Star Trek : The Intergalactic Icons Of Space

Space is a vast place filled with all types of mysteries and things that we have yet to discover.  Many people my age grew up with space and planets like Mars being things that sparked imagination as well as discussion in and out of school.  Not to mention things like Star Wars, Flash Gordon and The Last Star Fighter were popular films, and some even had toy lines that all kids still played with. But one space themed show always got my attention was Star Trek.  Characters like James T. Kirk, Spock and Leonard McCoy were all interesting and already had iconic status in the mid 80’s when I first remember watching the show. So for this update, I figured that in honor of the new Star Trek film in theaters, the announcement of a new TV series in the works and the fact that earlier this year Juliet spoke about Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was time for me to take a look at Marvel Comics series based on the original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise! So set your phasers to stun and be ready to beam aboard as we boldly go where Rotten Ink has only gone once before!

Enterprise Ship In Space

Gene Roddenberry was born on August 19, 1921 in El Paso, Texas and later with his family moved to Los Angeles and became a fan of stories about Tarzan and John Carter Warlord of Mars. Roddenberry majored in police science but found his calling in aeronautical engineering that lead to his stint with the United States Army Air Corps and would lead him to later working for Pan American World Airways.  During his time as a pilot, he would be involved in a total of three crashes, two as the pilot with and one as a passenger. The last crash, while working for Pan American, was so bad that 14 people lost their lives and many others were seriously hurt.  A short time later this lead to him stepping down in the company and pursuing his love for writing fiction and working for the Los Angeles Police Department as a traffic cop and later as a member of the Public Information Division as his writing was really good. During this time, he was also able to serve as an advisor for such shows as “Mr. District Attorney” and “Highway Patrol” in the 1950’s. These shows kicked off Gene’s dive into television as a producer and writer, and he delivered for such shows as “The West Point Story”, “Bat Masterson”, “Have Gun Will Travel” and “The Wrangler”, but in 1966 it was “Star Trek” that made Gene a true icon of science fiction Television. Gene would go on through out the 70’s and 80’s writing and producing shows and the Star Trek movies. His next TV hit would be the 1987 series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Gene was married twice with his last wife being Majel Barrett who is the voice actress of the starships in the Star Trek universe as well as played Nurse Chapel in the original series and Lwaxana Troi in the Next Generation. He also had three children with his son Rod following in his footsteps in becoming a TV producer with his biggest upcoming work being the new 2017 Star Trek series! Sadly this icon of TV writing and producing passed away on October 24, 1991 at the age of 70, and while gone, his work lives on and entertains viewers still to this day. This update is for you, Gene Roddenberry, as well as all the cast and crew who made Star Trek possible.

Gene Roddenberry 1Gene Roddenberry 2Gene Roddenberry 3

I first watched the original Star Trek TV Show with my dad who would tune in when it aired in reruns. I can remember always being so hyped to see what strange alien was going to be on next, and Spock was my favorite character as he had pointed ears. My dad also use to tease my mom about Captain Kirk as she was not a William Shatner fan and used to say he couldn’t act.  I was around 5 or 6 years of age at the time, and as I grew up I have always had a very big attachment to this series and love it still to this day. Star Trek first aired in September 8. 1966 for CBS and was produced by Paramount and quickly became a hit for fans of science fiction television who loved the futuristic tech talk and quickly bonded with the likable crew lead by the Starfleet rebel Captain Kirk or so you would think! The truth is when Star Trek first aired, it did very poorly on the Nielsen ratings and was canceled by NBC after 3 seasons and a total of 79 episodes, and it was not until its syndication run that it built up a major cult following that sparked it into the major science fiction brand it is today. Imagine that, when originally airing the show was not catching on and was not gaining viewers, and once it was cancelled and shown in reruns it became a mega hit, much like modern shows like “Family Guy” that was cancelled and fans were able to bring it back for more seasons that lead to it wearing out its welcome years ago. Once the show picked up steam in the world of syndication, this lead to a string of movies as well as a ton of spin off TV series. It’s odd that to me as a kid, Star Trek was just so magical and filled with so much high tech wonder and was as enjoyable to me as Star Wars and Flash Gordon, both of which I also grew up with. In 2017 a new Star Trek series will be released for CBS and the premier episode will air on broadcast TV with all following episodes only available via their subscription based streaming service called “ CBS All Access,” and to me, this is a really dumb and not only limits the amount of people watching this series, but also cheapens it. I should also note that in 2006 Paramount and CBS decided to re-master and re-due the effects for the original series and once more it went into syndication, and I can remember my friend and roommate Patrick Neeley watching them at night and talking to me about them the next day. The original Star Trek series has been in my life for as long as I can remember from watching with my dad to popping it in on DVD for my viewing enjoyment, it still remains an amazing series that defines the term science fiction.

Original Star Trek Cast On Set

As I said the cheesy wonderful aliens were one of the reasons I loved this series when I was a kid, and hell, even to this day, because who could forget such characters as the lizard race Gorns, the fuzzy furballs the Tribbles, the one horned white gorilla Mugato or the Salt Vampire, not to mention the Klingons and the likes of the powerful Khan! While much of the time the aliens were just guys and women in greasepaint or rubber suits, something about these basic looking aliens was a draw for viewers like myself. I can remember as a kid loving the Gorn and Salt Vampire and wishing toys were made based on them so I could have them attack my Star Wars figures! Plus the show was our first taste of Khan who would go on to be one of the most sinister bad guys in Star Trek history. So if you’re a fan of aliens and all the different races that could be out in our shared universe…or just like cheesy TV shows with actors with greasepaint on their faces or wearing big old rubber suits, make sure to check out the original Star Trek series as its sure to please that alien need. Check out the pictures below to see some of the aliens from the series and to show you just how different they all are from each other.

Star Trek Khan TVStar Trek GornStar Trek Salt Vampaire

One thing I need to briefly talk about is the episode called “The Devil In The Dark” that has Kirk, Spock and McCoy traveling to Janus VI, a planet that has lost over 50 miners to a creature that lives underground. As the episodes goes on, Spock learns that the creature is called a Horta after a mind meld and later finds out that the Horta is just protecting eggs that will allow its race to continue. The Horta in appearance is compared to a silicon-based lifeform that has a rock and lava look. But for me as a youngster, it reminded me of meatloaf…not the singer, the food! I can even remember eating meatloaf and joking about it being on Star Trek. I mean really look at it, it’s like meatloaf with ketchup and marshmallows on it! Compare the picture below, and you be the judge.

hortaGood Old Meatloaf

Many Trekkies considered “Star Trek: The Animated Series” to be the fourth season as many of the actors returned to lend their voices to their animated versions as well as it continued the five year mission they were on. Star Trek: The Animated Series first aired on NBC on September 8, 1973 and lasted 2 seasons and a total of 22 episodes that were 24 minute long that followed Captain Kirk and his crew of the USS Enterprise on all type of adventures in space. The series was made by a team-up between Paramount Pictures and Filmation with Gene Roddenberry overseeing its production. Filmation’s original idea for the series was to have young teen characters being cadets following the main cast around turning it into more of a straight kiddy show, Roddenberry put his foot down, and that idea was later used for the 1977 live action series Space Academy. But like all Filmation Cartoons, the budget was low, and the series suffered with poor reused animation and many other small errors. The series did have William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Majel Barrett and Nichelle Nichols all return to voice their respected characters but sadly Walter Koenig did not return as Chekov was replaced in the cartoon by two characters called Arex (a three armed thin alien) and M’Ress (a female cat person) who were a major part of the crew now. While after its run ended and some years later, the film series started, the animated series seemed to be left out of canon as many issues and characters from the toon seemed to be missing and forgotten. The series during its run was not a huge hit with kids watching Saturday Morning Cartoons, but was respected by reviewers and parents who found it entertaining. Growing up I only saw episodes on reruns as well as on VHS, and I can remember liking it but also was confused by it as by that point I had watched the live action series as well as many of the movies. Love it or hate it, Star Trek: The Animated Series is a part of Trek history, and I for one enjoy every cheesy moment of it. Those looking to watch the series it has been released on VHS, DVD and Laserdisc and from time to time pops up on Netflix.

Star Trek The Animated Series 1Star Trek The Animated Series DVDStar Trek The Animated Series 2

With the animated series being canceled in 1974, fans would have to wait for their next Star Trek fix until 1979 when Paramount released “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” to the theater going audience. The film was directed by Robert Wise and brought back all the major actors and characters from the classic series with a budget of $46 million dollars and had a run time of 132 minutes.  It also had a score from Jerry Goldsmith and was produced by Gene Roddenberry. The film brought in $82,258,456.00 and came in at # 5 for the year beating out such films as “Alien”, “The Jerk”, “The Muppet Movie”, “Moonraker”, “The Black Hole”, “Mad Max”, “Tourist Trap” and “Zombi 2” among many others. The film was met with mix reviews with many critics being down on the film’s plot that they said was too thin and spread out for over two hours, but fans were a little more behind it as they got to see their favorite characters back on a all new adventure. Growing up I can remember watching this movie and while I found it entertaining, I think mostly cause the fact it was Star Trek. I was always more drawn into “Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan” and “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock” when wanting to watch them on VHS via a library rental. I don’t want to get too much into the plot of this movie as the Marvel Comic series first 3 issues in the series are an adaptation of the film so I will save it for those. While not as well loved as many of the sequels this film started it all for the film franchise that is still going to this day.

Star Trek The Motion Picture 1Star Trek The Motion Picture 2Star Trek The Motion Picture 3

Star Trek also has amazing music that helped not only the TV Show but as well as the Movies! The original TV Show soundtrack was done by the likes of Sol Kaplan and Gerald Fried among others with Alexander Courage being the man behind the Original Series title theme. With the movie soundtracks being done by the likes of Jerry Goldsmith as well as other composers like James Horner, Cliff Eldelman, Leonard Rosenman and Dennis McCarthy. The most iconic theme for the films that would latter be the opening theme for Star Trek The Next Generation was done by Jerry Goldsmith and remains a very iconic piece of score music. The soundtracks for the TV Show as well as the Movies starring the original cast has been released on many different formats from Cassette Tapes to CDs and are must haves for fans of the movie and show. I for one own many of these soundtracks on CD and play them on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO many Sunday nights, one of the listeners favorites is a track called “The Mountain” off the Star Trek V: The Final Frontier soundtrack. So if you’re a score music fan, make sure to check out some of the Star Trek movie releases they are well done and great songs to relax to.

Star Trek CDStar Trek TV SoundtrackStar Trek The Motion Picture soundtrack cd

Captain Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise have not only jumped from TV to movies but also to video games! Some of the top games starring the original cast include “Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator” was originally a arcade game and in 1984 was ported to the Atari 2600 and has you taking control of the Starship Enterprise and defend against invading Klingons. Next up “Star Trek: The Rebel Universe” for the Commodore 64, IBM PC and Atari ST in 1987 and has you take control of the bridge and try and find the secrets of the Quarantine Zone. And lastly “Star Trek: 25th Anniversary” was released in 1992 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and has you take control of Kirk, Spock and McCoy and try to solve the mystery of the tear in space-time! And of course this is just a drop in the hat of video games that was released starring the original Star Trek cast, but these three are the ones I remember best from my younger days! So what is your favorite video game starring Kirk and the crew?

Star Trek The Rebel Universe C64Star Trek Strategic Operations Simulator Atari 2600Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES

The Original Star Trek series has had its massive share of merchandise based around it and cover all types items like Halloween Costumes, Drinking Glasses, Trading Cards, Toys, Video Games, Lunch Boxes, Novels, Comic Books, Magnets, Shirts and so much more! Growing up I can remember playing a strategy board game with my Uncle Thurman that was lots of fun and I am sure we drove him mad as at my brother Bryan and I’s young age we didn’t get the rules all that well. Growing up I also had a Captain Kirk 3 ¾” Mego action figure I got from a garage sale that joined my Toy Wars alongside Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures. I also when a youngster owned many of the Novels and Book and Record sets based on the TV Show and Movies as well as some of the Marvel Comics. Funny enough early this year while working at Game Swap a young lady brought in a large box filled with vintage Star Trek figures and toys and what was really neat was seeing the Mego dolls mint in package! So if you’re a fan of Spock, Kirk or any of the other crew members of the Enterprise many amazing products are out in the world for you to collect.

MEGO Star Trek dollsStar Trek LunchboxStar Trek Novel original cast

Playmates was a major force when I was a kid in bringing action figures into the hands of the youth with such toy lines as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Toxic Crusaders, Dick Tracy, Darkwing Duck, Monster Force, Barnyard Commandos, The Addams Family, Earthworm Jim to name a few and also on this iconic list is Star Trek! The toy line for Star Trek mostly focused on Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as the newer TV series that followed like Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but also in the line was the original series that showcased some of the characters in their younger selves and in some waves them older. While I had maybe a couple when I was a kid the older I got for some reason I started to collect them, I bought myself all the original series crew as well as Voyager and Juliet the Next Generations crew and together we have gotten many of the Deep Space Nine crew members. The Playmates figures for some reason have a collectable appeal for me and as I find them cool looking and the fact they covered not only the Starfleet crew but also many of the aliens from the past to the then present. Below is a picture of my original crew figures as well as some of the Aliens from their show and movies.

My Original Star Trek Playmates Figures

You know what just for the fun of it and cause I love going back and playing old NES games on my trusty old RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) I picked the day May 25, 2016 to just play around and try to see how far I could get in Star Trek: 25th Anniversary in just 1 hours of play! Now this game is one I played when I was younger and never could get very far as I have found it to be a very hard play, but will it be as difficult as I remember? The weather outside was around 84 degrees with the sun pocking out from some hazy clouds, I decided to go up against the game around 6pm and stop at 7pm and see just how far in the game I could get! So with a tall glass of water I was ready to travel to 8-Bit space. I started these two hours with big dreams and hope that I would make it far and to no one’s shock I didn’t make it off the first level…as frustration of playing the same opening stage sent me into a poor game play frenzy! At first I forgot that the Blood Worms can hurt you if you don’t bring the flower to the medicine man of the village and then after getting the eye key and once in the tunnel I kept screwing up the patterns you had to memorize on the wall to get through the doors and by the time 7am came around I was still on the first level! During my little 8-Bit quest my landing Party was me as Kirk and always Spock but sometimes I would switch McCoy with a Security Officer. The game play on this game is a little clunky and has your characters follow a grid to get from point A to pint B. Still as challenging as I remember and I recommend old school gamers to give this one a try, as it’s a fun play that offers enough tough moments to make for long time play. Below is some pictures I took while playing the game.

Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES in the RESStar Trek 25th Anniversary NES RES Still 1Star Trek 25th Anniversary NES Res Still 2

Want to just touch up on this as I fell many Trekkies will agree that there is nothing more sexy than a woman who embraces geeky culture like Comic Books, Video Games and Science Fiction Films/Shows and a woman in a Starfleet uniform is pretty top notch stuff. I mean who could resist the beauty of my favorite cosplayer Ivy Doomkitty dressed as a Starfleet officer? I know I cant! But I just wanted to let all you true nerd girls out in the world that you are appreciated and keep being you!

Ivy Doomkitty star trekhottie star trek fanblonde star trek fan

So before we get into the Marvel Comic Star Trek Original Crew Series I would like to take a brief moment and just kind of give you a crash course of the main crew members of the USS Enterprise, I feel that many of you all ready know and love the characters but I figured on a slim chance their could be some newbies reading this update to the Star Trek universe I should do my duty and educate you with some slight knowledge and research. So sit back and relax and get to know the crew of the Enterprise, as I will guarantee that by the end they will seem like old friends.

Captain James Tiberius Kirkwilliam shatner

James Tiberius Kirk is the Captain of the USS Enterprise, he was born in Riverside, Iowa and as a youngster witnessed a massacre that claimed 4,000 lives by the hands of a madman. Kirk went on to join the Starfleet Academy and became the only person to every pass the Kobayashi Maru test that was designed to be unbeatable; he did so by thinking outside the box and reprograming it! He survived on many ships and even thought a class at the Academy all the while getting promotions until finally becoming the youngest Captain in Starfleet history! Kirk took over the USS Enterprise for a five year mission, and along this journey he made friends and lots of enemies as Kirk always did what was right. Kirk is also a ladies man as he has hooked up with not only human women but also a few aliens! Kirk is noble, cocky, adventures and smart and has earned the love and respect of his crew as well as higher ups of StarFleet even though he tends to break lots of rules and disobey orders. Actor William Shatner played Captain Kirk in the series who is also known for his TV Roles in shows like T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911, The Practice and TekWorld! Shatner is an icon for Sci-Fi fans and remains active in acting even at his age of 85!

Chief Science Officer SpockLeonard Nimoy

Spock is Vulcan who’s mother is human and this gives him slight emotions, something that full blooded Vulcans find illogical! His father is the very wise and highly respected Sarek, who loves his son but also finds his friendships on the Enterprise odd. On the U.S.S. Enterprise Spock has two roles: science officer and first officer and is best friend to Captain Kirk and will do whatever it takes to keep the ship and its crew safe and is very loyal to the Starfleet, Spock even gave his own life to save the lives of the crew when Kahn attacked the ship causing a radiation leak. After being reborn thanks to the Genesis Project, he rejoins the crew and takes his position on the Enterprise again and later becomes a federation ambassador where he tries to patch up the relationship between them and later also tries to help Romulus from a supernova that leaves him trapped in a parallel timeline. Actor Leonard Nimoy played Spock in the series who is also known for his TV roles in such shows as Mission: Impossible, In Search Of, Ancient Mysteries and Fringe. Sadly on February 27, 2015 the world lost Nimoy from complications of COPD. Leonard Nimoy was and still is a icon of geek culture and beyond.

Dr Leonard Bones McCoyDeforest Kelley

Leonard H. “Bones” McCoy is the medical officer for the USS Enterprise and is also very close friends with Captain Kirk. He is divorced and would later marry Natira, the priestess of Yonada, and has one daughter. McCoy at one point has to take the essence of Spock who has passed away and return it to his body on the planet Vulcon in order to return his friend and some time verbal punching bag Spock back to full life. While he gets annoyed with Spock and his logical ways, it’s clear throughout the series and movies that he really does care about him and looks at him as a good friend. While he is good at what he does in the medical field,  McCoy can be very tense and can get very angry when requests are made he feels is impossible or to demanding. One thing that has eaten away at McCoy his whole life is the fact he helped his father commit suicide when he was gravely ill, and after his father’s death a cure was found that would have cured him. McCoy is a loyal sometimes cranky crew member who is the best damn medical doctor you could ever ask for, and later in his Star Fleet career he would become an Admiral. Actor DeForest Kelley played McCoy in the series who is also known for his roles in such TV shows as The Lone Ranger, Route 66 and Bonanza among many other western shows. Kelley would sadly pass away on June 11, 1999 at the age of 79 from stomach cancer. The world lost a great character actor and one of my favorite characters of the Star Trek universe.

