The 9th Wonder Of The World Of Wrestling: Chyna

When I was a kid, 80’s pro-wrestling was filled with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Ultimate Warrior, Sting, Lex Luger, Kerry Von Erich, Jerry Lawler and so many other amazing superstars who drew large crowds to the arenas for sold out matches and drove up Pay Per View buy rates. When it came to the female wrestlers, names like Wendi Richter, Fabulous Moolah, Jumping Bomb Angles, Sherri Martel and Rockin’ Robin were used as special attractions, and Richter was one of the first non-valets used as eye candy and a role model for young woman around the world as she gave it her all in the squared circle even becoming the Woman’s Champion. By the early 90’s, female wrestlers in the WWF were becoming respected by the fans.  Many amazing talents were competing like Alundra Blayze and Luna Vachon, and they paved the way for the likes of Sable, Lita, Trish Stratus, Ivory and the one who made a major impact in female wrestling, the 9th Wonder Of The World Chyna! Wrestling fans in the Attitude Era enjoyed Chyna as she broke the boundaries of what a female wrestler was supposed to be and even was a manager and a role model for young women the world wide. Love her or hate her, Chyna was a major player for WWE in the Attitude Era, and it’s my pleasure to talk about her on this Rotten Ink update.  So get a ring side seat as we are going to take a look at the life, career, death and comics of the one and only Joanie “Chyna” Laurer.

Joan Marie Laurer was born on December 27th 1970 in New York and had a rough childhood after her parents separated.  Besides moving a bunch, she also had three different stepfathers and no stable life. Joan learned how to play cello and violin and developed an eating disorder as a teen! Joan and her mom had a falling out, and she moved to Spain with her father and finished school there. She went to the University of Tampa and graduated in 1992 and joined the Peace Corps and even was stationed in Guatemala. Back home, she took a few weird jobs like a waitress in a strip club and a phone sex operator for a 900 number line! But in 1995, she found her calling in life, to be a Pro Wrestler.  She was trained by the legend Killer Kowalski and started working the independent wrestling scene under the name Joanie Lee. In 1996, while at a independent wrestling event, she met WWF Superstars Triple H and Shawn Michaels who wanted her to come to the WWF and become their bodyguard for DX.  At first Vince McMahon was not hip to hiring her until he heard WCW was thinking of bringing her in to be a member of the n.W.o and this made him hire her.  She started in 1997 as Triple H’s manager and bodyguard before DX was formed. She spent the next years helping HHH and HBK win matches.  Her main move was the low blow, and she was the muscle that helped back up DX’s mouths. She would be the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble as she drew number 13 in 1999 while in DX. She would later turn on Triple H and DX and join Kane and Vince McMahon who at the time was feuding with DX and would jump back to DX and then turn on them again this time with Triple H as they joined The Corporation a group of “company” guys that was being lead by Vince McMahon.

After a while The Corporation split up, and Chyna went her own way leaving Triple H behind as well.  She was the first female to enter the King Of The Ring tournament and also was able to earn a spot for a run at the WWF Championship that she sadly lost when she lost to Mankind. She would go on to a feud with Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental Championship and would also gain a valet Miss Kitty during this time.  At No Mercy in 1999, she won the belt form Jarrett and became the first and only woman to win this belt! She would go on to wrestle Chris Jericho to defend the belt and would lose and win back the belt during this feud.  At one time, the two had to be shared champions as they both pinned each other at the same time! After losing the belt to Jericho again, she would move onto teaming with Jericho for a short time before moving onto the next chapter of her WWF career.

In 2000 she would go on to manage and team with Eddie Guerrero who would call her his “Mamacita” and the pair would go onto have a weird angle with the Intercontinental Championship after Chyna won it again after beating Val Venis and Trish Stratus in a intergender tag match at SummerSlam. But she would lose the belt two weeks later in a triple threat match against Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle when Eddie picked up the win! The pair split later in 2000 when she caught Eddie in the shower with two other women! From there, she would go onto have a program with Ivory who was a member of the Right To Censor group who were upset over Chyna posing for Playboy Magazine. She would win the Women’s Championship from Ivory at Wrestlemania X-Seven and would defend the belt later against Lita.  Chyna won the match, but this proved to be her final match in the WW.  She vacated the belt after being taken off TV and was later let go from the company after she had a breakdown in her personal life when she found out her boyfriend Triple H was having an affair with the owner’s daughter Stephanie McMahon! 2001 was the end of Chyna’s WWF run ,and sadly she would never come back to the company and this also was the end of her major wrestling career.

In 2002, Chyna would show back up in wrestling as she appeared in New Japan Pro Wrestling refereeing and even wrestling a few matches including against Masahiro Chono with her final match for that company being a tag match were she and a Fake Great Muta lost to Hiroshi Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenzo Suzuki. She started with them in 2002 and also ended her run in 2002 giving her less than a year with the company. She took many years away from the ring, and in 2011, she showed up in TNA where she was the associate to Kurt Angle and entered one battle royal and only had one major match with them as she teamed with Angle to take on Jeff and Karen Jarrett.  Chyna got the win when she made Karen tap out. This was the final match Chyna would ever wrestle and sadly, both runs in New Japan and TNA were both very short and no other federations wanted to take a chance on her like Ring Of Honor. So while her time in the world of Pro Wrestling was pretty short, she was a trend setter as she was the first female to be Intercontinental Championship, be in the Royal Rumble and King of The Ring as well was the WWF Women’s Championship showing that she was a true WWF Superstar. Sadly on April 20, 2016 Chyna was found dead in her home in California at the age of 46; the cause of death was an overdose of alcohol and anxiety drugs.

Chyna’s biggest Wrestlemania match was at “Wrestlemania X-Seven” where in a squash match she defeated Ivory for the WWF Women’s Championship! The lead up for this match has Ivory, who was a member of the group Right To Censor, trashing Chyna for being in Playboy Magazine and even having Ivory beat Chyna at the Royal Rumble as she injured her neck causing her to lose the match. This rematch was hyped as Ivory made Chyna sign that if she hurt her neck again, the 9th Wonder Of The World could not seek legal action and the rest of Right To Censor was banned from ringside. The match would have Chyna dominate Ivory and “Chynabomb” her, only to raise Ivory at the two count to press her over her head with a massive slam and then go for the three count that had Chyna win the WWF Women’s Championship! This match showcased that Chyna was a force to be reckoned within the women’s division and that she could bounce back from a injury and take the biggest prize in the company for the female wrestlers at the time. This match only also helped seal Chyna’s popularity as Ivory was a major heel at the time who was loud and annoying trying to tell the WWF Universe what they should watch and like. While the match was super quick, it just showed you how powerful and popular Chyna was in the WWF.

Besides being a wrestling superstar, Chyna also appeared in TV shows as well as movies! She appeared in such shows as 3rd Rock From The Sun, The Howard Stern Show, Fear Factor, Hollywood Squares, Robot Wars: Grand Champions 2002, The Surreal Life, My Fair Brady, Larry King Live, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and Celebrity Boxing where she took on Joey Buttafuoco and sadly lost to the scumbag. She also starred in some low budget films like Just Another Romantic Wrestling Comedy, Alien Fury and Illegal Aliens. She was on reality shows like Cristina’s Court where she went up against a dog breeder. While Chyna never made it in Hollywood and many of her appearances on TV were in bad lights from Rehab to Boxing a convict for low pay, she will best be known for playing Officer Janice on 3rd Rock From The Sun in a total of 3 episodes. While she made cameo appearances in many other shows, she just never was considered a great actress but she was always well liked by her fellow actors.

2004 marked the downfall of Chyna’s wrestling career and the birth of her becoming a full fledged porn actress after Red Light District Video bought the rights and released a homemade porn she had made with her then boyfriend X-Pac that was called “1 Night In Chyna” and this made her become an in-demand actress in such titles as “Another Night In China”, “Backdoor To Chyna”, “Chyna Is Queen Of The Ring”, “Avengers XXX: A Porn Parody” where she played She-Hulk and her last adult film was “She-Hulk XXX that was released in 2013. Many could say that she got her first taste in the world of adult entertainment when she posed nude for Playboy in 2000 and again in 2002. Many people have a theory that her adult film acting is what has kept her from going into the WWE Hall Of Fame, and while this I am sure is partly true, I am sure her odd and erratic behavior, her drug abuse, her outspoken nature and history with Triple H are also major factors on why she is not in. Say what you will, but Chyna should be in the Hall Of Fame as she did lots for the women division in WWE and made her mark on the world of Pro Wrestling. Oh yeah, and do you like the Little Roddy Piper heads I used to cover her naughty bits?

Chyna has had her fair share of amazing merchandise like all great Wrestling Superstars of the past and still to this day have. She has graced T-shirts, posters, mugs, magazines, VHS tapes, books, action figures, video games, DVDs, valentine cards, trading cards, dinner plates, photos, stickers, comic books and so much more! She was one of the first female wrestlers I could think of who had so much merch that she rivaled some of the bigger male superstars in just the sheer amount the WWE made with her image. It’s crazy to think about just how much they pushed Chyna and how fast they dropped her and down played her impact in the WWE after she was upset over Triple H and his affair with Stephanie McMahon.  After her release no other merchandise was made nor was she signed to a Legends Deal. Growing up a wrestling fan (keep in mind way before the Attitude Era) I did have much of Chyna’s merch from DVDs, VHS, magazines, her book and video games, and if your wondering, I did indeed have the Playboy of her in it as a friend of mine got it for me as a gift cause he thought it was funny! So I am sure if you loved wrestling in the late 90’s and 2000’s you owned something that had Chyna’s image.

Speaking of video games, I am a mark for buying wrestling games and have picked up every WWE game when released, many of the times even special ordering it so that I could get it on day of release! Chyna has been in many of the games with her first being “WWF Attitude” that was released for N64, Dreamcast and Playstation in 1999. She would also appear in “WWF Wrestlemania 2000” for the N64 in 1999 putting her in two games in the same year. In 2000, she would be in “WWF Smackdown!” for Playstation as well as “WWF No Mercy” for the N64 with her final game, also released in 2000 when Playstation delivered us gamers ,“ WWF Smackdown! 2: Know Your Role”! I owned all these games and while she was in them, I never really remember playing her against friends or the computer as while I enjoyed her in ring work, I was still more into playing as wrestlers as The Undertaker, Essa Rios or Bret Hart. I do however remember my friend Jason Gilmore playing as her in No Mercy and Attitude and being pretty good with her tossing opponents around. So did or do you own any of these games, and do you find yourself playing as Chyna?

So as you can see in her short wrestling career that really only lasted from 1995-2002, Chyna made a major impact and broke the mold of what a female wrestler should be as she won belts held by only male wrestlers up to that time, was the first ever female to enter the Royal Rumble and was a role model for young girls who wanted to be a pro wrestler. She was not a “Diva” and while not ground breaking in the ring, she could hold her own with both females and males in matches. She also broke the mold of women wrestlers at the time having to be super model looking and embraced the fact that she was different and sent the message out for anyone to be who they are. I know that she had many surgeries to make her appearance more feminine after “fans” claimed she looked too much like a man, but that was in real life that she felt the need to change for society to accept her, while her character was more confident in who she was. With female wrestling being very big in the WWE right now with talented wrestlers like Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Naomi and so many other top notch ladies on the roster, all I am sure look at Chyna, Trish Stratus, Ivory and Lita as the performers who paved the way for “Divas” to become wrestlers.

So now that we chatted a little about Chyna and who she was, I am sure many of you friends and readers are remembering her career in wrestling while others who didn’t watch wrestling are learned a little about her and I hope want to learn more.  I would suggest reading her autobiography book called “If They Only Knew” if you do want to know more about her. So now it’s time to take a look at the comic series of Chyna that was done by Chaos Comics starting in 2000 and had two one shot issues that make up the series. I want to thank Lone Star Comics and Game Swap Kettering for having these issues in stock.  The Ref just walked by and wanted to tell us these rules “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” So lets get our ring side seat and see what Chaos Comics has to offer to the legacy of Chyna and her comic book series.

Chyna # 1  **
Released in 2000     Cover Price $2.95     Chaos Comics   # 1 of 1

Chyna arrives in Chicago just in time to save Jamie Banks, a young girl who is being kidnapped by masked members of The Death Cult! Chyna uses her fighting ability and takes out the masked goons and meets her father Elliot Banks who wants to hire Chyna as his and his daughter’s bodyguard as he claims that he has very powerful enemies.  She decides to take the job and becomes close to Jamie but soon finds that Elliot is nothing more than a rich scumbag. The Death Cult leader Kassandra is upset and sends more troops to the Banks Mansion, and while Chyna deals with them, others come in and kidnap Jamie! Elliot orders Chyna to go save his daughter, and Chyna does as she asked not for money but for Jamie and soon finds out that the reason The Death Cult has kidnapped the young girl is because Elliot screwed them on an illegal weapons deal and they have been priming Jamie into being unwilling killer as her Nanny was a part of the cult! Chyna fights tooth and nail as they take Jaimie back to her father who is given a speech to his backers and just as his young daughter is about to stab him Chyna appears beats up Kassandra and saves the day and warns Elliot to get out of the arms business and be a father or she will kick his butt! Chyna then takes Jamie home to put her to bed and so ends this action adventure of Chyna.

This is a fun and yet kind of bland action comic to feature a WWE Superstar that is not a bio comic but an adventure one that takes Chyna out of the ring and into a battle with a cult. The story has Chyna as a bodyguard to a crooked rich man and his daughter who have crossed paths with a evil cult on a deal gone bad.  So the cult wants revenge and has a plan to brain wash the daughter into killing her dad, and Chyna must stop this from happing. Chyna comes off cold as ice and uncaring for human life besides that of the young girl whom she has started a bond with. She is skilled in hand to hand combat and seems to have the power and strength of Hercules as she can toss around many grown men at the same time. So her powers are being cold and strong and have no real personality as she is a woman of few words. Elliot Banks is your typical sleazy corrupt businessman who deals in firearms and don’t care who he hurts or rips off as he thinks money can buy him out of any trouble. Jamie Banks is just a nice young girl who is stuck with a terrible father and has no one to really watch after and is being used to be a killing machine thanks to a cult…wait, is she the female Michael Myers?! The Death Cult and their leader Kassandra are many but seem to be easily beat by one woman…so how dangerous are they really? This comic is a good read but really does lack a solid plot and at no time did I feel Chyna was in trouble nor did I feel that she was all that likable as a comic hero. The cover I have is a photo one and is cool if you’re a fan of Chyna.  The interior art is good and done by Eddy Barrows who does his best at trying to capture the look of Chyna. Over all, there’s not much to say besides this is a mediocre comic based on a one time super popular wrestler. So let’s move on and see what Chyna II has in store for us.

Chyna II # 1  **
Released in 2001     Cover Price $2.99     Chaos Comics   # 1 of 1

Chyna is at a party and saves a woman named Shelly Marko from a hit that was placed on her by a crime lord Nicky Decampo as she is going to testify against him in court. After she saves her, the police hire Chyna to get Marko to the district attorney so that they can bring Decampo down. Chyna and Marko begin their quest and along the way they find out that some of the cops are dirty and been paid off and that they have been tracking them via Marko’s cellphone. Once into town and after beating up some bad guys, Chyna soon finds that she has been set up as Marko is really there to kill the district attorney and that she herself is to be killed! After Chyna makes short work out of the assassin she is also able to stop Marko from killing the district attorney as it has been a double cross as Chyna knew she was being set up and was hired by the district attorney who knew the hit has been placed on her.

This is another Chyna is a badass bodyguard comic adventure and this time has her acting as a double agent as the bad guys think they have tricked her into helping them and really she is working with the good guys in order to set up them up! Much like the other issue this comic just really is a basic plot with over the top action and one liners that brings us readers a mediocre adventure. Chyna in this one is snarky and a woman of few words besides some terrible lines she delivers to come off tough. Chyna in this one as well is super powerful, has the skill of s stuntman and the wit and smarts of a trained military leader. Shelly Marko is a sneaky young woman who at first comes off as a scared witness who wants to do the right thing, but really is a cold hearted woman who really wants to help her crime lord friend and is willing to kill many to do it. The rest of the bad guys are useless and get knocked around like a crash test dummy. Sadly I can see why this comic series based on Chyna only lasted two issues with both being first issues as it offered nothing new and really fells like a generic comic that you could have added any character into the role of Chyna and it would not have mattered. The comics didn’t capture the nature of Chyna, and I get they were trying to play up on her bodyguard role for Triple H and DX, it’s just they didn’t get her attitude and over all personality right. The cover on Chyna II that I own is the photo cover and I must say that it looks more like a workout video pose and not a pro wrestler one! Mike Deodato Jr. did the interior art and it’s pretty good and in many panels he did a great job of capturing Chyna’s look. Over all this wrestling comic series is mediocre at best and while enjoyable for the most part, I really wish they would have brought a little more of a wrestling theme to this comic series and maybe even added Miss Kitty as a sidekick. Check out some art from this comic series to see what Chyna looks like as a comic book character.

So while Chyna’s time in the world of comics might not have been as memorable as her time in wrestling, she still was able to get her time at being a comic hero. Cool thing is in the coming years, we will be taking a look at more Chaos! Comics based on WWE wrestlers like The Undertaker, The Rock, Mankind and Stone Cold Steve Austin and we will see if these comics hold up to what I remember or if they will be mediocre adventures like Chyna’s was. But our next update will take us out of the ring as we will finally make our way to The Mummy’s Tomb and talk all about the Universal Monster series and the Dark Horse Comic adaptation. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a local wrestling match or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update.

 

Day Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2017)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Once more, it’s time for Juliet and I to take a long overdue vacation, and once more we decided to spend it in Cranberry, PA to attend the best classic monster convention of all time, Monster Bash! It’s a special year as this is the 20th year of the convention and there are lots of great guests like Ricou Browning who played Gillman in Creature From The Black Lagoon, Larry Storch from The Ghostbusters and F-Troop as well as Hammer Horror actress Veronica Carlson to name a few. Plus I am pretty hyped to see what statues they have awaiting us attendees and whether there will be a fancy monster car up front besides The Munsters Drag-U-La! It will also be great to see David “The Rock” Nelson as well as Horror Hosts Son Of Ghoul, Mr. Lobo and Penny Dreadful as they are all great people and help add to this wonderful weekend getaway. I for one have been looking forward to this vacation for a while.  After moving and the stresses of work and the creative stuff I do, getting away and relaxing with classic monster fans sounded like bliss as well as just hanging out in the hotel and chatting with Juliet who is not only my girlfriend but also one of my best friends in the world as she is truly my soul mate. So on this update, we will also be taking a look at the third Romero film, Day Of The Dead as well as the one and only issue based on the film from Dead Dog Comics. So pack your bag and jump into the car as you friends and readers are going on a trip to Monster Bash!

Our quest for Monster Bash began on Thursday June 22, 2017 at around noon.  The weather was warm and muggy as Juliet and I climbed into the Mazda 3 and hit the highway. While driving we talked about Sparkle Comics and ideas for future issues that we would love to see be released by our comic family. We also chatted about Pro Wrestling from WWE all the way to Rockstar Pro and mostly chatted about wrestlers I remember watching when I was a youngster. For our listening pleasure, we listened to the podcast The Real Short Box that has three friends Kevin, Donald and Jarred talking about comic books with the best episode of the day being them talking about their favorite 80’s comic storylines with all three having good choices and all three so different.  If you have not listened to these guys and enjoy comics, you should check em out. For lunch we stopped at Ruby Tuesday’s on the Ohio and West Virginia border again where I enjoyed grilled salmon with rice and a baked potato, and Juliet dined on a crispy chicken cob salad. It was a very good meal, and this is the same one we ate at last trip to the Bash. Once in town we checked into the Comfort Inn in Cranberry and went to New Dimension Comics where I bought a stack of comics to read at night including issues of Action Comics, Avengers and Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery.  We spent the rest of the night in and ate dinner at Eat N Park and went to bed with visions of monsters and horror films in our heads.

Friday, day one of Monster Bash kicked off with Juliet and I waiting for the convention to open at 3pm so we decided to get some brunch at Max & Erma’s and had a good and solid meal.  From there we decided to get some coffee in Mars at the Mars Brew House, a very cool family owned coffee house that serves very good variety of coffee. After getting our order and chatting with the owner about Monster Bash and Baron Von Porkchop, Juliet and I sat outside and enjoyed the cool and rainy weather under the porch while listening to the church bells and enjoying the feel of this small town. Also while there I had to get my picture with the UFO in my Space Monkey T-Shirt, and for you readers who don’t know who Space Monkey is shame on you as he is a very cool independent wrestler who is a monkey who was sent to space! After hanging in Mars for a little while, we decided that it was time to head back to the hotel and wait for the doors of Monster Bash to be open as we both love this convention! On a side note I also want to say that I really dig the small town feel of Mars as it reminds me of Mayberry as everyone is always so nice and train tracks run through downtown and churches are all around…just a very cool small town.

When 3pm hit Juliet and I made our way down to Monster Bash.  The Drag-U-La was out front, and I was happy to see it again! Once inside we noticed that this was the most busy we had ever seen Monster Bash since we began going, and it was great to see so many people at an event that is celebrating classic movie monsters. After waiting in line for a short time, we entered the convention and saw the statues that were all fantastic! This time they were Gillman from Creature Walks Among Us, The Monster from The Bride, Dracula from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and lastly the Hammer Horror version of The Phantom Of The Opera that was my clear cut favorite! We walked around and saw lots of amazing things and seen lots of great people. But after about an hour, the place was really hot and people started to forget manners so we decided to head to the hotel and relax and plan our Wing King and a movie night! As always this was a great first day, and we returned with some great items for our collections to fill our new home together.

So I am sure you’re wondering what my first day haul of goods from Monster Bash was, right? Well it was a good day even if it was over crowded and people kept bumping into and cutting in front of Juliet and I! So here is what I got comic book wise: Night Of The Living Dead: Back From The Grave # 1 comic for $2.50, El Toro Azul’s Monster Movie A Go-Go # 1- 2 for $10.00 and The Defenders # 70 for only $1.50! Paperback Book wise, I got Elvira: Camp Vamp for $3.75, King Kong for $4.75, Nosferatu The Vampire for $2.75 and Young Frankenstein for only $2.75! Music CD wise, I found a bootleg copy of The Cool Ghoul and his Phantasmagorical Funny Fonograf Record for $10.00, a true fun Horror Host release. And in DVD’s I got The Leech Woman for $20.00 and DVD-R’s of the films IT and Cry Of The Werewolf for $10.00 each! Over all a really great first day with lots of great items bought. The one I am most happy about finding is the paperback book of Young Frankenstein written by Gilbert Pearlman as I used to own this in my youth and am looking forward to reading it again. So check out the picture below for the cool haul from day 1.

For dinner the first night of Monster Bash we decided to eat Wing Kings and watch a movie on the old laptop.  The film we picked was Cry Of The Werewolf, a classic black and white film from 1944 as a classic monster movie seemed like the right choice for the evening. Cry Of The Werewolf stars Nina Foch, Stephen Crane and Osa Massen and was directed by Henry Levin who also did such films as “The Devil’s Mask” and “Honeymoon Hotel” and this would be my first time watching it! The plot of the movie is a princess who has the curse of the werewolf trying to keep quiet those she thinks are getting to close to her secret. And from Wing Kings I ordered 12 Garlic Wings and an order of Cheese Fries plus drank a small cup of Coke, and both the meal and the film were good and made for a perfect time for this evening. After dinner Juliet and I worked a little on some Sparkle Comics printing prep and later I read The Defenders # 70 that I bought from Monster Bash and watched some TV before going to bed and gearing up for the second day of one of my all time favorite conventions.

