Morlock 2001 Or Should I Say How I Would Save Comics!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! Have you readers ever sat and thought about how little we as humans know about the depths of our oceans as well as the vastness of outer space? I mean think about it, who knows what ocean life lives on this planet with us that we have never laid our eyes on, and who knows what alien life forms are on planets we have yet to discover! Have you readers heard of this weird yellow blob like creature that can heal itself that was on display at a Paringings Zoo? Yeah, this slime mold has no brain and yet can problem solve; it can self heal quickly and can eat plus digest even though it does not have a mouth! The yellow blob creature can also move, and this strange fellow makes me think of strange creatures from space in media like the symbiote in Marvel Comics Spider-Man issues or even the meteor goo from the Creepshow segment “The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Verrill”…in other words Space and the Unknown is scary! And before we get into our comic review for this update that is the Atlas Comic series Morlock 2001, I do have something to say about the state of the comic book industry, but first let’s talk about ‘Wicked Lips” by Iggy Azalea!

As you long time readers know, I am a fan of rapper Iggy Azalea and in 2020 she released another E.P. that was called Wicked Lips and featured four tracks and was sold via her website. So is it any good? Well let’s give it a listen! Track one is “Lola” and features Alice Chater and is a great and catchy song. Iggy is on point with Alice singing the song’s hook and it will get stuck in your head! Track two is “Not Important” and has a catchy beat and is full Iggy. She seems to be rapping with an attitude on this track and this makes the song very entertaining, a solid song but not her best work. The third song is called ”The Girls” and is a girl power song that also features Pabllo Vittar and once more Iggy is on it with her lyrics and rap, while Pabllo delivers the song’s hook! A good song with some great Iggy rhymes. The final track is called “Personal Problem” and is a good track and feels like a diss track toward someone who has crossed Iggy, and reminds me of the classic 90’s style tracks of rappers who had beef. Over all this E.P. is a great release from Iggy to hold over fans for the next full album release. I am sure you are asking what I think the best track of this release is, well for me it’s Lola as it really is a fun and catchy song! If you like Iggy like I do, track this release down on CD, vinyl or MP3 as it’s worth a listen.

All through my youth into adulthood I have been a comic book reader.  I started like most kids my age, reading kids comics and superhero comics that I would pick up at the grocery stores or convenience stores. And characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Superman, Batman and Hawkman were all on my must read list and all mentioned still hold a place in my heart and their classic issues are all still read in my household. I can remember going to a UDF with my mom and brother and getting a copy of Transformers from Marvel Comics off a spinner rack and being so hyped to read it once I got home. I have other UDF spinner rack memories as well like getting the issue Justice League Of America # 240 and thinking the issue’s villain Dr. Anomaly was a major threat to our heroes. Of course he was not, but that issue made me think he was! I also have so many great memories of getting comic books from the magazine aisle at Big Bear, the grocery store my family shopped at, and rushing home to read the newest adventures of Captain America or The Hulk. Grocery stores and convenience stores were a perfect place for me to get comic books and helped not only get me hooked but also kept me hooked. But sadly for some reason comics have vanished for young readers to discover these comic heroes off the shelves of grocery & convenience stores.

Also when I was a kid, comic books used to target what kids liked via toys, cartoons, movies, video games and TV shows. Being a kid of the 80’s, you could get comics based on toys like Masters Of The Universe, Thundercarts, Silver Hawks, Care Bears, G.I. Joe, Transformers and M.A.S.K. to name a few. And cartoons like Camp Candy, Little Dracula, Flintstone Kids, Real Ghostbusters, Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead all had comic books as did WWF Wrestling, WCW Wrestling, ALF and so many more TV shows! Video games got into the action with Super Mario Brothers, Sonic The Hedgehog, Legend Of Zelda and Bayou Billy in readers’ hands delivering enjoyable new adventures for things we loved. And let’s not even get into the fact Star Wars, Star Trek, Last Starfighter, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Robocop, Terminator, Bill & Ted and many more film franchises as well got the comic book treatment. And what was nice was that at garage sales and antic shops you could find old comics based on classic cartoons and shows like Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, Happy Days, Welcome Back Kotter, Scooby-Doo, Mickey Mouse, Diver Dan and even The Rifleman…they had something for every kid of all tastes in entertainment. I mean heck even fast food restaurants had comics that they would give away free to kids, like who could forget Adventures Of Big Boy or even The Adventures Of Captain D’s? Oh and let’s not forget that Spider-Man with the kids show The Electric Company had the “Spidey Super Stories” issues for kids in the 70’s that were ones that I loved as a kid! But oddly enough, it seems Marvel and DC hardly focus on making comics based on cartoons, toys, movies or games…and fast food places have cut out the free comics from their menus a long while ago.

