Writer:-Not known. Artist:- Denis McLoughlin (For further information about the artist please visit the Artist Identify page).
Main cast:- Sergeant Sam Baxter (Steelhead Sam); Colonel Trueman, Head of Special Operations, British Intelligence.
Time period:- 1980's.
James Halley the editor of The Victor said in his interview (see the interviews page), that the secret of a good comic strip story was that it, 'should start actively, without any tedious run-up.' And this series illustrates his point perfectly. By the end of the first episode, Baxter has confronted a group of terrorists in the line of duty as a Sergeant in the Parachute Regiment, received a serious head wound, recovered after having major head surgery, tackled the terrorists a second time (and beaten them) and been recruited by British Intelligence! And all done in three and a half entertaining, well scripted and drawn pages. And this high standard is maintained throughout the remaining fourteen episodes of this excellent series.
Baxter's damaged skull is re-built by doctors using Titanium, a light, but very strong metal. Baxter complains to a doctor that he now looks like a robot. Realising that the Army won't require a man with a metal skull, Baxter sets himself the task of seeking revenge on the individuals responsible for his injuries. It's during this search and confrontation with the terrorists that Sam learns that he can put his new steelhead to lots of new uses. For example, it can stop a colt .45 bullet at close range and headbutt a door completely off its hinges!
His activities don't go unnoticed, as Sam disrupts a British Intelligence surveillance operation of the terrorists. Colonel Trueman, Head of Special Operations offers Sam a job with his department. It is also at Trueman's suggestion that Sam makes use of rubber face masks and wigs to cover his steel head, which will provide him with a never ending array of disguises.
Sam's adventures are set in England as well as many countries around the world. Sometimes he works with a colleague, or an unwilling person (for example, a petty criminal), and other times he is on his own. His opponents include hostile foreign enemy agents, an out of control robot and other assorted villains. His steel head and disguises come in use every week.
The reader is given no clue as to Sam's character before his head injuries, but as Steelhead Sam the phrase 'action speaks louder than words' fits this character like a glove. He doesn't say a lot, but when he does it is in short, terse sentences. He has a short temper, he doesn't suffer fools gladly and that includes friends, foes and even a V.I.P. he is bodyguarding (see the story below).
This is one character who knows how to use his head in the most effective manner.
What is Titanium?
'A relatively light strong transition metal discovered in 1791 by W.Gregor (1761-1817). The metal is as strong as steel but 45% lighter and 60% heavier than aluminium but twice as strong. It is used in alloys for missles and aircraft.' (From Isaacs, Alan ed. The Macmillan Encyclopedia.- Macmillan, 1999.-) The metal's atomic number is 22 and in appearance it is a silvery grey-white metal. The metal is also resistant to corrosion. (Good news for Sam).
Is it medically possible to use Titanium in the repair of skull defects?
Well, the answer apparently is yes! The University of Ulster, School of Health Sciences has been working on using the metal to repair skull defects. Click on the linkUniversity of Ulster for their paper on the subject, complete with photographs (nothing gory).
The episodes below are from The Victor issues 1010, 1014 and 1023.