The second day of Monster Bash was way less busy and had less unaware people as Juliet and I were able to walk around and enjoy the world of classic movie monsters! Just being around fellow fans of classic monsters, comic books and vintage action figures is super relaxing plus seeing all the smiling faces as they are looking at DVD, VHS and comic books is really cool and feeds your inner nerd. Walking around I found a giant poster that show cased all the Marvel Comics Heroes and Villains from 1988, and I was having a blast finding all the characters and even found Man-Thing who was hiding and after talking to Juliet we decided to walk away from it, but if its still there on Day 3, it will be coming home with me as it was only $15.00 and would be amazing to hang up near my comic book collection. So after wandering around for a little while and saying hi to some of our horror host friends, we decided it was time to explore outside the convention.

After leaving the Bash, we headed to get some lunch at Moe’s and I had a really tasty chicken burrito with a lime coke to drink! Juliet and I sat in the restaurant and chatted about geeky stuff and decided from there to head back to New Dimension Comics who was having a store wide sale and we got 30% off our order! Juliet found a Star Trek: Next Generation issue she wanted to read, and I found handful of comics I wanted with such heroes as Wonder Woman, Thor and Lomax and after our brief shopping spree we decided to just drive around and check out the land and the local business in the area. After a nice and fun drive we decided to get some frozen yogurt from TCBY as Juliet cannot ever come to Cranberry and not eat there. After we had our nice midday snack we decided to go back to Monster Bash where I chatted with David “The Rock” Nelson and we once more soaked in the world of monsters, and once done headed back to the hotel to plan the night of Day 2 of Monster Bash.

Day 2’s haul at Monster Bash was also a good one as I found some really cool stuff! In comics I found Captain America Annual # 2 for only $2.00! I got a great Dr. Creep art print for free from the artist and it will be hung with pride in my editing room! I got two wood art plaques that will be hung in our horror movie room of Phantom Of The Opera and Waldemar Daninsky, and I must say having a Paul Naschy wood art piece for that room is pretty badass; they cost $25.00 each! I bought Devil Ant 1-3 on DVD-R from The Rock for $20.00 each, and I truly love supporting the world of shot on video directors. I also got the DVD of the zombie flick Sugar Hill for $20.00 and a DVD-R of the film The Dead Don’t Die for $10.00! And I got the paperback books of The Addams Family for $3.00 and Return Of The Living Dead signed by John Russo who chatted with me about finding the stock of this old book in the UK! So as you can see, I got some great stuff and I think my top purchase of the day had to be the Paul Naschy wood art…as it’s truly amazing!

For dinner, we decided to once more get some Eat N Park where I chomped down on some liver and onions with some rice, mashed potatoes & gravy as well as some hash browns and water to drink. The meal was good as always as Eat N Park has always delivered a good meal to Juliet and I when here in Cranberry! To finish off the meal, I ate a smile cookie, and I still really think it has a Monster Candy taste to them and for the rest of the night I read some comics and watched some TV before finally going to bed with the third and final day of Monster Bash to follow.

The third and final day of Monster Bash was on Sunday, and Juliet and I started our day getting breakfast at the Pig Iron right next door and I had an amazing dish called Chorizo Hash and a Pepsi to drink. Once done we walked around Monster Bash one last time and soaked in all the classic monsters and briefly chatted with vendors and said our goodbyes till next year. I must also note that the cool giant 1988 Marvel Comics character poster was gone so it just was not meant to be. After walking back to the hotel I really do think that Sparkle Comics and Baron Von Porkchop should vend one year at Monster Bash as I think that we would fit it so well and could spread our comics and Horror Host to the attendees. While we are still here in Cranberry, Pa for another two days, it’s very sad that another Monster Bash has come to an end and that I will have to wait another year to return! So as always I must praise Monster Bash for being one of the best Horror Cons that I attend and look forward to coming to it more in the future.

The third and final haul of goods from Monster Bash was pretty good as I picked up DVD’s of Monster Movie A Go-Go, a Horror Host show that has them hosting Plan 9 From Outer Space and Santa Claus Conquers The Martians as well as two independent horror films they made called Nail Biter and Children Of The Way plus a cool CD of a radio drama they made called Anton Rook The Mummy Express and I got all this for only $40.00! Plus I picked up a made for TV movie on DVD-R called Death Moon for $15.00! One cool thing about Death Moon is that it could be covered here on Rotten Ink as a “Made For TV” update! So as always another great day of cool stuff gotten and all stuff I am looking forward to watching.

After Monster Bash, it was time for Juliet and I to go on a little drive and go to The Snowman in Portersville as we love to get a cool snack and enjoy the farm land around us. On the drive over Juliet and I chatted about what is next for her to write in the world of Sparkle Comics, and while we did not lock a project many possibilities were discussed and by the end of our vacation I will have a project for her to work on! When we arrived at The Snowman, we noticed that it was the busiest it has been since we have been going, and this made me happy as I really love this little shaved ice shop. I ordered my Yeti Shake and Juliet got chocolate shaved ice and we chilled at a table and soaked in the sun and before leaving had to see the horses again with my favorite being Cookie who is the brown female horse who is 33 years old. Another great visit to The Snowman and if you’re in the Cranberry area make sure to stop by and enjoy a Yeti Shake or a shaved ice!

While leaving the Snowman and before hitting the highway again, I spotted a small cemetery near a church and had to stop and see it! The cemetery was behind Portersville Bible Church and was very tiny and surrounded by corn fields and sat on a hill with a great view! The parking lot had a very old a cool crypt that was turned into a shed and looked straight out of a classic black and white horror film and this was what really caught by eye as it was the perfect mix of classic and creepy. Many of the graves was very old and lots of the dates could not be read from wear, and the mood of the cemetery was very peaceful. As Juliet walked among the tombstones I stood on a patch of bare land and looked around the land around and breathed in the fresh air.  After a while we decided to leave and Juliet would not go to the abandon school across the street so we headed back out into the world of Pennsylvania!

After a great day of exploring and relaxing, we decided that we were once more going to have a night of Wing Kings and a movie! I was craving some wings and spending the evening watching a Horror Film and before bed reading Captain America Annual # 6 sounded like a perfect way to end the night. So I ordered 12 garlic wings and some cheese sticks and the film of the night was Devil Ant, the shot on video masterpiece from independent filmmaker pioneer David “The Rock” Nelson! The films that The Rock makes are so much fun and have so much heart and entertainment value to them and capture the true nature of shot on video backyard films. Plus The Devil Ant is packed with tons of cameos from such people as Roger Corman, Hilary Clinton, Son Of Ghoul and Svengoolie to name a few. Plus eating tasty chicken wings and watching a zero budget film is something I think every Horror movie fan should do on Sunday nights! So after dinner and the movie I climbed into bed and read the Captain America comic and went to bed ending the third and final day of Monster Bash.

Day five of being in Cranberry, Juliet and I decided to get some breakfast at Einstein Bros and after went to the Cranberry Cinema to see Transformers: The Last Knight on the big screen! We both really like the Cranberry Cinema as its a great independently owned first run theater with a great staff and on Mondays tickets are cheaper and they give you a free small popcorn! After the movie we hung out again at the hotel and I read some comics and took a nap, and once back up we ate lunch at Max And Erma’s and had desert at TCBY making it the second time we had frozen yogurt on this trip. After we had a good frozen treat, we went back to New Dimension Comics and loaded up on great $1.00 books where I found such cool comics like Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath, Captain America and many more. Once back at the hotel and when evening came we watched WWE Monday Night Raw and had diner at Bob Evans via carry out. Before bed I read the first issue of Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath and an issue of Action Comics. And so ended another great day of our vacation.

On the six and final day of our vacation in Cranberry we decided to head to Mars Brew House and get some coffee before we headed to what is always one of my must stops the place that for me helps get my creative juices flowing, Evans City Cemetery, the shooting location for one of the most iconic zombie and horror films of all time Night Of The Living Dead! I have been to this place many times and its charm and just beautiful atmosphere is refreshing to a guy like we who likes small town life, but has to live in the city as well as work in it. Juliet and I walked around for a long while chatting about Sparkle Comics, zombie films, graves and Monster Bash. One thing we noticed this year is that the cemetery was over run by chipmunks that darted around like little fuzzy wildmen.  This of course made us joke about doing a comic called “Night Of The Living Chipmunks”! Even at one point as we were walking the isles of tombstones we both had to dodge a crazed bird that was flying right toward us! This is such a peaceful place and if you find yourself in the area and just need a quite place to relax and maybe read a book or comic make sure to stop here and soak it all in.

While in Cranberry I sent a message to Wampum Underground to see if Juliet and I could take a tour of the main filming spot of my favorite zombie film of all time and the main topic of this update Day Of The Dead…but sadly they would not allow us, and while it was a letdown, I understand why they don’t let fans of the film in as it would be nonstop plus they store people’s personal items as well as companies. So while we could not go inside Juliet and I still decided to at least drive to it and see it from the outside, and man when we arrived I just imagined the whole area being swarmed with zombies and this made me smile. We drove past it a few times and I snapped a few pictures as we pulled over so that I could at least soak in the filming spot. Once done Juliet and I headed back home and chatted about comics, movies, life and wrestling while we listened to more Real Short Box Podcasts. I always hate when this vacation to Monster Bash comes to an end as I really do enjoy being there and just love the fact that classic monsters are being honored by the staff of the Bash as well as fans who attended the event. Once home I had a few more days off before I had to return to work and spent it working on the new house, working on Sparkle Comics and found some old movie scripts that might be finally shot for the possible rebirth of Independent B Movie. So that was the vacation part of this update and now its time for us to talk about…..DAY OF THE DEAD!

George A. Romero created the modern zombie film with his 1968 classic “Night Of The Living Dead” that I covered twice here on Rotten Ink.  One was the Prolougue & Aftermath and then I did the Adaptation of the film both done by Fantaco Comics. Then in 1978, he returned to the zombie world and made the masterpiece “Dawn Of The Dead” with last year me taking a look at the IDW Adaptation of the film, and now this year’s Monster Bash leads me to my favorite in the series hands down “Day Of The Dead”! So if you’re ready to go underground to hide from the living dead, we will start our journey into the third Romero film and enter the world of when the dead ruled the day and the dawn was over!

Let’s begin our trip to the underground world were the dead has taken over topside by breaking down the film itself. While I could babble on about this film for ever I will make it brief as I also think that those who want to really get the inside story of the film should buy the Scream Factory DVD or Blu-Ray and watch the fantastic extras that goes into the full history of the film.

Day Of The Dead was part of a three film deal that George A. Romero signed with Laurel Entertainment who wanted the third film in his dead series to be made and as part of the deal, both Creepshow and Knightriders were made and unleashed onto the horror watching masses. The idea for Day of The Dead started out big as the original budget was set at $7 million, and it was supposed to be the “Gone With The Wind” of zombie films! The original idea was to have it be high action with the army fighting zombies with boats and explosions in Florida with lots of the budget going into the effects. But after the budget was cut down to only $3.5 million, the big ideas had to be cut down to a more practical story.  The film ended up being mostly shot in Pennsylvania with some still being filmed in Florida, and they took lots of the action out of the script and added more drama. Casting was perfect and went as following Lori Cardille as Sarah Bowman, Terry Alexander as John, Jarlath Conroy as Bill, Joseph Pilato as Captain Rhodes, Gary Howard as Pvt. Steel and Sherman Horard as Bub to name a few. He hired Tom Savini and his crew to do the FX including Gregory Nicotero who would go on to do FX on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. The film needed lots of zombies, and extras were brought in and did it for free or made a $1.00 and got a hat that said “I Was A Zombie In Day Of The Dead”. The production was grueling as they filmed under ground in Wampum, and the air down there made many actors and crew sick. When done Laurel Entertainment released it to limited theaters on July 19, 1985 and was meet with mix reviews by fans and critics and only brought in $5,000,000.00 at the US Box Office making the film not a major hit, but it did do better overseas bringing in $28 million to help the film become a minor hit. In 1985 Day of the Dead was # 115 at the box office and beat out such classic genre films as “Godzilla 1985”, “Rainbow Brite And The Star Stealer”, “The Bride”, “Re-Animator”, “Def-Con 4” and “The Company Of Wolves” to name a few. What hurt Day Of The Dead at the cinema was the fact it had a limited release and was up against other horror films like “A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Dead”, “Fright Night”, “Friday The 13th V: A New Beginning”, “Silver Bullet” and “Return Of The Living Dead,” a film that updated the the zombie genre that Romero created with faster, smarter and more threatening undead. But while for the longest time it was viewed as the weaker of the Romero Dead Trilogy, it has gained the respect and fanfare that it has been due since it was released. Again while I love many zombie films like Zombi 2, Return Of The Living Dead, White Zombie, Night of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead, it’s Day of The Dead that remains my favorite.

So as you can see hands down my favorite zombie film of all time is Day Of The Dead and many of you long time readers remember that I first saw this film on USA Network when I was a kid and it captured my imagination and was a hot talk topic at school when it first aired on that iconic network. I spent sometime as well drawing pictures of Bub and wondering if he would show up in the 4th Romero Dead film. Once we got a VCR and I found the VHS tape of the movie, I of course bought it and watched the hell out of it! When playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the Sony Playstation and near death I would limp around and scream “Come On” just like Captain Rhodes did in the film as it always made me and others laugh. The home video market is what helped Day Of The Dead gain fans and would also be what helped it make more money to build it up to being profitable. I also really like the fact that in Walking Dead season 4 in the episode called Us, characters Glenn and Tara are in a tunnel and are being attacked by zombies and clearly one of the zombies is Bub!! I watch this film on DVD all the time and even watch the USA Network print that my pal Jason Young gave me that he recorded when he was a youngster! So do yourself a favor and make sure to watch this film this Halloween as it’s worth the view.

I also want to note that with a heavy heart as I was working on this update, George A. Romero passed away from lung cancer, and this was a major blow to me as I have been a longtime fan of his work and even visit his filming locations as his films mean that much to me. I want to dedicate this blog update to Mr. Romero and want to think him for all the scares he has delivered to all us Horror Fans and my thoughts are with his family, friends and fans during this very sad and hard time.

The score soundtrack for Day of The Dead is done by John Harrison and mixes eerie horror with an island sound delivering a very interesting and in my opinion very memorable score. That’s one thing that drives me crazy is when people try and compare the Harrison score for Day Of The Dead against the Goblin score for Dawn Of The Dead as they are two different styles for two different styles and mood of films and each do their respective film justice. Harrison’s score music is very moody and captures the dread as well as the hope that members of the underground group have, as the dark sounds really represent the zombies and the army both who are the the real threats to the group of scientist as the more island sound represents our heroes and John the pilot who has a thought that they should take over an island and restart mankind and leave the past behind us. I have played this soundtrack many times on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO, and my favorite track is “Breakdown” as I truly think its an amazing track and sums up the feel and mood of the film. This soundtrack has been released on Vinyl and CD, and the first time I owned it was on a CD called “Dead Trilogy” that had it paired with Night and Dawn and was made by Roger’s Basement a cool old website that use to offer hard to find and never released soundtracks to Horror and Science Fiction films that would also have dialogue from the films, very cool stuff and I wish Roger would comeback to the web and start this back up again. Now I also own the soundtrack on an official CD release put out by Taurus, and on the vinyl reissue from Waxwork. If you’re a lover of Horror Film score music, do yourself a favor and pick this one up as it’s really is a great listen.

Like “Night Of The Living Dead” and “Dawn Of The Dead” before it, “Day Of The Dead” has had its share of some amazing merchandise! Like a very cool Prism Sticker that was in vending machines back in the late 80’s. Movie posters for theaters and video stores that would also find their way to being reproductions for home décor. The soundtrack made its way to vinyl and CD and has been played many times on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO. Halloween masks based on the likeness of Bub and Dr. Tongue have been made for fans to dress as their favorite zombie of the film. Plus Amok Time has made some amazing action figures based on Day Of The Dead of Dr. Tongue and Bub and these figures are a must have for fans of the film. Also fan art, shirts and comics have been made as well at the film has been released on many home media like VHS and DVD. Also Day of The Dead has been released on Blu-Ray and in the Arrow limited edition release a cool mini comic book came inside called “Day of The Dead: Desertion” that was about everyone’s favorite zombie Bub…before he was a zombie! So if you are a fan of this film like me, I am sure you own many of these cool items and here is hoping for more items to be made as I will for sure buy them to add to my collection.

So while Bub and Dr. Tongue are the two zombies from the film that get most of the attention from horror fans, I want to focus on one who in my opinion is over looked but is all the same a very cool zombie, and I am talking about Beef Treats! I am sure some of you readers are asking yourself who is Beef Treats, and I am here to tell you he is the male zombie that is captured and refuses to eat the beef in a can that the doctors are trying to feed him that is supplied by the army. Beef Treats, while not a major zombie in the film, has built up a fan following and was played by actor Mark Tierno whom I have had the honor of going to dinner with along side my pal Geoff Burkman who played a zombie in Day Of The Dead, Juliet, my pal David J. Getz and fans of writers of this iconic third film in the Romero Dead series at a Brown Derby restaurant after the Cinema Wasteland Convention in Strongsville, Ohio area. The dinner was lots of fun as it was great to hear Mark talk about his time on set and the motivation behind playing Beef Treats, I also think it was humorous that during dinner he ordered brussel sprouts, and in my mind I pictured a zombie eating those vegetables and it made me chuckle. It was also great seeing the fans and such asking Geoff about his time as a zombie as he is very proud of the fact he was in that film, and as he should be. So while he is not as iconic as Bub, I must say Beef Treats is a great zombie who added his own blood stain in the world of Day Of The Dead! So here is to you Beef Treats and actor Mark Tierno, who made this zombie come undead on the silver screen.

On April 11, 2015 Juliet and I decided to take our pal Geoff Burkman to Cinema Wasteland Convention as they had a big Day Of The Dead reunion.  Geoff played a zombie in the film and wanted to chat with the star.  This is also my favorite zombie film of all time, and I wanted to meet such stars as Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Sherman Howard, Gary Howard and all the others attending.  The main person I wanted to meet was Joe Pilato who plays Captain Rhodes, one of the best characters in Horror Cinema! The drive up to Wasteland was lots of fun and we all chatted about movies, The Walking Dead and even ideas for a Babysitter Massacre 2! Once at the event Geoff went his separate way as did Juliet and I, and after walking around for a few minutes and catching up with the old Cinema Wasteland Family, I got the honor of meeting Joe Pilato, and man, was he one kick ass dude! He cracked me up as when coming up to his table he screamed out to the crowd “Oh My God It’s Billy Romero, George’s Son!” as he told me that I reminded him of a young George Romero and that was one heck of a great compliment coming from him. The people around all looked at me when he screamed this, and I think some of them really did think I was Romero’s son! While at the table I chatted with Joe for a short time and told him all the same things all fans do about how he played one of my favorite characters of all time and got his autograph as well as a photo with him. Before we left his table he asked Juliet and I if we were going to the Day Of The Dead Q & A that was happing later on in the day and we of course said yes! Lucky for us when the time came we all got good seats and listened to the cast and crew chat about the making of the film as well as shout out famous lines from the film….it was amazing to hear all this in person! As we left the convention was when we were able to go out to dinner with Beef Treats Zombie and chat with fellow lovers of this film. I must say that Cinema Wasteland does it right when it comes to showcasing amazing cult actors and directors and don’t fill their guest list with B-List cameo actors from mainstream modern cable TV series. So I want to thank Ken and Pam for making this convention rock as much as it does as they have the heart and soul of true Horror fans! Below is the pic of Joe and I from Wasteland.

My pal Geoff, as you know by now, was a zombie extra in Day of The Dead. I have known Geoff since I was five years old as he owned a record store called Renaissance Music that my dad would shop at and I would as well once as I got older. Geoff is a cool guy and has been in a ton of plays in and around the Dayton area as well as has been in lots of great locally made films like The Manson Family, The Wolf Hunter 1-2, Babysitter Massacre, Depression The Movie, Atrocity Circle and many more. So it’s my pleasure and honor to sit with Geoff Burkman, zombie extra for Day Of The Dead and ask him a few questions!

Matt: How Did You Hear About The Casting Of Zombie Extras For Day Of The Dead?

Geoff: I was friends with a WSU film student, Bill Laxson, who was a customer at the shop. A year or so after he graduated, I think, I got a call from him out of the blue, telling me he’d gotten a job as a PA on the film. Either he mentioned the possibility, or I geeked out, or whatever, but one thing led to another, and soon I was in touch with the ladies running extras casting, and the rest is history.

Matt: When Selected Who Picked That You Would Be The Baseball Catcher Zombie?

Geoff: He was an umpire, actually. That was likely the choice of costuming, based on my measurements. I had no idea what I would be until I got there.

Matt: What Was The Process Like Getting Into The Makeup? And Who Did Your Makeup?

Geoff: Day One was the umpire zombie, part of the assembly line. Sadly, I don’t recall the name of the lady who did mine. I want to say there were 4-6 stations for making up the extras that morning. Took maybe an hour or so, iirc. Overall, we were on site by 730am and fully costumed, made up and ready to rock by 10am. We didn’t get called to shoot until at least 10pm that night. So, a whole bunch of waiting around.

Day Two I played a different zombie, one of the collar gang, presumably from the depths of the walled-off cavern. For that one I’d been shown through Saviniland by Bill and intro’ed to Tom himself as a possible head-shot zombie. No such luck, my hair was deemed not thick enough to mask the squib. Still, it was either Tom or one of his assistants (not Nicotero that I can remember, although I did meet him) who did me up, complete with several facial wounds off the “Zombies’R’Us” prosthetic molds.

Matt: Tell Us About The Scenes You Were In And Did You Get To Share The Screen With The Stars?

Geoff: Nope, no screen-shares for me. Day One umpire zombie shot scenes of the devouring of Steele, which show up late in the film. Umpire dude appears in the back right of two quick floor level shots with action in center frame. Of course, a lot more takes and angles were shot than appear in the film, including a close-up of me trying to jam a bloody bone through my mask. Boy, I’d love to have the raw footage from that night’s shoot!

Day Two was scenes of the break-in to the complex after Steele shoots open the door, so my guy shows up in the panning shot of the horde swarming in. I also did background for the sequence with Rhodes slamming a zombie off his golf cart, but I’ve never found him onscreen, even with careful freeze-framing. I was there, nonetheless. I was also a part of the crowd entering Steele’s death room, but didn’t make the final cut, despite another close-up in which Romero directed me to create a momentary bottleneck in the doorway. Such is the fate of an extra, even dead ones. So, I never got to work with any of the leads, although I was privileged to watch Joe Pilato, Gary Klar, and Taso Stavrakis (as a stunt zombie) do their thing. I don’t recall seeing any of the other actors while I was there, though I could just be forgetting that, since it’s not like they go around being introduced to the extras, and I would have been far too reserved/shy to approach them.

Matt: What Do You See The Fate Of Your Zombie Being After The Events Of The Film?

Geoff: Ha, ha! Pretty sad for them, eh? Stuck in that underground facility with the only way out going up the ladder after the escaping humans. And given that umpire dude was busy chowing down while Sara’s group was busy escaping, it’s not likely he ever made his way back into the cavern and up that ladder. I figure he just ended up wandering around until maybe he found a baseball somewhere and then sat down and bounced it off a wall until he rotted away. Same fate for my collar zombie, too, minus the baseball entertainment. I’d have to say that most if not the entirety of that horde eventually just fell apart, likely in pitch black after the power went out. Good thing they were already dead; what a way to go!

Matt: Thanks Geoff for sharing your memories with me again and my readers!