Commander Montgomery %22Scotty%22 ScottJames Doohan

Montgomery “Scotty” Scott acts as the Enterprise’s second officer and chief engineer and is truly the man who makes the star ship come alive and keeps up the maintenance and acts as the miracle worker when things need to be fixed in a pinch or even under pressure of battle. While many of the crew are his close friends, he looks at the Enterprise as a son and treats it with high respect and acts as if the ship is truly his responsibility. When both Kirk and Spock are off ship, Scotty becomes the acting commander of the ship, even though he would rather just be the ship’s engineer. After his retirement from the Star Fleet, Scotty gets aboard a shuttle that crashes in a Dyson Sphere and uses the transporter to store himself in the buffer for decades and is recovered by the USS Enterprise-D and its commander Captain Picard, and even in the future he saves the ship he loves one last time. Smart, witty and lovable, Scotty is a guy who is loyal to his fellow crew members and his ship. Actor James Doohan played Scotty in the original series and is also known for his TV roles in Encounter, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The F.B.I. to name a few. Sadly in 1994 James Doohan passed away at the age of 85 from pulmonary fibrosis. Scotty is a great character and really is the blood that keeps the star ship up and running.

Lieutenant Hikaru SuluGeorge Takei

Hikaru Sulu is the third officer, a Lieutenant and senior helmsman of the USS Enterprise and later becomes a Captain and commands the USS Excelsior. Sulu is very wise and good at what he does and has pulled the starship out of danger many times. He is a master of fencing, botany and gymnastics and when need be could and has taken control of the Enterprise as acting officer in charge. Sulu would later in life go on to have a daughter named Demora Sulu who as well is working for Star Fleet. Actor George Takei plays Sulu in the original series and also starred in such TV Shows as Batman Beyond, The Simpsons and Archer to name a very select few. Takei is still active in acting and even runs his own social media that is filled with some funny thoughts and posts.  He is 79 years old as of this update going up.

Lieutenant Nyota UhuraNichelle Nichols

Nyota Uhura is a lieutenant and chief communications officer for the Enterprise and is well respected for her talents and skills. She is skilled at singing and has entertained her fellow shipmates with songs during off duty get togethers. During her time with the Federation, she has been promoted to lieutenant commander and then full commander later on. She as well as the rest of the crew also get in trouble when they disobey orders to get the reborn body of Spock off Genesis and goes back to just being communications officer under Kirk’s crew. It’s implied that she and Scotty might have been romantic together and in the new Trek universe she is dating/romantic with Spock. Actress Nichelle Nichols plays Uhura in the original series, and she has also been on TV shows like Futurama, Batman The Animated Series and Heroes. While slowed down, Nichelle is still active as an actress and is 83 years old as of this update posting.

Ensign Pavel ChekovWalter Koenig

Pavel Andreievich Chekov is the navigator for the Enterprise and is super smart and an honor graduate from the Space Academy. When needed he can also fill in as the ship’s science officer when Spock is away and is very capable of doing so. He later gets promoted to a lieutenant as well as tactical officer and chief of security. He is loyal to Captain Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew and even helped Kirk hijack the Enterprise so they could get the newly reborn Spock off of the Genesis planet. Actor Walter Koenig played Chekov in the original series and also made appearances in such shows as Ben Casey, Columbo and Babylon 5. Koenig is still active as an actor and is 79 years old as of this update’s posting.

Nurse Christine ChapelMajel Barrett

Christine Chapel is the head nurse of the Enterprise and works under the orders of Dr. McCoy. She mostly stays on the ship when others explore planets but has left from time to time. While originally she was trying to work things out with her fiancé Dr. Roger Korby, his disappearance left her without a man, and she began finding herself having feelings for Spock.  The fling would end up going nowhere. Later in her career, she becomes a doctor aboard the Enterprise and later is stationed at the Starfleet headquarters. Actress Majel Barrett played Chapel.  She was the married to show creator Gene Roddenberry and appeared as the voice for the computers in many of the Star Trek shows and movies. Barrett passed away in 2008 from leukemia.  She was 76 years old.

Spock Kirk Scotty

So that was just a very brief look at the crew of the USS Enterprise and many great facts and achievements from them have been left out of this quick look as I really think that if you have never watched this show or movies, you really should check them out for yourself as they are truly great science fiction watches. So I guess we should beam onto the Marvel Comic series based on Star Trek’s original crew, and I should also thank Mavericks Cards And Comics, Bell Book And Comic, Dark Star and Lone Star Comics for having issues in stock so that I could do this review. I am also getting a message from my communicator from Kirk telling me to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and i’s art and story. So if you’re wearing a red shirt, you might want to change out of it now as it’s time to go on 18 missions with the crew of the USS Enterprise. So beam us to it Scotty!

Marvel Star Trek 1

Star Trek # 1  ***
Released in 1980    Cover Price .40    Marvel    #1 of 18

A powerful light cloud being is floating in space and is destroying ships and what ever else gets in its way! It’s been years sense the USS Enterprise went on a mission and Kirk is able to finally talk his way back into becoming the Captain of it once more and is setting out to try and stop what ever this thing is from reaching anymore planets, his crew has many familiar faces on board like Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura as well as some new faces including Captain Decker who is forced out of running the ship and into a officer role on this mission by Starfleet and Kirk who is taking over causing some major heat between the two. At the Enterprise Crew meeting they watch in horror live as a space station is attacked and just vanishes thanks to the light cloud! And worse just before this the teleport was not ready on the remodeled Enterprise and many new crew members lost their lives, and this brings aboard a “drafted” Dr. McCoy who was retired and Ilia a Deltan who will act as the ships navigator on this dangerous mission. Decker and Ilia know each other and its clear that this once Captain had a relationship with her. While taking off on their mission the Enterprise gets stuff in a wormhole along side a meteor and Decker over rides Kirks command to use Phasers and uses torpedo’s instead and this saves the ship damage and gets them out of the wormhole but also causes even more of a rift between the two Captains! Once safe and back on track a small ship asks to board the Enterprise and to Kirks shock and joy the pilot of the small ship is Spock!

This Marvel Comic series starts off with an adaptation of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and to be honest it was a wise choice as it was a great way to showcase the crew as well as bring everyone up to date on what was happing with the original crew. Plus it also helped add to the amazing over all enjoyment this comic reader and Trekkie had relaxing and reading it and remembering back to the first time I had seen the movie as well as read this issue in my younger days. The story this far has Admiral Kirk hooking and crooking his way back into becoming the Captain of the Enterprise that is being sent out on a important mission to stop an unknown cloud object from reaching the planet that its two days away from. Throw in some drama between the ships former Captain as well as some old relationship baggage and your have this issue in a nutshell. Captain Kirk in this issue is a man on a mission and his mission is not just save people from the unknown that’s heading their way but to also get command of the Enterprise once more. Kirk is as cocky as ever but it’s clear he is slightly outdated when it comes to all the improvements that have been made to his ship. Captain Decker is a man of pride and he feels betrayed by Kirk and Star Fleet as he is taken off Captain duty and forced to serve under the man who weaseled the position away from him, but Decker is also a slime ball when it comes to his love life as its reveled that he just up and left Ilia without even so much as a goodbye. Speaking of Ilia she is straight business and wants to do the best at her job, but while she puts on a strong front it’s clear she was hurt by Decker’s past behavior. Dr. McCoy is upset that he was forced back into active duty as he was enjoying retirement, but quickly comes around when he sees that his good friend Kirk is the one who really wanted his help on this mission. Spock starts the issue off on his home planet trying to ride himself of emotions that his human side has and soon finds he cannot and returns to the Enterprise unannounced and is a sight for sore eyes for his friends. The rest of the original crew Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura all are present but are background players. The Cloud Light Thing in the sky is clearly a force to be wreckend with as it not only takes down a federation station but also a Klingon ship! What is this cloud…I guess we will have to read more issues to find out! The plot while slow is a good way to reintroduce the crew to fans as well as to new readers and that’s why it was wise to kick this series off with the film adaptation as it was the new Trek product out and could help kick of Trek-Mania for youngsters of 1980. The cover is cool and eye catching for classic Science Fiction fans and the art inside done by the team of Dave Cockrum & Klaus Janson (Inks) and is pretty great stuff with most the characters looking close to the actors who played them. Over all a great solid first issue to kick off Marvels Star Trek series and makes me really looking forward to the next mission…I mean issue.

Marvel Star Trek 2

Star Trek # 2  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #2 of 18

Captain Kirk welcomes Spock back into the crew as he takes his place as the science officer, but while everyone is happy to see him, Spock shows no emotions toward them and this causes some tension between he and McCoy. Spock also helps Scotty figure out a way to save fuel and go into warp drive and while flying they run into the cloud that attacks! After a very powerful blast the Enterprise is in trouble until they are able to send the cloud a message of peace and that attacks stops leaving them puzzled and relieved that the cloud has given up its aggression. As the Enterprise flies through the cloud the find at in the middle is a ship so huge its like nothing they have ever seen before, and worse a living energy comes aboard and kills a security officer and tries to steal the ships records and when Spock tries to stop it Ilia gets the beings rage and it makes her vanish into thin air. The alien cloud ship then pulls the Enterprise into its docking and sends a robotic version of Ilia onto the ship who is suppose to record the everyday functions of humans for a master named V’ger, while the real Ilia is deceased this robot has her memories and Kirk decides that Decker should be her guide on the ship hoping that the relationship between the two can help take it off course for Earth as it’s now only six hours away! In the end Spock lurks in the shadows and gives a crew member the Vulcan nerve pinch and the issue ends leaving us not knowing why he did his action.

This second issue in the Movie Adaptation part is the set up for what the story is really about as we learn the cloud is really around a giant ship that is a beings named V’ger who records and loves knowledge. The Enterprise is the only hope for Earth as they are the only ones who have gotten this close to the ship and have the key to maybe save Earth in the forum of the robotic Ilia. Captain Kirk is as sure of himself as ever and his war of words and control with Decker rises to anger in this issue as every suggestion Decker gives the Captain is ignored and this even leads to Ilia being killed causing tension between the to very hostile. The thing is Kirk is not listening to Decker but is listening to Spock who he trusts and who he doesn’t feel intimidated by, and worse Kirk orders Decker to be the guide to the robotic Ilia and try to charm this machine with the memories of his one time lover in order to save Earth. Dr. McCoy is the man who figures out the make up of the robot and is the possible key to save them all if they can teach the machine to bring the message back to it’s master that people deserve to live. Bring the question who or what is V’ger and why does he want to combine with the “Creator” and if he does what does this mean for the universe? This is the main question that should and was on the minds of readers of this comic. While besides Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Decker the rest of the crew have small parts but are all very important to the issue as their actions and jobs move the plot along. The Science Fiction action is high in this issue as we get a space battle as well as a semi fight with an alien energy being that leaves two crew members dead. Plus the issue ends on a cliffhanger as Spock knocks out one of his own fellow crew and his reasoning is left with the message “Continued Next Issue”! The issues cover is pretty great and has the energy being reeking havoc on the Enterprise bridge and the art inside is once more done by Dave Cockrum who does a solid job of capturing the actors likeness in some shots, while in others his art seems a little rushed. Over all a solid issue that moves the plot along and is doing a good job of capturing the mood and feel of the movie it’s based on. So lets get to issue three and see why Spock did what he did and who or what V’ger is!

Marvel Star Trek 3

Star Trek # 3  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #3 of 18

Decker is trying all he can to get to the memories of Ilia who is very robotic and just wants more and more data for her master V’ger who plans on absorbing the crew after he gets the information he seeks. Meanwhile Spock has knocked out his fellow crew member so that he could get into a space suit and float into the center of the ship that he has figured out is V’ger! Kirk goes out after Spock and they find the V’ger breaks down all that is kills and stores it as part of it’s own being, and when Spock attempts to mind meld with it and is overloaded with its power but finds the V’ger is a living machine that comes from a planet of living machines and his quest is to find out the meaning of its life as well as find God to get the answers. V’ger has reached Earth and is about to kill all humans living on it but Kirk as an idea and says he has the answers its looking for and after a small outburst V’ger allows the Enterprise to enter into it’s main brain frame were Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Decker and the robot Ilia exit the ship and find the V’ger is really a missing NASA satellite called the Voyager Six that went missing 300 years ago and that its real creator is man! Decker enters the satellite’s missing code ending its reign of terror as it now has the answers its seeks but this turns Decker and Ilia into light beings and the next evolution for mankind. In the end Kirk and the Enterprise crew have saved the day and head into space for many more adventures.

The movie adaptation ends here and has Kirk and the crew having to use their wits and knowledge to stop the destruction of Earth. So V’ger is really just a missing NASA satellite that 300 years ago did not get to fulfill its mission of sending back data is collected to the space station after it was lost in a black hole. So in reality many people lost their lives all over a satellite that could not share its data with NASA. Kirk is very quick with his plan as he is able to save the Earth by bluffing and then able to prove that man is V’ger’s creator when he comes up with the code that is needed to unload its data. Decker is also a hero as he manually enters the code after they learn the satellite has been damaged and this causes Decker to become something more than human and as well be with Ilia forever. Spock who was having issues of his own due to his failed test on Vulcon has his answers and at one point cries for V’ger who will not truly have his. The nice touch to the end of the comic is that the Enterprise heads out into space looking for more adventures and is the perfect set up for this Marvel Comic series. The cover is great and has The Enterprise in battle showcasing the ship and what it can do, the inside art is once more done by Dave Cockrum and is fitting and better looking than issue two. Marvel Comics did a great job of adapting this film into a comic and I could say that in the 80’s and 90’s no one did these types of comics as good as Marvel. So with this Motion Picture adaptation out of the way lets see what new adventures the Marvel Bullpen have in store for us.

Marvel Star Trek 4

Star Trek # 4  ***
Released in 1980    Cover Price .40    Marvel    #4 of 18

The Enterprise has been selected to transport an alien named Raytag M’Gora who is insane and was captured and must be returned to prison that he escaped from. Also on this mission they must play host to Ambassador R’Kgg who’s people are open to negations with the federation, while Kirk don’t mind given the Ambassador a ride he is very angry about the prisoner as his ship is not set up to transport a crazed alien like that. While beaming Raytag M’Gora aboard the alien breaks free and runs amok until Spock is able to use the Vulcan Nerve Pinch to knock him out and place him into his cell. Raytag M’Gora begs Kirk not to return him to the prison planet as he claims it’s a terrible place and it is what drove him mad and warns them if they get to close to the area he will not be the only prisoner! The closer they get crew members begin to see werewolves and monsters with Sulu and Chekov seeing a ghost. Kirk don’t know what to make of these supernatural sightings but believes his crew and soon comes face to face with Count Dracula who appears on the bridge and knocks security around before disappearing, adding to the mystery that is unfolding on the Enterprise. As Dracula escapes he makes his way to Ambassador R’Kgg and kills him, and after doing so the evil visions disappear until the Enterprise finds a Haunted House planet and Kirk, Spock, McCoy and other crew members beam down and find a young woman being attacked by Frankenstein’s Monster! They are able to defeat the Monster but soon find themselves surrounded by monsters and the young blonde woman tells them she has been held prisoner there for a long time and wants to leave. But no one is leaving as well armed Klingons appears and take the landing party prisoners and send a message to acting commander Scotty that they have his friends and want the ship turned over. In the cell Raytag M’Gora lets out a crazy laugh as our issues ends.

The Crew of the Enterprise vs. the monsters is the best way to describe this fun and entertaining issue, and while it does not feel like a Star Trek episode it does feel like an episode of the animated series mixed with Scooby-Doo. The plot has Kirk and crew getting tricked into a Haunted House world while trying to deliver a alien prisoner back to prison and it appears that the illusions and plan was that of the Klingons who hate the federation and want to see Kirk and his crew pay for crimes they feel the universe has infected them with. Kirk is right to not want to take this mission as the ship and crew was not prepared for the evil and madness that waited them during this one. Spock tries his best to put logic to what he is seeing as many of the monsters that appeared were based on legend of Earth’s novels and ghost stories, but he is also the one who finds that the monsters are made of a living organism. Ambassador R’Kgg seemed like a good natured alien and while killed supposedly by Dracula I think there is more to R’Kgg than what we have seen in this issue and almost think he is playing possum on the words of Raytag M’Gora who was the last person he talked to. Speaking of Raytag M’Gora while I think he is crazy and has a violent streak in him, I do think he was trying to warn the Enterprise of what was awaiting them at the Haunted House planet. Plus who is this young blonde woman and why is she in this Haunted House world? Nice to see that the Klingons are the ones behind this set up and fake haunted planet, as it makes sense that they would do whatever they can to capture Kirk and his crew. Not to mention a highlight for this Monster Kid comic reader is the fact that Dracula from the Marvel Comic series Tomb Of Dracula has a cameo as the issues also has a werewolf, ghost, grim reaper and Frankenstein’s Monster to name a few of the ghouls who attack. While again it does not feel like the TV Show nor the movie that spawned this series it does have a nice comic book feel to it and that’s what makes it fun. The cover is cool and the art is still being done by Dave Cockrum making this solid and fun issue for this reader. While again many of the crew take small roles its great to see Kirk and Spock take on monsters even if they are not real and makes me look forward to how this mission will work out for them, so lets not wait and move onto issue five.

Marvel Star Trek 5

Star Trek # 5   **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .40   Marvel   #5 of 18

The Klingons to show Kirk on this Haunted House planet they mean business kill one of his crew members as everyone watches on unable to help. They then turn on Kirk and the crew and take Spock hostage and they beam up to their Bird-Of-Pray were they tell Spock that he is the only one that will survive from the Enterprise as they have orders to kill the crew and take the ship to learn how it’s new warp drive works! While Kirk and his crew deal with the unknown woman they beamed aboard that they find out is not human and worse the Kingons attack their warp drives and leaves the Enterprise stranded in that location! Spock finds out that the “Monsters” that are attacking his fellow crew members is due in part to a man who was a Horror Movie archivist who is being used as a weapon by The Klingons! Working with the Klingons on this take over mission is Raytag M’Gora who has a projector implanted in his skull that helps bring the monsters to the ship, and we also find out that the unknown woman is the image of the “weapons” wife! Spock figures out and is able to warn The Enterprise to destroy the image of the woman that triggers the archivist to wake up that in turn over loads the projector inside Raytag M’Gora killing him and sending the monsters to the Klingons ship! Spock and the Archivist beam aboard the Enterprise and they leave the area and complete there mission and deliver the dead body of Raytag to the prison planet.

The monsters of the movies run wild on the Enterprise thanks to a horror movie fan! The plot of this issue has The Klingons using a new weapon they developed that allows a persons fears to come to life against the Enterprise so they can take over the ship and learn new federation secrets, but thanks to the brilliant mind of Spock the plan not only fails but also backfires as they become the target of the monsters. Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise Crew are helpless in this saga as The Klingons dismantle their warp drive, take Spock hostage and have the monsters under their control, but I should say while the odds were grim Kirk very lost the fighting spirit. Spock meanwhile even as a hostage keeps his wits just like all Vulcans would and is the brains behind turning the tables on his captures. The Klingons are cold-blooded killers and not only murder one Star Fleet security officer but also have plans in place to kill everyone on the Enterprise! The monsters while just made real by imagination and memories are still a force of destruction and murder, and the poor sap who is creating them is just a pawn in a sick game of ship stealing. Raytag as well is a pawn but a willing one as he felt by helping the Klingons they could save him from a fate of being a prisoner the rest of his life, as for the mystery woman she is just a sad case as she is just the memory of the Archivist’s murdered wife. The classic banter between Spock and McCoy is present in this issue and that’s always fun to read as it really made me flashback to many of the scenes from the films were the two were at odds over silly disagreements or just McCoy not understanding the lack of emotions of Vulcans. While this was a silly plot for the most part I still found myself enjoying reading it and wondering what adventures the Enterprise would have next. Being five issues in I must also say that my favorite character has to be Spock as while not done perfect and for some reason is slightly off he seems to shine more than most the other crew members. Kirk is great just as is McCoy but while they are as well close to their movie and show characters they still are slightly off. The art in this issue is done by Dave Cockrum again and while it is good for some reason some panels seem off as in one panel has Kirk looking like a pig face version of The Phantom Of The Opera and another has McCoy looking like a bug eyed monster, very odd a very sloppy. The cover is great and eye catching and leaves you wanting to see why McCoy is killing a woman with a phaser. Over all a slightly above average comic adventure of the crew of the Enterprise that leaves you wanting to see what the next adventure awaits us.

