It’s summer time, so let’s go to the movies! Marvel Comics and movie adaptations went hand and hand in the 1980’s and many Hollywood blockbusters found themselves as comic miniseries, giving fans of both films and of comic books something to collect and re-read at any time, reliving the adventure. So with this update I decided to take a look at three films that got the Marvel treatment: Krull, The Last Starfighter and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension. I chose these three to start with because I feel all of them have a very rich cult status, not to mention each could have easily been a full series after the movie tie was done. Lastly I grew up watching all three films! While movie tie in comics are still made today they are fewer and far between as Marvel no longer focuses on them unless they own the character in the film outright. But with this update I will tell you a little about the film and my thoughts on it as well as break down each issue in the Marvel comic adaptations. So with no further ado let’s get to what I am calling “Marvel At The Movies,” and we are reading this at the imaginary Marvel Theater.
I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. I will give these comics a little slack on not keeping 100% to the film because they have only so many pages to contain it all in, but it will be only a little slack. I also want to thank Dark Star Comics and Half Price Books for having these issues in stock.
Released in 1983, Krull is about a young prince and his new bride whose offspring will be the ruler of the galaxy and whose world is under attack by a monster called The Beast and his evil warriors known as The Slayers. When The Beast has the princess kidnapped, it’s up to the prince to save his bride and the world alongside a rag tag motley crew of warriors. I grew up watching this film and have always been a fan of fantasy films. While this is not my favorite, it’s a good solid film with likeable characters and a sinister bad guy. I can remember renting this film on VHS from the public library and before that watching the film on HBO. As you long time readers know, I also was the cyclops Rell for Halloween one year and my brother went as The Beast, showing that the film did have an impact on my life. While I know a board game and an Atari 2600 game were made based on this film, I never played them. The film has gained a cult status and my friend Thomas “Maurice” Smith, founder of Beard Team Ohio, is a big fan. So with that let’s take a look at Marvel’s two issue film adaptation of the film.
Krull # 1 ***
Released in 1983 Cover Price .60 Marvel Comics #1 of 2
The world of Krull is under attack as an evil monster known as The Beast and his warriors The Slayers are laying waste to all the kingdoms and turning the whole world into a bloodbath of pain and carnage, traveling around in their spaceship called The Black Fortress. Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa are getting married, and legend says that the two will be the ones to save Krull and that their child will grow up to rule the galaxy. But the honeymoon is cut short when Slayers attack the castle, kill as many of the men inside they can and kidnap Lyssa who has also captured the loving eye of The Beast. Colwyn awakens to his friends and family dead and his wife missing as Ynyr The Old One comes to his side and speaks of a magical weapon that will be able to kill The Beast once and for all called the Glaive that is hidden in a mountain in running lava! After retrieving it, they start on a quest to find The Black Fortress and pick up characters like Ergo The Magnificent, a goofy magician and Torquil and his ten men all who are convicts that join to get their freedom. They find the blind prophet Emerald Seer and his young apprentice Titch who try and find the location of The Black Fortress but are stopped by the even more powerful magic of The Beast. The group set out for the swamp to get a better grip on the location, all the while a cyclops seems to be following them. Meanwhile Lyssa is trapped in The Beast’s fortress and is being primed to be his mate!
This first issue packs so much action, drama and adventure that it makes you want to turn the page and find out what is in store next for Colwyn, who is a likeable and nobel hero who wants his true love back safe and wants to save his world from the death that awaits it. The comic captures the fantasy of the film, and while the battle scenes are not as epic in the comic, when The Slayers attack it still is just as impactful as it was in the film. The Beast is a mean spirited monster who almost seems to get pure joy out of all the murder and death and gets glee from keeping Lyssa prisoner. Ergo acts as the comic relief in the comic just as he does in the film. Look at him as a less over the top version of Orko from Masters of the Universe or Snarf of Thundercats as he trips and makes a fool of himself almost at every moment. Torquil and his men seem like second thoughts in this first issue and just seem like they are around for the ride. Ynyr is used like he should be, as the wise old man who wants to set everything right and pretty much is right on to his on screen counterpart. Over all this first issue is a well done movie adaptation with pretty good artwork and an amazing cover that uses the film’s poster. For fans of the film like myself, this is a good read and for those who have not seen the film, this comic could be used as a tool to get them to watch. The only flaw that I see is that the storyline is pretty epic and this makes for lots of dialogue moments to get the story out that could lose some younger readers. Let’s see if the fantasy magic holds up in issue 2.
