A Warrior cover this week, albeit cluttered with frames from some of the other strips appearing. Uninspiring.
The Big Editorial has a couple of letters saying how great Tornado is plus a request for readers to send in jokes to make Sam smile. Sam’s the Lois Lane stand-in, if you’d forgotten.
Blackhawk is now taking place in the 1st century. I could swear it started off in the year 150, which would make it the 2nd century. Crassus attempts to kill Black Hawk in the practice arena by releasing a huge animal from the animal pens. Unfortunately (for Crassus) the animal in question is an elephant, which Black Hawk used to tame as a child (because they’re both from Africa, right?). The only reference to elephants I can find in Nubia is Elephantine Island (which is named for the shape of the island, not the local wildlife). Black Hawk’s next mission involves a long journey to the heights of Hazda to break one of the longest siege in Roman history. Now, the place they go is obviously based on Masada, though in the comic is called the Heights of Hazda (but still has Judean rebels). The only Hazda I can find is a tribe in the Central Rift Valley. Black Hawk is not welcome, not allowed to rest or feed his men and not given arrows by the Romans already present. He goes to his men to find the worst of the thieves. I’m left wondering if they’re going to be set to get food and weapons for his men from the Romans or something from the Judeans.
Storm is again from S. Goodall and ‘S. Kennedy’ / Cam Kennedy. Storm has stopped calling Kane shepherd, though that doesn’t help Kane adjust to life in a cave, feeding off of raw snakes (Kane passes on breakfast), berries and nuts. A few days later the press turn up in range rovers. Storm tricks them into following him to marshy land where they get stuck, but Kane isn’t interested because, as Storm passes a stone 200 metres away from the marshy ground he begins to time him and realises that Storm could be the fine athelete (not sure how this will square with Storm wanting to avoid civilisation).
The Angry Planet: almost every encounter that the Marshies have with the Earthies involves Markham pointing out that Earthies never take into account Martian gravity and this is no exception. The defences of the most heavily-defended place on Mars involve a relatively low wire fence and a strip behind the fence that has automated defences that can be tricked by a sensor deflector and a pole vault. It doesn’t take long for the Marshies to drive a giant Rock-Mover through the wall of the main control building and Markham manages to send out the message to Earth that Mars Inc is attempting genocide in breach of interplanetary law. The Samurai turns up on the scene, but only so that he can be kicked against the ice-cold metal of the Rock-Mover where he gets stuck (like getting your hand stuck against the ice of a freezer). Next issue promises a scarred Samurai (“this time it’s personal”), Kray, president of Mars Inc clashing with the United N ations and something called Dogroids (I’m going to guess genetically engineered canines, or maybe dog androids with highly developed smell sensors).
I was wrong on both counts in the Gallery of Heroes – Ezquerra brings us a jet pilot for the present and a mek-warrior for the future. Apparently, even in 1979, the US Army were developing robot soldier prototypes. Seeing as we’ve only recently made huge strides with getting robots to walk (pun intended) I do wander how primitive those prototypes were.
My theory is that the second Victor Drago was going to be a five or six page comic story but got cut down to a two-page text story quite late in the day, hence we get a second week of short stories – this one is set in the future and is three pages long, so chances are it’s a repurposed Future-Shock. It’s called Moon Ghost. I like the opening panel – it has a motorway linking the Sea of Tranquility with the Ocean of Storms, with a UK-style road sign to Clavius Base and a ship flying overhead emblazoned with MoonAlpine Ltd – a reference to McAlpine builders for those not familiar with the British company (and there’s quite a few of you reading this from overseas). By the time this comic was published McAlpine had built Wembley Stadium, Dorchester Hotel, Odeon Leicester Square (the one with all the film premiers and since the publication date, One Canada Square (what most people will think of as Canary Wharf), the Millenium Dome, the Millenium Bridge, the Emirates Stadium (which I’m including because I used to live around the corner from it) and the Olympic Stadium in Stratford (which I’m not a million miles away from now). This is all besides the point, as two construction workers, one Pat O’Flynn – an Irish stereotype, the other Mike Carmichael – also Irish but less of a stereotype (but both still obviously based on Irish navvies) discover a tunnel in the rock containing treasure that you’d find in a dark ages horde. They don’t seem incredibly surprised that there’s evidence of Moon People. Pat gets killed by a reanimated skeleton with a sword while Mike escapes. Bringing back help they find the body of Pat but inanimate skeletons with Mike getting the blame for killing Pat. This is brought to us by G. Miller (Flesh Book II) and D. Jackson and would probably be better if there was some explanation of what the Moon People were – aliens? An earlier wave of colonists – in which case why would they have swords and not pickaxes or shovels? Miller (if that’s his real name – I still hold it could be a pseudonym) didn’t do any more work for 2000AD – I wonder if his name will crop up again in Tornado before the end – we’re almomst at the half-way point.
