The Deadly Hands Of The Dragon, The Quick Bite Of The Cobra!

Here at Rotten Ink I love martial arts and not just in comic and movies but also in the world of MMA! Growing up I used to watch Kung-Fu Theater on USA Network and always looked forward to a special they had on USA Network called Kung Fu June, not to mention from time to time Commander USA would host a martial art film.  Because of all this I became addicted to watching Kung Fu martial art films. Names like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and The Shaw Brothers became staples in my young mind and were at the top of the list of stars in this genre. But what also helped kick off my love for Kung Fu films was a book I found at Waynesville Antique Mall called “Kung Fu: Cinema Of Vengeance” by Verina Glaessner that was all about the films and actors of the genre.  I learned so much about the genre at a young age thanks to this book and USA Network, not to mention films like The Karate Kid and all the Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris action films I grew up watching! So this update is for martial arts fans all over the world who enjoy the art of fighting and self defense.

Kung Fu Cinema Of Vegeance Book

One of my favorite martial art films I saw on the USA Network was called “Chinese Super Ninjas,” made by The Shaw Brothers in 1982 and is also known as “Five Element Ninjas.” It’s about a young man whose teacher and fellow students are killed by a ninja.  Lost and filled with rage, the young man finds a new teacher and fellow students and learns a new style of martial arts.  Together with his new friends, he must take on ninjas who represent the elements like wood, water and fire. When I was a late teenager, I moved back to Kettering and was close to a Blockbuster Video (that I would later work many years at) where I picked up a bunch of old martial arts films on VHS in a discount bin for .99 each that included such titles as “Chinese Samson”, “Fearless Hyena”, “Snake Eagle Crane” and one of my personal favorites called “Chinese Hercules” that starred the one and only mountain of muscle Bolo Yeung! Chinese Hercules was made in 1973 and is about a peaceful man who swore off fighting and works for a dock that is taken over by mobsters.  The workers are mistreated by him and his muscle bound goon who is the Chinese Hercules.  The man is forced to fight to stand up for what’s right. When I started to work for Blockbuster, they where still renting out VHS and during one of our shipments we got a classic martial arts film in for sale.  It was called “Five Deadly Venoms,” and I was taken back on how kick ass the film was when I bought it! My friend Jason Gilmore also saw the film around the same time and he was also a super fan and we both cracked up when rapper O.D.B (Old Dirty Bastard) used samples from the film on one of his CD’s. The film was another Shaw Brothers production made in 1978 and follows five students who are trained in many styles based on poisonous animals like snake, toad and scorpion.  While all are trained by the same teacher, they all don’t know the true identity of the others and some are good and some are bad.  In the end the two sides clash in a breath taking kung-fu showdown! This is just a tiny taste of the martial arts films I truly like but these three are very much at the top of the list of some of my all time favorites. I could also list quite a few Bruce Lee films but I figured I would talk about three that some of you fine readers might not have known about, so if you have not seen any of these and enjoy classic Kung-Fu flicks, I say check them out.

Chinese Super Ninjas PosterChinese HerculesFive Deadly Venoms DVD

Bolo Yeung is one of my favorite classic Kung-Fu actors and is one of cinema’s best bad guys of the 70’s and 80’s. Yang Sze was born July 3rd 1946 in China and before he became an actor, he was a completive body builder and was Mr. Hong Kong Champion, a title he held for 10 years! Bolo also studied many styles of martial arts from many teachers and mastered the art of self-defense that helped him when he decided to become an actor in action films. Bolo started acting in 1970 in Shaw Brother films with his first role being in a film called “The Wondering Swordsman” and took roles mostly as bad guys in other films like “The Oath Of Death”, “Tiger”, and “The 14 Amazons.”  His biggest role was in the Bruce Lee film “Enter The Dragon” where he played a character named Bolo. Many other great roles followed like “Chinese Hercules”, “Soul of Chiba”, “Bolo The Brute”, “Bruce The Superhero” and “Fearless Hyena 3”. In 1988 he played the role of Chong Li in the film “Bloodsport” that starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and would be in another Van Damme film called “Double Impact” in 1991. Bolo continued to star in several action films through the 90’s and into the 2000’s, and it appears he will be in a film this year called “The Whole World At Our Feet”! Love him or hate him, Bolo Yeung is one of the best badass actors who made playing a bad guy cool during his career on the silver screen.

bolo yeung

The 1970’s in the world of comic books, most companies rode the wave of the popularity of martial arts films and many great characters came out of this time. Marvel Comics has two popular characters that were hand to hand combat experts, Iron Fist and Shang-Chi The Master of Kung-Fu. Growing up I had issues of both of these characters and with Iron Fist I had mostly the ones were he teamed up with Luke Cage Power Man.  For Shang-Chi I had many of his issues and enjoyed them a lot.  A couple years back, I had a pretty good run of Master of Kung-Fu’s and like a numb skull I sold them to a web based comic store….I know a run of them would have made a great update. DC Comics had Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter and Val Armorr The Karate Kid. I never owned an issue of either of these characters and sad to say had zero interest in both characters. The martial arts was so popular in the 70’s even independent comic companies got into the market of making comics based of karate characters like Charlton’s House of Yang and Hong Kong Phooey based on the popular cartoon. While many of today’s super heroes know karate and martial arts, the magic of the 70’s kung-fu fighters will always live on.

