Samson: Mighty Hero Of Movies and Comics

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my tiny spec on the World Wide Web and the place I like to chat about things I enjoy. For this update I would like to chat about Sword and Sandal Hero and Biblical strongman Samson! Plus I will be having an NES First Play Challenge as I play for the first time and try to beat the super rare game Little Samson on my good old RES! We will also be talking about Brad Harris, my favorite actor to have played Samson in film, plus Samson from the Bible and I will talk about Samson from Sparkle Comics and review Samson ½ released by Samson Comics! So as you can see, this is a very Samson heavy update wherein I have said Samson a total of nine times up to this point and we have not even really started. So if you’re ready to get your mighty power of Samson on, let’s get into this update and bring the walls down!

The Israelites and the Philistines were at war with each other with Israel being on the losing side, when one day an angel from heaven told a couple that their son would be the one chosen to be the start of the tide to change. The new born baby Samson was Nazirite from birth and that meant he could never drink wine, he could not shave nor cut his hair and could got touch the dead nor graves! But I am not going to get too much into Samson of the Bible as later in this update I have a feeling we will be looking way more into it and will break it down…and maybe even review it as a comic book. But all I can say is that Samson is a great tale and has a strong man fighting for the good of his people and is tested and broken and still finds his inner power to be the hero he was born to be. Also if you want to read about a man killing an army of men with the jaw bone of a donkey, I would recommend you giving this Bible story a read or watch the 2018 movie Samson starring Taylor James as the muscle bound hero.

The film Samson from 1961 is hands down my favorite Sword And Sandal film to star the character, and for me actor Brad Harris is the best actor to play the mighty hero as he fits the strong man role well. In Italy films based on muscle bound heroes were very popular in the 1960’s, and the Italian cinema cranked out films as fast as they could make them and flooded the market with what is known as Peplum or also Sword And Sandal. But by 1965, these films were replaced by the Spaghetti Western and the Eurospy Film and would sadly never make a comeback at the cinemas worldwide. But you’re not here for a history lesson on Peplum Films, you’re here for Samson from 1961! The film was directed by Gianfranco Parolini and follows Samson as he joins forces with a Queen who has been overthrown by trickery of her Court Counselor. The film was a hit and stripped Samson of his biblical history and just turned him into an adventure strong man character and spawned four other films in the Samson series. Samson was released alongside such other films in the Sword And Sandal genre as “Hercules In the Haunted World”, “Mighty Ursus”, “Atlas”, “Ursus In the Valley Of the Lions” and many more! Samson is a film I can remember seeing on VHS when I was a kid and would be one I would go on to buy both on VHS and DVD and is one of the first Sword And Sandal films I introduced my girlfriend Juliet to when I was on one of my kicks of watching one a night.

The film’s star was Brad Harris who was born in Idaho on July 16, 1933 but was raised in California where he went to Burbank High School and got a scholarship to ULCA for his athletic accomplishments on the football field. While in college he took up bodybuilding when nursing a knee injury that lead to him building a muscular physique. By 1957, he decided that movies were his passion and took film work as a stuntman and stand-in with his first role being “Monkey On My Back” where he played Spike McAvoy with many other roles to follow and was in such films as “Li’l Abner”, “Ocean’s 11” and “Spartacus” to name a few. His first Sword and Sandal role was in 1961 when he took on the part of Goliath in the film “Goliath Against the Giants” after which he stayed in Europe and made films in the genres of Italy and even became very big in German cinema as he not only acted but also became a second unit director, stuntman and coordinator making him a very popular man to hire in cinema. By 1968, he would go on to also executive produce films including films like “King Of Kong Island” and “ Mutations” dabbling in the world of Horror. His final film role was in 2012 as he played the Captain in “Shiver,” a thriller that starred Danielle Harris, Casper Van Dein, Valerie Harper and Rae Dawn Chong. But besides movies he also had roles on TV with his most popular being on soap opera “Falcon Crest” where he played Deputy Duffy from 1984-1989. Besides work in media he also had his own company called Modern Body By Design about health and working out and eating right. Sadly Brad Harris passed away on November 7, 2017 at the age of 84 after battling an illness. But hands down when it comes to the character of Samson, I think of Brad Harris…who oddly only played the role once. But while gone his work in cinema will live on forever as he is at the top of the list of Sword And Sandal actors.