Another amazing thing that was around and a big deal when I was a kid was the Sunday Funnies that came in the Sunday newspaper and would feature comic strips of Garfield, Far Side, Denise The Menace, Family Circus, Blondie, Andy Capp and all the others and this felt like another great way to get us youngsters into comic books as who didn’t love Garfield in the 80’s. Every kid I knew read the comic strip and bought the paperback books that collected the strips. I as well always bought the Andy Capp books as for some reason I always liked the drunk…and his snack food. Those paperback comic strip books were so amazing, and I loved getting them from garage sales and book stores and still get them to this day and read them! One other thing I feel helped myself as well people my age and older get into comic books was magazines like MAD and Cracked that had humorous comic strips that made fun of popular movies, shows and pop culture of the time of release. Plus they delivered original characters like Spy vs. Spy as well the two magazines mascots Alfred E. Newman (MAD Magazine) and Sylvester P. Smythe (Cracked Magazine) both who were well loved goofy funny men. But with time and over blown prices, the parody magazines are a shell of what they were with MAD being the last man standing and hardly published. Sunday Comics in the newspaper are hardly looked at by kids nowadays as most households only get their news online. It’s a shame as these events as well are two more ways younger readers are not discovering the joys of reading comics and building the bonds with characters.

Back in the late 90’s, Marvel and DC really did something stupid, and no, I am not talking about flooding the market with mass amounts of comic as they tried to play land grab with each other for retail space. What they did that was dumb was take their issues out of grocery stores and convenience stores and only focused on comic shops. They also sold their souls to Diamond Distribution, a direct market company that has sucked the profits and fun out of comics for so long that in 2020, DC Comics tried to run far away from these tyrants of comic sales. And with kids no longer finding comics at grocery stores or convenience stores, they had to hope that the youngsters would wonder into their local comics shop and pick up issues and discover heroes and villains they liked all the while not being distracted by all the other items at the shop like toys and card games. Marvel and DC also got away from doing kid friendly comics and started to focus on the terrible 90’s trends of poorly scripted comics that only focused on art that would be cool for posters (thanks, founders of Image Comics!) and weirdly proportioned characters. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great comics during this time as well, but there was a ton of bad ones. And when Image Comics came into the game, it really became all about releasing first issues with Marvel and DC mostly doing gimmicks that flooded the market and caused the masses to buy terrible issues with the term collectors edition, and many buyers thinking the had their kids’ college fund in them. That’s right, the 90’s created more buyers than readers, and when the bubble busted, they found out that their Youngblood # 1, Superman # 75 and X-Men # 1 were not worth the thousands they thought. And with that, these buyers moved onto the next big thing they thought would make them tons of money…and these bad stories and generically created characters chased off actual readers.

I now want to share my thoughts on how Marvel and DC can not only save the comic industry but also themselves…and keep in mind I am talking about the mainstream comic industry as the indie world is strong and is delivering amazing comics for all readers! The first thing they need to really do is cut the land grab mentality. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. Deliver comics that are well written and drawn! Marvel and DC need to stop looking at each other as the enemy and realize that most comic readers will check out comics from both as long as again they are releasing worthwhile issues. Face it guys, comics is now a niche and we need to all work together. They need to stop bringing in celebrities in to write comics, many of whom don’t help sales and or even finish the run they were brought in to do, and yet cost the company money to bring them in! Again I must also say if the celebrity is really into comics and has a track record of not flaking on projects bring them in for sure, but don’t over pay them as we all know that there is no major money in comics now.

