Batman vs. The Abominable Snowman: Dawn Of Winter

Forget “Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” this update is the real battle for Batman that you comic book readers have been chatting about at your local comic shops for years and wondering when a rematch will happen, or better yet when the movie based on this epic fight will ever make it to the big screen! I am not talking about Batman’s epic fights with such characters as The Predator, Count Dracula, Xenomorphs or even with his regular baddies like The Joker, Bane, Two Face or Catwoman.  No, this battle puts them all to shame as I am talking about his fight with the king of the mountain, the monster of Tibet, the one and only Snowman aka The Abominable Snowman! Wait what? Some of you readers seem not to remember The Snowman, a character who was a thorn in Batman’s side for two issues of his ongoing DC titles in the 70’s. For this update we will not only learn a little about The Snowman but also about the legend of the Yeti and maybe I will try to play and beat a cool custom Batman NES Batman game put out to PacnsacDave! I know it’s the middle of summer and late July, but get your warmest jacket on as we are climbing Mount Everest to become one with The Snowman as we take a look at his two Batman appearances.  So grab some hot cocoa, and let’s start our fun and dangerous hike.

Mount Everest The Home Of The Yeti

The men and woman of Tibet and the surrounding area have had stories for centuries about a half man and half primate creature that roams the mountains around them that they call Yeti, Meh-Teh and other names like The Abominable Snowman. It’s been recorded that the Lepcha People of the Sikkim region worshipped a being from the Himalayan Mountains they called the Glacier Being and was the god of the hunt. In the 19th century, stories of a wild man who was ape-like carrying a stone as a weapon were told by people of the Bon religion. Throughout the 19th Century, many strange footprints were found in the snow on the Himalayan Mountains, and tracker B.H. Hodgson claimed that his guides had seen a giant hairy creature while climbing that scared them half to death.  He would later say he thought it was just an orangutan. The mystery of this unknown snow creature grew in the 20th Century when more and more sightings and footprints turned up in the mountains and of course more rich explorers and scientists rushed to be the first to capture, kill or get proof of the creature’s existence. Many more sightings and popped up through the decades, and the term Cryptozoology became a mainstay in believers’ vocabulary. In the 21st Century the Yeti has lost some steam and most of the time when it pops up in the news it is done by pranksters and hoaxers who are looking for attention and their 15 minutes of fame. Many TV shows, scientists and hunters have given their thoughts on what the Yeti truly is: an unknown ape species, all the way to just a plain old bear. So what do you readers think, is The Abominable Snowman real or is it a hoax? Check out the picture below that is said to be a true photo of the Yeti in the mountains and make up your own mind if he is really out there.

The Yeti caught on photo

Back in 1954, a scalp that was said to belong to the Yeti was found at a Pangboche Monastery along with a hand that was also claimed to have belonged to the creature. The monks were very protective of these items and kept them safe from outsiders and thrill-seekers who were on the hunt for The Abominable Snowman, wanting to make a name for themselves in the press. These items were just the kind of thing the Daily Mail, the newspaper who fronted the expedition, was looking for, and after pleading and ultimately tricking the monks, they were allowed to examine and extract some hair and skin tissue from the items. The media buzz around this was huge, and people thought that these samples held the truth of the Yeti’s existence, making the famed footprints look like thrift store leftover evidence. The first test on the hairs proved that they were not human nor ape, but scientists could not truly identify their species of origin, which of course sparked even more of a fever for those who wanted to find out if the Yeti was fact or fiction. The hand was also tested, and at first they claimed that it had Neanderthal qualities sending more people into the Yeti loving frenzy. Years later the hand and scalp were talked about on the hit TV show Unsolved Mysteries.  They tested a sample of the hand and found it to only have “near human” properties, but this episode sparked the hand to be stolen from the Pangboche Monks.  It would turn up in a private collection via the illegal black antiquities market and would pop back up in 2011 when new tests on it found that it had the DNA of a human. So are the scalp and the hand the real deal, or are they some from some poor human and animal? I should also note that besides these two items and the footprints, many other evidence has been found to prove the Yeti real from blurry photos to poop that is said to have belonged to the famed creature of the mountains. I am not sure what to think but would not rule out the existence of The Abominable Snowman as many unknowns lurk in this world we all share.

Yeti scalp and hand

Anyone who owned a computer in the early 90’s played a free game called SkiFree that was created by Chris Pirih and released as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack. The game was originally made by Pirih for his own use, but when his boss at Microsoft saw him playing it, an agreement was made for it to be released as part of their software pack in 1991. The gameplay has you take control of a skier who’s on the side of a mountain and must avoid obstacles like stumps, trees and worst of all, the a man eating creature called The Abominable Snow Monster who will chase you.  If he catches you, he’ll eat you like a chicken wing! I can remember playing this game on my brother’s old PC that he bought with his own money and finding it a cheesy way to waste time. I can remember screaming as the Yeti would give chase to my skier and how annoyed I would get when I could not out run him and had to watch as he gobbled my player up. But as you can see, even with this silly cheap game the Yeti has wormed his way into pulp culture. Check out below for some cool images of SkiFree.

SkiFree YetiSkiFree Title ScreenSkiFree Running Yeti

I should also note that the Yeti aka The Abominable Snowman has starred in his fair share of horror and science fiction films over the years with many of them being cheesy classics and some of them being very entertaining! Some are the 1957 Hammer Horror film “The Abominable Snowman” starring Peter Cushing and “Werewolf vs. The Yeti” starring the one and only Paul Naschy. Some of the cheesy ones include “Yeti: Giant Of The 20th Century” that was released in 1977 and the 1954 goofy classic “The Snow Creature.” Some of the not so good include “Yeti: A Love Story” that was released in 2006 and “Shriek Of The Mutilated” from 1974, a film so bad that I for some reason find myself loving it. Some video game appearances include “Plants vs. Zombies”, “Far Cry 4” and “Tomb Raider II” to name a few. And let’s not get started on all the comic books and novels that he has appeared in, let alone cartoons and toys! So one thing is for sure, The Abominable Snowman is in our culture, and he’s here to stay.

The Abominable Snowman DVDWerewolf Vs The Yeti DVD BootYeti Giant Of The 20th Centery DVDYeti A Love Story DVD

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and many hikers, explores, researchers and thrill seekers have tempted their fate and tried to make the climb to the top of the mountain that is super dangerous and is not recommended for armatures or even for that fact almost anyone! The first people to successfully climb Everest were Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.  The climb was dangerous but also inspired many people to want to tempt fate and become the second, third, fourth and so on to make it to the top.  Many craved the notoriety of being one of the select few to make it to the top and back down alive. But a sad truth about Everest is that the beautiful mountain is a graveyard for the remains of many hikers who never made it down the mountain.  It’s too dangerous to bring down the dead or injured so many bodies are left frozen in time. You see, many people are not prepared for the climb to the top, and fellow climbers are told that if you find someone in a danger zone, hurt or dying, to leave them behind as those who end up trying to help a injured person end up in danger themselves and 9 ½ out of 10 times more likely end up dead themselves from the elements and brisk cold unforgiving weather. So I would like to take a moment to mourn all those who have lost their lives climbing Everest –  may their souls find peace.  I also would like to show support for all those poor climbers who have had to leave a fellow person behind as I am sure that is a terrible feeling.

Mount Everest rip

We are halfway up to the top of this update so we should take a moment to sit by the fire, warm up, and sip a warm beverage and take a look at a comic that I ordered from Indy Planet some time back and have been itching to read and review.  I think that this update is the perfect time to unleash it on you the readers. The comic is called The Railroad Killer and is put out by a company called Jimmy Daze Comics.  It was one that caught my eye when I placed my last order of independent horror comics.  So let’s sit around and use this issue as our spooky story before we go back on the hunt for the Yeti.

The Railroad Killer 1

The Railroad Killer # 1  ***
Released in 2009     Cover Price $0.00   Jimmy Daze Comics   # 1 of 1

An old drunk near the train tracks is angered as the train speeds by, but his anger is short lived as someone brutally beats him to death. The next day the police show up and the urban legend talk of the Railroad Killer spreads among the youth who are near the crime scene. Miranda Jr. is one of the cops on the scene, and he has a flashback to when he was a kid in 1985 and he and his brother and friends watched as the local hot teenage girl was murdered by the train tracks by a strange unknown man with a sledge hammer! Miranda decides that tonight he is going to prove that the Railroad Killer is real and waits around the train tracks all night to capture this supernatural killer. Later that night he gets his wish and comes face to face with The Railroad Killer for the last time. After the fatal meeting, we flashback to the year 1881 when a young Chinese rail worker is accused of raping a white woman and vigilante justice is served as he is beaten and run over by a train…and so the revenge spirit of The Railroad Killer is born!

This is a fun quick horror comic read that was a nice mix of slasher and urban legend and was done with tasteful amounts of blood and violence. Our story is simple and effective as if follows a cop who wants to face the town’s local unknown killer and stop it once and for all. Miranda Jr. seems like a good cop who has guilt over watching a young woman get murdered in his youth and not doing anything to help her, but his need for redemption just leads him onto a path of his own destruction. The Railroad Killer is a supernatural killer who was wronged when he was alive and now takes his revenge on anyone near the tracks at night. He is brutal using a big sledgehammer as well as the moving trains themselves to kill and takes pleasure in the act of murder. The very cool part of this one shot comic is the fact they give backstories for both our hero and bad guy and brings the reader into the motives behind their good and evil actions. Besides the story, the art done by Arturo Delgado Molina is really good and brings these characters to life. The most brutal kill of the issue has to be the death of Miranda Jr. who is beaten and then placed under the trail and decapitated! If you’re a fan of horror comics like me, The Railroad Killer is one that you will want to check out as it’s a spooky urban legend about an effective and brutal killer. Below is some artwork from this issue to show you Molina’s style.

Railroad Killer Art 1

That was a fun break, but I can hear the howl of the Yeti in the distance. I am not ready to come face to face with him yet so let’s just sit around a little longer and play a video game! I am on a kick of getting NES carts of “homebrew” or unreleased games, and one of the guys I have been getting items from is named Pacnsacdave who just so happened to have a homebrew game called “Batman & Robin: Shadows Of Gotham” that acts as the third in the NES Batman series that already consisted of “Batman” and “Batman: Return Of The Joker” and hell I guess you can count “Batman Returns.” Each of those games were a challenge so I am sure this one will be no different. Batman: Shadows Of Gotham is a two-player game that lets you choose between Batman and Robin.  The back of the box reads, “Gotham city, a city plagued by crime, violence and villains. The citizens are crying out for help. To cleanse the streets of Gotham…two shadows appear. They are called Batman & Robin, Shadows of Gotham.” I played this game on a RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) with an original NES controller and asked my cousin Stephen Alexander if he wanted to join me on this epic game adventure, and of course he said yes.  We did not do an NES Challenge for this game; we just wanted to give it a good play and let you know that this video game is out in the world ready to be played.

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES CaseBatman Shadows Of Gotham NES CartBatman Shadows Of Gotham NES Game In RES

We played it on May 14 2016, and the weather outside was very chilly and perfect for playing a video game.  I should note that Stephen and I played one player and passed the controller back and fourth, and of course we picked Batman. The game is a side scrolling action game that has Batman fighting with his hands, batarangs and other gadgets from level to level.  At the end of each level, you of course face one of his major villains, in this order Scarecrow, Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and finally The Joker! The Scarecrow and his level offered no challenge as I mastered it in one try.  Steve took on The Penguin and after a couple of tries was able to smack around the umbrella-carrying madman who was hiding in a tank.  I made a quick fight out of The Riddler, and both of us tried and tried and screamed at Two-Face who was trying his best from keeping us from beating the game! It looked like Two-Face was going to be our stopping point, but once we figured out his patterning, Steve was able to smack that two sided coin out of his hand and we were at the last level. The last level is pretty tough and will take you a few tries, or at least it did for us to make it to The Joker who also took us a few tries.  But once again, when we had is pattern down, Steve hit the final blow, and a game that we were just testing became a game we beat! The nice part about this game is that it has unlimited continues and gives you no real reason to stop playing.  The challenge is there and can be frustrating but not enough to turn it off. Over all, it’s a nice addition to the NES Batman games and once more I want to thank Pacnsacdave for this amazing cart. So if you’re a classic NES fan and are looking for a new game to play, make sure to check this one out as well as many of Dave’s other games that include the likes of Gremlins, Big Trouble In Little China, The Lost Boys and Spider-Man 2! So I guess we should start our way back on the journey to find The Snowman, but while we climb maybe I should tell you a little about him.

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES Screen Grab

Klaus Kristin is the son of a Yeti and a human mother named Katrina, and he has the ability to shift between being a human and a Yeti. As the beast, he is called The Snowman and has the power to survive in very cold elements, has super strength, a ice cold touch and can kind of control his surroundings in a winter environment. As a human, he is an albino and has the ability to charm ladies, is an Olympic skier and comes off as a normal rich jock playboy who loves to brag. The Snowman has appeared in three comics for DC that include Batman # 337, Detective Comics # 533 and Justice League Adventures # 12 as he was a part of a group called Cold Warriors alongside Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold and Killer Frost among other cold style baddies. While The Snowman has not been officially in a game, there are two that might be loosely be based on him: the unlockable Yeti character in “Lego Batman: The Videogame” and in “Batman: Arkham City,” inmates are talking about it being cold saying “It’s colder than the Snowman’s heart.”  Rumor is, that was a nod to The Snowman, while others say they are talking about Mr. Freeze. So while not a major villain, The Snowman has made his small mark on the Batman universe, and I just wanted to share a few fun facts about him before we make it to the top of the update and arrive at the review.

The Snowman DC

As I have stated before, music has been a major part of my life growing up, and I have spent countless hours listening to many different songs from many different artists with them all acting as the soundtrack to my life. Who doesn’t have memories of driving around with friends late at night blaring music or sitting with the love of your life listening to music in your car talking about the future? I have artists that I call my must-buy-day-one-of-release favorites: Motley Crue, Billy Idol, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., Jewel, Cinderella, Guns N Roses and Danzig.  The last one this list brings me to a CD that I would like to briefly chat about as I feel the music from the band was a huge part of my teen years. Danzig was one of those bands I discovered on a Public Access music show called Metalmania (and I should also give props to MTV for making the song “Mother” a Buzz video) and became a fan of, as I felt singer Glenn Danzig has an almost Elvis Presley sound and being a fan of The King made this a no brainer that I would dig a harder rock version of that sound. In 1996 when “Danzig 5: Blackacidevil” was released, I can remember leaving school midday and walking to NRM Music at the Town And Country shopping center to get my hands on the cassette and listening to it on my Walkman during classes. Danzig was also a band my pal Jason Gilmore and I would always listen to and chat about our favorite songs and videos. I can also remember being at my friend Jeremy Foster’s house and hanging out while listening to a mix of Danzig and Pantera. These great memories bring me to Danzig’s 2015 release, the 10th album for the band, an album of cover songs called “Skeletons” that I got for Christmas of 2015 as I had to wait to buy it because of the holiday season. I was pretty hyped to listen to this CD, but lots of things kept me away from being able to pop in the disc and listen to what Danzig had to offer on this release…and I must say that when I got around to it I was pretty underwhelmed! Now I want to stress that this is not a bad album.  In fact, I found myself enjoying many of the tracks on the release like the Black Sabbath cover “N.I.B” and “Lord Of The Thighs,” a cover of the Aerosmith cheesy classic song from the album “Get Your Wings”. While tracks like those were good, there were some that just sounded off and un-mastered, almost like a recorder was placed in a room with a band next to some beer and they said just jam and record and who cares if it doesn’t sound polished or hell even in tune…just do it.  The song “Satan” from the biker film Satan’s Sadists is a prime example of the odd sound that many of this tracks on this CD offer in terms of sound quality.  Again, I want to stress that it’s not a bad song and Glenn’s take on this song is solid…it just sounds very off, as if his vocals was recorded in a living room. Over all Skeletons is a interesting listen but lacks the true sound that Danzig fans have came to expect…if I had to give it a Rotten Ink 1-4 star rating, I would say for me it would be a solid 2, middle of the road.  If the sound issues were fixed, I could see myself giving it a 2 ½ or 3. Danzig still remains a must-buy artist for me, and I can’t wait to see what his next release brings to the table. Well I can see the top of the mountain, and as Butthead would say, “ And it is good”.

Danzig - Skeletons CD

We have reached the top of the update, and it’s time to take a look at Batman vs. The Snowman.  I have been on a kick of reading classic Batman comics as of late and can remember reading both these issues in my youth.  When re-buying them, I knew they had to be something I reviewed here on Rotten Ink. I want to think both Game Swap Kettering and Mavericks Cards And Comics for having these in stock, and while the wind is blowing and the snow is coming down I can hear the howl of the Yeti saying “ Remember he grades these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and is looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.”  Now let’s snap this picture of the Yeti and get back down the mountain, and we should also get to the reviews of this classic and epic battle issues that pit Batman against The Snowman!

Batman 337

Batman # 337  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .50   DC Comics   # 337 of 713

It’s a cold night in Gotham City, and a sporting good store has a robber inside who is shooting at Commissioner Gordon and the cops.  Batman shows up, gets inside and finds that the robber is scared out of his mind and his partner has been frozen solid! When the robber is under arrest and his nerves calm down, he tells them a story of how he and his friend started to rob the place and were attacked by a snow creature he called The Snowman who stole the cash from the store and left the scene as well made him go mad with fear. Batman changes back to Bruce Wayne and heads home as he is holding a huge party.  His guest of honor is playboy Klaus Kristin who is winning the hearts of many of the woman with his tales of skiing, but Bruce notices that Klaus’s shoes have slush on them and the morning’s snow has been gone for hours. The next night The Snowman strikes again, robbing a jewelry store and killing the night watchman! While Batman is in Klaus’ room looking through his stuff, he finds a diary written by Klaus’s mom and his aunt, and it tells of how Klaus is the son of a normal woman and a Yeti, which explains why and who Klaus really is.  After his last crime, Klaus skips town and heads for Austria’s ski resort, and Batman follows and has a showdown with The Snowman on top of a mountain.  While Snowman is stronger, Batman is smarter and with the help of a flare in the eyes of his opponent, the Bat wins the fight when The Snowman falls from a high cliff and to his death.

What an epic battle, right? I mean Batman and The Snowman trade a total of one kick that Batman lands to the back of The Snowman….yep, that’s the fist to fist action you get in this issue! But even though it’s not super action packed and does not deliver an all out drag down Batman fight, it does have a fun entertaining superhero horror story with some entertaining characters. The plot is this: world class Olympic skier Klaus Kristin is a shape shifter who can change into a Yeti and is stealing money from stores around Gotham as he needs cold weather to live and must move around in order to stay cold weather.  His crime spree that leaves two people dead makes Batman spring into action and crack the case. Batman/Bruce Wayne is shocked when he finds the first body of a crook that was frozen stiff, and this makes Batman’s mind work over time as he wants to solve the crime and get this killer off the streets.  This just shows you that no matter how rich Bruce Wayne is and no matter what else is going on around him, solving crime is the most important thing in his life. Batman is truly a master detective as he pieces together who The Snowman is and where he has run to really fast.  Let alone, he make quick and easy work of this man creature in a fight that is in his opponent’s favor. Klaus Kristin is a snooty sort of bragger who thinks that because he won three medals in the Olympics and travels the world to high end ski resorts, he is better than most normal people.  He also has a weird charm that makes woman flock to him as he tells his stories of being a playboy. As The Snowman, he seems to not care about killing to get the money that he needs in order to stay where the cold weather goes, but it makes one wonder if his ego is so big that he would rather kill than to live say in Alaska or the North Pole where it stays cold year round. As always, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth (Bruce Waynes Butler) have cameos in this issue, and both are always great to see. Batman thinks that The Snowman might have thrown the fight as he wanted to be stopped and this was his way of ending his cursed life, but I am not so sure as it’s clear he has an ego.  I think he lost the fight because Batman out smarted him. The issue has two deaths of people who are frozen to death and has the possible death of The Snowman. The cover is super eye catching and has Batman on skis looking shocked as The Snowman, who looks like a giant, is popping out of snow ready for the attack. The story in this issue was written by Gerry Conway, and the art was done by Jose Garcia-Lopez with inks by Steve Mitchell.  All is well done, and that art has stuck with me since I was a kid as has the whole issue. I am sure many comic readers would look at this issue as just a fill in, but to me it has and will always be a key issue. I should also say this issue has a back up story about Robin! Check out some artwork from this issue to see just how massive and abominable The Snowman is, or is that was?

Batman # 337 art 1Batman # 337 art 2Batman # 337 art 3

So the first meeting is down, but there’s one more to go.  The first meeting lead Batman to believe that The Snowman was dead, as did all of us readers, so let’s see what happens in round two!

Detective Comics 522

Detective Comics  # 522  ***
Released in 1983     Cover Price .60     DC Comics   # 522 of 881

Batman and a guide named Chi are climbing the Himalayan Mountains looking for the famed creature Yeti as Batman thinks that it might just be his foe The Snowman returning from his supposed death. While climbing Batman and Chi are almost killed by an avalanche, Batman witnesses a tall and strong looking shadow above them, and after this near death experience they decide to spend the night in a near by cave for shelter. In the cave Batman, remembers back to being in Vicki Vale’s office and waiting for her to go on a date.  He flipped through a magazine and spotted Klaus Kristin in a photo, and this is what lead him to this hunt in the mountains. In a small village, Batman spots Klaus, and the two struggle falling into the cold water.  Batman strikes his head on a rock and Klaus pulls him from the water, but when they are back on land Klaus is shot by a villager and stumbles into the cold and disappears up the mountain.  Batman now needs to check on his one time foe who saved his life and follows the blood trail. Batman climbs the mountain and is attacked by the Yeti along the way and finds Klaus in a Buddhist temple as he is bleeding to death.  We soon find out that his dad, the Yeti, was the one who has been attacking Batman while in the mountains, and he takes his dying son into the cold as Batman watches as a father mourns his fallen son.

So the second epic battle between Batman and The Snowman is not really a fight between the two but instead has the Bat tangling with the Yeti, the father of The Snowman. This issue has Batman traveling to the Himalayan Mountains in order to look for his foe The Snowman, who is wanted for not just robbery but also murder, and soon finds that his old foe is not a threat and just wanted to find peace alongside his father! Batman has lots on his mind from drama with the ladies in his life Vicki Vale and Selena Kyle, as well as just being a crime fighter and focusing his sights on The Snowman, but he soon learns that people (or is that things?) can change. Batman also shows compassion as he could have taken down the Yeti, who has tormented villagers for years but instead lets him be with his son in his dying moments. Klaus Kristin never changes into The Snowman in this issue and after faking his own death really just wanted to be left alone.  He also shows that he has grown as a character as he saves Batman from drowning. Chi is a villager guide and acts as a good side character, loyal to Batman and trying all he could to guide him on his quest. The Yeti is in a fury and wants his son’s pursuers dealt with and tries to do all he can to stop them, but sadly he as well has a weakness and that’s bright lights from the likes of a flare. Once more, this issue is not wall-to-wall action.  It feels more like an adventure that pits our superhero not only against his foes but also nature and his surroundings. This issue as well held up all these years, and as I read it, moments came back to me in memories that proved for some reason that the Batman vs. Snowman issues had a impact on this young comic reader’s mind. The cover is fantastic and has Batman on the side of a mountain as The Snowman is lurking into battle. The story was written by Gerry Conway again with art duties this time around going to Iry Novick and Pablo Marcos, and they do a great job of making The Yeti look different from The Snowman. The back up story in this issue is a Green Arrow adventure and is worth checking out if you like that emerald archer. Check out the art below that will showcase the mighty Yeti as well as other art from this fun and entertaining issue.

Detective Comics 522 art 1Detective Comics 522 art 2

Was this a better fight than Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice? Depends on your opinion…but I will say these comics made more of a impression on me than the film. While The Snowman might not be a big name villain like The Joker, Killer Croc or The Riddler, he was one I always remembered as a kid, and for some reason I really did think he was a huge deal in my youth. I can remember talking to kids on the playground in Waynesville about how Batman took on The Abominable Snow, and many of them looking puzzled or claiming they remembered with blank unsure look in their eyes. But now that we are off the hunt for The Snowman and made it back down unharmed, I think it’s time that we take a break from comics and once more step into the world of Horror Hosting as our next update will be about an icon who like Commander USA and Dr. Creep helped shape me into the person I am today.  I am talking about Grampa who hosted Super Scary Saturday on TBS! So until next time, read a comic or three, enjoy your summer days and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a Super Scary good time.

Super Scary Saturday Preview Logo

Dawn Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2016)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, friends and readers.  Once more it’s my time to travel to Pennsylvania for the Monster Bash Convention, something that Juliet and I look forward to every year as we both love classic monster movies as well as enjoy Cranberry Township and all the wonders around it, from Evans City Cemetery to New Dimension Comics and everything in-between. This year I was really looking forward to spending some time with my lady and enjoy my time away from work and the stresses of TV Show making and comic book creating.  The start of this year was not a pleasant one for me as not only did my cousin Norman pass away, but I also had some stress health issues that were a major pain and downer.This year’s convention guests include Audrey Dalton from films like “Mr. Sardonicus” and “The Monster The Challenged The World”, Jimmy Hunt from “Invaders From Mars” as well as Horror Hosts like Son Of Ghoul and Chilly Billy Cardille in what could be his final convention appearance. So you, my readers and friends, are welcome to jump into the backseat of our Mazda 3 and go on another fun filled trip to Pittsburgh for Monster Bash.  For this update I am very happy to say we will be covering the George A Romero film Dawn Of The Dead as well as the IDW adaptation of this cult classic and iconic zombie film. So jump on in, and let’s have some fun with classic monsters and a town that almost seems like a second home to Juliet and me as we travel to Monster Bash 20016!

Monsterbash 2016 logo

On July 7th 2016 we started our quest for Monster Bash and stopped first at Ghostlight Coffee to get some good drinks to start our over 4 hour quest. On the drive we listened to two more chapters of the audio book “Marvel Comics The Untold Story” and chatted about Stan Lee and the mismanagement of Marvel Comics in the mid to late 90’s. In-between Ohio and West Virginia we stopped to get some lunch at Ruby Tuesday where I munched down on a New York strip steak and a baked potato.  The meal was pretty good and nothing too special. But outside by the Ruby Tuesdays was a strange giant McDonalds billboard with a sinister looking Ronald McDonald that was hidden in the woods…very strange indeed. The drive was smooth for the most part; we did run into some very wicked traffic in one section, but during this time we just chatted about comics and what our plans were for the following days. Once we hit our official hotel, the Comfort Inn of Cranberry Township, we checked in and loaded in our bags and for dinner decided to order the classic Eat’n Park where I got my usual liver and onions with mashed potatoes and rice, while Juliet ate chicken with sweet potato fries and strawberries. That night we watched some TV, and while Juliet read her book and played on her iPhone, I read a comic with thoughts of Monster Bash running in my head as a quick rain storm came down outside. A good first day and a very low key evening.

Marvel The Untold Story BookCreepy Ronald McDonald in the WoodsLiver and Onions Mmmm

The second day, we woke up around 9:30am, and after getting ready, we had some breakfast from Einstin Bros. where I had a tasty sausage, egg and cheese bagel with orange juice to drink.  Due to some electric issues, they gave us our meal for free! Once done, we had to find something to do to kill time until 3pm when Monster Bash opened and decided to drive around and just see some of the sights that include weird blocked off roads and a place called “Fun Fore All,” an arcade, miniature golf and family fun center. After the drive we stopped back at the hotel and waited for The Bash. When the time ticked down, I wondered what kind of theme car would be out front and more importantly what the statues were going to be this year as my guess would be aliens from Invaders To Mars, but again only a guess. We ate lunch at Max & Erma’s and headed to Monster Bash, and man was I hyped to get this convention adventure started. Walking across the parking lot, we noticed that there was no monster car up front and once entering the Hilton were the convention is held at, we noticed that major remodeling was going on and this worried me as the place where the statues have always been was gone. But after buying our three day badges, we quickly found them and I must say I was WAY OFF on what they were this year. The statues this year were the old woman from House On Haunted Hill, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Christopher Lee version of The Mummy. Walking around we saw lots a great classic monster stuff like posters, DVDs, comics, magazines, shirts and so much more. We saw familiar faces like Ken and Pam who own and run Cinema Wasteland, Jill from Lix Online and Horror Host Son Of Ghoul. A highlight of the day was when Juliet got to see original screen used props used in her favorite science fiction film “Forbidden Planet” including a very cool UFO. We walked around a while and enjoyed the world that is Monster Bash, and after awhile walked back to our hotel and read some comics and books and planned for dinner and a movie on the laptop for the night.

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For dinner who chose Wing Kings as they seem to be our go-to when it comes to eating and watching a movie on our trusty old laptop, and the film of the night we selected was the 1975 film Inn of the Damned as it was one I had seen many years back on VHS and how can you go wrong with a western horror film..right? From Wing Kings I ordered 12 garlic wings to keep the vampires away as well as some onion rings. Juliet ordered 6 Garmesan wings (a mix of garlic and parmesan cheese) and some Jalapeno Poppers, and we sat in our chairs and ate our food and watch a horror motion picture. The wings and the onion rings were fantastic, and Wing Kings really hit the spot.  The movie Inn Of The Damed was as weird, long and dumb as I remember it being when I saw it as a teen. I would say this was a great meal with a cheesy horror film that was a good combination for the night and a great way to end the evening.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 1 Dinner and a Movie

So your wondering what my first day haul was right? Well let me share with you my treasures this time around. I got the documentary DVD “Creature Feature 60 Years Of The Gil-Man” for $20.00. I also picked up the DVD-R’s for “Inn Of The Damned” for $5.00 (it’s the Cheezy Flix release) and a classic black and white chiller called “Valley Of The Zombies” for $10.00. I ended up finding some comics this first day like Attack Of The Mutant Monsters # 1 for $3.00, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Graphic Novel for only $6.00, Giant-Size Man-Thing # 2 for $3.00, Chamber Of Chills # 6 for $4.00, Worlds Unknown # 3 for $5.00, Hellraiser/Nightbreed Jihad # 1 for $5.00 and lastly The Tomb Of Dracula # 26 for only $4.00! Over all a pretty good haul but nothing to special but all worth buying in this monster kids head.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 1

We started day three around 8:30am, and after getting ready and watching a little TV, we went to brunch at a place right next door to the hotel called Pig Iron (not to be confused with the Zoo Crew member from DC Comics) where I had Chorizo Hash that was mighty tasty. Before brunch we also hit New Dimension Comics, and I found lots of great reads like some issues of Captain America, Night Of The Living Dead, Marvel Tales and Werewolf By Night. Plus at the comic shop I found the only missing issue of Marvel’s The Frankenstein Monster which means I now I have the full run. After brunch we walked back over to Monster Bash and found that a replica of the Ecto-One from Ghostbusters was parked outside, and this sparked a convention between Juliet and I on how cosplay Ghostbusters are taking over conventions. Once inside we walked around and I kept my eyes open for David “The Rock” Nelson as I wanted to but some of his films, but sadly the quest today came back empty-handed. I did finally get my picture taken with John Russo, the man who helped create the “Living Dead” universe and picked up a few items before we decided to wonder back to our hotel and plan the rest of the days adventure. Below are some pictures from the second day of Monster Bash including the picture of me and John Russo.

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The second day Monster Bash haul was pretty weak with me only picking up three items! First, I got another DVD-R copy of the Paul Naschy film Vengeance Of The Mummy aka Mummy’s Revenge for the overprice of $20.00.  This will mark my third attempt at watching this movie on a DVD-R! I got the Marvel Magazine size comic adaptation for the film Meteor for only $3.00.  And lastly, the best find of the day is a Golden Book graphic novel adaptation of the classic epic adventure film Clash of the Titans for $5.00! The second day’s haul, while light, still delivered some great things for me to read and watch…if this copy of Vengeance of the Mummy works.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 2

After Monster Bash and us coming up with a game plan, we settled on the fact we had to visit the Snowman again as I really needed a Yeti Shake! As we started on the magical road to The Snowman for our tasty cold treats, the poor Mazda 3 started to have issues, and we had to turn back around and return to the hotel.  Once back, we looked for a Mazda dealer to take the car to on Monday morning and worked on some Sparkle Comics business while the weather outside looked like a storm was blowing in. Because of the car issues, we were stuck for the evening at the hotel, and I took this time to read some comic books and work on some Rotten Ink updates as Juliet spent time writing and reading.  Dinner was coming up, and we picked the ever popular Eat’N Park as they were just across the street and we knew the food would hit the spot for this disappointing day. My meal once more was liver and onions with mashed potatoes with gravy, a sticky roll and rice and for a treat a Smile Cookie that’s a pirate in honor of the MLB team The Pittsburgh Pirates. After dinner and reading, I decided to watch some TV before bed and wondered how the third and final day at Monster Bash would go and hoped I could get some David “ The Rock” Nelson DVD’s as they would be the perfect films to cheer this Monster Kid up.

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Day three of Monster Bash and day four of our vacation started with breakfast from Einstein Bros and good talks about Dawn of The Dead and Sparkle Comics while eating.  Once done, we walked across the street for the final day of the convention, and my quest to buy David “The Rock” Nelson DVDs continued. Once we walked into the convention my quest came to an end, and I found David Nelson and chatted for a moment and picked up two of his films! For awhile we walked around and just looked at all the tables and made our final pick ups as the convention closed a few hours later. With the car being down still, we walked to Max & Erma’s for lunch and headed back to the hotel to work on some Sparkle Comics business and to read, watch TV and just have fun being around each other. Below are some pics I took of the last day of Monster Bash including a very cool Dr. Phibes statue and a bad ass Wolf Man painting, plus the picture of me and Independent film maker icon David “The Rock” Nelson with one of his horror characters, The Devil Ant.

