Tornado No 13: The Sound… It’s so Real the Train has Come Alive… Aaaarghh!

The covers have a change of theme from this week, with Supercover Saga style covers created by artists, but instead of getting a sub-editor to come up with a story to match, readers are invited to do so. This cover looks to be from Ian Kennedy and shows a train crashing through a wall of hi-fi equipment.

The Big Editorial explains the cover situation, has a letter from a reader who I totally disagree with (thinks Tornado is the best comic out at the time and that Victor Drago is the best story in it), plus a few reports from pseudo-military groups of children from Wolverhampton and Cheshire.

The Lawless Touch starts with a bang. A European Special Corps agent is missing, believed held at the Volgan Embassy. Now that the Volgs have been mentioned I’m going to have to look on this story in a whole new continuity-laden light – I wonder how it’ll tie in with Invasion, Ro-Busters and the forthcoming ABC Warriors, Disaster 1990 and Savage? Anyway, on with the story from 2000AD alumni Kelvin Gosnell and Barry Mitchell. Johnny Lawless’ mission is to rescue the said agent, which he attempts by enlisting a criminal friend of his, ‘Dying George’ (he gets his nickname from getting involved in road ‘accidents’ and pretending to die to scam the other driver). I say he attempts, as by the end of the episode he hasn’t done too well – he locates the secret agent, though gets both himself and Dying captured. I’m liking this – it does read like an Invasion story in some ways – Lawless standing in for Savage in having a plan, enlisting old acquaintances with not-entirely spotless track records, though unlike Savage isn’t so cocky and doesn’t succeed (not yet anyway – presumably things will improve for him next issue).

I might not agree with that reader on the first page that Tornado is better than other comics (which would include 2000AD), but having liked the first story I know I’m going to at least like the art on the second – Miller writes and Belardinelli draws The Angry Planet. Some of the Marshies are trying to escape the Dogroids, who are tracing them by the dye on their clothes – can you see where this is going? They narrowly avert getting naked (funny how much nudity appears in children’s adventure comics) by just removing their jackets (and chucking them down a ravine, which the stupid robots follow to their destruction). There’s only three pages, so in short order: the Marshies get lost in the uncharted ravines; discover some ancient cave art from hitherto unknown Mars natives; Markham gets separated from the party; Markham encounters one of the natives (we presume, we only see the shadow). Next week: the very HP Lovecraft-sounding The Abomination from the Dark!

Cover Story – all that stuff about the reader’s writing the story that explains the cover? Apparently that’s starting next week – this week we get a full page text story, at least twice as long as any Supercover Saga story. The story is rubbish – around seven eighths of it sets up Jimmy as a train and sound recording enthusiast who doesn’t get on with his neighbours or lodger due to the volume at which he plays back train noises with the last few paragraphs featuring the scene on the cover, which is not otherwise set up in any way. There’s no supernatural element, no hint as to why a train will go through a living room, nothing. Is this purposefully bad so that reader’s don’t feel intimidated?

Wagner’s Walk from Tufnell and White. The irradiated Germans are lucky enough to encounter a scientist disenchanted with producing weapons of mass destruction who takes them to a military base and gives them instructions to find a German doctor. The doctor filters Gruber’s blood, saving his life – though he’ll be too weak to travel for a few days. The doctor offers to hide them in his attic and it seems that they can take a breather until things die down – but, cliffhanger – the doctor gets stopped by two Russian guards as he leaves his house!

The precious colour centrespread is given to a cutaway of a Tornado (the ‘new multi-role combat aircraft’). This cutaway (copyright Pilot Press) puts the fictional cutaways we’ve seen in 2000AD and Starlord to shame, with 159 keyed features. Except I’m not particularly interested in a real-world fighter plane – give me spaceships and robots instead any day! Sorry, military aircraft fans.