Master Of Kung Fu ComicKung Fu Fighter ComicHouse Of Yang Comic

I have been watching The Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) since the start thanks mostly to my uncle George who would order the PPV and invite us over to watch them with him.  It was a blast watching George get worked up over the fights! You see my uncle George is a bad ass when it comes to the martial arts and I am sure could and would have done very well in the early days of UFC. I can remember sitting at his house along with my dad, brother and cousins Dino, Norman and Nick and watching the likes of Don Frye, Royce Gracie and Maurice Smith duke it out and do whatever it took to get the win under their belts. Over the years the sport of MMA and the company UFC have changed, and UFC has become of the biggest mixed martial arts companies in the word running others like Pride FC, Strikeforce and EliteXC out of business. And along this long journey of watching the sport and seeing it evolve, I have a list of fighters that I love and loved watching in the ring and really briefly I would like to share some of them with you.  This list is in no order, and I picked my top five MMA stars.

UFC Red Logo

So let’s step into the octagon and see what I would call Rotten Ink’s MMA Hall of Fame Class 1!

vitor belfort

Vitor Belfort

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort has always been one of my favorite fighters ever since I saw him KO the likes of Tank Abbott, Wanderlei Silva and Scott Ferrozzo in the early days of UFC. He is trained in many fighting styles like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo, Shotokan and Boxing with the latter truly being one of his strong suits as Belfort can throw wicked fast punches with knock out power in each strike! Belfort started his fighting career at the age of 19 at an event called SuperBrawl 2 in Hawaii and beat the much larger Jon Hess by KO in 12 seconds into the first round! Some key names he has also beaten in the sport include Gilbert Yvel, Heath Herring, Randy Couture, Marvin Eastman, Rich Franklin, Anthony Johnson, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson. To this day, Belfort is one of my favorite fighters to watch and here is to hoping that he holds the middleweight title for a long time! His record thus far is 24-11 and his career looks as if it will not be slowing down anytime soon.

Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman

Mark “The Hammer” Coleman is the godfather of ground and pound as well as the first ever UFC Heavyweight champion! Much like Vitor I have always been a fan of Mark Colman as in his early days in the sport he was one of the most dominate fighters to step into the octagon and pound his opponent down. Another great thing about Coleman is the fact he is also an Ohio boy who in college was a freestyle wrestler and went to OSU (The Ohio State University) and as well made it to the Olympics. Coleman first entered the UFC in 1996 at the point when each event was a tournament, having the fighters at some points fighting up to three times a night! Coleman’s first fight was against Moti Horenstein that he won when he pounded Moti in to sudmission! Coleman would not stay in the UFC his whole carrer and would go on to become a even bigger star in Japan fighting for Pride FC. In 2009 Coleman made his UFC return at the age of 45 and had a short run before being let go and later retiring from the sport. During his amazing MMA run he went 16-10 and beat such talents as Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, Dan Severn, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mauricio Rua and Stephan Bonnor. Mark Coleman is also in the UFC Hall of Fame and still remains a major figure in the history of MMA.

Ken Shamrock

Ken Shamrock

The World’s Most Dangerous Man Ken Shamrock was the sport’s first major megastar who helped bring MMA into the main stream. Ken was the first fighter to use a shoot style and would show the world that Royce Gracie was human after all as he wore out the legend in a 36 minute fight that ended in a draw. Shamrock also was the head of a training camp called The Lion’s Den that dominated the octagon for years and had/has such fighters as Guy Mezger, Vernon White, Frank Shamrock, Maurice Smith and Roy Nelson showing the talent that has come from his camp. Shamrock fought not only for the UFC but also companies like Pride FC, Rage Cage and Pancrase and was a major draw for each. Ken’s biggest feud in the sport was against Tito Ortiz, and their first fight was one of UFC’s top purchased PPVs.  The next three times the fighters stepped into the cage was a draw for viewers. Ken Shamrock was also on the UFC reality TV show called The Ultimate Fighter as well acted in some films like Scarecrow Gone Wild. Ken has victories over such fighters as Bas Rutten, Maurice Smith, Dan Severn and Kimo Leopoldo to name a few.  In his career Ken holds a fight record of 28-16-2, and while he has fought this year 2015 and lost in the first round to Kimbo Slice, Shamrock claims he is not retired and might fight sometime again. Ken is trained in many styles of fighting but is best described at a shoot fighter. Ken Shamrock as well is in the UFC Hall Of Fame.

Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz

The Huntington Beach Bad Boy Tito Ortiz is one of those fighters you like or hate, and I find myself being a fan of Ortiz who brought back ground and pound to the UFC when he busted onto the scene in 1997. Ortiz early in his career made an impact with fans with his take no crap attitude and his outlandish opinions of his opponents. I mean what other fighter can you name that in a short time could piss off a whole fight camp like the Lions Den and to back up his mouth was able to beat down many of the camp’s top stars! Ortiz has been a Light Heavy Weight Champion, a coach on Ultimate Fighter, a short lived pro wrestler, acted in movies and shows like Zombie Strippers and Crow: Wicked Prayer and married adult film actress Jenna Jameson. Ortiz was never one to keep quiet on things and has had falling outs with UFC and it’s president Dana White on many occasions and most of the times worked things out to return to the octagon. Ortiz is now fighting for Bellator after UFC wanted him to retire from the sport. Ortiz is a well rounded fighter and learned many types of martial arts to become the fighter he is and one of few to be inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame. Ortiz in his career thus far has wins over such talent as Guy Mezger, Wanderlei Silva, Evan Tanner, Ken Shamrock, Vito Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Ryan Bader and Stephan Bonnar. His record in the sport as of the day this update was posted is 18-11-1 and here is to wishing Ortiz more wins and one last title run.