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The third and final day of Monster Bash haul was the following items: the VHS of the cheesy film The Bat People for $4.00, the CD soundtrack to Demons 2 for $10.00, Hulk Hogan hosting the 1985 CBS Saturday Morning Cartoon previews on DVD-R for $10.00.  I also got two Horror Host DVD-R’s for $10.00 each that were Zacherley hosting a teen dance show called Disc-O-Teen and clips from Ghoulardi show.  My favorite pick ups for the day had to be the two David “The Rock” Nelson DVDs as I got the movies The Demon Monster From Outer Space and The Fishman for $20.00 each.  I always feel good supporting true independent filmmakers and David is a great guy! Over all I got some great things this Monster Bash and many of them will be talked about again here at Rotten Ink.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 3

That night we ordered dinner from Pig Iron where I had a chorizo grilled cheese and fries, and we watched the Hulk Hogan 1985 Saturday Morning Cartoons preview that was not so much Hulk Hogan as it was Rowdy Piper doing a talk show style show with guests like Pee Wee Herman, New Edition and Patti LaBelle and in between showed quick clips of cartoons that would be airing on CBS. It was a fun watch as seeing Pee Wee and Piper talk to each other using sock puppets are things the 80’s were made of. After dinner we worked on more Sparkle Comics website stuff, and later I read some comic books that I picked up from New Dimension Comics days before. Over all the day was good but we both looked forward to getting the car fixed the next day so that we could zoom around town and visit some of our favorite sites in and around Mars.

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On Monday July 11th after the Mazda 3 was taken into the shop for some TLC, we finally got to go out and do things on this Dawn Of The Dead themed vacation. We ended up having to rent a car, but this helped us at least be able to go out and do things for this vacation and not be stuck in the hotel.  We first went out to lunch and had a good meal at Moe’s where a steak burrito was calling my name. After lunch we headed back to New Dimension Comics, and I bought a ton more comics as I found their dollar room. After walking out of New Dimension Comics with many issues of Incredible Hulk, Marvel Super Heroes and Detective Comics in hand, we went to TCBY so Juliet could get her yogurt for dessert as she was craving white chocolate mousse.  As for me, I did a weird mix of chocolate and strawberry with sprinkles. After driving around in traffic, we headed back to the hotel, and later that night we had dinner at Eat’N Park and then watched WWE Monday Night Raw on USA Network. Over all a fun day filled with great weather, comic books, good food and the friendly staff of all the places we visited. Check out the pics below for some of the highlights of the day!

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On Tuesday July 12, 2016 we had to squeeze so much fun things in one day as it was our last full day in Mars and also the last full day that we had the rental car. So we decided to first go see a movie at the Cranberry Cinemas and saw The Purge: Election Year at its first showing. I really love the Cranberry Cinema as it has the look and feel of a independent owned theater and has a personality that many of the giant chain theaters are lacking and makes me miss Dayton local theaters like Page Manor and Englewood Cinema even more. After the film we went and got some lunch from Moe’s, and the meal was good as always.  Then we headed toward a place that is a shrine of Pittsburgh film making as well as what I would say is “Graceland” of horror, Evan City Cemetery. When driving to the cemetery I was telling Juliet that I wished that Dayton has a location like this that was used in a horror film that made an impact to the genre. Once at the cemetery and driving up the lane, I spotted in the woods next to the road a rooster and a turkey hanging out together.  Now that was random and amazing! The weather was nice and warm with a cool breeze and walking around the cemetery always recharges my batteries and makes me want to be even more creative and to drive my self more when it comes to making a Horror Host show and comic books. Plus walking around with Juliet in this place is something special and something I look forward to every year. After Evan City Cemetery, we drove to The Snowman where I drank a Yeti Shake made with vanilla ice cream and blue raspberry shaved ice and watched the horses in the field next to this landmark. Once done we returned to the hotel and chatted, read some comics and watched TV and ate some Wing King for dinner and ended the day watching TV.  This was a great day that was super fun filled with good times and memories of why I love this town!

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On Wednesday July 13, 2016 we had to spend the morning returning the rental car and getting our car back and then hit the road back to good old Dayton and listened to the last chapter in “Marvel The Untold Story” and ended our Monster Bash Vacation…but this update has just started as we’re now going talk about Dawn Of The Dead, the second film in the Romero Dead series, and I review the IDW adaptation of this film. So let’s take a trip with the undead and chat about this beloved zombie film!

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In 1978, George A. Romero teamed up with Italian filmmaker Dario Argento to bring the movie going public a sequel to Night Of The Living Dead, and one of the worlds most classic zombie films was born, simply called Dawn Of The Dead.  Theater goers poured into the cinemas to watch as the living and the dead clashed once more in a battle of the living keeping their human sides in line as the dead do what they do and that’s eat. The start of Dawn of the Dead was in 1974 when George Romero went to the Monroeville Mall with his friend Mark Mason, who worked for a company that managed the mall.  After seeing all the ins and outs of the building and just how happy shoppers were, the idea of people surviving in a mall during a crisis became a joke between them that sparked the desire to start writing the script. Romero, along with his producer Richard P. Rubinstein, started to get investors, and when news broke of a Night Of The Living Dead sequel, Dario Argento jumped on board and helped get international investors among many other helpful things in return for international distribution. Once ready, they secured the Monroeville Mall and shooting started on November 13, 1977. The filming would start at 11pm and would end at 7am as during the day the mall was packed with holiday shoppers and doing late night shoots was better for not only the crew but also the mall. Other locations for filming included Harold W. Brown Memorial Airfield, Firearms Unlimited and Romero’s own studio, the Latent Image; all things in and around the Pittsburgh area. Shooting ended in February, 1978 and so began the editing of Romero’s next epic zombie film. The man behind the effects for the film is the master of splatter Tom Savini who also played one of the bikers in the film. In the lead roles are some fantastic actors all who are the true backbone of what makes this film work so well.  You have Ken Foree as Peter Washigton, David Emge as Stephen “Flyboy” Andrews, Gaylen Ross as Francine Parker and Scott Reinger as Roger DeMarco, not to mention such actors as David Early, Howard Smith and Jese del Gre, to name a few. Doing the music for the film is the Italian band Goblin, who scored many of Argento’s films as well as De Wolfe Music Library stock music. Romero has a cut of the film as does Agrento.  Each are different in many ways from music to runtimes as the US print is 127 minutes long, but Italy’s is 118 minutes long.  On top of that a “Directors” cut of the film was released on home video in the 90’s that is 137 minutes long! One of the biggest changes between the American version of Dawn of the Dead and the Italian version is that Romero’s is packed with comedy elements with the zombies being treated like jokes by a invading biker gang while Argento toned that way down and tried to keep the undead scary. The film also brought some very memorable zombies to the screen like Machete Kill Zombie, Helicopter Chop Top Zombie, and my favorite, the red flannel zombie; all of them gave the world of horror iconic scenes. The budget for Dawn of the Dead was $1.5 million, and it made $55 million at the box office, making it a huge hit for United Film Distribution who released the film. It was released with other 1978 horror films: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Damien: Omen II, Halloween, I Spit On Your Grave, Jaws 2, The Redeemer: Son Of Satan, Toolbox Murders and many others.  While Dawn Of The Dead might not have brought in as much money as say Jaws 2, it is way more respected by Horror Fans around the world. Now I am sure many of you who have not watched this classic film are saying, “but what’s the film about?” We will cover that with the IDW Comic Adaptation reviews.

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Growing up I was (and still am) obsessed with the Romero Dead films.  You long time readers know about my first time seeing Night Of The Living Dead on broadcast TV and seeing Day Of The Dead on the USA Network in my past reviews for the Monster Bash vacations that featured the Prelude and Aftermath of Night Of The Living Dead as well as the Fantaco Adaptaions of Night; not to mention my USA Saturday Nightmare update where I covered other films I have on DVD taped off the USA Network including Day Of The Dead that was given to me by my pal Jason Young. The first time I saw Dawn of The Dead was on a VHS copy of the film my brother had bought on a boring weekend.  We made a whole night of watching it that included snacks and making dinner that consisted of boxed spaghetti that I could swear he used to live on.  I took my place sitting on the floor with my bowl of spaghetti, bag of Andy Capp Hot Fries and my glass of Mountain Dew and was glued to the TV as I watched one of the most iconic and beloved Zombie films ever made.  I was drawn into the dark mood and grim nature of the events that were unfolding before my eyes. I can remember going from amazed to annoyed as the bikers entered the mall and began throwing pies into the faces of the undead.  I didn’t understand why the zombies were being treated like jokes taking away their scare appeal. After the film was over I can remember my brother and I chatting about it, breaking down scenes and talking about our favorite kills and zombies from the movie. My favorite character was Peter, and I can remember my brother and I laughing and joking about Flyboy and how he kept screwing up at major times during their flight to get to shelter and even in the mall. Dawn of the Dead will always have a special place in my heart as watching it with my brother was a fun memory, and I can still remember the the pure enjoyment as I watched the horrors of the living dead unfold before my very eyes. To this day I own the clam shell Thorn Video VHS release of this film and must say that the film is definitely in my top 10 zombie films of all time!

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The Goblin score for Dawn of The Dead (Zombi) is one of the best in the world of horror films as each track fits the scene it accompanies.  The main title is so iconic, it makes almost everyone’s top 10 list of best scores in horror history. There’s something about the way the score just makes the scenes pop, and the opening title sends shivers down the listeners’ spines. If you’re a fan of this score, you can find in on CD and vinyl, and it’s well worth the purchase. I also want to note that I play tracks off this soundtrack all the time on the WYSO show Alpha Rythems. Just wanted to touch up on this score as I truly think it’s one of the best in the horror film world. Plus the song called “The Gonk” that is played as one of the muzak songs in the mall is also the end credits theme done to the beat of chickens for the stop motion show Robot Chicken. I want to also note that the first time I ever owned this soundtrack was thanks to a old website called Rogers Basement that used to have custom made soundtracks.  He had one called The Dead Trilogy and had the music for Night, Dawn and Day as well as dialogue from all three films.

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Did you know that Dawn Of The Dead had it’s own strategy board game? I first learned about the game in the mid 1990’s thanks to my friend Geoff Burkman (who I’ve known since I was a kid.  I job shadowed him when I was 16, and we watched Dawn of The Dead to see if we could spot Gaylen Ross’s nipple in a scene!) who had the game and told me all about it.  You see, Geoff is a huge fan of the Romero dead films and even played a zombie in Day of The Dead…but that’s for a future update. When I started working at Game Swap in Kettering, a man named Martin started showing up and bringing in tubs and tubs of horror toys, movies, posters, comics, magazines and board games and in his collection that he was selling was the Dawn Of The Dead board game. This year I asked for a reunion of the Dayton Board Game Society so that we could play this game and the the group and I could share our thoughts on it.  The players were Josh Weinberg who was Fran, my Cousin Stephen Alexander playing as the Zombies, Jeremy Hoyt took the role of Roger, Thomas “Maurice” Smith was Peter and I played as Flyboy. The game was very strategy-based and Josh, Jeremy, Thomas and I had to think wisely as the goal for us as the human survivors was to lock all the mall entrances, get the rifles for Steve and Fran and lastly kill all the zombies left in that mall. The zombies goals are to kill at least three of the players, and if Fran dies the game is over.  They also try to infect the survivors, and once infected they can be turned into a “Super Zombie” and can amp up the other nearby zombies and add to the players’ panic meters. We decided to shorten the game and just go for the shutting of the doors as we bent the rules a little as really it was made only for four players with two playing as the zombies and two playing the survivors.  But we added one extra player and only had one man playing the zombies.  The reason for shortening of the game was that it was getting to be over two hours just to complete that task. Peter, Roger and Fran survived the game, and Flyboy was infected and later become a Super Zombie, but I must say I was proud that as Flyboy I was able to lock two of the doors before I was killed. Over all the game was lots of fun and was a good and spooky time to play with great friends. So if you and your friends are into table top games and are looking for something to play this Halloween season, I would suggest Dawn Of The Dead as we all had a good time playing it.  I am sure that if we played by the official rules it would have been equally as enjoyable.

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Besides the board game, soundtrack and home video releases of Dawn, some other great merchandise has been made based on this cult classic zombie film like t-shirts, posters, a homebrew Atari 2600 game, hats, books, magazines and of course action figures. Two companies stepped up and made figures based on this film.  The first was Reds Inc. whose designs were cheap and were not the major must have items for fans and collectors. The next company to make figures was NECA, and their figures were way better in detail and quality.  These figures were very much must-haves for fans as I can remember Andy Copp wanting them when released and had me order them for him when I worked at Mavericks. So if you’re a fan of Dawn Of The Dead, you can find yourself some great official and unofficial merchandise. Below are some pictures of the action figures that were made of characters from the film.

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The film has many memorable zombies, from the Hare Krishna Zombie all the way to Machete Zombie, but for me the stand out and the most iconic from the film has to be the poster boy known as Plaid Shirt Zombie, a tall undead bold flesh eater that our heroes run into at the airfield and who meets his fate from Roger’s gun. This grey skinned flannel shirt wearing zombie is so iconic that he has his own Halloween Mask as well as a zombie in the hit AMC TV show The Walking Dead was made up to look like him in a episode.  Paul Musser is the man who played Plaid Shirt Zombie and is pretty much only known for playing this role. Below is a picture of Plaid Shirt Zombie from Dawn of the Dead, and the two following pictures are him from The Walking Dead. This is update is in honor of you, Paul Musser, for playing one of the best zombies of cinema.

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On October 18, 2015 I finally bit the bullet and visited the Monroeville Mall.  I had heard rumors from so many people that the mall was not a safe place to be and that it was rundown and filled with shady characters, who wanted to rob you of your cash.  Plus it’s been said that the mall has changed so much that things didn’t look the same as they did in 1978. But Juliet and I were in town to meet Blue Demon Jr., and our great friends Pat Steele and Ann Rotolante were also in town and it was fun showing them the Evans City Cemetery as well as the Dead Museum.  The mall was on their must-see list as Ann is a huge Romero fan, and Juliet and myself had always wanted to visit it so it seemed like a great day to do so as the weather was cold, cloudy and rainy.  When setting up our trip to the mall, I talked to my friend David who knows a guy who gives big tours of the mall and shows you places scenes were shot and even could get us on the roof, but David informed us the night before we visited the mall that his friend had a family emergency and could not do the tour, but this didn’t stop us and we went anyway.  Below are my thoughts and feelings about visiting the main set for one of world’s most important zombie films, Dawn of the Dead.  So follow me into the Monroeville Mall!

Monroeville Mall

On the drive up to the mall’s parking lot I kept humming songs from the film as Juliet would chuckle, and upon entering the parking lot I noticed the place had a good amount of cars with many people heading into the main entrance as well as many of the big stores entrances like JC Penny. When entering the mall, a rush of horror nostalgia swept over me as I realized so many great actors like Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross stepped into that mall and acted out war alongside extras as zombies and bikers.The mall was filled with lots of empty storefronts and had a clash of old indoor mall appeal mixed with a modern 90’s updated look.  We walked around the upstairs looking for any kind of familiar sites or even some sort of plaque stating that this was the mall from the film.  While some spots triggered memories of the film, we walked past a vape store that was playing Dawn Of The Dead on a big screen TV and that helped add to the mood of the mall.  Also upstairs, in one of the side entrances, was a giant mural the depicted lots of classic stuff from Pennsylvania like Mr. Rogers and yes, a zombie.  Walking around we took many pictures of hallways, doors, stores and elevators all the while having good conversations about Dawn Of The Dead among other topics. Juliet was happy when she spotted a TCBY.  So naturally we all had to have a small bowl of frozen yogurt as we continued our quest of the mall. The mall had a giant Cinemark Movie Theater in it, and this made me flashback to the days of Dayton Mall having one. The ground floor was more of the same with stores like Spencer’s and no clear signs of objects or landmarks from the film.  One cool store had something called Zombieburgh Lazer Tag in it, showing the owner embraced the history of the mall. Finally toward the end of our tour of the mall, Ann found tucked away down a small hallway some photos and a plaque for Dawn Of The Dead as well as a room that read “Muzak Room.”  While small, it was very cool to see that they gave the film some love and added to our growing collection of pictures. After we were done and leaving the mall, it was nice to reflect on Dawn Of The Dead and just how Romero made so many places landmarks for horror fans in Pittsburgh.  At the time we came, the mall was not filled with shady people but normal families and lots of hot woman in tight pants, and not once did I feel like someone was up to no good. I was sad that the bridge, clock and fountain were all gone but times change and sadly in the world of corporate malls, those items take up room that could be used for vending machines or another lame pretzel cart. I’m very glad to have gone to the Monroeville Mall and to have spent time there with people who also love the history and atmosphere of this landmark. Below are some more pictures from the mall that I took while I was there.

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So there you have it, I wandered the halls of the Monroeville Mall just like so many zombie fans before me, and I can’t stress how amazing it felt to be there. While not as special to me as the Evan City Cemetery, it still is a must visit for fans of the Romero Dead series. So while I sit here in the hotel room in Mars, PA, I think it’s time for me to start taking a look at the IDW comic adaptation of Dawn of the Dead and see how well they capture the bone chilling magic of the film. I want to think Ebay, Dark Star and Bell Book And Comic for having these in stock and as always must remind you that 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, and its art and story. So let’s head out to the mall with Fly Boy and see what kind of undead fun we can stir up!

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Dawn Of The Dead # 1 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 1 of 3

Fran is asleep and wakes up at her job at the TV station during a debate between a host and his guest. The doctor is talking about the dead coming back to life and eating the living, and worse, the station is showing outdated safe zones causing people to die by trying to reach them as the station manager is still worried about ratings.  Fran is met by her boyfriend Steven who is the station’s helicopter pilot and wants her to meet him on the roof later so the pair can escape using it. Meanwhile, downtown a SWAT team is surrounding a building being overrun by a gang, and they soon find out that besides the gang, the building is filled with normal residence as well as zombies.  Roger is a good team member and is friends with Steven.  He’s suppose to escape with them as well, but when he meets fellow SWAT member, Peter, they bond over the horrific things they are having to do in this building killing zombies.  Roger invites Peter to get away with them. The helicopter is ready and Steven, Fran, Roger and Peter all get aboard and while flying high above see that the zombies are everywhere and that humans are trying to fight back. Stopping at a small airfield, they have run ins with some zombies and tension between Peter and Steven breaks out as by accident Steven almost shoots Peter while trying to kill a zombie. They are low on fuel and need a place to sleep and soon find a giant mall and land on it’s roof.  The parking lot is filled with the undead, and they decide to go into the mall to look around.

This first issue in the adaptation of the cult zombie film Dawn Of The Dead packs a punch but also pulls many of its powerful blows as many iconic scenes from the film have been cut for this comic book. Gone are many of the scenes of Peter, Roger and the SWAT Team blowing away zombies in the apartment building.  Gone is Peter having to shoot the zombie kids at the small airfield.  Gone is Steven and Fran fighting for their lives against zombies in the hanger on the airfield as well as the iconic zombie who gets his head chopped off by the helicopter twirling blades. I do understand that things would have to be chopped out of this adaptation of a over two hour film to be able to fit into three issues  that total only 26 pages each, but these things I mentioned are things that should not be cut as they are very iconic scenes in the movie. But even with these cuts, I still found this IDW Comic to be very entertaining, and it captures the emotion and characters of the film pretty well on the slick comic pages. Fran and Steven come off as a loving couple who are both bull headed yet will watch out for each other no matter what, Fran has a sense of responsibility, and she goes into a rage when she finds out that the station she works for is giving out very outdated info to the public, while Steven is more a man who wants to protect himself and those he cares about. Roger and Peter are SWAT team members who have a terrible job of clearing out a apartment building where the residents are hiding the undead as well as gang members, and this sets them off to run away and go on a unknown quest with Steven and Fran in the helicopter. All the characters are very likable right now with Peter being my favorite as one panel shows him crying for having to slaughter some zombies, but he is still as tough as nails. The zombies are everywhere but have not been too much of a major threat yet for our survivors, and the classic Plaid Shirt Zombie is played down but still present. I can’t wait to see more zombies become more threatening and add that true gloom and doom to our story. The comic is pretty bloody and filled with gore as many zombies and people are blown away complete with brains and guts spewing everywhere.  The zombies do get to bite the flesh off of some humans making it feel slightly like a gore comic…with my favorite kill of the comic being the head shot of a SWAT member by the hand of a gang member as the panel is gross and well done. The cover is pretty sweet and has the feeling of the late 70’s mixed with a independent comic cover of the early 2000’s. The art inside is done by Chee Yang Ong, and it’s fantastic as he knows how to draw zombies and has many times with his work on other undead titles like Wake The Dead and Zombie Tales. Over all, this is a great comic adaptation, one that captures the mood and feeling of being here in Pittsburgh. Let’s see what issue two has to offer as we now enter the mall.

Dawn Of The Dead 2

Dawn Of The Dead # 2 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 2 of 3

The survivors enter the mall from a skylight and find cases of spam to eat and a small safe room to rest in.  As Steven sleeps, Peter and Roger decide to hit the mall stores and try to get things they might need like a TV, radio and food, all the while dodging and killing the zombies that are wandering around inside the mall. The noise of gun fire awakens Steven who decides to go down and help, along they way he picks up the blue prints of the mall and is attacked by a zombie lurking in the shadows, but thanks to a handgun he found, he is able to save himself. Steven joins Peter and Roger, and together they get the supplies they need and find that ducts above the stores can lead them from store to store without being attacked by zombies. During this time they also decide that they may all just stay in the mall for awhile. Fran is pregnant, plus she wants to learn to fly the helicopter and come up with a plan to rid it of zombies and keep them out. The plan is for Fran to keep watch with a rifle on the mall’s roof, Peter and Roger to drive trucks to block the entrances and for Steven to fly high above them and keep watch in his helicopter. The plan is going well but Roger gets sloppy and is bitten by a zombie, and this marks him for turning into a undead flesh eater.  But before he turns, he wants to help ride the mall of the zombies. Thanks to the gun store and a prize car inside the mall the group is able to kill off all the zombies and bask in the glory that is the spoils and goods from the stores.

The heat is on for our survivors as they are faced with not only hordes of zombies but also the fact one of their own has been bitten and is dying and at some point will turn into a zombie.  The plot of this issue really has them at the mall discovering what treasures are inside the stores and working together to secure the mall and rid it of zombies. Fran is a little more on edge as she feels like they are treating her like a den mother and not a member of the team because she is going to have a baby, and I give her big props for standing her ground and demanding respect. Steven, Roger and Peter all have dreams of staying for awhile at the mall and relaxing and coming up with a plan as well as listening for any news on what’s happening in the outside world. The zombies, while slow, are flesh hungry and try as hard as their undead bodies will allow to attack, eat and kill our heroes, and sadly for Roger, he has chunks of his flesh eaten and now is infected with the disease that is bringing the dead back to life. This issue is blood and gore filled as well with many gruesome zombie deaths being present complete with exploding heads. So fans of blood soaked comics will be happy as the splatter is present and gore-tastic in nature. Like in issue one, many scenes are missing like Steven running from the zombie and wasting bullets trying to hit him in the boiler room, and many other scenes are cut or trimmed down. I will also say that while Peter is still my favorite character so far in the adaptation series, with Fran’s attitude change her character has broken out of being just a generic background character and into the front of the pack showing she has more to offer than just standing around whining about having to eat spam. The cover like before is great and show cases zombies as well as the iconic Dawn of The Dead logo, and the art is once more done by Chee Yang Ong and looks great. I do need to make the comment that the characters look nothing like the actors who play the parts in the film, but they hold all the characteristics of them to make it work. This issue is not only very horror themed but also has the drama appeal that made the film so iconic.  So over all we have another great issue in this Pittsburgh zombie cult classic adaptation.  Let’s see what issue three has in store for us.

Dawn Of The Dead 3

Dawn Of The Dead # 3 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 3 of 3

They clean up all the zombie bodies and place them into the freezers to kill the smell and tighten and lock all the doors.  The mall is theirs, and they go on a shopping spree and enjoy the spoils of their hard and dangerous work. Things are not all good are Roger is becoming more and more sick, and death is near for him.  Fran, Steven and Peter wait in the other room as Roger is dying and watch the news that features more arguments and less reason to why the dead are rising. Roger dies and returns as a zombie, and Peter is waiting for him and quickly kills his close friend. Time passes and Fran learns how to use the helicopter, and while training, a group of bikers spot them and decide they want what’s in the mall and don’t mind killing to get it. They enter the mall, and by opening the doors, thousands of zombies also enter causing an all out war that leaves many of the bikers dead, tons of zombies dispatched and poor Steven dead and now a zombie. Peter and Fran wait for an hour in their mall hideout home, and finally the zombie come calling lead by Zombie Steven.  Peter kills him and urges Fran to leave as he will not be joining her…as she is about to fly away, Peter changes his mind of committing suicide and decides to join her on the escape. As they fly away the helicopter has very little fuel and the whole area is covered in zombies, making it clear that no matter how far they run the zombie will be there.

Dawn Of The Dead Lite is the best way to sum up what this three issue comic series is and while that might sound like I am saying it’s bad, I am not as I found myself fully enjoying it and loving every undead blood soaked moment. The reason I call it lite is many scenes and iconic characters seem to be missing from this comic adaptation, and with this issue many moments came to mind that are just nowhere to be seen or are so chopped up and shorten they seem like they are missing. Iconic moments like the Hare Krishna Zombie trying to attack Fran is gone, the Machete Head Zombie and his scene of the blade going into his skull is gone…in fact the whole climax of the biker gang invading the mall and running wild is so cut down they seem like just a small plot ink blot to move the zombie back into the mall. Now as I said before I understand things needed to be cut and trimmed in order to fit into three issues of a comic book, but to remove iconic characters and scenes seem very silly. I mean the talk show host and doctor arguing over zombies is left in but no Hare Krishna Zombie death? It j seems like a very odd choice of things to keep and things to cut. I should also note that the Hare Krishna Zombie does make an appearance in the comic, but his death and attack on Fran does not. Plus the comic at times does some odd things like for some reason a Elvis Presley Zombie is the first zombie to come through the elevator and try and eat a hurt Steven…why? But again while changes are present the comic holds a real charm to it and does a pretty dang good job of smashing all the drama elements into the pages, much like the film in the comic each character has their own personality and each are likable people that you find yourself cheering for to make it out of whatever situation they are in. Peter is clearly the man with the plan from the group, while Steven is the brains figuring out blue prints and escape routes. Roger is the wild card reckless but also skilled at tactics, and Fran is more of the voice of reason pointing out the dangers and also coming up with back-up plans. The bikers are a bunch of thieves who feel they are owned the stuff they steal who kill and destroy and to be fair when they are killed by the zombies or the bullets from the survivors guns you can’t help but feel that they deserved it. The bikers that are truly missed in this comic is Blades, played by Tom Savini (who is seen in just one panel), and the blood pressure machine using biker who gets eaten while testing it. The zombies are a threat in this issue as the hordes of them that enter the mall are hungry and want to chomp on any human they can get their rotten fingers on. The blood, guts and gore are present again in this comic and many of the deaths (or is the re-deaths?) in the comic are more graphic than those in the movie and that’s sure to please many gorehound comic fans of such titles as The Dead and the original Walking Dead. The cover for issue three is good but the weakest of the three, and the art inside is done by Chee Yang Ong again who really captures the zombie nature of the film. I wish IDW would do more of these horror movie adaptations or even original stories based on classic cult films.  So far, off the top of this comic reader’s head they have done Motel Hell, The Fly, Land of The Dead, Masters Of Horror and IT! Terror From Beyond Space, and all those were entertaining and well done for the most part minus The Fly. I would love to see them tackle the likes of Pumpkinhead, Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Night Of The Demons, to name a few. Over all, while it’s is not 100% perfect, this three issue Dawn of The Dead series hit home and was the perfect comic series to read during this vacation to Monster Bash. If you’re a fan of the Romero Dead films, check this one out and take a look below for a examples of Chee’s work in this comic series.

Dawn Of The Dead Art 1Dawn Of The Dead Art 2Dawn Of The Dead Art 3

So we are leaving the zombies of Dawn of The Dead behind as well as the 2016 vacation to Monsterbash and Pittsburgh and as always it was a blast and it’s a shame it had to come to an end. It’s always great to take in the local Pittsburgh eateries like Eat’N ‘Park, Wing Kings and The Snowman as well as support local businesses like New Dimension Comics, The Dead Museum and Cranberry Cinemas and visit iconic sights that horror classics like Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead were filmed. And the thing that brings us to town is Monsterbash, a convention that feels like home and offers so much to an aging monster kid like myself. So I want to thank Juliet for always being not only my girlfriend but my Pittsburgh pal. I want to thank my co-workers at Game Swap Kettering for holding down the fort, and I also want to thank my cousin Stephen Alexander for feeding and watching over our two cats Leslie and Streets J while we were out of town. And a big thank you to everyone we meet while in Cranberry Township as they always make us feel welcome. In closing, Dawn Of The Dead is one of the most iconic zombie films ever made and George A. Romero could be one of the best directors to make zombie films ever and thanks to IDW, we horror comic readers got to enjoy a pretty fun and bloody adaptation of this cult classic. Our next update will take us away from the undead and will pit DC Comics top detective Batman against the hairy beast man of the Himalayas the one and only Snowman. So forget about Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice this is the real battle you have been waiting for. So until next time, watch a zombie film or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local horror host! See you next time for this epic showdown!

Batman vs Snowman Logo

American Hero: The Original Shield

Happy July 4th and welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place where everything nerdy that inspired me has a place to shine and be discussed! Who doesn’t love a holiday that is in celebration of our nation’s independence and is filled with cookouts and amazing firework displays? So for this update I decided to cover a patriotic super hero and had many to choose from such as Captain America or even DC’s Freedom Force with Uncle Sam, but I decided to cover The Shield, a hero who pre-dated them all and has a fun Americana feel. So grab a burger and a cold beverage, and sit back, relax and have some fun with me here at Rotten Ink as we celebrate July 4th!

Fireworks go boom

Growing up, I can remember that my Brassfield grandparents would have cookouts that would have that side of the family gathering to eat burgers, hot dogs and steaks and play some baseball, Nintendo or football with the cousins and have an overall fun time. Later in the evening, we would all go to Delco Park and watch the fireworks and celebrate our independence. But while for the most part those were fun times, I can also remember many of years drama breaking out over someone having too many beers, and fights and arguments would break out for no reason.  Maybe my friend Henrique Couto should make a follow up to his film Awkward Thanksgiving and call it Awkward July 4th cause I have some fun and silly stories to share with him on that subject! The older I got, the less the family meet up and the more I would go out with friends to watch the fireworks or attend BBQs with them.  Some of the best times I have ever had on this day had to be sitting in a football field with my friend Andrea Seay and watching fireworks, just chatting with her as we watched the sky explode with bright colors, showing me just how important she was and still is to me.  Sadly we have drifted apart due to a dumb decision I made when it came to her. I also remember having great times on this day with David & Katie Wean cooking out and eating hamburgers and hotdogs chatting about movies and music. I also remember having a good time over at Patrick Neeley’s house cooking out, chatting, listening to music and playing video games. I also always had an amazing time hanging out on this day with my brother Bryan and his family along with friends like Andy Copp, Henrique Couto, Mike Ritchie and Nick Williams grilling out and watching Couto set off tiny fireworks or blow up apples and such with firecrackers. Nowadays I spend July 4th with my girl Juliet, and we find some sort of wacky thing to do to celebrate the day. I am going to pack lots into this update, not only about The Shield but other things to do with the holiday as well as a few things that don’t! But one thing is for sure, if you’re reading this on July 4th I am sure you are enjoying some grilled out meat while being around your loved ones waiting for the fireworks to go boom!

grilled out burgers

In 2015 on July 4th for some reason I had to work for a few hours and then went to WYSO and got Alpha Rhythms done.  When I got home, Juliet and I decided to try some chicken wing sauce we bought at Jungle Jim’s that was called “Oh My Garlic.”  This was originally bought to have during one of my Horror Movie Marathons as the bottle had a pretty cool vampire drawing on it, but that idea changed as the last marathon I had was pretty large and we ended up ordering wings from Fricker’s instead. We got some fresh farm grazed chicken wings and drumsticks from Dorothy Lane Market, and when placing them in the glass pan, I put some spices on the wings and then put a little butter on them as well to help make them turn crispy and brown and placed them in the oven at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes. When taking them out I covered them with the Oh My Garlic sauce and man the smell was great.  Juliet and I knew that dinner was going to be really good and we could sleep easy as the heavy garlic smell would scare off any vampire. After about 30-40 minutes the wings were done and our feast began. The Oh My Garlic sauce was fantastic and had a strong garlic taste and the flavor mixed well with the chicken, spices and butter drawing out the garlic taste even more and really soaking into the meat. This is one sauce I will eat again and look forward to the next trip to Jungle Jim’s so that I can raid the chicken wing sauce aisle and get another bottle and see what other wonders I can uncover! The first picture is of the Oh My Garlic Sauce.  The second is the finished meal, and the third is the wings when the sauce was first placed on.

