by Gavin Johnston on August 22, 2018

Writer: Tom Tully
Artists: Eric Bradbury
Publisher: Rebellion

British kid’s comics of the 1970s had a particular style. Slapstick humour, with cheeky characters who are eventually undone by their own hubris. Ordinary characters with extraordinary powers. Sporting underdogs battling the odds.


Oh, and evil Nazi scientists invading the country with biologcal weapons and mutant animals.


Released from prison after twenty five years, Von Hoffman is a Nazi scientist set on taking revenge against the Englanders who foiled his plans for world domination. Using a gas which super-sizes animals and insects, the batty scientist crosses the English Channel on a giant eel. Using everything from crabs to budgies in his badly thought-out plan, he’s foiled at every stage by a couple of pesky kids.


Von Hoffman’s Invasion was originally published in Jet in 1971, and is collected here for the first time, as part of Rebelion's republishing of old classics. The original format was three page episodes, so the story rattles along at quite some pace. It’s a madcap adventure, with Von Hoffman stumbling from one crazy short adventure to another.


It’s fun, with not much by way of logic. Von Hoffman’s plan is entirely random. Characters appear and are entirely forgotten by next week. The two boys who become the heroes of the tale are looked after by their Aunty Jean, who takes a trip to the shops and is never mentioned again. The destruction of a small village by a pack of fifty foot high dogs, with dozens of witnesses, goes unremarked.  Even a full on assault by the British military is quickly forgotten as the story rolls on.


On top of this, the characters are just broadstrokes, with nothing by way of development in the whole 120 pages of this, the first volume. Hoffman is an evil scientist. The boys are brave. There’s a forgetful zookeeper, a brave footballer, a blustering Major...but no hint of development.


If you can put these points aside, Von Hofman’s Invasion is a fun, and completely over the top journey. Eric Bradbury’s art is gothically creepy, delighting in the grotesque details of oversized animals, or Hoffman’s contorted, angry features.


Von Hoffman’s Invasion might have an unusual subject matter, but it is just slapstick humour, with cheeky characters who are undone by their own hubris. For many modern readers, it’s style will be too old fashioned, too simplistic. But if you want a burst of nostalgia, then this is one to look out for.


Our Score:


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