On this day, 24 March 1979: Tornado
On this day, 24 March 1979 … We proceed a little more cautiously when it comes to heroes these days, unless they happen to be in a purple box and are small parcels of delicious Dairy Milk chocolate (although caution is advised with the Eclair if you wish to finish your sneaky snack with the same number of teeth as which you started). We’re more aware of the fact that we shouldn’t be reliant on a lone man with superior powers to turn up and solve all our problems, so our comics, books, movies and TV programmes have started to look at doing things a bit differently – creating heroes with flaws and dark sides, or those that don’t fit the mould of handsome young white man, or have ordinary people saving the day by calling on their natural inner resources. But heroes were very much in vogue in 1979, so it makes sense to me that IPC, or, rather, ‘2000AD Productions’ as they announced themselves on page two, should decide to release Tornado – a comic built entirely on the theme of heroes.
Standout strips from this high-octane first issue are our introduction to troubled ESP teen Ernest Patrick Smith, The Mind of Wolfie Smith (which would survive the merge, 22 issues later, into 2000AD), and the Belardinelli-realised Mars colonial rebellion drama The Angry Planet. Stony-faced 1929 London gumshoe Victor Drago is the opening story which has a slightly old-school Lion or Valiant to it, or even a post-ban Action, while Wagner’s Walk is a promising opening for the saga of a German POW trekking from Siberia to India to escape Russian forced labour camps, and wouldn’t have looked out of place in Battle. Therein lies a possible problem with Tornado – each of its strips could have been placed fairly easily within one of its stablemate publications, so while it’s a great read in itself, it’s perhaps not so surprising that it didn’t last too long as a standalone comic. Heroically done, though!