Krull # 2 ***
Released in 1983 Cover Price .60 Marvel Comics #2 of 2
Colywn and his group are deep in the swamp as Slayers attack, and the cyclops comes to help. After the fighting he joins the group on the quest, and they find out his name is Rell. Emerald Seer is killed, and his apperance is taken by a shapeshifter who in turn tries to kill Colywn but is stopped by Rell who found the old man’s body in the swamp water. Now the group is lost without a guide to show them where the Dark Fortress is. Ynyr sacrifices himself to find the answer when he cross paths with the spider lady and her giant spider! Colywn and his men get the answer they need but lose a dear friend in Ynyr, but they continue to the Black Fortress. Upon entering Colywn and his true love Lyssa are reunited and must use their love to defeat the evil power and grip of The Beast!
The second issue just like the first is a solid film to comic transfer and adds all the action and drama of the film to inked pages. Colywn is a likeable hero who you find yourself cheering for and in my opinion looks less geeky than he does on film. He has just the right amount of badass in him to make his against the odds quest more believable. Lyssa in the comic and even somewhat in the film is your very helpless princess who adds the classic fairy tale feel to this epic adventure. While she does very little to help bring down the evil, she’s who the whole quest is truly about. Ynyr The Old One is a great guide to the hero and is truly the comics’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, even dying like a hero like the Jedi Master before him. In fact, this whole film has many connections to Star Wars! Rell is a nice side character who adds the brute power to the team much like Chewbacca. Torquil is a convict who still has a good heart and is noble like Han Solo. Ergo The Magnificent is like C3PO and is a goofy sidekick who even takes on a friend with Titch, who in the comic adds nothing to the plot. Even The Slayers are very much like Storm Troopers in their mindless attacks and the way they all look the same. The Beast is a kick ass bad guy who should have gotten more panel time and seems as if he truly could take over a planet with his army and magic, and yes he reminds me of a blend of Darth Vader and The Emperor. The Glaive is a silly weapon that mixes knives with a boomrang, but I do give it credit as it’s at least original and gets the death blow started on The Beast. The end battle should have been a little more over the top and had way more tense moments but even the film in my opinion lacked that. The comics’ art work is solid, but this time around the cover is a little lacking and could have been spiced up a bit. Over all this comic did a great job of bringing the big screen to the panel and does justice to the film by not cutting too much of its charm. Over all I would say this is a good comic film adaptation.
In 1984 a film hit theaters called The Last Starfighter about Alex Rogan, a young man with dreams to better himself through school or the military. He works at a trailer park and spends his days with his girlfriend Maggie, fixing issues at the trailer park and playing an arcade game called The Last Starfighter. But his dreams come true when Centauri, an inventor from the galaxy comes to take him away after he gets the highest score in the game’s history and in his place on Earth an android named Beta who looks like him is left to work his everyday life. Alex is flung into a galactic war that leaves he and his alien co-pilot Grig as the last Starfighters and the only hope for mankind. As a kid I remember loving this film and wishing for toys, comics and video games to be made around it. I did get the video game that came out on the NES, and I did get the comic thanks to Marvel’s 3 issue movie tie in run. But I never did get the action figures. I can remember watching this film on VHS and on cable while playing with Star Wars and G.I. Joe’s acting out my own intergalactic battles. So let’s see if the comic series can hold up to this fun 80’s sci-fi film.
The Last Starfighter # 1 **1/2
Released in 1984 Cover Price .75 Marvel Comics #1 of 3
Alex Rogan is a young man with big dreams who can’t seem to get his life in order and get out of the trailer park his mom runs. He has a job working maintenance for the trailers and even has a loving girlfriend Maggie, but his life just seems so boring. His only real escape is playing a video game called The Last Starfighter in which he has gotten the highest score possible! Late one night Alex meets Centauri, the man who created the game who takes him away to the planet Rylos to join in a war that threatens all worlds and wants him to become a true to life starfighter. Back on Earth, an android named Beta has taken the appearance and life of Alex so that his loved ones would not worry about him. After listening to a meeting for new recruits, Alex decides he wants to go home even after meeting his reptile like co-pilot Grig, but everything stops when a hologram of the sinister Xur leader of the Ko-Dan Armada appears.
