Tornado No 17: The Money Shop

The It’s Your Turn cover depicts a supermarket, though instead of food on the shelves, they’re filled with coins and banknotes. I’ve a feeling I’ve seen the art style in some of the other comics I was reading when I first started reading 2000AD (Tiger, Eagle, etc) but wouldn’t swear to it.

As the Big E is on holiday, The Big Editorial is taken over by Sam this week (the Lois Lane or Lana Lang substitute) so should technically be called The Samitorial or something like that. Though that sounds a bit like ‘janitorial’ so probably best they didn’t change it. I’ve not noticed any before, but Sam has to share a little of her space with two stamp adverts (none we haven’t seen before in the hallowed pages of 2000AD – one is “which four countries are these?” (showing map outlines of Italy, Australia, India and Spain) and the other is “which country is famous for what?” (showing pictures of a Dutch windmill, Australian kangaroo and Egyptian pyramids).

The Lawless Touch from K. Tufnell (is that a pen-name for K. Gosnell, who currently has a story running in the prog?) and J. Cooper. It’s only been three days since I read the last episode but it seems longer (something I put down to having to read the Tornado Summer Special in between). The cliffhanger is resolved by having an explosive key on the hangar door silently count down and explode, distracting the soldier about to shoot Lawless and Davies. Davies gets shot by somebody else soon after though, and has to rely on Lawless to press some buttons in the cockpit of the Tornado fighter plane. The letterer gets a bit confused about who’s saying what, with Lawless seemingly giving himself the order to press a button, then Davies responding to Lawless’ questioning of Davies’ command followed by Lawless questioning the command that Davies responds to. Clear? Lettering is a bit of an invisible art – you only notice it when mistakes are made… As you’d expect, the pair recover the plane (and steal a missile which yields some information, which seems unlikely as I’d expect most of the technology to have been sold to Qurain by Western governments in the first place). They also overcome their working class rogue versus upper class officer differences in the heat of battle, respecting each others strengths and trying to convince each other to switch careers.

Opening with a landscape of Edinburgh from Cam Kennedy (still credited as S. Kennedy, words by S. Goodall), Storm has gone to the city. For the first time, I’m reminded of the 1955 film Geordie (which for some reason I’ve never seen the beginning of) about a boy from the Scottish highlands who – via correspondence course over the course of years – bulks up from a wee lad to a tall, muscular man with an aptitude towards athletic achievement (as long as he gets the right encouragement). Storm experiences the usual ‘country boy in the city’ scenes and ends up being told what money is by Kane. While exercising Skarr the wildcat (after the cat breaks out) Storm sees the opportunity to acquire some of this money, which will make Kane happy. I have a feeling Kane won’t be happy with how Storm plans to acquire the money – next week: “Fugitive on the run!” I don’t think I’ve commented on this before, but as much as I like Cam’s artwork on this strip, Skarr the wildcat really brings me out of it. I’ve looked up pictures of Scottish wildcats just in case they have ears which point in an unconventional direction, but they don’t – Skarr doesn’t look like a wildcat.

Victor Drago’s Black Museum of Villains focuses on Bonnie and Clyde this week, and continues not to credit the creative team behind it. As with the Capone two-pager a few weeks earlier, this one includes a few photos from the era among the comic panels.

The Angry Planet is a story that’s credited, to Hebden and Belardinelli. The Samurai escapes the canyon just before the bomb goes off. There’s some annoying narration asking why the Samurai is so eager to depart and what Markahm and Ralph are afraid of, but we already know the answer as the bomb was the cliffhanger from the previous episode. The narrative rewinds to just before the explosion and reveals that while the ancient technology beneath the surface of the planet can’t stop the explosion it can do something to protect the complex. There is minimal damage to the complex though the two Marshies receive injuries from the blast. These last a few panels in the case of Markham and a page in the case of Ralph, as Sto-Loma’s bio-system repair unit seems capable of fixing any injuries. On with the exposition and Sto-Loma reveals there was once a planet between Mars and Jupiter which was hit by a rogue planet and became the asteroids. In real life the asteroid belt is believed to have been formed about four billion years ago by the collision of several planets, whose orbits were perturbed by the massive gravitation influence from Jupiter. While fact-checking I also found that the asteroid belt takes up about half the distance between Mars and Jupiter, the rest being ‘clear space’ – not that the asteroid belt wouldn’t look fairly clear anyway – it isn’t like asteroids in fiction, in fact asteroids more than 10km across collide roughly once every ten million years. Back to the story – the fallout from the immediate collision of the two planets caused the surface of Mars to be destroyed and the survivors, burrowing underground, were left with the remnants of the technology of their race but lacking the knowledge to use it (in Hitchhiker terms it seems that Golgafrinchan Arks A and C departed leaving Ark B behind – hopefully that reference isn’t too obscure!) Once again, Markham utterly fails to take advantage of his assumed death by almost immediately letting the Samurai know he’s still alive. Any element of surprise from Markham is ruined so the Samurai will be ready for them when he arrives at Hellesport to attempt to rescue the other colonists.

