The cover is titled “Wembley’s Wonderboy!”, is about football and encourages readers to come up with some explanation of what’s going on. I’m not expecting any of these stories to be published before the comic merges with 2000AD and as I have no interest in football I won’t bemoan this.
The Big Editorial is given over to the rules of the writing competition (is this the third time in three weeks that large amounts of space have been given over to this?)
The Lawless Touch continues with that Volgan story from Gosnell and Mitchell. As last week, it’s reminiscent of the working class Bill Savage, without the friction between Bill and trained operatives (who are supposed to be on his side). Let’s see how this one develops. If it develops – it might just be a ‘threat of the week’ strip which could be read in any order. (Some of you will already know, as the whole lot was republished in a floppy given away with the Judge Dredd Megazine not so long ago).
The Angry Planet from Alan Hebden and Belardinelli. There’s been a lot of focus on Meltdown Man this week in both the Mega City Book Club (from Eamonn and Conrad) and Space Spinner 2000 (from Conrad and Fox). That’s one of my favourite strips, so this one from the same team has to go a long way to live up to it, but I can look on even a bad episode of The Angry Planet as being a warm-up for Meltdown Man within a year or so. Have I mentioned how the logo is basically in the Judge Dredd font with a Strontium Dog background? On with this actual episode. Marsham faces off against a large Martian composite-style monster. In an almost Star Wars: The Last Jedi-style spoiler he deduces it is merely an illusion as the creature isn’t kicking up dust like Marsham is. I say almost, as we’re told there’s a clue but aren’t given the opportunity to figure it out ourself, as we only see Marsham’s feet making contact with the ground. With one threat being non-existent, we find out from the Samurai that the chasm is heating up exponentially and is on its way to becoming a furnace. Within Marsham’s tunnel, the colonist has found out that the primitive wall paintings were merely in the vestibule of a far more advanced area, and that the long dead (?) residents have set a trap that can only be halted by solving a complex equation in their alien language (which they claim is in a universal base). Any sense of dread at this cliffhanger is diminished by the next week tag: “The most unlikely rescue of all!” so we know that there’s no risk that he’s actually going to die.
Wagner’s Walk. There’s a lot going on in this episode. The German doctor running the medical facility in a Russian military base manages to bluff his way out of any immediate suspicion, though later reveals himself to be an unreformed Nazi to Wagner and the others. When they leave the doctor opts to join them, seemingly so that he can start killing Russians whenever he feels like. They escape for the time being, cause an avalanche that stops land pursuit but we’re left with two cliffhangers – the first that Soviet aircraft will soon be on their tail and the second that there’s “A traitor in their midst!” As with The Lawless Touch, this has been reprinted, but I held off reading the floppy so that it would be fresh to me when I read it in Tornado.
Victor Drago’s Black Museum of Villains next – is this the all-picture feature trailed last week, or are we also going to get a Victor Drago strip later? This one’s about Al Capone. The writer is uncredited, it has nothing to do with Victor Drago at all, the writer is uncredited and I’m guessing the artist is Eric Bradbury (though the presence of a caricature and use of a photo in one panel throw me off a bit). It’s an interesting enough recap of Capone’s ‘career’ – wonder who next week will be?
On to the centre pages and Blackhawk. Day and Azpiri cast both the Roman Governor of Londinium and the Briton rebel army as Blackhawk’s enemies. Tricked into returning to the city as it is invaded, Blackhawk now has to get his men and himself out alive while thousands of rebels approach. Still no appearance by Boadicea, but I hold out hope.
Storm from Goodall and Kennedy continues with the post-race fight between Storm and Cox – I say fight, it’s essentially Storm punching Cox for attacking him during the race. Somehow nobody saw the assault between the two front-runners last issue, even though all attention would have been on them at the time. Luckily the press photographers caught it all on film. Unfortunately this wasn’t in time for Storm, who leapt 15 feet over a tannoy van and escaped the sports stadium as police were approaching to discuss the fight. next week: “Where is Storm?” – my bet is back in the highlands he grew up in?
Victor Drago and the China-Town Terror Part 1 from ‘F. Pepper’ and Mike Dorey. A 1970s-written 1920s-set story in London featuring a Chinese villain? What could go wrong? I’ll be very happy if this ages better than I’m expecting… Three pages and one Drago in a Chinese disguise, ‘Oriental sorcery’, a Chinese laundry and a festival complete with dragon later, Drago’s chinese informant is dead and his murderer probably in the street outside. Drago can see something in the street but is it one of those clues that we as readers aren’t actually shown, or is there something in that final panel that I should spend ages searching for? For the record, the panel shows a chinese dragon passing by with what looks like six people carrying it, one person in front waving something in the air, someone off to the side waving a similar pom-pom style object. Er, one thing I missed while writing all that – next week: “Danger from the dragon!”
The Mind of Wolfie Smith by Armstrong and Vañó (should have put those diacritics in before). Wolfie’s anger is diminished somewhat by the presense of electric cables ahead of him, though he still manages to stop the bank robber’s car (well, bank manager’s car, but it’s being driven by the robbers). After a bit of too and fro, Wolfie and the manager manage to catch the robbers but Wolfie has to slip away before the police arrive. The last panel is looking a bit like Bruce Banner at the end of each episode of the Incredible Hulk – thinking about it, that TV series must be roughly contemporary to this, and wasn’t Banner on the run, falsely accused of murdering somebody? Next week: “The grand entrance of the Great Mystico!” – is the Great Mystico going to be another psychic? A fraud? Wolfie himself?
The Big Editorial has a few letters and pictures, one of which is a design for a Tornado emblem. Big E mentions Captain Klep and “the Schwartzeneger” (note spelling) – I have no idea what this refers to. The emblem (coat of arms) shows the shield quarted with a pistol, samurai helmet, Klep logo, Big E logo and an animal (antelope?) head, crested by blackhawk’s sword and Big E’s breastplate and supported by Captain Klep and some short guy in a sports helmet (?) Next week’s Black Museum villain will be Judge Jeffries, the handing judge.
Captain Klep is a typical tale of Klep visiting an art gallery, coincidentally as a painting has been stolen. He accidentally recovers the painting though destroys the gallery in the process. It’s brought to us by Angus and ‘P Ailey’ who I don’t think is a pseudonym for O’Neill.
Grailpage: I’ll go for the page of The Angry Planet were Belardinelli gets to invent written Martian characters (they’re looking very slightly like I-Ching hexagrams).
Grailquote: nothing jumps out, so I’ll pick Day’s Roman Governor: “Ready to move, Nubian. I hope my favourite cats will have a comfortable ride!”