Final Part of our Writing Competition! Tornado No 19: Battle on Asteroid X44

Belardinelli contributes the last of the It’s Your Turn covers. I wonder what the story is there – this series of cover story covers hasn’t lasted as long as the Supercover Sagas did, perhaps they realised that the characters appearing in a comic are more likely to lure you in than completely unrelated things? This particular cover has an asteroid, astronauts, a space ship and aliens. Guess which of those elements is most interesting (hint – it’s Belardinelli we’re talking about here). p.s. as the logo incorporates the issue number – we’ve finally gotten to the logo I’m using to represent Tornado.

The Big Editorial . E promises some really exciting covers in the future. He has three weeks before it merges with 2000AD, let’s see, shall we? After a full page last week, Smile with Sam! is relegated to a single panel – though I’m sure I’ve seen the name Yannakis Constantinou before – perhaps they’ve contributed to a previous issue, or one of Starlord or 2000AD?

Writer Tufnell is joined by John Richardson on art for The Lawless Touch this week, and the ace thief’s latest mission is to steal a car from a lock-up in South London (near Battersea by the looks of it). It’s a pretty light story about forger’s plates, apparently created by the son of a forger friend of Johnny’s. This would-be forger has gotten into bad company with a thug known only by Johnny’s name for him, ‘Meathead’. Not Richardson’s best art – he’ll do better on Mean Arena in 2000AD and Terror of the Cats in Scream!

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Tornado Summer Special

I’m trying not to do too much research into uncredited writers and artists, or disentangling the complex system of pen-names used by creators throughout 2000AD’s (and other House of Tharg publications) history. The reason for that is if I start then I’ll get caught in a rabbit warren of 1970s comic history, which won’t do this prog slog any good. Which is all a roundabout way to say that I hit Barney to identify Graham Cotton as the cover artist for this, the first (and only) Tornado Summer Special. You may recognise his style from about a quarter of the Starlord covers.

No Big Editorial as such, but there is a contents page, including a photo of Billy, Sam (short for Samantha, in case we get confused) and Percy. The photo has the ‘Heroes’ logo on the wall, so was probably taken before the comic was re-titled Tornado (unless they just forgot to take down the sheet of A3).

First up in this special is Wheels of Fortune. I have no idea what the thought process behind this one was, but it’s going to make me appreciate the weekly a little bit more. The setting is an international car race in France where the teams discover that every team apart from the Spanish has had their fan belts cut through. For some reason, this act of sabotage doesn’t lead anybody to cancel the race, or hold an enquiry, or get the police involved or anything. During the race a few of the teams come under fire from a sniper, which eventually affects every team. Again, the race continues as if nothing untoward is happening (alright, there’s a police presence, but I’m pretty sure that if a sniper took pot shots at cars in a race, the race would be suspended, even in the 1970s). The script doesn’t convey any sense of drama at any of this, reading like a filler story with well-established characters, though I’m not aware that it’s anything other than a stand-alone strip. The art’s good though, right? It’s adequate, but not inspiring. And I dearly hope that the artist took a leaf out of Dave Gibbons book, and did the lettering themselves as – being diplomatic – it suits the story and art.

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Tornado No 15: Look at all this boloney they’re printing about giant rats!! I won’t have any of this rubbish in MY paper!

The cover series has been branded – we had the Supercover Saga in 2000AD, now It’s Your Turn in Tornado. This one is a Belardinelli effort with a newspaper editor uttering the words in the title of this post, even as a giant rat crashes crawls through the window behind him. To be honest I think this whole image works as well as it’s going to as it is – Belardinelli’s linework, that caption – what more need be said?

The Big Editorial is very focused on next week’s issue – this seems strange to me – shouldn’t the trailers for next week be after this week’s issue?

The Lawless Touch starts off with news reports in the background from the state of Qarain. After the appearance of Volgans recently, I had to check whether Qarain had appeared elsewhere – apparently not, though I suspect it’s somewhere in the vicinity of Turkostan and Irania (M.A.C.H.1). Lawless is called to meet with Mother at a closed stretch of M25 (I’m guessing it was still under construction when this comic was published). He encounters a reckless sports car driver on the way. You know that the mission will involve the two having to work together, and it does. The pair end up parachuted into a middle eastern country and trying to recover a Tornado jet (nice tie-in with that cutaway centrespread). Making this seem even more M.A.C.H.1-ish is the artwork by John Cooper, though Lawless’ friction with his colleague is very Invasion. Words and fake country names provided by Tufnell.

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Star Lord No 9: Beware the war droid in Kill-Frenzy! You have the fire power of a cruiser, Hammer-Stein! – use it – destroy your comrade Ro-Jaws!

This issue has a pretty good painted rendition of Hammerstein in kill-frenzy (as trailed in the next prog box last week) – though the war-droid’s legs are a bit dodgy – there’s a word balloon that could have been placed over them to cover them up. Spoiler, the scene in question won’t appear until right at the end of this week’s episode – that ‘next prog’ caption from last week would have been just as appropriate this week.

Mind Wars sees the Jugla war fleet reach Earth and the first place they attack? Miami! I’m pretty sure Redondo drew a MACH One story that started off in Miami, though could be wrong. Eventually they get around to attacking the Federal Capital – the largest city in the galaxy, though there’s no clue where on Earth it’s located – hint – somewhere bordered by mountains on one side, and not London or Berlin. The fighting largely takes place off-panel as the only reason for the ‘invasion’ is to allow Ardeni and Arlen to sneek in on the Solar Saint.