Oh My Garlic SauceOh My Garlic Done WingsRaw Wings With Oh My Garlic sauce

What would July 4th be without talking about something creepy! In 2009, a strange video was uploaded to Youtube by a user named Creepyblog that shows a very creepy female android singing a song called “I Feel Fantastic” while it moves its hands about.  It sent shivers down viewers’ spins, and the web was creeped out with many people asking what is this?! Tara The Android is the thing’s name.  No one is 100% sure of its origins and it’s true intention of being made, but like anything odd on the internet, there are a ton of theories that I would like to share them with you. Before you read on, you should watch the original video by typing in “I Feel Fantastic” into Youtube or just click the title from this page. Many people believe that Tara was made by a man named John Bergeron who made her to be a novelty concert attraction that he planned to book at clubs and art shows to show off her singing ability as well as his android work, but after not getting the attention he thought she would via her website as well as some issue with her not being that portable, the idea was scrapped. This theory is the most logical one and takes any creepy element away from Tara and her creator.  It was said that for a short time on the website that is now almost shut down, you could buy the songs as well as the “music videos” from Tara…is this fact or was the website made up to help build the legend of Tara? The next, more science fiction, theory is that Tara was made by a man who was killed by her and now the female android is on the loose looking to sing to and kill anyone who gets in her way…this one is silly and over the top and seems like it could have been an episode of The X-Files. The best, and also very believable, theory is that a serial killer made Tara and dresses her in his victims’ clothes and has her sing positive things to him as if murdering them was the right thing.  At one point Tara says “You Are Fantastic” but also says such odd things as “Run, Run, Run” and “Please Leave” adding to the killer using phrases he wanted to hear as well as what he did hear from his victims. Many videos were made and most are laced with strange lyrics and odd costume changes for Tara. Another odd thing is during the music videos random shots of a backyard are shown zooming into the ground ,and this is said to be the location of the body or bodies of victims. The background music that accompanies her lyrics sounds like weird low budget horror film score music adding fuel to the creator being a killer. No record has ever been uncovered if this is the work of a killer, and many people think this theory is just told to scare people looking for a good Creepypasta. So I am sure your wondering what I think the story of Tara is, well let me tell you that I am not sure! So what do you think, was she a would be android pop star made to make its creator some extra money? Is it a killer android on the loose who killed its creator looking for blood? Or is it the work of a killer who uses the robot to relive his crimes and feel good about his deeds? Only Tara and her creator know for sure, and they aren’t saying anything! On a side note weird stuff like this is why I do love the World Wide Web, cause it’s open to debate what is real and what’s only fiction to make a Creepypasta.

tara the android 1Tara The Android Backyardtara the android 2

On this update the CD I listened to as I wrote was picked by my friend and co-worker Dan Harkless, who is a Vietnam Vet and served his country in the war.  I always enjoy sitting around and listening to his war stories, and it’s given me a perspective into battle.  He is an all around fun person to chat with who loves Russ Meyer films and Playboy Magazine.  He’s a great swimmer who won awards, a gardener, was a fan of Sub Mariner when growing up and is a music lover. Dan picked Harry Chapin’s 1977 release Dance Band On The Titanic as his favorite, and this is interesting as I know very little about Harry Chapin besides the song “Cat’s In The Cradle” that almost every music listener knows.  So this is a very big unknown for me as I do not recognize any of the songs on this CD! The first thing I noticed is the 70’s pop folk sound of the tracks.  This was not what I was expecting at all as I felt going into it that it would be 100% folk rock, so this was a pleasant surprise! The first track that caught my ear was “Why Should People Stay The Same,” a nice song about change in relationships with a touch of religion.  It’s a good song with a catchy beat. Many other well produced and well played tracks followed including the soft folk ballad mixed with a dash of big band song called “Dark Valley (An Imitation Spiritual)”, a song that also caught my attention. While this CD was nothing I would normally listen to, I did find some great songs to write to on it and want to thank Dan for recommending it to me to go outside the borders of what I normally listen to.

Dan Harklessharry chapin dance band on the titanic cdHarry Chapin

My brother and I used to rent a lot of horror films from K&L Video.  We would look up and down the New Release Wall looking for low budget titles that would catch our attention or direct to video sequels to films like Children of The Corn, but in 1996, a cover box caught my attention for a horror film called Uncle Sam that had a picture on the back of it that made me crack up and caused us to rent it! The picture on the back that had me laughing was a man dressed in an Uncle Sam mask peeking into a window and watching a woman in the bathroom…so cheesy, yet so 90’s direct to video horror! The film was directed by William Lustig, who was known for The Maniac Cop series as well as titles like Maniac, Relentless and Vigilante, and starred names like Bo Hopkins, PJ Soles, Isaac Hayes and David “Shark” Fralick and was released by A-Pix Entertainment. The film is about a young boy named Jody who idolizes his uncle Sam Harper, who is a master-sergeant in the army and is killed in a crash, but when the body is flown home, the small town soon finds out Sam is not dead.  He is a zombie killing machine and must be stopped by his nephew who once looked up to him. You see Sam was not a good man who enjoyed beating his wife as well as killing in wars.  While his nephew thought he was a true patriot, he in fact was a scumbag. While watching the movie, my brother and I spent time spotting the G.I. Joe action figures and enjoying the over all cheesy nature of the film. Sam Harper wears the Uncle Sam costume once he kills a peeping tom who was wearing it and has two looks, one with a mask and one with a zombie like burnt rotten face.  That’s right, sadly the picture on the back cover was not the killer, but just some teen tying to sneak a peek at a girl he likes. Uncle Sam leaves itself open for a comic sequel as it looks like a film one is not in the books. The story for the comic could have a grown up Jody, who is now in the military himself, being sent to a top secret base where he finds that the government has many experiments locked away including the still reanimated body of his Uncle Sam.  They want him to lead this rag tag group of “controlled” reanimated solders into battle against terrorist, and Jody soon learns that no one can lead Sam as he takes control of the zombie army and leads a war against not only terrorist but returns home to settle the score with the town that hides his ex-wife as he wants her dead! The comic would come to an epic end battle in the small town as Jody leads a group of elite soldiers against Sam and his army of the undead! The comic could be filled with lots of blood, bullets and boobs and the home coming for Sam of course would have to take place on July 4th so that during the final battle, fireworks could be going on in the background. While no major comic company would touch this to turn into a comic series I would say that out of my friends, the ones I would love to see make this would be Eric Shonborn or Justin Wasson, both of whom I think could make this idea pop and come alive the way it should. If you like low budget horror films that have a holiday themes to them, then make sure to check out Uncle Sam as I am sure it will give you at least an entertaining watch.

unclesam751BQEVJB3JLunclesam

The Shield was created in 1940 by Harry Shorten and Irv Novick for MLJ Comics for a series called “Pep Comics” and was one of the first true patriotic superheroes of comics. In 1959 Lancelot Strong became the new Shield for a comic called “The Double Life Of Private Strong”, but Archie Comics pulled the plug on the series after only two issues. In 1983, Lance once more as The Shield was given another run under “Lancelot Strong: The Shield” and had two name changes during its seven issue run. Think about that; the comic had three titles for seven issues! The Original Shield, who was back to the first one – Joe Higgins, came out for Red Circle Comics and lasted only four issues. 1991 saw DC Comics (under Impact Comics) giving him a try with a series called “The Legend Of The Shield” that had Joe Higgins as The Shield for thirteen issues, and later Lt. Michael Barnes took up the mantel, in a series that only lasted sixteen issues. In 2015, Archie Comics under their Dark Circle Comics banner, has released a new version of The Shield that has Victoria Adams stepping up to do America proud. So that’s the publishing history of The Shield; up next we will take a look at Joe Higgins, who is the Original Shield!

Steven_Barnes the shieldShield 00VictoriaAdamsShield

Joe Higgins is a chemist, whose father Tom was working on a chemical formula that would act as a super solider serum, but the Germans want it and this leads to Tom’s death.  Joe continues his father’s work, and after using X-Rays and other chemicals, he does it! He gains invulnerability as well as the ability to leaps of great distance. He dresses in a outfit that sports the American colors, takes the codename Shield and takes a job for the F.B.I. to fight threats to America as well as try and clear his father’s name and expose his killers. His adventures are part superhero and part spy game as he also takes a young orphan named Dusty Simmons as his sidekick, and the pair stop many menaces and dangers. Later in life as he aged, he formed a group with teenagers he called “The New Crusaders”. Joe’s son Bill Higgins took over the role of The Shield when his dad was turned to stone by a bad guy named The Eraser, and in order to save him he also created a team called “The Mighty Crusaders! This is just a quick crash course of the history of The Shield as I don’t want to spoil too much and would like for all you readers to take some time and check out some of his comics.

shield1shield1Shield_2714

The Shield did get an action figure in 1984 as part of Remco’s toyline based around the superhero team The Mighty Crusaders that consisted of The Shield as well as 7 other figures. The Shield figure came with a gun belt, two guns and a shield that rocked the red, white and blue colors! The figures themselves are about the size of Mattel Secret Wars but more bulky in proportions, and their legs look like liverwurst logs stuffed inside spandex pants…to sum it up, they are weird looking. The Shield figure also has a goofy looking face, and sadly the whole figure line reeks of cheapness.  While my brother and I had a few of these figures growing up, hardly no other kid I knew did. The Shield was not one of the figures we owned growing up, but I can safely say if I did he would ended up just being a foot solider for my Secret Wars Captain America on rescue missions to save Princess Leia and Scarlett from the grip of Baron Zemo!

The Sheildt1il_570xN.664942093_e6ca

So I think we are all in a patriotic mood right now thanks to The Shield and it being July 4th so I think we should grab a burger or dog along with a favorite drink sit back enjoy the weather and atmosphere of being our independence day and take a journey with The Shield as he battles those who want to disrupt our way of life here in America. I want to thank Bookery Fantasy and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and helping make this holiday update special. Like always, I want to remind you that I grade these issues 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 light a sparkler and take a bite of that hotdog it’s time to go to war alongside The Shield!

Original Shield 1

The Original SHIELD # 1  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #1 of 4

A map has been stolen from the F.B.I., and The Shield wants to find out who stole it and why.  By donning his alter ego Joe Higgins, he tracks down a fellow agent who was the spy for a bad man named Boroff and was the key in stealing the map. At Boroff’s hideout he not only has the top secret map but also Professor Newton, the man who created the maps and knows the location of the item they seek,.The Shield comes in at the last second and beats up Boroff, who is working for a secret group called Delta 3 and saves Newton from being killed and finds out that what the map is hiding is no longer a threat as the radiation from bomb testing has ruined it. But things are not all good as Boroff escapes, and while one fight ends, the battle still rages on. When retuning back to work Joe Higgins finds out that the F.B.I. as part of budget cuts is closing one of their old storage warehouses and are giving away some old robots to the museum that was created by Boroff’s henchman Klotz.  He travels to Washington with Lisa Carvin, his boss, for a black tie affair and to check on the robot.  Upon arriving, he finds that they are already gone, and a man with a gun is waiting for him.

This is classic patriotic super hero action that shows a normal man in a special suit mixed with spy situations can be a great read and would be great for fans of Captain America! The plot of this issue has The Shield stopping a plan to kill a professor and steal a top secret weapon and along the way finding a mole within the F.B.I, beating up his arch nemesis Boroff, and trying to stop the transfer of old robots that he battled in the past. The Shield, aka Joe Higgins, is a great hero who uses his wits as well as his special powered suit (that reflects bullets, fire and blasts) in order to protect America from those who wish it harm. He is strong as a well-trained boxer and packs a punch that can break robots into pieces! He is firm and harsh when need be and doesn’t like to lose when it comes to the game of fighting crime.  He also enjoys being an F.B.I agent and ridding the streets of global threats. Over all I’m big fan of The Shield at this point and am very glad to be reading about him on the 4th of July! Lisa Carvin, who is Jim’s boss in the F.B.I., seems pretty cool at this point.  It’s clear she is not a fan of Joe but respects that he gets things done.  She is also clueless that Jim is The Shield. Boroff is a pointed tooth, black Mohawk haired beast of a man who clearly does not value human life.  We only get a small dose of him in this issue but I have a feeling he will be back in the future. This issue has likable characters, a fun dated yet classic story, good art and filled with pride from those who created this issue. Now the bad side is that the story picks up in the middle of the action as you had to read “Mighty Crusaders # 5” and “Pep Comics # 1” in order to really get the full backstory of what is going on.  I still am unclear as to what the map held the location of besides these numbers 42642. But even with that flaw, I really did enjoy this comic.  The cover is classic Archie Superhero stuff, and the art inside done by the likes of Dick Ayers and Tony DeZuniga and is fantastic stuff.  I really enjoyed the art as it reminded me of late 70’s Captain America work. Well let’s see what issue two has in store for us, and I am hoping it will be as good as issue one!

Original Shield 2

The Original SHIELD # 2  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #2 of 4

The man with the gun is no threat, but an old F.B.I agent named Dan Hurley who served with Jim way back when has now pieced it together that Jim is The Shield as he has not aged at all! The pair get talking about the past and how, for a short time thanks to a powerful ray gun from Boroff, The Shield lost his powers. After the talk, Jim asks Dan for help and makes it just in time to pick up Lisa for the party that is being thrown by Senator Casey.  At the party, Lisa meets an old flame named Ed Crisp, and Jim sees his old nemesis Klotz who tries to murder him with a poison gas capsule! Jim barely escapes and leaves the party with Lisa as he coughs and rambles on about a 80 year old spy. Jim passes out in front of Lisa’s hotel room, and she drags him inside where he has flashbacks to his past that include his wife, son Bill and old crime fighting partners and enemies. Once awake, he changes into his Shield outfit and finds Klotz who is out of his mind and is a working for Delta 3.  Klotz drops a grenade as our issue ends, hoping to blow them both up!

The Shield does it again with this second issue as he captures the mood of a time when comics were simple and plots were cut and dry with bad guys and good guys, another solid issue for sure! This time around Jim Higgins meets an old friend, The Shield comes face to face with an old enemy and Lisa comes in contact with an old flame. Plus throw in a shady Senator, and you have a fun spy costume hero comic plot. This issue The Shield aka Jim is once more a man of honor as he chats with an old friend and comes clean to him that yes, he is the costumed hero everyone depended on in the past.  Plus thanks to the gas, we learn that he was married and had a son, and we get a little about his old crime fighting friends who went missing.  We also learn that he was frozen into a statue by a bad guy named The Eraser, and that’s why he is so young in modern times. The Shield is a class act hero who reminds me of a character that would have been a member of The Minute Men from The Watchmen from DC Comics. Lisa Carvin is also a little more fleshed out as it’s clear that while she is hard on Jim she still likes him as a person and she is not your typical one sided female character as she acts and gets things done. Dan Hurley is a old timer who lives and breathes the F.B.I and is a pretty cool little side character.  I wonder what mission Jim asked him to do; I am sure in the coming issues we will find out. Klotz is a crazy old man and with him being nuts comes the danger as it’s clear he is not sane and will do whatever it takes to kill The Shield and impress Delta 3. I don’t trust Senator Casey or Ed Crisp as both seem a little too shady for this comic reader.  Plus Ed has one of those 70’s porn mustaches mixed with Mr. Kotter’s from Welcome Back Kotter! While not a lot of fists flying, this issue still packs a mighty punch with its simple and classic plot and good characters. The cover is pretty good, and that art inside is once again fantastic and done by three this time: Dick Ayers, Tony DeZuniga and Rex Lindsey.  It’s sure to please old school comic readers. Sad to say, we are at the half way point and this series is almost at an end. l hope the next two keep up the quality of the first two as I’m really digging this series.

Original Shield 3

The Original SHIELD # 3  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #3 of 4

The blast kills Klotz, and stuns The Shield for a few moments.  During this time he remembers back to the day he was broken free from being a living statue thanks to his son Bill who was acting as The Shield. He also thinks how different his time in the 1940’s was from present time in the 80’s. While looking around the room he finds the final mission for the robots, to attack the White House and kill the president! The Shield rushes to the White House running as fast as The Flash and defeats them. Changing back to Jim Higgins, he, alongside Lisa, confronts the Senator who seemed to be working alongside the crazy Klotz, but after they find Ed Crisp dead in his office from a suicide with a note claiming allegiance to Delta 3 the heat is off the Senator…for now. Delta 3 however is very not pleased with their plans being foiled and put a hit out on Joe and Lisa that is taken by Mega, a strong tall stretching powerhouse and Bit, a small man with telepathic powers! As Jim and Lisa leave Ed’s funeral, they both have the feeling he didn’t kill himself but was murdered to cover up Delta 3 plans.  As Mega goes after Jim, he soon meets Shield who makes quick work of him as Lisa is attacked by Bit who is finally beat by Lisa and The Shield together.

This issue tones down the spy aspect and ups the fighting as Shield goes toe to toe with Mega and Bit who are mutants sent to do his boss and him harm.  It’s a pretty great plot and could be taken straight from a classic Spider-Man comic. In this issue, the Shield watches as one of his old nemesis dies, discovers corruption in government and fights two mutants to save his own life as well as his boss’! Lisa Carvin is also fighting corruption as her one time lover has been murdered and framed all to cover up for the evil Delta 3. Mega and Bit are mutants with special powers who use them wisely, but just are no match for The Shield who outsmarts them in battle. But to be fair, Lisa is the one who delivers the knock out blow to Bit with a vase to his head. Delta 3 shows two members named Number 1 and Number 3, and they are cheesy bad guys who are worried about being discovered and that’s why hits are placed on the F.B.I agents. The best part of this comic series so far is the fact that as we get deeper in it, the plot thickens! The cover is good and classic 80’s superhero stuff, with art this time around being done by Dick Ayers and Rex Lindsey only, and like before it’s fantastic! The sad part about this issue is that we only have one more in the series and then we are done, but I guess that’s a good thing as if you are reading this update on July 4th I am sure you have cooked out food and fireworks to get to. So let’s not waste any more time and see what the final issue has in store for us.

Original Shield 4

The Original SHIELD # 4  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #4 of 4

Jim Higgins comes to work at the F.B.I and has a special note from his old World War II friend and now Army Col. named Boyle that informs him that in New Mexico a shield that belonged to his nemesis The Hun is being placed at an army base museum and that danger is near. As Boyle gets to the base and sees the Nazi shield with his own eyes, they come under attack as the aging Hun is mad as hell and as powerful as ever! The Hun manhandles Boyle and the aging base commander. But lucky for them, The Shield makes it just in time to tangle with The Hun and is able to make short work of him thanks to his love for freedom and power. In the end the Nazi shield goes missing, The Shield captures The Hun and America is safe from a threat once more.

This fourth and final issue in the series only slips slightly as the story is good, but also seems a little rushed. The plot is simple and has a Nazi super bad guy from the past attacking a military base.  He’s taught a lesson in manners by The Shield who makes quick work of him. In the issue the Shield comes off a freedom loving hero but oddly enough lost a little charm as this issue felt like it were trying to hard to be a Captain America issue. The Hun’s is amazing as it shows him as a German boy who had murdered people his whole life getting powers from the ghost of Attila The Hun and after doing so joined the Nazi party to try for world domination. While he sounds like a bad ass, he is shown to be a good fighter but is outclassed by The Shield in every way…making him no real threat. We finally meet Col. Boyle, and he comes off as a old man who lives in the past who is a mix of Nick Fury and Thunderbolt Ross from the Marvel Universe. With this being the final issue some questions do go unanswered.  It was clearly not supposed to be the final issue as they advertise in the end for issue five. So as far as we all know, if you just read The Original Shield series, Delta 3 is still out in the world causing issues and The Shield along with the F.B.I are still battling them, and I like that. The issue also takes a jab at Marvel Comics as in the end characters named Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are asked to dump the trash where the Nazi Shield is placed among the garbage. The cover is epic and shows The Shield going into battle with The Hun as army soldiers are frozen in place. The art this time around was done only by Dick Ayers and has a 50’s style look to it.  While not bad, it’s also not the best the series has looked. I should also mention that The Coment from Mighty Crusaders makes a cameo in the issue as he is how The Shield gets to New Mexico so fast. While The Original Shield is dated by all accounts and most modern comic fans would be bored to tears with its slow pacing and World War II dated hero who’s out of time being resurrected in the 80’s, I found lots of joy in reading it, and it triggered even more patriotic spirit in me as I read it on this day that celebrates America and all it’s glory. While this series might not be for everyone, I think fans of early Captain America will love every cheesy page of it. Below is some artwork from the series with the first two showcasing The Shield and the last being The Hun.

The Original Shield Art 1The Original Shield Art 2The Original Shield Art 3

The Shield, a True American icon, is worth the read and receiving the honor of being the first Rotten Ink update for the 4th of July under the “American Hero” banner. But our next update will take us away from the Star Spangled Hero The Shield and into the world of the living dead and another trip to Monster Bash Convention in Mars, PA, as we take a look at the IDW adaptation of Dawn Of The Dead! So until next time enjoy the fireworks, eat a hot dog or two, read some comics and enjoy this holiday with friends and family.

Dawn The The Dead Logo

Pro Wrestling’s Master Of The Five Count: King Kong Bundy

When you think of the big men of Pro Wrestling, names like Andre The Giant, Big John Studd, Big Van Vader, Haystacks Calhoun, Kevin Nash, One Man Gang and a small amount of others come to mind, but at the top of that list for any old school wrestling fan has to be the one and only King Kong Bundy! The walking condominium, as Gorilla Monsoon use to call him, has made his mark in the WWF and independent scene throughout the 80’s and 90’s and was one of the sport’s most hated bad guys as his feuds with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Hillbilly Jim and The Undertaker encouraged boos from fans worldwide. For this update, we will take a look at TLW Productions comic based on King Kong Bundy as well as the man himself and his career. So lace up your boots and make sure your tights are on right as we step into the ring with the master of the five count, the man who delivers the most brutal avalanche splash to anyone in his way, the legend of pro wrestling’s big men King Kong Bundy who was billed as weighing 458 pounds!

King Kong Bundy 1

Christopher Alan Pallies was born on November 7, 1957 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and did not start his wrestling career until 1981 when he began working for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) where he was named Big Daddy Bundy and would wear a rope belt to hold up his blue jean pants.  He was a fan favorite who was friends with the Von Erich Family, that was until a dispute broke up the friendship and Bundy began to be managed by Gary Hart and started to wear his signature black singlet and changed his name from Big Daddy to King Kong and went from good to bad in a blink of an eye! During the feud he would loose his hair in a match that would lead to Bundy’s final transformation into a monster heel. In 1982, King Kong Bundy was selected to be the final opponent for Fritz Von Erich who was Texas’s most iconic wrestler and the owner of World Class. Bundy would travel after leaving World Class and wrestle for the AWA, NWA, Japan and Mid-South where he would start his 5 count request to add heat from fans during matches against jobbers and fan favorites. In 1985, King Kong Bundy would sign to World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and be pushed as a giant heel that was managed by Jimmy Hart and would go to the first WrestleMania and defeat veteran S.D. Jones in nine seconds! In late 1985, Jimmy Hart traded King Kong Bundy’s contract to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan for both The Missing Link and Adrian Adonis as Heenan wanted Bundy for his stable called The Heenan Family. Bundy began a feud with Andre The Giant that became so heated that Bundy broke Andre’s sternum after a series of massive big splashes.  This lead to many matches finally settling in a match called “The Colossal Jostle” that saw Andre beating Bundy all during the match until Bundy was saved by fellow Heenan Family member Big John Studd. His next feud was with WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan after Bundy once more used his weight to crush Hogan giving him bruised ribs.  They settled the war in a steel cage at WrestleMania II where Hogan defeated his massive opponent. Bundy’s next major fight would come at WrestleMania III where Bundy along with midget wrestlers Lord Littlebrook and Little Tokyo took on Hillbilly Jim and his partners Little Beaver and Haiti Kid.  The match would have Bundy and his team losing by disqualification after Bundy body slammed and elbowed Little Beaver causing his own team to even turn on him! In 1987 on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event, Bundy would beat Hulk Hogan via count out, but by the rematch in 1988 on the next Saturday Night’s Main Event special, Hogan would beat Bundy.  This also marked the end of Bundy’s in WWF. During this run, Bundy was able to feud with wrestling’s top two stars with Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant and was a part of the major boom of pro wrestling in the 80’s,  Love him or hate him, King Kong Bundy helped put butts in the seats and delivered some fun and entertaining matches.

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After leaving pro wrestling behind for about six years, King Kong Bundy would return as part of Ted DiBiase’s group called “The Million Dollar Corporation” alongside other wrestlers like Irwin R. Schyster, Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatanka and The Fake Undertaker. His first Pay-Per View match was at Survivor Series where The Million Dollar Team beat the Guts And Glory Team lead by Lex Luger, with Bundy and Bigelow being the only survivors. Bundy would be in the 1995 Royal Rumble, coming in at # 15 and only lasting three minutes after being tossed out by Mabel. After floating around and doing the dirty work of The Million Dollar Corporation, his final WrestleMania was XI where he was defeated by The Undertaker and became number four of the Streak. Bundy’s second and final run in the WWF came to an end in late 1995. While his second run was not as impactful, it did introduce him to a new generation of wrestling fans, and he did a great job of putting over younger talent and will forever be on the books for losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania and become a notch on the legendary Streak.

King Kong Bundy 5King Kong Bundy 6King Kong Bundy 7

After leaving WWF in 1995, Bundy started working for independent promotions and became an attraction wherever he went! He wrestled for such promotions as USA Power Pro Wrestling, USWF, JCW and NBW, and while at an independent show facing Primo Canera III, the ring broke after he delivered a Bundy Splash! On October 10, 1999 for the Heroes Of Wrestling PPV, King Kong Bundy teamed with Jim Neidhart to defeat Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Yokozuna in an impromptu to tag match after Roberts was in no shape to wrestle.  Bundy and Yokozuna came out to try and save the match from stinking up the place. During this independent run, Bundy would feud with the likes of Koszmar Polski, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Tom Brandi and Doink The Clown. While slowing down nowadays, you can still find Bundy from time to time at wrestling conventions as well as comic and horror ones! At the age of 58, the idea of his return to WWE or even wrestling for TNA is very doubtful, but one thing is for sure, the master of the five count could still pin many of the worlds wrestling stars.

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On March 1, 1986 on the fifth Saturday Night’s Main Event special Hulk Hogan was defending his WWF Championship against The Magnificent Don Muraco when King Kong Bundy interfered in the match causing Hogan to win by disqualification, but this also lead to Bundy crushing Hogan’s ribs and causing the champ some major pain and forcing him to be carried away on a stretcher. This was one of the classic wrestling moments that stuck with me as Hogan was the Real American and the ultimate baby face in wrestling, and watching him get crushed was shocking! This moment lead to the Steel Cage Match at WrestleMania II, where, for the first time, kids of the 80’s truly thought that Hogan could lose the WWF Title.  I mean Hogan was going in the match with taped up ribs, and Bundy not only had the weight advantage but also had that weasel Bobby Heenan in his corner.  It was as if Hogan had the odds against him! Not to mention Bundy was on a 300 win streak that had him pinning people with his trademark 5 count instead of the normal 3. The steel cage was the classic thick blue bars and was not the terrible chain link fence they use now and looked more unforgiving even if it was probably just hollow metal. Calling the match was Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Horror Hostess Elvira Mistress Of The Dark, who was looking as ravishing as ever.  Even as a youngster, I always thought Elvira was one hot goth beauty. The match itself was brutal and a blood bath as Bundy was busted open and Hogan was able to get the win after climbing over the top of the cage to the arena floor. The match might not have been one of the best in the history of WrestleMania, but it will forever be one that I remember.

wrestlemania 2 mediawrestlemania 2 matchWrestlemania 2 vhs

But Bundy was not just a pro wrestler, he was also an actor and in 1988 he starred in “Moving,” a comedy starring Richard Pryor where he played moving man Gorgo who is the brute force for the rude movers who in the end gets punked out by Pryor’s character after everything goes wrong. Also in 1988, Bundy was on the TV Show “Married With Children” where he played Uncle Irwin, the brother to Peggy Bundy and would later be on an episode where he played himself and wrestled Bud Bundy who was dressed as a bee. Lesser known acting roles are the 2002 short film “Bill’s Seat” where he played Big Swede, and in 2008 he was in a film called “Fight The Panda Syndicate” where he played Otto Belmar. Besides acting, he also became a comedian and has tickled the funny bones of all who have seen him. While he might not be box office gold like The Rock, his roles in movies and TV have entertained many, and I must say Moving was a film my brother and I watched a lot.

King Kong Bundy MovingKing Kong Bundy Married With ChildrenKing Kong Bundy Married With Children 2

Vendex Computers with their HeadStart line in the late 1980’s hired King Kong Bundy to promote their product in TV Commercials as well as in Print Ads.  This is what is said that lead to Bundy leaving the WWF for the first time as Vince McMahon was upset that Bundy made the deal without telling the WWF and therefore, the story goes, he did not get a percent of the money Bundy earned as he was under contract with the WWF. But the argument would go that Bundy being an Independent Contractor could take out sourced jobs like that to make extra money but Vince did not see it that way. Bundy was the face for the computer brand for a short amount of time, but this was the final straw and the WWF and Bundy parted ways all over him make extra money on the side…or as I have said so the story goes. So what do you think should Vince have a right to part of his wrestlers pay for acting and promotion work? Did Bundy do the right thing by leaving the WWF in 1988? Would you have bought a Vendex Computer cause of King Kong Bundy endorse it? Is this even a real drama issue between Bundy and Vince that is said to still burn between the two till this day? Or is this just a wrestling rumor told through the ages? So many questions with so many answers!

King Kong Bundy Computer Ad

Like any wrestling legend Bundy has had his share of merchandise. Some of the most notable include the LJN figure as well as Thumb Wrestler and Bendie and the official WWF Bundy t-shirt. He would appear on trading cards, magazines and VHS tapes. He would have official action figures as of late as well as some none-WWF figures from smaller toy companies. He had a comic book series and video game appearances and posters. Growing up I had both the large and bendie Bundy figures, and me and my friends use to make jokes about how you could kill a person with his figure as it was one wide and heavy piece of rubber. I have lots of memories throwing that Bundy figure around and acting like Hulk Hogan or Andre The Giant were body slamming him. So if you’re a Bundy fan, there is stuff in the world that you can get to make your collection complete and show the world you stand with King Kong Bundy.

King Kong Bundy FigureKing Kong Bundy VHSKing Kong Bundy T-Shirt

King Kong Bundy has been in a few video games like Legends Of Wrestling series that had a total of three games that were released for PS2 and Xbox by Acclaim. In WWF/WWE games he has appeared in WWE 2K14 for 2K Sports and Legends Of WrestleMania for THQ both of those games were released for PS3 and Xbox 360. That’s right, you can relive King Kong Bundy fighting Hulk Hogan in a steel cage in many of these games or even have him try and Bundy Splash the likes of Ricky Morton, Mil Mascaras or Mike Von Erich in the Legends Of Wrestling Series. So pick up your controller and demand a five count when putting the Smack Down on the computer or a friend.

King Kong Bundy WWE 2K14WWE 2K14 King Kong BundyKing Kong Bundy Video Game

So I hope you learned a little about King Kong Bundy or even took a trip down memory lane with this update so far as it’s been fun looking back and remembering some of these moments in his career. I want to thank Jason Young who gave me issues one and two of this series for Christmas in 2015 and sparked me trying to find the other three issues in the series in order to do this update. I also want to thank TWL for sending me the missing three issues so that this update could happen! So before we get into the ring with the Master of the Five count, I need to remind you all that I grade these issues 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 step in the ring with the walking condominium and see what kind of comic adventures he will have.

King Kong Bundy Comic 1

King Kong Bundy # 1  **1/2
Released in 2001    Cover Price None    TLW Productions    # 1 of 5

The Iran Sheik is upset that all the kids around the world are cheering for King Kong Bundy, and while Bundy gets the tough fights, the Sheik feels he is getting no real competition. So a match is set up for Bundy to fight the Sheik that has the madman from Iran cheating to try and win by loading his boot, using the ring bell and even knocking out the referee. The Iran Sheik’s cheating ways leads to him loosing the match by disqualification. The rest of the comic is filled with short stories like two adventures of Lil’ Bundy that has King Kong Bundy as a kid going trick or treating.  The second story is him fighting with his teacher that he big splashes! Another story has Bundy at a bar throwing a man who was beating up his girlfriend through the front window for disturbing him while he was drinking! One has him buying a white suit that makes him look like a famed super villain called The Kongpin and being attacked by masked heroes.  While another has him accidentally drinking a experimental liquid right before a match that turns him to skin and bones, but even with the weight loss, the master of the five count puts a beat down on his opponent Tang Eater Smith! The final story has Bundy in the main event taking on another big man named The Volcano! The match is heavy handed but in the end Bundy gets the five count!

Wow, this is a mixed bag of comic stories all revolving around King Kong Bundy, and strangely enough they are pretty entertaining and have a true independent comic feel to them. The main stories are the book ends and showcase Bundy in fights with the first being againstThe Iran Sheik, who is the only other real wrestler to appear in one of the stories.  The second one has him fighting a parody of The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon) named Volcano who is a big heavy set guy who spits red mist to show the eruption. King Kong Bundy is the star of the comic and is shown in two different lights, one being a good guy who, while edgy, loves his fans.  The other side is pure heel with him claiming to be the best wrestler in the world and even chasing off an abused woman all because her fight with her boyfriend annoyed him while he was drinking. Odd to have Bundy shown in a positive light as he has always been a heel when I used to watch WWF as a kid, managed by the likes of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. It was nice seeing The Iran Sheik in the issue as he is the perfect bad guy for any wrestler turned comic hero to fight! Plus the issue’s other baddies, The Volcano and Tang Eater Smith, are pretty funny generic wrestlers who are just stacked up for Bundy to squash and get the five count on. The part that works the most for me about this comic is for some reason, just as Jason Young said, it reminds me of the old Rock N Roll Comics by Revolutionary Comics with its art style and charm.  Plus the cover is fantastic and would be eye catching to any fan of pro wrestling or independent comics. The art is done by Brien Cardello, and one segment is done by Marco Dileonardo.  Both are fitting and bring the mood and feel of this wrestling comic alive!One other cool aspect of this comic is there are one page features that breaks down big moments in Bundy’s wrestling and acting career complete with art and facts.  So sum it up, this first issue is lots of fun, and I am still amazed that this series exists and can’t wait to see what issue two has in store for me! 