Geoff Burkman is a class act and has and always will be a great friend to me. I also really like the fact that Geoff enjoys horror films as well as comic books and music, and this is why I think we get along so well. Looking at all my friends I must say I have some very creative people in my life from movie makers, Actors, Comic Artists, Pro Wrestlers, Musicians, Painters, Models, Freakshow Performers, Horror Hosts, Tattoo Artist, Radio DJs, Book Authors, Clothing Designers, Beard Competition Winners, Craft Makers, Store Owners, Photographers and so many others who all do creative things! And I must say I value each of my friendships as each person makes my life better. So thanks again Geoff for taking your time and to answer 5 Questions for my readers and me. Below is a picture of the icon George A. Romero and tons of zombie extras.

As a longtime comic book reader, I was super hyped when I discovered a cool comic book company called Dead Dog Comics in around 2004 that kept showing up at Cinema Wasteland when I was a vendor there with Independent B Movie and later Andy Copp as this company was making high quality horror comics that were original and others based on movies, I would buy first thing and read them once back at the hotel and after dinner. The first comic I got from them was Night Of The Living Dead: Barbara’s Zombie Chronicles # 1 and I was hooked and even when returning home added all their comics I could to my Mavericks Cards and Comics pull list. I would also chat with the creators and owners of Dead Dog Comics while at Wasteland, and they would tell me what was coming up and listen to my ideas of what horror films should be comics as they clearly loved what they made and created. Sadly they closed shop in roughly 2007 and the void they left would not be filled for me until 2016 when Eibon Press was unleashed on the comic reading market. One of Dead Dog’s final releases was the comic we are about to review based on Day Of The Dead. I can remember being so hyped when I picked up this copy from Cinema Wasteland and was not disappointed when I read it then and can’t wait to see if it holds up! The downside is that this series was supposed to be a 3 issue mini series but only had one issue released before they went under. So as we travel even deeper underground to get away from the zombies I can hear this echo “Remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story.” So with that, let’s see how well this comic holds up to my memories and how well it does justice to my favorite zombie film of all time.

Day Of The Dead: The Rising Of Bub # 1 ***
Released in 2007 Cover Price $4.95 Dead Dog Comics # 1 of 3

Joe, his wife Anne, and a whole apartment filled of survivors hear the call from army soldier Miguel in the streets of Florida and try to get everyone together quickly in order to be saved, but an accident leaves one of their members dead and the opportunity to be saved lost. The survivors’ morale is down as they all meet up and try and figure out where the helicopter came from and who is manning it. The survivors group is made up of all types of people from young to old and locals and vacationers all who give their ideas about where the base is that holds their saviors, but it’s Norman who looks beyond the big airfields and finds a location that he thinks is the perfect place for them to be at. The next morning the adults meet at Norman’s garage and find that his plan is to use a push car called The Phalanx to get to the local jeep dealership in order to hot wire them and get them to the target location, and before they can decide if the idea will work over breakfast they are interrupted by Kat and her boyfriend who inform Joe that Anne has killed herself. While all this is going on the zombies are gathering and Bub is now free and leading a group of the undead.

This is Walking Dead and Land Of The Dead mixed as this focuses on a group of survivors who are held up in a apartment building in Florida who want so badly to be saved and think that if they can get to the base that Rhodes and his men are at that, they can be saved and are doing all they can to come up with an idea to reach their safe zone that they are unaware has been overrun by zombies. Joe is the “leader” of the survivors as it’s clear he is the one with the level head and breaks up fights and tries his best to keep the peace among his people. He also tries his best to keep an eye on his lady Anne and his daughter Kat who are also suck in this world of the undead. Norman and the rest of the group are all good people that are trying not to snap in the bad situation that they are in and tempers do get short as they all think they know what’s good for an escape. The zombies are everywhere and are hungry for human flesh and even Dr. Tongue is on the prowl looking for a quick meal. Bub is around but only shown in one panel as he is leading a group of zombies around underground and makes you wonder how angry he is. This is a great issue as it builds up our survivors and shows that they are desperate to find help and are stuck in a bad way as the world around them is filled with the undead.  The only major downside is that while Bub and the zombies are around, they are very much second thoughts and are the cause of the whole drama but only really get to eat one person for the whole issue. I would have liked to have seen more of Bub and do realize that issues 2 and 3 would have shown him more, but still a little sad all we got is one panel in this issue. The cover is great and shows a mad looking Bub in the underground.  The interior art is done by Jeff Zornow and is fantastic stuff and captures a good zombie comic feel. Over all this very much held up for me, and I enjoyed reading it in 2017 just as much as I did in 2007…wow that’s been 10 years! Fans of the film will enjoy this issue even if it’s not as dark as the film, and I hope that Dead Dog Comics comes back and delivers more comics based on cool horror films.  All I can say is come on, Chazz DeMoss, make this happen! Check out this cool art below to see what style this comic delivers.

So the day has ended, and we have survived another zombie invasion as well as another Monster Bash vacation.  I for one can’t wait to go back to Cranberry again next year and do it all over again! So with this we are leaving zombies behind and once more stepping back into the world of Pro Wrestling as we take a look at Chyna and the Chaos! comics based on her. So until next time, enjoy the rest of this summer, read a comic or three, watch a Romero film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! So see you in the ring, my readers and friends!

American Hero: Fighting American

Happy July 4th! If you’re like me, you can smell the hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and are ready to pig out on that tasty grilled meat as well as loads of potato chips and all types of salads from macaroni to pasta. Like last year I hope I can add a little fun to your holiday by bringing you another “American Hero” update that showcases a comic character that embodies the spirit of America.  This year I decided to choose Fighting American, and out of all the companies that had released adventures based on him, I chose the DC Comics version to review as I feel that this 1994 series was the closest to my youth, and I feel like DC is lacking the love here on my blog so why not give them another holiday update! So sit back with your favorite summer time beverage and spend just a moment of your Independence Day before the fireworks with me here at Rotten Ink, as we are about to get into the world of Fighting American!

When I was a kid, lunch time was always really good in Waynesville Schools as they had amazing cheese pizza that was made even more tasty with salt and even the hamburger with a pickle on it was good. But the one thing I always looked forward to was drinking milk.  From 2% to chocolate milk with my meal, I really enjoyed that as my drink of choice.  In fact, I still love a good tall glass of milk from time to time. One of the cool parts of the milk cartons was seeing Safetypup, a superhero puppy who wore a mask, cape and costume who would give a message of safety to us kids. My brother was the first to tell me about Safetypup as he called him “Superpuppy,” and I can remember he brought home the carton so I could see him! Growing up I have always wondered why they never made a Safetypup comic book, you know, like a promo comic that they could have given away at schools and family events.  Imagine comics where Safetypup could teach us about stranger danger, drugs and Halloween safety! Another thing that would be cool is that Safetypup has a walk around mascot costume, and it would be amazing to have him on an episode of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre teaching kids safety tips alongside BVP! So I just wanna thank Safetypup for making my childhood safe and for all his years of making milk cartons cool in school.

Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were the team that created Captain America for Timely Comics in 1941, and after the company was bought out by Atlas Comics, their character was continued without their permission.  This angered the pair and caused them to create a new American themed character called Fighting American, and in 1954 the first issue came out for Prize Group and lasted a total of 7 issues. The character was created to fight The Communists as at the time the Red Scare was in full effect and the comic reading world needed an outlet to release the fear they felt. The most important thing about Fighting American is that he is, in fact, the first comic hero to tackle the Cold War and was also the first to switch gears and just become a fun superhero comic thats Kirby had fun with. After the character’s seven issue run, he has returned to comics via many different companies like Marvel, DC, Harvey, Awesome and Dynamite! Fighting American is really Nelson Flagg who has his mind and life force placed into the corpse of his brother who was a murdered star athlete and war hero, thanks to the top secret military project dubbed “Project Fighting American” to seek revenge and fight the Red Scare and other costumed baddies. Over his original adventures, he also had a sidekick named Speedboy who is a teenager that worked at the same place as he and his brother. While Fighting American might not be as iconic as Captain America or even as known as The Shield, he still truly is an American Comic Icon that stands for the red, white and blue that we all love here in America. Check out below for three looks at Fighting American over the years in comics from different companies.

So we have taken a look at the history of Fighting American as well as a brief character bio, but for many of you like myself the grill is still going and the fireworks are about to go off, so I think its time we dive into the DC Comic mini series based on this true American comic hero. The sky flowers are wanting me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having issues in stock to make this update possible. So if you’re ready let’s grab old glory and head into the battle against those who wish America ill will with the one and only Fighting American.

Fighting American # 1  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 1 of 6

Big Brother is with two of his wrestling federation’s pro wrestlers Bear and Bull watching the madness of the New York stock exchange when Fighting American appears looking for a man named Little Brother.  After making short work of the wrestlers, he loses Big Brother in a car chase that leaves Fighting American falling off a bridge and into a boat filled with garbage! He is called back to Washington D.C. and finds that the government scientists lost monitoring contact with him and that he has pleased the Army who is financing his superhero adventures. Fighting American flashes back to how he became a hero and remembers the story of two brothers Johnny Flagg and his younger brother Nelson who make a TV talk show that pushes lots of buttons.  When Johnny talks ills of Ivan Brotski, he becomes a target for a hit that leaves him dead and Nelson at a cross roads as the government has offered him a way to merge with his dead brother and become a fighting machine for America.  The catch is the merge will take years! He snaps back to present day when he is reamed by one of the scientist for failing and is told one attack on his brother’s killers was enough, but he soon finds that Big Brother and his Pro Wrestling federation has a show that night and after making short work of their champ Mister Fixit he is able to bust Big Brother who is being taken away by cops after admitting his part in the Flagg murder and also informs him that Ivan has been missing for years. On his way back to the base, Fighting American finds Ivan who is now homeless and dies in front of him of a heart attack. Meanwhile a secret meeting is held by people in shadows, and the topic is how to deal with Fighting American.

What we have here is DC Comics trying to update a character from an era gone-by and make him hip and cool for readers of the 90’s, and for the most part it works. The plot of this first issue shows how two brothers became the target of a hit when they talked about the wrong crime family on their talk show.  With the help of science, the two brothers become one person and are now a tool for America to help with domestic terrors. But also revenge is on the mind of our new hero called Fighting American as he wants to bring down those who gunned down one of the brothers causing them to become this science experiment. And when getting to the one he thinks is responsible, his revenge is snatched from him due to natural death! Johnny Flagg is a talk show host who was a former soldier who speaks his mind on his TV show as he believes in America and what it stands for, and while a stand up guy, he does get gunned down before we truly get to know him. Nelson Flagg is a nerdy kind of guy who idolizes his brother and gives up his own life in order to merge with his dead brother, kind of weird but I guess that’s the American way! As Fighting American thus far all we get from him is that he is a superhero who works for the government who is more wrapped up into revenge than following orders. Big Brother, “Poison” Ivan Brotski and Mister Fixit are all just scumbags who were tops of the crime world but quickly fell from grace as they lost power, and all they have left is one Pro Wrestling Federation! It was nice to see Fighting American fail at his first attempt at revenge and later gear up and head into the lion’s den (or is that wrestling ring?) and try again until he was victorious.  It shows he has heart but is not going to be a puppet for anyone. The cover for this first issue is pretty eye catching and showcases the modern era Fighting American really well.  The one change to the costume that I find just silly if his blonde hair flopping out of the top of the mask…just silly and reminds me of The Shield that we covered last 4th of July. The interior art is done by Greg LaRocque and is pretty great stuff and is truly a capture of 90’s mainstream comics appeal. Over all this first issue was a great way to start off this series, and I am looking forward to see where the story goes and how our hero grows.

Fighting American # 2  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 2 of 6

Fighting American has become a media sensation after he gave an interview after saving a cat from a flag pole high above the city. The Shadow Organization are plotting a way to bring him down in the people’s eyes while the Government has decided to give him his own TV Show back as Johnny Flagg and has come up with a story that he has been MIA because his plan crashed in a jungle over 10 years ago, and this is were he meets his new producer Mary Loo. Meanwhile the ones who want to ruin him hire a band of performance art terrorists called Media Circus that has members like Anchorman, Spin Doctor, Sound Byte and Satellite Dish who are going to ruin Fighting American’s image and start by manipulating video of the kitten rescue to make it appear he placed the frightened cat on the pole to start with! The smear campaign hits, and the people turn on Fighting American and even on his show as Johnny Flagg.  He must cover the topic and Media Circus are the guests, but as the show goes on Mary Loo and a show worker find the tapes that clear Fighting American’s name as Johnny shows the whole world he is in fact the star spangled hero and along with his show crew they clear his name and take down the Media Circus as the evil shadow people are not happy.

This second issue lets the cat out of the bag as now the whole world knows that Johnny Flagg is the one and only Fighting American as he is sick of living a lie and telling untruths to the American people. The plot has a band of terrorist using TV to smear the name of the superhero, and he and his friends not standing for it and taking them down for the count. The Fighting American is a good man who does what he can to save the day no matter how big or small if he can help he will. As Johnny Flagg is out of touch with the times but is finding his way as he is now making friends thanks to the return of his TV Show and is also very much into his cute producer Mary Loo. The Media Circus are a band of weird looking carnies who can be hired to ruin someone’s life, and they try so hard but fail in their mission as they were just out classed and out matched by the pride of America. This issue does a great job of balancing both the character development of our hero as well as delivers lots of fighting action! The only downside to this issue is that Media Circus are not major threats and when push comes to shove they are beaten and exposed as frauds super fast giving the reader a lack of a really powerful villain. The one thing I do like is the fact Johnny no longer has to hide is identity as he has told the world he is the superhero that they all need. The cover of this issue is pretty cool and showcases the weird and wild look of TV mixed with the circus and a touch of costumed hero! The art is once more done by Greg LaRocque and is good stuff! Over all this is a solid second issue and really makes me look forward to reading the third to see what’s next for Fighting American.

Fighting American # 3  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 3 of 6

Fighting American is a hit with the American people again and has taken on a sidekick named Kid who works for his TV show that is also a ratings hit! But next the evil shadow group has hired Gross National Product, a fat yellow skinned man who is in Government power and who eats and eats.  He and his conman sidekick Def Izzit have caused madness with the people all in the name of greed and excess. Madness is running wild in the streets and people are attacking each other, not helping their fellow man and even has Fighting American arguing with his sidekick and during a fight almost breaks the finger of Def Izzit who in turn has the superhero arrested! In the end, the Fighting American is in jail waiting for a lawyer and gets the news that the head professor of the program has been kidnapped!

This third issue has Fighting American in a battle of good and greed as he is outsmarted by the hairy, fat, spaced toothed Gross National Product who has used his powers of persuasion to trick the people of America into being self-absorbed mindless tools. And when Fighting American gets the upper hand, he still is in the wrong and goes to jail for assault. Fighting American in this issue is still the pride of the goody two shoes but also has an edge to him as he has been mind tricked by his foe. His new sidekick, who they have not given a name to, is on his way to becoming the next Bucky as he is skilled and yet still young and sloppy in battle. Mary Loo in this issue takes a back seat, and while she shoots down Johnny Flagg’s dinner dates, it’s clear that she is a lesbian as her date shows up to take her to lunch and it’s a woman. Def Izzit is annoying and talks in riddles and rhymes and is one character that I hope gets the tar kicked out of him! Gross National Product is a great villain as he is pure evil and uses his powers to cause chaos and enjoys the evil he does and gorges himself while doing it on food, paper, boots and whatever else he can shove down his fat neck! The cliffhanger of Fighting American being in jail and his friend and the program doctor being kidnapped makes for a great way for the reader to want to see what’s next. The cover is pretty cool and showcases not only Fighting American but also his new sidekick and Gross National Product allowing the readers to know what they are in store for. The inside art is once more done by Greg LaRocque and is again great.  So to sum up this issue good classic superhero stuff with a touch of the 90’s.

Fighting American # 4  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 4 of 6

Fighting American is sitting in prison and is keeping his fellow inmates in good behavior all the while Mary Loo and Senator Dorkin are trying to get plan together to get him out. Gross National Product and Def Izzit have spread greed to the American people who are all now rushing to stores and spending all their money on products that they don’t need. The Kid is also inflected bad with the want to buy as he does not care about his friend Fighting American and even mouths off and steals from his parents. Mary Loo has the TV show film in the jail as The Kid snaps out of his trance and goes after Gross National Product and is able to find out that the heavyset baddie’s power comes from his sunglasses and uses it against him turning him into a man who regrets what he has done and even drops the charges against Fighting American and does work in the community to make things right! Out of jail, Fighting American goes back on the streets to save the town from evil, and we find out that Senator Dorkin is not a friend to our hero and is working with the shadow people to find whys to bring him down.

This issue should be called “Fighting American Goes To Jail” and should have been written and drawn like the Ernest movie! But really the plot has The Kid showing why he is a superhero now and with the help of his parents locking him in a back stock room, he is able to shake off the effects of the consume idea planted in his brain and single handedly defeats Gross National Product by using his own power and tricks against him and in turn gets the charges dropped against Fighting American who is now free and can do his TV Show and Superhero the streets. The Kid, who at first kind of felt like a way to make fun of classic Captain America stories by parodying Bucky, really became his own with this story, and they gave him more of a personality than just a goofy kid who tags along side our book’s hero. Fighting American takes a back seat in this issue as he is in jail all the way until the very end so he does not get to fight nor even clear his own name. Even while helpless Fighting American is still a very cool classic style superhero! Gross National Product is scum who in this issue makes the world want to buy, buy and buy all the while he still stuffs his face! But when the roles are turned and he sees what he has done, he turns over a new leaf and does good by the world and tries to keep it clean! Def Izzit is still just a rhythm-talking goof who sadly does not get his face pounded in! This issue also shows the read evil mastermind behind the attempted downfall of Fighting American and it’s Senator Dorkin! You see, he is the one works along the shadow people who want him out of the way so they can do their evil stuff. Nice twist as he seems like a friend the whole time. The poor Professor is set free and becomes self aware that the whole lab dislikes him as been the story of his whole life and becomes an alcoholic whom no ones seems to care that is free nor not returned to the lab.  I see him coming into play soon as a tool for evil…I could be wrong just have the feeling. Over all this is another solid issue with a cool cover and great art done by Greg LaRocque who is making this American Hero come alive in the pages of this DC Comic series.

Fighting American # 5  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 5 of 6

Senator Dorkin is being threatened by the shadow crime group for failing at getting Fighting American to be out of the hero business, and his last chance is the helmet wearing, mind controlling eye doctor named Phoroptor who is set to clean up the bad turn he sees America heading down and fills them with nostalgia! Meanwhile the Professor is going to blow the whistle on Senator Dorkin to Fighting American as Mary Loo herself finds that Dorkin is on the run and has a sinister past and present! While out Fighting American and The Kid are battling Phoroptor who is attacking civilians causing them to cry and go into rages over the present not being like the past. After a quick fight Phoroptor gets the upper hand and makes Fighting American question who he is as he has the memories of Nelson and Johnny and this makes him in the end realize that he is in fact both and is the hero known as Fighting American and with the help of the Professor he defeats Phoroptor and is soon joined by The Kid and Mary Loo who tells them that Dorkin has fled the USA and now they are all going to Europe to get answers and stop this evil plan.

This fifth issue of the Fighting American mini series from DC is lots of fun and crams in lots of great classic comic book hero moments as well as adds messages about America at the time. This one has the rug being pulled out from under Senator Dorkin who is being targeted by the shadow people as well as is now on the radar of Fighting American who’s TV producer has found his dark secret and the Professor is about to spill the beans on everything her knows. Fighting American in this issue is brave and fights past the crippling power of his foe and even seems to finally become one with who he really is and that’s both brothers! The Kid is around and is a solid generic style young sidekick character and shows that he as well is a good man as he saves people from the nostalgic feeling that was being spread by the evil foe in this issue. Mary Loo does a great job of piecing together the evil deeds of Senator Dorkin by entering his office and finding odd papers and a bad answering machine message. The Professor who is now a drunk is trying to turn his life around and wants to spill his guts to Fighting American on what he knows about the Shadow Group who want to ruin his heroic ways as well as keep America down. Senator Dorkin is a man with lots of power who is also now running for his life as he has gotten involved with the wrong type of people who don’t like failure! Phoroptor is a purple bubble mask wearing eye doctor who loves the past and cant stand the future and uses his special mask to make people become walking talking crybaby’s who yarn for the good old days of their youth. Over all this really is a silly and fun issue that is a great one to build up to the final issue in the mini series as we end with Fighting American on a mission to go to Europe to get answers and justice on Senator Dorkin! The cover is cool and the interior art is great and done by Greg LaRocque and not much more can be said besides this is a great and fun issue and keeps this series solid and enjoyable.

Fighting American # 6  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 6 of 6

Fighting American arrives in Ireland with his crew The Professor, Mary Loo and The Kid and soon find out that the shadow people are called The Free Association and that they have spies and workers all over.  Word gets to the group that they now have Dorkin and are taking him to a site that is said to be a gateway to another realm and soon find out that in this place has unknown spirits like Banshee’s that are really just holograms to keep people away.  Soon Fighting American and crew find themselves in the secret base of The Free Association and start to crack heads when they are trapped to the floor and an alien appears and tells them he is in fact the leader of The Free Association and that he is the one who ordered the killing of Johnny all those years back.  He is in fact the one who started the Fighting American program as he wanted to control him as a super solider for the bad guys! After some tourist stumble into the secret base Fighting American is able to break free and chase the Alien back to his UFO and ride the world of The Free Association!

The final issue of this mini series brings Fighting American and his war with The Free Association to an end and shows that the mastermind behind the attacks on our hero was a fat old alien who when confronted makes a run for his UFO and returns to space the loser in the battle. While the battle is not super epic and if not for the goofy tourist the fight might have gone another way as Fighting American was being held as bay as well as his crew and if not for the distraction the Alien had the upper hand! That’s one thing about this hero, he is just a normal guy and many times in this series luck and friends is how he beats his enemies. I also like that while he looks and is Johnny Flagg, he has the mind and smarts of Nelson Flagg and after some inner drama he is able to come to terms that his superhero alter ego Fighting American is in fact both brothers as one person. The Kid is a cool young sidekick who worked for the TV Station, and I like the fact that he comes from a family who owns a little bar that also bookies bets just to make ends meat. Mary Loo is also a cool hero who loves her job as a TV producer but also is not afraid to dig deep into trouble in order to get the truth.  I also like that she is not ashamed of being a lesbian and that the part of the character is treated really well and made me laugh when she finally told the aged Fighting American that she is gay and that’s why she don’t want to go on a date with him and at first he takes it as that she is happy…funny out of touch hero stuff. The Professor starts out as an over bearing grump who is the head of the program and after being kidnapped and made to feel useless he becomes an alcoholic only to snap out of it and join the team that is surrounding our hero. All the villains from the Alien to Media Circus to Senator Dorkin are great cheesy bad guys, but none of them feel like major threats and all are beaten pretty easily. The one thing that I really enjoyed about this comic that while done very over the top, it did have a message about how we as society at the time believed what we saw on TV, trusted all our politicians that they have our best interest in heart, how we buy things we don’t need just to spend money and so on and while its major part of the stories, it’s not super in your face. I also liked the fact that they took the main female character Mary Loo and had her be a strong gay character, and his sidekick was a young black male who broke the comic stereotypes.  Both were perfect for the roles they played in this comic adventure. Another cool thing is that while Fighting American is a fish out of water, they do not play up on that too heavily and just allow the character to accept times had changed. To me its crazy that DC Comics did not do anything with this character after this six issue mini series and allowed it him to just fade away from their company.  The only thing I can think of is super low sales or maybe the creative team moved onto another project and they could not find another team who wanted to keep the story going. The cover for this final issue is fantastic and showcases our three main heroes and the art inside once more was done by Greg LaRocque and is top notch 90’s comic book stuff! Over all I really enjoyed this comic series, and he was a perfect fit for this July 4th update as he embodied the sprit of this holiday and that’s a celebration of freedom and being American. Check out the artwork below to see what Greg LaRocque work looks like, and enjoy.

