The DC Detective Superhero Jonni Thunder Cracks The Case!

Here at Rotten Ink I really enjoy taking a look at all types of heroes, villains and characters from all types of comic companies, and one that I really do enjoy showcasing when it comes to underrated and misused heroes are those of DC Comics. In the past we have taken a look at characters like Red Tornado, Hawkman and STEEL, all topnotch superheroes that seem to be afterthoughts in the world of the DC Universe. For this update I have chosen a character who took over the role of superhero from her father, and I am talking about Jonni Thunder aka Thunderbolt a private detective who also has the power to turn into a powerhouse electric hero! So if you’re ready to solve a mini series with a super powered gumshoe, let’s take a quick case with Jonni Thunder!

Jonni Thunder and her father Jim Thunder came together in California and opened “J. Thunder Detective Agency” after Jim was fired from the police force but still felt he could help people. For years father and daughter try and help people with their skills and have lots of great success. But over the years her father Jim Thunder is slowly killing himself with hard liquor and cigarettes and dies from his bad vices leaving Jonni to have to run the agency on her own. While on a case of murder she is offered money by one of her father’s friends for a statue that turns out to hold the power of Thunderbolt, and once free the creature bonds with Jonni and she is able to control it and hence a superhero is born. The downside for her is that while she takes control of Thunderbolt, Jonni herself passes out and is left open to attacks and dangers. Jonni would later, as Thunderbolt, get involved in the Crisis On Infinite Earths and took on Knodar and also would later become romantic with superhero Skyman and would join the team Infinity Inc, that is until she would lose her power and gain it back only to find that the Thunderbolt that attached itself to her was in fact a alien who had bad attentions. Once she lost her powers and Skyman passed away, Jonni Thunder left Infinity Inc. and faded way back to normal life. So while her time as Thunderbolt and a superhero might have been short, Jonni still was a cool and interesting character that once more DC dropped the ball with and misused over the years.

So as you can see Jonni Thunder by all accounts is a normal strong willed woman who owns and runs her own business that by luck gets the power of a superhero. But like many of the characters created by DC, she was not given the chance to become a mainstream character as it has always been clear that if they were not Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman they just don’t have much for you at the time. With comic characters now being used in other forms of media like video games, novels, TV shows and movies the folks at DC seem to be more open to using the none A-List characters. But we are now at the time of this update were we will do the review for the Jonni Thunder mini series, and I want to thank Bell Book And Comic for having them in stock. I also want to remind all you readers that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready, lets see what Jonni Thunder is all about and if Thunderbolt can save the day.

Jonni Thunder # 1   ***
Released in 1985       Cover Price .75       DC Comics     # 1 of 4

It’s a stormy night in California as Private Investigator Jonni Thunder returns to town after her father’s funeral. Once back at her office she finds a body of a would-be client dead with gun shot wounds, and after the cops question her, she gets a weird phone call that says if she seeks answers to why the man was murdered in her office she must meet them at the tar pits. Jonni jumps into her 1957 Thunderbird and in the pouring rain finds that her mystery caller was a no show. When returning to her office she finds a weird metal insect waiting to try and kill her and with lots of luck and after escaping her office via the window in the ally she is able to make the machine blow up with a well places umbrella to the metal machines eye. After the attack the cops once more give Jonni guff and act as if her story of a killer robot is fake and takes the word of a drunk who claims he was in the ally and seen and heard nothing. Jonni storms off and heads to the office were she finds a note to meet one time western actor and singer turned TV mogul Slim Chances who makes her an offer to buy an old statue of her fathers that has a story of power around it. Jonni knows that the statue was turned into a lamp at the office and when bringing it to the set up meeting spot she is attacked by the old bum who has a high powered laser gun and he as well wants the statue and even tells her he is the one who sent the metal bug assassin! As he tries his best to kill her with his laser gun the statues starts to glow and a being of energy comes out of it and Jonni passes out and is now controlling it and chases the old man who falls off a cliff and dies! The flying energy being returns to Jonni who awakens and is confused on what just happened.

This first issue in the mini series is fantastic and a great way to kick it off and bring readers in. The thing that works the best for this comic is the nice mix of classic detective comic with a touch of superhero comic by the end. This issue’s plot has Jonni Thunder after the funeral of her father being the target of a hit that by the end of out story all revolves around a statue that was sent to her father when she was young that was stolen from a foreign country that has stories of powers. Jonni Thunder is a good detective, who is skilled at her job as she is always looking for clues and always paying attention to things going on around her and best of all she is sharp witted with good survival skills. Jonni also is very skilled at combat and is a strong willed character who does what she can to get the job done, plus she does not take any guff from anyone…she is a really cool basic detective character. Thunderbolt is a female being of energy that can fly and shoot energy blasts from her hands, she has the mind of Jonni and at this point Thunderbolt does not speak nor do we really know much about her yet. The main villain of this issue is the old man who clearly wants the statue and will kill in order to get it.  At this point we don’t know who he is, but I am thinking he might be the man who originally stole the statue decades past. I also don’t trust Slim Chances as this old time western actor seems a little too interested in buying the statue and even never showed up at the meeting spot, making me wonder if he hired the old man to kill the daughter of his one time friend. This far the story is well done, and I am looking forward to seeing how this all plays out as well as I hope to get the answer of who the old man is and who hired him. The cover is pretty eye catching and is very 80’s DC Comics.  The interior art is well done and is done by Dick Goirdano. To sum this issue up, it’s a great first issue and introduction to a character that had/has lots of potential, and I am looking forward to seeing what issue two has in store for us.

Jonni Thunder # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 2 of 4

The police have shown up to the crime scene and find the dead body of the old man at the bottom on the cliff, they of course have it in their mind the Jonni Thunder is the killer but they have no proof and seem to get joy in given her a hard time. Once she leaves the crime scene she goes home and tries to figure out what this statue is and why it has given her powers in times of need. She goes home and thinks about her next move when she finds a private detective like herself named Harrison Trump digging through her mail, the two get into a struggle and Harrison gets away before she can figure out why he was snooping. Jonni goes to the office and finds Slim Chances and his bodyguard Roadblock waiting for her and they are not their as friends as they search her purse for the statue and leave when they think the cops are on their way. Jonni who has hidden the statue finds the Harrison has stolen it and she travels to San Francisco to get it back. She soon finds that Harrison was working for night club owner and dancer Red Nails who has turned on Harrison and is trying to figure out the power of the statue when Jonni breaks in and confronts her. The two women share some words and Red throws the statue at Jonni knocking her out but also allowing her to turn into Thunderbolt who chases Red around but should have taken her out fast as Red picks up a gun and is about to shoot the knocked out Jonni in the head!

The second issue has Jonni Thunder at odds with many people all who want the statue minus the cops who think she might be covering murders that are happing by not giving them all he details. The poor detective is also having to deal with the fact that a statue has given her powers that turn her into a living raw energy power superhero! Plus she gets attacked and bullied all through the issue as Slim Chances and his bodyguard try and rob her, sleazy private detective Harrison Trump snoops around her house and does rob her and club owner beauty Red Nails knocks her upside her head and also tries to rob her!! Jonni Thunder in this issue is tough and also confused as after the death of her father her life is becoming stranger and stranger and she herself is trying to solve her own case of what’s the deal with the statue and why the world wants it and why does it have weird powers. The cops are no real help, and they keep just blaming and investigating Jonni instead of listing to her statements. The old western actor Slim Chances and his former NFL player bodyguard Roadblock are scum and are greedy for the statue and try to bully their way into getting it and even try and use money as means to get it. Harrison Trump is a P.I from San Francisco who is not a good one as he is willing to steal for his clients and even is willing to fight against a woman in order to get his case closed, funny thing is he is a fool and becomes a hostage of his own client! Red Nails is a pretty red head woman who owns a dance club and is clearly cold blooded and willing to kill in order to get the statue as she wants it’s power for herself. The cliffhanger ending of this issue is really well done as it’s clear that Thunderbolt has to be fast in order to save her own life! The cover for this issue is great again and is classic 80’s DC Comic stuff and the interior art by Dick Goirdano is great once more and is great classic art stuff. To sum it up, this is a great DC Comic for a female hero they sadly seem to have forgotten for the most part. So lets see what issue three has in store for me!

Jonni Thunder # 3   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 3 of 4

Red Nails forces Thunderbolt to retreat back into Jonni Thunder’s body as if the hero don’t she threatens to shoot the host body in the head! Once awake Jonni and the still captive Harrison Trump are handcuffed and forced by Red and her henchwomen to sewer tunnels where they are shown a giant electric machine that was built by Red who besides being a stripper is also a whiz of electricity machinery and has designed a massive laser gun that she plans on powering with the power of Thunderbolt, but first she wants to use it on Jonni and Harrison! But when the statue doesn’t power the laser gun, Red Nails sends her goons to kill Jonni and Harrison instead who end up escaping right after Jonni is able to grab the statue. The pair find themselves on the run and end up being kidnapped by Slim Chances whose limo is now being chased by Red’s lady goons on motorcycles! Jonni and Harrison leap from the limo just in time and find themselves having to work together to really get out of harms way. But their escape is cut short when Red Lips starts to use a lightning machine try and stop them forcing Jonni to become Thunderbolt and for Harrison to try and control the run away car that the body of Jonni is passed out at behind the wheel! With some luck and power Thunderbolt is able to electrocute Red Nails ending her reign of terror, and return to her body and she hopes this is the end.

The third issue once more is a solid read and shows that Jonni Thunder when pushed can take care of business and truly has the will to live when faced with odds that are stacked against her. In this issue Jonni is kidnapped and set to be murdered by a laser cannon, but is able to escape and stop her enemy who is using the cities electric power to try and kill her and gain back that statue. Red Nails is one mean woman as she is unfazed by the chaos she is creating and the lives she might be taking, she also clearly only really wants power and money…too bad she gets none and finds herself fried like a piece of chicken. Slim Chances the one time movie cowboy turned TV tycoon is also a true scumbag as in this issue he even turns to kidnapping in order to get the statue and it’s power. Harrison Trump who is the goofy private investigator who really help start this drama shows that he is not a fully bad guy as he risks his neck to not only try and save his own hide but that of Jonni’s as well. Thunderbolt is shown that she does have a weakness as all the electric power of the city really zaps and hurts her, but she also shows that with the mind of Jonni she is smart and quick to come up with answers to major problems. This issue helps build up the story really well as it once more shows you that this statue is something special and has bonded with Jonni who cant get a moments peace in order to figure out what and why! The cover for this issue is very eye catching and good use of the colors yellow and red with interior art once more being handled by Dick Goirdano who once more captures the feel of DC Comics in the 80’s. Over all this is another solid issue that makes me look forward to the fourth and final issue to see how our story plays out.