King Kong Bundy Comic 2

King Kong Bundy # 2  **1/2
Released in 2002    Cover Price $5.00    TLW Productions    # 2 of 5

King Kong Bundy keeps making short work of sleazy manager Herbie Swartz and making his style look cheap and dated. So to get his revenge on Bundy, Swartz finds an old government robot war machine that looks like Bundy and books a match between the two. While at first it looks grim for Bundy, his never give up attitude proves too much for the robot showing the fans that no one can beat Bundy, not even a robot version of himself! Next up Bundy is upset as the crowd is booing him during his last match but soon finds out that the real match is the next day, and he actually beat up Metallica at their very own concert! The next adventure of Lil Bundy has him training Chuck Brown into beating the kids of Family Circus to death! In a quick story Bundy scares everyone out of the ring during a battle royal. The final story has midget wrestlers being mad about the way Bundy treated Little Beaver at WrestleMania III and want him to wrestle Smalley Biggs, a midget wrestler who has never lost.  After many sleepless nights of them disrupting his sleep, he and a college professor make a midget clone that is known as Mini-Bundy, and he wrestles the match and wins!

This second issue is much like the first, a fun read about a wrestler who by all accounts is underrated by current fans of the sport. Like the first issue as well, this one is packed with lots of mini stories about Bundy that has him cloning himself into a midget all the way to beating up Metallica at their own concert. King Kong Bundy is still loved by the fans for the most part but does do lots of bad things including, as a youngster, teaching a kid to beat weaker kids to death! But Bundy is the type of character that would pick on the weaker man as he is so powerful and bigger than most that survival of the fittest was his attitude even in WWF, just go ask S.D. Jones. Herbie Swartz is a great low talent manager who I hope shows back up in a future issue as his lame stable of wrestlers could be used more to be a thorn in Bundy’s side. Smalley Biggs and his fellow small wrestlers are good at being annoying and keeping the full size Bundy from getting sleep, but are no match for the tiny Bundy clone. My favorite story in this issue has to be the opener called “Enter Mecha-Bundy” as it reminds me of the film King Kong Escapes that pits a Mecha-Kong, a robot version of King Kong, against the real deal and that’s what this story is about as well. The cover for this issue is amazing and fitting as it’s dedicated to those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks and has Bundy standing tall holding the American flag. The art in this issue is done by many talented artists that include the likes of Andy Macdonald, Lou Platania, Sal Cipriano, Oliver Drac and Brien Cardello, and all do fantastic work on their segments. This issue also does a segment that takes a brief look at wrestler Big John Studd, and this made me wish they also would have done a full comic series based on him! Over all this second issue is just as great as the first, and I can’t wait to read issue three and see what its all about.

King Kong Bundy Comic 3

King Kong Bundy # 3  **1/2
Released in 2002    Cover Price None    TLW Productions    # 3 of 5

Captain Bodyslam is stuck in traffic, and this leaves Steve The Promoter without an opponent for King Kong Bundy.  But fate is on his side as he finds Frank, a big man who is an elevator mechanic, and offers him the match. Steve tells the Ref not to stop the fight as Frank fights very dirty and during the match Bundy takes a hammer and wrench to the head and finally gets mad when he finds out The Promoter told them not to stop the fight no matter what! By the time Captain Bodyslam shows up for the match, he is crushed in a accident caused by Frank and a counter weight! Bundy, Frank and the crew just walk away and get a beer. The second story has the comic creators trying to explain just how big King Kong Bundy is by comparing him to things ranging from bags of M&Ms all the way to Playboy bunnies. The third and final story has King Kong Bundy being harassed by superheroes like Superman, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Thor and by the end walking away in frustration.

King Kong Bundy is back to bring us readers three stories as well as more moments in his long wrestling career. I am still amazed that this comic series was made and also very happy to see it made as I think more comics about pro wrestlers should make their ways to comic book stores. In this issue Bundy is still well loved by wrestling fans and just looks forward to squashing his opponent in the ring in order to get the five count. Bundy also seems to showcase his short temper and doesn’t like it when he feels people disrespect him.  He also seems to not be bothered when a fellow wrestler is killed in the ring…oh that Bundy, he so crazy! Captain Bodyslam is so cheesy and reminds of a wrestler that you would see in a match at a high school gym and that’s what makes him such a fun ,yet gone-to-soon character. The opening story is my favorite as I like the idea of a crazed normal guy getting into the ring with Bundy and trying his best to cheat to win, but yet still can’t. Over all this is another good solid issue and shows that Bundy has more stories to share, and I really like the highlights of his career as this issue breaks down his matches with Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), The Undertaker and Diesel (Kevin Nash), and you can tell that artist and writer Brien Cardello is not a fan of Hall and Nash!  Let’s see what Bundy has planned next for us, shall we?

King Kong Bundy Comic 4

King Kong Bundy # 4  **1/2
Released in 2003    Cover Price None    TLW Productions    # 4 of 5

King Kong Bundy travels to Japan as he has been challenged by the undefeated Osara, a man that is the size of Bundy and who is filled with honor and the thrill of the fight! The match is sold out, and during the event, the promoters are cheating using robotic machinery to trip and hold Bundy in spot! By the mid-match Osara figures out that cheating has been involved in the match, and he awards Bundy the winner of the match as the crooked promoters run off. Bundy and Osara become friends after the match and enjoy a very healthy dinner of chicken! The second story has ninjas sneaking into Bundy’s hotel room with orders to hurt him a little to keep him in Japan so that a rematch can be made between him and Osara.  This of course backfires as Bundy thinks they are hotel workers helping him, and in the mayhem, he ends up hurting them badly enough that they quit! The third story takes a look at Bundy’s tag team match at the failed Heroes Of Wrestling PPV that had him and Jim Neidhart teaming up against Yokozuna and a trashed Jake Roberts! The fourth and final story has Bundy using puppets to explain why this issue was a year late!

More great stuff that features the squared ring!  This time around Bundy travels to Japan to face a challenger who just might have been able to beat him! Three of the four stories are really great in this issue with the fourth story being the weakest – but really it’s more of a comedy skit than a wrestling action one. While it’s hard to choose, I think my favorite story in this one has to be the Heroes Of Wrestling PPV as the depiction of a drunk Jake Roberts made me laugh as they made him look so rough that I laughed out loud! If you ‘ve ever seen that PPV, you realize that Jake ruined not only his match but also the main event! The comic acts as if Bundy was so mad about Jake’s antics that he came out to beat him up and that Yokozuna was bored with not beating anyone up yet and marched down to the ring as well. King Kong Bundy once more has lots of pride and when challenged travels to Japan for honor, yet he also beats up an old lady who is buying chicken for her little dog as he says he needs the protein! I think that’s what people should understand about Bundy in this comic, it’s his way or no way and he doesn’t care to hurt anyone who gets in his way! Osara is a mountain of a man, and by the looks of him, could have given Bundy a ride for his money.  But he’s also a man of honor; when he finds out cheating was involved, he quickly stops the match. This was a very fun issue and has art done by not only Brien Cardello but also Kris Renkewitz and Tom Lyle, and each gives their own touch to the look and legend of Bundy. The cover is also well done and reminds me of looking at the independent comic boxes at Mavericks Cards And Comics and buying some with the oddest looking covers in the mid 90’s. I’m still chuckling over the drawings of the bolding Jake Roberts, fun stuff indeed.

King Kong Bundy Comic 5

King Kong Bundy # 5  **1/2
Released in 2003    Cover Price None    TLW Productions    # 5 of 5

King Kong Bundy is at home watering the flowers in his front lawn when the paperboy throws the paper, hitting Bundy in the head and causing him to turn the hose on the paperboy and knock him into the neighbor’s garbage cans! Bundy soon finds out from neighbor and friend Chuck that the paperboy is the son of famed mobster Vito The Cobra! During the weekend poker game, a message of roses and a dead fish is sent to Bundy as a warning.  Then, during a TV broadcast at the local college during a battle royal, Bundy is attacked by henchmen in the ring but as always Bundy comes out the winner! In the end Bundy meets Vito, and the pair make peace as it’s clear his son in the instigator in the turmoil taking place in the neighborhood. The second story is about King Kong Bundy wrestling Jerry “The King” Lawler in an epic match that has Bundy pinning The King with the help of Rick Rude and Jimmy Hart, and oh yeah, a pair of brass knuckles. The third story has Bundy and his pal, fellow wrestler Warthog, in the costume room trying on all types of outfits making Bundy look like everyone from Hulk Hogan to Wolverine of the X-Men, but in the end Bundy just wants to be Bundy. The fourth and final part has King Kong Bundy answering questions from fan letters and ends up leaving on a date with Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

This was the final issue in the “Worlds Best Wrestling Comic” as the issues say and by all accounts while it might not be the best it sure as hell was one fun of a read! This issue has four stories with the best being the first as Bundy’s run in with the mob is a fun adventures that pits the odds against Bundy who never shows fear as his life is on the line. Plus it was cool to see the comic book version of the famous Jerry Lawler vs. Bundy match making this issue another hit with this comic and pro wrestling fan. I have to give major props to TLW Productions, Brien Cardello and all the other artist who worked on this series as they took a heel pro wrestler and turned out a solid well done comic that would please fans of wrestling as well as independent comics. King Kong Bundy through out the series shows many different sides of his personality as he can go from doing the right thing to getting pure joy on hurting people and it seems as if fans in the comic still always cheer him for almost anything he does good or bad. Plus I like that while his attitude might slightly change from story to story, from issue to issue Bundy acts like the same character, and this is the sign of a good character and good writers. In this issue we get to see the likes of Jerry “The King” Lawler, Jimmy Hart and Rick Rude, and throughout the series we also got to see Big John Studd, Iran Sheik, Yokozuna, Jim Neidhart and Jake “The Snake” Roberts all who added to stories and were great to see as comic characters.  For some of them, it was the very time they appeared in a comic.  Art is by Brien Cardello and looks pretty dang good and has a Box Brown, Chester Brown and Jason Young charm to it. The cover is over done and very pink, but heck it still is eye catching and fun. I would say if you’re a fan of pro wrestling from the 80’s and early 90’s, a fan of King Kong Bundy or just like smaller press comics, check out this series for sure as I am glad I got the chance to review it here on Rotten Ink.  Below is some artwork from the series, so give it a look for at least a five count!

King Kong Bundy Comic Art 1

Before I wrap this up, while doing some research for this update, I came across this picture of King Kong Bundy with hair and just had to share it with you readers as this is a sight most of us never have seen before.  The Bundy many of us know and love or hate was bald, so take a look at this!

King Kong Bundy With Hair

So I hoped you enjoyed this look at wrestling legend King Kong Bundy and that you learned something new or some of it triggered your own memories of his matches and career. Now I am sure I left some major things out including feuds and groups he was in, but I tried to focus on the things I remember him for as well as what would be considered his highlights. I want to also thank TLW Productions and Jason Young again for getting me these issues and making this update possible! For our next update we are stepping out of the ring and into the holiday of July 4th for a look at a patriotic superhero named The Shield.  So make sure to join me back here for that! Until then, read a comic or three, play a video game or two and support your local wrestling federation.  See you back here on July 4th!

On a side note TWL Productions is working on a new King Kong Bundy series that is currently looking for help funding via Kickstarter! The first issue being pitched will also have wrestling legend One Man Gang in it! So if you have a little extra cash and love classic wrestling like I do make sure to give and help it come alive.  

Archie The Shield Logo

Alien Invasion…Independence Day

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, or, if this is your first time visiting, thanks for checking out my tiny little spot on the web. It’s June, and that means we are at the start of the Summer Blockbuster season at movie theaters.  Hollywood is about to unleash all types of films for our viewing pleasure like they have for many years now, and one film coming is the sequel for Independence Day that was 20 years in the making! It’s crazy to think that Independence Day is 20 years old and that Hollywood has just now decided to make a sequel. Could you imagine if this movie was a reality and all the nations all over the world had to come together to fight off a galactic enemy who wanted to take over our planet, I am sure us Earthlings would not go down without a fight! So lets gear up and get ready to fight for mankind as we dive into this Alien Invasion update that pits Rotten Ink against those world stealing aliens of ID4!

ID4 Aliens in cases

Before the war to settle the July 4th score takes place, I would like to talk about an alien sighting in Carmel, Ohio on December 12th 2014 that left the two eyewitnesses shocked. That night the married couple were driving home down Carmel Road when just passed the church a large grey skinned being ran in front of their truck and into the woods across the street, the alien was described as being about 7 feet tall, with no arms or face with long backward legs that where very muscular in nature. The couple called the cops and reported the sighting,but nothing was found in the area. The husband, who’s not UFO believer as well as an Ex-Marine, drew a picture of the alien creature for the police, which you can see below. I should also note that the area has had UFO sightings, and the case is still open to this day. I think that Josh Weinberg and I should go on a road trip and try to hunt and capture on video this Carmel Alien!

Carmel Ohio Alien

Independence Day was released in theaters on July 2, 1996 by 20th Century Fox and is about aliens trying to take over the world and Earth fighting back on July 4th as we will not go down without a fight. The film was directed by Roland Emmerich and stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch, to name a few.  It was one of those overblown summer movies that had the hype machine behind it before it even rolled on the movie screen. Kids at my school were all talking about the film and how they went to the theater to see it and how it was the best movie they have ever seen, and in the back of my teenage mind I thought, you all said that about Toy Story and Batman Forever last year. My parents didn’t want to see this one in the theater and neither did my Bother and I, so we all waited for it on home video. I can remember renting this film from Blockbuster Video on VHS and the family watching it after dinner and we all walked away from it saying it was ok but man was that cheesy! The acting and dialogue are all over the top and at some points so damn silly you forget this is a big budget action film and not just some direct to video Sci-Fi film. Over the years I have seen it a few more times on DVD and still to this day I find it to be a silly over done film that serves it’s purpose in entertaining the viewer all the while delivering eye rolling moments. The one thing I can say I really did like about this film was the alien design as the tiny little guys wearing these giant scary suits that make them look like some odd looking Gamera of Godzilla villain mixed with a H.R Geiger painting. But it didn’t matter if I seen the film in theaters or not as it was the # 1 film of the year brining in a total of $306,169,268.00 and beating out such films as Scream, Jerry Maguire, Twister, Star Trek: First Contact, Mars Attacks! and Island of Dr. Moreau to name a few. When this film was released did you love it? Like it? Or Hate it?

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Like all good over blown summer blockbuster movies of the past, lots of merchandise was released to cash in on the popularity of Independence Day and to milk those few extra dollars out of the wallets of fans.  Besides the Marvel Comics adaptation, other items included widescreen edition trading cards by Topps, novels, video games, soundtrack on CD, t-shirts as well as action figures and a PC game that was so cheaply made the diskette we had never loaded right. For years to follow, I can remember finding the action figures on thrift store shelves for as cheap as .09 a figure.  Yeah, less than a dime. The soundtrack is something I never have picked up over the years and that’s odd because the music is done by David Arnold who also did scores for such films as Stargate, Last Of The Dogmen, Tomorrow Never Dies as well as many other James Bond films. But who knows, maybe some day I will get the CD and play it on Alpha Rhythms as Arnold is also doing the music for part two and that’s for sure on my to-buy-and-play list!

ID4 ToyID4 SoundtrackID4 Trading Cards

While the PC game that came with the figures is the first video game based on the movie I ever played, it’s the one for the Sony Playstation that sticks in my mind the most as it could have been one of the weakest and hardest to play movie tie in games for that system I have ever played next to “The Crow: City Of Angels.”  It’,s not so much that the levels are hard its more that the controls keep it form being playable and enjoyable. Fox Interactive was the company that put out this game and I can remember renting it from Blockbuster Video and me and my friend Jason Gilmore playing it and being so annoyed with it that we turned it off pretty quick as the fun factor was nowhere in sight. After many years passed and when I was doing small Video Game Reviews for Bloodline Video I ended up getting the game from Game Swap in Kettering with the idea of reviewing it for the site and after trying to play it again I found it just as terrible as it was when first released and never did review it. To sum it up if you like bad games tied to movies or just want a terrible flying shooter with bad controls then check it out for sure.

PSX ID4 1Independance Day PSXPSX ID4 2

On July 4th 2009 The Angry Video Game Nerd took a look at the terrible PS1 Independence Day game and also found it to be a clunky mess of pixels and un-fun gameplay. Everything he says about the game from the terrible graphics to the poor controls is the same feeling I had when I first played it when it was released. So if you want to see the wonders of how bland this game is, make sure to check out this episode as The Nerd will fill you in on just how bad it is. That’s one thing I like about The Angry Video Game Nerd; he does fun themed holiday episodes, and this was the perfect bad game to showcase on July 4th. So what are you waiting for, go check out this episode on YouTube or his official site at Cinemassacre.

Angry Video Game Nerd ID4 1Angry Video Game Nerd ID4 2Angry Video Game Nerd ID4 3

So now that we are all brushed up on ID4 and ready to hit theaters to watch the sequel Independence Day: Resurgence, we should get to the meat of this update and take a look at the Marvel Comic Movie Adaptation of the film as well as the extra issue, #0, that acts as a prequel of sorts. I want to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock for me to use for this update. I want to remind you readers that I grade these issues 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 join the fight for our Independence against those pesky aliens as Marvel Comics lead the charge.

independence day 0

Independence Day # 0   **1/2
Released in 1996     Cover Price $0.00   Marvel Comics   # 0 of 2

In Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, late at night during a massive thunderstorm three aliens crash their spaceship into the desert land owned by Mac Brazel who calls the sheriff.  He brings the army and covers up the crash by claiming it was just a downed weather balloon. While at the military base, Dr. Rose is trying to save the life of the only surviving alien and soon finds out that the aliens are not peaceful as the creature bonds their minds for a brief moment with the only message being the word “Kill.” The army takes all the alien bodies as well as technology and hides it all away in a secret base where in the year 1967 new head of the CIA Albert Nimziki visits the secret base and meets Dr. Rose who is retiring from the base very shortly and informs him that in 20 years they have not been able to crack the alien technology or their writing. They hire a young hippie named Brackish Okun to take over the department, and Dr. Rose warns him not to trust the CIA and names Nimziki as the one to stay clear from. Flash forward to 1986 where we meet Russell Casse, a crop duster who is abducted by aliens on his way home from work and is tortured by the aliens before placed back on Earth.  The thing is no one believes him, and he becomes not only a drunk but also a laughing stock in the town. We also meet a young man named Steven Hiller who wants to be the first African-American astronaut, as well as Senator Thomas J. Whitmore who is running for President and wins the office in 1993 and hires both Albert Nimzicki and General Grey to his cabinet as well as Connie Spano who’s now ex-husband David punched him in the face many years back. By 1996, Steven Hiller is an Air Force Pilot and President Whitmore is loosing support during a reelection year, but none of this will matter as over the Earth a massive alien spaceship is taking its place to declare a war to all the people of Earth.

So did you ever wonder about the backstories of the characters from the film? Well this issue is your dream come true as it covers decades and showcases just how these characters got to the places they were when the alien attack starts. Our story starts with the famous UFO crash of Roswell New Mexico in the 40’s and ends with the giant alien mother ship hovering over Earth, ready to star a war. The coolest aspect of this comic was the fact that briefly at the start they covered the Roswell cover-up and reading it made me flashback to the old Unsolved Mysteries TV Show when they covered it complete with the odd metal with alien writing on it. The aliens themselves are shown to be very mean spirited and want nothing more than to kill humans and torture them for study. Now let’s breakdown first impressions of the major players in the upcoming issues who are explored here. First up is President Thomas J. Whitmore who comes off as a good man who might be in way over his head running the country as he is breaking under pressure and the American people have seemed to turn on him for his lack of knowledge. Albert Nimzicki, the head of CIA and now cabinet member of the President, is a jerk, He comes off as a slime ball and it’s clear none of the other characters really like him. General Grey and Connie Spano are good people who are loyal to the President and want him to get elected for a second term. Brackish Okun is a goofy man as a college student in the 60’s and is an aging goof in 1996 as poor Russell Casse is a man that can’t get any support from anyone with his tale of being abducted by aliens. And lastly Steven Hiller was a young man with goals in the 80’s and by 96 he is even one step closer to his goal of being in space, and oh yeah, he’s in love with a stripper. Over all not some much action is this issue as it’s more of a history lesson about the characters. The art is pretty good, though it’s style I like for comics.  The characters loosely look like the actors who play them, and I mean loosely. I should also note that many artist made this issue and they are Terry Pallot, Steve Moncuse, Larry Welch, Steve Erwin, Rod Whigham, Phil Moy and Gabriel Gecko. Over all it’s a pretty cool issue if you’re a fan of the film as this helps bring these characters more alive by explaining a little about them. But I think we spent enough time on this issue and we should move into #1.

independence day 1

Independence Day # 1   *1/2
Released in 1996     Cover Price $1.95   Marvel Comics   # 1 of 2

People of Earth have picked up a faint message from space near the moon, and they know it’s alien in nature! President Whitmore along with his wife Marilyn and young daughter Patricia are interrupted by a call from General Grey who calls for a meeting of the staff. At the meeting Whitmore, Grey, Connie and Nimzicki find out that the large ship by the moon has launched several other smaller ships that are heading for Earth and this makes them alert the military to get ready for the unknown. But when the Alien ships start hovering over major cities all over the world, it’s clear that something wicked is up! All over we see how people are responding to these UFOs as Russell Casse’s kids watch on in front of their mobile home.  We see Steven with his girlfriend Jasmine and her young son Dylan watch in horror, plus David Levinson (Connie’s Ex-Husband) and his father Julius and boss Marty realize that the satellites they run have been hacked by the aliens and is broadcasting a countdown! David and his father rush to the White House to fill them in on the countdown as Steven reports for active duty to fly in a fighter jet if needed.  Connie, General Grey and President Whitmore watch on is horror as the alien craft blows up military helicopters. David makes it and shows them the warning as they all leave the White House just in time as the aliens attack and blow up major landmarks all over the world!

Oh man is this issue boring! Even with the aliens gearing up for the attack, there’s just hardly any action, but there is a whole lot of talking about what’s coming and what can they do about it. While reading this, I found myself zoning out and thinking about such things as Amazing Spider-Man comics and even what would I do if I ever made a new Werewolf Of Ohio. The plot for this first section of this adaptation is this: alien ships come to Earth and take up key spots around the world.  As the Earthlings watch in wonder and plan for the best and worst cases, all our heroes wander around trying to be ready for what needs to be done and by the end the aliens strike first blowing up buildings and landmarks. President Whitmore is trying to be strong and lead America in this frightful time, and Connie and General Grey stand by his side no matter how nervous they are getting. David and his father Julius are on a mission to warn many of the important people in government about the countdown signal in the cable satellites. David comes off as a conspiracy theory nut but it’s clear he still loves his ex-wife. Russell Casse is still a drunk who’s own kids don’t respect him, but it’s the opposite for Steven Hiller who’s girlfriend and her son love him as he is noble and willing to fight the fight if he’s needed. The characters, while okay, all seem like generic stereotypes taken from all types of different science fiction comics, novels and films making them familiar but nothing special. The cover is eye catching for fans of the film as it depicts the films most famous scene of the White House being blown up by a UFO laser blast. The art inside is really not my style and looks sloppy, and like before, the characters kind of look like the actors who play them.  The artist is Leonard Kirk, who is known for his work on other Marvel titles like Agents of Atlas and Dark X-Men. Over all this was not a very good issue in my opinion and was so boring that I feel as if I should just walk away from this issue and move on to # 2.

independence day 2

Independence Day # 2  **
Released in 1996     Cover Price $1.95   Marvel Comics   # 2 of 2

The Air Force and the alien starships are fighting in the air, and Steven Hiller takes one down by tricking it with fancy movies and causing it to crash. Meanwhile President Whitmore and members of his cabinet and guests head to Area 51 and meet Brackish Okun who informs them of the alien ship they have stored there for over 40 years and how in the last 24 hours the ship seems to have activated itself. Hiller captures one of the aliens, and they take it to Area 51 to be studied.  The alien is alive and awakens during the study and speaks through Okun informing them that the aliens want humans dead as they want the Earth for their own! President Whitmore’s wife is involved in a helicopter crash and sadly dies, but David finds a way to drop the alien ships force fields and a world wide attack is planned and joining the air force fight is the President, Hiller, David and even Russell Casse who arrived at Area 51 to get help for his sick son. As David and Hiller take the old UFO and enter the mother ship in space armed with the computer virus and a nuclear warhead, the Air Force with President Whitmore and Russell fight the UFO’s that are attacking Earth.  In the end Russell sacrifices himself and blows up one of the big battleships as David and Hiller sets off the warhead in the mother ship bringing it down! Earth wins the fight against the aliens and all ends well as America saves the day again.

The final issue in the adaptation has lots more build up and then comes in for the kill with a sky battle that pits Earthlings against the Alien invaders! Really that’s the plot … it starts with lots of science and cheesy pep talk dialogue and then turns into some under whelming air battle that ends pretty quick. President Whitmore bounces back from the death of his wife pretty quickly and turns the politician side of his life on pretty quick and not only gives a eye rollingly lame hype speech to the people of the world but also jumps into a jet and takes the fight to the aliens in the sky. Whitmore is so over the top, and his I love my country and will “Fight For Freedom: Wherever There’s Trouble, President Whitmore’s There” attitude is stuff of laughable b-movies of the past. Brackish Okun spent decades studying dead aliens only to be killed by the first live one he tried to study. Steven Hiller has no fear and flies a UFO into space, blows up the mother ship and then still returns to Earth to be with his stripper girlfriend. General Grey takes a backseat and just acts as the yes man of the President and Albert Nimzicki kind of just vanishes. Russell Casse decides to do something good and flies the plane that blows up the battle ship and in the process kills himself and leaves his kids orphans. David Levinson is the real hero of this comic as he is the one who figures out how to take down the UFO shields as well is on the ship that goes to space to nuke the mother ship. Connie falls back in love with her ex-husband and his father is proud of him for being a hero. Man, this movie just didn’t make a good comic adaptation as for the most part it was boring and the dark letters on dark dialogue boxes made for some hard reading at times. The cover is just okay.  The art by Leonard Kirk is as blah as the last issue, and I think I am ready to leave this invasion behind. Below is some artwork from the comic that I think looks the best of what was presented.

ID4 Art 1

While the movie is okay, this Marvel Comic adaptation was a snore fest and should be used in hospitals for people with insomnia as I am sure it will have people sawing logs in no time. With that said, I am pretty hyped to see Independence Day: Resurgence in the theater as I am a fool in my old age for Summer Blockbuster films. Plus the Aliens go down pretty easy and the threat of this invasion was easily defeated by Earthlings. But lets leave ID4 behind for something a little more sports entertainment like and that’s step into the wrestling ring and come face to face with the Master of the five count King Kong Bundy! So until then, make sure to go see a movie in the theater, read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host.  See you next update!

King Kong Bundy Logo

The Next Generation Of The Final Frontier

First officer’s blog, Stardate 69885.3.  Greetings, Inkfleet cadets – Juliet once again reporting for blogging duty.  Today we’re heading to the final frontier to talk about a show (and the comics based on it) that is and was incredibly important to me, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I’ll henceforth be abbreviating as ST:TNG.  So why The Next Generation and not the original series?  As I’ll get into further along in this update, I adore the original series, but ST:TNG was such an important part of my childhood, for better or worse.  Matt, on the other hand, is a HUGE original series fan so it’s only appropriate that I handle this one while he takes on the original series at a later date.  So settle in with some tea – earl grey – hot and prepare to bolding go where no one has gone before.

 USS_Enterprise-D_These_Are_the_VoyagesTNGopeninglogo1350487566-0

In 1986, 20 years after Star Trek’s debut and as Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were demanding larger salaries during the production of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Paramount began to consider a new Star Trek television series.  This actually wasn’t the first first time they had toyed with the idea.  In 1977, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had announced that Star Trek Phase II would be coming to the small screen as part of the newly created Paramount Television Service.  The series was to feature a second five year mission for the original series crew, but when Paramount Television Services failed to launch, the plot for the pilot episode was rewritten and became Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Star Trek: The Next Generation was announced in October of 1986, the cast in the spring of 1987.   Originally Gene Roddenberry hadn’t planned on being involved in the production but came on as creator, working with Paramount exec Rick Berman, after he was unhappy with some of the original concept designs.  The show premiered in October, 1987 in what’s called first-run syndication, meaning that any TV station, regardless of network affiliation, could carry the show in the timeslot of its choosing – a fact that I actually just learned while researching this blog that clears up a lot of my own confusion as to whether I was viewing the episodes first-run or in syndicated re-runs (both, kind of).

star trek the next generation series premiere tv ad2

The first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” introduces us to the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D (Kirk’s Enterprise was the NCC-1701 in the show and then the NCC-1701-A beginning in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) roughly 70 years after Kirk and co’s original five year mission.  Captained by Jean-Luc Picard, the Enterprise’s ongoing mission is, like in the original series, to seek out new life and new civilizations.  This Enterprise, however, is home to more than officiers, and the presence of children and families on the ship becomes a subtle but important theme throughout the show’s run.  The Federation and the Klingons enjoy a relative peace, making it possible for a Klingon officer, Lt. Worf, to be head of security.  New threats, however, have emerged most notably with the Borg Collective joining other villainous races like the Romulans.  The Borg are a cybernetic race assimilated from other conquered species.  Their origins are a bit vague as they hail from the faraway Delta Quadrant (where Star Trek: Voyager takes place), but their story and the threat they pose is explored throughout ST:TNG and the subsequent movies and shows.  I’m actually really curious to see if they’ll be a part of either the forthcoming CBS Star Trek series slated for 2017 of which very few details have been revealed, or, if perhaps they’ll make an appearance in the Abrams-verse Star Trek films, which are simply an alternate timeline/universe split off from the original series – more on that in a moment.

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I would be remiss to mention the Borg without mentioning Q, as he both begins ST:TNG and introduces the Borg to the Enterprise crew and the viewers.  Q is an omnipotent being, one of many like him who form the Q Continuum.  Masterfully played by John de Lancie, Q serves as a both a framing device for the entire ST:TNG series and a recurring meddlesome presence who, although typically arriving humorously, often raises huge philosophical and ethical questions about the Enterprise’s mission to “seek out new life and new civilizations.”  So although he was a bit over the top, Q really helped add a whole new dimension to the stories of his episodes.  Speaking of dimensions (see what I did there?), Q was often (especially in the novels – again, stay tuned, we’re getting there) involved in stories that explored the concept of multiple dimensions and the space-time continuum.  Although The Original Series dealt with these concepts quite a bit, I feel like they really shone in ST:TNG, and the novels that centered around time were particularly interesting and well crafted. We’ll talk about those in a moment, but first a bit about my history with the show itself.

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I was four years old when ST:TNG premiered so unlike The X-Files, I don’t have a distinct memory of the first time I saw the show.  Rather, the show’s been ever-present in my life; much like public radio, ST:TNG was just always there.  By 1991, our local station had also started re-running episodes daily as I do have very clear memories of watching ST:TNG every night at 7pm after Little House on the Prairie in our then-new house (which is my parents’ house to this day).  Several year later, I think after the show had ended in 1994, they moved the reruns to 11pm, and I remember being completely upset because that was past my bedtime. Pretty quickly, however, my bedtime was changed to accommodate watching ST:TNG every night even though I had probably seen every episode five times over already – thanks, Mom and Dad!  That should be some indication of how much the show meant to me.  I’m going to get into that a bit further, but first let’s talk about some of the merchandise as this kind of all ties together.

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There was SO.MUCH merchandise for ST:TNG.  The variety of toys alone was rather staggering.  I can remember going to the Bookie Parlor (yes, the same comic store Matt’s spoken of fondly many times here on the blog) as a child and being rather amazed at how many ships and playsets were available, not to mention the posters, books, comics, t-shirts, lunchboxes, pogs and more.  In terms of action figures, the first set of ST:TNG action figures came out in 1988 from Galoob.  This set of 10 3.5 inch figures came out as a limited release and are pretty rare to find today.  The largest and popular assortment of ST:TNG figures were the 5” Playmates figures that were released in waves of 10-23 figures beginning in 1991.  Funny enough, I never had any of these as a kid.  I couldn’t even tell you why, but I only ever got a handful of the First Contact figures which were larger at 6 inches tall.  However, thanks to the heroic efforts of Matt, in my 30s I’m now the proud owner of a nearly complete set of the 3.5” ST:TNG figures.  Other notable merchandise that I actually owned includes a replica communicator that actually featured Patrick Stewart’s voice,  a giant poster with bios of each crew member and a more recent acquisition: a complete of set of PEZ dispensers of the whole ST:TNG crew (check out the photos below).  Though not exclusively ST:TNG, I also owned and proudly wore a Women of Star Trek t-shirt that featured the amazing ladies from the original series all the way through Deep Space 9 (my version of the shirt pre-dated Voyager’s premiere though I’ve seen later editions that included Captain Janeway).

