Tornado No 5: Panic on the Pan-Martian Highway!

Looks like Ian Kennedy providing an Angry Planet cover, featuring the ship that Markham used to travel to Earth and back making a landing on a Martian highway. If I’m right on my guess, they really do get Kennedy to draw anything involving a flying vehicle!

The Big Editorial carries on the office politics photostory from previous weeks. I guess it marks the editorial pages as different when compared to 2000AD and Starlord…

Black Hawk is still trying to get together one hundred men to serve under him. What happens is that he ends up at the colosseum, the hawk tricks the emperor into sparing both of the best gladiators, blackhawk subsequently tricks them into not killing and robbing him, he recruits them, then the hawk leads the three up to a hill of execution. Crassus intervenes to spare the criminals due to be executed, allowing Black Hawk to recruit them. Despite their attempting to murder him less than an hour earlier, Stronus and Batus (the gladiators) are concerned that the criminals will do exactly the same as they had planned… My initial thought was that the only character who acts with agency is the hawk, though (the human) Black Hawk did trick Stronus and Batus into attacking his uniform while he watched from the shadows, then fought them. The emphasis of the comic on ‘heroes’ means I’m always going to be looking at how heroic those appearing actually are… Footnote – in checking the spelling for the colosseum, I found out two things: 1) it was originally called the Flavian Ampitheatre and 2) it was built in 70CE, twenty years after the setting of Black Hawk (to be fair, it isn’t called the colosseum in the strip, but it does look exactly like it).

Wagner’s Walk has the trio in their stolen truck almost run into a convoy of other trucks, travelling from the dam. This solves their immediate problem of sticking out due to being in a stolen truck. It does highlight a convention of the written word though – if this was an audio drama, TV programme or film then the fact that Wagner would speak with a German accent would raise a few eyebrows in Siberia. A tank commander isn’t so easily fooled and identifies the truck they’re in as stolen and damages the truck as they try to escape. Gruber is injured and tells the others to leave him, Wagner agrees, ordering and threatening Karl to desert his comrade. Not very heroic? All is revealed in the last panel, Wagner’s plan is no less than to steal the tank itself.

Victor Drago and the Terror of Troll Island! Part 5 – after falling for a week, Drago and Spencer land in an underground stream. Ostensibly they’re trapped, but actually they just need to pull out a rusty old grille, walk along some smelly sewers, then climb the cliff back to the house. It seems strange to me that the story is set in the late 1920s or early 1930s and features close circuit television. If they wanted an evil mastermind behind a bank of CCTV monitors, why not write a story set in the present day? Anyway, the cliffhanger is that Drago is reading a chapter from a novel on a typewriter that describes how he’s going to be shot by a crossbow in three seconds time.

The Gallery of Heroes continues with a Samurai Warrior and a Medieval Knight. Good pictures from King Carlos, but not fantastic – but then this is running at the same time as Journey Into Hell over in 2000AD.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith starts with Wolfie cornered by two farmhands who have been misled into believing he insulted Stratfield, rather than saving his life. After a few pages of standard ‘bullying the underdog’, Wolfie explodes with rage, discovering the ability to focus his power into a punch. Chris Kemble (manager of the estate, who Wolfie fancies) tells him to get off of the estate, but inexplicably suggests he go to see Stratfield after he tells her about the murder attempts (which she shows no sign of believing). The previous episode had the cliffhanger of Wolfie being attacked by the two farmhands, this one has a mysterious hand holding a gun about to shoot him (and he doesn’t know this person is there, so won’t be able to use his power punch to get out of this one). Though he has ESP, so surely he’s going to detect the mysterious gunman or woman?

The Angry Planet: Markham’s ship is not allowed to land anywhere and is fast running out of fuel. We already know how this is going to play out, as the solution is on the cover of the comic. The disagreements between Marshies and Earthies get kicked up a notch as the ship lands on the highway, smashing apart some trucks. One of which contained fuel and is taken by the ship captain who leaves as the fight ends and a Marshie blockade of transport routes around Mars begins, the Earthie truckers forced to walk back to Hellasport. Hugo Kray exposits to the Samurai that Mars will get no more drinking water while their blockade continues. After the diversory visit to Earth, things are hotting up on Mars.

Storm is captured and worse, he thinks that Kane was in on the trap. I’m not too sure where this is going – by the end of the episode a number of things have happened: Storm is chained up in Sir Forbes’ castle (it has old chains from dealing with clan raids centuries before); Kane has gone off to save a climber who got trapped; the climber is in an inaccessible place that only Storm would be able to help with; the police and Kane are returning to the castle to fetch Storm (and drop any trespassing charges against him). But… Skarr the wildcat has arrived at the castle and is attacking the residents of the castle.

The ‘next week’ half-page reveals something of where Storm is going, with a picture of the police helicopter chasing Storm – so are they going to capture him in order to ask him to help save the climber?

Captain Klep has the comedy superhero attempting to foil a robbery at a high society party (but actually helps the villain escape and attack one of the victims). It’s more enjoyable than I’d have expected – my sole exposure to Klep is the continuation in 2000AD, which I don’t remember liking.

Grailpage: Mike Dorey, Drago and Spencer climbing back up to the castle after having waded through the sewage matches Dorey’s grimy style.

Grailquote: Tornado just doesn’t seem to have the quotable lines that 2000AD stories have. Tom Tully, Chris Kemble: “Do Mr. Cornelius a favour, and have a bath before you see him… because you stink!” Wolfie Smith: “She’s beginning to notice me at last, folks!”

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