That was lots of fun, and Fighting American truly is an American Hero and is in league with The Shield and Captain America at being a true patriot superhero and a perfect fit to talk about on Independence Day. I am sure you are wanting to get back to the cook out or gear up for the fireworks so I will wrap this update up so you can all get back to enjoying your holiday! Our next update will be my vacation update where I will chat about Monster Bash and the Romero Dead film Day Of The Dead! So until next update, I want to thank you friends and readers for spending a small part of your July 4th with me and make sure to read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host! See you next update to relax with the zombies and monsters…

The Red Twister Man-Droid Of The DC Universe!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my readers and friends.  For this update I have decided to take a look at another DC Hero, one that always captured my attention as a youngster thanks to the Kenner toy Super Powers.  The hero I am talking about is the Red Tornado! Growing up I was more of a Marvel comic reader, and 8 out of 10 times while at the comic newsstand at Hearts, I would pick a Marvel book over a DC or independent as I was always more into their characters like Hulk, Captain America and Spider-Man.  But I still always enjoyed reading DC heroes Batman, Superman, Swamp Thing and even Justice League Of America. With that said, I still really enjoy DC and enjoy discovering the characters they have created to entertain the comic readers worldwide and that’s why I choose to cover Red Tornado. One thing that has always driven me crazy about DC Comics is the fact they have a rich history of characters, but they only ever really want to focus on the same handful when it comes to major storylines and even merchandising.  I mean look at how many items and major comic plots go to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and how little go to characters like The Creeper, Captain Marvel, Black Canary and Red Tornado. But on this update here at Rotten Ink, I am going to give Red Tornado his time to shine in the comic spotlight! So dress warm as this wind might chill you to the bone while Tornado is on the loose to save the day!

So who is the Red Tornado and what is he all about? Let me take a moment to fill you readers in on his past as I am sure you will find his weird and complicated history interesting. The thing that I must stress about DC and their character histories is that they can get very weird and confusing as they have many “Earths” that have different timelines, and this makes the bios very murky in my opinion, but let’s try and give this a shot. Red Tornado was created on the planet Rann in the Earth-One universe and was made up of two different beings, Tornado Champion and Tornado Tyrant, and became a bad guy who attacked Adam Strange only to lose.  This loss made it take a looks at itself and choose to be good as he found that side to be the stronger.  But this ultimately did not matter as the bad side won the inner war that raged inside the split identity body. As the evil Tornado Tyrant, he comes to Earth-Two and fights the Justice League Of America and this allows the Tornado Champion side to dominate.  He is tricked by evil criminal T.O Morrow into tricking Tornado Champion to take over an android that he had built.  This wiped the memory of Tornado Champion and now a new life-form was born named Red Tornado! After being used as a tool for evil, Red Tornado turns on his creator and turns to the ways of good and becomes a member of the Justice League Of America and tries to live his life as an android superhero as well as tries to have a human life side. Later Tornado Champion breaks free from the android body and becomes a weapon for Anti-Monitor and ultimately fails returning to the android body and Red Tornado was once more! After this, he became a nature protector, guided the members of Young Justice and has even been an off and on team member of the Justice League Of America! Say what you will about Red Tornado; he has been good and he has been bad but one thing is for sure, this android hero is one of DC’s coolest B-Listers!

In 1985 Kenner decided to add a second series of heroes and villains to their popular Super Powers line of action figures, and among the likes of Martian The Manhunter and Mantis was the one and only Red Tornado. Growing up me and my brother loved to get our hands on Super Powers as we both loved comic books as well as the movies and cartoons based on the DC heroes.  Between the two of us, we owned almost all of Series 1 minus Brainiac whom we never could find, and we also had many of the figures in series 2. When I was in the first grade in the Waynesville, while on the bus home a fellow bus rider had a Red Tornado action figure, and I can remember being obsessed with it and for weeks trying to trade other toys in order to get it from him.  Sadly he never would trade nor did we ever get the figure until many years later when my brother bought it to add to his Super Powers collection. But this figure is what made me become obsessed with Red Tornado and who he was way back when I was just a six year old lad.  My brother who was 9 years old was the one who told me what he knew about the character that he had learned from issues of Justice League Of America. Below are some pictures of the Kenner Red Tornado figure loose, in the package and a look at the mini comic that came with the toy. One day I should get myself this figure just to remind me of my youth and the time I discovered Red Tornado. I should note that other figures over the years have been made of the Red Tornado, but for me the Super Powers is still the best one.

So besides in comics and toy,s Red Tornado has also had other appearances in media that include being in the animated series “Justice League Unlimited” and being voiced by Powers Boothe, “Batman: The Brave And The Bold” voiced by Corey Burton and “Young Justice” voiced by Jeff Bennett showing that he has made his mark on the world of DC animation. He also appeared in the 2010 animated film “Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths” but was just a cameo and didn’t even speak a word! He also also been in a handful of video games like “DC Universe Online” and “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham” and also whirlwind, the pixel world! More recently he was in the live action show “Supergirl” episode called Red Faced and is played by Iddo Goldberg and is portrayed as an android ready for combat. So while he is by no means as in demand as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or even Green Lantern, he still over the years has tried to get his time to shine in other media besides comics.

So now that we have had a crash course of the history of Red Tornado and have also taken a look at the character in the world of merchandise and other media, I think we should twist our way down to the comic reviews and see what this 1985 mini series has in store for our android superhero! Shockingly enough, this will be my first time reading this mini series, and I must think Dark Star in Yellow Springs for having them all in stock. I can hear these words in the whirling wind: “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” So if you’re ready, I am ready to see what this Red Tornado mini series has in store.  So avoid the wind gusts and let’s dive in shall we!

Red Tornado # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

New Jersey is having a massive tornado that is destroying property, and as Lana Lang is reporting live, Red Tornado appears and saves the day when he reverses the funnel cloud and rushes away as he still thinks the world fears him even if he is a member of the Justice League Of America (JLA). Once back home, he turns into his alter ego John Smith and takes his girlfriend Kathy Sutton and young orphan friend Traya out to dinner and a movie.  After the film is over, robots come from the ground and have their sights set on taking out John Smith who has to turn into Red Tornado in order to lead them away from his loved ones and innocent people! After beating the robots, he returns back to being John Smith, and while watching the evening news, he is heart broken when he sees Lana Lang report that he was responsible to the tornado and that it destroyed thousands of dollars worth of property! And worse, as the report goes off, Superman along with fellow Justice League Of America members call Red Tornado outside only to fire him from the team.  As the sad android hero flies away, we soon learn that the robot villain The Construct is mind controlling the JLA and others in order to push all the human feelings out of Red Tornado so that robots can kill off man and rule the world, as he knows that Red Tornado could stop him and his plan.

This first issue in a four issue mini series is a great way to introduce Red Tornado to readers who might not know who he is, as well as a cool way to start off our story! The plot of this issue has Red Tornado trying his best to gain the trust of humans.  As he does his best to stop crimes as well as natural weather disasters, he is filled with doubts about being accepted not only as the android hero but also as his “human” life John Smith. While he battles his inner thoughts, unknown to him, an evil robot power is in play as The Construct is controlling all the bad things happening to him and even controls his firing from the Justice League Of America! Red Tornado is an android on a mission to save human life and uses his weather powers to do so, but he is very much bothered that the whole human race is not hip to the fact he is a good guy and wants to do no harm to them. His ability to become a tornado is his main defense against crime, but he is also very smart. I also really like in this issue that while he is an android, he does show signs of having feelings and this makes the character deeper than just a hunk of metal with powers. As his “human” life John Smith, it’s clear that he doesn’t know how to be human as he is just going with the flow of what life he thinks he should have by working a so-so day job and even being boring with his girlfriend by not understanding they don’t always need Traya around to go out! It’s odd, it almost seems like as John he shows less emotion than he does when he is Red Tornado, making it clear that his mechanical mind is trying its best to figure out what it means to be human. Kathy Sutton is a sweet woman who has fallen in love with John Smith, even knowing that he is not human showing that she has a big heart, and I hope by the end of this mini series she finds happiness. Traya is a young girl who was saved by Red Tornado many years back and thinks her friend and savior can do no wrong nor even lose a battle.  She really does care about her friend and never questions why she has to sit in a orphanage and Red Tornado never has adopted her. The Construct is one mean machine as it has made its life mission to destroy mankind, defeat and out smart the JLA and ruin a normal life for Red Tornado by making him feel that every thing he loves has turned on him! I can’t wait to see how its plan plays out and how Red Tornado will defeat him! Another great aspect of this comic is the fact that it has cameos from Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and many more making it truly feel like a mainstream DC Comic series. The cover is fantastic and eye catching as it shows Superman talking harshly to Red Tornado making the reader want to open the book and find out why. The interior art is done by Carmine Infantino and is solid and great work and has that 80’s DC charm. Over all I really enjoyed this first issue as I liked the atmosphere of a rain soaked big city under the gloom of some unknown power.  I like the cameos and most importantly I really dig the book’s title hero as he is pretty interesting and has layers to his odd personality. So let’s see what issue two has in store for us and if this mini series keeps up the good art and writing that this issue has set up for the whole run.

Red Tornado # 2  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 2 of 4

Red Tornado stays out in the rain all night wondering what he did wrong and why he has been booted from the JLA as his girlfriend Kathy Sutton has worried about him all night! The Construct is happy thus far as his plan to mentally break his android nemesis is going perfectly, and his next movie is to mind control Superman once more to set up a meeting with Red Tornado who thinks they are allowing him back into the JLA but soon finds himself ripped into pieces and thrown over the Brooklyn Bridge into the cold water below by Superman, his one time friend! Red Tornado brings himself back together and is now filled with anger as he does not understand why he has been targeted and snubbed by his friends  As our hero is deep in thought, The Construct starts his plan on taking over machines all over the world. All the scientists and labs are coming up with no answers to why the machines are acting up, and it’s only Thomas Oscar Morrow who figures out that The Construct is the world’s attacker but he doesn’t know what to do as he is a criminal and also the creator of Red Tornado! While walking in the park as John Smith, a call goes out about a massive fire where helicopter pilots and kids are in danger and once while saving them all from a terrible death, the crowd turns on him calling him a monster and evil machine.  He leaves and goes to the orphanage and is told by Traya that she no longer wants him around and that he is a soulless machine! And just as Kathy Sutton find him, Red Tornado snaps and turns on all the humans and tells them he no longer will be their hero as they have done nothing but demonized him and he leaves them all behind swearing never to help and see them again. Kathy Sutton is heart broken as she watches her boyfriend fly away, and as this happens The Construct has taken over all the world’s machines and is now in charge of the world!

This second issue follows Red Tornado as he is attacked by Superman and told never to help mankind again, only to go against orders and save some kids from a fire to have the crowd as well attack him.  His breaking point comes when his own friend Traya turns on him and tells him to get lost! This enrages the android who turns his back on trying to be human and leaves the world open for the attack by The Construct! Red Tornado just can’t get a break in this issue as everyone he tries to help or call a friend turns on him with Kathy Sutton being the only one who is not affected by The Construct’s mind control but it’s even to late for her to try and stop his rage of being blamed and spit on by mankind. You have to feel for Red Tornado as he really does wants to feel like a real man and only wants to help and can’t see that the world around him is going mad! Poor Kathy Sutton is worried to death about her man but seems helpless in reaching him before rages takes over and his feeling turn as cold as steel, and his friends Traya and Superman are used like puppets to drive him cold. The Construct’s plan is perfect as he clearly got under the skin of his only nemesis that can fight off his mind control and by doing so drives him away and opens up his path for world domination. This issue also makes me wonder how Thomas Oscar Morrow, the only scientist to figure out what’s going on will get help as he is not liked nor trusted by those who could help! This second issue does a great job of piling on bad events for Red Tornado to drive him off and does so that I as a reader was getting mad at characters and their behaviors! Now that’s a good sign of a solid writer in Kurt Busiek, who penned this story. The cover once more is very eye catching and has Red Tornado in pieces with the interior art once more being done by the talented Carmine Infantino who captures the mood so well of 80’s DC. Over all, this is a very solid second issue that brings the story closer to the final battle and showcases how cool Red Tornado is and how evil The Construct is! Lets see what issue # three has in store for us, shall we?

Red Tornado # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 3 of 4

The Red Tornado is away enjoying just being an android and not having any connection to humans, while around the world citizens and superheroes alike are fighting the machines being controlled by The Construct that are ready to take over the world, and to make things worse, the evil machine is now also controlling the minds of humans! Kathy Sutton is not infected yet and goes to a trip to find Thomas Oscar Morrow as she thinks he can help track down Red Tornado who can stop this madness.  As Morrow tells her the location and shows her his force matrix field to hold The Construct, his mind is taken over and now Kathy is alone on her quest to save the world. Kathy travels to the mountains of Colorado and finds Red Tornado who is so disconnected from mankind that he is watching as two campers face death from a fire that surrounds them.  Kathy explains that the world did not turn on him, that The Construct mind controlled people and he is still cold.  She explains that she never turned on him and loves him and still nothing.  But when she points out that he does have a soul and that’s why he questions his own being, it snaps him out of his robotic mood and he saves the campers, shows his love for Kathy and swears to destroy The Construct and save the world!

The Construct has made the world a terrible place to live as he has brainwashed many humans and is using robots to do so and attack those who stand up to his rule! Our only hope is Red Tornado but he has turned his back on mankind as he feels they have done to him and it takes one woman to put her safety on the line and get the world’s only savior back on track! This is the cool plot of this issue that follows Kathy Sutton as she has to dodge and listen to the evil taunts of The Construct who mocks her at every turn! What works the best for this issue is that Kathy is not just a throw away girlfriend character but takes the lead and becomes the key to help save the world! Poor Thomas Oscar Morrow tried to be the world’s hero, but his brain is zapped and he becomes a mindless zombie before he can do so.  But I am sure his new invention will come into play to bring down The Construct. Red Tornado is so cold for most of this issue and think about just how cold blooded it is that he was just watching people about to be burnt to death, but once he realizes that he in fact does have a soul and is more human than he ever thought, his cold fish manner disappears and back is the hero that was a member of the Justice League. The Construct is cocky and almost enjoys messing with humans that he finds weak or no threat to his goal of world domination.  It will be great to see him taken down a peg or five. Another cool aspect of this issue is that once more it has cameos from other DC heroes who are fighting robots like Superman, The Creeper, Batman and even Green Arrow. The cover is eye catching and has Red Tornado standing around the piled up bodies of brain washed humans as Kathy begs him for help and he just is not having it! The inside art is once more great and done by Carmine Infantino who really is bringing Red Tornado alive on the newsprint pages. Over all this is another great issue that is building us up for the final showdown that is coming up next issue!

Red Tornado # 4  ***
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics      # 4 of 4

Red Tornado heads toward the hideout of Thomas Oscar Morrow to find out if his machine is still intact, only to find that The Construct is waiting for him and has built himself a massive robot body and is ready to fight it out to the death with the world’s only hope. The fight is powerful as each robotic fighter tries to take down the other but finally The Construct overcomes Red Tornado and brings his broken body to the matrix field that was built to bring him down. The Construct then finds Kathy Sutton and takes over her mind as now everyone in the world is under his control when even Red Tornado allows him to enter his in order to get free of the matrix field. But as The Construct enters Red Tornado’s mind, he soon finds out it was a trap and our hero takes down The Construct on his own home turf of the electronic dimension by making him question if he is just a machine or something more! Once he beats The Construct, he traps him in the matrix field and even is able to break his bond with Thomas Oscar Morrow, freeing himself from everything that has tied him down. The world is saved and Red Tornado as John Smith decides that he fully wants to live life and along with Kathy and Traya he plans to try and partake in all the cool things our world has to offer.

This final issue in the series plot is: Red Tornado knows that he is a living being with feelings goes head to head with the worlds conquer The Construct who is out smarted when he must face the facts that maybe he is more than just a machine! This is a fitting way to end this series as Red Tornado finds the peace he is looking for and truly looks inside himself to see that he is a living thing complete with a soul, and he has wasted so much time trying to be what he thought a human should act like. The Red Tornado shows that he can have multiple moods in this series from super smart over thinking superhero, to hurt feelings when he feels he is being unfairly judged and even cold as a dead fish when he decided being human was not worth the time to please mankind. He also uses his tornado powers as well as his smarts to win this major fight throughout to not only defeat his enemies but also save lives. As John Smith he also grows from being a boring homebody and becomes a fun loving let’s go out and discover boyfriend. Thomas Oscar Morrow who is a bad guy seems like over this mini series as well is trying to change from being a villain to a hero and wants so much to have the respect of his creation the Red Tornado that he soon finds he must earn and not command. Kathy Sutton sticks by her man and is the only reason Red Tornado found his inner soul and decided to save the world, so the whole world owes her a thanks! Traya is your typical kid sidekick character who is around to idolize their hero friend and be used as a pawn when things hit the fan.  With that said, she is an okay character who filled her role well. The Construct was a great bad guy who for the most part seemed unbeatable until he is tricked to over think his own existence that leaves him open for defeat.  I mean think about it, he controlled the mind of Superman that shows you how powerful he was! Speaking of Superman, it was cool to see him in a cameo role for many of this series issues and it was great to see him act like a jerk to not only Red Tornado but also a young teenager who just wanted to thank him for help after the massive storm. While many might not like the way the final fight ends with Red Tornado using his smarts to defeat The Construct I found it very cleverly done and helped add a layer to this character and storyline. The cover for this issue is cool and while not as eye catching still holds a classic DC look mixed with TRON for me. The interior art is once more done by Carmine Infantino and is fantastic and really makes me want to see what other comics he did for DC. I must also praise the inker Frank McLaughlin and colorist Tom Ziuko of whom both really made this comic pop and come alive. Over all this was a great read and I would have loved this comic as a kid as it had robots fighting as well as showed Red Tornado doing what he does best and that’s be a hero the world needs. If you like 80’s DC or even have a little bit of interest in Red Tornado, I would suggest checking out this mini series as it’s a great read and well worth your time. Below is some artwork for this series and showcases the characters, you will encounter in this series.

While Red Tornado is by all accounts considered a B-Hero and not one of DC’s mainstream like Batman, Superman and Green Lantern, for me he has always been a great superhero who has always captured by attention and imagination. But while this update has us walking away from Red Tornado, for our next update we will however stay in the DC Universe as we will be taking a look at a classic public domain character they tried to bring back to the reading masses called Fighting American that was co-created by Jack Kirby.  This will be just in time for July 4th our nation’s Independence Day! So until next time, read a comic or three, buy a classic action figure or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for fireworks and a classic comic hero, see you then readers and friends.

Body Count The Forgotten Horror Series From Aircel

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place for me to share my past, present and future! On this update, I want to chat a little about independent horror comics and my love for them! Growing up I was a avid comic reader, and super heroes like “Captain America”, “Batman”, “Spider-Man”, “Superman” and “The Incredible Hulk” were what I was reading at almost any given time as those were comics that we could find at the local grocery stores and comic racks at convenient stores. Besides the superhero comics, I also read lots based on toy lines, books and cartoons like “G.I. Joe”, “Masters Of The Universe”, “Transformers”, “Conan The Barbarian” and “Thundercats” that were also easy to find. The only horror comic titles I had were copies of “Werewolf By Night”, “Swamp Thing”, “Tomb of Dracula”, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, “Godzilla” and “Man-Thing,” all mostly obtained at garage sales that acted as another source of a way for me and my brother to get comics. Growing up in a small town like Waynesville made it super hard to find out about other comics as it did not have a comic store (besides antique store Spencers that carried back issues of Power Man and Secret Wars 2). The closest ones around were Dark Star in Yellow Springs, Mavericks in both Kettering and Centerville and my all time favorite store Bookie Parlor that was also in Dayton/Kettering, and my parents would only take us to these stores from time to time when I was really young and more so when I was around 12 or 13. I can remember discovering that comic companies like NOW, Innovation, Eternity, Malibu and Epic were cranking out comics based not only on super heroes but also horror and science fiction comics and being blown away at the huge selection that comic shops had us readers able to choose from as I was used to the magazine section of Big Bear and Hearts in Lebanon where I got most of my comics from other than the subscriptions that my Mom and Dad would finally break down and get me and my brother. The good old Marvel Comics subscriptions through the mail was where I would get my issues of Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Amazing Spider-Man delivered to my waiting hands, but the worst part about it was our mailman would fold the issues in order to place them in our mailbox leaving the issues with a bend down the center! But while I loved my super hero adventures, I was a Monster Kid so I also loved to read about the night time terrors of Dracula from the pages of Tomb Of Dracula, the inner struggle of Jack Russell the Werewolf By Night, the stomping rampage of Godzilla as well as the burning touch of Man-Thing who I always enjoyed more than Swamp Thing in the comic world…I know it’s because I am a Marvel Guy. The only independent horror comics that I owned and had access to were from Gold Key and Whitman and were such things as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and some very beat up and in some case coverless issues of Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery that my brother Bryan shared with me. But my love for horror comics really exploded when visits to the local comic shops started to happen more often and my parents started to enjoy the fact I was reading a bunch and encouraged me to choose comics and even paperback novels I would enjoy.

The first time I walked into the Bookie Parlor, I was a fan as the owner Hal and his wife Sue were super nice to me and my brother, and after coming in for a few times and spending money Hal would start to let me know when he got new back issues of Hulk and Captain America in. At the Bookie Parlor, I discovered Atlas Comics and its characters like The Brute, Son Of Dracula and their series like “Tales Of Evil”. And at Bookie Parlor is where I found comics by Epic based on the Clive Barker films “Nightbreed” and “Hellraiser” and started my obsession with the Nightbreed and Rawhead Rex cross over. It was also where I discovered Eternity Comics and the fact they made comics based on Full Moon Entertainment films likes “Subspecies” and “Puppet Master” that I had to have and read. Claypool was another comic company Bookie Parlor introduced to me who made comics based on “Elvira Mistress Of The Dark”!

At Mavericks Cards and Comics in Kettering, a place I would later work for, I met owner Jack who always treated me and my brother like we were his friends and would also give us discounts as well as free comics.  During these early years is when I met Jason Young who years later would be one of my closest friends as well as Jeremy Hoyt! While shopping Mavericks I discovered NOW Comics who made comics based on the TV Show “Twilight Zone” and horror film “Fright Night” as well as Innovation who did comics based on the films “Psycho”, “Child’s Play” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street”! Another independent comic company Mavericks introduced me to was Apple who did weird adult horror comics like “Dracula In Hell” and another company, Blackthorne, who shocked me with comics based on the film “Waxwork” and TV Show “Werewolf”. Between these two stores my want and need for horror comics was in full effect as I would buy whatever ones I could get my hands onto, from comics based on killer “Jack The Ripper” to ones based on classic monsters like “Phantom Of The Opera” and even ones that I had no idea what they were even about before buying like “Body Count.”  All I knew was that I needed to read them all! During this time I also started buying Topps Comics as they had many amazing titles out like “Dracula Frankenstein War”, “Bram Stokers Dracula”, “Satan’s Six”, “Jason Goes To Hell” and “Jason vs. Leatherface” and with Dracula Frankenstein War started my first ever comic store pull list. During this time was also the birth of me having to have all the comics based on horror films as many of the films I loved had adaptations and new comic killing adventures for them as such titles as “Re-Animator”, “Halloween”, “Army Of Darkness”, “Night Of The Living Dead”, “Blair Witch Project”, “Pumpkinhead” and so many more from many different comic companies all had comics based around them. For me the comic killing sprees for these movie monsters was another way to add to the characters’ legacy and a way for fans to get a little more while waiting for the next film.