Marvel Star Trek 6

Star Trek # 6  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #6 of 18

The Enterprise is picked to escort Ambassador Phral of the planet Yannid VI to a signing that will allow them to join the federation, but after the transporter has an issue and when Phral appears onboard he has a knife in his back and is dead! Kirk calls the palace on Yannid VI and they confirm that the Ambassador was alive and well when he left to beam aboard The Enterprise and this could cause major issues of them joining the Federation. Kirk assigns Spock and McCoy to try and figure out what happened while he tries to talk peace and confirm that they will find the murderer of their citizen. While investigating Spock and McCoy find lots of odd details about this murder like that fact it appears he has dead 15 minutes before he was beamed up as well as all video of the beam up is missing due to a power surge. Tension is running wild on Yannid VI as many of the people want to join the Federation while others want to join the Klingons and this becomes dangerous when Sulu, Chekov and a female crew member DiFalco are attacked at a bar and are able to escaped when they are beamed aboard the Enterprise. Kirk has been very edgy sense the death of the Ambassador even snapping at his crew and finally comes clean and tells them about when he was younger he on accident shot Phral on a rescue mission that at the time was a prince and put the would be ruler into a coma making him miss his turn of ruling. Spock has news for the Captain as he thinks the body on the ship is that of an imposter set up by the real Phral who wants revenge on Kirk and wants to start a new life. Kirk, Spock and McCoy put on disguises and beam down to Yannid to find a famed plastic surgeon as they think she might be helping him on this set up, but she is killed and Kirk and crew are found by the Prince and his guards who blame them for the death of the Doctor as well as the Ambassador! Spock using his logical mind is able to trick Phral who has had plastic sugary into exposing his true idientity and this clears Kirk of wrong doing as well helps Yannid VI in joining the Federation as they see Kirk and crew are men of their word.

Spock does it again as just like Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy or Batman he uses logic and great detective skills to solve a crime of murder, set up and betrayal. This issues plot is this an Ambassador who is to sign for his planet to join the federation and who has bad blood with Kirk is killed while beaming aboard the Enterprise and this leads to Kirk being the prime suspect and puts a strain on them joining the greater cause of peace with the Federation, but thanks to McCoy and Spock they are able to find the answers to who is the real killer and expose a plan that would have not only caused Kirk to loose his career but also could have caused war! Kirk is a man with lots of stress and some guilt as he feels like an accident when he was a young Star Fleet member left a man who was to be King in a coma making him loss his chance at ruling, not to mention he was sent to save the Prince and in turn is the one who ended up hurting him. But while Kirk is short tempered he still does his job and puts his two best crew members on the case to solve who set this murder up. Spock and McCoy are fast and solve the case in short time as all the evidence don’t add up and they are onto the twisted plan that was put into place thanks to video from Yannid and the body onboard. Nice to see Sulu and Chekov get to show off a little as they sword fight off their attackers in the bar! Ambassador Phral is a bitter, greedy and lying man who set up his own “death” in order to get away with stolen money. His actions caused a Civil War on his home planet as well as could have caused a war with the Federation! Not to mention he murdered a doctor as well as some poor soul to get away with his crimes, but thanks to Spock and McCoy his cover is blown and he is taken away for punishment. This was another great adventure and love that Sherlock Holmes reference and feel to it, not to mention McCoy gets to deliver “She’s Dead Jim” during the books final. The cover is ok and nothing special and the art is done by Dave Cockrum again and is pretty good, I should also note that Marvel’s Editor In Chief at this time was the one and only Jim Shooter! To sum it up a good issue that made for a fun read that blended Science Fiction with Detective touches that entertained for sure.

Marvel Star Trek 7

Star Trek # 7   **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #7 of 18

The Enterprise is sent to a planet that in a short time will be surrounded by a poisoned cloud that will leave its 200 residents dead and the world un-livable. Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy and two security officers beam down to the planet to try and talk to its people to come with them in order to survive. Once on the planet Kirk and crew soon find that the simple minded aliens have been awaiting them and have giant statues built of the crew members in town that have been their for millenniums, and worse they will not leave as they think Kirk, Spock and McCoy will protect them from the approaching death cloud. While Scotty takes control of the Enterprise and tries to disrupt the cloud with phasers and fail Kirk, McCoy and Spock follow a alien who is about to evolve and find that these aliens are very smart and when Spock mind melds with the alien he finds that the planet has a defense system that defeats the cloud and that this alien race can see the future and as our crew leaves they have more questions than answers.

A planet is in danger over a dangerous cloud and Kirk and crew must try and stop it and save the alien race that dwells on the planet is the plot of this issue and while solid and good it does kind of feel like a throw away issue, as the dangerous cloud has a been there done that feel to it. The threat seems high for the crew as always as they must risk their own necks in order to do their job for being the saviors of the universes. The Alien race are simple weird looking creatures who are all kind hearted, but while they seem dim witted they are in fact slightly more intelligent than they appear and can also see into the future. Kirk in this issue goes to the planet to try and talk to it’s people about beaming aboard the Enterprise in order to survive but finds himself stuck on the planet and death approaching and must send his own ship and crew on what could be a suicide mission in attacking the cloud to try and break it up! Kirk is under lots of pressure but as always he holds his cool and helps lead the charge in everyone’s survival. McCoy and the security guards are just around and don’t offer too much to this issue but are at least cool to see around. Scotty steps up this issue and burns his hands bad trying to beam down Kirk and his landing party even after he warned them this was not a good idea and as well takes control of the Enterprise and tries his best to defeat the cloud and protect his fellow crew members. Spock is the true hero once more as his actions and quick thinking is what saves the day and gives him the idea of pulling a lever that activated the planets defense. The Cloud is just that a cloud that floats around space and spreads poisoned air and radiation to planets it passes by. The cover is pretty great and is very eye catching and the art inside is done by Mike Nasser and is really good! Over all a good issue but nothing special.

Marvel Star Trek 8

Star Trek # 8  **1/2
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #8 of 18

The Mox an alien race has attacked The Enterprise and has the ship in a force field that is also sending out electronic waves that is driving the crew mad with massive headaches as well as is draining their weapons and warp drives of energy and if this continues to much longer the ship will explode. Kirk and crew are in bad shape and when Spock is kidnapped and beamed aboard the enemy ship it is now not only a battle for survival but also now a rescue mission. Kirk, McCoy, Chekov as well as a few fellow crew members beam down to a near by planet that is populated by The Mox and start their rescue mission as the Enterprise is still in a bad way in space. While on the planet they are attacked with older style weapons from guns to spears and find another race is on the planet that as well are after The Mox! On the ship Professor Fowler is dying from a heart element as Dr. Christine Chapel tries to explain to her that the ship is stuck due to an attack and her life is in danger as she needs a heart transplant! On the planet Kirk soon finds out that the aliens that attacked them are called The Orgs and they are on a mission to attack The Mox who are really robots who are at war with the Orgs who they find threatening as they are battling over the planet they both share. In the end Spock is able to use his skills to free the Enterprise from the force field that was holding it and in turn Kirk uses the ships phasers to stun all The Orgs and with the help of Professor Fowler who sneaks herself onto the planet she with her new robotic heart is able to bring peace between The Mox and The Orgs and this mission comes to an end.

The war between machines and humanoids takes place in this Star Trek issue as they cant get along as one wants what the other has and the other lives in fear of what the other wants to take away. Kirk and the crew are under attack as well as The Mox who are the machines go on the attack and hold them at bay as they want to steal Spock who they think can talk to some simple creatures who have strong psychic powers that live on the planet and think they can protect them from the attacking Orgs who are planning to go to total war that night, so as you can see once more Spock is the main hero who not only helps The Enterprise escape the force field trap that is about to blow up the ship from the pressure but also helps stop the war that is about to break out. So what I have learned these eight issues so far is that while Captain Kirk is in charge the really hero in Marvel Comics eyes was Spock. Professor Fowler is a character who is very sick and is in need of a heart transplant who for some reason gets a second wind knocks out several crew members, hijacks the transporter room and beams herself to the planet as the war is going on, is able to get a robotic heart and stay on the planet and brings peace to the two feuding sides. But really you could have cut Fowler out and the story would have been just as impactful and a little less mashed up feeling. The cover has Spock being surrounded by The Mox and is ok and the art inside is done by the team of Dave Cockrum & Ricardo Villamonte and looks pretty good and the characters look like the actors pretty well. Over all another fun issue and shows that Star Trek and Marvel Comics made a good team to bring entertaining issues to readers hands.

Marvel Star Trek 9

Star Trek # 9  ***
Released in 1980   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #9 of 18

The Enterprise is heading for some down time and while heading back to a base station they find a missing federation ship named the Endeavor that has been missing for 22 years! They try to communicate with the ghost ship and get no response, but they do get attacked by the ship and must defend themselves and shot down the attacking ship. Once the Endeavor is down Kirk and crew beam aboard it and find the crew all long dead and killed by phaser shots, and worse one of the Enterprise crew members becomes possessed and tries to murder his friends! Spock and McCoy get the possessed crew member under control and they all head back aboard The Enterprise and learn from the ghost ships logs that a madness swept the ship and caused people to become murderous and savage after picking up an 89 year old woman who was supposed to have died at the age of 36 who is the grand mother of Enterprise crew member Karen Hester who is a zoologist and one time lover of Captain Kirk. The mission is clear now and Kirk along with Spock, McCoy and fellow crew head to the freezing cold planet and find that it held a secret and illegal lab that was conducting transporter beam experiments that caused many deaths and the possessed crew members have the spirit of those who died being guanine pigs and want to kill Karen as she is related to the head doctor who conducted these experiments. In the end Kirk figures out a way to trap the possessed spirits that call themselves Unity on the planet and blows up the secret lab with them inside and in the end the infected crew members are getting better and Karen transfers off The Enterprise as she still loves Kirk and knows she has to let him go.

This feels like an episode of the classic Star Trek series as the plot has a ghost Starfleet ship being taken over by the spirits of people who were killed during transporter experiments and now want revenge against the doctor who conducted them, who has long been dead and they confuse her relative and currant Enterprise crew member as their target and its up to Kirk to save the day. The Unity is the spirits and by all accounts they are very dangerous as they can force living people to turn on each other in fits of rage and don’t care about anything else besides revenge. Kirk is calm and shows why he is the captain of the Enterprise as he is quick witted and able to trick The Unity to it’s death as well as saves his infected crew members from a death that would be right around the corner, so for this issue Kirk is the true hero! Karen Hester is a woman who while a member of the Federation is really just hung up on Kirk as she dated him for three years and can not get over the fact they broke up, she is an interesting character as he grandmother was responsible for the deaths that made up The Unity. The rest of the crew are around and play background characters very well and add their own touches to the adventures that unfolds before us readers eyes. The cool thing about this issue is that it allows Kirk to be the hero and not Spock like so many other issues in this series has allowed. The cover is pretty cool as The Unity looks great, but the crew members look pretty sloppy. The art is done by Dave Cockrum & Frank Springer and looks good and fitting for this sci-fi comic based on a TV Show and Movie. Over all issue nine is really solid and one that was a great read and captured the mood and feel of Star Trek really well.

Marvel Star Trek 10

Star Trek # 10  **1/2
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #10 of 18

Captain Kirk is getting over the flu and worse the planet the Enterprise is researching is surrounded by magnetic fields and a ground team must take some readings form it’s surface. Spock and McCoy volunteer and after crashing on the planet thanks to the magnetic field they soon find themselves without a way to communicate with the Enterprise and have even stumbled upon a primitive race that is about to sacrifice a woman named Shulu to the dragon god, and after she escapes their grip she runs into Spock and McCoy to protect her from the angry tribe that want to see her dead! Spock and McCoy’s phasers clog up as well thanks to the magnetic field and while McCoy and the girl get away, Spock is captured and forced to be a slave to the Dragon Lizard worshiping tribe as McCoy along with the smaller tribe that Shulu comes from come up with a plan to rescue Spock that has McCoy teaching them how to make and use bow and arrows. A rescue mission happens and Spock is set free and the evil tribe leader is killed and McCoy soon learns that his new friends are just as cruel as the ones they over threw and Spock and McCoy find themselves once more being hunted as the new tribe in power turns on them for questioning their customs, in the end Kirk and a shuttle comes down and saves the pair from what would have been a for sure death at the hands of primitive humanoids.

This tenth issue adventure is pretty good but also feels a little lackluster and almost like a throwaway episode of the show as they stretch the plot out as long as they could and than padded the rest of the issue with looks at the uniforms and gear of crew members to meet the page count. The plot is this Spock and McCoy get stuck on a planet with primitive man and save the life of a young woman who was going to be killed to please a false god, Spock gets kidnapped and enslaved and this forces McCoy to team with the smaller tribe and break federation rules when he teaches them how to make new weapons and defeat their enemies and saves Spock. And before the pair is saved they learn that one mans evil ways just leads to more evil ways. Captain Kirk in this issues takes a back seat as he is sick with the flu and only in the end comes to his friends aid when they are late to report back to the Enterprise. Spock is noble and stays behind to save the life of the young woman and McCoy and becomes a slave for his deeds, Spock truly is a logical and iconic hero character. McCoy shows that he is a loyal friend to Spock as well as proves he will not stand by if human lives are in danger. The cover for this issue is great and makes it look like in the issue Spock was going to gladiator fight with a primitive man and while that would have been amazing and fit the tag line “ Spock…The Barbarian” it sadly did not live up to that epicness and instead we got a middle of the road fun story. The art in this issue is done by Leo Duranona and Klaus Janson and for the post part looks rushed and seems unfinished, and besides the ships and a few panels of crew members it’s the sloppiest work this far in the whole series up to this issue. To sum it up a cool read but by far the weakest issue this far, so lets just move on past this one.

Marvel Star Trek 11

Star Trek # 11  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #11 of 18

Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise watch the logs of another federation ship that’s crew was slowly killed by radiation and the effects it had on their bodies and minds. The Enterprise is to move Dr. Wentworth and his patients off a planet that could be effected by the radiation and must beam them all aboard and take them to a new location. First beamed aboard is a young lady named Andrea Manning who is the doctors assistant and who also has a unknown strange past with Scotty who seems sad and not to pleased to see her. With the guests now all aboard Dr. Wentworth tries his best to spill his mumbo jumbo on the crew about not taking orders and to live their own lives as it’s clear his clinic is not so much for healing, as it is a cult! In the engineering room a Witch from classic folklore attacks Scotty, knocks Kirk and Spock around plus kills two security officers before disappearing. The Witch’s name was “Black Annis” and was a myth from Scotty’s youth and after seeing it he has fallen into a bad state of fear that leaves Kirk, McCoy and Spock worried about his health and mental well being. Meanwhile Wentworth has used his power of persuasion on Sulu and Uhura and they have changed course from the Starfleet base to now a vacation planet and this angers Kirk who does not know why now his crew are not listening to his direct orders. After arresting those who are uprising against orders they soon find that more Scottish folklore monsters are after Scotty and that Andrea Manning is the one who is responsible for these terrors! As Spock and McCoy try to stop Andrea from bringing more monster to life, Kirk has it out with Wentworth who is on a quest to take over the Enterprise and spread his mind control across the galaxy…but this don’t end well for the Doctor as Kirk with a well placed punch leaves the old man knocked out on the floor. And after summing the Loch Ness Monster to attack the Enterprise, McCoy quickly sedates Andrea and the monster vanishes and they crew snap out of their brainwashed trances and deliver the Cult members to the Starfleet base.

This issue’s mission has Captain Kirk and crew going up against a Cult ran by a doctor who has the power to mind control and his assistant who can bring things form your memories to life and use against you. This has a real 60’s Manson Family and even Health But Guru feel to it as Dr. Wentworth the madman with the power of mind control wants to rule the galaxy and will use other to get it all the while faking spreading the message of being once self, when really your just being his puppet. Andrea Manning while a cult member and the doctors # 1 (as The Joker from the Tim Burton Film would say) has he own reasons for unleashing monsters from Scottish folklore onto the Enterprise as she is very upset with Scotty who was once her boyfriend and who dumped her for so he could focus on his career in Starfleet, and man she wants to mentally break him before she murders him as she tries her best to scare him to a state of 100% terror. Kirk handles his crew turning against his orders, his friend Scotty being scared out of his wits and a cult leader trying to steal his ship really well and gets to work out his frustration from all these things with one well placed and powerful punch to the cult leaders face. Scotty gets the worst of it all as the fears of his youth are used against him and all because he broke up with a young lady many years back. Crew members McCoy, Spock and Chekov all do their part to stop this sinister plan while poor Sulu and Uhura fall victim to mind control. Over all this is a very solid fun issue that had the right blend of action and science fiction sandwiched in-between a cool cover of the Enterprise under attack. The interior art was great and done by Joe Brozowski and Tom Palmer and could be my favorite art this far in the series as the characters look like the actors who played them and all side characters as well looked fantastic. This issue is making me look forward to the next issue mission as Marvel at this point in time is doing Star Trek justice in the world of comics.

Marvel Star Trek 12

Star Trek # 12  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #12 of 18

Janice Rand is now a Lt. Commander of the Icarus and is married to a Phaetonians alien named Kadan who is without a body and a energy ball inside of a pyramid case and along with more of his race they are about to take on a mission to travel to uncharted space, the downside is that Rand will be the only human aboard the ship and for the rest of her life she will not have any more human contact. This upsets Kirk who has had a past relationship with Rand, as he feels that not only her time in space alone is a bad idea but so is the fact that she is married to a alien with no body! After some words Kirk gives her his blessing on this mission that turns bad quick as the barrier drives the Phaetonians mad and now her once loving and logical husband Kadan is a madman who is controlling the starship that is now gone mad killing ships that get in its way, all the while Rand is now a prisoner! Rand during the impact with the barrier gains physic powers and sends a mind message for help to Spock and this causes Kirk to spring into action and try and save his one time woman and also the planet of the Phaetonians as Kadan plans on crashing the Icarus into it as he and the crew feel homesick! Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Sulu beam aboard the Icarus and fight off traps and force fields until Spock is able to join minds with Kadan and save the planet and the Icarus crew from certain death. In the end the Phaetonians are taken to a mental asylum as they have gone mad, Janice Rand goes back to normal and is now safe and feels important as she helped Spock with Kadan’s mind meld as well as now she can divorce her husband and all ends well for Starfleet.