Stop with the massive events that crossover into every book they have going to finish storylines. This disrupts the flow of comics you are reading and if you don’t care about the massive meaningless “epic” crisis, it takes the fun out of reading your titles. I mean if I am reading Superman and am invested into what’s going on with him and his story, I don’t want a crossover with whatever is going on that’s taking away from his story. Don’t get me wrong, epic events are great and can be fantastic, but don’t overuse them. Make them mean something and seem special when they do come around. The current reason they are doing events is to try and pull in extra sales and to help lower selling books by tying them in. I cannot stress enough that when they do a major event, make it mean something that is not forgotten less than six months after the final issue in order to set up the next event.

At this point both Marvel and DC need to listen to their readers and not people on social media who are not reading comics. Don’t get me wrong, fans can be negative about everything, but don’t cater to people who don’t understand comics or ever read them. Everyone has an opinion, I mean heck this essay about the comic industry is just my opinion about what I think is wrong with the world of comics right now…but the difference is that I have been a comic reader since I was a kid and still read comics to this day. And Marvel and DC are also trying way too hard to be topical with current events and topics, and while comics have always tackled real life issues, the modern effort just at times seems soulless, hollow and done for their own back patting cheers.

Stop bringing the movie/TV universe into the main comic lines. Keep them separate as the movies work for the big screen and sometimes don’t on the pages of an issue as they change the history of classic characters as well as storylines in order to fit into the moves at times…and to that myself and I know several other readers say no thank you. If you want to do comics based on the films, create a new branch like “Marvel Movie Comics” and keep the movie lore to those issues. The comics need to be separate from the other media lore.

Both Marvel and DC also have to stop forcing characters into already established characters names and costumes! I am all for updating characters and allowing them to grow, and I am even fine with established characters taking the reigns like Sam Wilson (The Falcon) becoming Captain America as it made sense…but I don’t like when they take characters with no rhyme or reason and place them in that persona just to once more please non-comic readers or just plan lazy writing. And lazy writing is my next way they could make a change for the good. Stop many of these terrible stories and lackluster series from tarnishing characters and chasing off readers!

Getting young readers back into comics is a must! Don’t get me wrong, they do a great job of promoting characters to kids via movies, toys, video games, cartoons and other merchandise…but they have done a poor job of getting them to want to read a comic book. And in order for Marvel and DC to survive as comic book companies, it is very important that they bring in young readers who will grow up and continue to read them. Right now the vast majority of readers are older and with time and bad writing and art even that readership is shrinking. In order to get young readers into comics, they need to first get comics back into grocery and convenience stores and have comic racks in them and allow kids to discover the wonders of comics and get parents to buy them as impulse buys just like candy and soda. They need to lower the cover price, make the comics affordable and by doing so parents are more likely to buy them for their kids while in line as well as allows kids to once more afford them on allowance money. Think about it if a kid has $10.00 with modern comic prices they could only buy 2 issues and not have much money left for snacks…but if they make comics geared towards kids only say $2.00 an issue, they could buy 3 issues and still have a ton of money left over for snacks. Another thing they should do is make comics for kids that are based on popular cartoons, toys, video games and even novels that kids crave and by putting them in stores and in the right areas, kids will see them and want them! I mean stock them in the toy aisles as well as near the registers and even maybe get them in places like Family Dollar and Dollar General. Marvel is owned by Disney who owns the rights to so many amazing properties and they have a playground of cool IPs they could make into comics for kids, why not make comics based on “Pirates Of The Caribbean”, “Star Wars”, “Spider-Man”, “Lion King”, “Maleficent”, “Indiana Jones” and even “Mickey Mouse”! While DC is owned by AT&T who owns Warner Brothers who owns amazing IPs that would make amazing comic books for kids like “Goonies”, “Gremlins”, “Harry Potter”, “Willy Wonkda”, “Lego Movie”, “Scooby-Doo”, “Wizard Of Oz” and even “Bugs Bunny”. And yes I can hear you readers saying but Marvel and DC do have comics based on Star Wars and Bugs Bunny…and while they do indeed they are over priced and issues on Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes characters are not even stocked at many comic shops. Plus comics based on the likes of “Fortnite”, “She-Ra”, “Pokemin”, “Baby Shark”, “WWE Wrestler John Cena” and even something like “King Kong” or “Sports Mascots” would and could bring kids in. Make comics for kids and allow them to find them super easy and build the next generation of readers.