As many of you readers know, I am the owner of a small independent comic company called Sparkle Comics that started in late 2016 with our release of “Shocking Macabre Theater # 1” that was a horror anthology comic featuring Ohio Horror Hosts like Dr. Creep, Baron Von Porkchop and A. Ghastlee Ghoul drawn by Damien Brunk. In 2017 we launched our first Sword And Sandal comic title, and it was Samson and was written and drawn by Don Stephenson based on an idea by me! The plot of the first issue takes our muscle bound hero Samson and his crew on a journey through China were they see the great wall as well as other marvelous sites and creatures all set in ancient times. Here at Sparkle, our comic’s version of Samson is inspired by Brad Harris and we even slightly based the characters appearance around him in his honor and dedicated the issue to his memory. While Sword And Sandal Comics are not in demand at comic shops and are sadly mostly a niche market, our goal at Sparkle Comics is to make it a must read genre of comics again! While not out yet Don Stephenson and myself have chatted about the second issue and it looks like Samson and his crew might just end up in Egypt! Check out below for some art from Samson # 1 as well as the cover and make sure if you’re into Sword and Sandal Comics to check out the Sparkle Comics website and order yourself a copy.

In 1992, the action game Little Samson was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System and was developed by Takeru and released by Taito! In Japan the game was called “Holy Bell Legend Lickle” and the main characters name was Lickle and not Samson. And in the game Little Samson is joined on his adventure by friends like Gamm the Golem, Kikira the Dragon and K.O. the Mouse who are like his crew all who have their own pros and cons when playing as them. The games director was Shinichi Yoshimoto who worked on such other classic video games as Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Strider. The game was met with great reviews and many players and critics hold it as one of the best side platformer games for the NES. Sadly this game was kind of lost in the shuffle as this was released only three years before the NES was retired and was already on the ropes as Sega Genesis, Sega CD and Phillips CD-I as well as Super Nintendo were all in the game in 1992 when Little Samson was released. With this game coming out late in the NES’s life, it also meant that it did not sell like gangbusters and is now a very pricy game in the used market bringing in around $700 to over $1,000.00 on Ebay and in stores. Little Samson is a very popular collectors game and for this Mini NES Challenge I just bought a fan reproduction cart and with that let’s get to the challenge! Oh and I also want to say that from all accounts Little Samson has nothing to do with the Biblical hero nor the Sword And Sandal Film one.

So I chose January 30, 2019 to play this game as the weather outside was below freezing and my car would not start in order to get to work at Rockstar Pro Wrestling. So I opened a bottle of Asylum Orange Cream Soda and began my first time playing the game Little Samson. This was my first time playing this game and man all I can say is that this is a fun hidden side scrolling gem on the Nintendo! It’s the right amount of challenge and the right amount of rage inducing action that brings me as a player the right amount of enjoyment. Picking and playing as four different characters is a great way also to add more play as some characters are harder to play than the others with the mouse being the hardest and Samson being the easiest. After playing the game for a few hours, I got pretty far and will plan on playing this again soon and see if I can beat it as the game is worth putting time into. Below are some pictures I took that day to document the first time ever playing Little Samson.

So I think it’s time for us to get into the comic look at Samson who is a great classic powerhouse hero that is perfect for the world of comic books. So before we get into this issue I want to remind you that I grade this comic on a 1-4 star scale and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready I am ready to see what Samson ½ has in store for me!

Samson # ½   1/2
Released in 1995     Cover Price $2.50     Samson Comics   # ½ of ½

This comic is nothing more than a sampler of comics that Samson Comics had in the works and we get no real stories from the few pages of story and many of the previews are just pin-ups! This was a major letdown and a waste of my time and almost ruined this update as it has zero to do with Samson even if he is on the cover.

