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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The End of Pow!

Although Pow! clearly had a lower budget than its companion comics Wham! and Smash! it still contained some memorable strips. Apart from those already mentioned, the comic's line up later added Experiment X and The Two Faces of Janus.

Forty years before Torchwood, Experiment X concerned the exploits of F.E.A.R. (The Federation for Extraordinary and Alien Research) a secret branch of the British government headed by the sinister and mysterious Doctor Morg. (And what kid could resist the lure of that cover, shown here, to announce the arrival of the series?) Although the strip ended in 1968, Doctor Morg returned a few years later in the story Appointment with F.E.A.R. in Pow Annual 1972.

Odhams comics thrived on having less clean-cut heroes than their rivals, and Cliff Adam in The Two Faces of Janus was no exception. Due to an "old man's curse" handsome Cliff found his features contort into an ugly and frightening face. Obviously influenced by Jekyll and Hyde, but in this scenario the hideous "Janus" (as he came to be known) was still a good guy. However, in a comment on how shallow society is, Janus was hated and feared by the public due to his appearance and hunted like a criminal.

The Cloak, Experiment X and The Two Faces of Janus brought a lot of entertainment value to Pow! but even they couldn't stave off the inevitable. Perhaps Odhams had expanded their comics line too quickly, or perhaps most kids preferred mundane strips they could "relate" to, but whatever the reason, sales were dropping. By issue 53, Wham! had merged into Pow! but even that didn't save the comic. Desperately, the now double-barreled Pow! and Wham! tried to appeal to traditional tastes by bumping superheroes off the cover in favour of other material such as mystery or sport. The last two covers featured football strips, something Odhams had previously avoided like the plague. For such a non-conformist comic as Pow! this was the final nail in the coffin. After just 86 weekly issues, Pow! merged into Smash!


Anonymous said...

Whose name is that scribbled on the top of each comic Lew? You really have saved all those Smashs???
As I say, mine got sodden in the tropics so I rarely see them now!

Lew Stringer said...

Yep, I used to have Pow! reserved at my corner shop every Saturday, hence my name atop the comics.
A life in the tropics might have been preferable though...


István said...

Thanks about great article!

I have been big fan of Mike Higgs ever since I was 7 years old and Moonbird was in local Finnish newspaper Aamulehti (=Morning Magazine).

Do you have pictures of good old Moonbird´s adventures? Great stories behind them?

And please tell something about great Mike!

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