Tornado True Tales: Warrior from B. Burrell and J. Richardson continues with mountie Corporal Dickson (who taunted Almighty Voice about his forthcoming hanging) catching up with the warrior just as he starts swimming across the fast-flowing Saskatchewan River. Believing the current too strong to swim across, Dickson, resigned to the body being lost, turns back with his dogs (the cliffhanger from the previous week that went nowhere). The mounted police find out he’s still alive though, and Sergeant Colebrook goes out to hunt him down. Colebrook is given a warning to leave, then killed with one shot, with the ‘half-breed’ scout wounded and told not to return. Next week – the final battle (though when I tried to find out which nation Almighty Voice belonged to in the previous Tornado post I also found out what his fate was).
Victor Drago and the Flask of Doom continues, the second of a three-part story. Instead of being immediately shot, Drago has a conversation with the gunman, allowing him to get a name (Chalky White) and to un-nerve the gunman long enough for Drago to kick him so that his shot fires wild. Not that it helps much, as there were two accomplices who knock him out and hide a bomb with a two-minute timer. Drago comes around and manages to hear the ticking and gets him and Spencer out of the door before the laboratory explodes. The three attackers see an explosion and assume Drago is dead, setting up the last episode to start with a car chase (is it still a chase if the chasee is unaware they’re being followed?) We still don’t now what was under that microscope.
The Mind of Wolfie Smith, which had a dog cliffhanger last week, manages to spell the word ‘psychic’ correctly this time around. Wolfie uses canine hypnosis to convince the dog that he’s a huge wolf, scaring him off, and then finds out from Chris Kemble (estate manager) that Cornelius checks the heating system in the Tropical House every morning – the jungle from Wolfie’s vision of the last two episodes. He has a slight diversion with Ralph Stratfield which allows Cornelius to enter the ‘jungle’ and the episode ends with Villainous Hands ™ holding an axe. Yes, this was written by Tom Tully (who has ended episodes of Harlem Heroes, Inferno and Dan Dare with Villainous Hands ™ – though with Dare we knew the hands belonged to the Mekon.
Not only do Sam and Billy slack of to let Big E do all the work, they also don’t appear to read the finished product, otherwise they’d know their colleageu Percy is actually Big E. Yes, it’s a one-page photo strip, with photos taken around Kings Reach Tower (not recognising the buildings, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out when I’m in the area – maybe after work tomorrow if I remember). Dave Gibbons dresses up, to punch out a bearded ‘spy’. The resolution is low, so I don’t know if it’s Steve McManus, Kelvin Gosnell, Kevin O’Neill or any of the other names that will be familiar to Squaxx.
Captain Klep returns this week after a brief haitus, this time by Angus and Richardson. I don’t recognise the art style, so don’t know if it’s John Richardson or a different artist. It’s alright – better than seeing that Trebor / Superman ad for a third time (as well as the previous week’s Tornado, it was also on this week’s 2000AD).
Grailpage: tempted by King Carlos’ Mek Warrior, but I’ll plump for Belardinelli’s Rock-Mover crashing through the wall of the Mars Inc control building wall.
Grailquote: Angus, narration: “It was a proud moment in the life of Clark Klep, budding paperboy and blooming incompetent…” a cheap gag, but good enough for me!