As you can see this Samson comic has zero to do with Samson and is just an over priced sampler from an independent comic company that did a terrible job of letting comic readers know what they were buying by having a very misleading cover and title. In fact I do not even want to waste anymore of my time on this issue so let’s just say it’s terrible and move on past it and look at a comic that is about Samson and truly saved this update and allowed it to happen thanks to Kingstone Media for making the comic and Amazon for stocking it.

Samson # 1  ***
Released in 2010     Cover Price $3.99     Kingstone Comics   # 1 of 1

The Israelites are under the rule of the Philistines and things are what they are for the people. Israelite couple Manoah and his wife who cannot have children are visited by an Angel who lets them know that she will have a miracle child that will be the one to bring the Israelites into steps to become something more. The catch is that the son must be Nazirite in order to have the massive strength that will be needed. The son is born and named Samson and as he grows he starts to develop feelings for a Philistine woman and he sets to marry her. Samson on his way to visit her one day killed a Lion and days later comes back to the corpse and touches it in order to get honey from it breaking his vow to the Lord. At the wedding a feast is held for seven days and Samson has a bet on a riddle with some Philistine soldiers who cannot crack it and force his wife to find out the answer so they can win the cloths that are on the line. After getting the cloths to settle the bet and with this he robs Philistines, and worse his new wife is given away to another and this sparks a feud between Samson and the Philistines that has fires being set and people being murdered! And things come to ahead when Samson armed only with a jaw bone of a donkey is able to kill a thousand of Philistine soldiers and with this be becomes the ruler of the Israelites and has angered the King who wants him dead. But when Samson meets Delilah his life is about to change as she has been hired by the King to bring him down and she does so by gaining knowledge about who he is and his secrets of Godly powers comes from his hair and after cutting his hair he is taken prisoner by the King. Samson is blinded and forced into slavery and all the while he begs for forgiveness and for one more chance to serve God, one day Samson is to be tortured and after beaten for the masses to cheer to he is able to use his Godly strength once more and bring down the house killing thousands and becoming the true hero of God he was slated to be.

This Bible tale makes for a good read that is filled with action, faith, death and a hero who finds his inner power even when his Godly given super powers are taken away. The story follows Samson as he rises to power in order to lead the Israelites in their “war” with the Philistines who treat them like second class citizens. Samson is a man who takes his power and strength for granted and while he has a good heart he makes bad decisions that leads him down a path of self destruction as his lust for women and his loose lips of his weakness is what ends up leading him to his own death. When Samson falls from grace his life is very terrible as he is blinded and forced into slavery with daily beatings and verbal degrading. But it’s very powerful when he finds his inner power and is able to murder all his tormentors in one powerful move that breaks the support pillars of the building causing it to fall and crush them all. The King is a man who does not like to be shown up in front of his people and thinks that the Hebrew are nothing more than scum, and is willing to sacrifice thousands of his own soldiers in order to bring down Samson. Delilah is a woman who is willing to set a man up for money and seems to have no remorse for bringing Samson down and leading a man to extreme torture. The story of Samson and Delilah is one that is filled with lots of messages and meanings and the main one being for me is never take for granted gifts that are given to you. The comic is down played the violence of the Bible story and many of the battle scenes are done in one or two panels. The cover for this one is pretty fantastic and if you like Sword And Sandal films this is eye catching. The Interior art is well done and is done by Danny Bulanadi who is a veteran in the comic world who has worked with both DC and Marvel. To sum this up this comic does a good job of putting the Bible story onto comic pages and delivers an entertaining read for those who enjoy this tale. Check out the art below to see the style that Bulanadi used in this issue.

Samson is a Biblical and Sword And Sandal hero that I think works very well as a comic book hero as he has the power and look of a classic superhero and that’s why Samson has a home in the pages of Sparkle Comics. I always enjoy talking about and reviewing Sword And Sandal heroes, and this year we still have to look forward to another Thanksgiving update with Hercules! But for out next update we will be walking away from a epic heroes, and I will be turning over Rotten Ink once more to Juliet who will be talking about The Avengers…no, not those Avengers. She will be chatting about Steed And Peel from the British TV Show The Avengers. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Sword and Sandal film or two, and as always support your local Horror Host. Be ready for a smashing good time next update!

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