This first issue is a great way to introduce you to Alex and his family and girlfriend as they live their everyday lives in the trailer park. It also makes you really root for Alex as all he really wants to do is better his life with a good college education. While the issue leaves him almost spineless as he wants to leave instead help fight the good fight, you can see a true hero in the making. Even in the comic Centauri comes off like a good guy but also has that sleazy used car salesman charm. Maggie comes off as a loving and supportive girlfriend and is the nice counter piece for Alex to really care about. Other than that these are the only three characters to truly stand out, and I look forward to seeing more of Xur and Grig. The comic follows the movie pretty well and holds onto the kid friendly sci-fi action and adventure appeal that made it a cult classic to this day. The art work is a little weak and in spots looks unfinished, while the cover is pretty good and eye catching for the time. I can’t wait to read issue two and get more into this adventure.
The Last Starfighter # 2 **1/2
Released in 1984 Cover Price .75 Marvel Comics #2 of 3
Xur’s message is clear, and it’s that anyone who stands in his way of ruling the world is as good as dead. Alex hears this warning and wants to go back home. Disappointed, Centauri starts the journey to take him home. After Alex leaves Xdur and his Commander Kril unleash an attack on the starfighter base that kills them all. While on Earth Centauri gives Alex a communicator if ever he changes his mind and wants to help fight the good fight. Alex returns home and gets the cold shoulder from Maggie and also finds Beta sleeping in his bed. The two talk about what’s happened in Alex’s life on Earth while he was away. When Beta is leaving an alien bounty hunter tries to kill Alex, and Centauri comes to the rescue but takes a shot in the process. Alex sees now that he must take a stand and returns with the wounded Centauri to Rylos where he not only sees his guide and now friend dying from his wound but also sees that the whole star fleet has been killed in an attack. Grig has survived, and the two get aboard a starship to prepare for battle, and that’s just what they do as enemy fighters approach and Alex finds out that he truly is the last starfighter!
This second issue is filled with sneak attacks, death, assassination attempts and finding one’s inner strength. Alex, while still reluctant to be a hero, steps up when he sees that the whole universe needs him to be a hero and stop Xur and his goons from taking over. While he still speaks of going home even, he knows he must do the right thing. Beta is a cool character who mimics Alex, and Centauri shows that while he might be a con man, he is a great friend and truly a believer in the cause to stop Xur once and for all. In this issue it appears that he is dying from a gun shot that was meant for Alex. Grig is more fleshed out in this issue and acts not only as a partner but also as a coach as he boosts Alex’s ego and self worth. Xur is a spoiled brat and comes off not so much as an evil mastermind but more of a child who wants a new toy off the shelf when his mom told him no. That said, he does have the means to take what he wants as he had his men blow up the starfighter base killing almost all of the world’s hope. I like the idea that hitmen are sent to kill Alex because he was at one starfighter meeting, showing that Xur is cold blooded and wants no one to oppose him. The issue’s art work, much like issue one, seems not done in spots and at times Alex looks laughable with the lack of human expression.The cover is pretty good and makes the issue look action packed. I say this is a pretty good issue that kept me reading and even remembering the parts of the film so let’s get to issue 3!
The Last Starfighter # 3 **1/2
Released in 1984 Cover Price .75 Marvel Comics #3 of 3
Alex and Grig are at war in space while Beta is on a date with Maggie when he is attacked by another alien hit man who shoots the robot, and he now must tell Maggie that he is in fact a robot and that they must stop the alien from reporting back that the real Alex is alive. They do so by crashing a truck into his spaceship. Meanwhile Alex and Grig are one ship against many, and Xur is overthrown by Commander Kril who now is in control and wants to destroy Alex and control the universe. Alex beats the odds and brings down the attacking army and becomes a hero to the whole galaxy. He returns to Earth to visit his mom and brother and then takes Maggie to space with him so they can live happily ever after. Oh yeah, Centauri is alive and proud of his friend!