During this time as well I didn’t give up on Marvel Horror as I went out of my way to get more and more issues of Werewolf By Night and the others as they also filled the need to read horror comics. During this time was a true magical age for horror comics as besides the companies mentioned above you had Arrow, Fantaco, Aircel, Northstar, Chaos, Dead Dog, IDW, Avatar, ONI, Fangoria and many others publishing and making horror themed comics from the late 80’s thru the mid 2000’s with each delivering blood and gore filled issues. But during what I call the Golden Years of Horror Comics also came the crash of the 90’s when Marvel and DC once more went to war to dominate the shelf space at comic shops and by putting out so much product, they forced many amazing companies to go under as did cut throat politics in the industry among small press companies. The companies that have fallen to the comic rack in the sky that I miss the most and wonder what they would be making now if still around have to be Topps Comics, Fangoria Comics and Dead Dog Comics all of whom were some of my favorite companies going and all who delivered some amazing horror comics into readers hands. During these years horror comics were coming out less and less, and many of them were not based on horror films as they were just original titles mostly based on vampires or zombies with 2003’s Walking Dead from Image being the biggest horror comic title in years.

We are now in 2017, and over the past two years, independent horror comic companies are back on the rise and are making some amazing and entertaining stuff. While the bigger companies like Image, IDW, Boom and Devil’s Due are putting out horror comics with titles like Lord Of Gore, Godzilla, Kong Of Skull Island and Walking Dead, it’s also the smaller guys who are coming into your comic shops and online stores with some amazing stuff that is bringing back the boom of these comics that has been long dead for to long.

My favorite small press company is Eibon Press, run by Shawn Lewis who is also the owner of t-shirt company Rotten Cotton.  They are doing amazing comic books with releases based on Italian director Lucio Fulci movies like “Zombie” and “Gates Of Hell”! They also have titles based on such films as “Laserblast”, “Maniac” and many more including an original series called “Bottom Feeder” in the works. Another cool thing about Eibon is that they have what’s called the Eibon Sleeve that is like a record sleeve for your comic.  They also back it with all types of great stuff like stickers, trading cards, bookmarks and even vinyl records!

Action Lab has a sub company called Danger Zone that has put out some great spooky series and mini series like ones based on Full Moon films “Puppet Master”, “Gingerdead Man” and “Trancers” as well as original titles like “Final Plague”, “Southern Dog” and “Blood & Dust”. While it seems at this time the Full Moon comic deal has come to an end, I have faith that their editor-in-chief Shawn Gabborin will unleash more horror themed comics to the market.

Small publisher Lion Forge has released the series “Night Trap” alongside other horror themed books like “Mad Balls” based on the spooky toys. This company prices their comics at a great price at $2.99 each and sadly seem to be gone or on hold as I have not seen much from them in Diamond Previews as of late. But while their fate of physical comics is up in the air, they still tried to make a small mark for Horror Comic readers.

Rough House Publishing run by Derek Rook has brought back two classic horror comics from the graveyard as they have released “The Dead Omnibus” as well as new issues of “Gore Shriek” with a comic based on the remake of the film “Nightmare City” coming soon. This is a company I cannot wait to see what else is coming from as rumors of music and other cool media items have surfaced as has lots of gossip about what’s in store for the comics they are doing.

The Blood-Shed Publishing has a series called “We Kill The Dead” on the way that showcases over 20 movie slashers from independent horror films doing battle with a government elite team. This is a mini series and rumors of new horror comics from them have been floating around. This is one comic company that is attached to a horror news website that you might want to keep your eyes on.

Space Goat is a company that has been around since 2014 making comics as well as board games. They have also delivered some great horror comic titles like “Evil Dead 2”, “The Howling”, “Zombie Camp” and “Forty Coffins” to name a few. And I also want to give a shout out to Titan Comics who have been doing their best at delivering entertaining spooky comics like “Anno Dracula”, “It Came” and even have Hammer Horror comics with “The Mummy” and rumor of “Captain Cronos Vampire Hunter” coming soon! Plus American Mythology is doing some great comics and even one based on the Adam Green film “Hatchet” as is Alterna who has titled like “Croak” and “The Chair” to name a few so as you can see the world of horror comics has lots of great companies doing amazing things.

When opening Sparkle Comics alongside Jason Young in 2016 and after getting friends and amazing artists like Damien Brunk, Jason Gilmore and Scott Scarborough joining the comic making family, I knew we had to make horror comics so we even opened a branch we are calling Blood Scream Comics that is slated to showcase gore and more mature style horror comics with the all ages and teen horror comics coming out via the Sparkle label. Sp far for Sparkle Comics, we have the free online comic called “Don’t Play With Monsters” that features foolish kids coming across monsters who are not as cute as they appear. “Shocking Macabre Theater” is an anthology comic that has Dayton, Ohio horror hosts Dr. Creep, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop sharing twisted tales with a stranded motorist. We also have “The Wolf Hunter” based on the shot on video film of the same name that was directed by Matt Hoffman who also played the title role and has The Wolf Hunter killing werewolves in the state of Ohio. We have a series called “Unknown Creatures” that features tales of cryptozoology creatures with the first issue being about the Flatwoods Monster! We also have 12 page issue # 0’s in the works that are based on shot on video films from Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video that will feature stories based on “The Sadness”, “Farmer Joe” and “Scars” and will allow our readers the chance to vote on which horror baddie will get a full # 1 issue! With many more amazing horror comic titles in the works, we hope to entertain readers with spooky, gory and twisted tales. One thing I am the most proud of is that via Blood Scream Comics we will be doing issues based on the films of Paul Naschy as well as have comics based on films from such companies as Warlock Home Video, Massacre Home Video, Brain Damage Films, Scream Time Films and Nevermore Productions in the works as well as comics based on pro wrestlers who fit the horror theme! So there are lots of great spooky reads are coming your way via Sparkle and Blood Scream Comics.

Sorry for being so long winded; it’s just I really do think that it’s a great time to be not only a horror comic reader but also just a comic reader in general. And I really do feel that horror comics have a bright future with many of these companies turning out very high quality comics that are well written and well drawn driving the market back up for the independents. But let’s get focused on the comic I have chosen to review for this spooky epic update and that’s Body Count, a silly horror comedy comic that I discovered at Mavericks Cards And Comics when I was a teen and bought and read and enjoyed for the wacky killer and the large chested heroine…oh and the over the top kills. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for making this update possible and having these issues in stock so that I could own them again and cover for this review. So if you’re ready, check your brain and taste at the door and let’s dive into a late 80’s and early 90’s horror comic that will have you screaming with fear and laughing after with joy. I also want to note that even as a youngster I never could find the 4th and final issue so this will be my first time reading how this story ends! Oh yeah I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story! So lets take a look at Body Count!

Body Count # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 1 of 4

Winter Falls College is a high priced school where the students are watched by the hotheaded Dean Burns and make fun of simple minded janitor Wanker. Professor Chill is a science teacher and has caught the eye of his student and assistant Becky who will does what she can to get him to notice her.  From short shorts to tights shirts, she brings her A-game, and together they are working on a formula that will in theory turn a nerd into a jock.  After they leave to get some dinner, a pair of students looking to steal knock over the formula and rush away telling Wanker about the mess in the lab. Wanker, being simple minded, takes a taste of the formula goo and it starts to melt him and flings his body into a deep sea divers suit.  He dons the helmet and becomes a crazed killer, and his first victims are the two thief kids that meet their ends with a mop through the head and a telescope through the eyes! When Prof. Chill and Becky return to the lab they find the dead bodies as well as the missing formula and call Dean Burns who heads to the lab to cover up the murder. Meanwhile Wanker is still on his killing spree and drops power cables into the pool killing three students by electrocution causing a power outage and as he is leaving the pool area, he catches Dean Burns and makes him drink Drano! As Chill and Becky leave the lab, they find the bodies and guess that Wanker must have drank the formula and is now a killer and is headed toward town!

This comic is just as silly and over the top as I remember it being when I first read it in my mid teen years. The plot is very much like an 80’s B-movie horror film as a geek puts on a mask and murders those who tormented him, the setting is a college, and the victims are all mean spirited and selfish people who are killed in horrific ways. Professor Chill is our hero, and while smart, he is also pretty goofy and has a hint that he does not really know what they heck he is doing in the lab.  While a goof, he still remains calm with all the bodies pilling up around him and it’s clear he is thinking of ways to stop the killer. Becky is a typical hot chick who showcases her amazing body and uses it to get her way, but when the killing starts she also becomes hysterical and screams her head off in fright! While she is just a scared woman now, it’s clear that she is in for the long haul with her man Prof. Chill. Wanker is just a simple minded janitor who is mistreated by both staff and students and after tasting the foul smelling formula goo, he transforms into a brutal killer who is on a rampage of revenge.  He also turns ugly and disfigured from the goo and wears a diver’s helmet as his killing mask. Wanker is cold and brutal with his best kill being the telescope through the eye as it’s so brutal and gross, it made my own eyeballs hurt! The gore is slightly over the top.  Not on the level of Arrow Comics’ The Dead but it’s more brutal than IDW’s The Fly: Outbreak so Gorehounds have a little splatter to make them happy. The true nature of the comic is also horror comedy as many silly lines are delivered by characters as is cheap sexual jokes that are fitting and add to the cheesy fun of the comic. The cover is okay and does not truly do justice to what the comic is about and the art inside is cartoonish and done by Dave Cooper, fitting for this style of horror comic. Over all, this is an above average horror comedy comic that acts as a build up for this four issue mini series.

Body Count # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 2 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky, along with a device they created that picks up the chemical that created the killer Wanker, head out into town to see if they can find him before he kills again. Meanwhile two fisherman in a boat are not so lucky as the now farting and stinky Wanker sets his sights on them and kills one by crushing his head and leaves the other in a state of shock wandering the roads when he runs into Chill and Becky who take him into town and try to warn the law of the killer on his way. Meanwhile Wanker has found a new pair of college victims who are on a motorcycle joyride as he decapitates the man with a fish and causes the woman to be flung from the bike and smash into a tree! Chill arrives at the police department, and the Sheriff and Deputy rush off to the College before they even could hear why they are running! As Prof. Chill and Becky wonder what they can do to stop Wanker, the police run into the killer that leaves the Deputy dead from a ricochet bullet and the sheriff is bull rushed into some bushes, After the screaming stops Wanker appears, this time around bigger in size!

The rampage of Wanker continues as he makes his way closer to town with murder and destruction on his sick and twisted mind. Professor Chill and Becky come up with a tracking devise that goes off when the killer is around and can also be used to save others, as it’s a warning to the approaching death dealer. They also try the best they can to get help and rush an injured scared to death man to the local law office only to be greeted by the world’s worst police officers! So as you can see the pair of scientists have done all they can up to this point to try and save lives of the townspeople. The Sheriff and Deputy are as backwoods as they come and think everyone is an alien or a communist and are easily slaughtered and out smarted. Wanker is now turning worse and is smelling terrible, becoming more ooze-based with even more of a thirst for blood. He is slowly making his way to the town and killing almost anyone that gets in his way, but oddly enough he allowed one of the fisherman to live! It’s shown that bullets can’t kill and stop Wanker as he is shot a number of times by the Sheriff and simply shrugs them off like Michael Myers from Halloween. Plus at the end of the issue, he grows in size and makes you wonder: did he eat the sheriff or can he body jump like in the films The Hidden and Jason Goes To Hell. The best kill in this issue has to be the decapitation of a collage age brat on a motorcycle with a fish! It’s an over the top and dumb kill but is hands down my favorite in the issue. The blood and gore is once more present and not terribly over done. The cover this time around is better and shows Wanker in all his slimy glory, and the art once more is done by Dave Cooper and is well done for this style of horror comedy comic. And just like the first issue, this one is holding up to what I remember and was a fun read and makes me look forward to reading the next issue again after all these years.

Body Count # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 3 of 4

Becky and Professor Chill are at the bar in Winter Fell and trying to get the locals to believe them about the Wanker Killer that is heading their way, but no one does no matter how hard they try. Meanwhile Wanker stalks and kills a young man on a date by ripping his head off and than turns his attention to the young man’s girlfriend who is running toward town to warn others. Chill and Becky next try to warn the town barber shop of the killer’s rampage but she as well meets her fate by the hands of Wanker who snaps her neck. Chill and Becky run around town trying to warn people of the killer after the barber shop also gives them the high hat as does the post office and the mayor who allows his bodyguard to beat up Chill on his front lawn. In the end Chill and Becky spot Wanker now in town and run to the town’s switchboard operator, and they phone the National Guard and talk to General Howitzer who tells them they are on their way.

The plot thickens as now Wanker is in town and no one believes the warnings being given by Chill and Becky who try every major place in town to spread the coming of a killer. Chill, who feels responsible for the Killer as his formula is what turned a nerdy janitor into a head crushing killer, must push as hard as he can to inform the townspeople as their deaths would be on his hands…kind of. After being beat up and called a communist by all the towns people he almost just walks away to let them deal with the approaching death, but he is reminded that he loves this little town that has acted as away for him to score with collage chicks and get away from his nasty wife. Becky tries to help spread the warning the best she can, but sadly she is just eye candy and no one really listens to her. Wanker is shown to be using the Sheriff’s body as a suit as he has half way crawled up the bodies back and controls it. Wanker is stronger now and after killing a couple on a date has entered town to cause some major damage. This issue only has two deaths and while violent, they are not super gory and a little toned down, with the best being the head rip off from the shoulders of the boyfriend. The story in this issue reminds me of “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” and “The Blob” as no one is listening to our heroes as everyone thinks their story is to over the top, and this brings more of the B-Horror Movie aspect out of this comic series. The cover is pretty good and once more captures what this series really is all about and the interior art is still done by Dave Cooper and is fantastic for this goofy, gory comic. This issue is filled with lots of humor and once more is a mix of redneck humor, slap stick and adult humor all done at the expense of Becky. Another fun issue just like I remember it and is the lead up to the last issue in the Winter Fell rampage of Wanker and his over sized divers helmet. So let’s move onto the fourth and final issue and discover how Wankers is stopped…or is he, as this will be the first time I have read issue four as I never could find it, so it will be a first time read for me!

Body Count # 4  **
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 4 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky wait in town, and the pressure hits Chill who feels bad about the rampage of Wanker as his formula goo is what created him! But before they can wonder if the Army can stop the rampage, they show up lead by the crazed and kill hungry General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur who’s first plan of action is to blow up the bar with his tank as Wanker is inside killing off drinkers, but his attack fails to stop Wanker! The next target is the barbershop as Wanker enters it and kills off the barber and a man looking to get a shave, this time The General hits the business with a missile from a helicopter…it as well fails as Wanker is spotted again alive and unwell! Chill informs them that if they can capture it alive he might be able to cure Wanker and the Army turns on the Professor calling him a monster lover and boot him and Becky off the tank and head back into the hunt for the killer. As Becky and Chill hide the Army finds Wanker who is not scared of the tank and guns and charges causing The General to panic and order for the big bomb to be dropped, as the plan does so and the atomic bomb goes off our story ends with Chill hugging Becky and wondering what effect the radiation will have on Wanker!

The final issue is by far the weakest issue and I am pretty sure even in my middle teens I would have not been a super fan of this overly plotted army based issue that seemed to be rushed and with a very weak ending for the killers rampage. Prof. Chill and Becky are once more thrown to the side when the army gets mad that they want to cure the killer and not kill him like they want to do, but by the army turning on them and chasing them off is what saved their lives as they were able to hide as the bomb was dropped. These lovers are more just waiting to be saved as they have done all they could to save the townspeople and watch in horror as not only Wanker kills those who were rude to them but so does the army! The Army and their leader General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur are fools who like to blow things up and really have no plan of action of how to really stop Wanker besides just that blow things up…reminds me of the army in Return Of The Living Dead. The townspeople are all crazy and rude and none of them want to believe that a killer is heading their way ready for mayhem and murder, and they get what’s coming to them for being such scummy people. Wanker who is still using the body of the Sheriff as almost a suit of armor is finally in town and wants to make his body count rise hire and hire by knocking off the towns people, and he proves that he is not even scared of a whole army as when they finally have him cornered he don’t back down he lunges forward to take them all one and their tank! His brutal and quite nature makes him like Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and Michael Myers (Halloween) but not taken as serious by the writer and creators of this comic mini-series. The issue has some blood, guys and kills but they seemed very toned down this issue as does the art done by Dave Cooper that seems very much rushed and lacks the appeal and moody nature of the issues that came before it. The cover as well is not all that great as it just showcases the army…yep, not the killer or even something that shows it’s a horror comic at all! While this might not be the best Independent Horror Comic series of the late 80’s and Early 90’s and by most accounts I am sure this is forgotten and issues can be found in .25 or $1.00 boxes around the world at comic shops, to me it is one that stands out and one I can remember picking up from Mavericks all those years back and reading them while sitting in my room in Waynesville and wondering just how the story was to unfold as I never could find this final issue….and after all these years finding a copy and reading it, while I am little disappointed in the way Wanker’s rampage came to an end I do enjoy the fact it was left wide open for another mini series that sadly never was made. If you love horror comics from the 90’s that have a hint of humor in them, I suggest you check out Body Count, as it is sure to please or at the very least entertain you slightly. Below is some artwork samples from the Body Count series and I should also note that artist Dave Cooper is known for his work on such comics as Suckle and Bent as well as he worked on Nickelodeon Magazine and co-created the cartoon “Pig Goat Banana Cricket” for the station.

I see lots of great horror comics on the horizon for us readers, and it really is a great time to be alive and a comic book fan. Body Count was one of the early independent horror comics I read and after all these years, it kind of holds up as I still find it entertaining, silly, bloody and gory with a lackluster ending. I would love to hear from you friends and readers about what horror comic you first remember reading when younger and even what horror comics are you reading now.  Leave me a comment as I would love to hear from you about this. So for our next update we are leaving Winter Fell behind and joining a underrated Superhero from DC Comics, the super android The Red Tornado! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you soon for some DC Comics talk…

Made For TV: Halloween With The New Addams Family

Hey friends and readers! As you can see I am a little behind here at Rotten Ink as I have moved!! That’s right I have a new home base and sadly my comic collection is all over the place.  This has made it impossible for me to find the comics I need! So I’m sad to say that The Mummy has been put on the back burner until I can find it, and to hold you over, I will use a fill in update.  So sit back and enjoy this write up I did a few years back. I should note that this was to start off a update series called Made For TV that would have had me talking about all the movies made for the small screen I grew up watching, so sit back and enjoy this “lost” update as I have more unpacking to do!

Welcome back fellow Comic readers.  For this update, I decided to take a break from the ink filled comic pages and instead took a look at a made for TV reunion special. In 1977, NBC decided that after 9 years off the air, the world needed a Halloween special with The Addams Family! This special, simply named “Halloween With The New Addams Family,” would act as a reunion for the cast as all but one original cast member stepped back into their cooky outfits and hammed it up for the viewers. The only original actor not to appear was Blossom Rock, who played Grandmama, as she has very ill at the time so actress Jane Rose stepped in to fill the role. I first saw this special on a VHS that was put out via Goodtimes Video that I bought for cheap from the secondhand store called Replay Media.  After the first watch, I was not super impressed but did enjoy the over all silly nature. In 2014, I decided to watch this special again and while it has never made it to DVD, I was able to get a copy on DVD-R to watch again and bring you this update that I am calling “Made For TV: Halloween With The New Addams Family”, so sit back and enjoy this look at a true gem of television.

The first really cool thing that one will notice when finding this special on VHS or DVD-R is the fact that the cast from the classic spooky TV show is back, and while older, most of them don’t seem to miss a beat. John Astin plays Gomez Addams and is still terrific in the role as he does all his classic faces from when he’s sad to when his wife speaks French to him and his eyes bug out.  Astin is one of my favorite TV actors and truly doesn’t miss a step in the ’77 special proving he was born to play this part! Carolyn Jones plays Morticia Addams and is also terrific in her performance and is as deadpan and sexy as ever. Between her, Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster) and Elvira Mistress of the Dark, they are the reason I grew up loving Goth girls. While it’s clear she is older in this special, she still holds that magnetic charm and appeal not only with her appearance but also with her acting. Jackie Coogan returns as Uncle Fester, and while great in what he does, to me it seems as if his character takes a backseat and is not given anything to make him the stand out character he truly is. Ted Cassidy rocks it once more as the butler Lurch and like the rest thus far doesn’t miss a step in his performance and delivers all the deep voiced grunts and lines fans would want to hear. Felix Silla returns as Cousin Itt and is what you would expect from a character that doesn’t talk and his sounds are added in after it filming. Lisa Loring plays Wednesday Addams again, and she does a great job and hams up her performance making it feel like your watching an episode of the Banana Splits.  I must say she grew up to be a very pretty young lady. Ken Weatherwax plays Pugsley Addams, and while it was nice to see him in the role again, he was not a very good actor in this special, and it almost seems like he knows he’s being too cheesy by the smiles on his face. The rest of the cast as new to the legacy of The Addams Family so I will rush through them as this is the only thing they did for this series: Henry Darrow plays Pancho Addams who is the younger brother to Gomez and is really good and his performance is a more sleazy version of Astin’s Gomez. Jane Rose takes over the role of Grandmama and while she tries, she just ain’t no Blossom Rock, as she seems to be missing something that makes her the lovable creepy character from the show. The rest of the cast all do a great job and all add the right amount of silly and hammy to their performances.

Made for TV Movies that acted as reunions for shows were not uncommon and many shows did this such as The Brady Bunch, Saved By The Bell, The Incredible Hulk and Dukes of Hazzard, to name a few. Many times they were made for cheap and to cash in on the remaining fan base who wanted to catch up with their favorite characters, while other times they acted as a way to pitch a return series to see if a fan base was still willing to watch a show’s return to TV. The TV Reunion movie had been a thing of the past when I first rewatched this special, but recently, we’re seeing TV reunions in the form of special event seasons of shows like Gilmore Girls, The X-Files, and very excitingly just announced, Roseanne. Below I am going to talk about the plot of this special and then after that my thoughts on it.  So let’s turn on the boob tube and enjoy this 1977 flashback.

Halloween With The New Addams Family
Starring – John Astin & Carolyn Jones       DVD-R        Not Rated         1977

The Addams Family is having a Halloween Party for family only, but Gomez has to leave town in order to become a higher-ranking member of his club. But in town is Pancho, his brother who has a crush on Morticia and is trying to take over the Addams home! Also around at the Addams Mansion are Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior younger kids of the Addams, Uncle Fester, Thing, Lurch and Grandmama all helping out to get the party just right for the family reunion Halloween party. Meanwhile a gang of thugs have the mansion bugged and want to steal the family fortune while Gomez is away, even going so far as to send one of their own into the Addams home to get a look around acting as an inspector. This con man watches as Wednesday and Pugsley return home, each with new careers as Pugsley is now a Witch Doctor and Wednesday studies and plays music.  He also watches as the spirits of the deceased members of the family make noises from their graves, their pet lion attacks him for stepping on it’s tail and even is attacked by a plant! The con man escapes and returns to home base ranting out of his mind and quits the team, but this does not stop the others from going through with their plan to steal the fortune.

This special was clearly made to try and help usher in a New Addams Family TV series, but I think by 1977 and making it in color some of the charm of what the series was about, poking fun at society and classic cheesy black and white horror films of that time, was lost. But with this said, this made for TV special also has a lot of charm and captures the feel of late 70’s programs with the laugh track that seems like it was taken from Scooby-Doo cartoons to all the lame and dated jokes. I loved the updated sets with the cemetery backyard being really cool as is the new and improved mansion. One thing that makes this movie interesting as well is the fact they added two new kids to the family and named them Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior showing that if a new series was to be made they would still capture the kid characters with these two new brats, and the original kids would be reduced to cameos from time to time. Speaking of the older kids, I must say that Lisa Loring as the grown up Wednesday was stunning and in one scene she is dressed as a tennis player for Halloween and she is very attractive, plus it weird cause they have her playing a piccolo a lot in this film and at times it almost comes off sexual, but I was A-Ok with it. What made this cheesy made for TV film work is seeing all the classic characters together again on the screen.  I mean Lurch, Thing, Uncle Fester and all the other Addams clan have always felt like family to those who grew up watching them during first run or even reruns and while this reunion movie is flawed and not perfect, it’s still an amazing watch that offers lots of entertainment for fans who just love the Addams Family. So if you get the chance and find this on VHS, DVD-R or if a TV Station ever decides to play it again make sure to give it a watch as its filled with laughs, eye rolling moments and a classic 70’s feel.