Jonni Thunder # 4   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 4 of 4

Jonni Thunder and Harrison Trump are driving back home when they are pulled over by the cops and as Jonni is taken to the station as Harrison steals her car! After being questioned by the cops a call comes in from the higher ups to leave Jonni alone who leaves only to be once more taken by Roadblock to meet with Slim Chances. Once at the mansion Jonni beats up and kills Roadblock and soon finds that Slim is the man who hired the laser gun madman who tried to kill her at the meeting spot and that he also is the one who shot the man who died in her office! Slim also tells her that the statue came from space and that he and Red Nails had nothing to do with each other, but he goes too far when he is about to kill Jonni with his laser gun and Jonni turns into Thunderbolt and electrocutes Slim killing him before in a daze back as Jonni she leaves the mansion with two dead bodies left behind and lots of thinking to do as she returns to her office. Once back she finds her friend beat up bad on the floor and a note left behind by Harrison for her to meet him alone, Jonni is in a rage as she thinks he has beaten her friend near death and rushes to bring down Harrison who she quickly learns is innocent and that Red Nails is still alive and she and her goons are the ones who beat up her friend. After tricking the goons Jonni targets Red who she lets in on the secret that the statue no longer has power, as she is now the source of the energy.  Red in a rage tries to shoot Jonni and a struggle ensues that leaves Red shot thanks the cops that have been called. In the end Jonni has cleared her name, she has the power of Thunderbolt living inside her and she now has friends in the police department as well as Harrison Trump a fellow P.I.

This is a mini series that does a great job of bring the world of comics and cheesy detective pulp style novels together to deliver a very entreating adventure. In this issue Jonni Thunder learns that she truly has the power of Thunderbolt and is able to clear her name as well as deal with all those filled with greedy wants and needs that all breaks down to the statue. Jonni Thunder is good at her job and knows how to find the information she needs to close a case as well as survive any and all bad situations that come her way. But while Jonni is smart and tough as nails, she still has a soft side as it’s clear she loved her dad and cares about her friends old and new. When as Thunderbolt she has massive raw power and energy and will do what she has to do to save her hide and others, also as Thunderbolt her power could easily kill a human. Whats weird is the power of Thunderbolt lived in the statue for awhile but once bonding with Jonni the power makes it’s home inside her. Harrison Trump is a sleazy dude who was willing to steal to make money and only after being saved and almost killed does he really come around to be a decent guy.  Plus I think once he started to having romantic feelings for Jonni his attitude and look out on life changed. Slim Chances and his ex-football player Roadblock were slimy rich people who wanted the power of the statue and looked at human life as disposable! Plus for their greed and power hungry mindset both Roadblock and Slim meet their deaths by the hands of Thunderbolt/Jonni. Red Nails and her goons as well are terrible and greedy people who meet their ends as well trying to get power. Plus the cops while a thorn in the side of Jonni finally turn out to be heroes when one of them shoots and kills Red Nails before she could end the life of Jonni. Over all this is a nice action packed detective romp mini series that does a great job of blending noir and superheroes to make me as a reader wondering what turn was next for our characters. The cover for issue # 4 is ok and by far is the weakest one in the series.  The interior art is still great and done by Dick Goirdano again. Over all if you enjoy detective comics that have a hint of superhero this mini series is for you! Check out the art below to see the style of Goirdano.

DC Comics has a bad history of really back burning many of their characters in favor of just focusing on the same main A-List heroes. I think they dropped the ball on Jonni Thunder as I think she could even have been a great side character in one of their mainstream books like they could have had her move her office to Gotham and enter the world of Batman! But sadly I just don’t see this changing at DC as they will always be the comic company that Superman and Batman built, and they will always only focus on them and a handful of other heroes. For our next update we will be walking away from DC Comics and one of their many forgotten heroes and take a journey with another detective, but this one is like none other as he is a talking dog named McGruff The Crime Dog! So until next time, read a comic or three, remember an old superhero or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update as we take a bite out of crime!

Look In The Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Hawkman!

DC Comics has been in the comic book game since 1934, and for the longest time was the top comic company in the world until Marvel Comics came onto the scene in 1939. Over the years, they have traded places off and on being the top company in the game. DC Comics has brought the world some amazing superheroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash who over the years have all been on many fans’ top Superhero lists as well as have done their share of bringing in money and readers to DC, but while those heroes are household names, many of DC’s heroes slip under the cracks like Red Tornado, who I covered last year. For this update I am going to cover another hero that I feel does not get the respect and attention he deserves. I am talking about the Justice League Of America and All-Star Squadron member Hawkman, who has always been one of my favorite DC heroes and who I feel has been underrated by comic readers for many years. So let’s travel to the DC Universe and enter that Shadow War as we talk about Hawkman and breakdown his 4 Issue Mini-Series from 1985! I hope you have packed a snack as this one might get a little long as Hawkman has been around for many decades and has lots of cool stuff to talk about.

The DC Universe is filled with many Earths, each with a different history for characters and even in some cases names are changed and even characters have died with new people stepping into the shoes of the fallen hero. But while Katar Hol and Fel Andar have been Hawkman, for me, the only guy to wear the bird mask is Carter Hall! Back in the days of ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu was kidnapped and killed by his arch nemesis Hath-Set, and in the 1940’s Khufu is reincarnated as Carter Hall, an archaeologist from America who soon gains the memories of his past life and is able to figure out that his life means more to the world and that his enemy of the past is also wandering the Earth as a scientist who has kidnapped a woman. This causes Hall to become a costumed hero named Hawkman! As Hawkman he wears a mask, wings and created a gravity belt out of Nth Metal. After saving the woman Shiera and falling in love with her, she later becomes Hawkwoman! Hawkman would go on to be a member of the super hero team Justice Society Of America and even joins the Air Force and fights in World War II. Along with the JSA during the 1950’s, he took on Congress when they wanted all the heroes to tell them their real identities causing the bulk of the team to retire for some time. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the JSA comes back and somehow meets with Earth-1’s Justice League Of America, who, for some reason over the years keeps the kids of the JSA members from joining the team and is thus responsible for the creation of the team Infinity Inc. Due to the massive age difference and after the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, they explain that Hawkman’s aging has slowed down thanks to a super villain who put a spell on the heroes and their spouses…yep now that’s an evil deed, am I right? Now during modern times both Carter Hall Hawkman and the original Hawkman Katar Hol were active in the same Earth, and over the years Hawkman has died, been brought back, joined teams like the Justice League of America, become a terrorist and so much more! This is just a very brief look at Hawkman as sadly the world of DC Comics is one mixed with lots of silly different Earths and reboots that sadly, for the most part, becomes a tangled mess of nonsense. But one thing I must stress is that Hawkman is one kick butt character, and if you like the brief bio I supplied you readers with, make sure to visit your local comic shop and buy a few comic issues that star this mace-carrying winged hero. Check out the images below to see Hawkman in all his glory!

In 1984, Kenner released the first series of their DC Super Powers toy collection, and in that first wave was Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and others that included Hawkman! When I was a youngster, my brother and I tried our best to get any and every Super Powers we could find at local stores with many of ours coming from Hills or Children’s Palace.  The first figures from this series I owned were Superman and The Joker that I got on the same day! Later on I would get Hawkman, who was one of my favorite figures from that toy line. It’s funny to think that as a kid, even though I read comics with Hawkman in them, I always made him super strong in battlers, like he has Superman level power! In 1991, Kenner, the maker of the Super Powers figures, reused many of the figure molds when they started making figures based on the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves and the body of Hawkman was used for the Dark Warrior as well as Little John. In 1990, Toy Biz made a figure that looked like a cheap knock off of the Kenner Super Powers Hawkman, and it stunk up toy shelves. These two figures are only a small amount of toys made based on Hawkman, and for me are the two I remember the most from my youth. Check out the pics below to see what they look like.

Back in 1967, Filmation created a cartoon called “The Superman/Aquaman Hour Of Adventure” that featured 6 minute cartoons featuring the likes of Hawkman sandwiched between longer Superman and Aquaman toons. Hawkman would also go on to star in many other cartoons through the ages like Challenge Of The Super Friends, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, Justice League Unlimited, The Batman, Batman: The Brave And The Bold and Young Justice, to name a few. It’s crazy to think that Hawkman has been a star in so many cartoons that spanned over many decades, and he is not nearly as remembered or loved by comic readers and those who grew up watching these toons. But again,, while he is not as popular as Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman the winged hero Hawkman still has made his mark on the world of cartoons.

Besides cartoons, Hawkman has also appeared in many live action shows and showed that while DC might not treat him with that much respect, young fans did indeed like Hawkman. In 1979, two episodes of a show called Legends Of The Superheroes were made that had Adam West and Burt Ward once more playing Batman and Robin. They were joined by many other heroes like Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, and yes, Hawkman who was played by Bill Nuckols and wore the classic outfit and hammed it up for both silly comedy kid friendly episodes that were called “The Challenge” and “The Roast”. Years later Hawkman would appear in several episodes of the hit show Smallville and was well liked by viewers, but sadly just like in the comics, they decided to kill the character off in Smallville. He was played by actor Michael Shanks. Hawkman, played by Falk Hentschel, would then go onto be in many other modern CW Shows based on DC Comic heroes like The Flash, Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow and while he has yet to be in any live action films, here is to hoping that sometime in the future he will appear in a Justice League film. My favorite live action version of Hawkman is hands down from Legends Of The Superheroes as it’s super cheesy and his over dubbed loud hawk yell is the stuff of legend when it comes to bad TV from the 70’s, complete with laugh track. Plus while the other actors did a great job in their roles, they did not have the muscles and build to pull off the character right. Below are images from all the actors who have played Hawkman on these TV Shows and each have made their mark on the legacy of the character.