Mark Kerr

Mark Kerr

The Smashing Machine Mark Kerr is a fighter that I feel is often overlooked when people talk about the legends of MMA.  Much like Belfort and Coleman, he is a fighter that I have found myself cheering for since he broke into the fighting world. Mark Kerr comes from a collegiate wrestling background and was one of the best at what he did, making people submit and dominating them with his pure power. Mark made his MMA debut in 1997 at World Vale Tudo Championship 3 where he beat down three opponents to win the event and did so with a broken hand! Kerr went on to fight for the UFC where he made a name for himself by smashing the competition.  He later went to Pride FC and became a mega star but at the time he was always battling some demons and his career took a hit for it with a string of loses in the company. After Pride, Mark went on to fight for many smaller companies and was a draw for them on his name value. Mark Kerr was the subject of a documentary about his addictions and the sport of MMA for HBO called “The Smashing Machine” that helped open eyes for many about the dangers of addiction and it also showed how competitive MMA is. While later in Mark’s career he had a string of losses those can’t take away the impact of what he contributed to the sport and showed that wrestlers can be top fighters like Mark Coleman before him. I should also state that Kerr is born in Ohio making him one of us! In his career Kerr has victories over the likes of Paul Varelans, Dan Bobish, Nobuhiko Takada and Enson Inoue. Kerr, who is retired, holds a MMA record of 15-11-1, and is sadly not in the UFC Hall of Fame.

ronda rousey

Rhonda Rousey

I am still a huge fan of MMA, but I seem to think the sport is currently lacking the type of top notch athletes that made the sport from the start, I mean who can look up to the likes of Jon Jones or Chael Sonnen? But one fighter I find myself liking is Rowdy Rhonda Rousey who is a Judo machine who even has Gold Medals from the Olympics to prove it! Rhonda who is only 27 has already won the UFC Light Weight Championship and has starred in many movies like The Expendables 3 and Furious 7 and is sponsored by Reebok Shoes. She has wins over the likes of Miesha Tate, Sara McMann and Alexis Davis and holds an impressive record of 11-0! I am keeping an eye on Rhonda as I feel she is truly the next big thing on the world of MMA, and I see her holding the title for a very long time! Plus she loves Pro Wrestling so she is A-OK in my book!

The Octogan

Well we talked about Kung-Fu films, martial arts comics and MMA so I think it’s time we jump into our comic made by Atlas Comic,s a company you long time readers know I love and learned about thanks to the gone but not forgotten comic shop The Bookie Parlor. But much like the other Atlas titles we have covered in the past, this series disappeared as fast as it appeared as the company folded up thanks to the shelf hogs Marvel and DC who made it impossible to get their issues on the news stands when they would flood the racks with tons of titles at a time. And if you think about it, they both still do it to this day – I mean how many Batman and Avengers titles do we need? The title we are looking at today is so fitting for this update, The Hands Of The Dragon, and follows a masked Kung-Fu hero named The Dragon as he attempts to stop his evil brother and avenge the death of his grandfather. I found this comic at an antique mall so I want to thank that vendor for having it in stock for me to buy and review. So let’s see what The Dragon can do, but before we do, I must remind everyone that I grade this issue 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 karate chop our way to an adventure packed time.

The Hands Of The Dragon 1

The Hands Of The Dragon  # 1  ***
Released in 1975    Cover Price .25    Atlas Comics    #1 of 1

It’s World War II and an old man along with his two baby grandchildren (Wu Ten & Ling) have returned to Japan at a horrible time as the atomic bomb is dropped and the radiation burns the face of Ling badly.  The old man goes to the only place he feels safe, the monastery where he grew up. As the kids grow up, Wu Ten is a noble and strong young man who has mastered the art of fighting as has his scarred brother Ling but he is filled with rage and anger and has been hanging around a bad influence named Dr. Nhu.  A fight between the brothers leaves their grandfather dead by the tip of a spear thrown by Ling, and this starts a feud between the brothers that leaves them as mortal enemies. The years pass and Wu Ten moves to California and becomes a news anchor.  At night he puts on a mask and calls himself The Dragon and is looking for his brother Ling who is now going under the name The Cobra! After he finds a picture taken by co-worker Nicky he finds that Cobra as well as Dr. Nhu are in town and planning on killing the Prime Minister of Japan! During a speech at a college, the Prime Minister is shot by the Cobra as The Dragon is fighting Dr. Nhu who escapes after The Dragon himself is shot by the Prime Minister’s scared bodyguards in the back! In the end at the hospital, the Prime Minister is in a coma but comes out of it thanks to The Dragon who uses a mystic medallion to give him strength.  When The Dragon leaves the hospital in the shadows, he knows that he must find his brother and stop his killing rampage.

