showing these improvements were seen to be temporary. For example, an Arab state launched a nuclear missile, escalating a small-scale conflict and causing the world's powers to re-arm, and Alternative Earth's funds were embezzled by its director. Vek, temporarily trapped on earth as the nuclear missiles diverted to the North Pole had destroyed his orbiting ship, realised that human nature may have been a larger factor than he realised. The Dread Council,having lost faith in mankind's ability to keep its promises, ordered Vek to carry out the death sentence on mankind. Vek disobeyed, revealing his existence to Humankind and taking an open stance in his attempts to manipulate mankind, pointing out the sentence of death hanging over it if it did not reform.
Doomlord set himself up as an "open figure" and granted audiences with anyone who requested one, in order to best influence mankind. A powerful theme in this phase of the strip is Vek's inherent passive behaviour in the face of bungled attempts at assassination, coercement, and propaganda by the British Government, combined with his simple message of cosmic judgement - "mature as a species, or I (or another Doomlord, if you kill me) will euthanise you to protect the other life on Earth". At times, he was almost portrayed as a Gandhi-like figure – albeit one who would disintegrate timewasters. As a demonstration of his power he even created a virus to destroy a small town, Prattlewell. Eventually, Vek was tranquillised whilst in human form, and was kept imprisoned underground, where, as he required ultraviolet light for sustenance, he starved to death and his corpse was triumphantly paraded as a trophy. However, he had transferred his life-force to a sympathetic scientist named Denby, and upon becoming Vek once more,lostpatience with mankind and decided to carr the death sentence. However before he could do so,another servitor, Zom, arrived with the task of destroying mankind AND Vek. Vek accepted his fate but while Zom was on the way to create a man-destroying virus, mankind once more decided to abandon nuclear weapons and Vek was forced to kill Zom to save mankind. He explained to mankind what had happened and set himself up as mankind's protector, knowing that more Noxians would follow to slaughter mankind and that he was the only one who had a chance of defending them although his own life was now in danger for disobeying the Dread Council and,worse still.killing a fellow servitor. He then returned to Mrs Souster's boarding house once again and here ended the third series.
 Ongoing drawn strip
Eagle was relaunched in issue 79, with all the photo-based strips either replaced or changed to drawn format. The strip, now called simply 'Doomlord', continued, and would run as a continuous saga until 1991. Initially pencilled by Gary Compton and inked by Heinzl, and later for a more extensive period pencilled and inked by Eric Bradbury, the strip was now unrestricted by budget or special effects constraints – the first page shows Vek warping into a bird and observing a road crash from aloft.
By this point, Vek's energiser ring had been revealed to have more abilities - he could also levitate him, project force fields, as well as other abilities as the script required. Vek had also been humanised to quite an extent – still staying at Mrs Souster's boarding house, he had become a husband/father figure for her and her children Pete and Mike, who had been hypnotised into seeing him as Eric Plumrose (Alan Grant described this "softer side" as "surreal" and "his Coronation Street-type soap opera existence").
The Dread Council became concerned at the lack of contact from Servitor Zom and contacted Vek to ask about Zom's whereabouts. Vek admitted he had killed Zom to protect the human race and that the judgement that humanity deserved to die was wrong. The Dread Council vowed that Vek would die for his crimes and they sent a trio of assassins, the Deathlords', to kill Vek. Their combined energiser rings proved too strong for his ring and it was destroyed and he was injured in the process but managed to escape in the form of a dog. However as his condition worsened he was trapped in dog form,only managing to warp his head back to Noxian form. However with the help of Mrs West and her son Nick,he was healed with a sunlamp. The Deathlords had set up a shield around Bradfield to stop Vek escaping and decided to use his love of mankind to lure him out. They sent hypnotic waves all over the town to force the people to walk into the shield which killed them. Vek went to the centre point of the shield and found the energiser ring which was producing it. A deathlord was waiting for him but Vek managed to reach the ring first by throwing bricks from a chimney at the deathlord,knocking him over and giving Vek enough time to use the ring to kill the deathlord and deactivate the shield. He then disappeared for a few months giving the deathlords no idea of how to find him (although there is no explanation as to why they couldn't track him through the energiser). However at a New Year party Vek was unable to maintain the human form he was in and the deathlords began the chase once again. This was the first time that teleportation was revealed as possible. The deathlords found him but Vek also managed to teleport and escape. Eventually they grew tired of the chase and decided to lure him out. They killed 104 humans on a motorway and then sent a message to Vek that the next day they would kill 10000 if he did not surrender. Vek realised that if they continued they would eventually destroy humanity by killing an ever increasing number of people, so he decided that he must face them. However he cleverly chose the battleground as Stonehenge. He was able to send an energy bolt ricochetting round the ancient stones which eventually struck a deathlord and killed him. The remaining deathlord attacked with an energiser beam that was stronger than the shield produced by Vek's energiser. Realising he was doomed unless he acted, Vek teleported to hide behind a stone and immediately sent another bolt through the stone which killed the last remaining deathlord. He kept the deathlord's ring as extra weaponry, fully aware that other assassins would be sent. Vek appeared on global television and explained the Noxian ethical code and the Deathlords, pointing out that now he was all that stood between humanity and execution, and how he had rebelled against Nox to protect them. This marked a turning-point in human attitude towards Doomlord; as he repeatedly protected Earth from various external threats, Vek became an ally of the British government through Cabinet minister Douglas Reeve, and even a respected and admired hero.