Captain Kirk has done it again as he on this mission not only saves a planet from destruction along with his crew but also hits on a married woman and by the end of the mission opens her mind up for a divorce! Kirk is a real ladies man as well as a great Captain and friend to those aboard his ship The Enterprise. Janice Rand is still hung up on Kirk and marries a alien who has no body, but does have a big brain and chooses to take on a mission that will have her dying in space with a ship with no human crew members! Her goal is to chart un-charted galaxies and to make an impact in her life time…but in the end does so as she truly does help Spock take control of her husbands mind who is the one controlling the out of control ship headed for impact with his home planet. Spock once more is the main man who saves the day as his mind meld technics is what allows them to take control of the ship and deliver it to a safe place. What really worked for his issue was the fact that the ships Enterprise and Icarus played cat and mouse games and the chase felt like a true episode of Star Trek! I also want to note that while Kirk and crew were on the Icarus the Enterprise was being commanded by Scotty who’s idea to save the planet was to wreck the two ships together killing everyone on board both ships, and the worst part is he was going through with the idea until Spock at the last moment was able to take control of the runaway starship! Over all while this issue is nothing to special it does have a great feel to it and I found myself enjoying reading the story as it unfolded. The cover is great and has Kadan in the center as well as an illusion of what his people use to look like above Kirk, Rand and Spock who are in pain over his power…very cool Marvel Comics stuff! The art inside is ok and is slightly sloppy in spots and is done by the team of Luke McDonnell and Tom Palmer and again while ok it does not have the appeal like the last issue did in the art department. Over all our 12 mission with the crew of the Enterprise and Marvel is well done and shows that comics based on Movies and TV Shows can be done right when in the hands of creators who care.

Marvel Star Trek 13

Star Trek # 13  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #12 of 18

Hephaestus is a resort planet filled with peace, as it’s a neutral zone and important minerals wanted by the Federation so Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise is sent down to get permission form the planets president named Mukii and talks go well as he agrees for them to mine the minerals they need. But also on the planet is Klingon Commander Kagg and his crew who want to talk Mukii and his people out of helping the Federation and more allow them to protect them and act as their allies. As tension between Federation crew and Klingon crew heat up leaving Chekov in a fistfight with a very rude Klingon who was abusing a native of Hephaestus, this resort planet is slowly turning into a war zone. As Dr. McCoy enjoys a drink at the bar he is approached by his estranged daughter Joanna who lets out her rage on her father who in turn tries to defend is actions and even meets her ill Vulcan soon to be husband Suvak who during the argument passes out! The fight leaves the native Hephaestus dead and both the Klingon and Chekov in jail, with Dr. McCoy and Dr. Chapel having to perform an autopsy on the dead primate man learning that a chip is what gives them intelligence, and when Kagg shows up the plan is revealed that the Klingons want to take over the planet and want to know were the secret base that makes the chips that makes the Hephaestus people smart is and has found it and placed a bomb in the factory to blow it up and stop the only source for the chips to be made! In Kaggs escape he takes nurse Joanna McCoy hostage and this leaves to Spock and Kirk trying to track him down, as Dr. McCoy and Dr. Chapel stay with Suvak who is dying and shows true love and courage as he goes to his loves aid in the factory and holds Kagg at bay as Kirk and the rest of the crew are beamed aboard the Enterprise, but not before Kirk sends the blueprints of making the chips to his ship. The factory blows up killing Suvak and Kagg in the process. In the end the rift between Joanna and Dr. McCoy is even wider as her love is now dead, but words from Spock speak logic to Bones who ends up ending the issue beaming down to speak to his daughter and rebuild their relationship.

This is like classic Star Trek meets classic Planet Of The Apes as the natives of Hephaestus are smart ape people who look and dress a lot like the apes from that film series wrapped up into one classic Marvel Comic issue. The plot of this issue has the Enterprise having a showdown with Klingons on a natural planet that is run by smart primate people who are being targeted by the Klingons as they want to take over their planet and by the Federation who wants to have them as allies and use some of their land for mining. And throw is a couple of murders of the Hephaestus people as well as the drama of Dr. McCoy seeing his daughter after many years of being at odds as well as the fact she wants to marry a Vulcan who is dying and you have this action back issue wrapped up. While Kirk and Spock are the main focus of the hero part of the issue and both risk their lives to save the Hephaestus people, it’s Dr. McCoy who steals the show as his drama with his daughter and the raw emotions of hating the fact she is marring a Vulcan is what drives the issue into being more than just another space adventure and rescue comic. Joanna McCoy has followed in the footsteps of her father as she is a nurse, but her feelings toward her father are every bitter and she does not respect him nor want him in her life! The Klingons lead by Commander Kagg are as blood thirsty as ever and kill and bully their way into trying to conquer and take what they want, but as always they fail and end up one the bad end of the outcome. The Hephaestus is a race of Primate Aliens who have gotten their smarts from Aliens who visited their planet years back and gave them chips in the back of their necks that allowed them to become smart, I dig the fact that with smarts came the want to make money as they turned their planet into one giant spa! The cover is great and has Kagg holding a gun to Joanna McCoy’s head and Kirk and Spock about to spring into action to save her! The interior art is done once more by the team of Tom Palmer and Joe Brozowski and looks great! Over all another great issue and proved that Jim Shooter who was the Editor In-Chief during this time was one of the best things to happen to Marvel Comics, a great read about a fun mission from the crew of The Enterprise.

Marvel Star Trek 14

Star Trek # 14  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #14 of 18

The Enterprise has found a planet that looks like ancient Egypt and it’s about to be in the patch of a lethal meteor shower that will leave any living thing dead. Kirk, McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov and many more crew members beam down to look for life and warn them of the coming doom from the sky while Scotty, Spock and a small handful of others stay aboard the Enterprise to monitor the approaching meteor storm. While on the planet Kirk is possessed by the spirit of Menteptah II a long dead pharaoh who watches as the Enterprise crew have to fight off a giant sphinx robot that they finally bring down by blowing its head off with their phasers, but the crew themselves are soon on the end of a phaser blast as the possessed Kirk blasts them and keeps them hostage. Kirk then takes his new prisoners communicators and destroys them as he thinks they can help him bring his long dead people back to life, but he missed one as McCoy had taken one off of a security officer that was killed during the battle with the giant robot. When caught using it McCoy is stunned and he and Sulu are taken to a primitive sick bay that has the hole crew getting iv’s filled with drugs that will make them slaves to the possessed Kirk who has already conned Uhura into thinking she was his queen. Spock beams down to the planet and snaps Kirk back into reality as McCoy escapes the sick bay and uses modern medicine to snap the crew out of their brainwashing. The mummies come alive as they were just normal men in a state of long slumber and are beamed off the planet to a safe location away from the meteors and harmful sun radiation that was effecting their planet. Kirk and Spock were also able to save Scotty and the Enterprise that was hit by a powerful shrinking ray fired off by one of the pyramids when they figure out the ancient computer system that controls the plants defense system. In the end everyone is back to normal and once more the crew of The Enterprise has saved the day.

“Captain Kirk and the Curse of the Space Pharaoh” is what I nicknamed this issue that has Kirk being possessed by a dead pharaoh and controlled by an Egyptian God statue who wants to use the Enterprise crew to wake up his followers that have been asleep for decades. When Captain Kirk first goes to the planet he is doing so with a noble cause as he wants to save anyone that may be on the planet from the approaching meteor shower of death, but once he gets possessed he becomes a madman with power who wants slaves and wants to please his God by doing what he commands. If not for Spock Kirk and most of the Enterprise crew would have been in a trance and no longer themselves forever! Spock for most the issue hangs out on the Enterprise with Scotty and a skeleton crew, but once he hears the message from McCoy he becomes a one man army as he beams down and rescues the day. I also like the side story of the Enterprise shrinking due to a pyramid laser ray as it adds even more adventure and drama as Scotty is in total danger. The cover is classic early 80’s Marvel and the art inside is done by Luke McDonnell and Gene Day and looks fantastic! Over all this is another solid and good issue and holds the magic of the TV Show and the Characters and is worth the read for sure.

Marvel Star Trek 15

Star Trek # 15  **1/2
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #15 of 18

Captain Kirk calls a meeting in his room and when McCoy and Spock show up they are greeted by a monster who shocks them, but they soon learn that its just Kirk in a costume and that many of the crew will be wearing them as they are going undercover on a prison world! Their mission is for a four man team to act as guards and break into the death row section of the planet where prisoners are killed in brutal ways no matter the crime they committed, the second part of the mission will follow after the success or failure of the first part of the mission. The Enterprise captures the real guard ship and Spock uses mild melding to calm them and sends them back home as members of the Enterprise will be taking their place as the mission is now told as they are looking for a young man named Tak who went missing heading for the prison planet and they need to bring him back safe and find out why he went their in the first place. Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura put on the costumes and head for their mission were they run across just how brutal the planet and its executions really are. While sent out to find a missing prisoner Kirk and the crew find Tak as well as are busted by a guard they must knock out and leave in a ditch! Tak informs them that he wants to die on this planet as an accident he had while drunk left his true love dead! Tak once more runs away before he can be rescued and shape shifts into a prisoner about to be executed and is saved my Kirk and crew again only for they themselves to be saved by the guard they knocked out who kills the evil warden and takes over the prison and wants to run it way different. Kirk and crew along with Tak are beamed aboard the Enterprise and Tak is set to get the mental help he needs.

This fifteenth issue in this Marvel Comic series of Star Trek issues is a good read, but could be one of the weakest this far next to maybe issue ten. The issues plot has the Enterprise crew going on a top-secret mission in a territory that is hostile and must save a young alien man who has went missing on a planet that is the galaxies worst prison with the most brutal death row! Kirk tells his crew that this mission is one they can by no way connect to the federation so if they must die in order to protect their employer so be it! The crew is wearing goofy costumes most the issue, besides Kirk who’s mask is ripped off so the good old captains face is seen by not only the prison guards but also us readers. The Warden is super evil and gets pleasure in watching the killing of his prisoners as he finds that they do not deserve respect in life or death, but he meets his maker by the hands of his own guard who puts a phaser blast hole in his back as he wants to change the evil ways of the planet. The cover for this issue is pretty good as it makes it look as if Captain Kirk has turned into The Devil as the crew look on fearful! The interior art is pretty sloppy and weak and is done by Gil Kane, and that’s shocking as his work for the most part was pretty good in other Marvel and DC Comics. While this issue is not terrible and was an enjoyable read, I just found it to get semi generic and nothing special. I do like how it has a message of don’t drink or do drugs and drive as it could lead to death! To sum it up this issue is like a throw away episode of the TV series and while worth the read will be one that you would rate lower.

Marvel Star Trek 16

Star Trek # 16  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel   #16 of 18

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, a security guard and Themon (who is Chekov’s girlfriend) beam down to a federation planet for its annual check-up to its people but what they find instead is a tribe of trolls who attack them and kidnap Themon! Before the battle gets to fierce McCoy and an injured Troll are beamed aboard the Enterprise so they can study what they are! While Kirk and the crew fight on against the trolls they are saved by gnomes that are lead by Torval who informs them that the colony people of this planet they were looking for are dead and eaten by the trolls! Kirk and his crew are lead to a cave were the trolls live in order to try and save Themon, while aboard the Enterprise beamed up with the now un-needed supplies are two bat riding trolls who attack and are quickly captured when the crew learn they are powerless with out their hats on and once this happens they turn back into gnomes! When Kirk and crew find Themon she is trying to communicate to the trolls who are far less hostile now and seems to understand what they crew are saying! Meanwhile McCoy figures out the real trolls are in fact people and with some medicine they will turn back normal and he comes down to the planet and transforms the trolls back to normal. Kirk and Spock put two and two together and figure out Torval and his gnomes are the real bad guys who have set this whole thing up, in the end they defeat the gnomes who explain that only four of their race are alive and they just wanted a place to be left alone, and they get it as the leave them be and transport the colony away and all ends well.

This issue pits Kirk and the Enterprise against Trolls and Gnomes on a planet that was set for research and once the smoke clears they find that the gnomes whom they thought were allies are in fact the enemies who are using hat magic to destroy and trick those who stand in their way of living on the planet alone! Kirk in this issues is leading not only the ship but the landing party and seems to be is a world of disbelief as he jokes off the fact that they are being attacked and saved by creatures of Earth folklore. Not sure why he is acting like those who are stating and believe what they are seeing is real are crazy, he just does. Nice to see Chekov used more in this issue and even given a girlfriend in the blue skinned Themon who seems to be just as into Chekov as he is into her. The rest of the crew serve their purpose with McCoy being the real hero as he figures out the cure to make the trolls back to normal and saving them from a terrible life. The Gnomes who get their power from the their hats are few in numbers with only four being all that’s left of their race, but when their little minds are together they can kill and disrupt to get their way of wanting to live in peace. The Trolls are savages at first but once they can calm down and understand what the Enterprise crew is saying they become as gentle as babies. The threat in this issue while small still packs a great adventure feel to it as the gnomes try their best to even crush the crew and trolls alive with a cave in! The cover is eye catching and the art inside is done by Luke McDonnell and is ok but in some spots is really bad as one panel has Kirk looking like Sloth from the film The Goonies, as he eyes are weird and off center. Over all another fun Marvel Trek mission that was well worth the read and highly entertaining for fans of the TV Show and the movies.

Marvel Star Trek 17

Star Trek # 17  ***
Released in 1981   Cover Price .50   Marvel    #17 of 18

The Enterprise is called to a planet where a federation satellite crashed, and its fuel may cause the atmosphere to become toxic when coming in touch with the air. To see if the fuel has affected the air Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to the planet that is very primitive in nature much like medieval times.  A young child witnesses them beaming down and believes they are angels. While in town McCoy heads to the town’s hospital that is a barbaric house of pain and suffering as the sick are not cured but left to heal by the hands of faith. While Kirk and Spock make the mistake of talking to a old man who studies the stars, the townspeople think they are evil so they are attacked and taken away, and when they discover Spock’s pointed ears they think he is a devil. McCoy finds that the air is poisoned and that the sick and elderly are being affected, but he as well is arrested and branded a devil worshiping evildoer.  The young child is also captured as they think she is mindlessly following the evil ones, and Gorman, who is the star researcher, saves her from being tortured and causes the holy warrior guards to give chase tricking them to leave and making it easier for Gorman and the young child visit Kirk and Spock in their cell and give them back their broken equipment that they use to free themselves, but sadly they must leave McCoy behind as he is in another cell and informs them that the air is turning toxic and they must get the Enterprise to drop the anti toxin into the atmosphere before it’s too late. In the end Kirk saves McCoy, who is about to be drowned by the Holy Warriors that think he is a witch, as Spock is able to contact the Enterprise by making a primitive radio that alerts them to drop the antidote right on time. In the end Kirk, Spock and McCoy return to the Enterprise, and Gorman and the young girl know that science is the way to cure and create things to better mankind.

This issue’s mission lands Kirk and select crew on a planet that is much like the medieval era where superstition runs wild and people still think witches and devil are out to get them.  In reality, the ones they target just understand science and want to use it to better mankind in its quest to evolve and cure illness and understand the world around them. This issue reminds me a lot of the third Evil Dead film “Army Of Darkness” as the future seems to clash with the past and by the end it all mashes together for the better. Kirk, Spock and McCoy put themselves in danger in order to find out if the planet’s people are in trouble from toxic air thanks once more to the federation who goofed up and wants the Enterprise to be the clean up crew in secret to protect its reputation. The people of the planet are so into superstition that they are on a witch hunt and are clueless that the air around them is slowly killing them. Gorman and the little girl are great side characters as they are clearly the only ones smart enough to figure out Kirk and crew are their to help and even are the key to how Spock and Kirk free themselves from the jail. The story feels like a classic 1960’s episode of the TV show, and once more, Marvel showed that they could do science fiction right when based on a popular franchise. The cover on this issue is okay and while not really showcasing what the issue was about, is eye catching to Trekkies for sure. The interior art this time around is being done by Ed Hannigan and looks pretty good like your typical B-Title art from Marvel. Over all this issue was great and a fun read that captured the silliness and epic nature of Star Trek missions.  So what I am saying is this issue was good stuff.

Marvel Star Trek 18

Star Trek # 18  ***
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Marvel   #18 of 18

The Enterprise is being blocked by a giant ship planet that sends over probes that allows it to beam aboard both Kirk and Spock.  They meet a giant robot named Sustainer who informs them that he wishes them no harm and needs their help, but this help will have one returning to the Enterprise and will leave the other dead. Before they can get answers, Kirk and Spock find themselves on opposing pirate ships.  Kirk dies saving Spock’s life when a piece of the ship falls and crushes him. As Spock carries his dead friend and Captain, the Sustainer informs him that he can bring Kirk back to life.  This confuses the pair even more as they escape the sick bay and find they are now in some sort of mechanical maze, that this time leaves Spock dead and resurrected. Sustainer brings Kirk and Spock to the bridge of his planet ship and shows them the Enterprise on the screen and starts to use his ships power to heat up the Enterprise, slowly cooking the crew alive! The only way he will stop this massacre is if Kirk or Spock give their life for them and this time the death will be final, Spock uses the nerve pinch on Kirk and volunteers death for the lives of his fellow crew members, but Kirk awakes just in time and once more saves Spock from death’s grip. Sustainer is happy this has happened as he never wanted to kill and was only stealing the emotion of friendship and doing great things for others as his creators are in sleep chambers on this ship.  They are greedy and self centered, and by stealing these emotions from Spock and Kirk, he can now install those feelings into his creators making them a better race. In the end Sustainer sends Kirk and Spock back to the Enterprise, and all ends well as the galaxy is shaping up to be a better place for all alien races.

The final Marvel Comic mission has a message about loyalty, sacrifice and helping others in need and is told between Kirk and Spock who are being tested by a giant robot who in turn is trying to use emotions to teach his creators a better way to live their lives instead of being selfish. Kirk and Spock have respect for each other as fellow Starfleet members but also are close friends as they clearly would risk their own lives to save each other from danger and death. The rest of the crew of the Enterprises sadly are just pawns in this game of stealing emotions and self sacrifice as they are trapped in a tracking beam and later are almost cooked to death like sardines in a can. Sustainer is a giant robot that is loyal to his creators and yet knows that they are flawed and that their own selfish nature is what has lead to their almost complete extinction. His plan for help is to trick Kirk and Spock into doing tests that always leave one person dead.  Each time the death comes from a selfless act in order to help the other, as Sustainer is taking that emotion and thought process and pumping it into the sleep chambers of his creators in hope it will make them better beings. It’s strange that this story is how they decided to end the Star Trek Marvel Comic series with a moral meaning issue and not a battle with the Klingons or some other alien race, as I would have liked to have seen maybe a few more aliens from the TV show make an appearance during this 18 issue run. While Marvel only ran Star Trek for 18, far less than the 107 made for Star Wars, it still was a fun and high quality science fiction comic adventure that took classic characters and allowed them to battle Klingons, fight gnomes and even find a haunted house planet to keep their mission going and act as a way to keep fans happy as they waited for the next movie to come out in the series. The cover is okay and informs you that this was the final issue in the series and showcases Kirk and Spock in a mind meld.  The final issue art duty went to Joe Brozowski, and you could tell he gave it time and respect. Being a long time fan of Star Trek I will say that while I highly enjoyed this comic series, it does have flaws like odd character attitude changes and cheesy missions, but if you like fun with your Trek I would say make sure to give this series a read. Below is some art from this series and yes it’s all taken from when they fought the monsters as it combined two things I really love lots: Star Trek and monsters!

Marvel Star Trek Art 1Marvel Star Trek Art 2Marvel Star Trek Art 3

This month I covered things that I was a huge fan of in my youth and still am to this day including Horror Host show Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grampa, Sunday Funnies iconic character Dick Tracy and last but not least sci-fi mainstay TV and movie franchise Star Trek.  It was a blast going back to my past and re-visiting my past memories and joys that these media characters gave me and still do. Our next update will be our first in our countdown to Halloween and will take us out of the unknowns of space and into the deep blue ocean as we take a look at Jaws 2 and the Marvel Comic adaptation of the film.  So until then, make sure to take a few moments and give some thought to movies, TV shows, comics, music, books, video games, horror hosts and most importantly the people who have been impactful on your life and helped shape you into the person you are today. So read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, and I’ll see you on Amity Island for our next Jawsome update.

jaws_2_logo

Rotten Ink Calling Dick Tracy…You There Tracy?