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There were also VHS tapes, and lots of them.  Beginning in 1991, tapes of individual episodes were released and eventually every single episode made it onto VHS.  They also made it onto LaserDisc, released with two episodes per disc.  Again, a full run of the series was released in this format.  The first season of ST:TNG came out on DVD in 2002.  All seven seasons were eventually released, and in 2007, the full series was released in a 49 disc set.  The series was also released on Blu-Ray, remastered from original 35mm footage using a special technique that allowed for maximum picture quality.

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The the video game department, ST:TNG had lots of options for the PC gamer, from movie tie-ins for Generations and First Contact to highly specialized games such as Armada and Borg Assimilator.  On the home console front, NES, Gameboy and Gear Gamer players got Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993.  Sega would follow in 1994 with Star Trek: The Next Generation – Echoes From the Past and Generations: Beyond the Nexus.  ST:TNG made it to the Playstation 2 with Encounters and Conquest (which was also available for the Wii), and was represented in the Xbox 360 and PC game Star Trek: Legacy.  Arcade fans got to experience the super cool Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine.

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Of all the really cool pieces of Star Trek: The Next Generation merchandise that I either owned or coveted, by far the most important items to me were the paperback novels.  They began in 1988 with Ghost Ship, the first of the numbered series, which went all the way to 63.  I was the proud owner of all of the ST:TNG numbered paperbacks through #45 (at the time, that was the most recent release).  I got the majority of the early run at a library sale, and began seeking out others at the library and then buying them from Books & Co as I found them.  There were also one-shot novels outside of the numbered series including titles like Q-Squared, Vendetta, Imzadi and Kahless.  These books were hugely, hugely important to me as a young reader.  I had always been an advanced reader for my grade level, but because I was so excited about having more ST:TNG stories to consume beyond the seven seasons of the show, I devoured these books, sometimes reading one in a single evening.  From the age of 11 to 13, you typically didn’t see me without one or several ST:TNG paperbacks in my possession at all times.  My quest to find new ones to read meant I spent a lot of time looking through the sci-fantasy paperbacks at my local library and eventually I began picking up other titles, both by genre mainstays like Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffery and other random one-offs, some very good and other delightfully cheesy.  But it wasn’t all warm fuzzy scifi nerd joy for a young Juliet.  As I’m sure you can imagine, the other 11-13 year olds I went to school with didn’t quite think the ST:TNG novels were as cool as I did.  Pair that a teacher who required you to track the pages you’d read, out loud, in front of class each day (remember that sometimes I’d read a whole novel on a usual day), and you’ve got a lot of pre-teen mocking and accusations from  classmates and a teacher that I was lying about the reading.  Sigh. Pre-teen angst aside, I learned a lot from these books as I came to understand which of the regular authors tended toward which type of stories and who was stronger with certain characters.  It’s helped me as a writer think about my own strengths and the type of stories I both like to tell and am good at writing.  By far, my favorite ST:TNG novel writer was Peter David.  I absolutely loved his use of multiple timelines that could both stand on their own as interesting stories and intersected in interesting ways.  David’s Q-Squared more than likely laid the groundwork for me to fall in love with even more complex timelines in novels like The Man in the Empty Suit and even experimental work like House of Leaves.

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The novels weren’t the only books released around the ST:TNG franchise.  There was an episode guide called The Complete Guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation that was re-released several times as the show was renewed for additional seasons (and that at one point in my life, I had memorized – no joke).  There were also several technical manuals, books about the science of Star Trek, and a host of other random series tie-ins like Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek:  The Next Generation.

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This of course brings us to the comics.  There were several series of ST:TNG comics released by DC and later their Wildstorm imprint.  For our purposes, I’ll be covering the first ST:TNG six-issue miniseries, now called Volume 1, released in early 1988.  They were written by Mike Carlin, who was also group editor for Superman at the time and later served as DC’s executive editor from 1996 until 2002.  The artwork was by Pablo Marcos, who had previously made a name for himself doing horror comics for Marvel.  Marcos would stay on for a good portion of the second ST:TNG DC run (Volume 2), the bulk of which was written by Michael Jan Friedman.  Big thanks to Matt for tracking down the Volume 1 series for me via Lone Star Comics, and before we engage, remember that here on Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and look for how close the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s set a course for the DC six-issue mini-series of Star Trek: The Next Generation….Engage!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation  #1  *
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.50    DC    1 of 6

We begin with Captain Picard’s opening narration (the same one that opens the show), which leads into a monologue of his reflections on the Enterprise, its mission and the fact that unlike his prior command posts, this ship is carrying not just his crew, but their families including many children.   On the bridge, Picard’s crew, including Commander Riker, Lt. Worf, Lt. Yar, Counselor Troi, Lt. Commander Data and Lt. LaForge, are ready to proceed with their first mission as they conduct scans of a nearby planet and adjust to working together.  An alien race makes contact and expresses and interest in meeting the Enterprise crew.  As Picard begins to make plans for an away team, Dr Crusher and Wesley visit the bridge to ask for more medical supplies, but everything is interrupted when the supposedly peaceful aliens fire on the ship.  After consulting with Riker and Troi, Picard decides that the away team will go ahead as planned with Riker, Troi, Yar, LaForge and Data visiting the alien planet.  As soon as they arrive, they’re fired on again again and pursued by warriors in a large armored vehicle.  Meanwhile, back on the ship, Picard has to deal with young Wesley asking him about his plans for dealing with the potentially hostile aliens and a husband and wife bridge team who are bickering nonstop.  Back on the planet, Yar gets the hostile aliens under control for the moment, and Troi probes their minds to discover that their actions aren’t necessarily purely hostile but that they’re involved in some kind of war games.  The team is then transported elsewhere, by another set of aliens who apologize for the welcome the Enterprise crew has received to their planet thus far.  Out of concern for his crew, Picard has jumped into a transporter and ends up on the same ship as his away team to be greeted by the aliens, who appear to be children.

Huh.  So…that was….an issue that I read.  The beginning of this issue read almost like it was going to be a comic version of the first episode of ST:TNG, Encounter at Farpoint but ended up veering off to its own story. According to the editor’s notes in the back of the comic, DC began work on this ST:TNG mini-series in early 1987, right around the time the show began shooting its first season, which I think, explains a lot about why some of the characterizations feel just a bit off.  For example: in the show, Data rarely speaks with contractions, save for some very deliberate scripting choices and the occasion flub, but in this comic, he uses them nonstop.  It’s entirely possible that decision wasn’t made until Brent Spiner began shooting as the character so the DC folks had already started working on the comic and this wasn’t communicated to them.  The way the characters interact with one another, even the way they address each other (commonly by first names instead of by last name or title) also feels just a bit off from the show. Speaking of out of place, the biggest problem I had with this issue were the things that felt like DC trying to “comicfy” ST:TNG – as if the show itself didn’t have the right elements for a comic in the 1980s (come on guys, it’s in space!) so they added giant Mad-Max-esque armored vehicles, warriors who looked like your usual Conan-Krull-HeMan clones and gave the bickering bridge couple capes…just so you were sure you were reading a comic book  The art itself is okay – very much of its time and nothing to write home about.  The cover is pretty cool with a painted looking Enterprise in warp flight over the LCARS display.  Let’s see if they can iron out some of my complaints in the next issue, though it’s got Picard fighting aliens in front of a Christmas tree on the cover so I’m not exactly optimistic.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #2  *1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    2 of 6

The Enterprise is en route to a Federation Starbase for standard maintenance, and the crew is preparing to celebrate Christmas on the holodeck.  The sensors pick up an alien vessel traveling at warp speed nearby so Riker proceeds with the usual diplomatic greetings, but when the communications channels are opened, the Enterprise’s instruments go berserk.  They recover quickly and finally reach the strange mummy-like aliens who are happy to accept the crew’s invitation to join them in their holiday celebrations.  The rest of the crew make merry on the holodeck, which is made up to look like ski slopes, but Picard and Yar excuse themselves to greet their alien visitors.  As they proceed to the holodeck, one of the aliens wanders off and catches Wesley, who’s also wandered away from the party, but says that he’s “not the one I’m looking for.”  Wesley tries to warn Picard and the rest of the crew, but when confronted, the aliens just say that there was an odd presence that they were chasing, which could also explain the earlier malfunctions on the Enterprise.  Picard doesn’t seem terribly concerned, so Wesley throws a tantrum and leaves the party.  Troi chases after him saying she believes him because she’s sensed something strange as well.  The aliens and the Enterprise crew clash as the presence once again wrecks havoc, materializing to look like Santa Claus (seriously).  When this happens, the aliens are unmasked and revealed to look suspiciously like a race of Grinches (again, seriously).  Finally the presence is freed out in space and the aliens agree to stay and celebrate Christmas with the Enterprise crew.

I spent the first few minutes of this comic extremely confused because I thought that this was going to be a continuation of the story from issue 1, but nope.  Instead we forge ahead into a rather ridiculous holiday story that ultimately results in the Enterprise crew and some aliens bonding over the spirit of Christmas.  It’s exactly as cheesy as it sounds, and I groaned loudly when the mysterious presence began to manifest itself in the shape of Santa Claus.  I won’t tell you what I said, when, upon flipping back through the pages to write this review, I realized that the aliens looked like the Grinch. Sigh. I suppose I should mentioned that I’m not a fan of holiday specials in general so the concept was already rather painful.  But even putting that aside, this just felt way too wacky to be ST:TNG – like bad fanfiction.  The art in this issue was slightly improved from the last – the characters are starting to look a bit more like themselves.  Let’s see if we can take a few more baby steps towards a good read in issue 3.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation  #3  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.35    DC    3 of 6

The Enterprise is beginning another mission when Picard catches Yar and Wesley running through the corridors playing a game.  He chastises them, and Yar tells Wesley a bit about her childhood on a rough colony planet before she’s summoned to the bridge.  The Enterprise has encountered a strange ship of unknown origin with no apparent lifeforms on board.  Yar volunteers to lead an away mission, saying that it’s best to investigate now that get caught in a trap later.  The mission, however, quickly goes awry as the team is attacked by invisible assailants, who seem to somehow know Tasha Yar.  Back on the Enterprise, Picard has to figure out whether or not to destroy this mysterious ship, and as he grapples with the ethics, Q appears on the bridge to throw his two cents in.  The alien ship begins firing on the Enterprise, and Picard makes the decision to protect the civilians onboard by separating the saucer section and commanding from the battle bridge.  Meanwhile, Wesley observes the transporters being used without anyone seemingly being beamed aboard the saucer section, while Deanna senses a psychic attack on Tasha Yar.  Q tries to bait Picard into destroying the alien ship, but then the Enterprise receives a hail of distress from the human-like creatures aboard who claim to have been abandoned by their leader.  While Q continues to argue with Picard, the aliens board the battle bridge and accuse Q of breaking his part of their deal.  While Picard tries to make sense of the arrangement that Q has made, Gordi informs him that the saucer section has vanished in space as our story is to be continued.

FINALLY, a comic that feels like ST: TNG and not some silly kids book (no offense if that’s what you’re into, it’s just not what I’m after in a Star Trek comic).  The story for this issue very much had the feel of a regular episode with moments of comedy, adventure and drama as well as Q meddling about as Picard tries to navigate the Prime Directive and captaining a ship with both commissioned crew and civilians onboard.  If that wasn’t enough, we got the ship separating, which always felt like a treat in the show (by treat, I mean thing that would cause a young Juliet to demand the attention of everyone around me: “Look! Look!  They’re going to the battle bridge which means THEY’RE GOING TO SEPARATE THE SHIP!!”).  The art’s still not fabulous, but for the most part, everyone looked remotely like themselves.  I’m actually a bit excited to see how this one wraps up so let’s move on to the next issue.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #4  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.35    DC    4 of 6

The saucer section is lost in space as Q argues with Picard’s crew on the battle bridge about his role in this situation claiming that there’s someone else controlling the situation that even he does not have influence over.  Meanwhile, the saucer section under Riker’s command is experiencing strange turbulence as it hurls through space.  In sick bay, Tasha Yar awakens to see a mysterious cloaked figure named Reglech, who she recognizes from her childhood on the colony planet.  While Picard discovers that Q has mysteriously lost his omnipotent power (and manages to get a good punch in), Wesley sneaks onto Riker’s bridge and manages to be in the right place at the right time when Riker relieves his helmsman of duty.  Tasha, meanwhile, has wandered away from sick bay with Reglech who taunts her about her childhood.  As a Q appears on Riker’s bridge, other Q’s watch as Tasha overpowers Reglech and observe that she shows promise.  Tasha brings “Reglech” (who’s now revealed to be another Q) to the bridge and the Q’s leave the saucer section, which finally stops shaking.  Meanwhile back on the battle bridge, Q finds himself abandoned on the Enterprise, powerless, and lashes out.  As the saucer section comes back into range, Q’s tantrum causes Gordi to be shot by a phaser, seemingly killing him….to be continued.

Interesting that this comic came out in May 1988 because almost exactly a year later, season two episode “Q Who” would air, the main plot of which is that Q is kicked out of the continuum for his meddlesome behavior.  That aspect of this issue is interesting, but feels kind of rushed in comparison to the way the story is told in the episode.  The bits about Tasha’s childhood are also interesting but rushed.  One thing that did annoy me was that the Bickley’s, the bickering husband and wife crew members from the first issue, are back and bickering in full force.  Seriously, who are these people and why are they necessary?  They aren’t even comic relief, they’re just annoying.  Another thing that’s more bothersome than outright annoying is Data’s reaction to Gordi’s apparent death.  I’m hoping they better explain his emotion-drive outburst in the next issue because this early in the show, it’s really not fitting for the character.  So is Gordi really dead?  Let’s find out!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #5  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    5 of 6

Gordi is seemingly dead, and Data is furious.  The Android attacks Q as the saucer section is re-attached to the ship.  Dr. Crusher arrives on the battle bridge and begins to tend to Gordi.  She takes him and Q (who’s still powerless and was pummeled by Data) to sick bay.  Worf and Picard discuss whether or not Q’s lack of power can result in him eventually changing and shedding his trickster nature, while Data worries over Gordi in sick bay.  Reglech has been confined to the detention deck with the aliens from the ship back in issue 3 (hey, remember those guys?) and manipulates them into facilitating his escape.  Tasha pursues the escaped Reglech, who goes to sick bay as Q is awakening.  Reglech is to kill Gordi, but Data jumps in the way, seemingly unhurt by his phaser blasts.  Then Q jumps in the way, sparing both Data and Gordi as he willingly sacrifices himself.  This puts Q back in the good graces of the continuum and he leaves the Enterprise unharmed as Gordi finally awakens.

All told, this isn’t a terrible arc, though really, I think the story would have been better served over a few more issues.  I seriously forgot about the aliens from the beginning of the story and was a bit shocked that for all of issue 4, they were apparently biding their time on the detention deck.  The Enterprise crew is once again all over the place.  It’s really interesting because for as well as they’ve got Picard down in this story arc, other characters just seem so off in terms of characterization.  Data is by far the worst offender.  Whereas others seem off, there are things about him in this story arc that are straight up canonically wrong.  As I mentioned in the prior issue’s write-up, I was hoping that his emotional outburst over Gordi’s attack was some kind of product of Q’s meddling, but apparently, it was just the product of bad writing -or- of the comics being written/produced prior to or concurrently with the beginning of the first few episodes so the characters weren’t really properly fleshed out.  And that’s the thing I have to remember, people reading these comics in 1988 only had a handful of ST:TNG episodes to compare the characterization to whereas I have multiple viewings of seven seasons under my belt, not to mention the novels.  So with that in mind, I’ll move on to the final comic in this six-issue mini-series.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #6  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    6 of 6

The Enterprise is finally on its mission to the mystical planet Faltos (which is where they were headed before the great Q interruption that made for the last story arc).  As Picard gives the orders to set course, Data begins to argue with him about the coordinates, saying that Picard is wrong.  Just as Data is about to be relieved of duty, the crew figures out that he is telling the truth, Starfleet command has implanted secret information about Faltos into Data’s brain.  The Enterprise finds the mysterious planet and send an away team to meet with the Faltos world tribunal, made up of many different races of aliens. Deanna has a bad feeling about the mission, but Riker doesn’t want to keep the tribunal waiting so they proceed.  The tribunal treats them as welcome guests, so welcome, in fact, that they’re informed that the Enterprise’s crew will now be permanent residents of the planet as so many visitors have done before them.  Naturally, the away team and Picard are outraged, and as they try to figure out what to do, Data realizes that perhaps there’s additional information hidden inside him.  So Picard and Dr. Crusher beam down to the planet under the pretense of diplomacy and proceed to help Gordi tinker with Data.  they learned that Data’s creator, Dr. Soong, studied crystalline energy while trapped on Faltos and used that knowledge, now implanted in Data, to escape.  So Picard and his crew put their plan into action and escape in the Enterprise, but not before the leader of the world tribunal uses his powers to remove all knowledge of Faltos’ location from Data’s (and thus Star Fleet’s) memory.

Story-wise, this was actually a pretty good way to wrap up this six-issue run.  Of all these comics, this one felt the closest to an actual episode of the show, just adapted to the pacing needs of a single issue comic, and there’s a part of me that actually wonders if this story wasn’t somehow recycled for an early episode of Voyager that’s very similar.  I’d love to know a bit more about Faltos, and see more of the planet, but even that didn’t bother me as it was obviously the easiest thing to skip for page restraints without messing up the actual story.  The art, on the other hand, still wasn’t great.  There are panels where everyone looks good, like comic stylized version of their TV characters, but in others, the characters, Data in particular, just looked ridiculous.  Earlier in the series, I was really unsure as to whether I’d be interested in reading the volume two comics, but I think with this ending, I may give them a shot at some point.  Speaking of which, I have a few more comics to cover here on Rotten Ink, the two movie ST:TNG movie adaptation comics.

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Of course, there were actually four ST:TNG movies, or three and a half depending on how you classify Generations since it is technically both an original series and Next Generation movie.  Generations was released in 1994, and the tactic of having a film covering both shows was interesting.  On one hand, I get it – all of the Trek movies up to that point were based on characters from the original series, and only three years prior, while ST:TNG was still on the air, Star Trek VI came out in theaters.  The flipside of this is that ST:TNG ended a successful TV run only months before Generations was released in theaters so it kind of begs the question, what else did that property need to do to prove itself worthy of getting its own film.  But ultimately Generations was a good passing of the torch and paved the way well for First Contact, which to me is the best ST:TNG film.  I’ll leave the plots of both of these for a moment as we’ll get to them in the comic reviews below.  After First Contact in 1996, Insurrection followed in 1998. I have mixed feeling about that one.  I don’t think it was quite as bad as many people claim, but it reminds me a lot of X-Files: I Want To Believe in that it really wasn’t a film, just a two-part mid-season episode on the big screen.  And then we have Star Trek: Nemesis.  I’ll level with you, dear Rotten Ink readers, I’ve only seen once, in the theater, and even fourteen years later that still feels like enough.  I ought to be able to have the same attitude about Nemsis that I do about Insurrection because I think the logical side of my brain knows that’s the case.  However, because Nemsis was considered such a commercial flop and a mess of a movie, it ended up being the last Star Trek movie before the JJ Abrams films (which I actually don’t mind especially since they’re attempting to simply make them an alternate universe which keeps in the spirit of Star Trek), which just really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  But we aren’t talking about Nemesis as there wasn’t a comic adaptation of it.  So here with go with Star Trek Generations.

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Star Trek Generations # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $3.95    DC    1 of 1

Captain Kirk, Scotty and Chekov are in attendance for the high profile launch of the Enterprise B.  On the ship’s maiden voyage, it encounters a distress signal from the Laku, a transport ship of refugees.  The rescue effort, however, goes completely awry resulting in Captain Kirk’s death.  Years later, the crew of the Enterprise D is celebrating Worf’s promotion when news arrives both of a personal tragedy for Picard’s family and in the form a distress call from the Amagosa star observatory.  The crew meet Dr. Soran, who was once a refugee on board the Laku.  He’s in league with the Klingon Duras Sisters, stealing trilithium and kidnapping Gordi, all in an effort to return to something called the Nexus.  Picard agrees to a prisoner exchange, but tricks the Klingons and goes after Soran, entering the Nexus himself.  While the Enterprise battles the Duras Sisters, Picard meets up with Kirk, who’s been living inside in perfect fantasy in the Nexus since the launch of the Enterprise B all those years ago.  Together, the captains defeat Soran, but not without a price as Kirk truly dies this time around.  Picard returns to his own reality to find his crew safe, but the Enterprise D destroyed.

I should have known that with Michael Jan Friedman credited for the story adaptation, this would be a great comic.  As I mentioned above, Friedman wrote most of the ST:TNG Volume 2 comics as well as a good number of original Star Trek and ST:TNG novels.  So not only is the characterization spot-on, the plot follows the movie extremely closely with good pacing for a comic adaptation (pacing is one of those things that seems really tricky to nail when adapting a film into a single comic).  The only thing that didn’t quite work story-wise was the subplot of Data getting the emotion chip, and that’s really because so much of what makes that great in the movie is Brent Spiner’s acting, not the script itself.  Plus, a tricorder singing about “lovely little lifeforms” just doesn’t read with the same charm it has onscreen.  Gordon Purcell’s artwork is wonderful.  Everyone looks, not just like the actor that portrays them, but there’s a lot care to capture their facial expressions and mannerisms.  Also, (and I realize that this also has to do with age and changes in the way comics are printed) the colors are really rich.  This comic both does the film justice and is an interesting read on its own.

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Star Trek First Contact # 1   ***
Released in 1996     Cover Price $5.95     Marvel     1 of 1

Picard still has nightmares about his time with the Borg, and because of his when they attack Earth, Star Fleet sends the Enterprise E (yes, they got a new ship) to patrol the Neutral Zone instead of into the action.  But when they learn that Star Fleet is losing, Picard disobeys orders takes the Enterprise into the thick of battle.  They’re able to destroy a Borg cube, but not before it launches a smaller sphere ship that creates a temporal vortex that sucks the Enterprise in.  Quickly the crew realize that they’ve been transported back in time, and that the Borg are trying to go back to assimilate Earth before First Contact (the first time humanity used warp engine technology triggers a visit from the Vulcans) and thus change the future.  The Enterprise destroys the sphere, but not before some surviving Borg beam onto the ship and begin assimilating it, including the Borg Queen who takes a special interest in Data.  Meanwhile on the ground, an away team attempt to aid Zefram Cochane and his assistant Lily in succeeding in their destiny of flying the first warp ship thus alerting the Vulcans to the fact that humanity has evolved in its intelligence.

Switching things up a bit, this adaptation was released by Marvel instead of DC.  Luckily, in the same vein as DC’s Generations adaptation, this was written by John Vornholt, who’s written a ton of Star Trek novels so it’s safe to say that like Michael Jan Friendman, he’s well versed in the universe and the characters.  The story fit the film nicely, but for me didn’t have the same impact as the movie.  To be fair, First Contact is by far my favorite ST:TNG movie, and to again draw an X-Files comparison, like Fight the Future, it’s one I still get excited about watching no matter how many times I’ve seen it (and I still get a little teary-eyed when First Contact happens).  So for most people, this comic will absolutely do the job and then some, but I still came away just a little underwhelmed.  The artwork by Terry Pallot and Rod Whigham is good.  Slightly more cartoony than the Generations artwork, but still great for the human characters.  Actually my super minor artwork complaint is more about the space scenes.  In panels where something is happening with the Enterprise, especially when it’s fighting the Borg cube, there are super cartoony sound effect words that for me ruined the mood of what otherwise would be a very dramatic moment.  The overall presentation of the book is nice – it’s thick with a cardstock cover as part of the Star Trek 30th anniversary line of products.  Again, this is certainly worth a read to get a taste of the film and for ST:TNG fans.  Earlier in this update, I showed you the Enterprise D, so check out the Enterprise E below….

Enterprise-E-star-trek-the-next-generation-3983726-1024-768

Alas, it’s time for me to set coordinates for another mission and return the helm to Matt for our next update.  We’ll be staying in space (sort of) and in the 90s for his next update, which is also (sort of) holiday themed. While I was crying over Vulcans in First Contact in 1996, earlier that year another space movie was released that also pitted hostile aliens against humanity for the fate of the future.  Since we’re two years too early for X-Files Fight the Fight, I’m obviously talk about Independence Day.  So join us next time as Matt dives into this film, its comic tie-ins and it’s sequel…20 years later.

independence-day-image

NES Challenge: Werewolf The Last Warrior

When I was a kid, Nintendo was the main source of video game entertainment at home, and while Atari tried to hang on, the original NES was just unbeatable even giving arcades a run for their money as almost every kid I knew had a NES.  My friends and I spent lots of time talking about what games we had played and would always brag if we beat one as it was almost like earning a medal. I have lots of fond memories of playing games like Friday The 13th, Castlevania, Contra and Legendary Wings with my cousins Dino and Norman, Kranov and Excitebike with cousin Nathan, Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, Kung Fu, Ghost N Goblins, Gologo 13 and WCW with my brother and parents, Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The Arcade Game with cousin Stephen, not to mention Festers Quest, Blades Of Steel and Double Dribble with friend Mike Cessna.  So you can see, the NES was a system that brought many great moments into the lives of those who picked up the controllers. So for this update we are going to take a look at a promo comic given away with the Data East game Werewolf The Last Warrior, plus I am going to try my best to beat the game in one day! So grab some Mountain Dew and load up a bowl with some potato chips as we are going back to the past to play a game that always kicked my ass…the one and only Werewolf The Last Warrior!

Werewolf The Last Warrior Rage

SAS Sakata developed Werewolf: The Last Warrior, and Data East released it in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  It was a side scrolling action game that mixed in elements of horror and even a touch of super hero and was a solid success. In Japan the game was known as “Super Werewolf Chronicle Warwolf” and was released there in 1991 as well as in Europe. The game’s plot is this: on Red Earth, the second colony planet, the evil Dr. Faryan along with his evil mutants have taken over and enslaved mankind and it’s up to a man named Ken who can transform into a werewolf warrior named Warwolf to save us all. During the game you can transform back and forth between being a man or beast, and you must grab W’s to do so; the red ones turn you into a werewolf, the blue ones turn you back human and by collecting five bubbles you will be transformed into a super werewolf that can jump higher. Playing as Ken, your attacks are weak but playing as Warwolf, your attacks have a longer range and you gain the ability to wall climb. The game also got the Official Nintendo Seal meaning it was a game they green lit to come to the system.  Back in the day, Nintendo was very select on how many titles a company could put out on their system, and the seal was supposed to act as a seal of quality. For years after being released, rumors of a sequel popped up, but nothing ever came from it making this game the only one in what could have been a series.

Werewolf The Last Warrior NES 1Werewolf The Last Warrior NES CoverWerewolf The Last Warrior NES 2

The first time I ever played this game was sometime in 1991 or 1992 when Mike Cessna rented it from a video store, and we all played it for a little while in his living room after school. But my time of really getting to play it and trying to beat it came in late 1992 or early 1993 when my Grandma and Grandpa Brassfield bought it from a garage sale for my cousin Nathan who would stay with them for long periods of time. When Nathan was over at my Grandparents’, he would not want to play this game and would always have us all try and beat “Karnov” or “Wizards And Warriors,” but when he was not over I would spend lots of time playing Werewolf or hooking up the Atari 2600 and try to beat Spider-Man.  Both games were super hard, and I never did beat them in my youth. But as I got older and was 19 years of age, my close friend Jason Gilmore and I started to collect old Nintendo games from our youth, and while I kept many of my old ones, there were ones I never owned and Werewolf was on the top of my have to have list as I knew I must have a showdown with this game as beating it was long over due.  Jason and I spent many nights playing and beating Video games and sadly Werewolf was one that defeated us as we could not beat it. Now I am 36 years old, and I still own my copy of Werewolf: The Last Warrior.  I think I am ready for one last showdown with this game that has defeated me in the beating the game department, and thanks to “Phasers On Stun” and owner Ron and worker Spencer, I was able to get a complete copy of the game with box, comic and booklet just for this review and showdown, so thanks guys!

My Werewolf The Last Warrior Complete In Box

Before I get to deep into this challenge, I want to chat about a few other things that I truly enjoy just so I can get myself in the right frame of mind to play and finally beat this NES Game.  First up, I want to talk about Golgotha, the newest release from one of my favorite bands, W.A.S.P., fronted by the underrated song writer Blackie Lawless. Over the years the band has gone through many changes with mostly band members coming and going but one thing that has always stayed besides Lawless is the ability to write and perform amazing Rock N Roll songs! When I pre-ordered his CD back in late 2015 it was with the hopes that it would live up to the hype I created in my own mind as I was in need of a fix of classic sounding 80’s rock and I was banking on this release to deliver, but the main question on your mind is did it. I decided to listen to this CD in my 2004 Ford Mustang as I drove around town as I wanted to mimic the days when I was a youngster and driving blaring music was my way to unwind, and the first thing I must say is that the sound W.A.S.P. delivered with this release was that of a true to life 80’s Hairband sound! The downside to this release is once more Lawless thinks every song needs to be long epic ballads with almost all songs being over 5 minutes long! Another thing I noticed is that while Lawless has been born again, this has not affected the raw feeling of these new tracks and only thing missing is cuss words and sexual undertows of his songs past. I should also note that Golgotha was released 6 years after W.A.S.P.’s last release that was Babylon that was released in 2009. The best track on the CD for me has to be “Scream” as it made for a great tune to cruise around to with the windows down and really did remind me of a classic 80’s W.A.S.P song. My least favorite track was “Golgotha” and while not a terrible tune just was more of a song I would think you would hear on a Christian Rock release and not a Hard Rock one. Golgotha is a great solid release and shows that while Blackie Lawless might be in his 60’s the man still knows how to deliver a fist pumping, head banging rock n roll record, fans of the band should check it out and I for one cant wait to see what the bands next release will bring. And who knows maybe the next release will see the return of Randy Piper, Chris Holmes and Tony Richards to the band! And for those wondering Golgotha or also known as Calvary is the name of the spot beyond Jerusalem’s walls were Jesus was crucified, just wanted to share.

GolgothaCover

On April 10, 2016 I held another Horror Movie Marathon over at my cousin Stephen’s house and as always it was a fun time filled with good friends, tasty snacks and cheesy horror flicks! On April 9th we held the pre-show once again and in attendance was Stephen, Jeremy Hoyt and Garrison Kane and we ate Wing Zone and started off the night with “Jack ‘O’ Slasher” put out by SRS Cinema and is a no budget film about a haunted house that is run by Satanists who summon a killer Pumpkin Man to murder people who attend as well as find them a virgin. The second film was released by Wild Eye Media and was called “Morbid” and was a horror comedy about a small town being stalked by a masked killer called The Business Man who kills for the joy of it. The final film of the night was “Bunni” also released by Wild Eye Media and is about a group of young adults breaking into a closed down magic and sex toyshop during the Halloween season only to find themselves being stalked and killed by a white masked female killer who wears a corset and fishnet stockings. It was a fun time as listening to Jeremy who is not a horror fan, get worked up over the plots and characters made for some fun discussions after the films. Plus the wings from WingZone where great as I got mine with the Cool Ranch Dry Rub and it made the perfect meal to watch the splatter on the screen to. Stephen and myself choose our best and worst film of the night and we both agreed hands down the worst was Jack ‘O’ Slasher as the film lacked a good enough story and killer to suffer through all the random shots and off brand style of a director who was clearly into Rob Zombie films and was trying to make his own version of House Of 1000 Corpses thanks to a Haunted House he had at his disposal. While Jack ‘O’ Slasher had some fun and silly kills it was just kind of lacking. My favorite film of the pre-show was Bunni as I enjoyed the atmosphere of the closed up store front as well as loved the fact Bunni was a female killer who killed for the sake of killing before she can be hurt by them as she was once a abused wife. Plus Bunni had some great gore effects as well as some funny acting and even characters dressed up like Hulk Hogan and a TMNT for Halloween. Stephen picked Morbid as his flick of the night as he enjoyed the silly horror comedy nature and he liked the look of the killer known as The Business Man. Over all a good night of horror and a taste of things to come the next morning at 7am!

