Very quickly after December 4, the character of Action changed. Kids Rule OK and Probationer simply disappeared. In their place came two absolutely traditional unchallenging stories: Double Dynamite, a boxing story; and Roaring Wheels, about racing.
Death Game 1999 became Spinball, and Taggart’s team were out of prison. The authorities turned magically into hero-lovers. Taggart even went on to work on behalf of the Government as an agent abroad…
Look Out For Lefty escaped erasure by the skin of its teeth, but at the price of becoming a traditional football story.
Hell’s Highway staggered on for a while, but the new restrictions irked Jack Adrian and he soon abandoned it (especially when he lost Mike White as his artist for the series). There was less apparent change in Dredger, except that his opponents became more traditional. Eventually Breed was killed off, and Dredger became much more articulate – and that is a major change. Hellman needed less change. He was always a more traditional character, despite the unusualness of the Gentian point of view in the story.
And what of Hook Jaw the pride and joy of the comic? Its flagship, if that is a feasible metaphor? HJ continued to eat, but now like a good child learned to do so with no mess. A new artist came on the job whose work was strictly functional. It was off the centre pages, so blood colour was out. But anyway there was no blood to be had – even in black and white. Hook Jaw spent two episodes being attacked by other marine life after a brush with a Norwegian whaler: and then arrived – tossed by a hurricane – in the Hudson river by New York. There, he managed to eat a few divers, but always with his back to camera. A faint glimmer of the old villains showed in the New York City boss who doesn’t want unnecessary rumours spread – but that glimmer lasted one episode. In short, Hook Jaw was fast turning into a pale shadow of the film’s monstrous dentures.