Tornado Roars into 2000AD…
To be fair, “roars” is an exaggeration of Tornado's impact on the Galaxy's Greatest ComicTM.
The general rule of thumb for mergers at IPC was that the host title would absorb the three strongest strips from the closing title. The problem with Tornado was that it didn’t have three strong strips, so 2000AD wound up inheriting the insipid The Mind of Wolfie Smith, historical oddity Blackhawk, and as a sop to the numbers, Captain Klep, a single-page, throwaway cartoon strip created by Kevin O’Neill, but no longer written or drawn by him.
After a few early episodes with art from 2000AD stalwart Ian Gibson, Tom Tully and Eduard Vano continued The Mind of Wolfie Smith in exactly the same vein as it had run in Tornado. Meanwhile, Roman gladiator-turned-centurion tale Blackhawk got a complete overhaul. Out went Gerry Finley-Day and Aspiri, to be replaced by Alan Grant (as Alvin Gaunt) and Massimo Belardinelli as the eponymous hero was whisked off to the stars to resume his battles in the arena against an array of alien foes, at the behest of a race known only as The Entertainers.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. Belardinelli’s strong visualisation of alien races and worlds worked well with Grant’s imaginative scripts. With a couple of decent villains, some metaphysical and spiritual issues and a black hole thrown in for good measure, the Nubian warrior enjoyed a decent run.
The same could not be said for Captain Klep, which appeared sporadically for a few progs before being unceremoniously ditched.
I shall return to The 2000AD Re-Read once I’ve finished my current publishing commitments…