This is a great Atlas Comic that I had never heard of until I found it at the antique mall, and I must say I am glad I did as I think it was fantastic and had so much potential to be a great martial arts comic series. Sadly I must say that much like the other Atlas Comic series I talked about, The Brute and The Cougar, this series just ends on the promise of a new issue coming that never came to be thanks to the doors of the company closing. The plot of this comic is pure Kung-Fu movie stuff as it has two brothers on two different paths becoming enemies over the death of their “master”. The plot thus far was really well done and easily could have given Marvel’s Master Of Kung-Fu a run for its money. Wu Ten/ The Dragon is a noble and nice young man who defends the defenseless and has a sense of pride in his family and his heritage. He is skilled in hand to hand combat and can shut out pain when it comes to saving lives and stopping bad guys, and I can’t forget that he is super strong. When becoming The Dragon, he wears a mask to hide his face and hides in the shadows much like Batman…in fact The Dragon/ Wu Ten is a combination of one part Peter Parker, a dash of Clark Kent with the appearance of Iron Fist, and for good measure add in some Jackie Chan. Ling/The Cobra is not as fleshed out as his brother.  All we really know is that he is badly scarred in the face, he is filled with rage and doesn’t care about taking other people’s lives, he hangs around with shady people and he is not as skilled as his brother. The Cobra/ Ling is a mix of the following: add one splash of Storm Shadow, two parts Shredder with the appearance of Freddy Kruger and the attitude of Bolo Yeung. Dr. Nhu is a man covered in tattoos who is a bad man and is not liked by the monks, and when Ling kills his grandfather this man takes him in. Grandfather is a fighter who did whatever he could do to save his grandchildren whose parents were killed in the war.  Grandfather hates war and hates the needless violence of others. I also need to add that Grandfather had radiation poisoning and was able to kill a polar bear with his bare hands….now that’s a badass! It’s a shame that this comic series ended before another issue was able to come out as I would have liked to have seen a little more character development for The Dragon and The Cobra. The art is pretty solid and is done by Jim Craig and holds that 70’s comic feel and also looks like it could be a Marvel Comic in it’s style. Once more Atlas proves why it’s one of my favorite independent comic companies of the past and delivered another action pack character whose life was sadly cut short by lack of rack space at the comic racks at the five and dime stores.

Hands Of The Dragon Art 1Hands Of The Dragon Art 2Hands Of The Dragon Art 3

Well it’s the fifth round of this Atlas Comic title fight, and I had a blast taking a trip down memory lane of the old love I had for martial arts films as well as talking about the warriors of MMA that I cheer for as they step into the octagon. But our next update is taking us away from hand to hand combat and into the world of spooky ghosts as we not only take a look at the comic series based on Filmation’s Ghostbusters but I will also go on a local ghost hunt and tell you all the spooky details! So until then, Young Grasshoppers, be active and make sure to take some time to read a comic or three and remember: No Retreat and No Surrender!

Filmations_Ghostbusters_Logo

World’s Lamest Stunt Man…The Cougar

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today’s topic is The Cougar! Now I know what you’re thinking, we are covering that apex predator also know as The Mountain Lion, the vicious man killer meat eater of North America..but you’re wrong We are not talking about the Mercury car called the Cougar that’s first run was in 1967 and last was in 2002. And no, we are not even covering that terrible 2009 reality TV show on TV Land about older women who love younger men.  We are not even covering Barry “The Cougar” Dawson, the black belt of man skills who was the mascot for Fosters dark rum & bourbon in Australia. We will be covering Jeff “The Cougar” Rand, stuntman and hero from Atlas comics 1975 comic series called The Cougar!

a cougarthe cougar tv showBarry The Cougar Dawson

The last time I covered an Atlas Comic was on my birthday, September 8th 2013 when I covered The Brute as well as closed and missed local comic shop The Bookie Parlor, and I felt it was long past time that I cover another series from this amazing comic company. But before we dive into this, I would like to briefly talk about another local business that is no longer around, and that’s Crazy Cats Arcade! I know, I know, I spelled it wrong the last time I talked about it on this blog and was spelling it like Krazy Kats, which is the way the local Tattoo Parlor spells their name. Crazy Cats was located in Van Buren Shopping Center.  The windows were tinted black and had decals of a cartoon orange cat dressed in a pirate outfit that graced their windows. The parking lot was always filled, and many kids hung out outside the building drinking pops and some smoking cigarettes. Once you opened the door, the sounds of arcade machines and pinball would fill the air and the place was lit with very low dimed lights…this was THE place to play video games…sure The Dayton Mall had a large arcade and Magic Castle was around and sure Captain Boogies Golf and Games showed up later, but Crazy Cats was the king. Some of my memories of going and playing games at Crazy Cats were with my brother Bryan, cousin Stephen and his dad and my uncle Bubba.  You see, when Stephen would get good grades on his report card, his dad would take him to the arcade and give him $10.00 in tokens and let him loose! Bubba would always ask our parents if we could come too, and this was really a fun time.  Family time in an arcade playing games with loved ones is stuff of the 80’s and early 90’s that’s lacking nowadays. The tokens at Crazy Cats were great and had the cartoon cat on the front doing his famous pose, while on the back it had him playing an arcade machine.  To this day, I have a few Crazy Cat tokens and even late last year gave one to Stephen as a reminder of those fun times. Some of my favorite games to play at Crazy Cats were WWF Wreslefest a wrestling game that had the Royal Rumble, Creature From The Black Lagoon Pinball (I can’t tell you how many quarters I wasted on that one) and Primal Rage, the fighting game that pitted giant monsters against each other. Sadly sometime in the late 1990’s Crazy Cats closed its doors for good, and rumors went around that it was because too many teens were fist fighting over rivalries on games and also they said drug deals were going down and disrupting the other business in the shopping center. Now I had been to Crazy Cats many, many times and I will go on record and say I never saw a fight nor drugs being sold when I was there.  While I am sure that it was possible I don’t think it was as out of control as Kettering would like to have had you think. I think the real reason it closed was because Krogers didn’t like having teens around and Kettering likes to take the fun out of everything! While gone, it’s not forgotten by those who entered.  You are missed Crazy Cats, and this update is for you and all your workers that made it such a special and fun place. 

