I think the art style on this Wolfie Smith cover matches the contents, so I’ll say it’s a Vano cover. The cover itself is pretty generic, could be from any Wolfie story I’d expect to see, both in Tornado and the forthcoming 2000AD and Tornado (in about eleven weeks time).
The Big Editorial has news of a Supercover Saga style series starting next week, but combined with the reader’s short stories idea currently running sporadically in 2000AD’s Nerve Centre (i.e. the reader’s are going to make up stories based on the covers).
Lawless Touch – Johnny Lawless’ new employer has been given a full name – The European Special Corps. Johnny’s still not keen, so ‘Mother’ shows him the victims of Josef Drakken, a drug smuggler living in Hampstead. Johnny phones Mother from the Hampstead pad (yes, that’s right – phones the Corps from a phone belonging to the criminal) and tells her there’s going to be a drugs drop at St Katherine’s Dock – she tells him that his work is done and for him to go home and read about the arrest in the morning news. Obviously, he ignores this and rides to St Katherine’s Dock. As a point of order Johnny rides past a sign pointing to The South, Tower Bridge and Hornsey, looking rather more like a motorway road sign than the usual signs in North London. A second point of order – as he arrives things have gone wrong and the boat is on its way out to sea – though verismilitude is lacking for those familiar with the area as the boat is next to Tower Bridge on the South Side of the Thames while St Katherine’s Dock is a bit further along and on the North Bank. Johnny takes over the boat M.A.C.H.1 style, though without the compupuncture-hyperpower and navigates it to Wapping Police Pier (at least that’s in the right direction). Despite his being a criminal and going on about how he’s a bad sort, he ends up stealing thousands of pounds of notes in a briefcase and depositing them at an East London drugs rehabilitation centre. For the uninitiated, in storytelling there’s a concept called Chekhov’s Gun. If you show a gun in act one of a three-act play, then by the end of act three it must have been fired. Johnny the narrator mentioned that he recognised Drakken from a photo that he’d been shown by Mother at the beginning. The Checkhov’s Gun equivalent would be that the gun had been fired but hadn’t been shown up to that point. It just seems like sloppy writing to me. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned the creators, it’s because I don’t know – unlike most other stories in 2000AD and Starlord and Tornado, this one doesn’t have any credits.
Storm does have credits – S. Goodall and S. Kennedy (Cam Kennedy). We get a glimpse of Kane’s training of Storm – not that there’s much training going on, it’s really just Kane timing how fast Storm is and being impressed by his abilities. There’s a little bit of ‘fish out of water’ and snobbery towars Storm when the pair arrive at the athletics meeting and then it’s time for the race… next week. There’s just one more thing to mention. One of Storm’s rivals in the race is going to be a sinister runner called… Brian Cox (for those reading this in the future, in other countries or just not aware of who he is – there’s currently an astro-physicist in the UK who appears on broadcast media by that name. He isn’t very sinister).
Wagner’s Walk starts with a bang. A nuclear explosion, to be precise. They trio receive a high radioactive dose from the bomb – high enough for Professor Seremkov to locate them through a radiation detector. Things are looking bleak for Gruber – the last lines of the episode are: “He will be dead by dawn!” and “Next week: Gruber… the human guinea pig!”
Victor Drago and the Horror of the Mummy’s Curse continues. Assuming this follows the format of the first Drago text story then this is the middle of three episodes. Everything so far points towards the mummified Ramtoth being an actual five thousand year old pharaoh returned to life, jumping over rooftops and taking to the control cabins of cranes (the last would be a little out of character for an Egyptian mummy). If it’s all wrapped up next week then I’m guessing the explanation is rather more mundane, though I can’t guess what the motive would be.
Blackhawk again in the centrespread. It’s well known that you don’t mix yellow and white text colour and backgrounds when trying to produce readable text. Black Hawk has a habit of having red backgrounds to it’s black text boxes – it makes it almost as difficult to read as the yellow/white combo. In the actual story, Black Hawk has made it to the mainland close to the Isle of Mona, a druid stronghold. His mission is to find an unguarded beach for the Roman legion to attack the Isle, but on his way it appears that the druids have summoned a storm to capsize his boat, and possibly have also taken control of his hawk, which has led them to a guarded beach where Black Hawk and his men are captured. It’s all engaging stuff and interesting to see the magical elements which I thought were only introduced after the switch to 2000AD in the merger. The people working on this comic probably wouldn’t have had any idea of hte forthcoming merger at this point (not even management and editorial – they’d have been waiting for sales figures around week 16, then given six weeks to wrap up and prepare for merging).
The Billy Preston Report: Billy Meets the Ambulance Men. The fourth and fifth pages of text in this week’s comic, and a new feature. The London Ambulance Service, as Billy writes, is just up the road from King’s Reach Tower. This is actually pretty good, detailing the training and daily life of Dave and Terry, two ambulancemen working out of Bloomsbury.
The Angry Planet: Alan Hebden and Belardinelli (I don’t think Massimo’s first name has appeared anywhere yet – not in Dan Dare, Inferno, Flesh Book II or Angry Planet – it’ll pop up somewhere). Have I mentioned yet that the logo for Angry Planet is very obviously by Jan Shepherd, mixing the style of her Judge Dredd logo with the texture of Strontium Dog? The killer dogroids attack, and with the attack Mars Inc has declared war on the Marshies. Design-wise the dogroids have suitably predator-like heads, but the bodies do make them look like decidedly un-threatening vacuum cleaners.
K. Armstrong and Vano bring us The Mind of Wolfie Smith though the introductory narration box says the police believe Wolfie is responsible for the murder of an eccentric millionaire. The millionaire in question was still alive last week – either somebody didn’t read the previous episode closely enough or the sub-editor missed out the word ‘attempted’. It’s getting so Wolfie can’t hitch-hike without the bank manager giving him a lift being ambushed, his wife threatened and the pair of them being driven to the bank by armed robbers. As if that wasn’t enough, the cliffhanger is that a policeman investigating the open door of the bank is about to be killed, unless Wolfie can do something about it.
Captain Klep has a new story, where Clep (not the super-powered Klep) has gained an admirer – more details in the grailquote section.
Grailpage: Cam Kennedy’s opening page to this week’s Storm evokes the highland feel in just a few panels.
Grailquote: Angus, narration: “Farrah Crump, fashion muddle and charlady is after him!” – just for the pun about fashion muddle.