Jack O Slasher DVDMorbid DVDBunni DVD

The Horror Movie Marathon started at 7am with just Stephen and I up and ready to watch some Horror Flicks! We started off with a Universal Classic called “The Black Cat” that starred Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff who are mortal enemies after a war that leaves one of them a prisoner and the other swooning the captured mans wife, and when a couple stumble onto this death feud they become the pawns in a sick twisted game of revenge and Satan Worshiping. The second film was suppose to be the 1971 Philippino film called “Curse Of The Vampires” but due to a bad DVD we ended up watching “Monster High” a 1989 Horror Comedy about Mr. Armageddon and his team of monsters that include a Mummy and two dim whited aliens attacking a school to bring on the apocalypse and some teens and a game of basketball that stands in the end of the worlds way. “Dr. Jekyll And The Werewolf” was the third film of the day and starred Paul Naschy as the cursed Waldemar Daninsky who goes to Dr. Jekyll for help to cure his werewolf ways but soon finds that his very own Hyde said is waiting in the shadows of his mind! The fourth film was another Horror Comedy called “Monsturd” about an escaped killer who mixes with some contaminated water in the city sewer that turns him into a killer giant poop monster! The space alien creature feature “XTRO” was the fifth film to make the line up and follows a man who went missing for three years returning home to be with his family, but things are not what they seem as he has some very strange powers. “Demon’s Rook” was the sixth film and has three evil demons being set free on Earth thanks to a young man who as a child was kidnapped and by a protector demon that turned over the job to him, now he must stop them before they find him and kill innocent people. The seventh film was “Suburban Sasquatch” about a Bigfoot on the loose in a small town and a reporter and a female Native American huntress trying to team up to stop its rampage. The Outback deformed slasher film “Charlie’s Farm” was the eighth film of the marathon that starred Tara Reid, Nathan Jones, Kane Hodder and Bill Mosley and delivered a bloody good time. “Elves” the holiday themed horror film about a killer Elf who works along side modern day Nazis to impregnate a young virgin and must be stopped by Grizzly Adams was the ninth film of the day. The 1995 giant bug movie “Mosquito” starring Gunner Hansen was the tenth film of the day and entertained with its nature run amuck and cheesy special effects. The eleventh film was “Madhouse” starring Vincent Price and Peter Cushing about an actor known for playing a character called Dr. Death being looked at for possible real life murders, but has the actor lost his mind or is something more sinister happing. The final film of the night was “Half Human” a found footage Blair Witch Project style film about two guys and some girls they picked up at the bar heading to a state park and soon find that they are not alone as bodies are found and something or some one is watching and stalking. People who attended this Marathon besides Stephen were the following Juliet Fromholt, Thomas “Maurice” Smith, Garrison Kane and Jeremy Hoyt and while not a massive turn out it still was a fun time.

The worst film of the Marathon was Suburban Sasquatch as both Stephen and I picked this film as it was very boring, the mostly digital effects were laughable bad, Bigfoot was just a man in a cheap gorilla suit and the main character The Reporter was a unlikable turd who I was begging would die a cruel death. The only thing Suburban Sasquatch had going for it was some of it was so bad it made you laugh out loud and the fact actress Sue Lynn Sanchez who plays the bow and arrow huntress was attractive. Picking my top three best films of the Marathon was pretty tough as I enjoyed many of them for different reasons but after a couple of days of thinking about it I have decided this is my picks and the reasons why. My # 1 is Madhouse as Price was fantastic as the shaken actor and the twists and turns are fantastic! # 2 for me was Dr. Jekyll And The Werewolf a great gothic Spanish werewolf film mixed with the Jekyll and Hyde story, Naschy is as always fantastic as Daninsky. And my pick for # 3 was one I had to really think about as many films were entertaining but I had to stick with Demon’s Rook as the effects and story of this demon tale was well done and was a nice mix of art house and horror film. But I also need to stress that Black Cat and XTRO also get a shout out for almost making it into my # 3 spot! Stephen choose for his top three #1.) Madhouse, # 2.) Black Cat and #3.) Demon’s Rook! His shout out for almost making his list went to Monsturd! Another Horror Movie Marathon is in the books and once more a great time filled with cheesy flicks, good food and great friends.

The Back Cat DVDMonster High DVDDr Jekyll And The Werewolf DVD (sc)Monsturd DVDXTRO dvdThe Demons Rook dvdSuburban Sasquatch dvdCharlies Farm dvdElves dvdMosquito dvdMadhouse dvdHalf Human DVD

The day I choose for my showdown was May 2, 2016 as it was a day that I could tag team the game along with my good friend Todd The Fox who as well as me loves this game but yet it has tortured him for years on not being able to beat it as it has me! The weather outside was cool and cloudy. We choose to play the game with an original NES Controller but the system was a Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System or a RES that I got from Game Swap many years back. My mood was calm and focused as I knew that I must become one with Chief WarWolf in order to over come this amazing quest to save Red Earth from the evil mutants that want to destroy it! Todd was as well focused and wanted to finally put an end to the Mutant attacks. We started out really good blowing through the first level and made short work of sub-bosses The Giant Head and boss Green Slime Man whom never was a factor to stop us on our mission! Stage 2 known as Mad City gave us some trouble as Area 2 has Werewolf on top of a building dodging lightning that kills you with one hit, both Todd and I tried this level many times but once we figured out were to go it became easy and boy did we have to replay not only this level but all the levels before it as the boss of this level Iron Head had our number! Todd and Myself fought Iron Head many times and for some reason he kept beating us, until I figured out a way to beat him once and then the tables turned as he became pretty simple to beat and this allowed us to continue our quest to beat this NES game.

RES with WerewolfRES Werewolf Last Warrior LevelRES Werewolf level

Stage 3 – Stalactite Cave & Madness Base became our major thorn in the thumb and the level that would crush our hopes and dreams of beating Werewolf: The Last Warrior! Todd was the skilled gamer on this level and while as skilled as he was the level was brutal and we lost many continues and had to restart the game many times as our continues would run out. While the level was super challenging it was the main stage boss that kept us at bay and made us fail at our mission and that killer of a boss was called Fireman who was so fast and brutal that the fights with Werewolf made our hero look like a helpless puppy. No matter how hard we tried and no matter our game plan we came up with Fireman was our messenger of death! Fireman showed us mercy as he would kill us quick and with no suffering, and I could almost swear that he was taking great joy in watching us fail at our task at hand. And with our many failed fights with Fireman came the cold hard reality that we were not going to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior creeped into our brains and failure was the word looming in the air. Sad to report to you Readers and Friends we did not beat the game this day, but this I will say now I will have a rematch again soon and I will conquer this classic NES game once and for all. Below is a picture of Todd and Me as he pose with the game that beat us at its own game.

Me and Todd Failed At NES Werewolf

Werewolf: The Last Warrior is a great side scrolling game that is challenging and mixes Action and Horror really well and sprinkles in Native American and Japanese touches to make it something of its own. WarWolf the Werewolf is a great hero who might not be as iconic as Mario or Simon Belmont, but for me has his place in the 8-Bit Video Game Hero Hall Of Fame. But also what makes this game work is the bad guys who make your journey to the end challenging so for this brief moment I want to give some respect to The Big Head a character who shows up many times and wants to stop you at any coast. Green Slime Man who sludges along and even will turn himself into two bouncing balls just to beat you around. Iron Head who stomps, punches and throws chunks of rock at you to smash you into the ground. Lets not forget Fireman who zooms in and out with the fury of a runaway comet trying to burn you to ash. And lastly Monster and Lord Faryan whom I have never fought but both who I am sure wanted to snuff out my characters life. Like all media the good guys are only as good as the bad guys who challenge them and this game has the right characters in play. And on a side note am I the only one who thinks Lord Faryan looks allot like the X-Men villain Magneto?

The Big HeadGreen Slime ManIron HeadFiremanMonsterDark Lord Faryan

Man I enjoy playing a good NES game and had a blast playing Werewolf even if I didn’t beat it, Todd and I still tried our best to do so and had fun doing it. So I guess it’s time to take a look at this Data East Mini Comic that came with the game when you purchased it from your local store, and I must also say that no matter how hard people and companies push me to go digital for my video games I would rather own a disc or cart with cool packages then a file on my system. But while you find your Power Glove or your NES Max I am going to remind you that I grade these issues 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 hit the power button and see what this cool promo mini comic has to add to the world of Werewolf: The Last Warrior.

Werewolf The Last Warrior Comic 1

Werewolf: The Last Warrior # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $0.00   Data East    # 1 of 1

Chief War Wolf is a man whose spirit quest has lead him to the world of wolves and more importantly Werewolves! His small tribe lives in peace in an area off the beaten path and away from the evils of the rest of the world. Dr. Lawrence Faryan has been sent on vacation by the government as he has become obsessed with bio weapons.  When climbing a mountain and finding a cave, he unleashes an evil being that possesses him and he heads back to Washington with an idea that sends a goo into space that will turn the world into slime monsters and mindless drones all willing to do his evil deeds and the lucky ones die from the exposure! War Wolf along with his tribe’s Medicine Man Kinju travel to a cave where War Wolf spends weeks with the Great Spirit and transforms into a sword handed werewolf ready to battle evil. Leaving the cave, he finds his friend Kinju dead and this sparks rage, and War Wolf the Werewolf is ready to destroy Faryan and everything he stands for!

I wish this comic would have lead into a full comic series based on this game and its characters.  I would have loved to have seen Blackthrone Comics as the company to put it out, but sadly this never was meant to be as this promo comic was the only issue ever released. Chief War Wolf is a good hero character, and while a man of few words, he knows what he must do in order to protect his tribe and get revenge for the death of his friend and medicine man Kinju. As a human War Wolf is brave, and as a werewolf with razor sharp blades for hands, he is a warrior. Medicine Man Kinju is very wise and knows that his friend and chief is the only hope and knows that once he takes him to the world of werewolves, things will never be the same, but yet the world will be saved. Dr. Lawrence Faryan is a man who is in love with war and once taken over by an evil spirit, he turns into a pure war and death hungry fiend! Besides shooting some green goop into space and turning a man into a slime monster, Faryan doesn’t do much…in fact the comic has pretty much zero action, but the story is good and short and well done. What works best for this comic is the fact it’s a nice lead up to the video game and brings depth to the characters and gives a little more of a backstory. The art is fantastic, but sadly I could not find who did it, but whoever it was sure did know how to draw a werewolf! Over all this is a short and very entertaining comic for fans of the video game while people who aren’t familiar with the game might get a kick out of it, I am sure they will find it bland and pointless…so I guess what I am trying to say is, if you love the game make sure to track this down and give it a read. Below is some artwork from this comic, and you can see just how good it is!

Werewolf Last Warrior Art 1Werewolf Last Warrior Art 2Werewolf Last Warrior Art 3

So while this game might have whipped me like a stray dog, I still had a good time reading this comic and playing a video game alongside my good friend Todd. But I think it’s time to set down the controller and turn off the power on the good old RES and once more try to hand Rotten Ink over to Juliet so she can take you into warp drive and deliver her look at Star Trek: The Next Generation and the DC Comic mini series based on that hit series! So until then, read a comic or three, play a video game or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you in space for the next update, my friends.

Another STTNG Logo

The Undead Files: The Dead

What is it about zombies that strike not only fear but also entertainment value with people? TV is filled with shows like The Walking Dead, Z-Nation and iZombie. Video games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Resident Evil are strong sellers. Not to mention comic book shelves are filled with many undead titles like ‘68, Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies and many Night Of The Living Dead titles. But what is it that draws us to the notion of the dead coming back to life to eat our brains or flesh? Why are we so obsessed with zombies, and why are they so ingrained into our culture now? In this Undead File Update, we will be taking a look at a comic book series made by Arrow Comics that pushed the envelope of gore and started many comic readers’ love for the underground gore comics and a series that inspired many artists and writers to make zombie comics of their own, The Dead. So be prepared to walk among the dead as we talk about this cult comic series among other things of the living dead nature.

Zombie Hand Coming From The Grave

The Lane To The Dead is an urban legend around these parts that was brought to the light of day thanks to the book series “Haunted Ohio” written by Chris Woodyard, who did a small write up about it.  I also heard other stories from people who claimed they knew about it as well. The story goes that there is abandon graveyard that sits deep in the woods that is walled off with not only brinks but also barbwire and razor wire to keep people out and something in! You see the graveyard in this undisclosed location is said to house zombies that were created by the government during experiments and when they found that they could not kill them…again they trapped them all in this cemetery that acts as a dumping ground for them. It’s said that you must walk a long dirt lane that leads to woods and when entering them you must walk miles deep to get to the cemetery, and you know when your close as the moans and noises of the zombies can be heard. When living in Waynesville when I was like in 4th or 5th grade a classmate who’s dad worked for the government told him that they have reanimated bodies but that they can only keep it “reanimated” for seconds before they pass again, does this story fit in with The Lane Of The Dead…I doubt it as I don’t believe what my classmate told me as almost the whole school watched Night of the Living Dead on TV the weekend before. When I was in my late teens Josh Weinberg and I tired all we could to find the Lane To The Dead and failed, as it’s doubtful it’s real…but if it is the undead walk among us here in Ohio!!

What I Think Lane Of The Dead Looks Like

The Toraja people of Indonesia have a ritual for burial and death, their culture has a fascination with it and can be seen all over their villages. You see they believe in the afterlife and this leads to them the funeral that can some times take place weeks or months after death as all family members must be present. The bodies are stored in the church in limestone caves or even in the house of a loved one, during the wait the corpse is cared for as if it’s still alive given baths, groomed, dressed regularly and even offered meals! Once the family is all present and the money raised for burial the funeral starts that can as well last for days as depending on the wealth of the family consists of feasts, mourning the dead and animal sacrifices that they believe the dead animals will help the soul of their loved one cross over to the other side faster. The bodies are placed in a wooden coffin and then placed in a burial chamber carved into the side of a large rock as they think this is the between Heaven and Earth and will help the spirit find its way…but wait this is not the last you will see of your loved one! Once a year in August loved ones will pull out their dead loved ones and wash, groom and dress them, then make repairs to the coffin and then “walk” them to their place of death and than back to their coffin. And this repeats forever no matter how long your loved one died you show them this respect. And some smaller tribes of people claim that the dead are walking themselves, while others claim its all a trick done by the funeral people. Does the dead truly walk or is this all some sort of tradition that we all just don’t understand, one things for sure and that these peoples loved ones are never forgotten. Below is some photos of the “walk” of the dead.

Toraja Dead 1Toraja Dead 2Toraja Dead 3

I love independent horror films and that’s why I have made my own No Budget Epics and have produced Horror Films for such directors as Andy Copp, Henrique Couto and Chris Seaver over the years and that’s why I have chosen this zombie film that should and could be made into a comic series called Zombie Chronicles that was released in 2001 and put out by Sterling Films and Brain Damage Films on VHS and DVD. The film is about a reporter who picks up an old man named Ebenezer Jackson who is heading to the same small town as her, along the way they make a stop and he shares some real life zombie stories with her! In the end she finds out he himself is a ghost and she might be the real target of the living dead. The film is as backyard as they come and looks as if it was shot on Super VHS or something along those lines and the effects are pure backyard stuff with some being really good including one woman who’s face has been ripped off and she gives her last dying breath. Most of the zombies are in cheap looking masks or terrible Halloween makeup bought on discount from K-Mart. But this could be a great series of comics and follow Ebenezer as he wonders around America finding people on lonely stretches of Highway and tell them chilling stories of the undead, with no budgets holding it back this could be as brutal as any zombie comic in history. Each issue would have a motorist, traveler or drifter coming in contact with Ebenezer who would tell them two to three zombie stories while they traveled the road or even stopped for the night at a rundown motel or camp site aside the road. After each issue the person hearing the stories would be marked in some way from not just physical but mentally as well. This would have to be done as a independent comic in order to truly up the gore and pack in some nudity as well, I would say a company like Rough House Publishing or even Studio Akumakaze would be great companies to make this comic come to bloody life and out of my artist friends that would make this amazing would be Rachael Lare, Damien Brunk or Jeff Potter all who would capture the horror nature of the series. This comic series would never happen sadly as no one remembers it nor when it was released did it come out to major fan fare as it went direct to video and faded away into horror film obscurity. Oh yeah the film was directed by Brad Sykes who made such other low budget films like Camp Blood 1 & 2, Demon’s Kiss, Death Factory and Mad Jack to name a few, the film also stars Janet Tracy Keijser who is easy on the eyes even if she is a little off acting in this film. Z-Grade flick check it out of you like your horror with a little cheese.

The Zombie Chronicles 1The Zombie Chronicles VHSThe Zombie Chronicles 2

When WWE bought out ECW and tried to re-launch the brand on the Sci-Fi network in 2006, it was a shell of what it was.  Gone were the days of New Jack using a cheese grader on Hack Meyers as blood poured out.  Gone were the days of Raven fighting Tommy Dreamer in a barbwire match all for the attention of Beulah, and what we got instead was a watered down version with Big Show being a top star as well as supernatural wrestlers like The Boogeyman, vampire Kevin Thorn and yep, The Zombie! Tim Roberts was the man with the cheesy gimmick who made his debut on the first episode of ECW on the SCI-FI Channel and was quickly beat down by The Sandman and his Singapore cane, you see the network wanted “monsters” added to the roster and this was the WWE’s way of saying we will add them and they will be used as jokes and get beat down fast and easy. The Zombie would float around for a short time loosing matches until he quietly disappeared from the company. Roberts was better known under the ring name Tim Arson and was a pretty big attraction in multiple Puerto Rico wrestling federations and won many belts over his career there, he also toured independent federations and even took on Matt Striker under the Arson gimmick that aired on WWE Heat. After becoming The Zombie for ECW he would also take bookings under that gimmick for small wrestling promotions. Sadly on January 7 2015 Roberts died of unknown causes at the age of 38. While he might not have been a household name here in America his fourteen year long wrestling career sported him fans all over the world.

ECW Zombie 1ECW Zombie 2ECW Zombie 3

People love zombies so much that Adult XXX films have been made about them! Yeah films that have male and female zombies getting busy with humans and each other have seen the light of day. These kind of Adult Films just shows you how much the American Culture loves Zombies that they want to see them not only eat humans but also do it with them! Many of these films also have a Horror Film nature to them and add gore and twisted storylines to these films, while others have no plots and are just scenes of goofball actors in masks and cheap Halloween makeup doing the deed with females who are there to collect a paycheck. There are parodies of George Romero dead films as well as The Walking Dead and everything in between, so if this is your thing and you find Zombies sexy I am sure one of these odd adult films will be sure to please.

Dawna Of The Dead PosterWalking Dead XXX Female ZombiePorn Of The Dead Poster

Here in Dayton, Ohio we have lots of Food Trucks and one of the most popular is a gourmet hotdog truck called Zombie Dogz that people line up for rain or shine to get a tasty large sized hotdog! Each hotdog has a horror themed name like “Hunk A Hunk A Rotting Flesh,” a tribute to Elvis Presley that is a hotdog with bacon, pan seared bananas flambéed in banana liquor topped with homemade cashew butter.  Or you could try “Gem City Slasher” that has the hotdog with avocado salsa, white truffle oil, red onions, bacon bits and cilantro sour cream! My favorite one is called “Calling In Dead” that has truffle oil mac n’ cheese and cracker crumbles all placed on top of the hotdog! Besides the Dayton area, you can also find Zombie Dogz as a food vendor at Horror Hound Weekend Convention in Cincinnati, and for comic book readers they are also spotted many Fridays at Bell, Book and Comic. If you’re ever in the area and enjoy a good specialty hotdog, check them out as I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Zombie Dogz logo

Arrow Comics was created by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr in 1985 and was a black and white independent comic company that the pair started by publishing a magazine called “Fantastic Fanzine.”  After seeing how much of a hit the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was, they decided to open a comic book branch and gathered local talent like Guy Davis, Susan Van Camp, Randy Zimmerman and Vincent Locke to name a few and Arrow Comics was born! Issues of titles like Deadworld, The Realm, Tales From the Aniverse, System 7, Oz and Nightstreets hit comic shops, but by 1989, they were in trouble due to revenues for some of their top selling titles being tied up, causing them to have to move some of their titles to Caliber Comics. After a few years of silence, they tried to make a comeback in 1993 and released a savage zombie comic called The Dead, but sadly the re-launch was very short lived. In 2008 they made another comeback and started to make webcomics called Spank The Monkey and Rebel Nun and plan on giving many of their titles comebacks in this modern world of comic books. Being a long time comic reader as well as a Monster Kid, I can remember seeing these issues at local comic shops and even had a few of their OZ titles, but never did have any of the zombie ones as I think most of those were behind the counter kind of titles and I was too young to buy them. But while Arrow Comics was never as impactful as many of the other small companies of the time like Malibu, Now or Innovation, they still made huge impacts on their readers who enjoyed something different than Superman or Captain America. I must also state, I love their motto “Our Target Is Entertainment; Our Aim Is Quality”.

Arrow Comics logo

In 2015 Rough House Publishing, a comic company run by Derek Rook, who was the man behind Xmachina Comics, the company who brought you the “Gates Of Hell”, “Halloween: The Return To Haddonfield” and “Phantasm” comics as well as worked on the adaptation of Fulci’s “Zombie” graphic novel, released an amazing graphic novel called “The Dead: Omnibus” that collected all issues of the Arrow Comic series and more! It’s a must-have comic for fans of horror comics and for those looking for something more brutal than Walking Dead.  It’s my honor to present to you this 5 Questions with Derek Rook, the man behind Rough House Publishing and the rebirth of The Dead.

rough house publishing logoDerek RookThe Dead Omnibus

Matt: Welcome to Rotten Ink, Derek, and thanks for taking time away from your busy schedule to chat with me. Growing up were you a comic reader, and if so, what comic characters did you like?

Derek: Thank YOU, Matt! I appreciate the opportunity to hang with you. I WAS a giant comic book reader as a child. When I was young, I’d go grocery shopping with my mother and I would always hope that she had a couple bucks to spare so I could grab some comics off the news stand. I wasn’t aware of comic book shops at that time, so I’d get mine at grocery and convenience stores and sometimes at a Mom & Pop book corner store. I always loved The Incredible Hulk (especially the adult-oriented Marvel Magazine The Hulk), Rom – The Space Knight, Moon Knight, Conan, Godzilla…I always enjoyed characters that were misunderstood loners as I too was one of those as a child.

Matt: What was the first comic book you ever made of your own, and what was it about?

Derek: The first comic book I ever formally published was called NIGHTFALL. I published it in high school and with the help of my art teacher, Joseph Degnain, The book was standard slasher fare, but was heavily critical of religion, government and of many world views that we are dealing with today. We printed off 50 copies using all of the schools resources and equipment. In some ways, he believed in my dreams more than I did as he was responsible for the entire output process. All he wanted in return was one singular copy. I sold them to students for $1 and sold out in four days.

Matt: You have done some great comics based on such films as Gates of Hell, Zombie, Halloween and the upcoming Nightmare City remake – what has been your favorite one to work on?

Derek: It’s popular to answer that question by saying, “it’s like picking the favorite of your children”…and that’s true, But that’s not hard for me. If my books are “children”, then some of them were some real fucking bastards (laughs). Thus far my personal favorite as far as just my art would have to be THE GATES OF HELL. That book was a decades long journey through one of the most formative and tumultuous years of my life. I think the determination to complete that project shows in the finished product. It’s a great body of work. My favorite publication as a whole would hands down be THE DEAD – OMNIBUS. We all were just an unstoppable freight train during that project. There’s so much love and pride there, it’s staggering.

Matt: What three horror films would you like to turn into a comic book series or adaptations for Rough House Publishing, and why?

Derek: As we go forward with ROUGH HOUSE, I think you’ll be seeing us move away slightly from licensed projects, in lieu of more creator-owned stuff. Licensing is sometimes hard to get with the type of stuff we are interested in making books out of…BUT, if I could magically do three more, I personally would want to do THE BRONX WARRIORS (as a trilogy), the un-filmed original script for George Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD and probably CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. If you ask some of the other Rough House crew, you’d probably have an even bigger list.

Matt: With The Dead: Omnibus being one of your first releases from Rough House Publishing, I would guess you grew up a zombie comic fan. What is some of your favorite zombie or even horror comics going now?

Derek: Sadly, I’m not a fan of most modern comics in general anymore. Most of them lack the spirit and savvy and genius of some of the comics I grew up with. Maybe I’m just bias. The entire institution has become very corporate and are usually a means of advertisement for a much bigger and more profitable franchise. I think Image is publishing some interesting stuff like AIRBOY and BIG MANS PLANS. The original Garth Ennis’ CROSSED by Avatar Press was ground-breaking at the time, I loved SATELLITE SAM by Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction…as you can see, most are not horror. HAUNTED HORROR is the closest ting publishing to my favorite comic book being published today, but those are are all reprinted stories from over 60 years ago…so I guess you can see where my roots are truly planted.

Matts: Thanks, my friend, for taking your time to chat with me!

Derek Rook At Work

As always Derek is a class act and a true artist in the world of horror comics and one of my favorite artists going today alongside Javier Trujillo as both capture the true nature of horror. So for about a year now I have been itching to check out The Dead as Rough House Publishing put it on my radar with their release of The Dead: Omnibus.  This started my quest to find the single issues that were released just so I could finally read them and cover them for this Undead File update! Thanks to Ebay and Lone Star Comics, I was able to track them down and enjoy them for the first time in all their gore-tastic glory! But before we walk among The Dead, I should remind you that I grade these issues 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 with that out of the way, let’s see what all this brain eating and gut munching horror is all about!

The Dead 1

The Dead # 1  ***
Released in 1993    Cover Price $2.25    Arrow Comics    # 1 of 2

Davey is a young man who is going to be a military man someday soon and is on a camping trip with his family and friends.  They are having a good time, and it seems like a perfect trip complete with campfires, fishing and walks in the woods making it seem like nothing could go wrong. As the wives are alone, a knock on the door leads to death as a farmer zombie in overalls and a shotgun blows one of the mom’s heads off and then proceeds to eat the breasts off the other! The Zombie Farmer is not alone and as the other zombies start to eat the flesh of the woman, the husbands show up and they as well become lunch as once more the Zombie Farmer uses his shotgun to blow the head off of one of them! Davey is smart enough and gets all the kids into the RV and saves their lives as they head to the nearby town for help they soon find out it has been set on fire.

This is a perfect example of an underground horror comic as it’s packed with lots of gore, boobs and monsters and is done in glorious black and white. The story is about two families on a vacation in the woods that are attacked by zombies who seem to not only want to eat them but also get enjoyment from killing humans. The story follows Davey as he tries all he can to save his siblings and young friends from a brutal death, all the while having to come to grips with the fact that his parents are dead. Davey is a interesting character who’s young but yet acts mature as his goal in life is to be a military man just like his father.  Despite the shock of seeing his parents slaughtered, he is still smart enough to use his brain and get in the RV and get the heck out of dodge as he sees the zombies coming for them. The rest of the kids are your normal generic kids who sneak and smoke pot and act silly and tough when you know without Davey’s guidance they would all be zombie lunch. The Zombie Farmer is one twisted sick undead psycho who not only kills his victims but also psychologically tortures them by allowing them to beg for their lives only to kill them with a brutal glee. The things we know about Zombie Farmer: he can use a shotgun and is good with it, he loves female boobs and he cannot die with damage to his body. The rest of the zombies seem to listen to what the Farmer says and are into eating the victims and causing chaos and mayhem. The comic is filled with lots of blood, brains and head exploding, all things that horror comic fans love and crave. The issue’s story and plot was done by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr with art done by Jason Moore that is a very fitting style for a independent horror comic from the 90’s. The cover for some reason reminds me of Raiden from Mortal Kombat and is eye catching but in no way warns the reader of just how brutal the comic is! So far I’m very much enjoying this comic and am looking forward to issue two as well as the second volume of The Dead so let’s get to issue # 2!

The Dead 2

The Dead # 2  **1/2
Released in 1993    Cover Price $2.25    Arrow Comics    # 2 of 2

Davey and the gang watch as the town is burning and come up with a plan to try and get food, medical supplies and weapons from a trading post deep in the woods run by an old man named Zeke.  As they start their journey, Zombie Farmer in a pick up truck packed with zombies tries to stop them using firebombs and bricks to slow the kids down, but Davey has a plan that has motor oil being flung onto the windshield of the truck causing the Zombies to crash off a tiny bridge and explode! But before they get to the post, a zombie is able to get into the RV and bite one of the girls on the neck before it can be bashed leaving its brains all over the floor. The group tend to the wounded girl as Davey and the guys go into the post that has been clearly attacked by the undead.  They scavenge for food and get 10 boxes worth before Zeke shows up, now a zombie, throwing knives that injure one of the boys’ legs before they escape and head back to the road and the unknown! It ends with a naked woman who’s a prisoner of zombies who must rat out a location of other humans, and for her help a zombie eats her private parts!

More twisted and gruesome moments are packed into this growing story of Davey and the kids trying to get help and get away from the living dead who are out for blood and guts and a murderous good time. This issue’s plot has Davey and the kids trying to get to a safe place to gather supplies all the while dodging zombies who want to stop them and kill them. Throw in a strange zombie at the end who is forcing a living female for information and you have this strange issue summed up. Davey becomes more in charge as it’s clear they are being targeted by the zombies.  He comes up with the idea to get the Zombie Farmer off his back as well as comes up with where to get the supplies they will need to survive. The rest of the kids are becoming more useful and understand now that they are all in danger and when one of their own is bitten on the neck by a zombie, they know that death could await them at any turn. The zombies are very mean spirited and use bricks, cocktail bombs and knives to attack and they will not stop until the kids can escape them or kill them. Zombie Farmer returns for a short time and is driving a pickup truck and is trying to run the RV off the road, and is only stopped when his truck drives off a bridge and explodes, is he dead or not I cannot say for sure. The issue is packed with more gore that includes a neck bite, knife to the leg and a woman’s private parts being eaten by a zombie showing that they were all about the blood. The cover I have to this issue is X-Rated and depicts the poor woman being eaten by the Zombie, and this I am sure was never on the shelf at Mavericks Cards and Comics or The Bookie Parlor. The story and plot was once more done by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr with Moore doing the art again that is super fitting for a comic of this nature as he understands the style of making a good zombie attack come alive. The downside is that the story is not finished as only two issues were made for Volume 1 so I am hoping that Volume 2 finishes this story or at least tells us the readers what happened to Davey and his siblings and friends. This comic series seems like fans of The Walking Dead could enjoy it if they don’t mind crude gore mixed in with their Horror Drama. And yes, the green zombie heads added to the cover was because I had to censor it, sad to say.

the dead vol 1 art 1

So that was volume one of this series so up next lets take a look at the second time around they tried to deliver The Dead to Horror Comic Readers with this 1998 released zombie romp issues! Does this series follow what happened to Davey….I don’t know but I hope if not they at least make a small attempt to tell what his the teens fate was, but lets not waste no more time the living dead is starting to crowd around and I don’t know about you but I sure don’t want to be bitten.

The Dead 2.1

The Dead # 1  **
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 1 of 3

Jerry, Marcus and Megan are paramedics who are responding to a terrible multiple car wreck in Chicago that has many injured as well as many dead. They rush to the hospital with two survivors but quickly find out that the hospital is a warzone as the dead are coming back to life and eating the living! Just then one of the wreck victims dies and comes back to life and attacks Marcus and this causes Jerry to wreck the ambulance, this leads to Megan being thrown from the wreck and attacked and killed by Marcus who is now a zombie who turns Megan into a zombie who bites Jerry who escapes but is now on the run from his two former partners as well as the two wreck victims who are also flesh eaters! Jerry runs to a nearby gas station and meets a young woman who thinks he’s crazy as he rambles on about zombies, but she soon finds out he is no crazy as the zombies come for them and they both must run for their lives. The second story takes place in Michigan and has an old man fishing and drinking beer watching as a young couple is attacked and zombies come from the lake, he rushes to get his guns and warn the couples friends but it might be to late as they think he’s crazy and open the door to the living dead.

Right off the top I must say this second series lacks the gore, nudity and characters of the first series and while good felt a little lack luster. Plus this far we get zero follow up on Davey and his crew and instead we are following new characters as they are dealing with the zombie outbreak. The plot is broke into two parts with one following Jerry a paramedic and the other following an old drunk man and his dog as they deal with zombies and the people around them. Jerry is kind of a moron who does not help Megan who is begging for help after her injuries that was caused by his crappy driving, once he let her day I found myself shaking my head and wondering when he would die and hoping it was gruesome. The Old Man who has yet to be named seems ok this far and was just wanting to drink some beer, hang with his old dog and fish, but when the zombies come he at least tries to save others. The zombies are your Italian Zombie movie style who go for neck bites and are slow and only driven by the hunger of flesh. Over all not feeling this first issue as much as I did the 1993 The Dead issue 1 as this one kind of sadly feels generic in some ways, again not terrible just average. The cover is bland and shows the old man with his gun, and the art inside is pretty cool and classic 90’s horror comic stuff and is done by Matt Mason. I am hoping that issue two packs a little more blood and gore punch as series one set the bar very high and this issue felt like a light Marvel Zombies issue.

The Dead 2.2

The Dead # 2  **1/2
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 2 of 3

The Old Man who’s name is Rick fights off the zombies and pushes them out of the cabin, but not before one boy is bitten by one that snuck into the house via the back window! The Old Man’s plan is for them all to load into the van out front and drive into town to get help, but the zombies have other plans as they block the path to the van. Rick sends some of the kids including Jennifer out after they find the keys to a four-wheeler, the injured boy goes with her and they travel to the neighbors house who own a truck. While there the boy turns into a zombies and the neighbors are all ready zombies and Jennifer must blast her way through them to get the truck to pick up the others just in time as the zombies were about to over take them. Now back to Chicago where Jerry and the female gas worker are running the streets for their lives away from the zombies that are all around, the bite on Jerry’s arm is getting worse as the pain is becoming unbearable. Meanwhile the Zombies are attacking and killing anyone they come in contact with and a brutish biker saves Jerry and the Clerk from a zombie attack and warns them to leave town and to get away as far as they can! The clerk and Jerry steal a car as his pain is getting worse they soon find themselves in a zombie traffic jam.