This final issue is fully about the space battle that shows Alex as the hero we all know he can be. Alex is a great character who as the issues go on gains more and more self esteem and shapes up to be a hero much like Luke Skywalker of Star Wars and Prince Colwyn of Krull. Xur, who thinks he holds the power, is shown to be nothing more then a pawn for the war hungry aliens who put up with him until they felt like they had the upper hand. Xur is the perfect spoiled brat character who you’re happy to see betrayed. Grig is a good side character who acts as the character who helps push Alex to his potential though I wish in the comic they would have given him a little more panel time. Commander Kril for most of the 3 issue series is nothing more than a lapdog for Xur, but when he turns on his one time ruler he is also shown to be a madman. Maggie is a good girlfriend character who is loyal to her boyfriend even when he is acting odd. And last Centauri is a perfect wise old man character that is one part conman and one part nice guy. The comic series does a pretty damn good job at making the film come to ink and the only true downfall to the mini series is the fact that the art is below par and not as solid as most Marvel Comics at that time. While some things were changed slightly from film to comic, it still is a good film adaptation that only has its art as it’s negative marks.
In 1984 moviegoers were treated to a fun over the top Sci-Fi adventure film thanks to 20th Century Fox that told the tale of Buckaroo Banzai, a scientist and rock star who along with his band must try and stop an invasion of inter-dimensional alien beings from another planet lead by Lord John Whorfin who has taken over the body of a fellow scientist Dr. Lizardo. The film was a strange and fun film that I remember watching as a kid and even remember parodying the end credits with my brother. We mostly saw this film thanks to HBO and a beta tape that we recorded it on. While I liked the film, I was never a super fan like friends of mine are like artist Eric Shonborn. The cast was a big plus for me as I was a fan of Peter Weller who plays Buckaroo, John Lithgow who played Lizardo/Whorfin, Christopher Lloyd who played Bigboote and even Jeff Goldblum who played New Jersey at the time. Sadly the film, while a cult classic today, never had toys or board games based around it, but did have a text based game for Adam Computer/DOS and only had this two issue film adaptation as far as comic books go for the longest time. So let’s see how this over the top film transfers to comic ink, shall we?
Buckaroo Banzai # 1 **1/2
Released in 1984 Cover Price .75 Marvel Comics #1 of 2
Buckaroo Banzai is performing surgery and rushes to a test site were he takes a super fast car and has it travel through a solid mountain and into the 8th Dimension. This is a good and bad thing. While the experiment is a success, he also sees the inter-dimension and returns with a goo like substance attached to the car. Dr. Lizardo, who is possessed with the inter-dimensional sprit of Lord John Whorfin, escapes from the asylum when hearing about the test run and wants to open a portal to his world so that his people can take over Earth as we know it. That night Buckaroo Banzai along with his band The Hong Kong Calvalers (Rawhide,Reno,Perfect Tommy, New Jersey and Pinky) are playing at a club, and before they take the stage they find out that the goo is alive. During the show Buckaroo meets Penny, a woman who captures his eye and his heart. After she tries to kill herself Banzai befriends the young woman and she goes to the press conference set to speak about the goo and during this event The Black Lectroids, a good race from the 8th Dimension share knowledge about the Red Lectroids and Buckaroo finds that two of the evil are among the press at the event.
This comic has to cram in so much story that it comes off really slow, and while entertaining still lacks the real excitement that one would expect based on the adventures of Buckaroo. Banzai is a man of many talents who is trying to live life to its fullest and is a doctor, scientist, rock star and saver of the masses all rolled into one cool dude. Buckaroo is a prime example of Sci-Fi hero of the 80’s, and by that I mean that he is over done and has that nerd mixed with cool guy attitude. The Hong Kong Calvalers are given very little to do in this first issue and are mostly used to fill in plot and to be background filler. Lord John Whorfin is bat shit crazy and is a perfect wild eyed bad guy, and the race he rules over The Red Lectroid’s are perfect war hungry, world conquering baddies. Penny kind of gets the short end of the stick as her back story is rushed and not as impactful as it should be. Over all while this is an entertaining comic, the rushed feel of it takes the magic away and makes what could have been a solid movie adaptation into an okay one. The cover is well done and one of the better ones done for this whole review. The art work is also well done and has that classic early 80’s Marvel look. So let’s jump into issue 2.