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Star Lord No 7: Into forbidden worlds… beyond the limits of man’s imagination! Battle for survival on Planet of the Damned

This cover is basically a rehash of the end of last week’s episode of Planet of the Damned, with Flint about to do battle with a black knight on the back of a mammoth in front of a fortress. This very red painting could have graced any Conan-esque fantasy novel of the last fifty years. Flint also looks a little like He-Man, though I think this is a few years before whichever toy company it was came up with that idea.

Starlord doesn’t have enough space this issue for a full Star Fax so has a narrow strip at the top of this week’s Mind Wars to tell us about the Hell Planet boardgame (and how he hasn’t finished writing the rules yet). If the last episode was inspired by Star Wars (with our protagonists approaching Mos Eisley to organise transport off world in a cantina) then the similarities continue, after a brief case of misinterpreted greetings. Tip – if an alien race looks like an apex predator then their greetings will probably look like an assault. The Solar Saint (Millenium Falcon) leaves Yu-Jubum just before it gets destroyed (Alderaan, anyone?) and is immediately pursued by Federal strike ships (Star Destroyers). Even some of the dialogue has parallels (even if the meaning is opposite). Compare and contrast: “The old Solar Saint was built to outrun local planetary space police forces, not a Federal battle fleet!”; “I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.” Anyway, the battle fleet attacks and the Lakam twins use their powers to hold out for a while, but in the end they have to be rescued by a Jugla suicide attack, just before they head off into trans-light drive (hyperspace).

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Star Lord No 6: Interstellar Federation invasion begins! You have been warned!

The cover of this week’s issue has a giant crab in battle with humanoids. Not much to say about it – it’s competent enough, though could have appeared on any number of pulp sci-fi novels from the 1950s onwards.

Mind Wars has Tilman attempting to kill the twins, but he is interrupted when Ardeni awakes. When she refuses to kill him to protect herself, the Jugla take control of her, though Arlen is under control and manages to deflect the beam as he shoots. Klee-Fang the shoulder-dragon gets to punish the Jugla who failed to control both twins while back on Yu-Jubum, things take a Mos Eisley turn, with the host natives unwilling to approach the sinful city, which smells like a sewer, has a spaceport and where deals to arrange passage are made with hairy pilots in bars.

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Star Lord No 5: This is gonna be a bad one, Hammer-Stein!

Kevin O’Neill depicts Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein surveying what looks like a spaceship crashing into a skyscraper (or starscraper, or whatever they’re called in Ro-Busters).

This week’s Mind Wars sees Na-Rutha control Arlen to force the ship to go to Earth. There’s a bit of confusion between artist and letterer at one stage, with the teddy-bear alien (Councillor Rashnik) seeming to say that he was given orders before leaving Earth to stop the twins from getting to the home planet, and that the ship would be destroyed before that happened – this was a conversation that Tilman had with Doctor Varn. Other than that, the ship under Arlen’s psychic control goes through an emergency ship division, which apparently all great human and Jugla warships are able to do, for some sort of safety and defensive measure. Despite all that safety and defence, the particular sub-division of the ship which Arlen, Ardeni, Tilman and Rashnik are on gets damaged during the division and they have to crash land. Fortunately the planet they touchdown on is on the planetary communications network. Unfortunately this means that Tilman can be given orders by Doctor Varn to kill the twins. I should probably have done this round-up in the fortunately-unfortunately game format…

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Star Lord No 4: Inside! Part One of a mind-stretching sci-fi game! It stars Strontium Dog… it’s called Hell Planet… it’s not for cowards!

Published on the same day as 2000AD Prog 67, this issue of Star Lord drops the numbering on the cover altogether and features Johnny Alpha shooting an alien, the two of them on something that looks very much like a chessboard.

In Mind Wars the twins face greater danger from their home planet than from the Jugla, though they can defend themselves until a weaponship from Earth can arrive. Tilman stops Ardeni from killing those in the pursuing ships and his internal monologue reveals that he hopes their powers can be turned to Earth’s advantage (as otherwise they’ll have to die). I can’t help feel that, being sent by Dr Varn, he wouldn’t have any hesitation in killing those who might affect the success of his mission. It seems his pacificistic tendencies managed to slip through training and his rising through the ranks.

Ro-Busters – Pat Mills and Carlos Pino bring us the second part of what I shall call The Red Mist in the Florida Swamp story – just about the time that 2000AD is finally giving all the stories titles, Star Lord is not differentiating stories in any way. It could be argued that Pat Mills is saving all his titles for 2000AD – compared to Ro-Busters (series title), running in the same week in the prog is Judge Dredd – The Cursed Earth, Chapter Seven – Night of the Vampire (series title – story title, chapter number – chapter title) – which one makes it easier to write about individual episodes? The best part of Ro-Busters is always the interaction of Ro-Jaws, Hammerstein and (sometimes) other characters – in this case it’s the children, Marvin and Mek-Quake who act as foils. Not for the first or last time, the robotic duo are on the verge of being destroyed by Mek-Quake before being rescued at the last moment by orders from above.

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