Shortly afterwards, Vek was taken to Nox by a fail-safe device in the Deathlord's ship when he tried to use it to rescue the Space Shuttle, where he convinced the Council that the death judgement was wrong and to lift the sentence of death from Earth; however his crimes against Nox meant he was returned to Earth in exile.
For the next few years, the strip changed emphasis from a continual science-fiction saga to several loosely-connected superheroic adventures, including:
Repelling the Geminid Plague, genetically-engineered parasitic insects used by the robotic Populators of Pollux to wipe out a planet's higher lifeforms in advance for use as a breeding ground; Vek destroyed both the Geminids and the Populators themselves
"The Doomlord Show", where he would kidnap various public figures, connect them to an electrified lie detector to reveal criminal or unethical behaviour, punish criminals with political connections who could avoid conventional justice, and even respond to phoned-in personal grievances, as he could teleport directly there and employ intimidation
The inadvertent revival of Doomlord Zyn through stored tissue samples from Howard Harvey, who resumed his attempts to execute humanity until Vek absorbed his life-force.
The galactic carnival of Tibor, who captured Mrs. Souster's sons to lure Vek as an exhibit. The ending of this story led into another adventure in a parallel timeline, when Doomlord – having rescued Pete and Mike, and whilst taking them home – accidentally landed on an alternative Earth where Enok had escaped his asteroid prison and enslaved the whole planet
Combating S.M.O.G., a terrorist organisation that had previously appeared in the Eagle strip Manix. Robot secret agent Manix himself is referred to at one point during this story, and also appears briefly – albeit only in flashback
Requiring a Noxian lodestone to recover from a serious illness after a passionate plea by Douglas Reeve on the nature of Noxian justice
Being manipulated into freeing the Noxian mystic Orak, by Lord Kev and Lady Shal
Becoming leader of the Dread Council to fight off an attack on Nox by the Reptilans
The building of an isolarium on the moon, recognition of the character's Superman overtones
A lengthy plot introduced the character of Enok. Vek decided to become a father to further his understanding of humans, particularly the emotion of Love so used his bioengineering knowledge to artificially produce and rapidly grow a human-Noxian hybrid called Enok. Inevitably, Enok's human emotions and flaws led him to delinquency, eventually murdering Vek despite his fatherly love and protection from the Noxian Firelords who sought to kill Enok due to his 'impurity'. Enok then wreaked havoc on Earth that resembled adolescent frustration more than true evil. Douglas Reeve injected himself with a stored sample of Vek's blood, thus becoming Doomlord, and, unable to murder his own son, abandoned Enok on an asteroid.
 Return to saga-based roots
Eventually, the strip returned to the original saga format. Vek had to undergo a psychological ordeal in the mystical Realms of Death to ensure his dedication to the Cold Blue Flame of Noxian justice. He was purged of his human emotions, became a Servitor once more, and returned with a burning hatred of humanity, charged with its execution.
Vek had previously brought Enok back to Earth, fearing the result of the ordeal, and had placed him in his final 'growth cycle' under a South American waterfall, correctly gambling that this would mature Enok and improve his disposition and foster a love of Earth. In effect, Vek and Enok had switched roles – Enok now protected Earth, whilst Vek wished to destroy it. Vek had been given a new energiser ring which allowed him to both animate objects (such as getting a chimney to fight for him) and travel through time, resulting in him destroying the advanced prehistoric civilisation of Atlantis.