I first discovered Hawkman thanks to old comics that came from garage sales, and I was drawn in as I found the comics weird and entertaining. Besides the comics, the Kenner Super Powers figure was also a very big introduction to the character for me. Much like many of the Superheroes from DC, the main issue is that they have silly costumes and names and always seem dated as they fear making major changes to them and this causes lots of modern comic readers to dismiss some of the characters as out of time. But for me, the outdated look and Boy Scout attitude is what makes DC characters so different from those of Marvel. Over the years of buying comics from all the local shops, I always find myself picking up copies of All Star Squadron or Justice Society from .25 and $1.00 bins if Hawkman is on the cover as I enjoy reading about him trying to save the day. So this update is for Hawkman and Hawkwoman and all the creators behind them from the past and present.  While he might not be an A-List hero, he is a great hero who this comic reader has always enjoyed and it’s because of their hard work that made him so awesome.

So we are at the point of this update where we will be reviewing some Hawkman in the world of DC Comics.  The series I chose was The Shadow War Of Hawkman because I remember reading it when I was a youngster and want to see how well it holds up now that I am in my 30’s. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having all the issues in stock and allowing me to be able to re-read them as it’s been too long. One thing I want to stress to all you comic collectors reading my blog is don’t be like me and sell off your collection at an early age to get money to help a girl you were dating at the time.  While I enjoyed my time with that girlfriend, I also have always regretted getting rid of 90% of my collection. With that, let me also once more remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So get your flight wings on, as we are going to war with Hawkman and Hawkwoman!

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

Mousy Mason is a down on his luck cat burglar who one stormy night is visited by a race of mean aliens who bully him into taking a heist for them to steal the anti gravity units from Hawkman and Hawkwoman and threaten him with harm if he refuses. Meanwhile in the city Hawkman and Hawkwoman stop a gang of crooks who have been targeting the elderly, and after making short work of them, they fly off and chat about their old home planet and whether it’s right to read the minds of humans if it is to help them. The pair change into their human identities of Carter Hall and Shiera and start to go to work as they need to set up an exhibit for Mavis Trent and her press agent Joe Tracy, but before they can start, an alarm goes off that someone has broken into their home.  Hawkman heads home to bust the intruder, and Shiera stays behind to work. As Hawkman gets home, he finds Mousy, and the pair are attacked by the aliens who murder Mousy with their vaporize gun and as quickly as they attack, they retreat. Hawkman figures out that this was just a distraction and rushes back to Hawkwoman’s side at the museum but finds that the aliens have been there and that they have used their terrible vaporize gun on Hawkwoman who is now nothing more than a shadow on a wall!

This first issue is as good as I remember it being and showcases why Hawkman is an amazing character that is underrated! The plot of this issue has Hawkman, who has just patched things up with Hawkwoman, at war with himself over the use of his alien powers to look into the minds of man. As he is dealing with that, a race of aliens with a powerful burning vaporizing gun have targeted our heroes as they want the technology that allows them to fly. Hawkman is a man deep in thought who knows that helping people is the right cause, but hates the fact that he can enter the mind of man and see what they are thinking. He is also very much homesick as he misses his home planet and it’s clear that all of this has been a strain on his relationship with Hawkwoman even though they are both very happy being with each other. While battling his own inner thoughts, when it comes to fighting Hawkman in this issue pulls no punches beating up thugs and aliens alike. Hawkwoman is such a cool character who clearly loves her mate as well as fighting crime.  She also has a sense of humor and sadly while fighting against aliens who attack her while at her day job, she is “killed” by their zap gun or so it seems. The aliens in this issue are true scumbags who use their weapons and powers to try and intimidate and kill those who they think are in their way.  They even kill two people just so they can steal a belt! Mousey Mason is just a crook who makes a living breaking into peoples homes, and he becomes the target of the aliens as they use him to distract Hawkman so they can attack Hawkwoman. This poor guy loses his life trying to help battle the aliens that have forced him to enter the home of Hawkman. Mavis Trent and Joe are great side characters with Mavis being a snob who has a crush on Hawkman and Joe Tracy is her smart mouth press agent who likes to tease her as it almost appears he has a crush on her. The cliffhanger of this issue, the “death” of Hawkwoman, is really well done and leaves the reader wanting to find out if she really is dead, and if so, how is Hawkman going to avenge her! The part that works really well for this comic is the fact that writer Tony Isabella mixes this superhero comic well with elements of drama, action, science fiction and even some comedy making for a solid read for fans of Hawkman. The cover for this first issue is fantastic and very eye catching and would surely draw in fans of the character as well as first time readers. The interior art is done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is great stuff and showcases the great 80’s DC art style. Over all this is a great comic and held up very well for this comic reader and now makes me very much look forward to reading issue 2 again after all these years.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 2  ***
Released in 1985    Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 2 of 4

Eddie Hamilton is a young man who dares to dream of one day being a superhero.  He has the power to grow wings and fly if he thinks hard enough about it and even has a name he wants to be known as, The Icarus Kid! While training to control his power of flight in the farmlands of Kansas, those pesky aliens show up and use a new gun to shoot Eddie from the sky, and the blast burns him alive…the aliens have killed yet again! Meanwhile Hawkman is alone in the Museum room looking at the brunt shadow on the wall that was once his wife.  As he leaves the room he asks police Captain Frazier if he could chat with him for a moment, and Hawkman even snaps at artist Mavis Trent as he does not want to speak to the woman who has a crush on his alter ego. Hawkman opens up to Frazier and tells him who he really is and allows him to witness as he disposes of alien tech that he fears is the cause of this alien attack. Hawkman asks the Frazier to keep his men at the museum as he goes off the fight the aliens alone. Hawkman talks to the birds around his house and finds a hint of radiation and is able to pick up the aliens trails that leads him to the side of a mountain that is the hideout for the aliens. As Hawkman enters and make short work of some of the aliens, he soon finds that these aliens are from his own home planet of Thanagar and are working on orders from their government that wants them to conquer the Earth first and then the rest of the universe!

This second issue has the plot thicken as we learn why the aliens are attacking and that they are attacking superheroes in order to get them out of the way before the invasion that’s planned happens! This issue has Hawkman gearing up to avenge his wife’s murder as the aliens are killing and gearing up to attack the planet Earth in order to take it over. The shocking part of this issue is that the aliens are from Thanagar, the same home planet of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and that their home world is now on a path to try and take over the universe! It also is shown that the alien who killed Hawkwoman was not supposed to, he was only told to capture her! Hawkman in this issue is heartbroken over the loss of his wife and wastes no time getting rid of the high powered tech he has hidden and sets out to bring the aliens to justice. Captain Frazier is a good cop who Hawkman respects, and our hero tells him his true identity as well as gets his help to keep the museum safe just in case the aliens come back. Mavis Trent is upset that the superheroes have caused her some delays and bad press for her art showing, but does seem to have something important that she would like to tell Hawkman, but he just blows her off. Joe Tracy in the issue really is a terrible human as he is more worried about bad press than he is that a brave hero just died before his very eyes. The aliens are super cold blooded and are cruel to mankind and even toward each other, and they clearly have lots of high tech weapons that could kill anyone who gets in their way. And poor Eddie Hamilton aka The Icarus Kid is killed before he can truly be a hero of the world. This issue is really great and had enough drama mixed into the action to build the mini series’ story up. The cover is great as is the interior art once more done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala, making this second issue just as good as the first. This issue holds up to my childhood memories, and I can’t wait to see if issue 3 does as well.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 3 of 4

The alien who killed Hawkwoman gets a punishment from his fellow kind as they make his mind and soul bound to a computer, making him a living instrument of information and mind reading. Meanwhile Hawkman is trying to get answer from the aliens he has just beat up and finds that his home world has lost all technology and that they are no longer advanced in the ways of weapons and that’s why they targeted him and his wife. As Hawkman gets his answers, he is attacked by a group of the aliens who beat him down and bind him and just as they are going to steal his anti gravity belt, the aliens are blasted by a stun blast fired by Hawkwoman!! The heroes escape the base and after they are safely away, they take a moment to catch up with each other and Hawkwoman explains that she was not killed in the museum, and it was Mavis Trent who was killed as the artist was the one in the costume, and after she was murdered, Hawkwoman quickly dressed as her in order not to be attacked and killed herself. The pair decided that they can not get any help from anyone as they cannot allow the enemy to find out about their hidden ship and tech and travel to JLA Headquarters in order to erase their history and to do so ,they must stun Aquaman and Elongated Man, but just as they are to erase their history from the computers the screen shows a message from the aliens who have found their old war ship and are on their way to attack and kill them!

Wow, this issue is a roller coaster of emotions as we go from thinking Hawkwoman is dead to finding out she is alive and well! This issue’s plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman attacking and retreating the aliens and having to sneak around and attack fellow Justice League Of America in order to keep the war they are fighting in the shadows and protect the Earth and all the people on it including those with super powers. The aliens meanwhile have figured out a way to read minds and all the world’s computer information and have highjacked the hidden spaceship of the Hawks and are on a path to use the ship to kill them! Hawkman in this issue is filled with rage and wants to not only get information from the aliens but also wants to beat them to death! His mood changes when he finds that his wife is alive, and he is filled with joy but also has the will to save the world from an unknown terror that they do not know is coming. Hawkwoman is alive and is sad that Mavis Trent died in her place, but also knows that she must pull it together and with her husband stop this Shadow War. One cool thing also in this issue is having Aquaman and Elongated Man in cameos, and it’s sad as both Hawkman and Hawkwoman feel bad that they had to stun their friends with guns in order to achieve their goal. This third issue also does a great job of building the story of the Shadow War and makes the readers wonder how Hawkman is going to stand up to a space ship that is hellbent on killing him! The cover for this issue is as well great and has Hawkman fighting with both Elongated Man and Aquaman, and the interior art once more rocks and is done by the team of Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is such great 80’s DC style. With the alien ship heading toward our heroes and this issue as well holding up to this long time comic reader, I think it’s time to read the final issue in this mini series.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 4  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 4 of 4

The aliens of Thanagar have started their war with earth in secret as they have used their mind reading computer to get the dirty little secrets of people in power and will use it against them unless they go along with what they say. Meanwhile Hawkman and Hawkwoman leave the JLA Headquarters with Aquaman and Elongated Man still knocked out and beam themselves aboard their old ship and are met with aliens who want them dead! Our heroes fight off the waves of gun firing aliens and make their way to the ships second control room in order to override its controls as they find out the ship is going to crash land in Detroit on purpose starting the war and making a statement for all mankind. While Hawkwoman works to overwrite the controls, Hawkman battles an alien and gets stabbed as they also cut off the air supply to the ship. Hawkman wounded takes over the controls and does what he thinks is best to save lives and that is he blows up his own ship just as he and Hawkwoman beam down to Earth and the explosion kills all but one of the aliens as the leader of this task force also beams down, but he meets his fate at the hands of the mega mind reading computer who uses all its last energy to blast it’s one time captain. The bleeding and wounded Hawkman and his wife Hawkwoman have saved the world from a war they did not even know was happing. In the end the new artist hired at the museum is shown to be a spy from Thanagar and the Shadow War has really just began!