WWF WreslefestCrazy Cats TokenCreature PinBall Holo

He ain’t Superman, and he ain’t Captain America.  So before we move onto the comics, let’s introduce you readers to Jeff “The Cougar” Rand so you can have a feel for the character. Jeff grew up in the swamplands of Louisiana and learned his fast and daredevil stunt skills from swinging from trees and acting as if he was Tarzan. His only friend growing up was an old witch named Hattie who told him the secrets of the swamps, and she was run off by the rudeness of his brother Rick. After his mom and dad were murdered and his brother went missing, Jeff moved to Hollywood and became a stunt man for the movies though at first he wanted to be an actor but his first major role in a film called The Cougar bombed at the box office. Jeff is called The Cougar by his friends because of his cat like speed and agility and is the best in the stunt man business. Jeff wears a red skintight body suit complete with a cougar head belt buckle and is a man of action! His powers and skills include great hand to hand combat, quick minded and quick on the defense.  He also don’t break under pressure and is used to seeing things of a super natural level. He can be compared to Marvel’s The Human Fly and even early Wonder Man. So there you go, you now have a little more knowledge of who The Cougar is and what he is about.

The Cougar 0

So now it’s time to go to the Hollywood back lot with our safety helmet on and see what crazy adventure and stunt our good friend The Cougar is going to do next.  I want to remind everyone that I grade comics 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 as Darkwing Duck use to say “Let’s Get Dangerous”! 

cougar 1

The Cougar # 1  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #1 of 2

The Gore Of Dracula” is a new horror flick being filmed on location at a small village complete with a old spooky castle and it’s own vampire legend! Stuntman Jeff “The Cougar” Rand along with his friend Harve are working on the picture with a complete jerk of a director.  After the day’s shoot the stuntman goes into town along with make up girl whose boyfriend has to stay behind to set up the castle for the next morning’s shoot. While Jeff and friends are in town drinking it up, the young lady’s boyfriend finds on old coffin with a stake driven through an old dusty cape and thinks it’s a movie prop and removes it setting free a real vampire named Count Krolok who kills him and enters town and falls for the make-up girl who looks like his dead lover! Krolok tries to take the girl as Jeff and Harve swing into action.  The fight leaves the vampire girl-less, Harve with broken ribs and Jeff with lots of questions. When the body of the boyfriend is found the next morning, Jeff has had enough and is going to stop the vampire once and for all.  When Krolok gets the young woman, Jeff must travel to the castle and save her from his bite! Jeff does so with the help of a wood table he shatters and rams a stake into the chest of the vampire during combat ending his blood sucking ways.

I have to point this out first the fact that Jeff The Cougar walks around town in a red tight spandex suit with a cougar head belt buckle is classic 70’s cheese, and this guy should have had his own live action show and been played by Lee Majors! Jeff is a cocky stuntman who laughs in the face of danger and even seems not to be afraid of a vampire who up to this point no one thought existed.  His fast movements and hand to hand combat skills seem to be what allows him to be so fearless and ready for adventure. But while he is daring and a butt kicker in this first issue, he lacks a personality and charm making me not attached to him just yet.  The fact he seems not to be bothered by the fact his friends ribs had been shattered and a fellow film worker is dead, those are just second thoughts as he is now worried more about the young hot make-up girl who he almost seems to be putting the moves on by the end of the issue even though she just lost her boyfriend to murder. The vampire Krolok is just as cocky and walks right into his death in the end of the issue that the likes of Count Dracula and Morbius would have seen a mile away.  I will say that his power and strength did make him a very powerful villain for a stuntman to fight. One thing that also lacking a little is that all the other characters are full fledged background players and none of them shine or make you care about them. While it sounds like I didn’t like this comic, it’s the opposite.  It was a lot of fun, and I loved the 70’s action film/show feel to it.  The art was done by two artists, Dan Adkins & Frank Springer, and it looks pretty good, not on par with major Marvel and DC books at the time but it looks well for this comic. The cover is cool, but not a very good one for a first issue and would not have drawn too many Super Hero readers in as much as it would draw the monster kids of the 70’s. Just as cheesy as I remember it back in the day, so I am hyped to see how issue 2 holds up after all these years!

cougar 2

The Cougar # 2   **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #2 of 2

Jeff “The Cougar” Rand is working on a new flick and during his big stunt, he finds the dead body of a man whose neck has been ripped out! This murder triggers a memory in Jeff’s mind about his youth, growing up in the swamps of Louisiana and how his friend, an old witch placed a curse on his mean brother Rick that years later turned him into a werewolf that killed their parents and disappeared into the night. And when Jeff’s cousin is killed, he knows his brother is in town, but the police just aren’t fully sold on his werewolf theory. But while his new girlfriend, Janie, a lead singer for a band, plays at her sold out concert the werewolf attacks and Jeff goes on the offense and uses a silver knife to kill the werewolf who is of course Rick, but the fight leaves Jeff injured and paralyzed for life due to a spinal cord injury.