This second issue brings back blood and gore and adds enough survival horror drama that you find yourself as the reader being drawn into the plot and wanting to see how any of the survivors will make it out alive. The plot for both stories has our heroes and fellow survivors trying to escape the grips of the living dead and coming up with plans to do so. Jerry this time around while as useless as ever at least saves the clerk from becoming zombie lunch, but does just yell at the zombies instead of fighting them like a man. The Female Gas Station Clerk is by far the bravery of the two and wants to not only find help for Jerry but also get out of town and save her own butt. The Old Man Rick is one bad mofo as he blasts his way through zombies as well as comes up with a plan that works and gets the survivors away from the lake and cabins that are being over run by the undead. Jennifer who is one of the young ladies at the cabin also seems like she could be a player in the survival game as she is very strong willed and understands that she needs to fight to stay alive. The Zombies are as always brutal and craving flesh and will not stop no matter how many gun shots you pump into them, unless you aim for the head. The gore and blood are back and while not as brutal as it was in series one, it still great to see in this series. The cover is better and has zombies eating a man and the art inside is good and done by Matt Mason again. Solid brutal issue with lots of zombie horror fun, looking forward to the third and final issue in this second series and see if it has an ending or if Arrow leaves us hanging again.

The Dead 2.3

The Dead # 3  **1/2
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 3 of 3

The Store Clerk gets Jerry through the zombie roadblock, but Jerry has died and is becoming a zombie! Jerry is not just some ordinary zombie as he can talk and think and wants nothing more than to rape and eat the clerk! He tricks her into stopping at a drug store by saying he needs medication and bandages for his bite wound and then has her follow him into the back storage room as the zombies start to break in.  He attacks her and leads her into the zombies who all listen to him.  He tells them to eat her and claims he is the King of The Zombies! The second story follows a group of teens at a house babysitting, eating pizza and watching some flicks when a police officer who’s the brother of one of the girls shows up and warns them all to stay inside as murders are happing all over. In the end the parents of the young kids show up and are infected, and the teens lock themselves in the house and prepare for a horrific night of terror.

The story of Jerry has an ending as he becomes the first smart and talking zombie of this series, he is so slimy and only wants to feed his urges of human flesh both in a hungry way and a horny way! I 100% hate Jerry and so wanted the Female Store Clerk to survive and blow his brains out….sadly this did not happen as she became zombie dinner. I however must say I did like the journey of Jerry from being an every day guy doing his job to being bite by a zombie to being in pain and dying from said bite to finally becoming a zombie and learning he has powers the others don’t like speech and a mind that still works for plotting. The second story is pretty cool and reminds me of my friends and I getting together back in High School and having Horror Movie Marathons in my parent’s basement. But while the story on that one was just getting started from all I could gather the 4th issue never came out and left readers hanging once more. The story of Rick and the lake survivors as well did not get a closing as in this issue they are not shown at all. The issue showcases some blood and gore as well as nudity as the Female Gas Station Worker has her top ripped off by the sleazy zombie Jerry. This second series while good failed to capture the raw magic of the first series, and with that said I still enjoyed these three issues and they were well worth tracking down for this update. The cover on issue three is pretty cool and just showcases a zombie and reminds me of pure independent punk rock horror comics, the art inside is Matt again and is good stuff and very fitting for the nature of this series. One thing I should point out about this series that was really cool was that you could pay to put yourself in the comic! You could pay a fee from $250 to $25 and select to be a zombie, a victim or a Zombie Hunter and even pick just how gross your death would be! That’s a fantastic gimmick and one that should be in use today, oh wait “We Kill The Dead” the new upcoming Horror Series did do something like this for their Kickstarter…Good Work Guys, as I find this to be an outstanding idea. Over all The Dead’s third issue is much like the first two in this series good stuff and worth a read for zombie comic fans like myself. Below is some artwork form this second series.

the dead vol 2 art 1

The Dead is clearly one of the horror comics alongside the George Romero Dead films that inspired The Walking Dead as lots of elements seem to be borrowed from each in the comic as well as the show. If you enjoy your zombies dripping in blood, guts and gore and enjoy a little nudity thrown in for extra sleazy, I would say The Dead is for you, as I found myself loving every black and white page of the undead on a rampage for flesh and glory. Make sure to check out The Dead: Omnibus by Rough House Publishing as they collect all the issues as well as unprinted stories in one glorious book! And keep an eye out for more of their releases as they are the true horror comic fan’s outlet for amazing titles. For the next update I am going to try and have a showdown with an NES game that has foiled my attempts to beat it for years, but now I am ready to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior as well as review the mini comic that came with the game on release! So until next time, avoid the dead, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host!

NES Werewolf Logo

Marvel At The Movies Part 3: Bring On The Superheroes!

The doors are once again wide open at the Marvel Theater, and they have welcomed Rotten Ink in once more to take a look at more comic adaptations of movies.  This time around we will be taking a look at comics based on movies that are based on Marvel Comics! Nowadays, Marvel is ruling the box office with their films based on The Avengers, X-Men, Captain America, Iron Man and Guardians of The Galaxy, proving that these comic characters are truly box office gold. It’s crazy to think that back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Marvel was struggling to get their movies even made and the ones that were did not live up to what they wanted as Superman and Batman were clearly the powerhouses and led DC to being the go to company if you needed a comic character to make a movie around. For this update I have chosen three comic adaptations for Marvel films I grew up watching, not the more modern ones.  My picks are Howard The Duck, The Punisher and Captain America, all considered turkeys of films and all films I enjoyed watching over and over as a kid. So let’s find the perfect seat and settle in as we have some movies to talk about!

marvel-at-the-movies-3 update logo 00

Before we get too comfortable in our seats, I should thank Mavericks Cards And Comics and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock, and most importantly, I should also sound like a broken record and remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with our popcorn and favorite drink in hand lets take a look and talk about some fun comics based on Marvel characters!

Howard The Duck Movie Still 1Howard The Duck Movie PosterHoward The Duck Movie Still 2

In 1986, George Lucas produced Marvel Comics first hero to make it to the big screen.  It was not Spider-Man nor was it the Fantastic Four as those would have proven to have been wiser choices.  Instead, we got Howard The Duck! The film followed Howard The Duck as he is sucked to Earth, befriends a female rock band, and saves the world from a inter-dimensional being who wants to rule the world. Universal Pictures as well as Marvel Comics put a lot of time and money into promoting this film and even cast some pretty great names to star in it like Lea Thompson, Tim Robbins and Jeffrey Jones with Chip Zien providing the voice of Howard.  But none of these elements could help the film with critics and moviegoers who snubbed it. The film did very poorly for Universal, only bringing in a worldwide total of $37,962,774.00 on a $37 million dollar budget! I for one always enjoyed this film growing up.  I first saw it on HBO, and by that point my brother and I already had Marvel Comic issues of Howard and I even had the paperback novel adaptation on the film,  The film was super fun and any film that had Lea Thompson in her panties was a-ok in my book! I am not so sure why this film has as much hate as it does.  None of my schoolmates on the playground in Waynesville ever trashed this film nor did I really hear all that much hate for it until the social media boom of the 2000’s happened. So let’s see how this comic adaptation series holds up and if it can capture the cheesy magic of the film.

Howard The Duck Movie Special 1

Howard The Duck # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986    Cover Price .75    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 3

Howard The Duck has just gotten off work and is sitting in his apartment, drinking a beer and enjoying the new issue of Play-Duck, when he is suddenly pulled by an unknown force out into space and left stranded on Earth in Cleveland, Ohio right outside of a rock venue were the all female group Cherry Bomb is playing. After being lost in the city and seeing just how cold and uncaring it can be, he ends back up at the rock venue just as Bev, the lead singer of Cherry Bomb is having some words with their manager who has not paid the band for their past gigs! As Beverly is walking home, she is attacked by some hoods who have bad intentions and is saved by Howard who uses Quack-Fu, and a friendship is sparked as Howard stays the night at Beverly’s flat where he opens up about his life in his world that included him wanting to be a song writer. The next day Beverly brings Howard to the Cleveland museum to meet Phil, a friend of her who works there.  After that gives them no answers, Howard losses his cool and runs off Beverly, and now he is alone and mad in Cleveland!

This is a fun first issue that holds the charm and good nature of the film and its characters. The plot for issue one has Howard being zapped from his planet and trapped on Earth and becoming friends with Beverly who is a lead singer for a rock band who wants to try and help him return to his planet, but one little argument leaves the two at odds by the end of the issue. Howard The Duck is a blue collar kind of character who is stuck between living his dreams of being a creative person and “growing up” and working a adult job. He comes off short tempered but also noble as he risks his own life when a stranger is in danger. Howard is scared and yet trying to stay strong as he really just wants to go home and get away from Cleveland. Beverly Switzler is a sweet young woman who fronts a popular all female band called Cherry Bomb.  She is an independent person who lives on her own and is following her dreams. She also has a great heart as she takes in Howard who saved her from being attacked and wants to try her best to find a way to get him home. Phil Blumburtt is a total goof who so far wants to help Howard but also wants to help himself as he feels this could get him into the Science Hall Of Fame.  While a smart person, he is also very much a goof. Ginger is a jerk and is the manager of Cherry Bomb. Howard is mistreated by Metalheads and Bikers in this issue and all the while you find yourself cheering for this duck to make it out alright. The cover for this adaptation is just okay and is lacking the major eye catching appeal, while the art inside is done by Kyle Baker and is pretty good stuff.  Some of the characters loosely look like the actors who played them in the film. Over all a very good first issue and is a fun enjoyable ride with likable characters and some kid comic like charm. Well let’s see how issue two holds up!

Howard The Duck Movie Special 2

Howard The Duck # 2  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   # 2 of 3

Howard is now on his own and finds a job at a spa, but quits that quickly when he finds out he hates to swim and his boss is a fat jerk. While walking the streets, he ends up at a club were Cherry Bomb is playing and overhears Ginger bragging about stealing the band’s money and is talking sleazy about Beverly.  This angers Howard who beats him up, takes the bands money to give to them and gets it so now he is the band’s manager! Howard goes back to stay with Beverly, and they are soon visited by Phil and a Dr. Walter Jenning who is in charge of the Spectroscopic Laser that was the tool that pulled Howard to Earth! They decide that if they reverse the experiment that they might be able to send Howard home.  This turns bad when the laser explodes and brings something more dark and sinister to Earth and leaves Howard on the run from the cops for being a illegal alien. Beverly breaks him loose from jail, and Dr. Jenning is sick and needs help as he took the blunt of the blast and is also wanted for questioning as this last experiment was not on the record. The trio ends up at a small roadside diner where Jenning goes through a transformation and is now calling himself The Dark Overlord.  He wants to use the laser to bring more of his kind to Earth and take it over! As Howard and Beverly try to escape the diner and leave Jennings behind, they soon find the locals want to cook and eat Howard, but he is saved by Jennings who roughs up the diner and takes back the gold key that starts up the laser that Howard stole. In the end it’s clear The Dark Overlord is now in control and wants to bring the end of the world with the coming of his friends.

The story is starting to bubble now as we get some action and science fiction elements that bring the plot to life. This far the plot has Howard almost finding his way back home but something goes wrong and he is instead being held by the cops who came to the lab after an accident that leaves Dr. Jenning injured and possessed by a evil being called The Dark Overlord who wants to bring down the world and a new age of evil. Throw is a greasey spoon diner straight out of Superman II and you have this issue. Howard kicks some butt as he takes Ginger and his con man ways to an end and even starts to build a crush on Beverly who he feels drawn to, Howard sadly also is so close to going home yet so far away as the accident as well as The Dark Overlord is keeping his homecoming away. Beverly thanks to Howard now has her musical career going in the right direction, but also finds herself getting a crush on the three feet tall walking and talking duck Howard. Phil is as goofy as ever, but does come up with how and who brought Howard to Earth and comes up with the possible way to send him home. Dr. Jenning as a man is a bright and helpful man who wants to help get Howard home, but once transformed into The Dark Overlord he is a mad man with plans to bring the fall of man and has no time for people or ducks who get into his way. One odd thing that you must think about is how many characters seem not to be puzzled or freaked out about a walking and talking three foot tall duck, not to mention like in the movie the comic plays up on the sexual tension between Howard and Beverly! But cant say I blame Howard as getting a crush on a woman that looks like Lea Thompson seems easy to do. The diner is filled with some blood thirsty jerks as they really want to kill Howard and eat him, I mean really they take him to the kitchen and the cook is about to chop him up before The Dark Overlord saves his tail feathers. The issue is another fun one and this time around the cover is pretty fun as it has Howard about to be chopped up, the art is done by Kyle Baker again and is good stuff. So far this has been a solid adaptation mini series and one that makes me look forward to reading the finial issue to see just how it all ends! Ok I know as I have seen the movie many times but thats besides the point.

Howard The Duck Movie Special 3

Howard The Duck # 3  **1/2
Released in 1986    Cover Price .75    Marvel Comics    # 3 of 3

The Dark Overlord kidnaps Beverly and heads toward the lab to use the laser to bring his friends to Earth, as Howard rushes to her aid and along the way frees Phil from the back of a police car and the pair barrow a small plan and fly it to the lab. During this time Howard comes to terms that he has been sent to Earth for a reason and thats to save it from the upcoming doom that awaits it. Phil at the lab rigs another big laser to a cart and Howard must aim it at The Dark Overlord to stop him who is going to use Beverly as a host body for one of his friends coming from the other dimension. Howard drives the cart and heads for The Dark Overlord and as both his each other with a massive hit the spirit of the Overlord leaves the body of Jenning who tells Howard the only way to defeat these evil beings is to destroy the laser which would leave Howard stranded on Earth! Howard does what needs to be done and the laser is no more and the portal for the Overlords is closed for good. At the end Howard is now the manager of Cherry Bomb and he is content on being on Earth with his friends.

The final issue is as solid as the two before it and I must say that this adaptation over all truly does capture the feel of the film and keeps the humor and adveture nature. This issues plot is Howard going after The Dark Overlord who has kidnapped Beverly, and must man up (or is that duck up?) and choose between going home and saving Earth.Howard in this issue becomes a hero and puts his own needs in the corner so that the needs of many are meet and the human race is safe. Howard also learns a little about friendship as he and Phil must work together to accomplish their goal and also learns about love as he truly finds himself caring for Beverly. The Dark Overlord is a sinister being who does not care about anyone else besides his wants and needs and that is just for the world to end and his race’s time to begen. The downside to this powerful being is that while he can crush and shock his way into power he is easly defeated by a blast from a laser gun and goes down with out a fight really. Beverly in this issue goes from rock n roll chick to helpess damsel in distress back to rocker, she is very likebale as a character and I found myself routing for Howard to save her. Phil and Jennings are helpful in their roles and each offer the ideas that bring down the Overlord and this is fitting as neither character is over played. What I like best about this adaptation is that it holds true to the film as it captures the family fun comedy adventure and showcases the fact that Howard The Duck is a character kids could like. The art is done by Baker once again and it looks great and the cover is pretty good and is a nice way to showcase all the heroes and our issues main baddie! So far this is a great start to this Marvel At The Movies and I look forward to see what The Punisher and Captatin America adaptations have in store! Check out some Baker artwork below. 

Howard The Duck Movie Art 1Howard The Duck Movie Art 2Howard The Duck Movie Art 3

From the silly adventure of Howard The Duck now to the savage brutal action of The Punisher!

Dolph Punisher 1The Punisher (Dolph) Movie PosterDolph Punisher 2

In 1989 New World Pictures was the parent company of Marvel Comics and wanted to turn their popular anti-hero vigilante character The Punisher into a film that would blend action and comic adventure into one entertaining film starring Dolph Lundgren that could compete with DC Comics and Warner Brothers Superman and Batman films. But sadly, this film was not to be the major blockbuster hit they were hoping for as New World’s financial issues caused the film to never have a theatrical run in the United States (while it did overseas).  Its fate was Direct To Video and airing on cable. The film has The Punisher having to team with the mob bosses whose kids have been kidnapped by the Yakuza as well as dealing with his own war on crime. The film is straight action with lots of gunplay, hand to hand combat as well as some ninja action! The main reason people hated this film was the fact The Punisher didn’t wear the skull logo on his chest.  I can remember friends ranting about this all the time and saying the movie sucked.  I have always taken up for this film because if you removed the name The Punisher, people would have liked this it as a solid 80’s action film. I first saw the film via a video rental when our Dad rented it for us all to watch.  I can remember that my brother and I both liked it, and this sparked out want and need to get issues of Spider-Man that had him fighting The Punisher. The film was pretty brutal, and I am wondering how well this adaptation issue will capture the violence and grim nature of the story. So let’s not keep The Punisher waiting any longer and see just what this adaptation has to offer.

PUNISHER MOVIE SPECIAL 1

The Punisher # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990    Cover Price $ 5.95    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 1

Frank Castle and Jake are cops on a bust to bring down the Franco crime family, and while they capture some of the mob’s goons, they fail to capture their main target. Frank and Jake get the call they have been waiting for as they get to deliver a surprise to Franco before he flees the country. This makes the mob boss very angry and a hit is placed on Frank Castle and his family who all become victims of a car bomb. Five years pass as a vigilante named The Punisher has killed over 100 mobsters, and Castle’s old partner Jake thinks that Frank Castle is alive and is this punishing angel. Franco has now returned to America and wants to unite all the crime families into one corporation and sets up a big drug deal to bring them all together, but during the pick up they are attacked not just by The Punisher but also ninjas who steal the drugs and kill many in the process. The Punisher is getting his information from an alcoholic washed up stage actor as Jake gets a new partner in Sam, a young female rookie cop. Hideko Tanaka is the leader of the Yukuza, and along with her mute American adopted daughter, is responsible for the ninja attack.  They warn Franco and the crime lords that they are taking over the town and to insure this they kidnap all their children! The Punisher stays out of the war for a short time but with kids’ lives at risk, he takes the war to the Yukuza and warns them to free the children or else. The Yukuza set up The Punisher and his actor friend and torture them to try and get information as they think the crime bosses hired him to attack, The Punisher escapes and saves all the children except Tommy Franco who was taken by Yukuza members. The Punisher is captured by the cops and besides rescuing the kids, Jake finds that his friend Frank Castle is alive yet is a shell of the man he was. Franco has The Punisher rescued from going to jail and begs him to help him get his son back from Tanaka.  The pair enter her headquarters and wage war with her bloodthirsty men and her skilled mute daughter. The Punisher kills Tanaka with a knife to the head as she holds Tommy hostage and is forced to kill his father when the crime lord is about to try and kill him! In the end, The Punisher runs into the night as Jake and the police show up knowing that his war in crime is not over.

The first thing I want to say is that this is a really fun comic adaptation and adds in moments that were cut from the film.  It has a nice quick pace that captures the action feel of the film. The downside is that the art is pretty crappy and not my style at all, as well as the copy I have was misprinted which made it hard to read pages that were mis-cut during binding. The plot has The Punisher going to war with the Mob and being forced to join forces with them once a rival foreign mob comes to town and puts the lives of kids in danger. Frank Castle/The Punisher is a good man who becomes confused about justice when his family is brutally murdered and he is left for dead.  His one man war on crime has left hundreds dead and has crime lords shaking in their boots. It’s odd that he never went to his friend and partner Jake for help, but I think it goes to show you the man he was died alongside his family that day. I love how he steps up and helps the crime lords when their kids are put in danger showing that while he is a cold blooded killer he still has humanity left when it comes to the innocence of children. Jake and Sam are good cops who know that Frank is The Punisher and want to help him before the rest of the law catches up to him and puts him in jail! Franco is a slimeball who deals drugs and kills to achieve his goals in the world of crime. Even after The Punisher helps him, he still wants to try and kill the man who saved his child’s life as well as his own as Tanaka wants him to kill himself in order to save his son! Hideko Tanaka is the worst of the worst in the world of crime, and to prove how evil she is, she killed her own brother to please the Yukuza bosses! She has an army of well trained ninjas at her side as well as her daughter who is also cold blooded. Tanaka is the kind of bad girl who kills and gets enjoyment in not only the act but all the sadness that effects those who loved her victim. The rest of the characters all are well done from Tommy Franco to the drunk actor, they all survive a part and all are important to the story. Oe thing I want to point out is that in the comic for the end battle The Punisher does have to skull on his chest, and this is something that fans of the movie wanted…read this comic, and you’ll get him in the costume. The cover is amazing and eye catching.  The art inside is done by Brent Anderson and is kind of sloppy and characters look nothing like the actors who played them in the film. To sum it up, this is a solid adaptation and is well worth checking out for fans of the film as all the classic lines are present.  Check out some art below to see the style of Anderson.

Punisher Movie Special Art 1

He only punished the guilty, and now it’s time to take a look at a hero who fights for America!

Cap Movie 1Captain America 1990 Movie PosterCap Movie 2

This is the film Marvel Comics really thought would put one of their characters at the top of the box office, but like Howard The Duck and The Punisher, this one just could not get footing and was shelved for a couple of years and then quietly put out direct to video. 21st Century really wanted Captain America to be a huge success like Tim Burton’s Batman and spark a merchandise frenzy as well as sequels that would be box office gold.  Instead all they had was a cheesy film starring Matt Salinger as Captain America is a great yet laughable costume and Ohio born Scott Paulin as The Red Skull who most of the film does not have a Red Skull as he has plastic surgery to cover his face! The film had a hard time even getting made as it was passed around by production companies, and many dates were set for it to hit theaters throughout 1990 and 1991 before, as I said, it was released straight to home video. The film had the right heart with the costume being as close to the comic character’s as possible, and the casting of actors like Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox and the lovely Francesca Neri were wise choices – all the right things to do to make this a hit, but for all the good there was the mediocre script, the lack of Salinger in the suit and the terrible acting of Kim Gillingham that held it back. Everyone I knew who had seen this film when released on VHS said it was terrible, and for some reason I enjoyed it.  I think it all came down to the fact Captain America along with the Incredible Hulk have always been one of my favorite super heroes, and besides the made for TV films from the 70’s, this was as close to seeing Cap come alive I was going to get.  Plus my Dad bought me the movie on VHS for my birthday and that also made it special. The film is about Cap fighting the Red Skull during World War II and saving the world leaves him frozen and now in present day he is found and returns to stop The Red Skull who is now a terrorist. This is a total guilty pleasure film and is one I still watch from time to time when looking for a ham packed with cheese super hero film. So let’s see how the comic adaptation holds up to the film.

Captain America Movie Special 1

Captain America The Movie # 1  **1/2
Released in 1992    Cover Price $3.50    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 1

In 1936 the Nazi’s kidnap a young Italian boy who is super smart and a master piano player and murder his family in front of him.  He is taken to Dr. Vasari to be experimented on turning him into a killing machine. Dr. Vasari does not agree with testing on humans and runs for her life as the boy becomes the first human subject for the Super Soldier Formula. Flash to 1943, and the skinny Steve Rogers who walks with a limp has been picked by the government to be a test subject that might just be the tool to win the war.  Rogers is happy as he wants to help in the war but his girlfriend Bernie is not too happy and is filled with worry. Steve Rogers is picked up and taken to a secret lab where Dr. Vasari injects him with a new and improved Super Soldier Formula, but she is killed by a Nazi spy and he is forced into action fast as The Red Skull is about to set off a missile that would be heading straight for America and our nation’s capital! Captain America and Red Skull fight.  This leads to Captain America being attached to the missile and The Red Skull loosing a hand, but the White House is saved when Captain America at the last minute gets free and takes the missile off course and to the the frozen land up north. Youngster Nick Kimball was in Washington and was able to snap a picture of Captain America on the missile and this sticks with him over the years all the way till adulthood when he even becomes the President of the United States as he has always wanted to know who Cap was. Sam, who has been Nick’s friend since childhood, is now a reporter and has as well tried to find out who his friends mystery hero was. Captain America trusts no one and rushes to Bernie who is now old and meets her daughter Sharon who he stays with and gets a job at the gym she works for. Meanwhile The Red Skull along with an American turncoat named Millhouse come up with a plan to kidnap the president to experiment on him with mind control, but he also sends his daugther Antonella to kill Captain America and instead she and her goons just kill Bernie and Sam! This sets Captain America off and he travels to Italy to save the President and to stop The Red Skull! In the end with the help of The President, Sharon and a cassette tape of The Red Skull as a child playing piano they are able to stop him from blowing up Italy with a bomb more powerful than the atom bomb when The Red Skull flings himself off the side of his castle and into the cold waters below. Saving the day Steve Rogers now finds happiness with Sharon.

Besides some little changes this comic adaptation is just as cheesy and silly as the movie, but I must say that one of the pluses is that Steve Rogers stays in the Captain America suit a little more than he does in the movie! The plot of this adaptation is this Steve Rogers is injected with a super formula that turns him into the ultimate solider, he battles The Red Skull in his first mission and while a hero he is frozen in a block of ice and many years later thawed out and must stop The Red Skull who is now a terrible terrorist who know has a plot to kill our president. The major changes is that The Red Skull commits suicide by jumping off the side of his castle in this comic while in the movie he is knocked off it by Cap’s shield. The other change is that Sharon and Steve Rogers end up hooking up by the end and that Steve has a day job of being a janitor at a gym. Captain America in this comic is very heroic and does what ever he can to save not only the American people but also the people of Italy along the way of saving the President. But to break this down more its funny to think in this universe Captain America failed on his first mission to stop Red Skull and while saving the White House from a missle his legend is unknown as he never became the true hero of World War II like the comics show him to be. Steve Rogers is a man with a limp who takes some super soilder formula injections and becomes a hero, he also back in his youth had a girlfriend and when returning to modern times is able to win the heart of her daughter…what a pimp. The Red Skull in this comic adaptation as well as the movie is Italian and is forced into his life of being a Nazi super soilder and is driven nuts by the formula, but not while he starts with the Red Skull face he ends up getting plastic sugery as he does in the movie and looks normal. Sam, Millhouse, Bernie, Dr. Vasari and Antonella are just side characters that keep the comic moving along as President Kimball is also just around to be kidnapped and in the end come to the aid to save America by fighting his captors. Sharon is a fighter and also must like older men and get turned on my people who dated her own mother. The art is well done and while it looks nothing like the actors who play the parts in the movie its based on, it does look like an issue of Captain America from the 90’s. The cover is way more action packed than the story inside and is pretty eye catching with the art inside being done by Bob Hall and are well done. Over all this adaptation is just as hammy as the film and was a good read once and something I will not re-read anytime soon. Check out the art below for what this comic looks like inside that cool cover.

Captain America Movie Special Art 1

So while I stew on which one of these films should have had a comic series based around the movie universe it created, I think it’s time for a Fantasy Warfare! I have been slacking on presenting the Fantasy Warfare and feel it’s time to unleash a battle of the movie versions of Dark Overlord of the Universe, The Red Skull and Hideko Tanaka! The battleground will be the Waffle House on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road around 1a.m on a cool windy night in May right after a nasty storm. So if you’re ready to watch an epic B-movie villain battle for the ages, let’s head into the Waffle House and see who comes out the winner.

Dark Lord (Movie)VS redLady TanakaVS redRed Skull Movie 90s

Peg is working the late shift as the waitress as Ryan is working the grill the two workers are barely talking as the two mid 30 year olds once dated and the relationship ended bad, and worse it’s been a very slow night. As the minutes tic by a stranger comes walking in he is covered up with a long grey trench coat, a scarf over his face and wearing a hat he takes a seat away from the door and orders a Texas Cheesesteak Melt, a Triple Order of Hash browns Smothered, Covered & Diced with a Chocolate Milk to drink and Peg goes to read off the order but as she does another guests comes in she is alone and has a bandage over her forehead and introduces herself as Hideko Tanaka and demainds that she becomes the leader of this Waffle House and that she will take 70% off the stores profits! Peg looks at her as if she is speaking japaness and is at a loss of words for this strange statement she ordered as another stranger comes stumbling in pushing Tanaka out of the way and demanding eggs! The Dark Lord has now entered the Waffle House and is angry and really craving eggs.  He is yelling at Ryan about sunny side up eggs, Tanaka springs into action and she plunges a steak knife off a dirty table into Dark Lord’s back, but to her shock, he just shrugs it off, turns to her and uses powers to fling her against the wall.  With his other hand he makes all the sharp knives in the place fly toward her and just before they all plunge into her body, she mumbles the words “not again” and with that she is staked to the wall never to demand 70% of profits again. As Dark Lord laughs and celebrates his victory, he turns to find a luger pistol to his face as the stranger in the long coat has taken off his hat and scarf.  We see that it’s The Red Skull as he fires a bullet into the Overlord’s brain.  The crimson faced villain makes it known that he wants his meal and all this fighting has kept him away from it! As the body of the Overlord hits the ground, The Red Skull turns back to his table just as Peg places his plate down and informs him they gave him extra pickles for his trouble. As Peg goes to get the mop to clean up the blood, Ryan is gearing up to pick up the bodies and dump them in the dumpster as The Red Skull takes a drink from his chocolate milk looking out the window and is enjoying the silence of the restaurant.

Winner – Red Skull

The Red Skull would out smart the competition, get his greasy spoon meal and leave the winner of this Fantasy Warfare, but he could not help pull off the win for the film that should have continued as a comic series as Captain America sadly came in last place because it was not as impactful and fun as the other two comic adaptations. Between Howard and The Punisher, I had a tuff decision as both had some great pros and some slight cons, but when it comes down to it I would give this win to The Punisher! Marvel could have continued the police hunt for The Punisher, and they could have fleshed out that his one time partner Jake while wanting to help him also must do the right thing and stop him from killing criminals. I think The Punisher would have made for a good series based on the film, but then again The Punisher, Captain America and Howard The Duck all have comics so whether or not Marvel wanted to make a comic series based on any of these films, fans of the characters already had issues of these heroes to make them happy!

punisher-the-1989-DI

The clean up crew is here to shut down the Marvel Theater so I think it’s time to take our leave until the next update, which will be our second Undead File as I take a look at Arrow Comics’ The Dead! So as we walk out this exit door, I would like to say that I did enjoy reading these adaptations, and that I truly think out of the three The Punisher would make the best comic series. Until next time, go see a movie at your local theater, read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host. I will see you next update for a undead good time!

The Dead Arrow Comics Logo

Gross For One….Gross For All….Madballs!

Growing up most kids I knew had a baseball to play with, but some of us kids of the 80’s had something better to toss around with friends; we had Madballs!! And that’s the topic of today’s update, those monster and gross balls that swept the nation of must-have toys on the playground for a short time. Growing up, I can remember seeing kids on the playground tossing around the Madball of Screaming Meemie.  My friends and I even tried to play baseball with it, but it was a very poor ball to use in a game as hitting it never seemed to equal a home run. I can remember being at my cousins Dino and Norman’s house playing in the pool and throwing Madballs at each other, and as they would hit they would make a splat sound.  We also used Touchdown Terror at their house to play football on Thanksgiving one year. For my birthday one year I can remember getting a Madball birthday card from my parents that also included a metal button of Slobulus if memory serves me. It’s weird, in my youth I never owned an original Madball, but my brother and I did each have a Head-Popping Madball that our dad got for us from Hills Department Store one winter night as a way to keep us entertained when my parents took us to one of my dad’s work friend’s houses. My brother got Wolf Breath, and I got Lock Lips.  They were very cool, and I can remember our Mom yelling at us to stop shooting the heads at each other! We both had these figures for years, but sadly, like some of the other toys of my youth, they were given away or sold at a garage sale. Weirdly enough, in my 30’s I now own two Madballs, with Mavericks Cards and Comics selling me Slobulus and Horn Head for cheap prices about 3 years ago as well as my friend Max Ervin who gave me Screaming Meemie around the same time. It’s odd to think that while I never owned any of the original Madballs in my youth, they remain one of the most iconic toy lines in my mind.  Below is a picture of the original Madballs I own now as I hope you enjoy this update as much as I enjoyed writing it!

  • Note From Matt – In April 2016 Roar Comics started up a new Madballs comic series!

My Madballs

American Greetings is the company who created and produced Madballs.  They were started in 1906 by Jacob Sapirstein and are the 2nd largest greeting card company in the world, and to this day they are still run by the Sapirstein family! Over the years they continued to make greeting cards and also became sponsors for TV shows like Entertainment Tonight and Dragon Tales and ventured out into toys and cartoons. American Greetings has created iconic toy characters like Madballs, My Pet Monster, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Lady Lovely Locks and Popples, and after owning many of them for so many years, they sold Strawberry Shortcake in 2015 to Iconix Brand Group for $105 million. I should also point out that American Greetings is an Ohio founded company showing that we Ohioans really are creative people. I wanted to share a brief look at the company that created Madballs and show them some respect before we move onto the fast pitch of this update.  So here is to you, American Greetings, for making some amazing characters who helped shape many kids’ childhoods!

American Greetings Logo

Madballs hit toy shelves in 1985 and were aimed at capturing the attention of young boys who loved horror films, horror hosts and monster comics. The gross balls were made of rubber and foam and were supposed to be used to scare your friends as well as play sports with them. The commercials for these toys flooded Saturday Morning Cartoons and started a wave of kids begging their parents to get them one.  I will admit that my brother Bryan and I were those kids that they marketed them to, and sadly and strangely, as I noted above, my parents never got us any! Series One consisted of 8 characters that included “Screamin Meemie” a baseball with a face and a large Rolling Stone’s logo tongue, “Slobulus” a green creature who’s got one hanging eye and slobbers, “Aargh” was a blue skinned Frankenstein Monster also with one eye, “Horn Head” is a purple skinned Cyclops with a nose ring, “Skull Face” is a skull, “Crack Head” a cracked head with his brain exposed, “Oculus Orbus” is a giant eyeball and “Dust Brain” a green skinned Mummy! The original Madballs were a huge hit with the kids in Waynesville and were a major talking point between my brother and me for a short time. Parents flipped out over the toys, saying they were too gross and had terrible names, and this changed Crack Head’s name to Bash Brain due to the slang use of the term crack head being used for drug addicts. The worst part about Madballs was that they cracked and parts of the paint would fall off and expose the foam underneath, very annoying and one of the flaws of this toy line for sure.

