Wednesday, 23 November 2016
King Cobra, probably British comics' most American-styled superhero, ran in boys' paper The Hotspur, and was the creation of the great Ron Smith, an artist who did acres of stuff for DC Thompson, and then went over to IPC and worked on Judge Dredd, both for 2000AD and The Daily Star.
Ron must've fought tooth and nail to get DC Thompson ( DC to IPC's Marvel ) to agree to doing a superhero, as The Hotspur was much more comfortable pushing upper class historical adventure and cowboy strips at the time, and King Cobra stands out quite a bit from his labelmates.
He is a bit more like a Golden Age hero, than a swinging '70's one though. For starters, he never really seems to have that much trouble bringing in the bad guys, his cobra suit coming up with all sorts of add-ons and extras.
Plus Marvel-type angst completely passed 'the ace crook-catcher' by. In his secret identity as Bill King, amiable but clumsy reporter, he's like Clark Kent playing in the Batsuit.
Maybe Smith was harking back to the heroes he grew up on, but whatever, what makes King Cobra special is, of course, Ron's fantastically dynamic, and slightly wonky, art. A bit like Jim Mooney, Smith's work always seemed to me to be on just the eccentric side of normalcy, and I wonder what he and Steve Gerber might've got up to together.
Here's a few of The King's early adventures. How do you like this new pal, lads?