|Jet, No.11 (ca.1967)|
|Sky Riders, No.3 (ca.1967)|
The story itself is a comic-book biography of the Canadian fighter pilot, George Beurling (1921-1948), a reputedly maverick airman who flew with the Royal Air Force during World War Two, and achieved fame flying the Supermarine Spitfire over the besieged island of Malta, where he claimed the first of thirty-two confirmed "kills". He was subsequently transferred to a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) squadron stationed in England, where he continued to fly combat missions. He died in an air crash in Rome, in May 1948, reportedly flying to Israel to take up a role as a fighter pilot with the fledgling Israeli air force. There appear to be some superficial discrepancies between the comic-book account of Beurling's life, and other accounts I've read online, which may be due to editorial oversight, or the dramatic demands of the comic-book medium.
I'd previously stated that my recollection of the stories published in Sky Riders was that they were of inferior quality to those appearing in comparable British "pocket-library" comics of the 1960s, such as Commando and War Picture Library. Looking at "The Gladiator of Malta" with fresh eyes, I have to revise this admittedly harsh opinion, and concede this story was well-drawn and certainly on a par with many of the European artists whose work appeared in British war comics throughout the 1960s. While the artist's style is not immediately recognisable (to me, at least), several panels throughout the story bear the artist's indecipherable signature (See below).
|Sky Riders, No.3 - page 32|
|Sky Riders, No.3 - page 23|