Well this was the final issue of The Cougar that Atlas released, and just imagine if DC ended Batman like this when Bane broke his back…just yep he is paralyzed and that’s the end you don’t need to know anymore. It’s a shame that the series ended as fast as it started thanks to the closing of Atlas. This second issue also tries to add a little more to the life of cocky Jeff “The Cougar” Rand and even tries to explain that silly suit he wears around town, explains his humble beginnings and even gives him a girlfriend who is a popular singer. The telling of why he wears the costume as a joke for a film he stared in that was a bomb is really silly as is the fact that his brother is a werewolf who killed his parents and after their deaths he just goes on with his life…he doesn’t even try to look for his brother? His girlfriend Janie seems to be just flung into the story because in issue one there is no mention of her, but in this issue they act as if they have been a couple for awhile. His brother Rick is given very little to do, and the show down while he is a werewolf is a little weak. The art in issue two is done by Frank Springer and seems a little more sloppy in spots.  The cover is pretty good and shows action with another super natural being. Once more this series tries to mix superhero and horror comics and is a pretty average read.  It’s truly a shame this series did not get time to blossom into something really good because the route this was going, I could Frankenstein’s Monster and The Mummy on the plate for The Cougar to fight.

Cougar Logo 0

While Jeff Rand in the world of comic book stuntmen is not as well known as Johnny Blaze or Wonder Man, nor is he as well known as real life stuntmen like Evil Kanivel, he was Atlas comics only stuntman and he had to do. But our next update we will walk off the Hollywood set and into hot jungles of South America as we go on the hunt for The Predator! That’s right, we will be looking at Dark Horse Comics first 4 issue mini series based on the cult sci-fi action thriller.  So be ready to be watched from the shadows and look into the skies because The Predator is waiting for us! Until next time, make sure to support your local comic shop and read a comic or two.

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The Incredible Brute

Welcome back, everyone! After traveling the comic shops in the area looking for issues to get for this blog, I got a sad feeling when I remembered that one of the best comic stores in the area has not been in business for many years now.  That was a shop called The Bookie Parlor, run by Hal and Sue Blevins. Bookie Parlor not only had the new comics that came out every Wednesday, but they also had a huge selection of back issues, old comic related books, t-shirts, posters, and sports and trading cards. When I was younger I spent many hours going through their cheap bin and Incredible Hulk back issues and remember always be greeted with Hal’s gravelly voice as he would say “Welcome to the Bookie Parlor” and would go right back pricing sports cards.  Most of the times I was there, he seemed to be messing with sports cards. Many teens and kids would complain about Hal being rude to them, and while he was gruff, he always treated me with respect and would help me find issues I needed. His wife Sue was always super nice and would always make you feel welcome. Everything in the shop was easy to find and Hal always seemed to get new back issues that he would restock like clock work. My brother and I used to always imitate Hal to each other and would chuckle as we would watch him go off on people in his shop, oh the good times of that. My first knowledge of Bookie Parlor came when his shop was on Wayne Ave near downtown Dayton. The side of the building had a huge painting of Superman plus the bicentennial march of Spider-Man, Hulk and Captain America.  Every time we would pass it going to my grandparents’ house or Renaissance Music (the best record store EVER in Dayton), my Brother and I would get super hyped to see the paintings. It wouldn’t be until years later when the shop moved to Wilmington in Kettering that we would actually get to shop there. Thanks to Hal and his trading cards, I learned who Bettie Page was as I would buy cards based on the sexy pin-up model. Bookie Parlor maybe gone but it won’t be forgotten.  The years of great nerdom the store spread is still felt to this day.

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The Bookie Parlor also introduced me to a small comic company from the 70’s called Atlas Comics that will lead us into our look at The Brute. As I mentioned, The Bookie Parlor had a great cheap bin of comics that I would raid for off the wall comics, some that were in terrible shape but among these misfit comics I found a comic called The Brute, that had a huge ape like man rampaging in the streets like the Incredible Hulk. The cover piqued my interest, and the issue came home with me.  I read the comic and loved it and so began my love for Atlas Comics. In 1974 Seaboard/Atlas Comics was created by Martin Goodman (the man who made the launch company that would become Marvel) and was his way to compete with Marvel and DC. Goodman hired many veteran comic workers and aimed to make his company # 1 in the market. But sadly only one year later the company would shut down, and Atlas was forgotten. But not only did great characters like Iron Jaw, Wulf, Grim Ghost, Brute and Son of Dracula come from this company but so did the power to creators! You see if you made a character for Marvel and DC, they would own the character once it was green-lit but at Atlas the character was the creator’s property and this gave the power back to the people who made comics what they were.  There could be no Stan Lee slapping his name onto anything and everything, making the world believe he created it. This noble stand was also what Image Comics was founded on showing that Goodman had truly the right Idea. In 2010 Goodman’s grandson relaunched the company that is still going. To this day I still love Atlas Comics and look forward to exploring its many back issues.