Again bringing kids back into comics is important for the survival of the mainstream industry, as is getting comics back in grocery stores and convenience stores! Writing and drawing better issues is a must to bring in new and older readers back. Stop changing the history of characters by bringing in the movie and show lore, stop putting characters in the role of established characters, enough of just following hot topics to make yourself seem edgy when most of the time it has zero heart to said story or character. I don’t want to read my comics digitally and nor do I like graphic novels but 100% offer them for those who do.   All I am really saying is make comics fun again and make changes soon before comics as we all know it disappears.

Wow, okay I am sorry that I had to get on my soapbox. Normally I only do that for Sparkle/Blood Scream Comic releases, but I just felt I needed to get this off my chest as Marvel and DC I feel could be doing way more to help the comic industry and save not only themselves but also comic shops from going the way of the dinosaurs and sent the to long box in the sky. And I have to stress they need to bring in newer and younger readers by creating high quality comics with character we love, new characters we care about and amazing storylines that draw us in! But let’s not talk about them anymore, and let’s take a look at Atlas Comics. a great indie company that was gone to soon who got lost in the shuffle of DC and Marvel’s retail land grab of the 70’s! Morlock 2001 was a series set in the future and follows a hero who was grown in a lab and helps make the world a better place. I want to think my pal Jason Young for these issues and making this update possible. I want to also remind you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. Now lets see what Morlock 2001 has in store for us, and if it still holds the same feeling I had about it when I first read it way back many moons ago…see what I did there with the sci-fi themed reference?

Morlock 2001 # 1  **1/2
Released in 1975    Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 1 of 3

In 2001 Professor Kroschell is a man that is doing experiments in his greenhouse in a time when the government has outlawed books and free thinking, and while attending to his plants and genetically made massive pods, the cops appear and murder the Professor in cold blood and take his pods to a government facility. Time passes and one of the pods opens and inside is a man that they name Morlock who can speak and the government takes time studying and teaches him, and when they find out his touch infects people with a deadly mold they use him to eliminate creative enemies of the state who write poems and novels. Morlock hates killing for them and is about to quit when he meets Lynda at the park she tries to friend him as well as talk him into staying with his government job and that killing for them is the right thing to do. Morlock spends time thinking about his job, and decides that he is quitting and when entering the office he over hears Lynda talking to his boss as she is not his friend and was hired by the government to try and get him to accept his job of killing for them! Morlock in a rage transforms into a massive plant like creature and rampages through the government lab and eats Lynda before making his was to Professor Kroschell’s burnt down greenhouse where he finds his journal and learns he was the first in a line of Pod Super beings that was being made to overthrow the government and that the monster inside him can be controlled by a serum that sadly has very little left. As Morlock wonders away the government has issued a reward on his head and has labeled him a threat to society!

