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Mike Higgs' The Cloak

( from Pow! #18, 20 May 1967 to Smash! #162, 8 March 1969 )

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Despite the home grown talent working on the humour strips, it's not unreasonable to say that the Marvel reprints were the biggest draw of the Power Comics for many readers. But there was one UK strip that could stand toe to toe with Stan's boys. A lost 1960s British hero who should be as well known as Dan Dare or Judge Dredd. A series that ran for slightly less than two years and 200 pages, but packed in enough action, laughs and bizarre characters to fill a decade of comics. And his name ?
Our hero.
Mike Higgs' comedy adventurer the Cloak was essentially a pulp hero with a gang of assistants, like the Shadow or Doc Savage, reimagined for the swinging sixties of James Bond and the Batman TV show. The latest in a line of cloaked mysterymen, he was assigned to the British Special Squad and fought evil with only his wits, gadgets and loyal sidekicks, Mole and Shortstuff.

Mike's into for new readers from Smash! 137.

The second year of the strip introduced a girl to the gang, the mystical aristocrat Lady Cynthia Shady (though more Emma Peel than Zatanna or Victoria Bentley). She may have been intended as a potential love interest, but the Cloak never seemed to have time for the sloppy stuff. These later episodes also featured a tale from the archives of how the 17th Century Cloak foiled the Gun Powder Plot.

Typically stories were 5 or 6 episodes in length with weekly cliff-hanger endings. Over the course of the series they met mad scientists, wolfmen, international superspies, evil clockmakers, magical villains, Egyptian mummies, reborn dinosaurs, vengeful WWI pilots, leprechauns, aliens, mad movie creators and ghosts. Most villains were resoundingly dealt with on their first outing but some, like Deathshead and the dastardly G.H.O.U.L. organisation were a recurring threat.

The series was popular enough to endure the merging of Pow! with Wham! in early 1968 and even earned a place in that year's Fantastic! Summer Special, alongside Spider-man, Thor and Doctor Strange. It also survived Pow! folding into Smash! towards the end of '68, a move that was the death knell for most of the other Pow! regulars.

But in March 1969 the fun came to an abrupt end. After 162 issues Smash! was relaunched as a traditional boy's adventure paper and all the funnies were dropped. IPC's editorial policy strictly segregated humourous and dramatic stories into separate titles aimed at different age groups and there was no place for a strip like the Cloak that didn't fit into either of the obvious pigeon-holes.

The Cloak reappeared two decades later as "The Redundant Hero" in a backup tale in Lew Stringer's Brickman #1. As far as I know, he hasn't been seen since, but Mike Higgs himself made a cameo appearance in 2005's Albion as the Cloak's official biographer.

.. and all for just 7d.  If only .....