Calling Dick Tracy, come in Tracy – we wanted to let you know that you’re the topic for this Rotten Ink update! Ever since I was a youngster, I loved to read Dick Tracy comic strips, comics as well as watch the movies based around his adventures, and I have been itching worse than Itchy to bring to you friends and readers this update, as Tracy is one of my favorite characters of all time. I can remember the first time I read a reprinted Sunday comic strip at my Grandma and Grandpa Salyers’ house during one of our way too few visits and being hooked on his crime fighting adventures. This flame was sparked more by the Warren Betty film, the action figures and the reprinted comics that started to spring up at the local comic shops that my brother used to buy from a small five and dime near our grandparents’ house back in the early 90’s. Updates like this are one of the main reasons I love having this blog as I get to share and relive many characters from my past that helped fuel my imagination and made me into the overly creative person I am today. So check your wrist radio and make sure you can read this loud and clear as we are about to travel to the mean streets alongside Dick Tracy and clean them up from all the scum that’s ruining them!

Dick Tracy panel 1

Let’s first take a brief look at the man who created Dick Tracy so that we can get in tune with this iconic character. Chester Gould was born on November 20, 1900 in Pawnee, Oklahoma and by all accounts had a pretty good childhood as his father was a minister. At a young age, Chester was a fan of comics and was hired early on to make strips for Chicago Evening American and over his time there made such strips as Fillum Fables, The Radio Catts and Why It’s A Windy City. In 1926 Chester married Edna Gauger, and they had a daughter Jean a year later. In 1931 Chester created a comic strip for the Detroit Mirror that was based on a New York detective that caught the cartoonist’s eye for being interesting, and later it would morph into a strip based on a fake detective that he called Dick Tracy. The comic strip became a mega hit, and he would spend the next 46 years of his life drawing it as fans eagerly awaited the next strip. But things didn’t stay positive as by the strips decline, many readers turned on it for being too supportive to the police and the fact he added sci-fi elements by having Tracy visit the moon and even had a crooked lawyer character who sent readers into a fury and had newspapers dropping the strip. But many did stick with it through the ups and downs, and all were entertained by this yellow trenchcoat-wearing cop and his odd rouges gallery. Chester Gould passed away on May 11, 1985 leaving behind a legacy of comic strips and one of the world’s most iconic fictional detectives Dick Tracy. Over his career Chester won many awards such as the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award in 1958 and 1977 as well as an Edgar Award in 1980 to name a select few.  For those wanting to learn a little more about Chester, his only child Jean wrote a book about her father called “Chester Gould: A Daughter’s Biography On The Creator Of Dick Tracy” that was published in 2007 that is worth checking out. So here is a big thanks to Chester for creating Dick Tracy as well as to all the fans who have kept the character alive after all these years.

Dick Tracy Comic Strip CharacterChester Gould 0Sunday Funnies Tracy

The character of Dick Tracy was so popular that the comic strip spawned not only film serials but also movies that hit theaters and entertained the masses. The serials started in 1937 with the first simply being called “Dick Tracy” and had actor Ralph Byrd step into the role.  He would go on to play the character in the rest of the serials that followed such as “Dick Tracy Returns”, “Dick Tracy’s G-Men” and “Dick Tracy vs. Crime, Inc” with each of them being very popular for movie goers. Starting in 1945, RKO Radio Pictures decided to make Dick Tracy movies with the first being once again just called “Dick Tracy” with actor Morgan Conway as Tracy. The next picture once more had Morgan as Tracy and was released in 1946 and was called “Dick Tracy vs. Cueball” with actor Dick Wessel playing Cueball. In 1947, the third film was released in the series and was called “Dick Tracy’s Dilemma” and had Ralph Byrd return to the role of Tracy and The Claw, the film’s main bad guy, being played by Jack Lambert. Later in 1947, the fourth and final film in the RKO series was made.  It was called “Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome” and had Ralph Byrd again as Tracy and horror icon Boris Karloff as Gruesome.  Growing up, sadly, I never saw the serials, but I do remember the the RKO films and have memories of watching them though I’m not sure what station I saw them on.  If I had to guess, I would say TBS, WGN or AMC. The movies as well as the serials both have been released on VHS and DVD, and those fans wanting to watch these classic films can do so thanks to companies like Alpha Video. I  also should note that many Horror Hosts have also hosted these Dick Tracy films over the ages. But while the 1940’s was a big time for Tracy, it was the 90’s that he ruled for kids like me…but I’ll save that for a little further in this update.

Dick Tracy Ralph ByrdDick Tracy Meets Gruesome PosterDick Tracy Cueball

Besides the big screen, Dick Tracy also made his way to television thanks to the UPA who in 1961 made a cartoon show called “The Dick Tracy Show” that followed Tracy’s patrol cops like detective Joe Jitsu – a super smart character who knows martial arts, the police bulldog Hemlock Holmes, the apple stealing Heap O’Calorie and the speedy Manuel Tijuana Guadalajara Tampico “Go-Go” Gomez Jr. Tracy was never the main focus of the episodes that would rotate between the above characters who would always foil the crimes of Mumbles, Flattop and Pruneface, among other classics from the Tracy rogues’ gallery. The episodes were about 5 minutes each, and the show ran for a total of 130 episodes before being cancelled in 1962. Dick Tracy was voiced by Everett Sloane, and classic Warner Brother voice actor Mel Blanc lent his voice to characters like Flattop. I can remember when I was a kid, my brother used to wake up really early on Saturday Mornings and would start his cartoon watching early with a big bowl of cereal.  He would always tell me about this classic Dick Tracy cartoon he was watching, and after a month or so of him telling me about the show and me not believing him, he woke me up early per my request as I was wanting to watch this cartoon based on my favorite comic strip detective…and would you know the show didn’t come on.  My brother was so mad as it made him look as if he was telling a fib about the show and it would not be until many years later till I would finally be able to watch the show with my own eyes. While now the cartoon is pretty much forgotten, it’s worth tracking down on DVD and watching for Dick Tracy fans.

Dick Tracy Animated 1Dick Tracy Animated DVDDick Tracy Animated 2

Here is something many of you might not know; back in 1967, a TV pilot for a Dick Tracy series was produced by William Dozier, the man responsible for the 1966 Batman series starring Adam West, and was shopped around to ABC and NBC with neither company picking it up. Actor Ray MacDonnell stepped into the role of Dick Tracy, and the villain for the episode was Mr. Memory played by Victor Buono. While he was no Ralph Byrd or even a Warren Beatty, the overacting MacDonnell would have been a silly good TV version of Tracy. The reason the series was not picked up was because Green Hornet was a flop and the ratings for Batman were starting to slip, and no company wanted to invest in a comic hero series at the time. I was lucky that back in the day my brother was able to get a grey market VHS tape of this unaired Dick Tracy pilot, and alongside friend Andy Copp, we all gave it a watch and laughed and thought it was a fun and silly program. One thing that has stuck with me is the show’s theme song, that proclaims this mighty line: “Dick Tracy…He’s a good cop.”  And while he is one heck of of a cop, the networks in 67 just didn’t think he was a rating winner waiting to happen.

Failed Live Action Dick Tracy TV Show 1Ray MacDonnell as Dick TracyFailed Live Action Dick Tracy TV Show 2

In the summer of 1990, Touchstone Pictures released a big budget action film based on Dick Tracy that had the kids of the world craving everything they could get based on this classic comic strip character. Dick Tracy was directed by Warren Beatty, who also played the role of Tracy, and had big stars like Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice, Dustin Hoffman as Mumbles, Paul Sorvino as Lips Manlis, Madonna as Breathless Mahoney and William Forsythe as Flattop, to name a very small few. The film had music done by Madonna with the score being done by Danny Elfman. The budget of the film was $47 million and at the US Box Office, it brought in a total of $103,738,726.00 making it a pretty good success for Touchstone. In 1990, Dick Tracy was the # 9 film of the year and beat out such films as Back To The Future Part III, Edward Scissorhands, The Godfather Part III, Misery, Goodfellas, Hard To Kill, Robocop II, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Rocky V, Ernest Goes To Jail and My Blue Heaven to name a small amount of hit and cult films. When I was about 10 years old, Dick Tracy hit theaters, and I was drawn into the commercials on TV promoting the film and begged my parents to take me to the theater to watch it.  They were not having it, and I had to wait to see it on VHS, renting it from the video store. But while I didn’t get to see the film, I was able to buy the toys, novels and read the comic books that were coming out and my brother was buying. I had Tracy fever and even wore several t-shirts that had Dick Tracy characters on them with my favorite being one that showcased Flattop. Upon finally seeing the film, I was a fan and can remember chatting about the bad guys of the film with friends and my brother and hoping and waiting for a sequel to be made. A sequel was just not to be as the rights to the characters in films became a nightmare of companies claiming to own it, but after years of fighting, Warren Beatty was proven to be the real owner of Dick Tracy’s film rights. Beatty himself keeps claiming that he has a sequel in mind and has hinted that Tracy will grace the silver screen once again in the future. Say what you will about the 1990 Dick Tracy film, but for me it was a must watch film alongside many other classic films from my childhood like The Goonies, Gremlins, Beastmaster and Legend to name a few. If you haven’t seen Dick Tracy, give it a watch, and if you have seen it, watch it again.  It’s a true classic comic to movie classic.

Dick Tracy WarrenDick Tracy 1990 PosterAl as Big Boy

Straight off the score for the 1989 Batman film, Danny Elfman was asked to do the score music for Dick Tracy and hammered out good quality music to accompany the film.  Was it as iconic as his score work for Batman, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure or Edward Scissorhands…well no, but it was still top notch stuff that I find myself playing from time to time on Alpha Rhymes on WYSO. Around that same time, pop music icon Madonna also released a CD called “I’m Breathless” that had music from the film she sang as Breathless Mahoney as well as songs inspired by the film. It’s a good CD from Madonna as my favorite song on that album has to be “Sooner Or Later” as it’s a well structured song and showcases a more bluesy sound from Madonna. This release was met with mixed reviews and was not one of her bigger hits. If you’re looking for the score or the music by Madonna you can find them on CD and Cassette, and they are worth checking out if you’re a fan. Below is the pictures of the CD’s as well as one of Tracy bad guy 88 Keys as he is the music man of this comic strip.

Danny Elfman Dick Tracy Score CD88 KeysMadonna Dick Tracy CD

In 1990, Bandai released a Dick Tracy video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that was a must buy or rent for many kids. We all quickly learned that the game was hard and really unforgiving in its challenge. Every kid I knew who owned a NES in Waynesville and my cousins Dino and Norman had this game in their collection and not a one of them ever beat it. I could not even crack and complete the first case as the snipers on the roof tops always took me out. The game has two modes: one is a top down car segment where you drive around town to gather the clues, and the second is side-scrolling beat em up action.  The game is truly impossible to finish unless you cheat. While the NES version of Dick Tracy is the most popular for old school gamers, many other Tracy titles were made for such systems as Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, Commodore 64 and DOS to name a few. So if you feel confident in your gaming skills and are up for a hard 8-Bit challenge, play some Dick Tracy for the NES and see how far you can get before snapping and breaking your system.

NES Dick Tracy Screen 1NES Dick Tracy in BoxNES Dick Tracy Screen 2

For the 2008 season, The Angry Video Game Nerd covered the Dick Tracy NES game, and just like I mentioned above, he was tortured in his youth by the game’s overly hard nature and the over powering gunshots from the roof snipers. But while watching him fail and play the video game is the funny part of his review, for me the highlight was when he talked about the Dick Tracy mania that was sweeping his school and how all his friends wanted to get all the Tracy stuff they could get their parents to buy them.  He even goes so far as to show old video of him on Halloween as a kid dressed up as Dick Tracy and getting a rock in his bag just like good old Charlie Brown. The youth of today have no clue how big of a deal the 1990 movie was to kids of my generation and how Dick Tracy was for a very short time as popular as other comic characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man.  I think this AVGN episode does a great job of briefly showing and sharing just how popular and loved it was. So if you’re a fan of AVGN, I am sure you have already seen this episode, and if you’re not and are not bothered by cussing and over the top humor, make sure to give it a watch.

AVGN Tracy 1AVGN Dick Tracy LogoAVGN Dick Tracy Cart

Dick Tracy has also had his fair share of merchandise for fans to collect, and besides the comic books, video games, soundtrack CD’s and home media releases of the films and shows, his yellow trench coat image as graced trading cards, tin toys, t-shirts, Halloween costumes, action figures, plush dolls, bubble bath products, novels, posters, hats, toy guns, and radios.  Pretty much anything you can name, he has graced it with his image in some way.  Growing up, I can remember seeing many of the old tin toys and books at the antique stores in downtown Waynesville and can even remember sometimes findings old Dick Tracy stuff at garage sales.  In both cases, the price tags were way too high for our mom to buy it for us. My favorite Dick Tracy merchandise I owned as a kid were the Playmate action figures.  I had Dick Tracy, Flattop and Itchy as well as the NES game and a paperback novel that I loved (I’ll get to that next). So fans and collectors, what Dick Tracy stuff did you own and love, in your collection now or even better that you had as a kid?

Sierra Exif JPEGDick Tracy SoakiePlaymates Dick Tracy Toys

My favorite Dick Tracy paperback novel when I was a younger lad was called “Dick Tracy Meets Angeltop: Flattop’s Little Girl” and was released in 1979.  It was done by Max Allan Collins who took over for Chester years back, keeping the Dick Tracy comic legacy alive. I found the book at a place called Half Priced Books and can remember reading it from front to back in one sitting while hanging out in my room and enjoying every crime filled page. I used to love the comic book paperback books that used to be made and to this day own many of the ones from Marvel and DC that I have had since I was a kid, but like a fool I did not keep this one. What stuck out to me was the fact that this was a story that pitted Tracy against the daughter of my favorite Tracy rogue who was long dead in the comic strip by the time this was released. Plus Angeltop, just like her father, is a gun firing fiend who clearly wanted to end Tracy’s life and avenge her father, building on his crime legacy. If you want a good read that pits Tracy against a mean spirited gun firing lady, check this one out as it’s worth the read for sure.

Angeltop panel 1Angeltop paperbackAngeltop

My favorite bad guy from the Dick Tracy Universe has to be Flattop Jones Sr., a strange looking mobster who had a flat head and a take no prisoners attitude. Flattop’s first comic strip appearance was on December 21, 1943 and little background is given on the character besides that he was a freelance hitman from Oklahoma and he was involved with the Kansas City Massacre, a real life incident that took place in 1933 that left four officers of the law dead. It’s believed that Chester Gould based the character off the real life mobster Pretty Boy Floyd who had a similar background and was involved in the Kansas City Massacre. In his first appearance, Flattop is coming off a five person killing spree and is hired to kill Dick Tracy for $5000, but of course comes up short. During his appearance in the comic strip, he has been shot and almost killed, attacks Vitamin Flintheart, been stuck in a chimney and stung by bees, knew Tracy during World War II and finally meet his end by drowning after being caught in the struts of a replica boat. Flattop was one of the biggest villains in the comic strip, and he spawned many relative characters to try and capture the original character’s magic with readers like his wife Stilleta Jones and his children Flattop Jr. and Angeltop Jones. He had a drunk father named Poptop as well as brothers Blowtop and Sharptop also had a grandchild named Hi-Top among others. The character has appeared in other Tracy media like a radio show, TV series and cartoon as well as the 1990 movie and many toys and video games. Growing up, one of my favorite t-shirts was a Flattop Jones Sr. one, and I can remember wearing it with pride even after many of the kids on the playground gave me guff for wearing a bad guy on my shirt, but as years passed they learned to expect my love for comic, movie and horror villians. To this day Flattop is one of my favorite comic book bad guys and would still easy make it into my Top 10 of all time!

Flattop From Comic StripFlattop from 1990 MovieFlattop from Animated series

Actor William Forsythe played Flattop in the 1990 film, and his portrayal is fantastic and really hammered home my love for the character as he brought the take no bull crap attitude and blood lust to kill some suckers with his trusty tommy gun. Forsythe is a fantastic actor and has appeared in such films as Cloak & Dagger, Once Upon A Time In America, Raising Arizona, Out For Justice, Stone Cold, G-Men From Hell, The Devil’s Rejects, Halloween (2007) and Dear Mr. Gacy to name a very select few and show how amazing an actor he is.  Over the years and the many conventions I have done with the likes of Andy Copp, Independent B Movie and Baron Von Porkchop I have seen William Forsythe many times and spoke to him from time to time as he has always been super approachable and friendly to his fans, but it was not until 2014 during a Horrorhound Weekend that alongside my friends Horror Host Icon Fritz The Nite Owl and Mike McGraner that I finally got to tell him just how impactful his portrayal of Flattop was to me as a kid.  He seemed very happy to hear it as I am sure at these cons most people talk to him about Devils Rejects. So I doubt if he ever reads this but again, thanks Mr. Forsythe for rocking in the role as Flattop and thanks for just being you and being very cool and chill with your fans. Below is a picture of Fritz, Mike and I with William Forsythe.

Frtitz, Mike and Me with William

Do you readers remember when Dick Tracy was out in 1990, and McDonalds had a cool contest going on that would let you get a scratch off ticket that would have you win prizes, free food and money if you could match up mug shot of Tracy villains to a number? My parents were never big McDonalds eaters, and when we would go to the restaurant, it would be because my brother and I would beg them to take us as we wanted something in the Happy Meal or thought we could win a contest like this. I can remember getting a few of these scratch off tickets and always revealing a character called Measles Enog who was a dope smuggler who had red spots on his face and was nothing but a two bit crook! I never won any major prizes on this game, but I did win a small fry. Do you readers and friend remember playing this game at your local McDonalds?

Dick Tracy McDonalds Game

Before we get into the review section of this update, I want to take a moment to give you all a personal opinion of mine that I truly believe. In comic books, a hero is only as good as the villains he faces and some of the most iconic bad guys attached to heroes all are just as known and important to the comic series as the hero is and bring their own twisted charms to fans. I mean let’s be honest, two of the biggest names in comic book history that have some of the best bad guys are Batman and Spider-Man.  What would Batman be without the likes of The Joker, Two Face, Catwoman, The Riddler, Killer Croc, Bane, Scarecrow and so many others; just like what would Spider-Man be without Doctor Octopus, The Lizard, Venom, Green Goblin, Kraven The Hunter, Scorpion and a mountain of others. For me, Dick Tracy also fits this list as he has battled some amazing and colorful characters over his long comic career like The Brow, Flattop, Big Boy, Itchy, Mumbles, Steve The Tramp, B-B Eyes, The Mole, The Rodent, Pruneface and so many other mean and original bad guy characters all with their own strange quirks and their own plots to kill Dick Tracy. For me, the top five comic/comic strip characters that have the best villains would be: Spider-Man, Batman, Dick Tracy, Captain America and X-Men..but I should also note that Superman and Incredible Hulk also have amazing bad guys and would make it into the top 10 for sure. So all I am saying is show the baddies the same respect you show your comic heroes because without them how boring would your comics be?

