Ian Kennedy provides a rare non-aircraft cover for Wagner’s Walk, with the title character about to Walk onto a mine. The other thing on the cover is that Black Hawk is in full colour (so no return to the centre pages for The Angry Planet).
The Big Editorial is cut to half a page, with a three-panel photo-strip demonstration of Dave Gibbons in Big E get-up fighting Basement Bill the caretaker. The rest of the page is taken up with…
Wagner’s Walk from ‘R.E. Wright’ and M. White. Wagner’s explanation for not being dead in the destroyed tank should surprise nobody except the Russian police, who now believe the three to be dead and won’t go chasing them (allowing them to recouperate). They make it to the Trans-Siberian Railway, a significant step on the journey to safety. They manage to avoid killing themselves in a minefield, though not without attracting the attention of some local soldiers / police who check out the minefield from a small train. They manage to turn the tables on the situation, through the cunning use of being in a narrative story which doesn’t account for spoken accents, with the soldiers not able to tell if they’re talking to Germans they don’t know instead of Russians they work with. As fortunate as they are not to be in form of media involving audio, their luck runs out when the train tracks go through an army stating post, which has a train ready to run (cliffhanger time).
Now that his secret is out, Storm is convinced by Kane to travel to civilisation, though Kane spends the episode insulting Storm or telling him to do as he’s told. Skarr is more rebellious, escaping his box and on the verge of encountering a dog (I don’t fancy the dog’s chances much). Looks like Goodall and Kennedy are the regular team from now on.
The Angry Planet: Hebden and Belardinelli deal with the United Nations in the first page (Mars Inc supplies all constituent nations with raw materials, so the security council is easily blackmailed). From there we get a tease on what the Samurai’s face looks like now (it’s still bandaged) and told that the Marshies have some allies from Earth who are going to supply them with weapons. The delivery yacht runs into a Mars Inc delivery craft though, with a heavily-armed escort. Fortunately the Marshies have been busy, and they’ve rigged a canyon with the last of their explosives, killing the Earthie fighters. In the last panel we get to see the Samurai’s new face – it’s alright, though not Belardinelli’s best – but then he did portray Artie Gruber particularly well. The last panel finally shows the Dogroids, which were the ‘next week’ tease last episode. This week’s next week is: “Attack of the Dogroids” – though at this rate, it’ll no doubt be in the last panel.
Not in full colour – just the first two pages out of five, Blackhawk takes to the centrespread, from Gerry Finley-Day and Azpiri. As predicted, the thieves in Black Hawk’s century have stolen a weapon, a ballista. Not so predictable, Black Hawk uses the ballista to catapult himself into the Hazda positions where he fights until his men can join him (if not for Black Hawk’s distraction, they’d be picked off before they could ascend the slopes). Winning the battle, Black Hawk finds that the Judean rebels are on their last legs and that they would be butchered when the other Romans find out. True to the parallels with Masada, it appears that the Judeans ‘chose death’ rather than face Rome (Masada is famous mainly for ending a long-running siege through the defenders committing suicide rather than surrender – there is more than a little controversy over everything to do with Masada – whether they did commit suicide, whether bodies found there were Jews or Romans, whether all of this is an inspiring resistance against Roman rule or an example of religious fanaticism and murder of families). The Black Hawk version has him smuggling out the survivors along with his men, and releasing them once they are clear of the Roman positions.
Triple TTT: Warrior from B. Burrell and J. Richardson finishes Almighty Voice’s story in a final stand against the mounties, who mount a full-scale assault on the position of three braves (apparently known to this day as Almighty Voice’s Bluff). There’s a belated attempt to make the mounties seem honourable, by the commander punishing one of the mounties who shoots the last remaining brave in cold blood. A good go at telling a First People’s story though perhaps the rushed true-stories format doesn’t suit that well. Looks like part of the format is to do these stories in three episodes, though they don’t tend to follow the three act structure that would have suited it well.
Victor Drago and the Flask of Doom, still uncredited, but the pcitures have to be by Mike Dorey. I hope I mentioned in an earlier post my suspicion that the rat had the bubonic plague, because I definitely thought it, and I was right. Two pages of text story reveal that the bad guys are smugglers who were bringing plague-infected rice to Britain (is that how bubonic plague spreads?) Not all of the smugglers were aware that the rice was inected though, and Drago manages to sew discord and set fire to the rice before the police turn up. There’s more Drago next week, presumably a text story again.
The Mind of Wolfie Smith from Tom Tully and Vanyo round out the 2000AD art droid-only Tornado (Vanyo just scraped in as an art droid by drawing a single Future-Shock about six months before this comic was published). Wolfie finally catches up with Benson the chauffeur, who nearly kills Cornelius if not for Wolfie’s intervention distracting the would-be murderer at the last moment (we don’t know he survived yet, but I’d be surprised if he is actually dead – we’ll see). Wolfie avoids a knife in the back, but still gets injured, weakening him and causing him not to be able to use his powers. Next week: mind over matter (so presuably he’s going to get his powers back in time to save his life).
I spoke too soon at the beginning of this issue – a second Big Editorial contains all the displaced letters. Sharing the final page with an advert for Look and Learn, another for stamps (of course) and a reader’s poem is news of a new story – The Lawless Touch (looks to be a bit One-Eyed Jack-like).
Grailpage: Belardinelli provides a Death Star trench-run like central image to one page, which also provides…
Grailquote: Alan Hebden, Markham: “We can only help if you make it down into the canyon! Do your best, but push off if it gets too hairy. This isn’t your war!”