by Gavin Johnston on October 30, 2017

Writer: Malcolm Shaw
Artists: Marion Capaldi; John Richardson
Publisher: Rebellion

Misty Volume Two showcases a duo of tales which originally appeared way back in 1978 in Misty, a supernatural anthology comic marketed to young girls, here reprinted following Rebellion’s purchase of a huge back catalogue of comics from IPC Publishing.


Sentinels is a supernatural tale set around a pair of high rise buildings, one of which remains mysteriously empty, shunned despite a housing shortage. Made homeless and now desperate, a family has no option but to take shelter in the abandoned block. Amid the abandoned corridors, teenage Jan discovers a magical portal to an alternative reality where Britain was occupied by German forces in the second world war and the populace live in constant fear of their Nazi overlords.


In End of the Line a young women becomes convinced that her father, missing and presumed dead after an accident on the London underground, is still alive. Rebelling again her mother and soon to be step-father, Ann sets out to find her father and discovers a magical underground kingdom, where the evil Lord Vicary has been imprisoning slaves for a hundred years.


Originally published at around the same time, both Sentinels and End of the Line hit the same dramatic notes. Both feature an ordinary teenage girl as a “Mary Sue” style protagonist who is spurred to action following the disappearance of their fathers. Both broken family units also include an untrusting mother who is a potential foe, lacking the bravery of their daughters.


Both teenage girls, Jan in Sentinels and Ann in End of the Line, demonstrate a deep and justified distrust of authority figures. Police officers, soldiers, local government officials, train company employees and doctors are unrelentingly untrusting, untrustworthy, and almost entirely male. A single female police officer, (or in the parlance of the time a “Woman Police Constable” - a naming tradition which unbelievably continued until 1999), appears in End of the Line, but is given nothing to do and holds no real authority. Overall, the protagonists and other female characters demonstrate an intense fear not only of masculine authority, but of not being believed, or worse still, disturbing the status quo so much that they are regarded as mentally ill.


Both young women embark on an adventure into the unknown, abandoning their recently disturbed domestic environment to save their missing fathers. They travel to a mysterious and strangely twisted version of the world, where normal rules to not apply and their lives are placed at risk. Both are aided on the other side of the looking-glass by a female companion, their only comfort in this weird and threatening world. They achieve their goal of restoring their family, but the overall threat this alien other-world has on their own reality is left to others to resolve. The hero of each story is interested in and empowered only to restore the domestic unit to the status quo. This leaves the ending of both stories feeling a little flat.


Written by Malcolm Shaw and illustrated by Mario Capaldi and John Richardson, in an industry dominated by men to be marketed to young girls, Misty proved extremely popular, presumably capturing the concerns and motivations of the target audience. Alternatively, the target audience had a somewhat limited pool of approachable fiction to draw inspiration from.


Misty Volume 2 is a fascinating window into the past. Both Sentinels and End of the Line are fast moving, having originally been published only a few pages at a time, which results in the need to constantly move forward whilst recapping the story so far. Characters aren’t built much beyond brief outlines. However, this was typical of the style of the era, and comparison to more modern comics would simply be unfair.


The stories are compelling in their simplicity. Both stories are often touching and at times disturbing. When Jan first begins to encounter a different version of history, meeting strangely alien versions of friends and family, there are moments of real drama and threat.


Misty Volume 2 is a period piece, and isn’t for everyone. The style and the theme are very much of a bygone era, now outdated and out of fashion. It is, however, a truly fascinating example of British comics of the 1970’s and a genre of comics which has since faded into obscurity, and deserves to be of great interest not just to completionists, but to anyone with an interest in comic history.

Our Score:


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