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Now I am sure many of you are thinking what the heck is The Brute?! Well let me sum him up real quick for you so that you might have more of a bond with the savage man-beast. The Brute is a primitive man, half human and half ape.  He has the mind of a hunter and was frozen in a block of ice during the ice age.  In 1975 the temperatures have heated up and freed this hunter from his icy prison. Now he is free and has traded bears for human prey as this hunter does what he knows best and that’s killing. The Brute has blue skin, long black hair and ape like features making him very different looking than modern man. He is also very tall and very strong making him a major threat to those he crosses.

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 So with that let’s get down to business and take a look at the 3 issue run of The Brute for Atlas Comics.  Remember 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, its art and story. This review is a team up from Bookie Parlor, Mavericks Cards and Comics and Bell Book and Comic. 

The Brute 1

The Brute # 1  ***
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #1 of 3

Three brothers enter a limestone cave and only one leaves alive as a primitive missing link of a man makes two of them dinner! Sherif Frazier with his force alongside Dr. Turner, a female scientist who wants to study the beast man once he’s captured, go to the scene. Frazier and his men capture The Brute and then it must stand trial for the murders. Dr. Turner wants to study the creature while the father of the dead boys wants it dead.  The judge sides with Turner but puts her fully in charge of the beast man. Turner works for months with The Brute and forms a bond with it.  One night the father breaks in and knocks Turner out, letting The Brute free! The Brute kills the father and leaves the jail.  When Turner comes to, she is in trouble for it escaping and Sherif Frazier gives the order to capture it alive or dead!

This 1st issue reads like a pure B-Movie and would have been right at home not only in comics but also on a drive-in movie screen. In this issue, The Brute is very much a killer and more animal then human, but after his friendship with Turner, more of its human side is shown giving this nonspeaking character some depth. Dr. Turner is turning out to be just like Rick Jones as far as being a mindless monsters friend and trying to make it do good. Sherif Frazier is a hero but not given much to do after he captures the Brute. What works the most for this comic is the story.  While it’s very simple and for all accounts not all that original, it still holds something that’s sure to please cheesy horror/sci-fi fans as well as fans of comic characters like The Hulk, Man-Thing and Solomone Grundy. The art is pretty good and has that classic 70’s look and could easily have the Marvel logo on the front in terms of quality. The cover while very cheesy is still a classic Atlas cover. At 33, I found myself still loving this issue and enjoying the hell out of it! So let’s get down to issue 2 and see if the charm is still there for the blue skinned Brute.  Oh yeah think about that: The Hulk is green skinned and The Brute is blue skinned – clearly this was Atlas’s attempt to capture Hulk fans. 

The Bute 2

The Brute # 2  ***
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #2 of 3

The Brute hides on a small plane and in fear causes it to crash deep into the woods.  But before the crash, the pilot is able to send out an SOS call and speak of a monster on board. After the crash, The Brute is injured but alive and is found by a mad scientist named Dr. Speer and his deformed assistant Eric who take him to their secret lab and turn The Brute into a mindless slave. No longer needing Eric, Speer has The Brute kill him and then go after members of the science board that had taken his license away so he can turn them into reptile people! As this goes on, Sherif Frazier goes to Dr. Turner tells her of the plane crash and says if she can get there before the cops she might be able to save The Brute’s life. When Dr. Turner gets there, she is attacked by Speer who wants her to become a female reptile person in order to mate with one of his other freaks, but The Brute breaks the mind control and proceeds to beat up all the reptile people and then kills Dr. Speer. The fight leaves the hidden lad in flames, leaving Dr. Turner to think The Brute is dead but this is not the case as it wanders off into the woods.

It’s Frankenstein meets cave man once more, much like the 1974 film “Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks.”  But this time throw in some reptile people, and you have an issue that is slightly better than the first. In this issue The Brute is still the mindless killing machine but for the most part is mind controlled by an evil doctor who is hell bent on making all humans into reptiles. Once more The Brute is shown to understand friendship as he breaks his mind control to save his only friend, Dr. Ann Turner. The plot of this one also reminds me of “House of Frankenstein” in which a Mad Scientist wants nothing more than revenge on fellow scientists who have spoken out against his crazed work. Dr. Turner is a likable character who you find yourself wanting to see help The Brute from being killed. Sherif Frazier has very little time in this issue and is shown to be a friend of The Brute as he gives Turner a lead to save its life. The art is pure Marvel Horror and makes the comic seem even better. The cover again is good work and makes for an eye catching issue. I think so far this is a great solid series that showcases an amazing powerhouse character. Let’s see if issue 3 can end the series with a good finisher.

The Brute 3

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

The Brute is alone in the woods, confused and hungry, when Sherif Frazier sends his men out to capture him.  At first they are told to kill The Brute, but Frazier’s crush on Turner makes him change his mind to capture him. One cop disobeys orders and puts a bullet into The Brute’s brain.  What should have killed him only puts him at death’s door. The Brute is rushed to surgery where its life is saved and it starts to learn to talk, but when The Brute escapes again he runs around looking for a ball to play with like a child would. But The Brute is about to meet his match as a super being called Doomstalker takes the beast down and makes threats to the cops! And so ends Issues 3 on a cliffhanger that was never resolved.

