Tornado No 2: Your Multi-role Maydaypack’s got Codes; Tests; ID pass and all you need to form your own T.T. units!

Like the cover to the first issue, No 2 has a few panels from the stories inside, plugs the free gift, then shows a photo of Dave Gibbons as Big E. Boring! (sorry, Dave).

The Big Editorial has another photo of Big E, this time flying over a cityscape (presumably the view from Kings Reach Tower, as that would be the easiest way to get a cityscape if you work in a comic based there) and another photo of the editorial team – including the old Heroes logo. Tharg lurks in the corner.

Victor Drago and the Terror of Troll Island! Part 2. There’s a bit more to go on this week. Drago and Spencer (or is that Victor and Spencer – we’re not told if Spencer is a given name or surname) – are on the lookout for the murderer of Moffat but this being the second of seven (I think) episodes, they obviously don’t find them (though we do see a pair of shadowy hands just before they dispose of the body). They stumble on to a stately home occupied by a famous crime writer, Edgar Hollis, who invites them to a house-party, room and board included. Almost immediately Hollis lets them in to the secret of his success – he has a team of ghost writers and doesn’t actually write any of his own books (they also get to meet all the actual writers). One of two butlers (no explanation is given to why Hollis has two butlers) comes up to Drago to tell him that ‘they’ plan to murder him. It seems a bit more interesting than the previous episode, though I suspect my enjoyment of this story (and future Drago stories) will hinge on how this one resolves – if it fizzles out without loose ends I don’t think I’d be able to maintain interest in future installments.

The Team Tornado Mayday Pack is introduced and explained next, including an explanation of how to use the code breaker (it actually works for cyphers, not codes). There’s also a three-option quiz, though thankfully just the one question rather than a page of questions, as Starlord ran.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith continues the tale of the runaway, using exxtraordinary powers to win money on fruit machines, or at least would if somebody else didn’t come along and push him away to win the money he’d been putting in for the past two hours. Dejected he walks along the street and a psi-flash (Tom Tully’s preferred term is ‘ESP’) prompmts him to save an old man’s life. The old man in question rewards Wolfie with a job and takes him back to his country estate. The episode ends with another psi-flash – Benson the chauffeur wishes Wolfie dead for getting in the way of a plan.

Meet the Tornado Team! is a one page feature on the staff of the comic and I think I’ve seen the character archetypes before. Big E is superman, Samantha Stevens is Lois Lane, Percy Pilbeam is Clark Kent and Billy Preston is Jimmy Olsen. The facing page has an issue 3 trailer – the cover of the issue in question says ‘free gift’ but doesn’t specify what the gift is – this trailer reveals it’s a spud gun. Tornado is not the only comic to give away a spud gun, so IPC must have had a warehouse full of the things. News also of Storm – some kind of wild boy in the Scottish Highlands?

Alan Hebden and Belardinelli show the domed city on Mars. After a brief altercation between Earthies and Marshies outside one of the domes, Matt Markhams manages to get an audience with the President of Mars Incorporated, who reveals in confidence that the company is trying to wipe out the independent farmers pso that they can replace them with company employees. The farmers pool there resources to send Matt to Earth so he can put their case to the United Nations, but despite trying to acclimatise to Earth’s air pressure and temperature while on the space yacht, as they land at a Pacific spaceport the gravity threatens to crush him. I like how the difference between atmosphere and planetary mass actually has an effect on the storyline.

The Tornado True Tale of Benkei shows the bully impressing Yoshitsune with his honour (he may have acted dishonourably in life but at the end was willing to face death) and is instead taken into his service. Then we’re told of a war (show don’t tell) and there’s something about a different emperor, but when Yoshitsune tries to return home he isn’t allowed in to his own brother’s stronghold. After an unspecified wait, said brother sends an emissary who turns out to be an assassin. Yoshitsune, Benkei and thirty of their men start wandering, at first conspiciously as a general and his knights, then later disguised as priests. The cliffhanger is that the unarmed ‘priests’ are headed through a guarded gate when Yoshitsune is recognised… This is written by Steve Moore (behind many Future-Shocks) but there’s something that seems very pre-2000AD about this story. Perhaps it’s because it’s based on a true story, but there’s a lot of explaining what happened instead of showing what happened.

In Wagner’s Walk we get our first map (I don’t know if there will be any more) showing us where Siberia is within the USSR and in relation to India. The trio’s escape plan consists of being in the last truck of a convoy and jumping from the truck while others cause a minor distraction and cover for them. It works long enough for them to trek for a day. By nightfall they’re lucky enough to discover a cabin, unluckily the residents of the cabin return while all three are asleep. Luckily they didn’t see Wagner yet, just the other two – so he hits them with a loose floorboard. The trio tie them up, steal their food, a oompass and a couple of rifles. He puts the new rifle to good use and the first time he ever sees a helicopter, manages to take it down with a rifle. Their latest batch of freedom runs out pretty quickly as they find themselves in the presence of timber wolves, hungry and on the prowl.

Not only do we get a rip-off of Superman in the editorial pages, but we get a parodoy of the superhero (and a number of others) on the back page, in the form of Captain Klep, who arrives in Miniopolis. Klep goes to the Department of Heroes and Social Security to fill in a form, take a few tests and get assigned his alter ego. Among the other comic characters I spotted parodies of (I’m not a mainstream superhero comics fan, so there are others I couldn’t identify) are: Captain America; Spider Man; The Flash; Green Lantern; Batman; Thor; The Shadow; the Hulk. This is a bit better than I was expecting – Kevin O’Neill packs loads of visual gags in the backgrounds – though it’s difficult to tell how much of a collaborative process it would have been with Angus and Landau. I can easily imagine the three of them sitting around a table in a pub coming up with the pencils of the whole one-page story (background jokes and all) before O’Neill goes off to ink it all up.

Grailpage: Belardinelli’s centrespread of Matthew Markhams approaching Hellasport showing the domed city, a shanty town outside the dome (?), motorways, the main reservoir and the greenery surrounding the city amongst the desolate redness of Mars.

Grailquote: this is going to be slightly esoteric: Angus/Landau, Medical Officer: “Are you allergic to any of these things?” Captain Klep: “No, sir! Thank goodness Kleptonite was not on that list!” the reason I’ve picked this is because the ‘No, sir!’ was in a regular speech balloon while the rest of Klep’s words were in in a thought bubble, though the two parts of the dialogue were linked by a join.

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