The Shadow War comes to an end thanks to the heroic efforts of Hawkman and Hawkwoman who had to put their own lives, friendships and even ever returning to their home planet on the line, and the sad part is no one besides the aliens they beat and themselves will ever really know what they did to save the Earth. This final issue in the mini series plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman beaming aboard their highjacked war ship and beating up some aliens and then blowing up their own ship that has been set to blow up Detroit by the aliens! Hawkman in this issue once more shows that he is a skilled fighter, but also is super smart and can use his brain to also defeat his enemies. Hawkwoman as well shows that she is smart and super skilled in combat and proves why she is not a sidekick but a full fledge equal in the superhero partnership. The Aliens from Thanagar so wanted to kill our heroes as well as start the war full force showing that they were cold blooded and murder and mayhem was what they enjoyed. While they might now have been super powered super villains they still were a major threat to the world as we all know and love it. The thing that works so well about this comic mini series is that at all times the odds seem against Hawkman and Hawkwoman and they seem to be trying so hard not to alert Earth to the battle and war that is gearing up to crash down on them, and all this dread and heroic moments makes this feel really more epic than it should feel. And this is why as a kid I really liked this comic series and even now as an adult I find myself still very much enjoying it. The cover of the fourth and final issue is well done and has our heroes beating up the aliens and the interior art once more is crafted by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and show that they are a pair of artist that work so well together. Over all this is a great read for fans of the character Hawkman as well as those who enjoy 80’s era of DC Comics as this is a cool mini series that showcases why Hawkman is still around to this day in comics, no matter how neglected I feel he is by DC. Below is some cool artwork from this cool comic series, so check it out!

So now that we have witnessed Hawkman win the Shadow War, I think it’s time we walk away from the world of DC Comics and their underrated heroes and into a world with giant monsters that come from the deep where our only hope is giant two person controlled robots….that’s right, we will be entering the world of Pacific Rim! Thanks for spending some time with me here at Rotten Ink, and I really do hope you friends and readers enjoy my updates as much as I do writing them. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update as we talk about war ready robots!

Alien Invasion: Alien Nation

Imagine if tomorrow we found out that there is life on other planets.  Now imagine them coming to Earth and working everyday jobs alongside us; how would your mind handle this? Would you fear them because they were different and not born on Earth? Would you embrace them as fellow living beings? What kind of languages, religions and cultures would they share with us? I for one would be very interested to learn about and from them and would embrace them as fellow living beings….that is unless they are like the aliens from Mars Attacks or Independence Day.  Then I would say we as the world would need to come together and drive them from our planet! Today’s update is an Alien Invasion update that brings aliens to Earth who want to become productive members of our very own society and want to be treated with respect.  These aliens are The Tenctonese aka the Newcomers and are from the film Alien Nation that spawned a TV show, comic books and novels, and we will be digging into the DC Comic adaptation of the film as well as explore the world of the film that was released by 20th Century Fox in 1988! So sit back look to the skies and think about alien friendship, as I am proud to bring you Alien Invasion: Alien Nation.

So let’s start this invasion off right and take a look at the film that this comic is based on, as without this film Alien Nation would not be a cult classic film that many Sci-Fi fans enjoy and love still to this day. The movies write up will be taken from our good friends at IMDB, and after that, I will write a little about my first time seeing Alien Nation as well a few more memories of its legacy.

Alien Nation (1988)

“A few years from now, Earth will have the first contact with an alien civilisation. These aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after years of quarantine but are victims of a new type of discrimination. When the first Newcomer police officer, San Francisco is assigned his new partner, he is given Matthew Sykes, a mildly racist veteran, the animosity between them soon gives way to respect as they investigate the Newcomer underworld, and especially Newcomer leader William Harcourt.”

I can remember the ads on TV and in the newspaper for the release of Alien Nation. It really piqued my interest as growing up in the 80’s, just like Horror and Fantasy films, for me Science Fiction was a big genre as films like Star Trek, Star Wars, Aliens, Enemy Mine, Blade Runner, Back To The Future, Planet Of The Apes and Last Starfighter were all popular with fans and my generation as a whole. But sadly, I was not able to go to the theater and see Alien Nation as my parents did not want to go to see it, plus it was rated R so could not see it on my own as I was only around 9 years old when it was out. It would be some years later when I first got to see it thanks to a VHS rental from a local video store on a weekend. I can remember the whole family watching it and all of us enjoying it as it felt like it was a film that had a deeper meaning behind it and yet felt like a true modern style science fiction film. After the first time watching it, we saw it a few other times as it would later go on to be shown on paid cable stations we had, and at some point I ended up buying it on VHS. The film had an amazing cast that included James Caan, Terence Stamp and Mandy Patinkin, all of whom were fantastic in their roles with Stamp and Patinkin being unrecognizable in their roles as aliens. After seeing the film I can also remember watching the TV Show Alien Nation that started in 1989, and I remember finding some of the comics from Adventure Comics years down the line at The Bookie Parlor and can remember going crazy when I got to read the cross over mini series they did with Planet Of The Apes called Ape Nation in 1991. But by the mid 90’s sadly Alien Nation had lost its footing in the world of pop culture as the TV Show was cancelled after only 22 episodes and the comic series from Adventure Comics ended in 1992. But while Alien Nation never got a movie sequel or even a more modern comic series, it still remains a classic 80’s Science Fiction film that I think everyone should check out.

The Tenctonese are from the planet of Tencton and are human like in appearance besides their heads, which have no hair on them and are slightly bigger with reddish spots on them that also run down their spines. They are stronger than a normal man as well as smarter as they were born and bred in order to be slaves. They eat food raw and that includes meat and veggies and in order to get drunk, they gulp down soured milk! They can be poisoned and die by such things as chocolate, tobacco and fluoride with salt almost being like acid to them as it can burn their skin. Their nerves and organs are different than ours as is the way they make love and things that can harm humans seem to have no effect on them including many types of poisons. They also look at sex as something special and not taboo and find adult movies childish. So what I am trying to say is that while they can be killed, they are definitely smarty and stronger than us and if they were real and here on Earth we would be smart to work with them and not against them as they could very much be our downfall!

So we have talked about the film as well as the Tenctonese, and I think it’s time to take a look at the DC Comic adaptation of the film and get this invasion going! I also just want to say that one other reason I think I have always enjoyed Alien Nation is the fact besides being a good science fiction film it also is a good buddy cop film! But if you look in the sky, a message has just been written in the stars and it says, “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story”! So let’s get to it and see if the comic holds up as good as the movie.

Alien Nation # 1  ***
Released in 1988       Cover Price $2.50       DC Comics       # 1 of 1

It’s been three years since the Newcomers came down from space on their ship and became part of the populace in America.  This anniversary is all over the news and is causing people to remember where they were when the aliens landed. While on duty, cops Matthew Sykes and Bill Tuggle are involved in a shootout with some robber newcomers who leave Bill dead and Sykes very bitter toward Newcomers. He decides to team up with promoted Newcomer officer Sam “George” Francisco as he thinks he might be able to help him find who killed his partner as a rash of fake robbery murders have been taken place targeting the aliens. Sykes and Francisco follow the leads and find out one of the gunmen from the robbery worked at a gas plant and that’s the connection between the cop killing and the Newcomer killings. The pair of cops go around and uncover clues and even along the way start to build a friendship as they both see that their job and family is what matters in both of their lives. And soon George opens up to Sykes and lets him in on a Newcomer secret that there is a powerful drug that was made that all Newcomers took when they arrived and some got addicted to it.  The drug has side effects, and he thinks that this drug is the reason for all the killings. They finally are able to figure out that Newcomer William Harcourt is the man behind the killings as well as the man behind making the drugs, and when George and Sykes go to arrest him, he overdoses on the drug and turns into a raging hulking alien monster who stalks Sykes down trying to kill him.  This fight leads them to the ocean, and Sykes is only able to beat Harcourt when he pushes the supped up alien into the salt water that acts as acid and burns him up. George is able to pull Sykes out of the water and into a helicopter and they solve the case, destroy all the drug, take down the super powered alien bad guy and still make it to Sykes daughter’s wedding.

This DC Comic adaptation of the film Alien Nation is a great read and holds the magic of the film and even quickens the pace slightly and delivers a great buddy cop science fiction comic. The film’s plot has a cop whose partner is killed by an alien and his next partner is from the same alien race that murdered his last.  He must learn to put aside his hatred in order to solve the case and become a more tolerate person. This comic does a fantastic job of blending all the elements that made the film special together to make for a quick pace comic. Matthew Sykes is a cop who is good at his job but fails in life at being a good person as he has a rough and hateful attitude, but as he goes long on one of his most important cases he learns to try and be a better person and not hate those who are different from him. Officer Sam “George” Francisco is a Newcomer and the first of his race to be on the force and climb the ranks, he is a good cop who is by the book and he as well learns by the end of this case to lighten up and finds friendship and understands its value in life. Our main bad guy is William Harcourt who is as well a Newcomer and is a rich alien who is very slimy and is involved with drug making, selling and the murders of his fellow race! And once he is discovered to be a scumbag he overdoses on his own drug and causes himself to become a hulking mutant alien and does his best to murder our two main characters! This comic is filled with action, drama and even a little dark humor and this helped add to the enjoyment of the read, and proves that many comic adaptations of films can be well done. The cover to this comic is well done and is eye catching for fans of the film, and the interior artwork is pretty good and is done by Jerry Bingham. Over all this is an entertaining and good comic based on a cult classic film and is worth a read for those who enjoy Aliens and Buddy Cop stories. Check out some artwork below and see what this comic has in store for you.