PrunefaceBrowItchy

Well we are here at the police station and Dick Tracy alongside his friends Sam Catchem and Pat Patton are in the other room getting some information from Little Face so I think that we should start getting to the review section of this update. I am not going to lie, when selecting what to blog about this month I decided that I was going to pick topics that meant something to me growing up like Super Scary Saturday, and I knew that Dick Tracy had to be a part of this month’s theme as I have been a long time fan and respect the characters and creators that made this Sunday Funnies strip into something that put a smile on my face for over 30 years. I want to thank Mavericks Cards and Comics and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock. I want to also re-thank my brother Bryan for buying this series called “The Original Dick Tracy” when we were kids and letting me read his copies when he was done with them. I need to also remind you all that I grade these issues on a 1-4 star scale and base it on these factors: how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So strap on your badge and put on your favorite hat and coat, as we dive into the crime world of Dick Tracy!

Original Tracy 1

The Original Dick Tracy # 1 ***
Released in 1990    Cover Price $1.95    Gladstone Comics    # 1 of 5

Dick Tracy VS Mrs. Pruneface” It’s a dark and stormy night as Dick Tracy and Pat Patton are filing old finger prints and decide to head home.  While Pat leaves first and gets a cab, Tracy decides to walk it in the rain and is attacked and knocked out by a whip swinging amazon of a woman who is Mrs. Pruneface, the widow of a mobster who Tracy has killed.  She takes the detective to a hideout where she and her servant Emil chain Tracy to the wall and keep him captive. Junior and the Police are worried when Tracy does not show up for work the next day, and when his pen is found in the ally, they know something wicked has happened to their friend and the city’s top detective. Meanwhile, Tracy is being mentally abused by Mrs. Pruneface who will not tell him who she is and why she has a plan to seal him up behind a brick wall after he has been killed thanks to a spike that has been driven through a board and placed on two 100 pound blocks of ice that will stab him in the heart thanks to the oven that will be left on as well as the old icebox that is left on top of the board to add weight. Mrs. Pruneface finally tells Tracy who she is and sets the trap that will end his life.  As she and Emil go to a tavern to wait for the morning news to report of Tracy’s death, the Detective uses his own quick wit to survive the death trap and is rescued by his fellow officers. Now wanted for attempted murder, Mrs. Pruneface uses stage makeup and changes her looks and gets a job at a hotel as a cook as Emil is ordered to stay at their new hotel room hideout, but being a goof Emil accidentally drops one of Mrs. Pruneface’s whips out the window and a cop picks it up and gives it to his son who is friends with Junior who informs Tracy and the rest of the cops were it was found.  Mrs. Pruneface is furious about Emil getting into her weapon bag and beats her one time servant to death with a lamp and goes about her new life as a cook. When Tracy and the cops find the body of Emil, she leaves the hotel and starts cooking for the mayor where she murders one of his daughters’ friends who accidentally finds out who she really is, and now with Tracy and the cops on her tail she holds the mayor’s two daughters hostage with a pot of boiling soup threatening to pour it on them if they don’t keep quiet quite as they police look around the house trying to find her. In the end, the daughters turn on a fan in front of flour that blinds Mrs. Pruneface who slips on the soup she drops and cracks her head open on the oven.  The daughters run for help, and Tracy and the others rush to the kitchen when they hear two gun shots and find that the mayor’s wife as put two bullets into Mrs. Pruneface’s head in self defense. And so ends the case of Mrs. Pruneface, who is now dead just like her husband.

This Dick Tracy adventure is as amazing and silly as I remember it to be when I first read this comic in my youth thanks to my brother who would buy every issue of this series. The plot is very simple and has Mrs. Pruneface trying to murder Dick Tracy to avenge her husband who was killed.  She fails and tries to go into hiding but is busted in the end due to her own evil and mean spirited nature. Dick Tracy goes from being a tortured prisoner who is almost murdered to a detective on the heels of those who almost did him in. The best part about Tracy in this issue is that he is so cheesy and yet so cool that he shows why he is a true icon of Sunday Funnies. Mrs. Pruneface is such a cruel and complete and interesting character as she was once a vaudeville performer who is the widow of crime boss Pruneface, is a master of make-up and stage effects, can cook like a professional chef and on top of it her face is messed up because she was fleeing her country during the war in a tank and took a face full of gasoline and fire.  Also I should throw into the mix that she is a master with a whip and is as strong as a body builder…this woman is badass! She is also very cold blooded and does not mind killing those who get in her way as she beats her own servant to death with a metal lamp and then drowns a young man in the pool both for different reasons and with zero remorse. It’s crazy that she meets her end by the hands of the Mayor’s wife who up to that point was never seen and was supposed to have been confined to a wheelchair, but somehow is able to walk again and place two bullets perfectly into the head of Mrs. Pruneface who was across the room…maybe it’s the Mayor’s wife that is the true bad ass as in the matter of minutes she is a master marksman and decides that she will not be handicapped no more. One other odd (and yet so fitting for the time) thing they keep doing in this issue is because Mrs. Pruneface has a burnt and ugly face they keep referring to her as not human because of her looks.  Tracy is not only a great detective but he is also cruel like a school yard bully. Over all this is a great way to start off “The Original Dick Tracy” comic series from Gladstone, and the cover is very eye catching and has Tracy walking down the street with Mrs. Pruneface whip in hand about to strike as the rain pours down. The art inside is done by Chester Gould himself and is what Tracy fans would want. I can’t wait to see if issue two holds up as well as issue one did, and while the writing of this issue might be dated and not super well done, it fits for the time when Dick Tracy was a must read when your Sunday paper was delivered.

Original Tracy 2

The Original Dick Tracy # 2  ***
Released in 1990    Cover Price $1.95    Gladstone Comics    # 2 of 5

Dick Tracy And The Evil Influence” In the cold of night, a car and a dead body are dumped in the pier by Influence and his henchman who have decided to stick around town.  With the power of persuasion, Influence uses his creepy power on Vitamin Flintheart to use his little diner as a hangout, and they also decide that they are going to take over Flintheart’s life as Influence makes him close his diner for good, make a fool of himself for his amusement and even break off every friendship he has ever had.  Influence also makes him remember that he owes them tons of money and that he flaked on paying his gambling debit to them. The old diner Flintheart owned is burnt to the ground, and with his friends chased away, the old man is warped into a person with no will power who is now 100% under the control of Influence who wants to make Flintheart into a money maker, killer and slave for his needs to gain money and power. Dick Tracy and Pat Patton become worried about their friend when they find his place burnt down and him missing, and thanks to some clues and his reputation, they figure out that Influence must be involved not only in this mystery but also the murder of the man pulled out of the pier. Influence has used his control over Flintheart to introduce him to a rich widowed stage actress who is now also under his control and is slowly emptying her bank account and giving it to him, all the while Influence has also taken over her mansion and has big plans to make himself rich. During this crime Influence comes in contact with Pat Patton, and after knocking him out with brass knuckles, he tries to burn the officer alive in the city dump, but thanks to the two way wrist radio Dick Tracy is able to save his friend and find a clue of a ripped piece of newspaper that is stuck to his friend’s jacket that has the address of the actress who is being controlled. Before Tracy and the cops can get to the mansion, Influence kills the actress and sets a trap for Tracy that leaves him in the hospital and the evil doers escaping to a winter resort. They allow Flintheart to go and wipe his mind and dispose of the hat and coat of Tracy they stole that is found by a young woman who returns it to the injured detective. Dick Tracy follows the lead of where his coat and hat were found and stumbles onto the hideout location at the resort and thanks to a pair of contact lenses and a chain he is able to beat Influence down and crack the glass contacts that give him his hypnotic powers.

This second issue is as good as I remember, and this time has Tracy going up against a hood who can use tricks to make people do what he wants, but he makes one mistake when he decides to kill and loot in Tracy’s part of town. Dick Tracy uses the clues he can find and the information on a known criminal to crack the case wide open and to figure out the secret of how one low life man can use the power of mentally controlling people thanks to contacts. Tracy, who is the main hero in this issue, still gets beat up as he is tricked, rolled into carpet and hit in the head with a metal pipe then gets his trademark yellow hat and coat stolen…so while Tracy does end up saving the day, he does take some damage. Pat Patton is also a good cop and is a loyal friend to Tracy, and while on the case he almost dies when he is bashed in the face with brass knuckles and then set on fire! Vitemin Flintheart, the aging actor turned hamburger diner owner, is used and abused in this issue as his old debts are called upon to be paid and he loses his own will, his business and the life of his old stage friend in the process. I never liked Flintheart as a character as I always found him to be a pompous ass so seeing him have to sleep on a brick and ordered around did kind of make me happy. Influence is a man driven by greed as he will do whatever it takes to get money in his hand and that even means murder as he kills three people and attempts the life of at least one other during his crime spree in this issue. I like the fact that he is a con man who uses tricks of contact lenses to bend the minds and will of people he has targeted for his scheme. Just like the first issue, this one has some blood, and it’s shocking that a comic strip used the red stuff to get across the act of violence. The cover is well done and reminds me of an old noir/detective film poster, and once more the art is done by the man Gould himself. Over all this second issue packs the same amount of punch now as it did back in my youth, and I can’t wait to read the third issue and see how well it holds up to this long time comic reader.

Original Tracy 3

The Original Dick Tracy # 3  ***
Released in 1991    Cover Price $2.00    Gladstone Comics    # 3 of 5

Dick Tracy Exterminates The Extortioner” Radio DJ Christmas Early and her date are wrapping up a evening late at night when he is mugged and killed.  Dick Tracy comes upon the crime at first thinking it was Christmas but soon puts it together that someone else has murdered the man without the young woman knowing as someone knocked him down and out and the spinning door Christmas was pushing on would crush the man’s throat and killing him. Gargles is a man who has a love for fine cigars and gargling mouth wash, and he has a get rich quick scheme that has him strong arming and forcing store owners to buy phony mouthwash he makes.  He is the one who killed Christmas’s date as he was a store owner that was going to alert the cops to his game of fraud. Gargles shakes down many store owners and gets more and more money for his bootleg mouthwash, and while in his hideout he even starts to fall for Christmas Early as he likes the sound of her voice.  Gargles also makes a mistake when he drops a cigar band with his initials into a jar of his foul mouthwash that Dick Tracy finds at one of the stores he ripped off. With the help of Christmas Tracy links the cigar band to a fan letter Gargles sent to her and finds the makers of the custom cigars and Gargles’ the address.  Tracy and Pat kill his two helpers as Gargles uses a hidden tiny room in his flowerbox to avoid being captured as he has been tricked into thinking Christmas wants to go on a dinner date with him when really she is setting him up to be captured, but while in his hiding spot he over hears Tracy sharing the date details with fellow officers and Gargles is able to alert some more underlings who are able to trick the cops and remove the flower box away from the apartment and saving Gargles from being captured, and this crook is not happy with his one time radio crush. Gargles finds a room to rent with Themesong and her mom, two friends of Dick Tracy who are unaware of his evil ways as he is unaware of their friendship with his pursuer.  This makes for a time bomb ready to go off at any minute. It all comes to a head when Dick Tracy finds out that Gargles is staying with his friends after he murders Themesong’s Mom and a shop owner and hides in a tool box on a repair truck that is then hit by a car crushing the box and hurting the fugitive bad. Once at the repair shop Gargles is finally able to free himself from the mangled tool box and kills one of the workers but has been tracked by Tracy who uses bullet proof glass to shake Gargles who trips and falls out of a window and is killed by chunks of glass that impale his body. In the end, Christmas is cleared of all charges and starts a friendship up with Themesong who is now an orphan, and Dick Tracy is once more the town’s hero.

Who in the world thought of the idea to have a major plot point of a comic being a character named Gargles who is addicted to using mouthwash extorting money from shop owners by selling them bootleg mouthwash….yes, you read that right bootleg mouthwash….Chester Gould is the man who came up with this amazing plot, and I loved every moment of it. While the idea of bootleg mouthwash is something I am sure many of you readers are chuckling about, it’s clear as day this was really a way to talk about prohibition without pissing off real mobsters as well as government agents who were battling the bootleg alcohol runners and makers. In this issue, Dick Tracy is super smart in some ways and in other makes some really bone headed mistakes. For the good, he figures out really fast that Christmas Early could not have killed her date as he was attacked from behind, but then a little later on he makes the mistake of blurting out a set up in place by Christmas when the scene was not secured poperly alerting the target to the plan. Speaking of Christmas Early she is pretty smart and uses her radio show to help law enforcement in tracking down and stopping Gargles on his path of bootlegging and killing. Gargles is a strange characters who is a germaphobe, has an addiction to using mouthwash multiple times a day and also loves to smoke cigars who gets him money by strong arming shop owners into buying hundreds of gallons of his fake nasty germ infested mouthwash. He also is not afraid to kill if someone tries to rat him and his racket out to the cops, is he as major of a threat as Mrs. Prunface or Influence? Not at all he is more small time but he does have is own henchmen who do as he requests and are loyal enough to die for him. But in the end he dies by being impalied by shards of glass and his crime spree comes to a bloody end. The one character I can’t stand is the young Themesong who is a snarky loudmouth little girl who is rude and is annoying, and I just don’t like her at all. The cover on this issue is pretty cool, and once more the art is done by the legend Chester Gould and is fantastic and is the look we all love for Dick Tracy. This is another great issue that captures the magic of the golden age of classic funnies and brings it to a new generation to enjoy! I can’t wait to relive the next issue, so let’s get to it shall we?

Original Tracy 4

The Original Dick Tracy # 4  **1/2
Released in 1991    Cover Price $2.00    Gladstone Comics    # 4 of 5

Dick Tracy Confronts Itchy Oliver” the goofy B.O. Plenty has became rich by taking Breathless Mahoney’s money and is now the target of Itchy who wants to use Breathless’s mother Elia as bait to lure the millionaire into a room so he and his goons can rob him! Once Elia lures B.O to Itchy’s hideout they torture him and get the location of his money thats hidden in his hotel room, but unknown to Itchy is that Dick Tracy and Pat Patton are waiting to chat with B.O and a shoot out happens that leaves Elia dead, Tracy nicked by a bullet and Itchy escaping with the money! To get ride of B.O Itchy and his goons tie him to a board and let him float away in the sewer as Tracy and the cops rush to Itchy’s hideout that was given to them by Elia’s dying breath. As Tracy, Patton and the Cops close in Itchy kills one of his henchmen and leaves the other behind so that he can steal all the money and while escaping hurts Patton and escapes via a car in a wedding service. But things don’t go well for Itchy when the wedding party figures out he is a mobster and try to hold him at bay until they can call the cops, but this leaves one man dead and Itchy stealing a car and on the run again. But lucky for the cops Junior and Tess where at the scene and were able to call Tracy and are following Itchy in a car so that he can not fully get away. A car chase leaves Itchy wrecking and faking his death only in turn to knock out Junior and kidnap Tess who he forces to steal Tracy’s car! After some quick thinking Tess wrecks the stolen car and traps herself and Itchy in it, but once more Itchy escapes and this time steals a police car but this time Dick Tracy sneaks into the trunk, and this causes Itchy to drive to a house owned by Kitty the widow of B-B Eyes a mobster that Tracy killed 5 years past and the pair of criminals keep Tracy hostage and start a plan to starve him to death! But thanks to some great detective work from Junior, Dick Tracy is able to get free and kill Itchy and arrest Kitty before they can truly do him in.

This issue is good but I must also say that much of it is wasted on car chases and grand theft auto as Itchy steals so many cars and goes on the run that you will think your watching a dated Dukes Of Hazzard episode during a long drawn out chase scene. The plot has Itchy stealing some money from B.O Plenty and going on the run to get away from Dick Tracy who is hot on his trail. Dick Tracy in this issue seems to always be three steps behind Itchy, and for the most part seems to be off his detective game as he is not only always behind on catching Itchy but also is captured and almost killed by the mobster and if not for Junior he would have been dead! Junior steps up his game and tries his best to not only beat up Itchy but also figures out the mobsters hideout and has the guts to go into it and help Tracy escape. This issue leaves B.O Plenty a hill billy with money in the sewer and makes your the reader wonder is he dead? Great seeing Tess Trueheart as she is a great character and is as brave and noble as any officer of the law in this series. Pat Patton is around doing his crime busting thing and even after being injured still does his job and tries to track down and capture Itchy and his goons. Itchy Oliver is all about the money and not only kills innocent people but also kills his own partners in order to keep it all, this mobster is just not greedy but also a cold blooded killer who meets his end at the end of a gun when he just cant let himself get captured. I love the fact that Itchy is called that cause he can not stop scratching and that quirk is what makes him stand out as well as gives him his nickname. Kitty the widow of B-B Eyes is also very mean and is the one who comes up with the fact that they will starve Tracy to death and will only give him water twice a day that sticks to a fork and his meals twice a day is a tiny bit of a turnip, she is cold blooded and in the end will go to jail. While this issue has the biggest name in Tracy’s rouges gallery this far as the main villain, it story and delivery is just kind of weak and not as charming as the issues that came before it. This also really does mark the death of Itchy who is shot in the chest and throat by Tracy, very brutal way to die. The cover on this issue is just ok and while eye catching for Tracy fans would not draw in new readers.  The art inside is fantastic and done once more by the master of Sunday Funnies Chester Gould. While this is not the best in the Gladstone Comic reprint series, it still was a fun and solid read and enjoyable till the very end.

Original Tracy 5

The Original Dick Tracy # 5  ***
Released in 1991    Cover Price $2.00    Gladstone Comics    # 5 of 5

Dick Tracy Rubs Shoulders” while walking down the road Dick Tracy is stopped by a little girl named Themesong who for spare change will sing you your favorite song, this is a set up as a two bit crook named Roach who is also the young girls father steals Dick Tracy’s wallet…or so he thinks as Tracy has been on to them and after roughing up Roach he arrests him and takes Themesong in as well. The crook Shoulders pays for Roach’s bail and beats him with a belt to teach him a lesson as Pat and Tracy follow Themesong home to see what clues they can find out of who is the man in charge of this street pick pocket crimes. Tracy follows Themesong home and tries to speak to her sick mother but it goes no where as Themesong makes it impossible for the two adults to talk. Shoulders is worried about the cops being onto him sho he sends his woman Honey Doll to fake act like she has been robbed to see if she can get any info from the cops on leads and their next move against street crime. Tracy is onto Honey Doll and dont play her game of trying to get information, meanwhile Themesong goes to Shoulders apartment to warn her father and his crooked friends of the cops looking for them and this send Shoulders into a rage that leaves Themesong being knocked out via a lamp thrown in her face and Rouch being shot twice and dying from his wounds. While Shoulders and Honey go on the run Tracy is called to Themesong’s family apartment were the body of Roach now lies. Tracy along with his wrist radio trick Themesong via her radio to tell the police who shot her father dead, but just as she is about to Shoulders knocks out Tracy and shoots Themesong twice in the gut and decides to flee the area leaving behind Honey Doll who is heart broken and in turn tells the cops what plane Shoulders is leaving on! But the crook Shoulders is to smart for theme and decides to go to a small airfield were he steals a plane and during take off crashes it into a gas tank blowing himself up! While at the hospital Themesong is doing better and recovering from her gunshot wounds. While all this craziness is happing B.O. Plenty is getting married to Gravel Gertie and Breathless Mahoney is mad in jail as she was apart of the same crime as B.O who has yet to be sent to trail and sentenced! The anger and bitterness forces Breathless to fall ill and die, while B.O is finally placed in jail only to be set free when the only witness to the crime Breathless passed away making it a happy ending for the new Bride and Groom.

