Wednesday Comics: The Basran Tragedy

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Surely the most ill-conceived storyline Roy of the Rovers ever ran, the Basran tragedy was the comic’s way of ushering in a new era – clearing the decks of several characters and paving the way for new artist Mike White to bring a new style to the series.

In principle, not necessarily a bad idea – but in practice, this was a ghastly storyline. Running over the duration of the 1986 summer months, it saw the Melchester squad held hostage in the fictional middle-eastern country of Basran (itself a staple of 1980s ROTR stories), as revolutionaries sought to overthrow the king with whom Roy was friendly. Having been rescued by the SAS, the Rovers look to be on their way home – until an explosives-packed car crashes into their coach, killing eight players and injuring several others.

About the only good thing about the story is the clever irony of the Rovers nearly escaping, only to be crashed into by someone who was actually trying to strike a blow against the very revolutionaries that had captured them; but otherwise, this attempt to recapture the soap-opera type dramatics of the hugely-selling Who Shot Roy Race? storyline fell flat, with imagery that simply had no business being sold to the comic’s regular audience. And the quick, almost offhand way in which the deaths of characters who had been in the strip for almost a decade leaves a bad taste, too.

From Roy of the Rovers, 1986, by Tom Tully and David Sque.

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