Alien Nation is a great science fiction film about an alien invasion that allows them to live among us and not try and take us over like say Independence Day or hunt us for sport like Predator that I have covered here at Rotten Ink in the past. But I think it’s time to leave this Alien Invasion behind and crank open another Undead File for our next update as we will take a look at the Original Walking Dead series! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch an Alien film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a zombie gut munching of a good time!

 

Robotech: Defenders Not To Be Confused With The Anime Robotech

Robots ruled the 80’s and early 90’s.  I know I have said this before, but it was so true.  Toy aisles were filled with Transformers, Go-Bots, Robotix, Robocop and Robo Force to name a few, and they were always a hit on the playground as almost every kid I knew owned tons of Go-Bots and Transformers.  Many even drew pictures of robots as they seemed like the most popular during my youth! Not to mention that also around this time lots of Japanese cartoons were being dubbed, renamed and repackaged for American audiences, and if you think we are going to be chatting about Robotech, the anime that took US by storm in 1985, you are sadly wrong as we will be talking about the model kits from Revell that helped name the famed series that many of you know and love to this day. So sit back, grab an oil can and let’s briefly dive into the world of Robotech: Defenders, the models and the comic mini series from DC.

Revell was founded in 1943 by Lewis H. Glaser, an entrepreneur from California who made kitchen products that were heavy on plastics.  Their first major toy/kit released was a HO scale train set, and this started the company down the path of being one of the top early plastic model makers as they became kit makers in 1945. By the 1950’s they started making models of cars like the Ford Model T as they teamed with English company Gowland Brothers and these models became a hit in the American market. And these type of older cars would be released many times by the company under all types of line names as model makers seemed to not be able to get enough of the classic cars. In the 50’s they also made models of battleships, airplanes, rocket ships and even modern cars of the time. By the 1960s the market had changed and so did Revell’s releases as they focused on Hotrods and racing cars.  This kept them at the top of the line for those who enjoyed the hobby of model building. But the party of being one of the companies at the top of models came to a harsh end when the 80s came around and kids of the time wanted to get new interests like video games, comic books, sports cards and action figures and the bubbled burst on the world of model kits as sales became very weak and companies who made their fortune with these plastic kits found themselves losing profits.  Revell even merged with another company only to once more be on its own two feet in around 1983. By 1986 Revell was bought by Odyssey Partners who had the model kit brand Monogram, and they decided to merge the two companies using both brand names to try and keep them alive. But while fighting to get plastic model kits to be in fashion again, Revell was bought by Hallmark Cards in 1994 as they wanted to try and cash in on the products they made.  By 2007, they as well sold Revell this time to Hobbico Inc. and still to this day are the parent company. Also I should note that Germany also had a branch of Revell that is also owned by Hobbico, who bought them in 2012. While I have never been a model kit kind of guy, I can respect the hobby and do enjoy seeing the ones people have built based on monsters. So this was a quick crash course on Revell as a company and to sum it up they make plastic model kits and have been bought and sold several times.

Back in 1985, DC Comics decided to make a deal with Revell to make a comic series based on their model kits called Robotech: Defenders, and I think we should take a few moments to take a look at the history of the Revell model kits of the same name. As you have read, Revell was in some trouble finically back in the 80s as they were at one time one of the biggest names in plastic model kits.  They needed new life breathed into the stale market of cars, boats and planes and decided to jump on the giant mecha robot craze that was sweeping Japan at the time to see if they could as well make it stick here in America.  So they licensed kits from foreign kit makers and put them out under a name they created called “Robotech: Defenders” and unleashed these in the American and European markets. This series had a higher price, and while they did okay in America, they did not fare well in Europe as sales were low. But while the kits were trying to bring in money for Revell, it was media company Harmony Gold USA that helped make Robotech: Defenders a payday! You see Harmony Gold USA had bought the rights to Japanese anime series Macross to release in the American market, and the downside for them is that Revell had licensed the model kits of Macross and this made for a bad situation as market confusion could ruin both parties’ plans of making big cash on their investments. So Harmony Gold made a deal with Revell to co-license Robotech, and this became the series that American fans watched and loved as Robotech was used for the models and the anime! So as you can see Revell turned a semi hit plastic model kit line into a beloved anime that had nothing to really do with each other as nothing but the name was used for the toon. So if you’re a fan of the anime, these model kits and the story of its characters has nothing to do with your characters. Check out some of the model kits packages below.

Robotech: Defenders was the birth of the Robotech universe here in America even if the product itself had zero to do with the anime that has made the name Robotech mean something to fans. But Revell themselves really did believe in their plastic model kits and even before the Harmony Gold USA deal, they had a team up with DC Comics to make a 3 issue comic mini series to give their models a back story and to market them to youngsters who were enjoying reading comics at the time. The funny thing is that when the deal with Harmony Gold USA came into play,  they did not want the comics to confuse their watchers and when combined with the the poor sales of issue # 1, this comic mini series went from 3 issue to being wrapped up in 2! So here we go my friends and readers, I think we should move onto the comic review part of this update as I am really interested to see what kind of personalities DC came up with to give to plastic models! I want to thank Half Price Books for having both issues in stock and for even alerting me that this series was even made. And as I climb into my favorite mech-suit, the computer system keeps repeating this “You, Matthew, grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story,” and this robotic voice is right! So sit back and relax, and let’s see what this Robotech: Defenders is all about.

Robotech: Defenders # 1  **1/2
Released in 1985    Cover Price $.75    DC Comics    # 1 of 2

The planet Zolteck is under attack by an evil race of aliens called Grelons who have advanced weapons and lay waste to towns. Opposing the evil aliens are the Robotech: Defenders, a group of noble pilots who risk it all to save innocent lives and bring the Grelons down. Malek is the leader of the Robotech: Defenders, and Zolteck was her home planet.  Now all that’s left after the battle was a stone statue of a robot that turns out to really be a giant robot mech-suit! Malek in her new robot fighting machine tracks down the warship that attacked her home planet, and she makes quick work of it, and best of all the suit alerts her that they are six more mechs like hers on different planets. Her team is fellow human Dex and aliens Eedon, Icik, Akros, Scal and Silky, and they are all ready to find the mech suits and take the war back to the Grelons who started the war months back after killing ambassadors of planets who would not allow the Grelons to take over other planets, so they made a deal with S’Landrai the adviser for an alien race to get machines of war. Meanwhile our heroes all travel to their home planets and each find their robot waiting for them and as they all meet back up on Zolteck, the Grelons attack with hundreds of battle bots and the Robotech: Defenders must gear up and get ready for the fight of their life.

This comic about giant robots that is based on plastic model kits was way better than what I expected as I found it to be a nice touch of action, adventure and science fiction all wrapped around a traditional space war story. The plot is pretty simple and has a terrible race of aliens making a deal with another alien race in order to take over other planets.  The only thing standing against them is a group of pilots who find ancient mech robot suits and are the galaxy’s only hope. Our main hero is Malek, a wise female pilot who’s spirit is almost broken when she witnessed the destruction of her home planets town, but she gets her fighting spirit back when she finds the giant robot. Her crew is loyal and also understand that in this war that they might not survive as the odds are against them, but they as well find a new insight on the battle when they get their own robots. The Grelons are being lead by Ssegma, who is the brains behind these attacks that are leaving planets destroyed.  They are barbaric and think of nothing more than universe domination. Not much at this point is known about S’Landrai, who is the alien who’s people are supplying the Grelons with their weapons of world destruction. This first issue does a great job of building and introducing or heroes and villains and makes you want to learn more about them in the issue to come. They also do a great job of leaving you with a cliff hanger that makes you wonder how our heroes will survive a horde of 100 war bots rushing them with orders to destroy. The cover is pretty badass and showcases our hero robots and I am sure was very eye appealing for kids and readers at the time. The interior art is solid and done by Judith Hunt and is topnotch 80’s DC stuff. Over all this was a way better read than I was going in thinking it would be and I really can’t wait to see how this story plans out. So with that let’s head to issue # 2 and see how Robotech: Defenders save the galaxy.

Robotech: Defenders # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price $.75 .    DC Comics     # 2 of 2

The Robotech: Defenders are ready for war and do well against the ground bots but are over matched by the warship high above that leaves our robot hero team defeated and one member Silky dead. The Grelons bring up the robots to the monster warship and start heading toward their home planet. Malek figures out that they all must push the glowing red buttons in the suits and the robots come alive and have a mind of their own and escape the warship and go into hiding to repair themselves and inform the humans/aliens that the true evil is S’Landrai who is a parasite and is using the Grelons to fulfill is own evil plan! And that they need to get back the fallen robot that was driven by Silky if they want to win this battle.  With the help of a Cyba, a Grelon General who has turned against his race, after hearing the true plan of worlds destruction they come up with a plan to get the robot back and they do when Cyba and Dex enter the planet under the guise of the human being a captive and as a team they active the robot and get him back to his friends. Meanwhile S’Landrai is pissed and uses his power to kill Ssegma and some of his warriors in order to steal their energy and try and bring some of his own race back, and by doing this he also destroys the planet of Grelon! As the Robotech: Defenders are reunited the plan is for one rider and one robot to arrive at their planet and wait for the attack of the S’Landrai who are using satellites to steal the energy of planets and leave the world dead and everything on it in order for them to steal the life energy and become powerful once again. As the attacks are launched some of the Robotech: Defenders stop the launches while other fail as both sides are in a power struggle to get the upper hand, and this all comes to ahead as the Robotech: Defenders face off with the S’Landrai mothership and while out gunned they are not outsmarted as the Defenders reroute the syphon satellites to the sun and the power surge explodes the S’Landrai mother ship and ends the war as they are all killed. The Robotech: Defenders and their riders return to the planet Zolteck and stick together to rebuild what was destroyed.