This third issue starts off with a bang and is a great story but when Doomstalker enters the issue, it slips a little. This one has The Brute learning how to speak, showing that the primitive man is learning. In this issue the Brute is pure Hulk rip off at the start complete with torn purple pants and childlike actions. Dr. Turner is turned up a notch as well and for some reason is a total flirt! Sherif Frazier is more of a hard ass with a soft spot in this issue, changing the past vibes the character has given off. The addition of another mad doctor with a super being is a little silly and Doomstalker seems like a total hammy generic bad guy goof. There’s also the normal drama of the cops trying to kill or capture the Brute, making it have a slight been-there-done-that feel. This was not intended to be the final issue but as fate would have it, this issue did mark the end of The Brute’s run at the Seaboard Atlas Comics.

The Brute was the first comic I read from Atlas comics and remains one of my favorites from the short lived company. It’s a shame that his tragic story never fully unfolded and at the end of issue 3 you are not sure if he’s alive or dead and what the fates of Dr. Turner and Sherif Frazier will be. That’s one thing that always sucks, when a series never gets to have a full ending much like many of the STAR Comics we have reviewed in the past.  It makes your wonder the fate of characters you have invested time and emotions into. While it’s clear as day that this is a cheap cash in on Incredible Hulk, the Brute still makes his mark in my comic world. Man with all this talk of Incredible Hulk, I have decided to also do a quick review for issue # 121 from that series and will also try something new after that! So with no further wait, let’s take a look at Incredible Hulk. 

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The Incredible Hulk # 121   ***
Released in 1969   Cover Price .15   Marvel Comics   #121 of 474

The Incredible Hulk has a hurt leg and decides to hide out in the swamps of Florida after he has a mishap with a rocket. The Hulk wanders the area enjoying the peace and quiet, taking in the sights of nature. General Thunderbolt Ross, alongside Major Talbot, is planning his next attack on The Hulk when they get word he has been hit by a rocket and landed in the swamps of Florida.  They whisk off to attack him. Meanwhile in the swamp, a thing has come out of the muck, once a man who was on the run, now a giant mucky monster known as The Glob. Thunderbolt and his men head into the swamp as Talbot stays with Betty Ross (the general’s daughter and lover of Hulk’s other side Bruce Banner) and they stay at a hotel near the swamp. As The Hulk fights with the army, The Glob is attracted to Betty and comes for her and takes her deep into the swamp. After Hulk beats the army he must save Betty from The Glob and must do so with a very badly hurt leg! In the end a toxic substance the army put into the swamp water ends the Glob and he makes sure Betty is out of harms way and into the hands of The Hulk.

This is a great classic Hulk vs. other monster match as he takes on the swamp muck man The Glob. This fight is pretty lackluster as The Hulk is fighting with a bum leg and The Glob seems not to even care to fight. The Glob is very underused in Marvel Comics and mostly only fought The Hulk and Man-Thing.  While he is a mute villain, he can still add some trouble for any hero he faces. It was also nice to see The Hulk hurt in this issue stacking the odds against him as he had to take on Thunderbolt and his men as well as The Glob, The Hulk is one of the strongest characters in comic history so seeing him as an underdog was nice. Thunderbolt Ross is as always a bitter old man who will stop at nothing to crush The Hulk once and for all, but does show some mercy as The Hulk saves his daughter and quietly gets away into the swamp. Betty Ross is still sweet as ever and cares about Bruce Banner and The Hulk knowing they are one in the same. General Talbot is as sleazy as ever and while a good man, he still is not to be trusted. Over all this is a great issue in the long running Incredible Hulk comic series and has a monster battler as well as an monster vs. army battle so what more could a reader want! The art is amazing classic Marvel and the style I miss in modern comics.  The plot is your classic Hulk story. The cover is eye catching and lets you know that you will see two monsters fighting it out.

So with that, let’s take a new look at something new here: a dream match up that pits three monsters against each other! Fighter one is The Glob, the muck monster of Florida! Fighter two is the primitive powerhouse The Brute! And the third is the green skin power house The Hulk!

The GlobVSThe BruteVSIncredible Hulk

The battle place will be the swamps of Louisiana and The Glob will be the first one there.  As he comes from the muddy banks he shuffles around, almost lost in his own thoughts, but at that moment The Hulk lands from one of his mighty leaps.  The Hulk knows The Glob and knows they have fought in the past and a battle is about to happen as Thunderbolt Ross drops in his new secret weapon that he captured known as The Brute into the battle ground! The three monsters would size each other up, and then the battle would start. The underdog of the fight would have to be The Brute.  While he is strong, he is still mortal and can feel pain. The wildcard would be The Glob.  While he is not super strong, he has enough power to inflict some major damage, and with being mute he could hide in the back and choose when to strike. The odds on favorite is The Hulk with his brute strength and pure raging power. I think The Hulk and The Brute would go at each other first, and The Hulk would make quick work of The Brute with a few well placed punches.  The Glob would then attack from behind and would get the best of The Hulk for a brief moment, but when Hulk got his balance back, a well placed Thunderclap and ground stomp would send The Glob into the opened Earth.

WINNER: The Incredible Hulk

Atlas Comics is a short lived company that had a good impact on my life and showed me a whole new world of independent company. So this update I got to look back on The Bookie Parlor, The Brute, a primal man and The Hulk, my favorite superhero of all time. Next up is Dark Horse Comics’ short take on horror icon Pumpkinhead! See ya next time.

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