Blackhawk from Gerry Finley-Day and Azpiri bring out the ritual sacrifices, self-sacrifices, birds killing druids with sickles, auxiliaries leading the attack on the druids, regular Roman legions carrying out scorched-Earth tactics and Boadicea (not seen) leading the uprising across the whole of Southern Britain. All in four pages – next week: London – a City Under Siege!

Victor Drago and the Horror of the Mummy’s Curse! takes the text-story count this week up to three pages. Unlike some, I’m not totally averse to text stories, though generally when you buy a comic you want to read comic pages. Looks like this message got through to editorial, as the end tells the readers that “A new, all-picture Victor Drago adventure starts next week!” This week, however, the episode starts with a five thousand year-old mummy using a demolition wrecking ball to attack the building that Drago is inside. This seems like strange behaviour for a supernatural creature to me, and sure enough, by the end we get a Scooby-Doo reveal of not one but two criminals dressed up as Egyptian mummies to scare people off of a piece of wasteland that they’re currently using to dig a tunnel to a bank vault. Got that? Good, on to the next story.

Storm from Goodall and Kennedy has the wild mountain boy run his first race, though Brian Cox crunches Storm’s bare feet with his spiked running boots. No-one, not even Storm, sees exactly what happens here due to the crowd of other runners, but Storm gets up and runs a few laps as if it was a short sprint, catching up to Cox. This time, Cox elbows Storm in the chest, though everybody should be able to see this as they’re the two front-runners. This doesn’t happen though, and Cox is declared the winner. Storm doesn’t follow social niceties of letting the judge’s incorrect decision be final and the cliffhanger is Storm punching Cox with a promise of more ‘Conflict!’ next week.

The Mind of Wolfie Smith from Armstrong and Vano. Wolfie uses telekinesis (not named – everything is E.S.P. energy waves or ‘the power’ in this story) to close and lock the door of the bank so that an investigating policemen doesn’t get shot. The policeman is still suspicious though, and as they leave a police car starts pursuing the hostage bank manager, Wolfie and the crims. The chase doesn’t last long as one of the criminals takes a shot at the car – the shot doesn’t kill due to Wolfie’s non-psychic actions, but still crashes. The two hostages are let free but the bank manager’s family are still being held until the bank robbers are out of the country – in a fit of rage Wolfie promises to let loose the biggest display of his powers to date – next week.

Big E presents a Picture Gallery of reader’s art, plus a few letters. One of them ‘the Night Prowler’ looks like it was copied from a superhero comic, but the other art looks a bit more original – the Tornado characters even look like they were drawn freehand rather than traced. The £10 prize winner looks very Jack Kirby-esque though as far as I know is still an original creation. Two stamp adverts take us to…

Captain Klep from Angus and O’Neill. Captain Klep has a toothache and in true comic and cartoon style tries various means to remove the offending tooth. As he’s super-powered he has to go to some extreme lengths as human dentists won’t be able to affect his body. He ties his tooth to a ten ton truck, which is ripped apart, flies jaw-thirst into a building due for demolition and chin-butts a steel wrecking ball (second wrecking ball this issue). Losing all hope he is offered a rock cake from the his unrequited admirer Farrah Crump. You can guess the rest. It’s a straight-forward, unoriginal story, but I had a toothache the weekend before last, so this resonates with me more strongly than it otherwise would. Unfair, but this blog is a dictatorship, and I’m the dictator.

Grailpage: the usual problem with Tornado is that, even though some very talented artists are working on the stories, the stories themselves just don’t lend themselves to set pieces and exciting or interesting pages (probably due to the limited amount of pages each week, which then have to fit a lot of story into the space allocated). Thus I’m going to go for the middle page of Storm by Cam Kennedy – for a dynamic pic of Storm himself but mainly for some very Cam faces in the crowd.

Grailquote: As with the grailpage, Tornado isn’t inspiring great quotes so I’m going for the wishy-washy “Agent Dubois, last mission-intelligence gathering on Volgan activities in Europe. Disappeared 14 August, believed being held and tortured in Volgan Embassy, London” solely for the inter-comic, inter-story continuity implications.

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