This first issue of Morlock 2001 is a great start to this short-lived series and showcases a world that has our government outlawing creative works like writing, books and independent thoughts and when they kill and steal a professor’s experiment they get a tool in their quest to kill those who cross them when a man is hatched from it. But they soon learn that the being can not be controlled and he has his own mind on what’s wrong and right, and well when mad turns into a killing monster! Morlock himself is a man born from a pod who is a blank slate, but learns fast and hates that he has a touch that turns people into mold statues. He knows that killing is wrong, but is torn as those who are teaching him are insuring him he is doing the right thing. You see Morlock is a conflicted and confused hero who has a dark side much like the Hulk from Marvel Comics as if he gets mad he turns into a planet like monster that kills to stop his hunger. The bad guys of this comic is clearly the government and the cops who kill and bully the world in order to fall in line, in other words they are terrible tyrants who crave power and control. Lynda is a young woman you think is truly going to be the friend of the strange planet man Morlock, but you soon find out she is a bad person who is only being nice to him to get him to kill for his job. This is a great start to the series and is way better then I remember it being when I read it as a kid, as when young I thought it was a little boring as it was not action packed like the comics I was reading at the time like Batman and Captain America…now as an adult I find the story well paced and the character of Morlock to be interesting. The cover art his well done for the time and for sure would be eye catching for readers of Sci-Fi comics. The interior art is done by Allen Milgrom and is really sold and reminds me of Marvel Comics are from the same time period. I would say check out the first issue of Morlock if you are looking into Atlas Comics as it’s a good place to start. Now let’s see what issue two has in store for us and if it will be better then I remember!

Morlock 2001 # 2  **1/2
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 2 of 3

Morlock is stuck in the city and the police and even citizens are looking for him as the government has a massive bounty on his head. And once found his only escape is jumping on a passing train and hiding in a freight-car and after passing out from the stress of the chase he is woken up by a trio of mask wearing goons who try and rob him of his gloves and they pay with their lives as the mold of his touch grows all over their bodies and kills them. But his luck runs out as he is discovered by a train worker and taken to the station, as the worker calls for the cops Morlock transforms into the Planet Monster and kills and eats the worker before escaping into the countryside. Morlock turns back human and takes a nap under a tree, but is woke by a scream of a little girl and he rushes to see what the trouble is and finds that she is surrounded by two shaggy leaf type monsters, and with the help of the girls father who uses a flamethrower on the monsters the threat is over and Morlock finds a new safe place with the father and daughter. The man is Bertling and he as well is working on making planet people in order to fight for freedom against the government, and his daughter is Karen a young girl who is blind but could regain her sight if only her dad could get the money needed to pay for the surgery. While Morlock sleeps, his new friend Bertling watches the news and decides he will turn Morlock into the cops in order to get the money to help his daughter see again. He then locks Morlock into a shed and rushes to call the cops, but Karen hears what’s happening and lets Morlock out and unlucky her he has transformed into the planet monster who kills and eats her! By the time Bertling gets out to the shed he finds the goo that is left of his daughter and swears to get revenge on Morlock who himself is now back human and is upset his monster side killed a kid.

This second issue is fantastic and brings a true monster side of Morlock out as he proves that he does not care who is in his way when he goes full monster! So like imagine if the Incredible Hulk on a rampage killed the kid hero team Power Pack and once turning back to Bruce Banner having the memories of doing so, cause that is the horror Morlock faces by the end of this issue! The plot of this issue has Morlock on the run from the government who want him captured, and also he finds that a scientist is working on more planet people like him, and sadly he makes an enemy of him! Morlock clearly in this issue hates that he can not control the planet beast that lives inside him, and while he kills also by his touch he also clearly has a good side as he want to save the day and do the right thing. And it’s really sad when he kills a total of four people in this issue and not even meaning to! Bertling is a scientist that is creating planet base people as well and his are always in full monster mode and attack anything, and when Morlock as his planet monster kills his daughter he becomes a true nemesis for our hero as he wants revenge more then anything! The Government is trying so hard to find their missing plant man and are hot on his trail. This is a very good issue and has a great mix of action and drama and adds a new layer to Morlock as it shows emotion and sadness from him. The cover is well done and reminds me of a 60’s X-Men Cover and the interior art by Allen Milgrom again and is topnotch stuff. Issue two is better then the first issue and once more is way better then I remember it being, and this is shocking as back in my youth when I discovered Atlas Comics thanks to Hal at comic shop Bookie Parlor I enjoyed almost all of them, and Morlock was on my list of so-so issues…and I am here to say I was wrong as they are great! Let’s see what issue three has in store for us, shall we?