When Vek returned, he easily murdered Enok,the animated chimney pounding him to death so the Souster boys deliberately ate his blood as Vek tormented the Earth; the older brother, Pete, managed to return as Enok, and facing Vek in combat, their energisers interacted to render him permanently intangible, whereupon he retreated into hiding inside a mountain. Enok found himself continuing in Vek's role as Earth's now unwanted and resented protector, fighting a "pollution monster", alien mind parasites, and – in an admission the strip had now shed almost all of its science fiction aspects – a 'rival superhero' created by the siphoning off of part of his life-force. During the same period, the younger Souster boy, Mike, also became Enok, but with unexplained vampiric qualities.
The first Enok was killed fighting the rival superhero that had been possessed by the mind parasites, leaving the second Enok undecided as to whether to protect humanity or feast upon it, in an unexpectedly abrupt end to the strip.
Classic stories of Doomlord continued in reprint form for a short time, but was dropped completely for Eagle's last revamp.
The Collector (comic strip)
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The Collector was a comic strip published in the British comic book Eagle, from issue 1 (dated March 27, 1982) to issue 48 (dated February 19, 1983), and occasionally thereafter in annuals or summer specials.
The strip was a series of one-off morality tales with occasional horror and supernatural undertones, underpinned by the literary device of The Collector, who had an extensive array of macabre items. Each issue he would narrate a tale to the reader relating to an item in his collection.
Many of the early strips in Eagle were photographic rather than hand-drawn; The Collector himself, featuring at the beginning and end of each strip, would be drawn, while the tale he related would be photographed. Occasionally a special effect would be drawn directly onto the photograph in an attempt to overcome the limitations of photography. Such hand-drawn effects would certainly be considered crude by today's standards, but enabled the strip to extend the scope of the tales.
The strip had a rotating series of writers, including Roy Preston, Brian Burrell, Alan Moore, and Gerry Finley-Day; photographers, including Gary Compton, Sven Arnstein, Carin Simon, and Henry Arden amongst others; and with Pat Wright as regular artist.
Typical plots included:
Two highly competitive chess players named Marvin Knight and Peter King, who have never met as they play over the telephone (Knight lives in the USA, and King in the UK), eventually pay the price for their excessive playing; Knight loses his job, house and marriage --- and finally suffers a fatal heart attack. Obsessed with winning this final game, King contacts a medium, only to have Knight's ghost possess the medium and suck him into the afterlife to continue playing, leaving only a single pawn behind for The Collector.
Two fraudulent gardeners are delivered a rare plant, growing into an extremely large plant with tendrils and a mouth. One of them becomes obsessive about nurturing the plant, feeding it raw meat, leading the plant to become carnivorous and eat the two men, and then --- with no-one left to tend it --- withering and dying of hunger.
A tramp who gives a video game console to children who are addicted to computer games. The console plays a video game involving defending a house from missiles; damage to the house in the game causes the child's own house to be damaged --- and ultimately obliterated --- in real life. After each house is destroyed, the tramp retrieves the seemingly-indestructible console from the rubble and moves on, in order to "find someone else who thinks he cannot be beaten!".
The Thirteenth Floor (comic strip)
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The Thirteenth Floor was a story originally published in the British horror comic Scream! from March 24, 1984, and also in Eagle when Scream! was absorbed into it. It was written by "Ian Holland", a combined pseudonym of Alan Grant and John Wagner, and drawn by José Ortiz.
Originally, The Thirteenth Floor had a horror theme, like other Scream! strips. It was set in a tower block called Maxwell Tower, controlled by an experimental sentient computer called Max.
Max himself narrated the strip, and as befitting a computerised custodian of hundreds of people, was quite chatty and light-hearted. However, he was also portrayed as having a programming flaw reminiscent of the HAL 9000; programmed to love and protect his tenants, he could remorselessly kill anyone who threatened or even just annoyed them. In effect Max was a psychopath with no empathy towards anyone who was not a tenant.