The battle to save the worlds was won by the Robotech: Defenders, and I can not say I am shocked as even when the odds was bad and their spirits broken they never ever fully gave up on hope and fought until they could change the odds into their favor. The plot as Malek and her crew finding out that their new robots also have a mind of their own and that they have been awaken in order to stop the destruction of a galaxy by the hands of a parasite race called the S’Landrai who are using the Grelons in order to drain planets of their life in order to feed their hunger for the energy. The robots are all ready for battle but weird enough they as well at times seem to make dumb mistakes just like the riders did and while in the end they do win they used brains and not the massive weapons they had to win. Malek and her team seemed loss as they no longer are in charge of the war as they are just going along for the ride as its clear the bots are in charge now. I did really like General Cyba who turns against his race the Grelons in order to stop the multiple worlds destruction and even takes the place of Silky who died during the first wave of attacks. The S’Landrai are real scumbags as they live off the live energy of the others and kill whole planets and everything on it just to feed, so when they get blown up at the end of this story you find yourself cheering! The Grelons who as well crave power are just puppets and when they cross the true evil of their puppet master the S’Landrai they are squashed like a bug. So if you really look at this story, its like World War III in space as you have the S’Landrai, the Grelons and Robotach: Defenders all really in a struggle against each other each with their own reasons. It’s funny how this comic drew me in when I am not a model kit nor an anime kind of guy and I found this series well written and entertaining and no joke it really surprised me on its over all quality. The cover for issue two is ok and reminds me for some reason of issue # 2 of the DC Comic mini series for Power Lords another toy line from the 80’s that we will have to cover sometime. The interior art is done by Judith Hunt as well as Mike Manley and is really great and captures the magic that was 80s comic style. Over all this is a really cool mini series and by all accounts made plastic model kits cool. Check out the art below to see what this series looks like.

So crazy as it sounds, this mini series made me want to check out the comics based on the Robotech anime series and sometime do an update about it…well maybe not as I just never see myself watching the toon in order to do the update justice. So for our next update we are walking away from robot plastic model kits and into the world of horror films as we are going to kick off our countdown to Halloween a little early with a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update.  The film we will be chatting about is the low budget flick Legend Of Diablo from 2004 and the Image Comic based on it. So until next time, read a comic or three, build a model kit or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you all next update as we explore the legend of Azar!

American Hero: Fighting American

Happy July 4th! If you’re like me, you can smell the hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and are ready to pig out on that tasty grilled meat as well as loads of potato chips and all types of salads from macaroni to pasta. Like last year I hope I can add a little fun to your holiday by bringing you another “American Hero” update that showcases a comic character that embodies the spirit of America.  This year I decided to choose Fighting American, and out of all the companies that had released adventures based on him, I chose the DC Comics version to review as I feel that this 1994 series was the closest to my youth, and I feel like DC is lacking the love here on my blog so why not give them another holiday update! So sit back with your favorite summer time beverage and spend just a moment of your Independence Day before the fireworks with me here at Rotten Ink, as we are about to get into the world of Fighting American!

When I was a kid, lunch time was always really good in Waynesville Schools as they had amazing cheese pizza that was made even more tasty with salt and even the hamburger with a pickle on it was good. But the one thing I always looked forward to was drinking milk.  From 2% to chocolate milk with my meal, I really enjoyed that as my drink of choice.  In fact, I still love a good tall glass of milk from time to time. One of the cool parts of the milk cartons was seeing Safetypup, a superhero puppy who wore a mask, cape and costume who would give a message of safety to us kids. My brother was the first to tell me about Safetypup as he called him “Superpuppy,” and I can remember he brought home the carton so I could see him! Growing up I have always wondered why they never made a Safetypup comic book, you know, like a promo comic that they could have given away at schools and family events.  Imagine comics where Safetypup could teach us about stranger danger, drugs and Halloween safety! Another thing that would be cool is that Safetypup has a walk around mascot costume, and it would be amazing to have him on an episode of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre teaching kids safety tips alongside BVP! So I just wanna thank Safetypup for making my childhood safe and for all his years of making milk cartons cool in school.

Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were the team that created Captain America for Timely Comics in 1941, and after the company was bought out by Atlas Comics, their character was continued without their permission.  This angered the pair and caused them to create a new American themed character called Fighting American, and in 1954 the first issue came out for Prize Group and lasted a total of 7 issues. The character was created to fight The Communists as at the time the Red Scare was in full effect and the comic reading world needed an outlet to release the fear they felt. The most important thing about Fighting American is that he is, in fact, the first comic hero to tackle the Cold War and was also the first to switch gears and just become a fun superhero comic thats Kirby had fun with. After the character’s seven issue run, he has returned to comics via many different companies like Marvel, DC, Harvey, Awesome and Dynamite! Fighting American is really Nelson Flagg who has his mind and life force placed into the corpse of his brother who was a murdered star athlete and war hero, thanks to the top secret military project dubbed “Project Fighting American” to seek revenge and fight the Red Scare and other costumed baddies. Over his original adventures, he also had a sidekick named Speedboy who is a teenager that worked at the same place as he and his brother. While Fighting American might not be as iconic as Captain America or even as known as The Shield, he still truly is an American Comic Icon that stands for the red, white and blue that we all love here in America. Check out below for three looks at Fighting American over the years in comics from different companies.

So we have taken a look at the history of Fighting American as well as a brief character bio, but for many of you like myself the grill is still going and the fireworks are about to go off, so I think its time we dive into the DC Comic mini series based on this true American comic hero. The sky flowers are wanting me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having issues in stock to make this update possible. So if you’re ready let’s grab old glory and head into the battle against those who wish America ill will with the one and only Fighting American.

Fighting American # 1  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 1 of 6

Big Brother is with two of his wrestling federation’s pro wrestlers Bear and Bull watching the madness of the New York stock exchange when Fighting American appears looking for a man named Little Brother.  After making short work of the wrestlers, he loses Big Brother in a car chase that leaves Fighting American falling off a bridge and into a boat filled with garbage! He is called back to Washington D.C. and finds that the government scientists lost monitoring contact with him and that he has pleased the Army who is financing his superhero adventures. Fighting American flashes back to how he became a hero and remembers the story of two brothers Johnny Flagg and his younger brother Nelson who make a TV talk show that pushes lots of buttons.  When Johnny talks ills of Ivan Brotski, he becomes a target for a hit that leaves him dead and Nelson at a cross roads as the government has offered him a way to merge with his dead brother and become a fighting machine for America.  The catch is the merge will take years! He snaps back to present day when he is reamed by one of the scientist for failing and is told one attack on his brother’s killers was enough, but he soon finds that Big Brother and his Pro Wrestling federation has a show that night and after making short work of their champ Mister Fixit he is able to bust Big Brother who is being taken away by cops after admitting his part in the Flagg murder and also informs him that Ivan has been missing for years. On his way back to the base, Fighting American finds Ivan who is now homeless and dies in front of him of a heart attack. Meanwhile a secret meeting is held by people in shadows, and the topic is how to deal with Fighting American.

What we have here is DC Comics trying to update a character from an era gone-by and make him hip and cool for readers of the 90’s, and for the most part it works. The plot of this first issue shows how two brothers became the target of a hit when they talked about the wrong crime family on their talk show.  With the help of science, the two brothers become one person and are now a tool for America to help with domestic terrors. But also revenge is on the mind of our new hero called Fighting American as he wants to bring down those who gunned down one of the brothers causing them to become this science experiment. And when getting to the one he thinks is responsible, his revenge is snatched from him due to natural death! Johnny Flagg is a talk show host who was a former soldier who speaks his mind on his TV show as he believes in America and what it stands for, and while a stand up guy, he does get gunned down before we truly get to know him. Nelson Flagg is a nerdy kind of guy who idolizes his brother and gives up his own life in order to merge with his dead brother, kind of weird but I guess that’s the American way! As Fighting American thus far all we get from him is that he is a superhero who works for the government who is more wrapped up into revenge than following orders. Big Brother, “Poison” Ivan Brotski and Mister Fixit are all just scumbags who were tops of the crime world but quickly fell from grace as they lost power, and all they have left is one Pro Wrestling Federation! It was nice to see Fighting American fail at his first attempt at revenge and later gear up and head into the lion’s den (or is that wrestling ring?) and try again until he was victorious.  It shows he has heart but is not going to be a puppet for anyone. The cover for this first issue is pretty eye catching and showcases the modern era Fighting American really well.  The one change to the costume that I find just silly if his blonde hair flopping out of the top of the mask…just silly and reminds me of The Shield that we covered last 4th of July. The interior art is done by Greg LaRocque and is pretty great stuff and is truly a capture of 90’s mainstream comics appeal. Over all this first issue was a great way to start off this series, and I am looking forward to see where the story goes and how our hero grows.

Fighting American # 2  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 2 of 6

Fighting American has become a media sensation after he gave an interview after saving a cat from a flag pole high above the city. The Shadow Organization are plotting a way to bring him down in the people’s eyes while the Government has decided to give him his own TV Show back as Johnny Flagg and has come up with a story that he has been MIA because his plan crashed in a jungle over 10 years ago, and this is were he meets his new producer Mary Loo. Meanwhile the ones who want to ruin him hire a band of performance art terrorists called Media Circus that has members like Anchorman, Spin Doctor, Sound Byte and Satellite Dish who are going to ruin Fighting American’s image and start by manipulating video of the kitten rescue to make it appear he placed the frightened cat on the pole to start with! The smear campaign hits, and the people turn on Fighting American and even on his show as Johnny Flagg.  He must cover the topic and Media Circus are the guests, but as the show goes on Mary Loo and a show worker find the tapes that clear Fighting American’s name as Johnny shows the whole world he is in fact the star spangled hero and along with his show crew they clear his name and take down the Media Circus as the evil shadow people are not happy.