Buckaroo Banzai # 2 **
Released in 1984 Cover Price .75 Marvel Comics #2 of 2
Buckaroo and his band chase the Red Lectroid’s out of the press conference, and they become the target of a battle the leaves them finding a Black Lectroid sent to Earth to help in the fight to save Earth. Along the way Penny finds out she had a twin sister that was once Banzai’s girlfriend and is kidnapped and put into a coma, and a member of the band is killed! This all leads up to a showdown with Lord John Whorfin that has them flying spaceships, leaving the Red Lectroids blown up, Banzai saving the world and his new girlfriend Penny with a kiss.
This second issue is where all the action is at, and while again rushed, this issue is an improvement over the first and delivers more of the story not just the action. Buckaroo in this issue is more of what one would say is a hero and goes around kicking butt and saving lives, Banzai is a good comic book ready character. Lord John Whorfin, while again a good crazy bad guy, just does not seem as much of a threat as he should be He could have gone back to Sci-Fi bad guy school and learned a little from other villains. The Hong Kong Calvalers again are background guys, but do add to the over all feel of the story and are the perfect background soldiers all with their own personalities. Penny is a good love intrest and when they show she had a sister who she never knew who looked just like her, it makes more sense why Banzai fell so fast for her. The cover on this issue is a little lame. While eye catching, it’s not nearly as cool as issue one’s, and the art is the same good solid work it was before and seeing the comic version of Peter Weller (Buckaroo Banzai) is pretty cool. I would say fans of the film might feel a little cheated by these two issues, but I am sure they would get some enjoyment out of them as well.
So now I would like to take this time to have a fantasy warfare between all the films’ bad guys. So it will be Krull’s The Beast going up against Last Star Fighter’s Xur and Buckaroo Banzai’s Lord John Whorfin. They will be doing battle in Yellow Springs Ohio on a Sunday afternoon. So let’s get ready to watch a rumble of 80’s baddies who all want to take over our world!
It’s a sunny day in Yellow Springs, and the street musicians are in full swing as Tom’s Market and Dark Star Comics are packed with customers as is Dino’s Coffee Shop where would-be ruler Xur sits sipping his Carmel Pumpkin Latte and mumbling to all who will listen about being so close to ruling the Galaxy and almost killing the last starfighter, when he is interrupted by a voice proclaiming that nobody cares about his failures. This voice belongs to Lord John Whorfin who is gulping down his Frozen Hot Chocolate. Xur takes offense and walks over and slaps Whorfin across his face and challenges him to a duel outside the Whorfin gladly accepts. The two go outside spewing hateful remarks to each other, and as they set the rules for the duel the ground starts to shake and crack as the Black Fortress appears in the middle of town next to Ha Ha Pizza and The Beast comes walking out as everyone looks on with horror the two feuding baddies get upset that this volcano headed monster stole their spotlight and decide that they will start a fight with him and show the people who are the ones they should fear. The Beast makes his way toward Ha Ha Pizza, after choosing to eat there over Sub Way across the street, as Xur and Whorfin quickly stand in front of the door and try to intimidate him. This don’t work as quickly The Beast grabs the head of Xur and crushes it with his bare hands and makes ground beef of it as Whorfin lands a left hook to The Beast’s jaw that don’t phase the monster who then in turn uppercuts Whorfin so hard he flies through the air and lands in John Bryon Park and the impact snaps his neck like a twig. The people of the town cheer as The Beast is handed his large sausage pizza and walks back to the Black Fortress which disappears to end yet another day in Yellow Springs.
Winner – The Beast
Hands down, this would be an easy win for The Beast who would truly make short work of Xur and Whorfin combined, while the latter would at least put up a better fight. So after reading all three films comic adaptations, it’s time for me to pick the one I think should have gotten a full comic series from Marvel that would have moved past just the film and into its own epic adventure much like they did with Star Wars and Star Trek. While I truly think all three would have made amazing comic series and all three have so much more adventures to be had for the hero, I was really torn between Krull and The Last Starfighter. After days of thinking about it, I have chosen Krull because like Conan, Red Sonja and Kull, the film opens itself to be made into one hell of a good action series and many more bad guys could be made to try and take over the kingdom.
So while the clean up crews here at the Marvel Theater clear the floors of dropped popcorn and spilled soda and the last Screening of Buckaroo Banzai is letting out, I am going to stay seated for awhile, soak in all the epic comics I just read and give you readers the low down on what the next update will be all about: getting back on track and taking a look at IDW’s IT! Terror From Beyond Space. So until then, read a comic, watch a movie/TV or play a video game and stay nerdy.