This last issue in this “Original Dick Tracy” comic reprint line has Dick Tracy busting a pickpocket gang and as well attending the marriage of a friend who could be sent to jail on his own wedding day! Tracy is taking no prisoners and wants to make the streets safe for the citizens as he is onto who the key players of this petty street crimes are and even in the process decides to try and change a young girls life around who is involved in this crime ring thanks to her no good father. Tracy is a good cop and a great person as he also shows he cares about his friends as he tries to help B.O Plenty not to go to jail for the rest of his life. Themesong that annoying young girl is showcased lots in this issue as its her origin story and this time around she is a brat who mouths off to the cops screams how she wants a “Mouthpiece” to talk to them and is shot twice and bounces back faster than Superman. I really dislike this character as I find her annoying and just so dang unnecessary to showcase as much as they do. When she is shot I found myself cheering for Shoulders and was hoping that this would have been the characters end, even though I new that it was not. Roach and Honey Doll are two great sidekick characters who put their trust into Shoulders who in the end ends up betraying them both and leaves Roach dead and Honey Doll a woman scorned and left in his dust. Shoulders is a mean spirited man who only clearly cares about money as he kills, beats up a child and smack a woman around in order to get what he wants, his downside is his own ego as he thinks he can fly a plane and does to right into a gas tank blowing himself up and ending his crime spree once and for all…well until later in the comic strip and not shown in this issue when its shown Shoulders lept out of the plane and faked his death. Poor Breathless Mahoney meets her end in jail from sickness and while near death she is very upset on how B.O is being treated and not spending jail time like she is for the same crime, but right before death she forgives him. B.O Plenty and Gravel Gertie are in love and are two white trash lovers who find happiness with each other and while annoying they do make a great pair and it’s cool to see B.O get out of spending any real jail time when the states main witness Breathless passes away. This final issue in this volume of the series is really cool and I enjoyed Tracy’s cat and mouse hunt for Shoulders with the only downside of this issue being is the whole last part is just spent on the marriage of B.O and Gravel and while fun and silly I also felt it killed the pace of the crime story that the beginning built up. The cover is eye catching for Tracy fans and the inside art while slightly sloppy is still Chester Gould gold! Over all a great comic series that brought back great memories of car rides to Grandma’s house and visiting old small town stores and looking back when Dick Tracy claimed the imaginations of the youth. Below is some pics from this series and shows you just how cool and old school this comic strip truly is….I love it!

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It’s a real bummer that Gladstone comics “The Original Dick Tracy” only lasted 5 issues as I would have loved to have read more adventures in this modern comic format featuring other top villains like The Brow and Pruneface, but sadly they canceled the series and later in 1990 the did a second series of The Original Dick Tracy that were bigger sized issues with card stock covers making them a little less charming for this reader. But it was great going back and reading these comic issues as I have not since 1990 when my brother was buying them from the local drug stores and newsstands.  This just reignited my respect and enjoyment for classic Tracy adventures. Our next update will be another topic that meant something to me growing up and will take us off the mean streets ruled by gangsters and into space where we will have to look out for Klingons as we take a look at the original Star Trek series and the Marvel Comics based off it. So I hope you’re ready to leave dry-dock and go on one wild ride with Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise! So until next time, read a comic or three, check out the local papers Sunday Funnies and as always support your local Horror Host, and see you in space next time around.

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Horror Host Icon: Grampa Munster

The USA Network ruled the Horror Host market on cable TV in the 80s and 90s with shows like Commander USA Groovie Movies, USA Up All Night and USA Saturday Nightmares, but cable networks TBS and TNT (both owned by Ted Turner) were not going to allow them to dominate that market unopposed when they started to air Super Scary Saturday on TBS and Monstervision on TNT, not to mention Dinner And A Movie that also aired on TBS. For this Horror Host Icon update, we are going to take a look at Grampa Munster, who hosted Super Scary Saturday and was the rival of Commander USA for a short while. Super Scary Saturday aired at noon on Saturday’s and was my source for seeing many of the Godzilla films for the first time as well as films like Willard, Ben and many of the Planet Of The Apes films that were made from the live action TV show.  This was another Horror Host show that I was glued to and always wanted to see what film he was showing by checking the local TV listings in the Sunday paper. So Beware and Be Scared as I am proud to bring to you an update I have been biting, I mean waiting, to do for years as I proudly present Horror Host Icon: Grampa!

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In 1987 Ted Turner and his TBS Superstation decided to try their hand at Horror Hosting on Saturday afternoons at 12:05 to capture the attention of all the monster kids of the 80’s who were watching cartoons and needed a fix of horror and comedy and so Super Scary Saturday was born. Hosted by Grampa from his lab and surrounded by the TBS movie vault, this vampire would select a film, and along with his pals Slim the Skeleton and Igor the Bat, they would host the day’s movies. Sometimes on his show he would have guests appear to weigh in on the day’s movie and to add a little more fun and silliness to the show. Grampa would always seem to be so hyped that the viewers were joining him for the day’s movie and would howl with laughter and spew cheesy puns and would end the episodes with his catchphrase “Be There Or Beware.”  For me that was something I always looked forward to hearing him say. One thing the show always did was imply that Grampa was Grandpa Munster, but they never said it outright.  On one episode, they even had his Grandson appear, played by Butch Patrick who played Eddie Munster on The Munsters! The opening credits and theme for Super Scary Saturday are still something I remember to this day as the song had a scary, then upbeat tempo over credits of movie monsters popping up and making us viewers play the What Movie Is That From game and also would spark the “Oh Look It’s…” excitement. Grampa was one of those Horror Hosts, like Commander USA, Dr. Creep and Joe Bob Briggs, that made me look forward to watching TV, and like them, he always made me feel like he was not just a host on TV but also a long time friend who enjoyed sharing cheesy movies with me. Super Scary Saturday was not only the first way I saw Godzilla films but also many of the Hammer Horror films and such cult classics as Williard and the 1972 made for TV film Gargoyles. But like all good things in life, TBS cancelled Super Scary Saturday in 1989 and ended Grampa entertaining me on Saturday mornings. I should also note that Super Scary Saturday was the only Horror Host show from my youth on broadcast cable TV that would many times show reruns as well as would re-use segments for different movies, but say what you will about it, this show was very important to me in my younger days and still holds a very special place in my heart. So with that I want to say thank you Grampa and all the cast and crew that made this show possible, and thank you Ted Turner for making original Horror Hosting programs for all us Monster Kids of the 80’s.

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One of my favorite episodes and one that stuck with me all these years is when Grampa hosted King Kong vs. Godzilla as not only do I love this terrible cheesy monster battle film but also because the skits for the episode were so fun that they are burned into my brain. This was also the episode that I can remember airing a few times and was also one that I recorded on an old Beta tape and watched it all the time. One of the major reasons I enjoyed this episode so much was also because it had guest NWA Pro Wrestlers Michael “P.S.” Hayes and Jim Cornette who acted as King Kong and Godzilla’s guest managers. The episode also treated the film like it was a build up to a big wrestling match and Grampa being all hyped up made me all hyped too! To this day it remains one of my favorite episodes and was a must have for me when I started to collect Horror Host shows. Below are some stills from that episode.

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Al Lewis was born Albert Meister on April 30, 1923 in New York, New York, and for years his true past was a mystery as he told many stories and many of them have no records of being fact.  Lewis has claimed to have been born in 1910 and even has said to have a Ph.D in child psychology from Columbia University which the University claims to have no record of.  Al found that his true calling was in acting and entertainment as he worked in many burlesque and vaudeville theaters as well did a few shows for Broadway like “Night Circus”, “One More River” and “Do Re Mi” in the late 50’s and early 60’s. He made the move to TV and took roles in shows like “Decoy”, “Route 66” and “Naked City”, but his first major role came in 1961 with “Car 54, Where Are You?” where he played Officer Leo Schnauser but his most beloved role came in 1964 when he played Grandpa Munster in the hit CBS show The Munsters. He would go on to have a guest role on “Lost In Space” in 1967 and then made the move to movies and throughout the 60’s and early 70’s starred in such films as “Pretty Boy Floyd” and “They Might Be Giants,” not to mention he would reprise the role of Grandpa Munster in two movies “Munster, Go Home!” from 1966 and “The Munsters Revenge,” the 1981 made for TV film. One cool yet uncredited role he played was in 1974 when he played a hotel lobby guard in the film “Death Wish” starring Charles Bronson. Throughout the 80’s, he did many TV and film projects that included “Super Scary Saturday” in 1987 and the 1988 film “Married To The Mob”. Al Lewis also starred in a few horror films like “Fright House” from 1989, the kid friendly 1992 film “My Grandpa Is A Vampire” and his final film the 2002 flick called “Night Terror”. Besides acting, Al Lewis has also worked as a game barker at Coney Island, was in a video game for the Atari 7800 called “Midnight Mutants”, opened up not only a restaurant called Grampa’s Bella Gente but also a comedy club he called Grandpa’s On New Drop Plaza, both in New York. He also did some stand up comedy and was a favorite guest of radio shock jock Howard Stern. Al also ran for governor of New York in 1998 as a Green Party candidate, but sadly did not win….he did however have his own radio show on WBAI that was a political themed show. Al was married twice and had three sons, but sadly later in life he fell on poor health and had to have his right leg from the knee down amputated as well as his toes on his left foot due to complications from heart issues, and on February 3, 2006, he passed away of natural causes. Al Lewis and his legacy of entertainment will live on through his body of work, and I will always remember the way he, with many of his roles, made my young life a very fun time!

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While Grampa was the main host of Super Scary Saturday, he had four sidekicks that made several appearances during the show’s run on TBS.  They were Igor his vampire bat assistant and the roller of the day’s film, Fang a blue fuzzy sharp tooth little creature, Slim a walking skeleton who was along for the fun ride of whatever Grampa had them doing that day for the show and lastly Deadrah a female mannequin who was created to be Slim’s girlfriend. Each sidekick had their own personality and each added something special to the episodes they appeared in. The most popular among me and my friends when we were kids was Egor as that bat was not only the projectionist but also was always trying to help Grampa or even one up him. Slim, his goofy and silent skeleton sidekick, has become my favorite now as an adult as he is always doing some silly gag from hanging himself to playing baseball all for a laugh. Poor Fang is the third sidekick who is almost always forgotten as this tiny little blue fur ball with a roar that could shake the lab always seemed to be a background player but was always nice to see in episodes. Deadrah as well is just a background player but helps add to the wacky cast of sidekick characters. While none of these characters had voices and would make noises, they seemed like real life creatures and each made their mark on this fun Saturday Morning program. Below is a picture of Slim, Fang plus Deadra, and like Grampa, I want to thank them as well for making my childhood rock!

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Besides hosting movies on Super Scary Saturday, Grampa also hosted films on VHS tapes for Amvest Video that would have him standing in front of a cheap green screen and shouting at Igor to start the movie among other back and fourths. This tape series was part of what was called “Grampa Presents.”  The back of the box would also give his rating of the film, that was of course done with bats! Grampa was doing this video series in 1988 the same time Super Scary Saturday was still airing on TBS, and growing up I would have loved to have owned this video series as he hosted such cheesy movies as The Snow Creature, Creature From The Haunted Sea, The Ape and many Bela Lugosi films like The Corpse Vanishes that our good friend and fellow blogger The Northeastern Video Hunter covered here on one of his updates.

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On March 22, 2014 at Horrorhound Weekend, as part of The Horror Host Hall Of Fame, Grampa Munster was inducteed in the 2014 class by none other than Baron Von Porkchop. This was a very surreal moment for me as I watched the host I helped create induct a host that not only entertained me in my youth but also was part of what inspired me to create a horror host show for the Dayton, Ohio market. As always, Baron Von Porkchop did great research on Grampa and was equally as honored as I was to induct such an iconic horror host and all around TV celebrity into the Horror Host Hall Of Fame. Baron’s speech went over well, and the audience gave him a nice clap and cheer for his speech.  Sadly with Al Lewis passing away, he was not able to accept the plaque but I am sure he was looking down from heaven with a cigar in his mouth and given that classic Grampa laugh.

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So now we are at the point of this update where I will share write ups on the episodes I own of Super Scary Saturday from the Superstation.  This is one of the fun aspects of doing a Horror Host Icon update, getting to re-watch the episodes and remember back to when I first watched them on broadcast TV, or in some cases see them for the first time. I want to thank many people who over the years helped me get these episodes I am about to watch like Stumpy Disks, my brother Bryan, Kristy Langford and my friend Darren, all of whom helped made this important Icon update possible. So with that, pull up a seat in the screaming room and get a little taste of what Grampa and his show Super Scary Saturday offered us who watched him back in the late 80’s. As always, the episodes will be done in alphabetical order with the film’s plot being taken from IMDB and the show’s plot being written by me.  So stock up on your favorite plasma themed drink and let’s have some fun with Grampa.

Super Scary Saturday Dr Phibes dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Abominable Dr. Phibes
Starring – Vincent Price & Joseph Cotten    Rated PG-13    1971

Host: Grampa is in the Screaming Room and is very happy to bring you the day’s film because it stars Vincent Price as a crazed doctor.  He and Igor exchange some quick ideas for a dream day that includes fresh blood and pretty bat ladies. In between commercials, Grampa delivers cheesy jokes and puns that are sure to make you chuckle. In the end Grampa is very happy, and he and Igor break down the film’s deaths then invite us to join him next week.

Movie: Doctors are being murdered in a bizarre manner: bats, bees, killer frog masks, etc., which represent the nine Biblical plagues. The crimes are orchestrated by a demented organ player with the help of his mute assistant. The detective is stumped until he finds that all of the doctors being killed assisted a Dr. Vesalius on an unsuccessful operation involving the wife of Dr. Phibes, but he couldn’t be the culprit, could he? He was killed in a car crash upon learning of his wife’s death.

Super Scary Saturday Back To The Planet Of The Apes DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Back To The Planet Of The Apes
Starring – Roddy McDowall & Bobby Porter    Not Rated    1981

Host: This episode is a poor man’s hack job as the slob who taped it did his best to cut out all of Grampa’s opening and ending segments! I got a brief look at Grampa with a bag before it’s clipped. The episode has Grampa using a time machine and has him packing for his time jump as well as making all preparations for his trip to the past. And while sitting in his time machine, he turns it on and in a flash of the eye he is gone! Grampa makes it back to with a smile on his face and a laugh on his lips…and the recording stops.

Movie: Three twentieth century astronauts travel through a time warp and crash on Earth in 3085 A.D.. One of the astronauts is killed in the impact, and the two survivors, Alan Virdon and Pete Burke, find that they have returned to an Earth where their loved ones are long dead, where technological civilization has fallen, and where humanity is subjugated by intelligent, talking simians who live in jungle cities and preside over pastoral hinterlands. The two astronauts are captured by horse-riding gorillas (the ape army) and taken before an orangutan tribunal. They are deemed a threat to ape security and sentenced to death. The two condemned men are visited in their cell by a curious chimpanzee named Galen, who is fascinated by their accounts of an advanced human civilization centuries past. After Galen accidentally kills a gorilla and is charged with murder, Virdon, Burke, and Galen all escape the ape city and are fugitives hunted by a determined gorilla named Urko. Virdon manages to salvage.

Note From Matt: I almost left this episode off my update due to the terrible record job, but decided to add it because while it might not be a full episode and have only snippets of the opening and closing segments, it’s still apart of Super Scary Saturday’s legacy.

Super Scary Saturday Ben DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Ben
Starring – Lee Montgomery & Meredith Baxter    Rated PG    1972

Host: Grampa has a rat in the lab, and along with Igor and Slim, he is trying to rid the area of these pests.  Grampa builds the ultimate rat trap that would have had a weight drop and crush the rats, but instead he finds himself with a massive headache as he is the victim of the weight as it backfires and bonks him on the head. Grampa’s next plan is to use the Red Pages and calls The Piped Piper Rat Catcher service to come to the lab and get rid of his rat issue…..but sadly the episode is not complete and cuts off at the end of the film.

Movie: A lonely boy befriends Ben, the leader of a violent pack of killer rats.

Super Scary Saturday Boy Who Cried Werewolf

Super Scary Saturday: Boy Who Cried Werewolf
Starring – Kerwin Mathews & Elaine Devry    Rated PG    1973

Host: Grampa is having a Blood Beach Party along with Slim, Deadrah and Igor and is enjoying the moon. He also sees his friends Mummy-O and The Invisible Man as they chill out on the beach. They use coffin lids as surfboards, and Grampa goes surfing alongside Slim and each try to out do each other to become king of the beach, and this causes Grampa to wipe out. They also relax and listen to the newest beach band called The Rolling Bones, and everyone on the beach lends a hand by playing a instrument or even just dancing as does the zombie babes who have joined the party. Grampa and his beach gang play one last song as the sun is about to come up, and they rock n roll their way to closing the show.

Movie: Richie Bridgestone (whose parents are divorced) goes to spend the weekend with his father at his secluded mountain cabin. During a moonlight hike, they are attacked in the darkness by a creature that he recognizes as a werewolf. During the struggle, the werewolf falls into a ravine and is impaled by a wooden fence, but not before biting his father. Upon investigation, they find their attacker to be human and the sheriff concludes their attacker was an insane drifter. He spends the rest of the film trying to convince his mother, and his therapist that his father is now a werewolf.

Super Scary Saturday Day Of The Animals DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Day Of The Animals
Starring – Christopher George & Leslie Nielsen    Rated PG    1977

Host: Grampa is using his spell book to create a ghoulfriend for Slim who is having a hard time finding a date. Grampa uses all types of odd objects, from a hourglass to a dog’s bone and stirs them into a kettle pot and takes the liquid and pours it inside a crate onto a body.  While they wait for the ghoulfriend to wake up, Grampa selects the day’s movie Day Of The Animals. While we wait for the ghoulfriend to be awaken, Grampa, as always, entertains with puns and cheesy jokes, even holding a contest to have dinner with him and win his supply of noodles he created. In the end, Slim’s new ghoulfriend comes to life and the world gets their first look at Deadrah!

Movie: The depletion of the earth’s ozone layer causes animals above the altitude of 5000 feet to run amok, which is very unfortunate for a group of hikers who get dropped off up there by helicopter just before the quarantine is announced.

SuperScary Saturday Dracula Has Risen From The Grave DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Dracula Has Risen From The Grave
Starring – Christopher Lee & Veronica Carlson    Rated G    1968

Host: Grampa along with Fang, Igor, Slim and his date are all in the Screaming Room as today they are going to watch old home movies and feel happy and reflect on the frienship they have had for many decades. Sadly, I am pretty sure the episode is missing the end segment.

Movie: When his castle is exorcised, Dracula plots his revenge against the Monsignor who performed the rites by attempting to make the holy man’s young niece his bride.

Super Scary Saturday Frogs DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Frogs
Starring – Ray Milland & Sam Elliot    Rated PG    1972

Host: Grampa is in the Screaming Room and has tired blood, and when Igor drops an iron on his head, he thinks he might have an iron deficiency! Grampa is hyped for the day’s movie like always and later wants to work on something that will pick him up. Grampa creates a drink that includes sweat from the NWA World Champion, the protection eye glasses from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a half eaten taco from Dom DeLuise and half a cup of bean sprouts…but he has the help of Slim who gives him Jack and the Beanstalk’s! Grampa drinks it and grows large and into a giant.  He needs help to shrink back to normal, and Igor goes to get help while Slim hides as Grampa is not happy at all. Igor brings a tailor from a Vampire tall and fat shop, who is no help at all, but on his own Grampa shrinks back to normal size and feels good and ready to prowl the his castle lab.