This second issue lets the cat out of the bag as now the whole world knows that Johnny Flagg is the one and only Fighting American as he is sick of living a lie and telling untruths to the American people. The plot has a band of terrorist using TV to smear the name of the superhero, and he and his friends not standing for it and taking them down for the count. The Fighting American is a good man who does what he can to save the day no matter how big or small if he can help he will. As Johnny Flagg is out of touch with the times but is finding his way as he is now making friends thanks to the return of his TV Show and is also very much into his cute producer Mary Loo. The Media Circus are a band of weird looking carnies who can be hired to ruin someone’s life, and they try so hard but fail in their mission as they were just out classed and out matched by the pride of America. This issue does a great job of balancing both the character development of our hero as well as delivers lots of fighting action! The only downside to this issue is that Media Circus are not major threats and when push comes to shove they are beaten and exposed as frauds super fast giving the reader a lack of a really powerful villain. The one thing I do like is the fact Johnny no longer has to hide is identity as he has told the world he is the superhero that they all need. The cover of this issue is pretty cool and showcases the weird and wild look of TV mixed with the circus and a touch of costumed hero! The art is once more done by Greg LaRocque and is good stuff! Over all this is a solid second issue and really makes me look forward to reading the third to see what’s next for Fighting American.

Fighting American # 3  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 3 of 6

Fighting American is a hit with the American people again and has taken on a sidekick named Kid who works for his TV show that is also a ratings hit! But next the evil shadow group has hired Gross National Product, a fat yellow skinned man who is in Government power and who eats and eats.  He and his conman sidekick Def Izzit have caused madness with the people all in the name of greed and excess. Madness is running wild in the streets and people are attacking each other, not helping their fellow man and even has Fighting American arguing with his sidekick and during a fight almost breaks the finger of Def Izzit who in turn has the superhero arrested! In the end, the Fighting American is in jail waiting for a lawyer and gets the news that the head professor of the program has been kidnapped!

This third issue has Fighting American in a battle of good and greed as he is outsmarted by the hairy, fat, spaced toothed Gross National Product who has used his powers of persuasion to trick the people of America into being self-absorbed mindless tools. And when Fighting American gets the upper hand, he still is in the wrong and goes to jail for assault. Fighting American in this issue is still the pride of the goody two shoes but also has an edge to him as he has been mind tricked by his foe. His new sidekick, who they have not given a name to, is on his way to becoming the next Bucky as he is skilled and yet still young and sloppy in battle. Mary Loo in this issue takes a back seat, and while she shoots down Johnny Flagg’s dinner dates, it’s clear that she is a lesbian as her date shows up to take her to lunch and it’s a woman. Def Izzit is annoying and talks in riddles and rhymes and is one character that I hope gets the tar kicked out of him! Gross National Product is a great villain as he is pure evil and uses his powers to cause chaos and enjoys the evil he does and gorges himself while doing it on food, paper, boots and whatever else he can shove down his fat neck! The cliffhanger of Fighting American being in jail and his friend and the program doctor being kidnapped makes for a great way for the reader to want to see what’s next. The cover is pretty cool and showcases not only Fighting American but also his new sidekick and Gross National Product allowing the readers to know what they are in store for. The inside art is once more done by Greg LaRocque and is again great.  So to sum up this issue good classic superhero stuff with a touch of the 90’s.

Fighting American # 4  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 4 of 6

Fighting American is sitting in prison and is keeping his fellow inmates in good behavior all the while Mary Loo and Senator Dorkin are trying to get plan together to get him out. Gross National Product and Def Izzit have spread greed to the American people who are all now rushing to stores and spending all their money on products that they don’t need. The Kid is also inflected bad with the want to buy as he does not care about his friend Fighting American and even mouths off and steals from his parents. Mary Loo has the TV show film in the jail as The Kid snaps out of his trance and goes after Gross National Product and is able to find out that the heavyset baddie’s power comes from his sunglasses and uses it against him turning him into a man who regrets what he has done and even drops the charges against Fighting American and does work in the community to make things right! Out of jail, Fighting American goes back on the streets to save the town from evil, and we find out that Senator Dorkin is not a friend to our hero and is working with the shadow people to find whys to bring him down.

This issue should be called “Fighting American Goes To Jail” and should have been written and drawn like the Ernest movie! But really the plot has The Kid showing why he is a superhero now and with the help of his parents locking him in a back stock room, he is able to shake off the effects of the consume idea planted in his brain and single handedly defeats Gross National Product by using his own power and tricks against him and in turn gets the charges dropped against Fighting American who is now free and can do his TV Show and Superhero the streets. The Kid, who at first kind of felt like a way to make fun of classic Captain America stories by parodying Bucky, really became his own with this story, and they gave him more of a personality than just a goofy kid who tags along side our book’s hero. Fighting American takes a back seat in this issue as he is in jail all the way until the very end so he does not get to fight nor even clear his own name. Even while helpless Fighting American is still a very cool classic style superhero! Gross National Product is scum who in this issue makes the world want to buy, buy and buy all the while he still stuffs his face! But when the roles are turned and he sees what he has done, he turns over a new leaf and does good by the world and tries to keep it clean! Def Izzit is still just a rhythm-talking goof who sadly does not get his face pounded in! This issue also shows the read evil mastermind behind the attempted downfall of Fighting American and it’s Senator Dorkin! You see, he is the one works along the shadow people who want him out of the way so they can do their evil stuff. Nice twist as he seems like a friend the whole time. The poor Professor is set free and becomes self aware that the whole lab dislikes him as been the story of his whole life and becomes an alcoholic whom no ones seems to care that is free nor not returned to the lab.  I see him coming into play soon as a tool for evil…I could be wrong just have the feeling. Over all this is another solid issue with a cool cover and great art done by Greg LaRocque who is making this American Hero come alive in the pages of this DC Comic series.

Fighting American # 5  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 5 of 6

Senator Dorkin is being threatened by the shadow crime group for failing at getting Fighting American to be out of the hero business, and his last chance is the helmet wearing, mind controlling eye doctor named Phoroptor who is set to clean up the bad turn he sees America heading down and fills them with nostalgia! Meanwhile the Professor is going to blow the whistle on Senator Dorkin to Fighting American as Mary Loo herself finds that Dorkin is on the run and has a sinister past and present! While out Fighting American and The Kid are battling Phoroptor who is attacking civilians causing them to cry and go into rages over the present not being like the past. After a quick fight Phoroptor gets the upper hand and makes Fighting American question who he is as he has the memories of Nelson and Johnny and this makes him in the end realize that he is in fact both and is the hero known as Fighting American and with the help of the Professor he defeats Phoroptor and is soon joined by The Kid and Mary Loo who tells them that Dorkin has fled the USA and now they are all going to Europe to get answers and stop this evil plan.

This fifth issue of the Fighting American mini series from DC is lots of fun and crams in lots of great classic comic book hero moments as well as adds messages about America at the time. This one has the rug being pulled out from under Senator Dorkin who is being targeted by the shadow people as well as is now on the radar of Fighting American who’s TV producer has found his dark secret and the Professor is about to spill the beans on everything her knows. Fighting American in this issue is brave and fights past the crippling power of his foe and even seems to finally become one with who he really is and that’s both brothers! The Kid is around and is a solid generic style young sidekick character and shows that he as well is a good man as he saves people from the nostalgic feeling that was being spread by the evil foe in this issue. Mary Loo does a great job of piecing together the evil deeds of Senator Dorkin by entering his office and finding odd papers and a bad answering machine message. The Professor who is now a drunk is trying to turn his life around and wants to spill his guts to Fighting American on what he knows about the Shadow Group who want to ruin his heroic ways as well as keep America down. Senator Dorkin is a man with lots of power who is also now running for his life as he has gotten involved with the wrong type of people who don’t like failure! Phoroptor is a purple bubble mask wearing eye doctor who loves the past and cant stand the future and uses his special mask to make people become walking talking crybaby’s who yarn for the good old days of their youth. Over all this really is a silly and fun issue that is a great one to build up to the final issue in the mini series as we end with Fighting American on a mission to go to Europe to get answers and justice on Senator Dorkin! The cover is cool and the interior art is great and done by Greg LaRocque and not much more can be said besides this is a great and fun issue and keeps this series solid and enjoyable.

Fighting American # 6  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 6 of 6

Fighting American arrives in Ireland with his crew The Professor, Mary Loo and The Kid and soon find out that the shadow people are called The Free Association and that they have spies and workers all over.  Word gets to the group that they now have Dorkin and are taking him to a site that is said to be a gateway to another realm and soon find out that in this place has unknown spirits like Banshee’s that are really just holograms to keep people away.  Soon Fighting American and crew find themselves in the secret base of The Free Association and start to crack heads when they are trapped to the floor and an alien appears and tells them he is in fact the leader of The Free Association and that he is the one who ordered the killing of Johnny all those years back.  He is in fact the one who started the Fighting American program as he wanted to control him as a super solider for the bad guys! After some tourist stumble into the secret base Fighting American is able to break free and chase the Alien back to his UFO and ride the world of The Free Association!

The final issue of this mini series brings Fighting American and his war with The Free Association to an end and shows that the mastermind behind the attacks on our hero was a fat old alien who when confronted makes a run for his UFO and returns to space the loser in the battle. While the battle is not super epic and if not for the goofy tourist the fight might have gone another way as Fighting American was being held as bay as well as his crew and if not for the distraction the Alien had the upper hand! That’s one thing about this hero, he is just a normal guy and many times in this series luck and friends is how he beats his enemies. I also like that while he looks and is Johnny Flagg, he has the mind and smarts of Nelson Flagg and after some inner drama he is able to come to terms that his superhero alter ego Fighting American is in fact both brothers as one person. The Kid is a cool young sidekick who worked for the TV Station, and I like the fact that he comes from a family who owns a little bar that also bookies bets just to make ends meat. Mary Loo is also a cool hero who loves her job as a TV producer but also is not afraid to dig deep into trouble in order to get the truth.  I also like that she is not ashamed of being a lesbian and that the part of the character is treated really well and made me laugh when she finally told the aged Fighting American that she is gay and that’s why she don’t want to go on a date with him and at first he takes it as that she is happy…funny out of touch hero stuff. The Professor starts out as an over bearing grump who is the head of the program and after being kidnapped and made to feel useless he becomes an alcoholic only to snap out of it and join the team that is surrounding our hero. All the villains from the Alien to Media Circus to Senator Dorkin are great cheesy bad guys, but none of them feel like major threats and all are beaten pretty easily. The one thing that I really enjoyed about this comic that while done very over the top, it did have a message about how we as society at the time believed what we saw on TV, trusted all our politicians that they have our best interest in heart, how we buy things we don’t need just to spend money and so on and while its major part of the stories, it’s not super in your face. I also liked the fact that they took the main female character Mary Loo and had her be a strong gay character, and his sidekick was a young black male who broke the comic stereotypes.  Both were perfect for the roles they played in this comic adventure. Another cool thing is that while Fighting American is a fish out of water, they do not play up on that too heavily and just allow the character to accept times had changed. To me its crazy that DC Comics did not do anything with this character after this six issue mini series and allowed it him to just fade away from their company.  The only thing I can think of is super low sales or maybe the creative team moved onto another project and they could not find another team who wanted to keep the story going. The cover for this final issue is fantastic and showcases our three main heroes and the art inside once more was done by Greg LaRocque and is top notch 90’s comic book stuff! Over all I really enjoyed this comic series, and he was a perfect fit for this July 4th update as he embodied the sprit of this holiday and that’s a celebration of freedom and being American. Check out the artwork below to see what Greg LaRocque work looks like, and enjoy.