Madballs Series 1

The popularity of the toyline sparked a second series that showcased “Wolf Breath” as Werewolf, “Swine Sucker” a mutated looking boar, “Bruise Brother” a messed up looking biker, “Freaky Fullback” a freak football player, “Snake Bait” a Gorgon, “Lock Lips” a monster with locks over one eye and mouth, “Fist Face” a hand holding a eyeball and “Splitting Headache” a half peeled face monster! The second series was popular but also was at the point where I noticed the kids at school had shifted towards other toy lines.  Madballs were cool but no longer the must have toy. This second set has many great characters that I would love to have had back in the day as well as even to this day: Wolf Breath, Swine Sucker and Lock Lips! Below are some pics from the second series that will show you also how the designs of the characters got better and how they dipped into the pool of classic monsters (Werewolf & Gorgon) as well as real life goons that scared people (the jock & biker). Also, in the 2000’s Madballs made a small comeback and were brought back to toy shelves as squishy toys.  They made a small impact before once more being sent off to toy heaven.

snakebaitwolfbreathswinesucker

Super Madballs were bigger and were not in the shape of a baseballs but the sport they were named after.  They were “Goal Eater” a soccer ball with teeth, “Touchdown Terror” a football missile monster and “Foul Shot” a basketball with a face and worms in his eye! These were big and bulky, and my cousins were the only kids I knew who had one of them. By the point Super Madballs were released, the steam was out of the line and over time Madballs faded into the world of forgotten toys.  I was not a fan of the Super Madballs back then and still don’t really have a soft spot for them. So let’s move on past, them shall we?

Super Madballs

Head-Popping Madballs featured the popular characters from the toy line, this time with bodies and the ability to launch their heads off as well as swap with other characters. The bodies were made of hard plastic with movable arms and legs, while the heads were rubber and detailed. The line had Screamin Meemie, Horn Head, Oculus Orbus, Slobulus, Dust Brain, Skull Face, Wolf Breath, Bruise Brother and Lock Lips who I had as a youngster like I said earlier. While the original Madballs were really cool, these figures were the ones I really liked, and I can remember playing with Lock Lips alongside my Masters Of The Universe figures. You see the Head-Popping Madballs were action figures, while the Madballs were, well, just balls! For a long time at GameSwap, the body of Skull Face was floating around, and many of us dug through a bin of old toy parts hoping to find its head that we sadly never did. Below are some examples of this series of Madballs, enjoy!

Head Popping Lock LipsHead Popping OrbusHead Popping Wolfbreath

Besides these toylines, over the years many other cool merchandise has been released based on The Madballs like greeting and Valentine Cards, stickers, wind-up toys, t-shirts, VHS tapes, comics and video games! That’s right, Madballs had a video game in 1988 that was made by Ocean for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum that had you playing a Madball rolling around a maze and collecting your fellow Madballs. The game got very poor reviews and never made it to the NES. In 2009, a game for the X-BOX Live Arcade called Babo: Invasion featured two Madballs as characters, Horn Head and Oculus Orbus! So while a modern generation of kids might not know what a Madball is, for us kids of the 80’s there was lots of great merchandise to choose from back then and even a little now!

Madballs Wind UpMadballs Video Game (C64)Madballs TShirt

In 1986, Madballs got the cartoon treatment, and oddly enough, the toons were not made for TV viewing but only for the home video market by Nelvana on VHS. The first cartoon was called “Escape From Orb” and has the Madballs living on Orb, a place that music is banned.  They want to escape to Earth so they can tour as a band, but Commander Wolfbreath and the Badballs want to stop them. The second tape was called “Madballs: Gross Jokes” and had our stars acting out silly skits. I can remember renting the Escape From Orb cartoon from Mary L. Cook Public Library and being super hyped to watch it and rushing to pop it into the old VCR.  After the cartoon I was so disappointed at the back story given to these characters and hated the fact that they were aspiring rock stars…so lame and to me it came off as trying to cash in on the popularity of The California Raisins who were singing their way into hearts around the same time as well as cashing in on the success of bands like Bon Jovi and Poison who were as well very popular at the time with youngsters. Plus I was not a huge fan of the personalities they gave some of the Madballs as they should have been a little more gross and a little more mean. But while I may not have liked the story of the characters, I did find that animation to be pretty cool and it made me wonder why they went the home video route and not the Saturday Morning Cartoon one that could have given the series a shot in the arm and made them last a little longer on the must-have toy list. And before you ask, no I never did own the VHS tapes as a kid and only did get them when I got older and found them dirt cheap at a thrift store.

Madballs VHS 1Madballs CartoonMadballs VHS 2

While Madballs became popular, they also sparked knock-off toys like Bonkers The Ugly Ball, a grey skull face with a grin, and even Odd Balls, a series that had a Devil and even a Mummy as part of its line. Now I must admit that I did have two Odd Balls growing up as I can remember that they were very generic rubber balls that stung when being hit with one during a came of ball tag. The ones I had were Dirty Devil, a goofy very generic devil complete with evil twisted mustache goatee combo as well as buck teeth, and the other was Evil Knievel, a Mummy with purple skin and blood stains on his wrapping. Evil Knievel is the one I played with most, and I can remember tossing him around the backyard, rolling him off the roof of the house and shed and even tossed him over in the neighbor’s yard when my school crush was visiting her just so I could come over and say hi to her…yeah, I was such a monster kid dork back then that I used a Odd Ball to talk to a crush. Below is Ugly Ball as well as the two Odd Balls that I used to have when I was a kid.

Ugly BallOdd Balls - Dirty DevilOdd Balls - Evil Knievel

So we are at the core of this update, the Star Comic reviews! My brother and I had the first three issues of Madballs growing up, and I can remember that we both thought that our issue # 1 was going to be worth a fortune when we grew up.  To no one’s shock, it’s only worth a few dollars and is really common to find in local comic store’s dollar bins. Star Comics was so cool in the 80’s and made so many amazing comics based on toys and cartoons of the time, and Madballs was one of the lucky few that were chosen to be a three issue mini series and went on to be a total of 10 issues! I am pretty hyped to see if the final issue is a true final issue or if it will just end like so many other Star Comics at the time, quickly and dirty with no respect for the readers. Before we go bouncing around with The Madballs, I need to remind you that I grade these issues 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 Mavericks, Bell Book And Comic, Lone Star Comics and 2nd And Charles for having these issues in stock for this review. So let’s get ready to get totally gross with Star Comic and The Madballs!

Madballs 1

Madballs # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 1 of 10

“The Evil Dr. Frankenbeans” A delivery truck loses 8 rubber balls from the cargo it’s carrying.  They bounce down the road and land in a pond of chemicals at the R.U.I.N. laboratories and turn into Madballs that include Screamin’ Meemie, Horn Head, Dust Brain, Crack Head, AARGH, Skull Face, Slobulus and Oculus Orbus.  They find a nearby park and meet some youths led by Tommy playing baseball, and the two groups quickly become friends. Meanwhile R.U.I.N. head scientist Viktor Frankenbeans and his dim-witted assistant Snivelitch spot the Madballs and want to capture them as Frankenbeans thinks they will lead to him winning a Nobel Prize! When Snivelitch fails to capture them, Frankenbeans plays dirty and uses free drinks to give Skull Face everlasting hiccups and tries to kidnap the Madball but is stopped thanks to Slobulus who uses his slime to trip up Frankenbeans making him fall into his own chemical pond and swearing revenge on our round heroes. In the end, Skull Face is cured of his hiccups with a look in a mirror that causes him to scare himself. The second story is called “Corn-Ered!” The Madballs are playing hide and seek with Tommy and the kids when the corn comes alive and takes the kids captive to an old barn where the Madballs come face to face with Colonel Corn who was once a normal piece of corn until he fell into the chemical pond of R.U.I.N. and now wants to take over the world! Colonel Corn uses puns and a floating ball of kernels he calls Cornball to defeat The Madballs, but they are not down for long as Screamin’ Meemie gets so mad the heat from his anger turns Colonel Corn and Cornball into popcorn!

This first issue was just as cheesy and fun as I remember it to be way back in 1986 when I first read it! This issue shows how the Madballs came to be and uses the chemical pond as a way to turn normal rubber balls into talking scary and gross living creatures who have hearts of gold and befriend the local youth as they just want to have fun. None of the Madballs stand out as the leader and each are just filled with bad puns and really silly bad habits like drooling and screaming. It’s pretty amazing seeing a kids comic use the name Crack Head as the character is used in many spots and gets his time to shine. Dr. Viktor Frankenbeans is a mad scientist who is working for R.U.I.N. and is making terrible chemicals that not only smell bad but also are causing harm to nature and people.  He seems not to care as he is only seeking fame in this issue. He reminds me of a cheaper version of Gargamel from The Smurfs as his look and attitude are kind of matching. Snivelitch is a goon who is shown to not be very bright and is the whipping boy for Frankenbeans who jumps at any chance to put his goof assistant down. I am sure Snivelitch will act as the comic relief as I can see him screwing things up in the coming issues. Colonel Corn is the master of puns and with his play on words is able to beat down The Madballs, but when he is defeated and his head kernels are popped and turned into popcorn, he is just a husk head of a man watching as the kids and The Madballs eat what was once his face…. I want you to think about that….it’s like being weak and defeated and watching as zombies ate your face flesh meat while watching the Care Bears…sick twisted stuff. The cover is top notch and fantastic and I am sure caught the eye of many kids on the newsstands.  The art inside is also well done for this style of kids comic and was done by Howie Post (Howard Post) who is known for his comic strip The Dropouts as well as his work for Harvey Comics. He also did the artwork for some issues of Wally The Wizard for Star as well as the Centipede promo comic from DC, both of which I’ve covered here on Rotten Ink. An A-list artist for kids comics was on board for this one! Over all I can say I enjoyed this comic back when I was a kid and still did when I read it again.  So let’s see how issue two holds up.

Madballs 2

Madballs # 2  **
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 2 of 10

“Dr. Frankenbeans Returns” The Madballs are having fun with the kids when Oculus Orbus decides to go bird watching and goes on an adventure of his own. Meanwhile Dr. Frankenbean has come out of the chemical pond and comes up with a plan with Snivelitch to get The Madballs under his control.  It includes getting the help of Miss Tic The Mystic who hypnotizes The Madballs to be under Frankenbeans’ control so he can have them turn on the kids! In the end Oculus Orbus returns and reverses the spell and has Frankenbeans, Miss Tic and Snivelitch thinking they are ducks and swimming in the pond. “Meet Weirdbeard The Pirate” Tommy and the kids are fishing with The Madballs.  They enter a fog bank that takes them back in time where they are kidnapped and forced into slavery by Weirdbeard and The Madballs are tossed into the sea. Weirdbeard needs this crew as he wants to find the hidden treasure of Peg Leg Peg.  On the Island The Madballs with the help of a octopus save the kids and find the fog to get back to their time.  As for Weirdbeard, he gets himself gets captured by Peg Leg Peg who makes him her slave!

This second issue is good but did slip a little as it’s not as fun as the first issue.  In fact, the stories in this issue seemed a little rushed and both would be better as backup stories in an issue with better plotted stories. The return of Dr. Frankenbean is a letdown as his plan to get revenge is taken apart in moments by Oculus Orbus who turns the table on him and once more places him in the chemical stew pond. Miss Tic is a goth woman who has the power of hypnotizing the weak of mind and can also read minds, funny thing about that is Snivelitch has dirty ideas in his mind when it comes to Tic! The atmosphere for the first story’s castle of Miss Tic is well played as it reminded me of a set used on a Horror Host show from the 70’s. The second story of Peg Leg Peg and Weirdbeard was not my thing and for the most part I was bored reading it as it had a very generic feel. Here is to hoping we won’t see Weridbeard or Peg again but that we will see Miss Tic again as I could see her joining the fight against The Madballs more often. Oculus Orbus is the only Madball who stands out this issue as he uses his power of being a big eye to reverse the hypnotic spell and save his friends from being mindless slaves. The rest of The Madballs all kind of do what they do and that’s deliver puns and have fun doing things with their friends Tommy and his crew. The cover is well done and once more eye catching with the first story’s art by Howie Post and the second one by Roberta Edelman.  Both do a great job with the art even if the stories are a little lackluster. I’m going to move on from this issue to the third one and hope that it has better stories.

Madballs 3

Madballs # 3  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 3 of 10

“Attack Of The Bad Balls” Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch hide and listen to The Madballs and the kids talking about how the chemical pond turned 8 regular balls into their gross friends they call The Madballs. Frankenbean returns to R.U.I.N and tries to make his own version of talking gross balls.  Only after nearly giving up and using bowling balls does it work and out come The Badballs who are Smasher, Crasher and Trasher.  They have a rumble with The Madballs that leaves our heroes having to make a run for it! But once more Crack Head comes up with a plan that leaves the Badballs falling back into the chemical pond and turning back into boomerang balls that knock out Frankenbean and Snivelitch as the Madballs spin some more puns. The second story is “Now Museum, Now You Don’t” that has The Madballs running loose in a museum and the security guards are trying to stop them as hijinks run wild that leaves them all crashing into a big gross mess and being mistaken for art! The third story is “ Spaced Out” The Madballs bring down a U.F.O as they fear it might attack Tommy and the gang.  Inside is Rojad who came in peace but feels The Madballs are attacking him so he uses his shrink gun and turns them to the size of peas! As he grabs them, they muster all their power and take Rojad for a quick ride.  The alien and The Madballs patch things up, and they soon find out that his ship is out of fuel and the fuel he needs is the drool slime of Slobulus who he tries to kidnap. The Madballs must tangle with Rojad again, but after the fight they become friends as Slobulus fills his tank up and even gets a gold tooth as payment!

This third issue is a fun goofy ride and, like issue one, captures the gross nature of The Madballs and adds in some trouble for them to face that seem like actual threats. This issue also has three stories instead of two, giving you more silly adventures for the 75-cent price tag. The best story of the three has to be “Spaced Out” as I like the idea of The Madballs fighting an alien who wears yellow and has a robot like face.  The idea that drool slime fuels his ship is also classic 80’s toy and comic stuff. The Madballs in the issue are shown to be fighters and thinkers as they outsmart not only The Badballs but also Rojad and do so with smarts and might. They are also very protective of their human friends.  If they think they are in danger, they will attack and defend with all their round might. Oh yeah, Crack Head once more shows that he is smart as he comes up with a plan to defeat the Badballs that works! Like in all of the issues up to this point, the Madballs spend lots of time spewing out cheesy puns that young kids would laugh at. The Badballs are three tough as nails bowling balls who are bullies, but soon find out that their heavy nature helped them in the fight but also was their downfall. Rojad was not really a bad guy but did have The Madballs on the ropes with his shrink gun.  For an alien that came in peace he sure did turn evil when it came to kidnapping poor Slobulus! Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch once more come up with a plan to get revenge and as always fail at that mission. The cover is great and would catch the eye not just of Madball fans but also Monster Kids as it has a very Frankenstein feel to it, or at least I think so. The art is once more done by kids comic legend Howie Post and shows why he was a go to guy for these type of comics. I’m glad to see the series back on track with this issue, and I hope the fourth keeps it up! Plus, this is a Star Comic that went on after its 3-issue mini series, now let’s take bets if it has a true final issue.

Madballs 4

Madballs # 4  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 4 of 10

“The Madballs Meet The New Madballs” Dr. Frankenbean is depressed about not being able to get his revenge on The Madballs, and this has taken over his life until he and Snivelitch come up with a plan that has them throwing eight more rubber balls into the chemical pond.  Out comes eight new Madballs that are Wolf Breath, Swine Sucker, Snake Bait, Lock Lips, Fistface, Freaky Fullback, Splitting Headache and Bruise Brother! Frankenbeans tricks his New Madballs into going to the park and rumbling with the old ones, and boy do they, as each team has members fall.  It comes down to Horn Head and Bruise Brother clashing head on that causes the ground to crack, and Tommy falls in! When all The Madballs and New Madballs awaken, they figure out they are all brothers and they save Tommy and chase off Frankenbean and Snivelitch and all sixteen Madballs make their home in an abandoned dance hall. “Anchors Away” Tommy and the gang along with Madballs Screamin’ Meemie, Slobulus, Dust Brain, Wolf Breath, Snake Bait and Fist Face are rush home to watch the news, but before it comes on Wolf Breath along with Snake Bait and Slobulus all go for the kitchen for a snack and don’t see that news anchor Ben Defax has hypnotized his viewers into giving him all their wealth.  He’s also begun wearing a mask in the shape of a boat anchor and calling himself Anchor-Man! His power comes from his microphone, and the three Madballs figure out a way to defeat him and break his hold on the viewers when Wolf Breath’s bad breath breaks the hold on the fellow Madballs and Snake Bait uses his snakes to crush the microphone.

This issue is the first for The Madballs to break the mini series banner and become a full series as Star Comics listened to the readers and gave them more gross out adventures than what was planned. Plus this issues adds in the eight Madballs that were released in series two into the plot and has them joining the others as well as Tommy and his friends in having fun and foiling the plots of Frankenbeans. I must say that adding the New Madballs to the cast was really cool as seeing Wolf Breath and Swine Sucker in action is cool, but it also dilutes the cast as now some Madballs seem to take a backseat and others seem to be the focus as Snake Bait is showcased more in this issue than Oculus Orbus, AARGAH and Crack Head (who is now being called Bash Brain) combined! It’s nice to see Frankenbean and Snivelitch come back to the now on-going series, and they and the R.U.I.N. Lab are great as the major bad guys to the series. The main baddie is Ben Defax aka Anchor-Man, who wants to use his fame of being on TV and his hypnotizing microphone to steal from his fans.  He’s a real ego driven jerk who wears a dumb giant boat anchor mask to add fear to his life in crime. In this issue we also find out that The Madballs are make home in an abandoned old play theater and this run down setting is great for their gross home base. I enjoyed both stories equally, and it was nice to see The Madball rumble in the first story as it’s clear only a Madball can defeat a Madball. The art in this issue is done by Howie Post once more, and it’s fantastic and the cover is good.  Over all this is a solid kids comic based on a toy line, and so far I am enjoying it as much as I did when I was a kid and first read them.

Madballs 5

Madballs # 5   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 5 of 10

“Plus 3 Makes 19” Dr. Frankenbean is very upset over the 16 Madballs and how they have foiled his evil plans.  When Tommy and the gang go to get ice cream, he steals their soccer ball, football and basketball and tosses them into the chemical pond and out pops The Super Madballs named Touchdown Terror, Foul Shot and Goal Eater.  He sends them out to beat up The Madballs, and the rumble starts and ends soon as Freaky Fullback and Touchdown Terror find they have lots in common and they discover that they are all one big gross family! The Super Madballs chase down Frankenbeans and Snivelitch and toss them into the chemical pond, and all ends well for the ever growing Madball family. “Veg Out” has Dr. Frankenbean getting help from a hypnotist after his last defeat at the hands (or is that heads?) of The Madballs that has him now focusing on growing vegetables.  After a mistake made by Snivelitch, instead of water he sprays his garden with liquid from the chemical pond and out comes The Vegeterribles that include Rotten Tomato, Crushroom, Paul Onion, Spud-Nick, Pea Shooter and Iceberg Lettuce who he wants to send after The Madballs! The two groups rumble in the old Abandoned Theater, and Frankenbean and Iceberg Lettuce freezes Tommy and the kids in blocks of ice making The Madballs surrender. In the end Horn Head and Swine Sucker rush to the R.U.I.N Lab and save The Madballs, and Swine Sucker eats The Vegeterribles and they bury Frankenbean and Snivelitch as if they are vegetables!

This is another good issue but I must also point out that this comic series is also becoming very paint by numbers as many of the stories has The Madballs having a run in with some sort of bad guys who they beat is some cheesy pun filled way.  Frankenbean uses the chemical pond to create new versions of the Madballs who turn on him in no time and so on and so on. But with that out of the way, let’s take a look at this issue as both stories have select Madballs fighting against another group of mutated baddies with the first ending in friendship and the second with victory as their enemies are eaten alive! Dr. Frankenbean is becoming more and more mad with revenge as this series continues and he is even willing to put children in harm’s way in order to destroy The Maballs.  If he continues down this path, by the final issue it looks like he will have a collection of bodies buried in the basement of R.U.I.N Labs all the while thinking the clock on the wall is telling him when it’s “Revenge” time….In other words, he is going crazy! None of The Madballs really stand out as at this point, there are just too many of them and they are having to be split up just to try to work them into the plot.  Some are so loosely in the story that they don’t really add much. The Super Madballs are cool to see, but I really hope this issue is the only one they appear in though I have a bad feeling they will return and clog up the weakening stories even more. The Vegeterribles are cool but kind of a waste as they are killed, and I mean murdered, by the end of the second story. The cover is great but shows you just how clustered the characters are getting with the art from the first story being done by Howie Post and the second done by Michael Gallagher.  Both are good stuff. Over all I am being a little generous with this issue’s star rating as it’s more like a two, but I did have fun reading it.  However, if things don’t change up in the next issue I will not be as kind.

Madballs 6

Madballs # 6  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 6 of 10

“Mad Love” Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch find one last rubber ball near the lab and along with some make-up they toss it into the chemical pond and out comes MadBelle, a gross female who causes Horn Head, Foul Shot, Fist Face, Swine Sucker and Bash Brain to fight amongst themselves to win her heart when he tricks them to come to the lab for a party. Just as they are about to ram themselves into a tree to see who wins a date with her, Madbelle stops them and tells them she is in love with Snivelitch, and The Madballs figure out they have been set up and turn the tables once more on Dr. Frankenbeans. “Maiden Hong Kong Blues” Chin, one of Tommy’s friends, is shocked when he finds that his dad’s restaurant has been wrecked by Maiden Hong Kong and her bodyguards sumo wrestler Topknot and ninja Ninjun Joe who want bad fortune cookies given out! In the end The Madballs, come up with a plan to stop Maiden Hong Kong from getting her request and send her to jail.  After the victory they have a great Chinese food meal.

Once more Frankenbean tosses a ball into the Chemical Pond to create something to get his revenge on The Madballs.  By this point I am getting pretty sick of this format and starting to wonder why they are doing this plot over and over again. I mean, I get the comic is based on a toy and that they are trying to do a cartoon style format with it, but good God enough is enough! Madbelle is lame and her whole reason to help bring down The Madballs is thrown out the window as she is just used to deliver dumb puns and fall in love with Snivelitch. Speaking of Snivelitch, he and Frankenbeans once more are just around for blah revenge and in the end both get what’s coming to them. The second story is the better of the two by far and has select Madballs having to tangle with a sumo wrestler and ninja all in the name of fortune cookies! But still nothing new over all and in fact it’s as stale as the last issue.  While enjoyable, the been there, read that feeling creeps into your brain and makes it slightly less enjoyable. If not for the second story, this one would have been rated lower. The cover is okay, and the art is done by Howie Post and Michael Gallagher again marking at least good art quality making up for the lack of story in the first segment. Also I am pretty sure we have not seen the last of Maiden Hong Kong and her goons as I think they will be out for revenge soon, but I hope this is the end of Madbelle as she was kind of a waste. Let’s just move onto issue seven and hope it steps it up next issue.

Madballs 7

Madballs # 7   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 7 of 10

“Body Builders” Madballs Skull Face, Dust Brain, Slobulus, Snake Bait, Lock Lips and Wolf Breath are feeling down that they do not have bodies and come up with a plan to trick Frankenbean into making them bodies! After a trick that has them breaking down a old building, Frankenbean thinks they have turned evil and shares with them his new invention the FrankenTank that will be used to cause panic and help him take over the world! With the help of the chemical pond and the bodies of dolls, The Madballs now have bodies and rush off to test them out. Unbeknownst to Frankenbeans, they are really building vehicles to combat his and in the end they are able to destroy his tank and save the world from his evil plan. “Tourist Trap” has select Madballs like Screamin’ Meemie, AARGH, Goal Eater, Fistface and Bruise Brother all going on a vacation to an island where they meet the scum bag Bermuda Schwartz The Terrible Tourist, who uses his cheap cigar smoke, freezing camera and tacky shorts to rob people and places, but with the help of a cheap mirror and luck, Fistface is able to turn the tables on this terrible man and send him to jail while they enjoy the rest of their vacation.

Finally a slight change of pace that kept lots of the same feeling but added a little seasoning to spice it up. The first story has select Madballs getting bodies and tricking and defeating Frankenbeans as the second story has select Madballs stopping a terrible tourist from robbing banks, hotels and people! The second story is short and is a nice backup to the first, even if it lied and used the name Tourist Trap as I did not see Chuck Connors as Mr. Slausen from the film of the same name.  But really it’s a cool fun short story with a funny baddie set up for them to knock down as Bermuda Schwartz is the perfect example of a person who takes the fun out of being places with his only-me attitude. Frankenbeans in this issue goes from hating Madballs, to loving Madballs like they are his children to hating them again! He is who he is and while paint by numbers, I will say he is the perfect 80’s kid comic/cartoon bad guy! None of The Madballs stand out once more and share about the same panel time, but the stand out in this issue for me has to be Fistface, who is the one who beats Schwartz at his own annoying game. The art is done by Post again, and the cover on this one is pretty cool even if it misleads a little as Frankenbeans never rides a cycle and Horn Head is not in the issue at all. Over all, it’s good standard kid comic stuff that for the most part is doing these toys justice.

Madballs 8

Madballs # 8  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 8 of 10

“Younger Than Springslime” Our story starts with Frankenbeans and Snivelitch running up a mountain from Touchdown Terror, Wolf Breath and Horn Head who caught the R.U.I.N Lab workers trying to blow up their home! But while hiding in a cave, Frankenbean finds the fountain of youth and comes up with a plan that leads to the three Madballs diving into a small pool of the water and turning them into Baby Madballs! But he soon finds that the toddler Madballs are driving him crazy with trying to win his attention, and after a dip in the Chemical Pond, they turn back into adults and decide to drop Frankenbeans and Snivelitch into the youth water giving them a taste of being young all over again! “Weather I’m Right” is the second story and has Skull Face, Goal Eater, Lock Lips, Snake Bait and Screamin’ Meemie heading to the TV Station to yell at weather lady Gail Warning who reported it would be sunny but in fact it’s a severe thunderstorm! They meet up with reformed former bad guy, Ben de Fax aka Anchor Man, who tries to warn them but it’s too late as Gail is indeed evil and she controls the weather! After freezing them and sending them to the North Poll, The Madballs find away to return to town and thanks to Snake Bait’s snakes they are able to get her weather wand and break it and safely deliver her to the cops as she is booked on crimes against nature.

The Madballs in this issue turn into babies and fight the weather, and readers are treated to these two silly stories that are pure kid comic gold.  This is a fun way to showcase The Madballs as they do good and in some odd way are teaching some sort of lessons like don’t mess with nature and be proud of your age. The Madballs that stick out in this issue are Goal Eater, who saves his fellow Madballs from freezing to death, and Snake Bait, who uses is snake like charm to rid the world of the weather wand. Frankenbeans and Snivelitch are pretty much the same as every issue as revenge is on their minds, and they know that their plan will end badly but they still take the chance. Nice to see Ben de Fax aka Anchor Man back in a cameo and that the TV Station didn’t fire him even after he robbed viewers. The new TV Station evil on air personality is Gail Warning, and she is a hot to trot blonde who for some reason gets joy in reporting the weather wrong…yeah, what an odd motivation. The best story of the two I would say is Weather I’m Right as I liked the flow a little better and the story moves at a wacky and fun pace. The art for the first story was done by Post and the second one was Gallagher, and like I broken record I will say it was fantastic and fitting.  The cover as well is pretty dang cool and showcases the Madball Babies! On a side note before we move onto the next issue, this marks the final issue under the Star brand name as the next two will sport the Marvel Comics logo.

Madballs 9

Madballs # 9  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 9 of 10

“The Return Of Everyone” The twisted mind of Dr. Frankenbeans comes up with an idea to free Miss Tic The Mystic from jail, and when he and Snivelitch do so, they also free some of the other Madball baddies like Anchor-Man, The Bad Balls, Weird Beard The Pirate, Maiden Hong Kong and Colonel Corn.  Their plan is to attack five locations unless money is paid to them! The city calls on The Madballs for help who break into five groups to try and stop the madness and return these bad guys to jail. The first group goes to the Midwest, and they are Goal Eater, Snake Bair, Oculus Orbus and Screamin’ Meemie as they take on Colonel Corn! While in China, Dust Brain, Lock Lips, Bash Brain and Swine Sucker tangle with the sinister Maiden Hong Kong! In L.A. Wolf Breath, Splitting Headache, AARGH and Horn Head find the wicked Anchor-Man up to his old tricks, while on the Atlantic Ocean Skull Head, Fist Face, Freak Fullback and Touchdown Terror battle on a ship with Weird Beard who has kidnapped Tommy and the gang of kids! While at R.U.I.N Lab, Foul Shot, Slobulus and Bruise Brother must come face to face with the team up of The Bad Balls, Dr. Frankenbeans, Snivelitch and Miss Tic! And with the readers help to solve puzzles like cross word, connect the dots and word find The Madballs defeat their enemies and make them all jump into the Chemical Pond.

This issue is hands down one of the best in the series and tells one story that brings back almost all the series’ main bad guys for one final battle! Plus it also showcases all The Madballs, New Madballs and Super Madballs making it feel like a one issue Madball version of Secret Wars. Miss Tic The Mystic is the brains behind the newly formed team of haters, and she is also one of the last to fall in battle.  It was great seeing her again as well as all the other baddies. While the fights are not fully shown as the puzzles act as your way to defeat them, it was nice for many of them to get that one last shot at being in the comic and trying to get revenge on those dang Madballs. Once more none of The Madballs stand out as they all play a part in trying to save the world from paying these goons to not do evil deeds. I like the idea of the puzzles being the way for The Madballs to win as it gave kids a challenge and made their minds work to solve them to further the story. My favorite bad guy who returns has to be Colonel Corn who uses his corny puns to defeat his enemies, and like before The Madballs pop his head into popcorn! Plus is clear that Snivelitch wants some Miss Tic booty and even dresses up to try and impress her. The cover is great and showcases some of The Madballs as well as some of the Bad Guys and is eye catching for fans of the series. As always Post does the art and rocks it! For the first issue being done under Marvel, this one is better than almost the whole Star Comic run and that’s because this one has action, fun games and a solid story.  Let’s see how the final issue holds up!

Madballs 10

Madballs # 10  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 10 of 10

“Fantastic Voyeurs”  While walking in the field near R.U.I.N Lab,Dr. Frankenbean finds the shrink gun of Rojad and wants to use it to shrink The Madballs into micro size terrors he can deal with but Touchdown Terror, Bash Brain and Fist Face come crashing in and cause Frankenbeans to have a breakdown and a virus called Unchained Melody is running rampant in his body! Snivelitch begs them to let him shrink them so they can save Frankenbean from death’s door and after thinking about it, they agree and enter Frankenbeans throat to save his life! But they only have 20 minutes to do so as the effects of the gun will run out and they will grow normal size stuck in his body! But in the end they beat the virus and escape his body and all things go back to normal. “Compose Yourself” this last adventure has Swine Sucker, Freaky Fullback, Oculus Orbus and Screamin’ Meemie going up against Grammar Moses, an old lady who uses a grammar stick to beat people who abuse the words! After being knocked around by her, thanks to giant question marks and quotations Screamin’ Meemie uses his loud words to bust her hearing aid and is able to defeat her, but they see she is a good person and it ends with her being a tutor to them so they can speak better.

The final issue is not a farewell issue, and the series does not get its ride off into the sunset instead it just ends like so many other Star Comics and Marvel titles before it. The first story is like the film Innerspace and has The Madballs entering a human body to save a life, dumb silly and a fun read for sure. The second story is a grammar lesson and has them fighting an old lady with her board that she has dubbed the board of education. The Madballs final battle with Frankenbeans and Snivelitch is really more of a rescue mission, and I am okay with that as in my head this could be the moment the feud ended between them. Grammar Moses is pretty silly but fitting when used to educate about the use of words and grammar. Touchdown Terror is the standout in the series as he seems to be calling the shots in the first story when some of The Madballs are shrunk. Would you like to know my top four Madballs that appeared in this series? While I liked them all in my own way, I would have to say my favorites in order are Horn Head, Swine Sucker, Wolf Breath and Crack Head (Bash Brain) with Dust Brain and Fist Face also coming in very close. The art is done by Howie Post again, and I will say that his work shines in these kind of kids comics, and he would be the artist I would have loved to have seen make a Commander USA comic for Star. The cover for the final issue is okay, nothing ground breaking but would for sure get the attention of fans of the series and toys. Again to sum up this series, it was pretty good and I would say it’s on the level with such other Star Comics we have looked at like Inhumanoids, Foofur, Hugga Bunch, AniMax and Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos but not as good as Thundercats, Wally The Wizard and Defenders Of The Earth. If you grew up with the toys and enjoy comics based on toys check it out, if you like Star Comics and kid comics in general check it out. Below is some artwork from the series that showcases select Madballs in action, enjoy!

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Madballs is a good average kid comic series based on a toy line but it’s also very limited as they are just flying balls who can only really fight with the power of being gross and headbutting…so He-Man or G.I. Joe they are not, but entertaining they were. For our next update, we are heading back to the old theater as we take our third look at Marvel At The Movies! So make sure to come back for that one as we will be covering some fantastic adaptations in it. Until then, read a comic or three, collect your childhood toys and support your local horror host! And make sure to bring enough popcorn to share with others for the next update.

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