Movie: Jason Crockett is an aging, grumpy, physically disabled millionaire who invites his family to his island estate for his birthday celebration. Pickett Smith is a free-lance photographer who is doing a pollution layout for an ecology magazine. Jason Crockett hates nature, poisoning anything that crawls on his property. On the night of his birthday the frogs and other members of nature begin to pay Crockett back.

Super Scary Saturday Gargoyles DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Gargoyles
Starring – Cornel Wilde & Bernie Casey    Not Rated    1972

Host: Grampa has an alarm installed on his casket and catches Slim in the act of trying to stake him through the heart! Grampa then tries to read some fan mail but soon finds that Egor gets double the amount he gets, but this doesn’t stop him from also introducing us to Fang, his new pet! Grampa also talks about how he and Egor have been friends with Gargoyles and that the day’s movie was really just a home movie they left for us all to watch. In the end Grampa is moon bathing, and Fang is cranky and hungry and thus ends another episode of Super Scary Saturday.

Movie: After receiving word about a mysterious carcass/skeleton unearthed in the Arizona desert, a father and his daughter decide to remove it from the burial grounds for further study. Once they do so, they, as well as the town, are besieged by a colony of gargoyles living in some nearby caverns.

Super Scary Saturday Ghidrah DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Ghidrah
Starring – Yosuke Natsuki & Yuriko Hoshi    Not Rated    1964

Host: Grampa digs in the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and finds the day’s movie as he picks Ghidrah The Three Headed Monster and is very hyped to present it and has Egor run the film. Grampa comes back to deliver some quick jokes about the monsters from today’s film just to spice up those boring commercial breaks. By the end Grampa breaks down the highlights and the rules of the battle between Ghidrah as he took on Godzilla, larva Mothra and Rodan.

Movie: A princess from a small Himalayan country becomes possessed by the spirit of a Venusian (a Martian in the American version) and escapes a plane just as it explodes. As this happens a meteorite falls from the sky containing Ghidrah, the monster responsible for her planet’s destruction. At the same time, Godzilla and Rodan emerge from hibernation and not only attack Japan, but each other as well. Mothra, along with its twin priestesses, attempt to convince Godzilla and Rodan to stop their fighting each other and to team up to fight the new monster. At the same time, the princess is being hunted by a group of assassins who want to kill her so that her enemies can take over her homeland.

Super Scary Saturday Godzilla DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Godzilla
Starring – Raymond Burr & Akira Takarada    Not Rated    1954

Host: This is the first episode of Super Scary Saturday, and our host Grampa is so happy that we have joined him in the lab to watch the day’s movie! He goes to the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and digs around, passing on such films as Mommy Dearest and Death Wish, and finds Godzilla and is super hyped as it’s one of his all time favorites. Grampa sits in the screaming room and has Igor pour popcorn on his head as the movie starts. Grandpa hangs around and does a few silly puns in-between segments, and our first episode ends. I want to say that the last segment is missing from this recording.

Movie: Japan is thrown into a panic after several ships explode and are sunk. At first, the authorities think its either underwater mines or underwater volcanic activity. The authorities soon head to Odo Island, close to where several of the ships were sunk. One night, something comes onshore and destroys several houses and kills several people. A later expedition to the island led by paleontologist Professor Kyôhei Yamane, his daughter Emiko, and young navy frogman Hideto Ogata (who also happens to be Emiko’s lover, even though she is betrothed to Dr. Daisuke Serizawa) soon discover something more devastating than imagined in the form of a 164-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) monster whom the natives call Gojira. Now, the monster begins a rampage that threatens to destroy not only Japan but the rest of the world as well. Can the monster be destroyed before it is too late, and what role will the mysterious Serizawa play in the battle?

Super Scary Saturday Godzilla Revege dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Godzilla’s Revenge
Starring – Tomonori Yazaki & Sachio Sakai     Not Rated    1969

Host: Grampa is in the Screaming Room and is saying today’s movie is Monstermania and is the Wrestlemania of monster fights as Godzilla takes on all comers. Grampa also allows both monsters to give an interview (done by NWA Wrestlers) about how bad they are going to beat each other up! In the end Grampa interviews Godzilla live from the lab! Best part of Godzilla in the lab is that its a blow up toy!

Movie: Ichiro is a highly imaginative, but lonely, boy growing up in urban Tokyo. Every day he comes home to the empty apartment he shares with his railroad worker father and his restaurant hostess mother. His only friends are a toy maker name Shinpei Inami and a little girl named Sachicko. The only other kids that are around is a gang of kids led by a bully named Gabara. To escape his loneliness, Ichiro imagines that he is on Monster Island where he befriends Minya, the son of Godzilla. It is through his daydreams that he watches Godzilla and Minya fight other monsters, including one also named Gabara who is just as bad a bully as the one that is tormenting Ichiro. It is through these daydreams that he learns that it is okay to fight back and face his fears. These lessons also help him to outwit a couple of bumbling bank robbers as well as finally have the guts to stand up to Gabara and his gang.

Super Scary Saturday Godzilla vs. Sea Monster DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Godzilla vs. Sea Monster
Starring – Akira Takarada & Kumi Mizuno    Rated PG    1966

Host: Grampa enters that lab cackling like a mad man and looks in the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and digs up some movies that just wont do until he finds the afternoons movie and its Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster! He also introduces us to the Egor-Cam a small camera that is attactched to his bat sidekick! Grampa also claims that this film is the best sports movie ever made! Grampa ends the show by showing highlights from what he calls the first ever monster tennis match and shares clips of the film with Godzilla and the Sea Monster tossing a rock back and fourth.

Movie: Some teenagers want to obtain a boat to find a brother. When they look around a boat without permission, they find a thief who takes them on his escape. They are caught in a storm and arrive at Letchi Island where natives of Infant Island have been enslaved by the terrorist organisation Red Bamboo. Red Bamboo runs a heavy water factory to process a juice which holds off the monster, Ebirah, which otherwise traps them on the island. The young men meet beautiful but tough Daiyo and wake up Godzilla to put an end to the Red Bamboo.

Super Scary Saturday Island of Dr Moreau DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Island Of Dr. Moreau
Starring – Burt Lancaster & Michael York    Rated PG    1977

Host: Grampa is taking a trip down memory lane in the labs basement and is showing off items of his past like his first coffin and Blood Light a drink him and Slim use to guzzle down. He then shares that he was good friends with Dr. Moreau and drifts into memories of his past as Igor roles the days film. In the end Grampa is dressed in his old collage colors and gear and is pretty happy about his life and stays in the basement as he ends the show.

Movie: A ship-wrecked man floats ashore on an island in the Pacific Ocean. The island is inhabited by a scientist, Dr. Moreau, who in an experiment has turned beasts into human beings.

Super Scary Saturday King Kong vs Godzilla DVD

Super Scary Saturday: King Kong vs. Godzilla
Starring – Tadao Takashima & Kenji Sahara    Not Rated    1962

Host: Once More Grampa is very hyped for the days film as it pits Godzilla against King Kong in fight thats as epic as Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat and is truly the match of the centery! He also introduces the guests managers that has NWA Pro Wrestlers Michael Hayes in King Kong’s corner and Jim Cornette in Godzilla’s and each share why their monster will win the fight! Grampa inbetween commercials is still amped up the fight and is still filled with puns and site gags that he delivers with a smile. In the end Grampa shows highlights from the fight and Michael Hayes and Cornette argue on what monster really won the fight!

Movie: Mr. Tako, the chairman of a pharmaceutical company, learns the roma tomato-sized berries that grow on Farou Island are a miracle cure, and that the natives worship a god called King Kong who has allegedly grown to giant size from eating the berries. What better way to promote the product, Tako figures, than to bring the creature back to Japan? He leads an expedition with Sakurai and Furue to get the berries and the monster. Meanwhile, some American pilots discover the chunk of the glacier Godzilla was sealed in back in 1955. Sakurai’s sister’s boyfriend Kazuo is busy trying to sell an invisible but super-strong wire, which of course no one wants until Kong escapes.

Super Scary Saturday Mothra dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Mothra
Starring – Furanki Sakai & Yumi Ito    Not Rated    1961

Host: Grampa enters the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and passes on films like “Body And Soul” and “Beat The Devil” and decides to select Mothra for the days movie but before he can fully start the movie he is attacked by Mothra who is flying around the castle! Inbetween the film Grampa delivers puns and jokes about Mothra being a big Moth. In the end Grampa chats about Mothra really being a good guy but he can forgive it for being a hero!

Movie: Shipwreck survivors are found on Beiru Island (Infanto tô), which was previously used for atomic tests. The interior is amazingly free of radiation effects, and they believe that they were protected by a special juice that was given to them by the island’s residents. A joint expedition of Rolisican and Japanese scientists explores Beiru and discovers many curious things, including two women only one foot (30 centimeters) high. Unscrupulous expedition leader Clark Nelson abducts the women and puts them in a vaudeville show. But their sweet singing contains a telepathic cry for help to Mothra, a gigantic moth that is worshiped as a deity by the island people. The giant monster heeds the call of the women and heads to Tokyo, wreaking destruction in its path.

Super Scary Saturday The Mummy 2 DVD

Super Scary Saturday: The Mummy
Starring – Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee    Unrated    1959

Host: Grampa has been selected as a guest on the show “This Is Your Death” with host Carl Crypt who brings Grampa into the lab and brings people from his past back into his life, but Grampa wants nothing to do with this and tries his best to take out host Carl before the show can even go on! But the show still continues as Grampa gets a call from his Mom and she tell him to do the show so we see such characters as Slim his skeleton collage friend and co-host of Super Scary Saturday, Igor shows up who was a flight school friend and as well co-host of this Horror Host Show! Lenny The Louge Lizard a dinosour headed man who use to dig up ghouls from the grave and stole Grandpa’s best ghoul and lastly his grandson Eddie shows up and the show ends with a happy reunion.

Movie: In the 1890s a team of British archaeologists discover the untouched tomb of Princess Ananka but accidentally bring the mummified body of her High Priest back to life. Three years later back in England a follower of the same Egyptian religion unleashes the mummy to exact grisly revenge on the despoilers of the sacred past.

Super Scary Saturday Mystery Of The Wax Museum DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Mystery Of The Wax Museum
Starring – Lionel Atwill & Fay Wray    Not Rated    1933

Host: Grampa is upset about all the bills that are pilling up and are all past due! He soons finds out that the money is being spent by Slim for his new mannequin girlfriend! The lab looses power and they must use candles to light it up and start to host the days movie, and Grampa ends up beating up Slim for using all the money! In the end Grampa gives his thoughts of the movies bad guy and closes the show with Slim who has a black eye and his head wrapped.

Movie: In London, sculptor Ivan Igor struggles in vain to prevent his partner Worth from burning his wax museum…and his ‘children.’ Years later, Igor starts a new museum in New York, but his maimed hands confine him to directing lesser artists. People begin disappearing (including a corpse from the morgue); Igor takes a sinister interest in Charlotte Duncan, fiancée of his assistant Ralph, but arouses the suspicions of Charlotte’s roommate, wisecracking reporter Florence.

Super Scary Saturday Rodan dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Rodan
Starring – Kenji Sahara & Akio Kobori    Not Rated    1956

Host: Grampa is in a great mood and comes dancing down the stairs and heads to the Superstation Movie Mausoleum were he takes the shovel from Slim and finds such films as The Exorcist and I Was A Teenage Werewolf but gets really happy when he finds Rodan and selects it as the days movie! Grampa loves the film so much he gives it 4 pints and two fangs up! Grampa, Slim and Igor ever judge Rodan’s dive into the water and as always inbetween the film Grampa delivers cheesy jokes and puns.

Movie: In the Japanese mining village of Kitamatsu, miners ares starting to disappear deep inside shaft number 8. Some of the men sent to investigate are killed but one who has managed to escape brings back a tale of a giant insect. Soon, the giant prehistoric insects are attacking the village. Not long after, something traveling faster than the speed of sound is found flying in the sky. It is Rodan, a giant flying prehistoric reptile that has come to life. It spreads terror throughout Japan and is seemingly invincible to any weapon they may throw at it.

Note From Matt: Not 100% sure if this episode is complete.

Super Scary Saturday The Thing DVD

Super Scary Saturday: The Thing
Starring – Kenneth Tobey & James Arness    Unrated    1951

Host: Grampa is in the screaming room and shares the plot of The Thing From Another World to the viewers as a planet grows bigger and bigger blocking him from the camera and the viewers. In-between the film Grampa once more tells the viewers about his contest to have dinner with him in New York to eat at his very own restaurant and also treats us to his jokes and puns based on the day’s film. In the end Grampa introduces us to Spudnic, a potato man who by the end of the show is attacked by the growing plant and is saved by Grampa!

Movie: Scientists at an Arctic research station discover a spacecraft buried in the ice. Upon closer examination, they discover the frozen pilot. All hell breaks loose when they take him back to their station and he is accidentally thawed out!

Super Scary Saturday Valley Of Gwangi dvd

Super Scary Saturday: Valley Of The Gwangi
Starring – Richard Carlson & Gila Golan    Rated G    1969

Host: Agent Friday The 13th is a part of Drac Net a group of Vampire Cops, his sidekick is SGT. Skeleton, and they must help Grampa as Slim is missing! Agent Friday The 13th gets to the castle and gets the facts from Grampa about the last time he saw Slim, and Igor even tries to help when he finds a ransom note that says the kidnapper wants pints of blood for the return of Slim. After investigating more clues, Agent Friday The 13th and SGT. Skeleton decide that they know who the kidnapper is and head toward the graveyard near the beach where the ransom blood was to be dropped off and find that the kidnapper is none other than Slim himself who wanted to prove a point to Grampa that he feels like he has been taken advantage of!

Movie: Cowboy James Franciscus seeks fame and fortune by capturing a Tyrannosaurus Rex living in the Forbidden Valley and putting it in a Mexican circus. His victim, called the Gwangi, turns out to have an aversion to being shown in public.

Super Scary Saturday War Of Gargantuas dvd

Super Scary Saturday: War Of Gargantuas
Starring – Russ Tamblyn & Kumi Mizuno    Rated G    1966

Host: Grampa is in the lab and gets a call from the Transylvania Army, and it’s his duty to report in.  His mission is to save the Transylvania Blood Bank that is being held hostage. Gramp decides to send in Slimbo, an elite fighting machine and sends Igor to get Slimbo’s pardon from jail.  When freed, Slimbo gets ready for war to free the hostages. While the battle is brutal, in the end Slimbo is able to save the day and free the hostages. Grampa also gives Slimbo a purple heart for his seek and save mission.

Movie: An experimental lab animal called a gargantua escapes from his captors and is suspected to be the creature that is killing people all over the countryside. But when the gargantua from the lab appears at the same time as the evil gargantua, the two begin to battle across Japan.

Note From Matt: This is my second favorite episode of Super Scary Saturday as it’s take on Rambo is super fun and has some of the best segments filmed for this Horror Host series. In closing “Last Blood Slimbo” kicks butt!

Super Scary Saturday Minotar DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Warlord Of Crete
Starring – Bob Mathias & Rosanna Schiaffino    Not Rated    1960

Host: Grampa, Deadrah and Slim are in the lab and wants to teach us all about Transylvania home cooking that uses such ingredients like worms and shark eggs. Grampa is truly the Monster Chef and even credits his one time friend Jaws for helping him get some of the items he needed. He teaches the art of making salads as well as navy beans soup and crab soup. Throughout the episode Grampa and his assistants show us all types of gross food as well as ones that are just terrible puns like a fish on a sword that he says is of course a swordfish.  Egor as well shows up just to add some annoyance to Grampa as he tries to cook. In the end Grampa shares the main attraction: the meal’s desserts that include lady fingers, chocolate noose and upside down cake that turns the camera upside down!

Movie: King Minos sacrifices the ‘required’ virgins to the Minotaur. As his wife lies dieing, she confesses that her daughter has a twin she has secreted to avoid giving one of the girls to the Minotaur. The daughter raised by Minos tries to have her twin killed, but failing in her first attempt, continues to try to have her given to the Minotaur. Theseus, the Greek hero, tries to prevent it.

Super Scary Saturday Willard DVD

Super Scary Saturday: Willard
Starring – Bruce Davison & Elsa Lanchester    Rated PG    1971

Host: Grampa is having a rat in the lab and along with Igor and Slim he is trying to ride the area of these pests, and Grampa builds a ultimate rat trap that would have had a weight drop and crush the rats but instead it backfires and he finds himself with a massive headache as he is the victim of the weight as it backfires and bonks him on the head. Grampa’s next plan is to use the Red Pages and calls The Piped Piper Rat Catcher servise to come to the lab and get ride of his rat issue…..buts sadly the episode is not complete and cuts off at the end of the film.

Movie: A social misfit, Willard is made fun of by his co-workers, and squeezed out of the company started by his deceased father by his boss. His only friends are a couple of rats he raised at home, Ben and Socrates. (And their increasing number of friends) However, when one of them is killed at work, he goes on a rampage using his rats to attack those who have been tormenting him.

Note From Matt: This also has the same skits as Ben and cuts off the same time, how does Grampa rid the lab of the rats, dang it?!!!

Super Scary Saturday TV Ad

Super Scary Saturday was a great way to unwind from the day’s cartoons when I was a kid and also acted as an alternative to Commander USA when he was off air for tennis matches.  While Grampa might not have been as iconic in the Brassfield house, he still was a big part of my childhood and once more I must stress he was the first to introduce me to Godzilla in movies as well as many of the Hammer Horror films and for that alone he is a true icon of Horror Hosting in my eyes. I must also note on some of these episodes they had a contest were you could win a trip to New York and have dinner with Grampa at his own restaurant or even win a life time supply of Grampa’s Home Pasta! Man, that would have been amazing to have dinner with Grampa.  If I would have won this as a kid I am sure he would have loved me talking about horror films, cartoons, toys and comics nonstop! So to wrap up this Horror Host Icon Update, I want to say once more thanks to Grampa, Slim, Igor and Fang for help making my childhood amazing and filled with monsters and horror. Our next update will take us out of the Superstation Movie Mausoleum and into the world of crime where thugs like Mumbles, The Brow and Flattop run the streets and only one man can bring them to justice.  That man is Dick Tracy, and he will be the subject of our next update so I hope to see you back here for that one. So until next time, Support Your Local Horror Host and Be There Or Beware for my next update!

Dick Tracy Logo preview

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.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 1Monster Bash 2016 Day 1 pic 2Monster Bash 2016 Day 1 pic 3

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.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 2IMG_1144Monster Bash 2016 Day 2 pic 3

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.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 2 ComicsMonster Bash 2016 Day 2 Sparkle Comics Website WorkMonster Bash 2016 Day 2 Dinner

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.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 3 dinner pig ironMonster Bash 2016 Day 3 Hogan CBSMonster Bash 2016 Day 3 me and the comics read that night

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!

Cranberry Cinema 2016Evan City Cemetery 2016Snowman 2016

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.

Plaid Shirt Zombie 1Dawn Of The Dead Poster 0Dawn Of The Dead Zombie

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.

Monroeville Mall hallwayMonroeville Mall DoorsMonroeville Mall Zombie painting

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!

Dawn Of The Dead 1

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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