Halloween With The New Addams Family is a forgotten gem of films made for TV and is one that’s mostly over looked in the history of chatting with friends about The Addams Family. So what I would like right now is for all you readers and friends to take a moment and let me know in the comments below if you remember watching this film? What were your memories and thoughts about it? How did you enjoy seeing the characters back? So go on and don’t be shy. Leave a comment below and share with me about Halloween With The New Addams Family!

We will be leaving the world of Made For TV Movies and moving away from The Addams Family.  Next we’re taking a look at the world of Horror Comics and my love for them as I revisit a comic series called Body Count that was released by Aircel at the start of the late 80’s. So I hope you had a great time with this update, and who knows, maybe I will do another update in the Made For TV series. So until next time read a comic or two, watch some TV and as always support your local Horror Host!

The Red Hand Of Justice The Red Demon

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  For this update, I decided to take a quick look at a hero called The Red Demon that I just discovered earlier this year, but was created way back in 1947.  Wow, think about that, The Red Demon is 70 years old! That’s one thing I love about comic books is, much like horror hosts, movies, music and novels, you find yourself discovering new to you characters and adventures all the time.  Over the years, I have gotten to travel to many conventions thanks to my time with Independent B Movie, Andy Copp, Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre and Sparkle Comics that have allowed me to discover such forgotten gems and discover treasures hidden among the vast merchandise that fill the cons. And I always love finding a vintage style superhero who fights crime in a costume in a big city that pre-dates the heavy hitters like Spider-Man and Daredevil, yet came after the likes of Batman and Captain America. So with a smile on my face, it’s my honor to share this hero with you, The Red Demon!

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Judge Straight is the youngest judge in his home state.  After a day in court where he sentenced a man to death, the doomed man’s wife goes off on the Judge about having no compassion for those who are less fortunate. This leads him into doing some of his own crime research and entering the hideout of the gang the murder victim was working for and finds a devil costume in the dead man’s room.  After putting it on, he solves some crimes and decides that when he needs to be more than just a court judge to dish out justice, he will become The Red Demon and serve it more swiftly. The origin and motivation of The Red Demon is very simple and classic superhero stuff, and while in this day and age, this style of origin is dated it still is very fitting for the character as he predates this style of hero origin becoming cliché. Plus I truly think that while The Red Demon was inspired slightly by Batman, he himself clearly inspired Daredevil who was created in 1964.  Both look very similar; not to mention both while not playing superhero work for the judicial law! The character was created and drawn by Bill Draut originally to be a back up character in Stuntman, a comic being made by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon but was canceled before the first Red Demon comic was published so it ended up in Black Cat Comics starting in issue # 4 put out by Harvey Comics. The stories were written by an unknown writer, and after a total of 5 appearances, the character fell to the wayside. While he might not be a household name or even all comic readers top 50 superheroes list, he still is a great hero who deserves lots of respect, and if you like classic heroes make sure to check him out!

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On February 26th 2017, Sparkle Comics was a guest at the Jim & Dan Comic and Toy show that was being held at the Wright State Student Union Building that had us selling copies of Shocking Macabre Theater # 1.  Our team was Damien Brunk, Juliet Fromholt and Scott Scarborough, and we made a little extra print money and also got to go and shop a little.  That’s where, in a .50 box of comics, I found The Red Demon! The comic was squeezed among copies of Conan The Barbarian and Archie Comics and had a sticker from Half Price Books on it that the person had bought for .10 back in 1998.  Once I saw the cover, I knew I had to read it and cover here on Rotten Ink. Before we get into the review of this cool looking comic, I do need to remind you all that I grade comics on a standard 1-4 star scale rating and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get ready to see just how swift the justice of The Red Demon is, shall we? I also want to note that this reprint issue makes the art black and white and not color like when they first premiered in comics.

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The Red Demon # 1  ***
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.00     Recollection     # 1 of 1

“The Midnight Killer” news has broken around Loston City that the famed criminals the Stefano Brothers have been arrested and delivered to the cops thanks to the masked crime fighter The Red Demon who is listing to the news on his radio like the whole city.  This causes him to remember back to when he first became the crime fighter.  It all started when he, as his real name Judge Straight, tries a man named Joe Monsi for the murder of crime boss Bull Brewster and sentences him to death! The man’s wife screams at Judge Straight about having a text book for a heart and that her husband was not guilty! The words stick with Straight, and he decides to walk the streets looking for criminals so that he can understand them better.  Thanks to Brewster’s lost cat, he is able to find his old hideout and members of his gang, which is now being lead by Eel Egan who allows Judge Straight to hideout when he gives him a bogus name and story. While at the hideout and in the murdered man’s room, he finds a devil costume that the criminal was wearing when murdered and decides to wear it and bust crime! And thanks to some glowing hair tonic he figures out Eel was the killer and brings him to justice and saves Mr. Monsi’s life. “Double Trouble” has butler James Jenkins sentenced by Judge Straight for 40 years in prison as he is convicted of burglaries that have been taking place all around the upper class parts of town. But feeling bad and that he might have made a mistake again, he hits the streets and acts as if he is just a butler for his real self and meets two strange performers at a night club named Imp and Marline The Magician.  He soon finds out that the pair are responsible for the crimes, and while Imp is taken to jail, Marline falls to her death off a cliff trying to fight The Red Demon! “The Man Who Didn’t Know His Own Strength” when a judge friend of Judge Straight is killed by a man he convicted 8 years before named Blinky Bruin, the young judge is upset and becomes The Red Demon to crack the case and prove who killed his friend. The Red Demon meets up with Blinky Bruin and his gang and makes short work of them and turns them over to the law to be tried by his alter ego Judge Straight.  But before the trial can happen, Blinky escapes and once more The Red Demon must track him down and does so hiding out in a kids play room.  When the two fight, a fire starts and Blinky gives his life to save the child and The Red Demon showing that not all bad guys are fully bad.

This was an amazing classic superhero reprint comic that made me a fan of The Red Demon as I found the three stories inside these pages very entertaining and well worth the read and .50 I paid for it! All three stories have a very similar plot that’s this: Judge Straight in court convicts someone of a crime they did not do, and when feeling bad about his judgment, he wears his costume and becomes The Red Demon to prove them innocent and bring the bad guys to justice. My favorite story out of the three was “The Midnight Killer” as I loved the idea of a mad chemist named Eel making a glow in the dark hair tonic so at a costume party he could turn off the lights and kill his boss and blame another man for the crime, amazing stuff! Judge Straight is a man who lives by the book and is harsh with his sentencing and has a reputation of being cold hearted and robotic as he does not bend the rules, with that said he is also a terrible judge as he has a nasty habit of finding innocent people guilty and only feels bad after court is over that makes him wonder if he did the right thing. As The Red Demon, he is more fair and wants to really find the guilty and bring them to the law so that they can face justice for their crimes and doesn’t mind using his fists and wits to do so! His criminals are like less outrageous Dick Tracy villains with Imp being a master of disguise, Blinky Bruin being strong as an ox and so on. The cool thing about this comic is that all three stories were great and showcased just how simple the golden age heroes were, and this made me feel as if I was in a time warp when comics were not over blown splash pages and origins of heroes are silly. The cover for this reprint comic is eye catching and worked on me while at a comic convention, with the interior art being done by Bill Draut and is great classic stuff and reminds me of Steve Ditko work. Over all if you love classic superheroes this comic is 100% for you, and even if you’re not but want to check out classic heroes I would suggest you check this out as well. Below is a sample of the artwork from this comic.

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The Red Demon is much like other classic heroes for me like The Phantom, Dick Tracy, The Shield and The Fly, and he is now one of my favorite classic heroes as I enjoyed his crime fighting adventures that much! While he is by no means as iconic as Superman nor even as memorable as Captain America, he falls into that space where he is a forgotten hero to many, and yet it’s clear that some older comic readers still remember him. But for our next update, we will be leaving Loston City behind and will find ourselves in Egypt coming face to face with the Universal Monster, The Mummy! So until next time, read a classic comic or three, watch a classic movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Make sure to bring your sunscreen as Egypt can be hot this time of year and stay clear from the pyramids as who knows it might have a curse on it!

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NES Challenge: King Kong 2

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and another NES Challenge.  This time around in honor of my favorite giant movie monster King Kong coming back to the silver screen in “Kong: Of Skull Island,” I decided to try my luck at beating King Kong 2 from Konami on the good old RES! I am sure many of you are scratching your head and saying “King Kong 2 that was never made for the Nintendo, this must be a homebrew game!” This is only half true as the game was made by Konami for the Famicon in Japan and thanks to the team up of my friend Brett from Bad Or Rad, Pac N Sac Dave and Todd The Fox, I was able to get a custom version of this game that plays on all American systems and even has a custom box and label! So sit back, relax and take a trip with me as I look back on King Kong Lives and try to beat King Kong 2 on the good old RES!

So before we play the game, let’s discuss a little more about King Kong 2 that’s American title is King Kong Lives!

King Kong Lives (1986)

“A giant ape King Kong, which was shot and fell off the World Trade Center tower, appears to be alive, but is in coma for 10 years and desperately needs a blood transfusion in order to have an artificial heart implanted. Suddenly, in the rainforest, another gigantic ape is found – this time a female. She is brought to the USA, and the heart is successfully implanted. But then King Kong, having sensed the female ape, breaks loose.”

When I heard about a new King Kong movie in 1986, I was hyped as the giant monkey has always had a special place in my heart, but I would not get to see the film in theaters as my parents had no interest in seeing it.  In fact, my Dad made fun of the concept of King Kong living with a over sized pace maker. So I would not get to see it until it appeared on Home Video, and I will get to my thoughts after we touch a little on the films history and production. The De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, headed by the famed movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, decided that after the hit King Kong remake they made in 1976 the world needed a sequel ten years later, and so King Kong Lives was put into production and unleashed onto the movie going masses. The film had John Gullermin in the director’s chair again as he was for the 1976 remake, and the film cast such actors as Linda Hamilton, Brian Kerwin, John Ashton and Michael Forest and had a huge marketing campaign around it before and during its release. The film’s score was done by John Scott and is solid work; while not memorable, it’s still good. The film was a major flop when released in theaters, and critics and fans both panned the film for the silly storyline and its overall “boring” nature. Famed and respected film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 1 out of 4 stars and as of this update it holds a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes! The film had a budget of $18 million and only brought in $4,711,220.00 making it lose lots of cash.  It was # 113 of the year, only beating out such other cult films as “No Retreat, No Surrender”, “The Wraith”, “Deadtime Stories” and “Night Of The Creeps” at the box office. And while before it hit theaters it had a massive roar, once in it went out with a whimper.

When my parents rented King Kong Lives for my brother and I, I can remember I was pretty hyped to watch it as the box cover was amazing and had King Kong looking pissed off on it! When watching the film, I can remember my brother not being into it as I was glued to it with wonder.  While the film was not good, in my young mind it didn’t matter as on our TV screen was a new adventure of Kong! As a kid I always took that stand with bad movie sequels: at least we got to see the character again.  Sadly I still have that thought pattern to this day with some films like Halloween, which had some bad sequels under its belt, all of which I enjoy. After seeing King Kong Lives for the first time via a VHS rental, I would go on to watch it on cable tons of time as well as on TBS when shown edited for TV. And later on, I would go on to own it on both VHS and DVD and still dust this silly movie off from time to time and enjoy Kong’s rampage to save his lady. The things I really like about this film are that King Kong, Lady Kong and Son Of Kong look great for the time, and the rubber suits, while dated now, captured my young imagination! Another thing I liked about the film is the quick shot of actress Linda Hamilton’s boobs; as a kid that was always a highlight! I also liked the score music and the scenes when King Kong took on the army. The downside of this film for me was the fact that in many spots it does drag, and at times it seems to forget that viewers are watching to see King Kong.  The other part that’s silly is how they explain that Kong is still alive after falling off the World Trade Center and must have a pacemaker put in so that his heart will function, only to die of a heart attack in the end. While King Kong Lives is not a perfect sequel and is riddled with silly scripting and flaws, I still find it to be a fun entertaining film that I enjoyed from my past. If you have not seen it, go in with a clear mind and enjoy King Kong doing what he does best and that’s be a giant gorilla on a rampage.

While the film was a flop, it still sparked some merchandise that includes the film itself being released on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD. Plus the Famicom game “King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch” was released and entertained the gamers of Japan. Movie posters for the theaters and for video rental stores were made to try to entice movie watchers to check it out. The score soundtrack to the film found its way to vinyl, cassette and CD, and yes indeed, I own the CD and have played it on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO! These are just the items I can think of that came out based on this film, as I am sure other merchandise was made, official and unofficial! I wish at the time of release that a comic book adaptation, paperback novel and action figures were made as I would have loved to have owned them all. So if you’re a fan of King Kong Lives, there is some cool stuff that you should add to your collection.

In 1986, to go along with the film King Kong Lives, video game company Konami decided that the world was in need of a video game version.  So they made King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch to satisfy the demand from gamers in Japan that wanted a game based around the film. The game allows players to take control of King Kong as he goes on a rescue mission to save Lady Kong from the government scientist and must battle the army as well as other large creatures in a top down maze adventure that lasts for a total of nine levels. The goal of course is to rescue Lady Kong who is the love of your life and who also saved your life by giving blood when you were in a coma for 10 years. The game was not a major hit in Japan and never made it to the US for a release. I should also note that a game based on King Kong Lives was also made in 1986 for the MSX home computer called “King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu,” once more only for Japan and also made by Konami.  This time around you played as the human Mitchell, and it was a role playing game! While neither game set the world of video games on fire, they still left their mark for gamers who have played them.

So we have taken a look at King Kong Lives the movie, and we learned about the video game that I am about to challenge and hope to conquer! I have failed at trying to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior and Adventures Of Bayou Billy for the NES, but I am going into this game with a positive attitude and the will to beat this game! So here it is, my NES Challenge: King Kong 2!

I selected the day March 7, 2017 to have my showdown as the weather outside was in the 50’s and rain fell most of the day with grey skies in between. After running a few errands that involved Sparkle Comics business I filled up my glass with water and heated up a chicken leg and was ready to save Lady Kong! Once settled into my chair I turned on my RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) and grabbed my NES Controller and was ready to save Lady Kong. I started my adventure and punched and jumped my way through what looks like a valley leading to a military base that is protected by green blobs and collected rocks and also found hidden doors! Each of these doors led Kong to a new area and finally to a giant bad guy who reminded me of a shell throwing shells! After dying and wandering around some more, I ended up finding a giant spider to get another key in my quest! My next challenge was fighting three green dragons who wanted me dead, but thanks to my trust rocks that was not on the menu! So far in the game I was feeling pretty good, while I did die a few times I was doing really well and collecting the keys and stomping out enemies with my punches, jumping stomps and rocks. I was also puzzled as to why the underground levels looked like the military base was an alien star ship, but I guess they needed to spice it up to make the video game pop more. After wandering around more and smashing and jumping over things I kept on my goal of collecting keys and smashing monsters! While wandering around the same areas and going into doors that lead nowhere was the majority of the game up to this point, I would get lucky and find a door that would lead to a enemy. The areas would change as I found myself also wandering the streets and smashing things, but mostly I found myself just jumping over bad guys to usher Kong into the next area and collecting more keys. Finally after a few hours of playing, I was lucky enough to make it to the end and fight three rows of giant robots that my rocks helped me smash through and after beating them I was at the door and rescued Lady Kong! In the end, I got a cool cut scene of King Kong and Lady Kong back on Skull Island and it shows Son Of Kong! Finally I did it! I conquered a NES Challenge and beat King Kong 2, and I find this to be a perfect way to celebrate the release of Kong Of Skull Island in theaters! While the game was somewhat of a challenge I found it to be more puzzling than hard as most of the game I found myself just wandering around looking for the right doors. The enemies of the game were hard with the final three rows of bosses being the most difficult. To sum it up, this game is worth playing if you like King Kong and movie tie-in games otherwise it would be very forgettable to most gamers besides diehard Kong fans. But once more I have to say…I did it!

The majority of this game offers the same enemies, blobs and helicopters, but some of the bosses at least put up a good fight! So here is to all of the military forces, the blobs and all the bosses that did their best to keep me away from rescuing Lady Kong. So while they didn’t stop me, here is to all the bad guys from this game who tried their best to keep me at bay; from the weird Shell Monster all the way to the three rows of suited assassins, thanks for making this game a challenge! Below are some pictures of the bad guys from King Kong 2, and I should also note NONE of these baddies are in the movie.

I also just wanted to touch up on one bit of King Kong bizarre news before we get to the comics.  For the premiere of Kong: Skull Island in Vietnam, they had a huge event planned that showcased live actors & dancers and a huge set complete with a 16 foot King Kong! There was dancing and a light show, and for the main attraction the giant King Kong was to shock and fill the crowd with wonder and excitement, but sadly it filled them with fear as King Kong burst into flames and became a towing inferno as the crowd fled the area while others armed with their cellphones took video and pictures of Kong burning to the ground! Lucky for everyone, no one was hurt, and the massive fire was put out 15 minutes after it started, but sadly by that time old King Kong was roasted and toasted. No one is sure how the fire started some say that it was caused by the heat from the lights, others claim that it was a misplaced torch from one of the actors on stage while others blamed Godzilla! One thing is for sure that while King Kong might have turned to ash his box office draw is legendary…you get it…never mind. Check out the picture below for the flaming Kong in all his glory.

So with a win under my belt, I think it’s time we put away the RES and turn our attention toward the main attraction of my blog the comic book reviews! While doing this update, I thought long and hard about which King Kong Comic series I wanted to tackle.  I really had three choices: the 1991 King Kong adaptation from Monster Comics, the 2007 mini series by Markosia or the current 2016 series going on by Boom, and to be honest, I almost considered the 2017 comic series by Legendary that ties into the film Kong Skull Island! After sitting and thinking about it all, I decided to go with the Markosia series called “Kong King Of Skull Island” as I felt it was a wise choice and added new adventures for King Kong to go in the comic book world. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for ordering me these issues years back for my pull file, and I can hear the Kong worshipers telling me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready let’s walk away from the video game and head through the giant wooden gates and into the world of comics and see what King Kong has in store for us! I should also note that I really do love King Kong and when he clashes with Godzilla for Legendary Pictures in 2020, I will be cheering on the big gorilla as he has always been one of my favorite giant movie monsters, and that’s no disrespect to Godzilla as I love him as well….just not as much as Kong. Oh and I want to also alert you my friends and readers that this comic series is based on the novel by Joe DeVito who tried to sue Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures as he claimed they stole his idea for their movie from his book! Did they who knows but one things for sure I am looking forward to reading this comic series again and some issues for the first time!

Kong King Of Skull Island # 0  **
Released in 2007    Cover Price $1.99    Markosia    # 0 of 5

Carl Denham is on a massive ship on his way back to Skull Island after the events of New York that left King Kong dead and his reputation dragged through the mud and piled with lawsuits against him. His friend Englehorn is the Captain of the ship an they are remembering back to their first time on Skull Island when a pterodactyl attacks and picks up Denham and once over the ocean a giant sea monsters pops out of the water and attacks the pterodactyl causing Denham to plunge into the cold water below.

Issue 0 acts as a very small build up for the comic mini series and follows Carl Denham and Captain Englehorn heading back to Skull Island after King Kong was shot down and killed on top of the Empire State Building. While on this journey back dinosaurs attack and leave Denham floating in the ice cold water, leaving us the reader wondering how he will survive and just why he has left America in order to return to Skull Island. Carl Denham in this issue seems lost and upset over the death of Kong and all the lawsuits he faces from New York, but while down and out he seems very happy to be at sea along with his friend Captain Englehorn whom seems not to be judging him on the incident.   Captain Englehorn seems to be just along for the ride even if he doesn’t want to go near Skull Island again he is willing to do so to help his friend. This issue has some drama and action but is a little weak as with no Kong and mostly talking on the boat its does not have the “epic” feel that most King Kong comics and films have. The cover is eye catching and has Kong looking over Skull Island and the interior art done by Dan O’Connor is fantastic as is the story by Chuck Satterlee based on the novel work of Joe DeVito. Not much more to say about this very short issue 0 besides it good and does it’s best to build up the coming story.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 1  **1/2
Released in 2007     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 1 of 5

The year is 1957 and Vince Denham the son of Carl is a paleontologist who doubts that his dad’s discovery King Kong ever truly excited and was nothing more than a hoax. His friend Jack Driscoll witnessed Kong and tries his best to prove and tell what he knows about the event that shocked New York as Kong’s body has been missing and never seen again and he wants them both to travel to Skull Island and see the legend for himself. Jack Driscoll takes Vince to the island and things get bad when the massive ship takes some damage and needs major repairs. As Jack and some of the crew work on the ship Vince and others take a row boat to the island but don’t make it to shore when they are attacked by a underwater creatures that leaves the crew dead and Vince badly injured. Jack himself makes it to the Island and goes on a hunt to find Vince and comes across the bodies of past explores as Vince is having his wounds treated by a Islander story teller and her young female assistant and neither will tell Vince of his fathers whereabouts.

This first issue tries to bring us up to date on the characters from the classic film. Ann and Jack are now married and Jack owns his own shipping boats, Carl Denham has went missing some time back and his son Vince is wanting to find his father and get answers about King Kong. Captain Englehorn is also missing and no one seems to be on the look out for him. And King Kong’s body has gone missing after his tragic death in New York and some think he was nothing more than a hoax. The plot of this issue has Vince getting family friend Jack to take him to Skull Island to find answers and all he has found this far is wounds and weird Islanders who will not answer his questions. Vince Denham seems like a young man who had his life in order and loves his job as a paleontologist but also seems to have a black spot on his soul, as he really wants answers from his father who has vanished and left him and his mother to answer for the crimes he committed with Kong. Jack Driscoll is a man who is loyal to the Denham family and found his true love thanks to the original trip to Skull Island, he seems to be wise in age now but also loves the thrill of adventure. The Storyteller Islander seems to know more than she is sharing and I cant wait to see what her story is. The comic is very wordy and not much action happens till the end of the issue but it does a great job of setting up our story and introduce and reintroduce our cast of characters. This far I think my favorite character is Jack Driscoll as I find him to be the classic hero type and knowing what he has been through thanks to the movie he is just a great classic character. The cover for this issue is eye catching and has Kong beating up a giant snake and the interior art is done by Dan O’Connor and has a classic comic feel that brings this story to life. Over all this first issue is lots of fun and like issue # 0 is a great way to build the mini series. Lets see what adventure issue two has in store for us.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 2   **1/2
Released in 2007      Cover Price $3.99       Markosia       # 2 of 5

Vince’s fever from his wounds has broken and The Storyteller and her assistant Kara show Vince a old statue of Kong and she decides to tell him a story of the past the was about one of the Islands Princesses who wants to save her people and bring peace and the old wall’s gate being struck by lighting and man eating creatures called Deathrunners escaped and how the young Princess became friends with The Storyteller, but this does not interest Vince who wants to know about his father and Kong. Meanwhile Jack must fight his way through the jungle and even must kill a giant lizard with a stick! Vince soon finds that Kara hates him and wanted him to die in the water as The Storyteller stops her rant and gears up to share more of the story of the past.