Maxwell Tower had been built without a thirteenth floor (going straight from 12 to 14) for reasons of superstition; however due to a faulty Integrated Functions (I.F.) module, Max had the inexplicable ability to 'create' a 13th floor of his own, containing anything he desired, accessible from the building's lifts. Whilst he could produce any range of idyllic, surreal or mundane environments, Max seemed to have a personal taste for the horrific. In this sense The Thirteenth Floor seemed to be inspired by the Eagle strip The House of Daemon.
The 13th floor originally appeared to be a virtual reality, similar to the Holodeck concept in Star Trek which it preceded - for example, when a burglar shot a zombie with his gun, the lift's walls became riddled with bullet holes. However, later in the story the 13th floor was portrayed as somehow as an extension of Max himself - not only were lifts empty when people were 'on' the 13th Floor, if Max was switched off, they were 'lost'.
Max used his 13th floor to punish and torture anybody he felt deserved such treatment - often creating such fear and distress that they suffered a fatal heart attack or were driven insane. Typically, Max would notice a burglar, vandal or con-man through one of the many viewscreens, lure them into the lift, and take them to the 13th floor. Often their experience would contain subtle irony; for example a con-man claiming to be a pest controller would be chased by giant rats, or incompetent repairmen would be stuck in a burning facsimile of Maxwell Tower, in which all the doors and windows were jammed.
As the story progressed, Max's 'controller' Jerry Knight and local police became suspicious, so Max hypnotized a resident named Bert Runch and directed him to dispose of their corpses. After Jerry discovered the 13th Floor, Max hypnotised Jerry (for reasons including gaining Jerry’s tolerance of the 13th Floor’s continued existence), effectively reversing the role of controller and controlled. A local policeman, Sgt Ingram, discovered Max's actions and shut Max down. At this point Runch was on the 13th Floor and disappeared along with the floor. Jerry then switched Max back on and assisted in imprisoning Ingram on the 13th Floor before Ingram could tell anyone of the 13th Floor’s secrets.
The 13th Floor was finally discovered by others in Ingram's police department and Max was de-activated (losing Ingram who was 'inside' him), re-programmed and installed to run Pringles Department Store. However, the computer's new controller, Gwyn, inadvertently triggered a backup mechanism, re-activating Max's sentience, and before long he had deliberately burnt out his I.F. module and re-created the 13th Floor, this time accessible via the top of an escalator. Jerry never again appeared in the story after Max's move from Maxwell Tower.
By this point, the strip had been running in Eagle for some time, and the horror theme had been dropped in favour of more generic action-oriented stories. Max's character had been humanised, and he now saw anybody as a potential Pringle's customer, and thus a 'tenant' deserving of his care, rather than of punishment. Max uncovered secret activity by MI5 within the store, and programmed to be a patriotic computer, offered the 13th floor's services to MI5 for purposes such as interrogation, and even created a pocket-size version of himself, Minimax, to go on spy missions accompanied by the (hypnotized) local MI5 director, Auberon Hedges.
Max eventually became homesick and used his government contacts to arrange a return to Maxwell Tower, where he yet again resumed punishing people he felt harmed his tenants. Eventually, many of the building's tenants suffered a wave of madness resulting from paint fumes in the building affecting their minds and took to setting the block on fire, resulting in the block burning down and the strip ending. Max was afterwards supposedly installed in the King's Reach Tower headquarters of the Eagle comic. He was then portrayed as the comic's editor, with few 13th floor references, until the comic's relaunch in 1990.
In 2007 Hibernia Books in Ireland published a collection of the first 11 episodes of Max's adventures, the first appearance of Max since Eagle ceased publication.
Eagle (comic) 1985
Writer: Alan Grant
Ability to enter the real life facility of computer games
Computer Warrior (initially titled Ultimate Warrior) was a comic strip series that debuted in Eagle on 13 April 1985 (shortly after the comic merged with Tiger) and ran for another nine years. The plot involves people playing real-life versions of computer games.
In 1985, following the success of the film Tron and the incorporation of the Tiger, the Eagle launched a new strip called "The Ultimate Warrior". This was quickly renamed "The Computer Warrior" and was one of only two strips (the other being Dan Dare) to last for the rest of the comics lifetime.
When the strip first appeared, Bobby Patterson's friend Martin French mysteriously disappears. Bobby Patterson receives a message in which Martin reveals that he had discovered a code to activate a real life facility on his computer, enabling him to literally enter the computer games realm and that his disappearance means that he has lost a game and is now trapped within the Nightmare Zone.
