Preview: The Return Of ‘Action’, The Comic They Tried To Ban

by Richard Bruton

Action – a UK comic from the 70s that went out of its way to shock, ramped up the <ahem> action, and horrified prudes and censors alike. It was a comic they tried to ban and sadly, they pretty much managed. Now, more than four decades later, it’s coming back with the Action Special 2020… 

Action Special 2020 cover by Staz Johnson and John Charles

The new Action Special 2020 from Rebellion and The Treasury of British Comics features all those classic characters that made Action such a headline maker at the time, brought to you by some great comic makers.

You’ll see the classic killer shark, Hookjaw, by Dan Lish and Keith Richardson, merciless secret agent action with Dredger by Zina Hutton and Staz Johnson, and the return of the strip that really managed to offend Mary Whitehouse, Kids Rule OK, with its ultra-violent tale of kids in a world without adults by Ram V and Henrick Stahlstrom, an all-new strip, Hell Machine by Henry Flint and Jake Lynch, and finally, after many years away from Rebellion, the return of Garth Ennis to write the German Panzer action of Hellman of Hammer Force alongside the original artist, and co-creator of the strip, Mike Dorey.

Action ran as a weekly comic here in the UK from February 1976 until a backlash over the violent content resulted in the 37th issue being pulled and pulped, leading to an eventual toned-down return and an inevitable merger with Battle Picture Weekly. But in less than a year’s worth of comics, Action made a huge impact on the British comics’ scene, acting as a forerunner for 2000 AD and featuring strips beloved by fans.

All of this led to a mass wringing of hands through the media, with The Sun calling it ‘the sevenpenny nightmare’ and Mary Whitehouse & the National Viewers and Listeners Association campaigning to get the comic out of the hands of those impressionable 70s kids. Sadly, IPC, faced with a possible removal of titles from newsagents toned it down after the pulping of issue 37 and everything became just that little dull, as the strips merged into Battle as Battle Action

The Action 2020 Special will be on sale from newsagents and comic book shops on Wednesday 23rd March. There’s also going to be a special edition, only available from the 2000 AD and Treasury of British Comics webshops, will come bagged with a reproduction of the ‘banned’ issue of Action from October 1976.

Now, the Comicon preview of what to expect inside the Action Special 2020

KIDS RULE OK – Ram V & Henrick Stahlstrom, letters by Petite Creme

Kids Rule OK, created by Chris Lowder and Mike White, was the one that really wound everyone up, violent kid gangs running rampant in 1986 London where a plague has wiped out nearly all the adults. Think Lord of the Flies with a punker ethos and you’re somewhere near how radical and dangerous this one seemed.

So expect magnificent ultra-violence once more as Ram V and Henrik Stahlstrom bring you Kids Rule OK


HELLMAN OF HAMMER FORCE – Garth Ennis & Mike Dorey, letters by Rob Steen

Hellman of Hammer Force, written by Gerry Finley-Day, was one of those classic examples of turning expectations around, making the enemy the unconventional hero, in this case a German Panzer major. Now, Ennis joins series co-creator and original artist, Mike Dorey, to tell us a tale of ‘Hellman At The Twilight Of The Reich‘.


HELL MACHINEscript and art by Henry Flint, art by Jake Lynch, colours by Jim Boswell, letters by Simon Bowland

Completely new for this 2020 Special, Hell Machine features Flint and Lynch taking you into a dystopian future world where the government has created the Hell Machine, an underground nightmare that eats its way through the citizenry…


HOOKJAW – Keith Richardson & Dan Lish

Hookjaw was the obvious Jaws cash-in strip in Action, created by Pat Mills, scripted by Ken Armstrong, and drawn by Ramon Sola. And Richardson and Lish bring back Hookjaw for this special in a wordless explosion of oceanic excitement… not to mention a great surprise twist…


DREDGER – Zina Hutton & Staz Johnson, colours by John Charles, letters by Agent PC

Just as Hookjaw played off Jaws, Dredger looked absolutely to Dirty Harry, complete with the big Magnum and a habit of shooting first. Here, the agent gets his best James Bond on…

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