This second issue is once more very wordy and packs some action and adventure but is more about the story of the past and Vince wondering why he is hated so much by one of his rescuers. This issues plot has Vince regaining his strength and listing to a tale from The Storyteller who is speaking of the wall, the political tribe tension as well as Kong. And all the while we follow Jack who is trying to find Vince and is trying his best to survive the jungle. While the story this far is interesting I am also getting a little annoyed that we are only getting brief moments of King Kong in flashbacks and I for one want more of him and less of long winded story telling of events of the past. I mean a book about Kong should have more than a few panels of Kong over the course of three issues at this point. The only other funny thing I noticed in this issue is that Vince seems to be more of a whiner and is very concerned why Kara dislikes him and less about the fact every one on the rowboat with him is dead. We also get to see Deathrunners strange lizard like creatures who clearly eat humans and they are pretty cool but again have very little panel time. Not much more to say about this issue besides more plot build up, less action and adventure and the cover is great and show Kong beating up Dinosaurs. Oh and the interior art is done by Dan O’Connor and is still great. Lets just move on to issue three and see if we get more stories or more action.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 3   **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 3 of 5

Vince Denham listens as The Storyteller gives him a little more of the story as in the past a tribes holy man is wanting to give human sacrifice to a giant lizard they named Gaw, this does not set well with the Princess who along with her lover a warrior head into the jungle to find herbs that they think will make the giant beasts tamable. As they get deeper into the jungle they come upon a young Kong and his father under attack by Gaw and Deathrunners and after a brief fight the larger father Kong is killed and the young escapes into the jungle with Gaw and his minions hot on his tail. The Princess and The Warrior move a little further and find a ship and white men looking for help! As she tells this Kara enters and is mad that The Storyteller is given all this information to Vince as she still thinks he is a bad person and will bring more explores to their island. While all this story telling is going on Jack is still roaming around looking for the son of his friend and is getting closer to his goal.

The story telling continues and this issues plot has the Princess and her warrior boyfriend traveling to the jungle in order to find some herbs they think will help make the giant monsters around them more controllable, but some of the tribes are starting to worship the giant monsters as Gods and worst the one named Gaw has made Skull Island his and even has killed a Kong and is on the hunt for a smaller one. All the while Vince is listing to The Storytellers tale and is also still on watch as Kara truly wishes him dead. So as you can see we get more tribe politics but we do also finally get a quick Kong fight that leaves one of them dead and shows that our books main villain is an evil reptile killing machine. Vince at this point is getting a little stronger but is brain is now an open to the tales of the old woman as he is trying to understand the history of the island and how his father ties in. Jack is still just stuck in the jungle looking for his friend and is doing his best to survive. The Storyteller and Kara are at odds with one another over how much they should share with Vince, but the while at odds respect is still in play. The Princess and The Warrior while in the past are doing what they can in order so save peoples lives as the primitive ways are trying to come back and with that means human sacrifice. The two Kong’s are father and son and while strong the father is just out numbered and killed as the younger giant ape is now on the run and I am sure he will be the one we will later know as King Kong. The Gaw is a red skinned lizard giant monster who is brutal and attacks with fury and worse the Deathrunners seem to help him bring down his prey. While we do get some action and adventure this issue is much like the others and more about the story of the Island and I am ok with that I just hope we get a great fight in the end between Gaw and Kong. I must say the cover for this issue is very eye catching and is sure to please fans of King Kong but the interior art this time around is done by artist Scott Larson and I must say I am not a fan of his style of art as I found it sloppy and not able to capture the epic nature of Kong and the world of Skull Island. While this issue is not amazing it still was fun and for all the lack of Kong action I am enjoying the tale of Skull Island and lets see what issue four has in store.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 4  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia      # 4 of 5

The Storyteller continues her tale of the past to Vince as she shares that the white sailors where lead by Captain Magwich and their boat was in need of major repair and they are welcomed in by the villagers who in turn ask them for help to capture the last Kong. The Warrior and the sailors enter the jungle and disappear for awhile but finally return with the captured young Kong. The Holy Man still pushes for human sacrifice and with one they set up Gaw and pour super hot boiling oil on him and this also sets the captured Kong off who breaks free and rushes into the jungle looking for a final fight. Sadly for the Princess her father the King has passed away and her people are still at odds as the Holy Man and the Sailors are still around and could be ready to cause problems. Meanwhile in modern times Jack wonders the jungle and soon finds tribe people who have a Kong under their control and he himself is now taken captive and lead to Vince who is happy to see his long time family friend and for the major surprise The Storyteller takes him to see his father Carl who has lived this whole time on the island!

This time around the story is how in the past the islanders captured the young Kong in order to control and defend them from Gaw who has been their tormentor for way to many years, but also how outsiders are starting to influence some of the people and with their firearms they could help the Holy Man gain control of the island. All the while Vince is hearing this history lesson and by the end of this issue Vince is reunited with both Jack and his father Carl. The Storyteller and Kara seem less at odds and seem to get slight joy of letting Vince see his father again. I really like how the outsiders are a factor now in the past storyline as it’s clear they could tip the scales into the favor of what ever side they decide to take if they take any by the end. I also enjoy the fact that the Princess is the only one who showed the young Kong compassion and brought him food, drink and tended his wounds from being captured. I also like how the villager’s fights back against Gaw and catch him on fire with oil and this also makes you wonder what he will do in the next issue for revenge against them for turning on him. It’s nice to have Carl Denham back into the story and see him and Jack Driscoll reunited as it gives a real classic feel to see the films two main heroes together again. Kong while he does not do much its still great to at least have him around and know that in the final issue coming up he is going to have a battle to the death with Gaw! The cover for this one is awesome just like the all the covers that came before it. The Interior art is a team up of Dan O’Connor and Scott Larson with the later’s sloppy art sticking out like a sore thumb. Over all a good issue while nothing special I found it to be a good read that made me look forward to the Kong vs. Gaw final fight, so with that lets move onto the final issue.

Kong King Of Skull Island # 5  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $3.99     Markosia     # 5 of 5

Carl Denham and son Vince exchange words and son is not happy with his father as he feels that he left him and his mother to deal with the drama of King Kong, but The Storyteller calms everyone down and they all enter Skull Islands skull cave and find that Carl brought the remains of King Kong with him to return him home! Meanwhile in the past The Queen finds the herbs that helps tame the beasts in the lost city but she and her people also soon find that Captain Magwich have other ideas that is not about helping them kill Gaw but to help himself to the islands gold! But when the Holy Man finds out that the sailors have turned on them he summons Gaw who kills the Captain and turns his sights on the others but they humans are saved when King Kong shows up and kills Gaw and ends his path of revenge! When back at the village The Warrior is killed, The Holy Man rises to full power and The Princess goes into hiding and has become The Storyteller and she shares that Carl has been writing their stories down and when he is about to get praise they find that he has died in his sleep. Vince and Jack return to the fixed ship and they sail home and Vice has a new respect for his father and Skull Island.

In this fifth and final issue we get every storyline from this series tied up, King Kong’s body has been brought back to Skull Island, Vince finds his father and gets the answer as to why he has been missing all these years, Carl has spend years helping the Islanders teaching them English as well and taking down their story, Jack gets out of the jungle and finds his missing friends and The Storyteller passes down the tales and lets Kara know that she is now Queen of the people! This comic is more drama than adventure and while the story was lots of fun I really did wish for more King Kong fighting action. King Kong in this comic series goes from being a frightened youth to a vengeful fighting machine and while not in the mini series that much when he is shown he demands the reader’s attention. Vince and Carl Denham serve their parts in the story as two outsiders to Skull Island whom are trying to find answers and peace and must find it not only with the people of the island but also with each other. Jack Driscoll is a man who is friends with the Denham family and even when the odds of survival looks grim he still never gives up. Captain Englehorn we are to guess has died on the island as besides issue # 0 he never makes an appearance. The Storyteller and Kara as well both have a purpose to the story as they are tools to share the past as well as share forgiveness and fear as Kara is clearly fearful of what the white man can bring to their island. The Holy Man and most of the Sailors from the past as well show that greed and power can make people do sinister and evil things to benefit themselves. Gaw the giant god lizard was also a very evil beast who ruled Skull Island with an iron claw and seemed to get joy out of killing, so its fitting that he is killed by Kong by being impaled! What worked for this comic mini series based on a book is the fact it had a fun story that opened up the past and history of King Kong as well as Skull Island plus most of the characters are likeable and all feel like golden age Hollywood stars. The downside of this series is that in some parts is boring, not enough King Kong and some issues the art is blah! This issue has yet another amazing cover but the inside art was done by Scott Larson and is a little weak for the final fate of our characters. To sum this up this comic mini series based on King Kong and a book is a good read for fans of Kong but does have flaws that distract from what could have been an epic four star comic adventure. Check out the artwork below to see the styles used in this comic series for King Kong and Gaw that has both artists work.

I have always had a soft spot for Giant Monster movies and grew up watching them on TBS and shows like Super Scary Saturday and while I love Godzilla I have always had a place at the top of my heart for King Kong and with the release of “Kong Of Skull Island” to theaters this year I knew I had to revisit the giant ape here on Rotten Ink and I am glad I did as I have had this comic series in my boxes since they came out and never got around to reading the full series. But for our next update I am leaving Skull Island and heading to the golden age of comic book heroes as we take a look at the one and only Red Demon a sadly mostly forgotten hero from the late 1940’s! So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you back very soon for our look at Red Demon.

Watch Out Here Comes The Amazing Tiger-Man!!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place where I share my memories of the past as well as the present.  For this update, I would like to take a look at another comic hero from the world of Atlas Comics! In our past Atlas Comic updates, we have taken a look at The Brute, The Cougar and The Hands Of The Dragon, all great superheroes in their own right.  This time around we are taking a look at another one who, when I was younger, was one of my top Atlas Comics heroes.  I am talking about the one and only Tiger-Man! Have your ever-wondered why in the world of comic books there are so many heroes who have animal names? I mean just to name a few: Spider-Man, The Fly, Batman, The Tick, Hawkman, Black Panther, Wolverine, Black Canary, and Blue Falcon.  The list could go on and on, and on that list would be Tiger-Man showing that fighting crime and animals must go hand and hand! It’s a shame that Atlas Comics went out of business in 1975 as it would have been really cool to have seen what further adventures their characters would have had as well as what new heroes would have been made. I mean who knows, maybe a Tiger-Man vs. The Cougar could have been in our reading future if they would have lasted longer than only one year as a comic publisher. As always, I want to send a big thank you to the gone but not forgotten comic shop Bookie Parlor for introducing me to Atlas Comics all those years back, and I think that at this point we are ready to dive into seeing what this crime fighter offered to the world. Also yes, the picture below is Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin feeding a young tiger!

croc-hunter-and-a-tiger

So when I hear the name Tiger Man, one of the first things that pop into my mind is a figure in the “Galaxy Warriors” toy line that literally is called Tiger Man. Growing up He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe was one of my favorite toy lines for the longest time, and between my brother Bryan and I, we had a pretty massive collection of the figures, vehicles and castle playsets that we would get from not only garage sales and trades with friends but also stores like K-Mart, Hills, Hearts, Gold Circle and Children’s Palace among other toy and department stores. But while Mattel and He-Man took the toy aisles in the 1980’s by storm at major box stores, the smaller retailers who stocked the none-mainstream companies filled their section with toys made by Remco, Sparkle, SunGold and Imperial.  Being a fan of Masters Of The Universe, Conan The Barbarian, Beastmaster and other barbarian films, the knock off figures I had to get were ones like Defenders Of The Planets, Galaxy Fighters and Galaxy Warriors with the latter being the one filled with all type of animal people who had the bodies of a man and the heads of a animal, and Tiger Man was one of the figures in the line. While these knock-off figures ended up just being henchmen and guards and took orders from He-Man or Skeletor, they still added lots of great moments of toy adventures. I am sure you’re wondering if I have ever owned Tiger Man, and the answer is sadly no.  I would have to buy most of these types of toys from Woolsworth or Odd Lots and with us living in Waynesville, far away from the nearest one of those stores, we always had to get whatever ones were left on the shelf.  Most of the time, the more flashy and monster looking ones were always gone. Below are some pictures of Tiger Man, and the logo for the line of figures he was a part of.

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Lots of people in the world love tigers and I have had lots of friends and family who have had a love for tigers and had tacky posters, tattoos, statues and even t-shirts, but none of them took it to the extreme like a man named Dennis Avner, also known as Stalking Cat, who had 14 surgeries on his face and teeth in order to make himself look like a tiger! Dennis was born on August 27, 1958 in Flint, Michigan and is from Native American decent.  From a young age, he felt like he was a cat, and when the Medicine Man of his family’s tribe gave him the name Stalking Cat, he knew that his true spirit animal and totem was the great tiger. As he grew older, he worked for the Navy as a sonar technician and later on he took a job as a computer programmer.  During the 80’s he also started his body modifications, all with the blessing of the tribe’s chief who informed him that his totem was in fact a female tiger and that he should also blur gender lines. As his appearance became more extreme and more tiger-like from surgery and tattoos, Stalking Cat, as he changed his name, to went to Furry Conventions and met Tess Calhoun who is known as Tess The Red Pony and her husband Rick and the three would move together to a small town in Washington were Stalking Cat became somewhat a local celebrity being covered on TV and newspapers. Stalking Cat was also well known in the Furry world and tried to promote the lifestyle alongside Tess, but in 2007 Tess and her husband could no longer afford to pay for Stalking Cat to live with them as he did not have a job and in some ways his extreme appearance kept him from getting a regular 9-5. Stalking Cat ended up moving to Nevada in 2007, and sadly by 2012, he passed away alone in his garage due to suicide at the age of 54. Over his lifetime Stalking Cat enjoyed some fame thanks to Ripley’s Believe It Of Not! who brought him to the world’s attention as well as Larry King Live and Weird, True & Freaky. His extreme makeover was met with mixed reactions as many enjoyed the fact he was doing what he wanted while others thought he was just addicted to plastic surgery. But say what you want about Stalking Cat, the man sure did love tigers!

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Before we take a look at the three issues that Atlas Comics released based on Tiger-Man, I think we should spend some time getting to know him and why he is what he is. Tiger-Man made his first appearance in the first issue of the magazine “Thrilling Adventure Stories” back in February 1975 with the story being written by John Albano and the art was done by Ernie Colon who also handled the art on the first comic book issue that was released in 1975 and later in the series artist Steve Ditko would handle the duties. The series would only last three issues before being cancelled as Atlas Comics, the publisher, was not able to compete for retail space against Marvel, DC, Gold Key and Archie who all dominated shelf space on the racks. The character’s origin is this: Dr. Lancaster Hill, a scientist who is working on tiger blood to find the chromosomes that give the big cats their agility and strength who injects himself with a serum and gets the ability of a tiger complete with strength, reflexes and super sight. When his work is done in Africa, he returns to his home in New York and gets a job at a hospital.  After the murder of a loved on he puts on a costume made out of the fur of the tiger he gained his powers from as well as a tiger mask and roams the streets as a hero vigilante. His costume is this: a face mask that looks like a tiger, blue spandex bodysuit with his vest and boots made out of the tiger skin as is his gloves that sport razor sharp claws. His costume might not be super flashy, but it gets the job done and puts fear into the heart of those who are on the wrong side of the law. Tiger-Man does what he has to do to stop crime with most killers meeting their deaths by his hands and this is why he would make a great addition to the Marvel Comics Universe if only he could have joined them as he could have been a great foe for Spider-Man as they both have different ways of fighting crime. So that’s a quick crash course about Tiger-Man as I felt I needed to share this so if you didn’t know who he was, you might have more of a connection with him and might even trigger your interest in reading his comic adventures yourself. Check out the pictures below to see the outfit of Tiger-Man and notice the first picture has him with flesh colored tights!

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So now we are at the heart of this update jungle and we have talked a little about Tiger-Man’s publication history as well as Tiger Man, the action figure from SunGold as well as Stalking Cat the man who transformed himself into a tiger, but now we are at the point where we need to take a look at the three issues Atlas Comic released back in 1975! I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having these issues in stock as they are the closest thing to the Bookie Parlor we have around the Dayton, Ohio area and my favorite comic shop in the area! I want to also remind you my readers and friends that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s dive into the Atlas Universe and see just why this small company is one of my favorites from the past, I should also note that my pal Jason Young has been into reading old Atlas Comics and he is hooked on their classic stories and heroes, but with that let’s get to the comic reviews, shall we?

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Tiger-Man # 1   ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 1 of 3

A young nurse leaving work is attacked by two bikers who want to steal her car and kidnap her, but she is saved when Tiger-Man comes out of the shadows and shows the bikers that crime doesn’t pay with his super strength and razor sharp claws. After saving her life, he flashes back to how his crime fighting days started when he as his alter ego Dr. Lancaster Hill spent two years in Zambia, Africa and with the help of a captured tiger he found a way to make a serum that when he injected himself with made him faster, stronger and filled with the will to survive! He even saves the village from the rogue tiger set free by the old medicine man of the village who was jealous of his people trusting the young doctor’s cures over his. Once his internship is over, he returns to New York to find he has a job at the Harlem Hospital and to his sister Anna Hill who is a Broadway actress has a huge show the next night he is invited to! That night Anna is attacked and killed by two scumbags who think she is rich and this sets Lancaster off and with the tiger skin outfit the Tribal Chief made him, he becomes the vigilante avenger Tiger-Man and sets out to find his sister’s killers and does as they are a pair of rodeo riders and stalking them to a dive bar he makes his move and kills the pair getting revenge for his sister. Now back to present time, he wonders if he should have also killed the pair of bikers who attacked the nurse but while he thinks that over he knows his calling to be a superhero of the city.

The first thing I want to say is that this issue of Tiger-Man has the feel of a 70’s Marvel comic like Spider-Man or even Daredevil, and that’s the charm and appeal this character holds with this aging comic reader. I mean I could have seen Tiger-Man being in the Marvel Universe and running around New York fighting Kingpin and The Vulture! The plot of this issue is the origin story of Tiger-Man and follows his start of getting his powers in Africa all the way to avenging his sister’s death in the streets of New York and shows the rise of the Big Apples newest superhero. Dr. Lancaster Hill seems like a good Doctor who cares about helping sick people and wants to find new ways to heal and make the ill better, but it’s also clear he has a killer instinct side and will do what he feels right to protect himself and others. As Tiger-Man, he becomes almost animal like as he is able to stalk his prey just like a real tiger by using cunning stealth as well as amped up sense of smell, sight and reflexes. It also doesn’t hurt that he has superhuman strength much like Captain America or even Spider-Man just slightly toned down. The issue’s bad guys are a pair of rodeo cowboys who don’t mind robbing and killing women in order to get money as they let money rule them all the way to their deaths.  While they are no threat to Tiger-Man, they where still terrible people who deserved being killed by his hands. Over all this is a solid and fun comic that has a cool superhero who has the vigilante attitude of Paul Kersey of the Death Wish film series, and that’s why he was dark before Batman became all moody. The cover is eye catching and captured my attention all those many moons back when I found the first issue in Bookie Parlors $1.00 box. The interior art is done by Ernie Colon and is fantastic 70’s style art. I should also note that Ernie is also known for his work on such comics as Casper The Friendly Ghost, Creepy Magazine, Doom 2099 and Arak Son Of Thunder to name a few. If you like classic superheroes of the past and are looking for a fun origin comic, make sure to check out this issue as its really a fun read.

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Tiger-Man # 2  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 2 of 3

Three crooks in electric modified suits just robbed a bank and instead of just running away from the crime scene, they waste time and end up killing two security guards with the help of their amped up suits. Tiger-Man shows up and knocks the crooks around and finds that their suits were made by a Professor Anderson Kobart who teaches at Manhattan University and as Tiger-Man makes his way to the Professor to get answers to why he is supplying crooks with bio suits, he is attacked by a costumed character calling himself The Blue Leopard who has all the ability of Tiger-Man and even scarier knows his real identity! The pair of costumed figures fight it out above the Manhattan landscape and as they punch, scratch and flip each other around it becomes clear that Blue Leopard is from Africa and knew the Dr. when he was there for 2 years helping the ill in the village of Zambia.  But just when Tiger-Man gets the upper hand, he gets light headed and passes out thanks to a sleeping drug on the claws of Blue Leopard who leaves our hero asleep on top of a roof. Waking up many hours later, he changes back to Dr. Hill and does his shift at the hospital with both Blue Leopard and Professor Kobart on his mind, and once his shift is over Tiger-Man goes back on the prowl to get answers about both. As Tiger-Man gets to the office of Professor Kobart, he finds him dead already thanks to the claws of Blue Leopard who informs our hero that he was sent to kill him by the village’s Witch Doctor as he blames him for not just stealing his peoples trust in his medicine but also cause a food drought left many of his people dead and its because of his white man witchcraft! As Blue Leopard leaves the scene Tiger-Man is left at the crime scene questioning if killing the criminals is really the way to help New York.

This second issue is all about action and drama as we follow Tiger-Man as he tries to tangle with two set of bad guys, one being a mastermind college professor and his enhanced armor henchmen and the other is the African avenging Blue Leopard who wants to make our hero pay for his crimes against the village’s Medicine Man. Dr. Hill and his hero side Tiger-Man are having a hard time gripping the difference between the two sides as Hill saves lives daily as Tiger-Man takes lives of those who commit crimes, and the war in his heart and mind is causing him to be distracted doing both jobs. I like that about Tiger-Man, he has two sides and while a vigilante, he himself questions if he should act as their judge, jury and executioner. Professor Anderson Kobart is an older college teacher who for some reason has teamed up with criminals to make them powerful suits in order to steal money, but sadly the Professor dies before we can get answers to why he choose crime, and to be honest neither he nor his henchmen really put up a good fight against Tiger-Man. The issue’s main villain is Blue Leopard, a magically enhanced costumed baddy who is on a mission of revenge himself with orders to torment and kill Tiger-Man, all still over the jealousy of the African Medicine Man.  The worse thing for Tiger-Man is that Blue Leopard is as skilled and quick as he is! But while we get the answer to why Blue Leopard is around, we don’t get an end to his madness as he gets away at the end. This issue is well written, and the script was done by Gerry Conway and is solid and classic superhero stuff as is the cover that once more reminds me so much of 70’s Marvel. The interior art is done by artist legend Steve Ditko who is known for co-creating Spider-Man for Marvel as well as his work on so many other amazing titles. Over all this is a great follow up issue and shows that the folks at Atlas Comics knew how to make quality comics for readers. Well let’s see what the final issue in this series has to offer.  I can’t wait to re-read it as its been a very long time since I have read any of these issues.

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Tiger-Man # 3  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 3 of 3

Tiger-Man rushes into Manhattan Hospital with a man who set himself on fire for no reason.  While the man is getting help at the burn unit of the building, Tiger-Man turns into Dr. Hill and tries to save the life of the man who sadly passes away but does manage to say the word “Hypnos” before expiring. The death of this man shakes Dr. Hill, and a couple of nights later while on patrol in the city as Tiger-Man, he witnesses another suicide this time a old woman embraced death on train tracks as it hit her.  The only connection he can think to check into is the free clinic run by Dr. Otto Kaufman, a man who helps people with their deep mental issues.  As Dr. Hill, he pays him a visit and is not impressed with Kaufman’s attitude. That night Tiger-Man saves a woman who attempted suicide by driving her car off a bridge and she as well says “Hypnos,” and this time as Tiger-Man he goes to Kaufman’s clinic and finds files that proves he is hypnotizing these people into committing suicide and now is using his Hypno-Power to try and stop Tiger-Man from turning the files over to the police. But Kaufman is able during the fight to hypnotize Tiger-Man with the want to kill himself by setting himself on fire, but when a pair of robbers knock out Tiger-Man as he is pouring gas on himself in order to steal his wallet, they really saved his life as it broke the power Kaufman had over him. Tiger-Man goes back to the clinic just as Dr. Kaufman has polluted the mind of a young man to kill himself, and once Tiger-Man knocks out the young man he turns his fury onto Kaufman who ends up running to the roof of the clinic.  After a brief fight, Tiger-Man is able to rip off the monocle that is the source of Kaufman’s power and turns it onto him causing the crazed Dr. to leap from the building killing himself.