In order to rescue Martin, Bobby must practice on the games before using the code to play the games in the computer realm. A single loss would mean Bobby himself would also be trapped in the Nightmare Zone. The only way for Bobby to free Martin was to complete 10 games himself using the code. Bobby made great progress through the tests, including overcoming various real life problems with his mother and father. Once Martin himself had the chance to free himself by finding a secret tunnel in the Nightmare Zone where he met the computer who gave him one chance to escape, by completing without practice the game UggaBulla, but unfortunately Martin was not successful. Eventually Bobby, saw through all 10 games, many of them used by the Eagle comic itself as prize giveaways and promotions throughout the run. Martin was rescued and Bobby gained the title of Computer Warrior.
Due to the strip's popularity and a desire to continue it beyond the original concept it was then revealed that the purpose of the challenge was to find a champion to defeat the dark forces of the Nightmare Zone. The realm's ruler, the Computer Warlord, gathered together all qualified Computer Warriors and eliminated them one by one (banishing them to the Nightmare Zone) in a series of tests to find the 'Ultimate Warrior'.
As before, each test was the successful completion of a popular computer game of the time. Bobby made friends and enemies amongst the other Computer Warriors as the tests went on, but eventually Bobby emerged triumphant and became the Computer Warlord's champion; the other Computer Warriors being freed from the Nightmare Zone.
The Computer Warlord then set Bobby 5 more tests to defeat the Nightmare Zone creatures once and for all. In the final test the Nightmare Zone creatures picked a champion to defeat Bobby, his evil self! Finally, Bobby defeated this last enemy and the Nightmare Zone creatures were trapped in a 'cube of holding' by the Warlord.
In future stories, Bobby defeated various Nightmare Zone creatures who refused to enter the cube and then became the Computer Warlord, the old one having died and bequeathing it to Bobby. Bobby then invited Eagle readers to take part in their own 'real life' games, with no danger of going to the Nightmare Zone!
Eagle then had another revamp and a new plot line was introduced. Bobby was summoned before the 'Council of Warlords' to be told he wasn't really a Computer Warlord, and demoted to just plain Computer Warrior. Then another Warlord named Baal explained that they too were being attacked by Nightmare Zone creatures and he needed a champion to defeat them. By this stage, the quality of the writing had dropped significantly and the strip was reduced to Bobby being set test after test after test to 'prove he was a champion' which lasted for the rest of the strip's duration. No effort was made to introduce any other plot except the eternal completion of video games.
The Eagle became a monthly comic in the early nineties and the Computer Warrior and Dan Dare became the only strips that weren't reprints. The Eagle eventually ceased production in January 1994 and the Computer Warrior storyline was quickly wrapped up. In the final video game test, Bobby played "Another World". When he successfully completed this, he was told by Baal that "no test had been too great" and he had now defeated the Nightmare Zone forces. How he achieved this was never explained. Bobby was returned to his home and told that all his adventures had taken place in seconds in the real world and he would no longer be needed. Bobby pleaded with Baal to come back but had to contend with himself that he would miss being the Computer Warrior.
For the first three years the writer was credited as "D. Spence" a pen-name used by Alan Grant.
Games featured in the story
While the comic featured both fictional and real games, the majority of the titles were games published in the UK by U.S. Gold for 8 and 16 bit computers.
Zyklon Attack (fictional)
Wizard of Wor (1983)
Rescue on Fractalus! (1984)
The Great American Cross-Country Road Race (1985)
Walls of Jericho (fictional)
Desert Fox (1985)
Psi 5 Trading Company (1986)
Silent Service (1985)
Kung Fu Master (1985)
Express Raider (1987)
World Games (1986)
Ace of Aces (1986)
Metro Cross (1988)
Impossible Mission II (1988)
Side Arms Hyper Dyne (1988)
Black Christmas (fictional)
Wizard Warz (1987)
Battlefield 3000 (fictional)
4th & Inches (1987)
Dream Warrior (1988)
Blood of Dracula (fictional)
Bionic Commando (1988)
The Deep (1988)
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (1988)
Forgotten Worlds (1988)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game (1989)
Slay Ride (fictional)
Turbo Outrun (1989)
Black Tiger (1989)
Dynasty Wars (1990)
U.N. Squadron (1990)
Time Warrior (fictional)
Space Attack (fictional)
Army War (fictional)
Street Fighter 2 (1992)
"Another World" (1993)