Blackhawk by Day and Azpiri opens with a very light-skinned Blackhawk reporting to the commander of the remaining Roman legions. Nubia was a region of Egypt, so I did a quick bit of research to see what skin tone Blackhawk likely would have had. Assuming the Roman commander is Italian then it’s just about conceivable that somebody from Egypt could have the same complexion, though as the Roman commander has a pale British skin tone that’s not saying much. Blackhawk leads the auxiliary legion in training (as an aside, this makes no sense – a legion consists of cohorts and cohorts consist of centuries – Blackhawk the centurion would have lead a century). This episode focuses on Crutus, an infirm supply soldier, who still wishes to prove himself though fails to leap the practice chariot scythes. He is relegated to taking charge of the field mess, doling out food to make sure the others in the auxiliary legion/century are well-fed. Meanwhile a Briton cavalry charge begins, wiping out one cohort and headed for Blackhawk with only Crutus in between. Respecting his bravery, Blackhawk sends the magical bird to aid and through either raised morale or mystical power, Crutus manages to leap the scythe of the Briton chariot, then leap again to take over one of the chariots, overturning it and blocking entry for the rest of the chariot charge. Dying in the process, he has enough life in him to exchange farewells with Blackhawk. Cliffhanger time – the main rebel forces have arrived and outnumber the Roman legion twenty to one.

Wagner’s Walk from Wright and White sees Kurt, Karl and von Hilder in the Gobi Desert. As the Chinese troops arrive von Hilder accuses the two Ks of killing the Chinese border guard. The trio are taken to a Chinese air base and a People’s Revolutionary Court finds Kurt and Karl guilty and promptly sentences them to death by firing squad to be carried out immediately. In the seconds before the shots are to be fired the office of the border patrol arrives on horseback and calls a halt to the execution while the true culprit, von, is sentenced to death. His will be at dawn instead of immediate for some reason – when I say some reason I do, of course, mean for narrative reasons, as von Hilder tells the non-Nazi Germans that he knows how to fly one of the German planes which the Chinese use. Seeing as they will need to cross the Himalayas this represents their best chance to get to India and freedom.

Victor Drago and the Killer from Goblin Loch. No credits, but it looks like a couple of Mike Dorey illustrations for a two-page text story. There’s no ‘part one’ but as well as beginning in media res, this story ends on a cliffhanger which is ironic as the action taking place at the beginning is a reporter falling to his death from a cliff… Drago and Spencer are in Scotland under false names to hide the identity of the world famous detective and promptly get accused of the murder. Oh, and there’s been some sort of beast sighted in the area.

A half-page advert for the Tornado Summer Special later begins The Mind of Wolfie Smith from Tom Tully and Vañó. For the second time this issue a cat escapes, this one being a tiger in the circus which Gosnell / The Great Mystico takes Wolfie to. Wolfie uses his power to placate the frightened tiger (I resisted saying Scaredy Cat) and also fires a mental energy blast at the keeper, Whip Riley, who was about to shoot her. Wolfie identifies that she escaped because she was treated cruelly, though he says this out loud while the keeper can hear so has to fend off an attack. A dipping in a pile of elephant dung doesn’t clam Whip down and the fight continues, next week.

Sam again, with two one-page features: Sam Solves It! and Smile with Sam! The first is an agony aunt style page while the second is a joke page with reader-contributed jokes, some of which have been illustrated with spot cartoons. The jokes are rewarded with £2 (enough for 20 issues of Tornado, which isn’t going up in price like the prog is) and a photo of Sam, smiling. I’m assuming that the Sam we see is either an office junior or a model brought in for a photo shoot and we haven’t seen any new photos of the Big E since a photo strip near the beginning of the run of comics.

Last page, and that means Captain Klep, this week from Angus and Hansen. Klep foils an attack by the Beak to sink the president’s yacht, though manages to sink the president’s yacht anyway – as we have come to expect. The Beak things about Klep being too late to deal with a magnetic bomb and Klep thinks that it’s never too late – does this mean Klep can read minds? Enquiring minds aren’t really that interested in the answer, though at least this is more entertaining than most back-page adverts might be.

Grailpage: Belardinelli provides a few good images, but the page layouts don’t show them off that well, so this week the grailpage is the opening of Storm showing the landscape, streets and residents of Edinburgh by Cam Kennedy.

Grailquote: S. Goodall, Andrew Kane (who used to be a shepherd): “They’re just taking the mickey!” Storm: “Mickey? Who is he, Shepherd?” Kane: “Never mind, I’ll explain later! Just hand that pin back and ignore everybody!”

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