The third and final issue in this Atlas Comic series is a nice send off for this great character as the plot of a crazed doctor killing off his patients because he thinks they are all weak willed people is stuff classic 60’s and 70’s comic were made of. Tiger-Man/Dr. Hill in this issue is really upset that strangers around him are killing themselves and it really bothers him when he is not able to save them from death.  But while he was too late to save two of them, he did save two others who were near death’s door. Plus once he cracks the case and finds who was responsible for placing the urge to off themselves into the victims’ minds, he himself doesn’t pull the punches and wants the killer to embrace the cold grasp of death. Dr. Otto Kaufman is an older man who wears a monocle that holds a hypnosis power and runs a free mental health clinic in New York and uses his power of persuasion for evil as he wants to kill off most of the population of the world so he can fill it with super beings who are free of emotions. Kaufman is such a jerk that he wants his victims to die in horrible ways like setting themselves on fire, drowning and death by speeding train and has zero remorse for sending them to the grave. But when his power is turned on him, he himself knows that he is insane and leaps to his death from the top of a building! Dr. Otto Kaufman is a great bad guy and while not physically threatening, he is mentally threatening to Tiger-Man. The downside of this being the last issue is that we as the readers never got the answers and an ending to Blue Leopard who was still on the prowl in New York waiting to strike Tiger-Man and bring him down, not to mention the next issue was planned for Tiger-Man to fight a villain called The Slasher…imagine that, a serial killer taking on Tiger-Man…that would have been amazing! The character of Tiger-Man, I think, is my favorite Atlas Comics hero as I found him very much to be what I enjoy in a hero, let alone he is set in New York and if he was a Marvel Comics created character or even would have been bought by them in 1975, we could have seen him interact with such heroes as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Daredevil and Dr. Strange, to name a few. The cover this time around is pretty solid and has that 70’s look that flooded newsstands, and Steve Ditko did the artwork and of course it looks amazing. Over all Tiger-Man issue 3 is great and fits very well into the series and really if you are looking into getting into Atlas Comics, these three issues of Tiger-Man should be your starting point.  With rumors that Dynamite Comics now has the licenses for many of these characters, maybe sometime soon we could get a follow up series based on Dr. Hill and his Tiger-Man alter ego. Check out the art below to see Tiger-Man in action!

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Tiger-Man might not be a well known hero like Superman, Captain America or even Spawn, and that’s a shame as I find this costumed hero to be one that delivered good adventures and who could have had many more if he was allowed to stay around longer. It’s been a blast re-reading these old Atlas Comics and chatting about them here on Rotten Ink as this blog was meant for comics like this that I remember reading in my youth and sharing them with my readers who might not have even known about Tiger-Man or any of the other Atlas Comic heroes. But for our next update, we are leaving Tiger-Man and New York behind and we are traveling to the world of Nintendo for another NES Challenge.  This time I will be tackling the star of one of this summer’s biggest films, the one and only King Kong.  The game is based on the 1986 film “King Kong Lives” with a comic series from Markosia! So until next time, read a comic of three, do a good deed or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for an ape of a good time!

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The History Of The Horror Movie Marathon

Welcome back to my little space on the ‘net where I talk about comics, movies, toys and video games and share some of my great memories with you all. One of my favorite pastimes was an event I call “The Horror Movie Marathon” where I would show horror flicks starting early morning until very late into the night.  This started out at what was called Independent B Movie Studios, that was really my parents basement, and would have me and some of my closest friends like Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Jason Gilmore, Dave Wean and Brandon Womeldorff over.  We would stuff our faces with potato chips, snack cakes, popcorn, soda and pizza and watch many horror films on VHS that we would buy the morning of the event from local second hand stores. The event only lasted a few years (like from 1999-2003) at that location, and the gang would come and go. Many times it would be just me and Josh or Jason as the rest of them were at work. And as quickly as they started, this fun bonding event disappeared as we all started moving away from our parents’ houses and got full time jobs and made our own films. The VHS days of this event were a blast, and we would spend hours looking through the horror shelves at video rental stores like K&L Video, Accent Video, West Coast Video and Blockbuster Video and buying PVT (Previously Viewed Tape) classics, but mostly we would buy cheesy films from places like Second Time Around and Replay Media and get titles like Winterbeast, The Prey, Demonoid Messenger of Doom, Dracula’s Widow, Terror On Tour, Hack-O-Lantern, Judgement Night, Grim Reaper, Phantom of the Opera and many more creepy schlocky horror. Fans of VHS tapes know what I mean when I say nothing will ever take the place of watching a horror flick late at night with friends and having the grainy glow of the TV fill the darkened room, and watching the film and at the best part, be it the kill or nudity, the tape would roll from being rewound and watched too many times.  Not to mention the sound of the tape rewinding as you and your pals talked about the film and what shocking horrors awaited you in the next creature feature. Those days were the best, and I will always cherish those moments I had with these friends.  One day I would love to get together with Gilmore, Weinberg, Hoffman, Wean and Womeldorff and have a classic marathon of VHS horror!

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The Horror Movie Marathon was not a new concept to me as my brother Bryan and I would have many of these all night horror film watching session years before these events, with films on TV like USA’s Up All Night, Saturday Nightmares and TNT’s Monstervison.  We would also watch rented or owned horror films on VHS before and after the cable shows. Anyways years after the the semi-retirement of the event I found myself living with my good friend Patrick Neeley and out of a job as I was let go from my work loading and unloading furniture trucks around 2006 and had no leads of finding a new one. Around the same time I has having issues with my then girlfriend Jennifer that lead to a breakup and could only find part time work at Mavericks Cards and Comics and the kicker was Patrick was going to be moving out! But thank God my good friend Jason Young allowed me to live with him and his roommates Doogie (Chris) and Zippy (Josh), and after a few brief and failed relationships I was able to find my cool as hell girlfriend Juliet. As things were getting back on track for me in 2007, I was missing the days of the marathon and was itching to have another one, but had no place to do it when Juliet was kind enough to offer her apartment for me to host the event! This was amazing news for me, and I went out and bought tons of snack food and pop and restarted the event that had always been so near and dear to my heart. But with this new age of the Marathon VHS was out and DVD was in, and while Josh Weinberg and Matt Hoffman were returning faces from the past, the guest list now included my cousin Stephen Alexander and friends like Chris Lett, Max Ervin, Lisa Weinberg, Jason Young, Doogie, Lauren Campenell, Mike Ritchie, Nick Williams, Thomas “Maurice” Blurton and many others. Juliet’s apartment became the new spot for the Marathon and we watched many films for the first time as well as revisited classics like Dracula’s Great Love starring Paul Naschy, Bigfoot, Salvage, Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster, Ice Queen and a mountain of other monster and slasher films. The small kitchen of her apartment was filled with tons of food like chicken wings and pizza as well as snacks and pops and beers.  The events became a huge hit again with my old high school friends as well as my friends I made along the years, and this became an issue as the venue, her apartment, was not large enough to fit all my friends who were coming over to watch the films! At one point we had a full room of people watching Dracula’s Great Love at around midnight and everyone was squeezed in like sardines around the old tube TV in the studio apartment. But like before, The Horror Movie Marathon came to a end as I started a new job managing Game Swap in Kettering as well as worked still for Mavericks and other things started to get into the way of us having marathons as well as friends less and less showing up at one point I held a Marathon and the only people to show up were Stephen, Chris Lett, Doogie, Juliet and myself making for a fun time with a very tiny turn out. During this Horror Movie Marathon 2.0 I also started a little thing called the pre-show that had a select few coming over to the apartment that I was now living at with Juliet to watch a couple of horror films before the main day. The select few were Stephen and Josh, and it was a cool way for us to hype ourselves up for the next day. But due to poor turn outs, not enough space for big turn outs and just life, the marathon once more was retired and thus ended its first comeback into my life in around 2012.

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Flash forward to 2015 when my cousin Stephen had just bought a house in Dayton.  While at work, he and I started to chat and toss around the idea of having me bring back The Horror Movie Marathon at his house as it has plenty of room and he as well as other friends missed the event and wanted it to return. I also missed the event and after thinking for just a few minutes, I agreed to bring the event back and so was born the current Horror Movie Marathon 3.0 that is still going strong to this day! We choose May 24th 2015 as the date of the marathon and Juliet, Stephen and I came up with the idea that at this event would be tons of independent sodas and beers would be available for our friends to drink all day and night to help add to the festive and gathering feel. We also ordered tons of chicken wings from Frickers as well as had candy, chips and hummus for people to snack on while watching the horrors of the small screen. We also had a Pre-Show the night before, and besides Josh, we also invited our pal Garrison Kane to watch films like House Of Wolfman, Frankenstein Theory and Deadly Mantis to kick off the event right. The first event at the new location was a big hit, and many friends showed up from Todd The Fox all the way to Jeremy Hoyt and everyone inbetween was there and ready to get scared and spend time with friends. The films included Deadly Manor, Summer of Massacre, Headless, Wolf Cop and Return To Boggy Creek, to name a few. The next event we had at Stephen’s house was on September 27, 2015 and had us watching such films as 100 Tears, Crimson, Stiches, Redwood Massacre, New Years Evil and Frankenfish to name a few and like the first event we packed the house, and everyone had fun. But sadly the third event that we held on April 10th 2016 slowed down in attendance, but those who showed up all had fun watching films like Elves, Dr. Jekyll And The Werewolf, XTRO, Demon’s Rook and Madhouse! Also during this time Juliet and I would also hold our own marathons for just the two of us, complete with pre-shows and all the great snacks and terrors that go along with the full attraction ones. With a new location and new and old blood mixing to have a good time and watch some horror films, the marathon seems to have a new home at Stephen’s house. One thing that has always been a highlight of The Horror Movie Marathon from the past to the present is sitting with friends and talking about the films we have just watched and seeing why they liked or disliked the film.  One of the best recent fun discussions was when Jeremy Hoyt got worked up over the film Headless and its extreme violence toward women and the rest of us saying what do you expect from a gore film? The Horror Movie Marathon is back, and if I can help it will never fade away again.

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So I decided for this update that I am going to cover not one, but two of the latest Horror Movie Marathons I have had with the first being held on November 13th 2016 with the Pre-Show taking place on the 12th that was a all-welcome friends marathon held at Stephen’s house. For the Pre-Show we had Garrison Kane, Theresa Lopez and Jeremy Hoyt, and we watched the following films to kick us into the spirit of this after Halloween blues marathon starting with “Evil Unleashed: The Mummy” that was about a Egyptian princess who sells her her soul and in modern time comes back as a vengeful Mummy on the prowl to kill some college kids who have stumbled onto her plan of ruling the world and bringing evil down on us all. The next film was released by Wild Eye Releasing called “ The Mothman Curse” and was about two woman who are working for a movie museum who are having visions and nightmares about the Mothman who seems to slowly bringing them into madness. I was feeling pretty rough from a sore throat and cold so we didn’t have a third film of the night that would have been the old Independent B Movie film I made called “Vigilante C: The Hunt For The Man-Beast,”  We all decided that the best film of the night was Evil Unleashed and not because it was good, just because it had some laugh out loud cheesy moments as well as backyard effects and a naked Mummy! The worst movie was Mothman Curse as we all found it very boring and while it felt like an arthouse film, it was just lacking being scary or entertaining. The night was fun, and everyone seemed to be having a good time, but oddly enough Josh Weinberg no showed the event as the date was picked for him to make it before the holiday rush of his work! But once the horrors of the small screen ended, bedtime was up and I got some much needed rest to try and shake the wicked cold that had me in its grip.

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The next morning at 7:00am sharp, we began the full Official Horror Movie Marathon and started with the 1943 Universal Monster film “The Mad Ghoul” about a scientist who falls in love with one of his student’s fiance and uses a gas that turns people into zombies in order to break them up and use his student as a tool of murder as a love triangle is in play. The vampire musical “Suck” was the next film and was about a down and out band who become vampires in order to become rock stars, but soon after meeting a vampire hunter try and stop their blood sucking ways! “Xtro II: The Second Encounter” was the third film and was about scientists in a underground facility being stalked by a killer alien from another dimension. The 1991 evil demon children film “The Boneyard” was next and was about a pair of cops as well as a psychic and a reanimated young lady who committed suicide stuck in the basement of the city morgue fighting for their lives against three evil demon children and their sinister creations. The next film was a Sci-Fi Channel original called “Scarecrow” about a killer you guessed it Scarecrow killing off a group of troubled kids as the owner of the farm and their teacher fight to try and save them. A independent slasher film was up next called “Hayride” about a killer who runs wild during Halloween and attacks people during a hayride attraction and customers and workers are his targets. The 1971 creature feature “Octaman” was next and had scientist battling a full size octopus man who wanted revenge for the taking and killing of his children and of course he ends up falling for one of the females that leads to the creatures downfall. “Gnome Alone” was the next flick to entertain us about a cursed witches bloodline that is plagued by a evil Gnome who also acts as their protectors and sadly a young girl becomes next in line, but this pint size terror also has a lust for not only revenge but blood. Kane Hodder and Bill Mosley starred in our next film called “Old 37” about two brothers who grew up watching their father who was a paramedic kill those in need, and now along with his old ambulance has taken up the killing ways. With the world being scared of creepy clowns, the next film for the marathon had to be the slasher flick “Clown Town” and was about a group of friends being stalked by killer clowns in a rundown town and they must quickly fight back in order to stay alive. And what better way to follow up a film about killer clowns than to deliver one about a serial killer in a easter bunny suit who along with his crazed friend stalk and kill women and that film was called “Bunnyman Massacre”. The 1985 shot on video film “The Ripper” was the final fright of the night and was about the spirit of Jack The Ripper being stuck inside a ring that possesses a school teacher who in turns starts up the killing spree of women in modern times, and cool enough FX Master Tom Savini plays The Ripper at the films climax. The event was pretty well attended with such friends as Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Mike Ritchie, Juliet Fromholt and Garrison Kane all making appearances throughout the day, and weirdly enough once more this day Josh Weinberg didn’t show up to watch the spooky features of the small screen.

As always the Horror Movie Marathon was packed with some great food from snack food like potato chips and M&M’s all the way to pizza rolls and subs from Submarine House. As always we all had fun watching the films with Stephen, Theresa and I being the ones that stayed and watched all twelve films! I mean of course I was there the whole time as I am the host of the event, but have to say a big thanks to those two for enjoying every film alongside me. So for the best and worst list, I am going to have Stephen as well pick his to share his insights of the days horror flicks. This was a tough one to pick my best as I enjoyed many of the films that were shown and I felt all of them offered something different to the Horror Film world. My worst film of the day was pretty easy to pick as I would have to say Bunnyman Massacre as I felt that while watching a killer in a bunny suit chasing around women with a chainsaw was cool, it was the side character Joe who was also a killer who had some of the most lamest cuss spewing lame dialogue I have ever heard that, killed the mood of this slasher. Stephen as well selected Bunnyman Massacre as his worst and said this for his reason “It started strong and ended weak”. My # 3 of the day was The Ripper as this is one I seen on VHS many moons ago when my brother and I rented it from K&L Video.  For some reason, the cheesy storyline along with the gruesome gore effects makes it a guilty pleasure film.  Plus you can’t go wrong with Tom Savini as Jack The Ripper! My # 2 pick was Suck as I found this Rock N Roll musical to be well made and super funny as it also mixed comedy into the formula.  Plus you can’t go wrong with a film that stars Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins. Hands down, my # 1 was The Boneyard as I found it super fun, super creepy and over all a great flick! I mean whereelse in the world can you see a Phyllis Diller giant monster as well as a killer poodle monster? For me the film The Mad Ghoul almost made it to the my list as the third film but The Ripper was able to edge its way into the spot or should I say slash! For Stephen his picks were as follows: For his # 3 spot went to Octaman with his reason for picking it being “Solely because of the monster and how much they used him.” His # 2 spot was The Boneyard, and he had this to say, “Because it was fun and the monsters were very cool. Plus the use of average everyday people (as the actors) was refreshing”. And his # 1 spot went to Suck and this is why, “It was funny and a surprise. It had some cool people in it and the effects were cool. I definitely had the most fun with it by far”. So with that, this After Halloween Horror Movie Marathon came to an end and was a great time with great friends, good flicks and tasty food.

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For me growing up as a Monster Kid, having these get togethers with some of my nearest and dearest friends and family members is something that is just really special as I have a love for Horror Films and this allows me to share that with them. Plus what’s neat about these films I have shown for the Horror Movie Marathon 3.0 version is 98% of the time the films that are selected are first time watches for many of us and 2% of the time is stuff that we might have seen before but was so long ago that we want to revisit them. Take the above marathon for insistence, I had only seen two of the films before with them being Evil Unleashed: The Mummy and The Ripper, both that I had seen when I was younger with the rest being first time views! But to be fair, I can’t remember if I had seen Octaman before. And with that the next marathon I want to cover for this update was one that Juliet and I had at our apartment and was filled with many horror films that I helped via Kickstarter or Indie GoGo and only one film that I had seen before and was an event I was very much looking forward to! So check out below for a few more films I can remember the old gang watching on VHS for the first wave of the Horror Movie Marathon’s life and then we shall get into the main event of this update!

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Juliet and I selected April 3, 2017 as the day for this marathon as we wanted to pick a date to make this History of The Horror Movie Marathon fresh. So like normal, I had a typical day at work and headed home so that we could start the pre-show sharply at 6:00pm, and we had sausages for dinner.  We started the first film on the night, the 2016 flick that I helped on Indie Go-Go called “Killjoy: Psycho Circus,” the 5th film in this popular Full Moon Entertainment series that has the killer demon clown Killjoy hosting his own talk show called Psycho Circus and he and his band of killer clowns must rumble with Beezlebub who wants revenge. “Silent Night, Bloody Night: Homecoming” is a semi remake to the classic 1972 holiday flick and was the next fright flick pick.  It follows the cursed Butler Mansion and the killer that is stalking its grounds killing off the residents of the small town. “Monster On Campus” was next, and this Universal Monster film followed Doctor Donald Blake who by accident turns himself into a neanderthal man when he is cut on the hand by a prehistoric fishes tooth. And the final film of the night was “Sorority Slaughter House,” a cheesy killer doll film that has a college dean killing himself over a broken affair with a student that has his soul going into the body of a clown doll called Bobo. All these films helped add to the excitement of the coming Horror Movie Marathon day with both Juliet and I picking Monster On Campus as our favorite film of the night as it was a true cheesy science fiction horror film that was complete with a cool monster and historical women fainting into the arms of our monster. We both had different picks for our Golden Turkey of the night as I picked Sorority Slaughter House as mine because it was just plane bad! The film’s killer, Bobo, was not scary and voiced by Eric Roberts, and they reused the same shots over and over of the dolls feet moving around the house.  None of the cute girls get naked, and the plot was lame when they factor in a forced lesbian storylines and terrible shirtless male actors, but that’s what you get with modern David DeCoteau films. Juliet’s Golden Turkey pick was Silent Night, Bloody Night: Homecoming as she felt like it was a rushed remake that didn’t add anything new to the story and by all accounts would have been confusing to fans who had never seen the original as it did a poor job of diving into the film’s character history. But with the pre-show done and visions of bloody murders in my head, we went to sleep to gear up for the long day of Horror Flicks that awaited us.

On April 4th the weather outside was chilly yet nice spring weather, and Juliet and I woke up around 7am and started the marathon with the 1958 vampire film “The Return Of Dracula” that has Dracula hiding from his hunters with a family as posing as one of their relatives. “Godzilla 1984” was the next film and had Godzilla returning to Japan to once more destroy everything in sight and only a flying air craft and a scientist are the worlds hope. The third creepy flick was “Insane” about a couple buying a new home that has a sinister past of murder and when a clown show up things only get weirder. Shot-on-video film “Night Of The Clown” was up next and followed a family being stalked and killed by a killer in a clown suit who seems to hate pickles. The Massacre Home Video release of “City In Panic” was up next and was a cool slasher film about a killer who targets people with HIV. The sixth film of the day was directed by Don Dohler and was called “Fiend” about a killer spirit that reanimates a body who must kill in order to not rot away and tries to blend into a neighborhood but soon gets the attention of his neighbor who tries to solve the killings. Next was “Plank Face,” a horror film about a man who is taken captive by backwoods women who turn him into a wood faced breeding and attacking machine. Slasher film “Fender Bender” was next about a killer who picks his victims by causing small auto accidents to get their information and then coming to their homes and killing them. The next film was suppose to be “Knucklebones” put out by Brain Damage Films, but the movie on the disc was the wrong film so we watched the 1931 “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi! The next chiller was “Bloody Bloody Bible Camp,” a dark horror comedy about a masked killer nun who kills teens at a camp for worship. “The Barn” was next a film about three demons who are unleashed on Halloween when a group of friends awaken them! And the final fright of the night was “Krampus Unleashed” about a family who are targeted by Krampus an Christmas Eve.

This was another amazing Horror Movie Marathon that was filled with great food like Oh My Garlic Wings and breakfast casserole and lots of great and amazing films! I must say that all the films were so different and all entertaining in their own ways! But of course, Juliet and I had to pick our Golden Turkey of the day.  Mine was Night Of The Clown, while it was entertaining it seemed more like a inside joke about pickles and like a film that was made on a bored weekend with only two people in the whole cast. While I say that it was the Golden Turkey, I must stress that I really did enjoy the film for its backyard effects and great cheesy killer. Juliet picked Insane as she felt it was just not fully developed, and the story and characters seemed to lack motivation. Now my top three films of the day were hard to pick as I really enjoyed many of them, but here they go: my # 1 was The Barn as I found it really enjoyable and a nice throwback film to the 80’s, plus the movie monsters of the film Candycorn Scarecrow, Hollowed Jack and Boogeyman are all really great and work really well. The film has great acting and an amazing score as well…a must see. The # 2 film of the day for me was Fiend as the simple and effective film had a great story and a cool villain as the calm and cocky Longfellow stole the show as he choked his victims with glowing red hands! The cheesy effects of the rotting Longfellow were really cool and reminded me of Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. My # 3 film of the day was hard to pick, but I decided that it was City In Panic as I found this low budget American Giallo feeling film to be a cool way to tackle the Aids scare of the 80’s and also had a fun plot of a radio DJ and his nightly talk show helping crack the case. Runners up for me had to be Plank Face and Return Of Dracula, both films I also really enjoyed. Juliet selected the following as her top films of the day # 1 The Barn, # 2 City In Panic and her # 3 was Plank Face! With this Marathon in the history books, I am looking forward to the next and the next as these events are truly special and a way for me and friends and loved ones to relax to the horrors of the TV screen.

The Horror Movie Marathon has had its ups and downs over the years in attendance and even with just staying around, but one thing is for sure, it has always entertained me and my friends who all love a good scare and who enjoy the spooky horrors of our TV screens thanks to home media. And while media has changed, I am hoping that The Horror Movie Marathon will stay around a very long time to entertain my friends and me with Horror films from the past and present. But for our next update, we are going to get up from the comfy couch and snack foods and head into the world of Atlas Comics as we take a look at one of their amazing superheroes Tiger Man! So until next time, read a comic or two, watch a Horror Film or three and enjoy some free time with your friends and family! See you next update as we go on the crime fighting hunt with the fearsome Tiger Man.