Another ‘new comic cover’ with a tiny picture of newcomer Storm taking about a fifth of the cover space, a photo of Dave Gibbons’ face and the rest promoting the ‘sensation free gift’ which, when, laying out the comics I’d be reading in the coming week or so, gave no clues to what the gift was going to be (I know now that it was a spud gun, from the teaser ad in the previous issue). Hopefully this is the last Tornado cover that won’t have a big picture on!
The Big Editorial is not so big, and for good reason – it’s cut to about a third of normal size to make way for new thrill Storm. Despite it’s reduced size, Big E’s blurb still gets cut down further when ‘newshound Billy Preston’ speaks over him to tell the true tale of Lachlan, a wild boy in Clydesbank in ‘the last war’ – this was before the Falklands and I’m going to guess Billy doesn’t mean Korea or Vietnam! Anyway, so Storm is either based on or has parallels with this Lachlan.
Storm takes the front spot from Drago. Scot Goodall delivers poetic narration while Musquera has a more grounded, less fantastical Belardinelli style, particularly when it comes to wild landscapes. Andrew Kane has given up a job in the city as a research chemist to become a shepherd in the Scottish highlands, working for Sir Gordon Forbes, the Lord of the Manor who only has an interest in visiting once a year, and then only to shoot at wildlife. Storm is a mysterious wild boy who saves Kane’s dog Bracken when she slips down a crumbling embankment. Later, Storm attempts unsuccessfully to save a stag shot by one of Forbes’ hunting party. Kane is ordered to give chase in a landrover and follows Storm to a cave, where he is not welcome. It’s a good opener – I have no idea whether Storm is actually supposed to be superhuman – he runs around in winter barechested but for a furry waistcoat thing, swims in icy-cold water and can run across rough terrain at twenty miles an hour.
Wagner’s Walk has taken the second spot, continuing with the attack by timber wolves – which is a bit odd as they’re native to North America – why would a German in Siberia think that the local wolves are anything other than Siberian wolves? Not that their breed is mentioned in this episode, but it was in the last panel of the last episode. I’ve just noticed that there’s a picture of somebody wearing a turban riding an Indian elephant in the series’ logo – spoiler! The wolves aren’t too much of a threat in the end, though dogs released by the Russian soldiers chasing them present more of a problem, leading to the trio trapped on an island in among icy water, the Russians having called for a boat to pick them up. It’s a good cliffhanger, though I do feel that sometimes ‘Next week’ tags skirt on revealing a little too much – in this case: “The Trick”.
Victor Drago and the Terror of Troll Island! Part 3, relegated from 1st place in the comic to 3rd – the last before the colour centrespread. I’m thinking that Victor Drago was the ‘Dan Dare in 2000AD’ of Tornado – supposed to be a ‘name’ to lure people in – or at least to encourage parents to buy the comic for their offspring. I’m not sure how invested I can get in a renamed rip-off of Sherlock Holmes, even if Sexton Blake had a long history beforehand. The mystery continues, with anybody who appears to know what’s going on and is willing to talk to Drago having a drastically reduced life expectancy. I’d still like to know the secret of the mystery, and really hope it lives up to Mike Dorey’s artwork. Not for the first time, all we see of the antagonist are mysterious, villainous hands.
The Angry Planet: I haven’t mentioned so far – the logo for this is very obviously designed by Jan Shepheard, for the simple reason that it’s in the same style as the Judge Dredd logo, with a texture reminiscent of the Strontium Dog logo – it’s like she revisited her greatest hits! In the story, Matthew Markham gets rushed to hospital while his visible antagonists gloat over his impending death (but just in case, Hugo Kray, president of Mars Inc. sends Samurai – an assassin – to make sure of it). Other than that we already know an assassin will kill him if Earth’s gravity doesn’t do it, things are going well for Markham as a delegation from the United Nations invites him to speak before them the following day. That night Samurai quick-freezes Markham in his flotation tank at the hospital. I’m impressed that gravitational differences between those born and acclimatised to different planets continues to be addressed. Let’s ignore that such differences probably wouldn’t start with the very first person to be born on a particular planet. In the real world the best chance at suspended animation through cryo-freezing is a quick freeze (anything slower would form crystals in the blood, killing the patient). If children’s comics of the late 1970s had more of a rigorous scientific basis, I’d guess this is what happened to Markahm in the “He’s frozen to death!” cliffhanger, but maybe Alan Hebden will have predicted 21st century science for the next week’s episode anyway?
The Mind of Wolfie Smith rewinds and retells the last episode’s final panels in a slightly different way. If you ignore the first page you can read it as if it continues directly from said episode as Wolfie and his new employee arrive at the stately home. Considering Victor Drago also takes place at a stately home where (it appears) half the people resident have murder in mind, having a similar set-up in Wolfie Smith means one of the two suffers. So far I’m preferring Wolfie.
Tornado True Tale of Benkei: I appreciate what Steve Moore was attempting in this story – but there just wasn’t the space for it – Benkei is presented as a bully in the first episode, we get told about wars in the second episode and in the third (and final) part he honourably serves his master, Yoshitsune. The telling moved too fast for this relationship to have been properly built up. I’m hoping that future Tornado True Tales work better in the format.
The inside back cover has instructions on constructing the spud gun free gift. Good news at the bottom of the page – Black Hawk starts next week, as does Carlos Ezquerra’s Gallery of Heroes multi-part poster.
Captain Klep takes the back page. It’s primitive, but there’s something about a city full of superhumans that makes me think of Marshal Law – including loads more parodies of characters I’m not familiar with.
Grailpage: Musquera’s second page of Storm, showing the titular character emerging through the misty moorland and jumping into the icy loch.
Grailquote: Angus & O’Neill: “Suddenly their train of thought was subjected to a delay…”