Morlock 2001 # 3  **1/2
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 3 of 3

The police bust into the lab of a scientist and murder him for owning books, while outside is Morlock who was going to this scientist for help and he needs more serum in order to keep his Plant Monster side at bay, but knows that he needs to turn into the monster to enter the lab and kill off the police and see if he can save the scientist! The police have burned all the books and the scientist lies dead on the ground, but what they don’t know is that the Morlock Planet Monster is outside and kills and eats many of the police before passing out and turning back into his human look. But something happens when the dead scientist as he rises and feels no pain, he is now calling himself the Midnight Man and he finds Morlock and drags him to safety! Meanwhile the government hears from two of the cops who ran away from the planet monster attack and is still gathering information about Morlock to bring him down as he is now considered a threat to the nation of America! Morlock finds himself in the now shut down New York subway system with Midnight Man and a band of freedom fighters who want to over throw the government, the group is calling themselves Midnight Men! As they are gaining numbers their hidden subway base is found out by the police and is under attack and as the Midnight Men are clashing with the Cops, Morlock is starting to turn into the Planet Monster when he is shot and killed by Midnight Man who in turns tells his team to retreat and is about to push a button that will blow them all up…and so ends the issue and the series!

I am going to say this I was wrong when I was a kid about Morlock, as reading it now as an adult I found it to be a really solid and fun read and showcases why Atlas Comics could have been a great alternative to DC and Marvel in the 70’s if they only would have lasted! The third and final issue in some ways is a major letdown as the focus goes off of Morlock and starts to focus on the scientist turned masked rebellion fighter Midnight Man and his band of fighters! Morlock in this issue goes on a rampage as the Planet Monster then passes out, wakes up asks a million questions and then when he is turning back into the monster he is shot and killed by a man he thought was his friend and could be savior…he is way to down played as he needs to be the hero not the generic Midnight Man! Speaking of Midnight Man he starts the issue off as a scientist who owns books who is then set on fire, who survives bad burns with no pain and then decides he is going to put on a mask and costume and become a leader of an army to fight the government, in other words he is very generic and lame feeling and way to much time is spent on him. The group the Midnight Men as well don’t do much besides mindlessly following Midnight Man and agree to is plans that are clearly thought up on the spot…in other words they are sheep that flow a clueless lamb who’s idea is to shoot and kill Morlock when he is the worlds best hope! The government is as cold blooded as ever as they not only want book readers, our heroes dead but also will kill their own to keep things secret. I think it’s a shame that this issue ends on such a bad cliffhanger as it looks like Morkock is dead and that the series would have continued to fallow Midnight Man as even the cover downplays the series original hero, I think a dumb movie was going to be made by this change for sure and I would guess this change was coming due to writer Gary Friedrich taking over and Steve Ditko who was on art as the idea of Midnight Man was very dated even by 70’s comic standards. The cover on this one was ok and pretty eye catching even if the books title Morlock was hidden by the Midnight Men logo. The Ditko art is great and has a real classic comic book look to it. Over all Morlock is a good comic book series from Atlas with the first two issue being sold and kind of jumping the shark with the third. Check out the artwork below to see the styles used in these three issues.

Morlock 2001 has a very interesting storyline that seems right at home with the Sci-Fi films of the 50’s-70’s like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Omega Man, Soylent Green, etc. and tells a cool story about a world that education and having your own thoughts makes you an enemy of the state. Just imagine if all your favorite books in the world where taken away from you and burned in the streets just so you could never read them and have your own ideas that where not given to you by your government…frightening isn’t it? I also really wish that Atlas Comics didn’t close up before they could truly finish their storylines, as how this stands now Midnight Man has not only killed Morlock but also himself and his men with one click of a button, and that’s truly a shame. But we can not cry over split milk and cant wish what never was meant to be, so with our next update we will be leaving the year 2001 behind and will be going out for Pizza and also talking about a Fast Food Mascot turned Horror Host and of course I am talking about the host of Master Pizza Theatre, the one and only Rocky Rococo! So until next time read an Atlas Comic of three, watch a Sci-Fi film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Oh and do you like to buy a full pizza or by the slice?

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