That was lots of fun, and Fighting American truly is an American Hero and is in league with The Shield and Captain America at being a true patriot superhero and a perfect fit to talk about on Independence Day. I am sure you are wanting to get back to the cook out or gear up for the fireworks so I will wrap this update up so you can all get back to enjoying your holiday! Our next update will be my vacation update where I will chat about Monster Bash and the Romero Dead film Day Of The Dead! So until next update, I want to thank you friends and readers for spending a small part of your July 4th with me and make sure to read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host! See you next update to relax with the zombies and monsters…

The Red Twister Man-Droid Of The DC Universe!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my readers and friends.  For this update I have decided to take a look at another DC Hero, one that always captured my attention as a youngster thanks to the Kenner toy Super Powers.  The hero I am talking about is the Red Tornado! Growing up I was more of a Marvel comic reader, and 8 out of 10 times while at the comic newsstand at Hearts, I would pick a Marvel book over a DC or independent as I was always more into their characters like Hulk, Captain America and Spider-Man.  But I still always enjoyed reading DC heroes Batman, Superman, Swamp Thing and even Justice League Of America. With that said, I still really enjoy DC and enjoy discovering the characters they have created to entertain the comic readers worldwide and that’s why I choose to cover Red Tornado. One thing that has always driven me crazy about DC Comics is the fact they have a rich history of characters, but they only ever really want to focus on the same handful when it comes to major storylines and even merchandising.  I mean look at how many items and major comic plots go to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and how little go to characters like The Creeper, Captain Marvel, Black Canary and Red Tornado. But on this update here at Rotten Ink, I am going to give Red Tornado his time to shine in the comic spotlight! So dress warm as this wind might chill you to the bone while Tornado is on the loose to save the day!

So who is the Red Tornado and what is he all about? Let me take a moment to fill you readers in on his past as I am sure you will find his weird and complicated history interesting. The thing that I must stress about DC and their character histories is that they can get very weird and confusing as they have many “Earths” that have different timelines, and this makes the bios very murky in my opinion, but let’s try and give this a shot. Red Tornado was created on the planet Rann in the Earth-One universe and was made up of two different beings, Tornado Champion and Tornado Tyrant, and became a bad guy who attacked Adam Strange only to lose.  This loss made it take a looks at itself and choose to be good as he found that side to be the stronger.  But this ultimately did not matter as the bad side won the inner war that raged inside the split identity body. As the evil Tornado Tyrant, he comes to Earth-Two and fights the Justice League Of America and this allows the Tornado Champion side to dominate.  He is tricked by evil criminal T.O Morrow into tricking Tornado Champion to take over an android that he had built.  This wiped the memory of Tornado Champion and now a new life-form was born named Red Tornado! After being used as a tool for evil, Red Tornado turns on his creator and turns to the ways of good and becomes a member of the Justice League Of America and tries to live his life as an android superhero as well as tries to have a human life side. Later Tornado Champion breaks free from the android body and becomes a weapon for Anti-Monitor and ultimately fails returning to the android body and Red Tornado was once more! After this, he became a nature protector, guided the members of Young Justice and has even been an off and on team member of the Justice League Of America! Say what you will about Red Tornado; he has been good and he has been bad but one thing is for sure, this android hero is one of DC’s coolest B-Listers!

In 1985 Kenner decided to add a second series of heroes and villains to their popular Super Powers line of action figures, and among the likes of Martian The Manhunter and Mantis was the one and only Red Tornado. Growing up me and my brother loved to get our hands on Super Powers as we both loved comic books as well as the movies and cartoons based on the DC heroes.  Between the two of us, we owned almost all of Series 1 minus Brainiac whom we never could find, and we also had many of the figures in series 2. When I was in the first grade in the Waynesville, while on the bus home a fellow bus rider had a Red Tornado action figure, and I can remember being obsessed with it and for weeks trying to trade other toys in order to get it from him.  Sadly he never would trade nor did we ever get the figure until many years later when my brother bought it to add to his Super Powers collection. But this figure is what made me become obsessed with Red Tornado and who he was way back when I was just a six year old lad.  My brother who was 9 years old was the one who told me what he knew about the character that he had learned from issues of Justice League Of America. Below are some pictures of the Kenner Red Tornado figure loose, in the package and a look at the mini comic that came with the toy. One day I should get myself this figure just to remind me of my youth and the time I discovered Red Tornado. I should note that other figures over the years have been made of the Red Tornado, but for me the Super Powers is still the best one.

So besides in comics and toy,s Red Tornado has also had other appearances in media that include being in the animated series “Justice League Unlimited” and being voiced by Powers Boothe, “Batman: The Brave And The Bold” voiced by Corey Burton and “Young Justice” voiced by Jeff Bennett showing that he has made his mark on the world of DC animation. He also appeared in the 2010 animated film “Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths” but was just a cameo and didn’t even speak a word! He also also been in a handful of video games like “DC Universe Online” and “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham” and also whirlwind, the pixel world! More recently he was in the live action show “Supergirl” episode called Red Faced and is played by Iddo Goldberg and is portrayed as an android ready for combat. So while he is by no means as in demand as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or even Green Lantern, he still over the years has tried to get his time to shine in other media besides comics.

So now that we have had a crash course of the history of Red Tornado and have also taken a look at the character in the world of merchandise and other media, I think we should twist our way down to the comic reviews and see what this 1985 mini series has in store for our android superhero! Shockingly enough, this will be my first time reading this mini series, and I must think Dark Star in Yellow Springs for having them all in stock. I can hear these words in the whirling wind: “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” So if you’re ready, I am ready to see what this Red Tornado mini series has in store.  So avoid the wind gusts and let’s dive in shall we!

Red Tornado # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

New Jersey is having a massive tornado that is destroying property, and as Lana Lang is reporting live, Red Tornado appears and saves the day when he reverses the funnel cloud and rushes away as he still thinks the world fears him even if he is a member of the Justice League Of America (JLA). Once back home, he turns into his alter ego John Smith and takes his girlfriend Kathy Sutton and young orphan friend Traya out to dinner and a movie.  After the film is over, robots come from the ground and have their sights set on taking out John Smith who has to turn into Red Tornado in order to lead them away from his loved ones and innocent people! After beating the robots, he returns back to being John Smith, and while watching the evening news, he is heart broken when he sees Lana Lang report that he was responsible to the tornado and that it destroyed thousands of dollars worth of property! And worse, as the report goes off, Superman along with fellow Justice League Of America members call Red Tornado outside only to fire him from the team.  As the sad android hero flies away, we soon learn that the robot villain The Construct is mind controlling the JLA and others in order to push all the human feelings out of Red Tornado so that robots can kill off man and rule the world, as he knows that Red Tornado could stop him and his plan.

This first issue in a four issue mini series is a great way to introduce Red Tornado to readers who might not know who he is, as well as a cool way to start off our story! The plot of this issue has Red Tornado trying his best to gain the trust of humans.  As he does his best to stop crimes as well as natural weather disasters, he is filled with doubts about being accepted not only as the android hero but also as his “human” life John Smith. While he battles his inner thoughts, unknown to him, an evil robot power is in play as The Construct is controlling all the bad things happening to him and even controls his firing from the Justice League Of America! Red Tornado is an android on a mission to save human life and uses his weather powers to do so, but he is very much bothered that the whole human race is not hip to the fact he is a good guy and wants to do no harm to them. His ability to become a tornado is his main defense against crime, but he is also very smart. I also really like in this issue that while he is an android, he does show signs of having feelings and this makes the character deeper than just a hunk of metal with powers. As his “human” life John Smith, it’s clear that he doesn’t know how to be human as he is just going with the flow of what life he thinks he should have by working a so-so day job and even being boring with his girlfriend by not understanding they don’t always need Traya around to go out! It’s odd, it almost seems like as John he shows less emotion than he does when he is Red Tornado, making it clear that his mechanical mind is trying its best to figure out what it means to be human. Kathy Sutton is a sweet woman who has fallen in love with John Smith, even knowing that he is not human showing that she has a big heart, and I hope by the end of this mini series she finds happiness. Traya is a young girl who was saved by Red Tornado many years back and thinks her friend and savior can do no wrong nor even lose a battle.  She really does care about her friend and never questions why she has to sit in a orphanage and Red Tornado never has adopted her. The Construct is one mean machine as it has made its life mission to destroy mankind, defeat and out smart the JLA and ruin a normal life for Red Tornado by making him feel that every thing he loves has turned on him! I can’t wait to see how its plan plays out and how Red Tornado will defeat him! Another great aspect of this comic is the fact that it has cameos from Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and many more making it truly feel like a mainstream DC Comic series. The cover is fantastic and eye catching as it shows Superman talking harshly to Red Tornado making the reader want to open the book and find out why. The interior art is done by Carmine Infantino and is solid and great work and has that 80’s DC charm. Over all I really enjoyed this first issue as I liked the atmosphere of a rain soaked big city under the gloom of some unknown power.  I like the cameos and most importantly I really dig the book’s title hero as he is pretty interesting and has layers to his odd personality. So let’s see what issue two has in store for us and if this mini series keeps up the good art and writing that this issue has set up for the whole run.

Red Tornado # 2  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 2 of 4

Red Tornado stays out in the rain all night wondering what he did wrong and why he has been booted from the JLA as his girlfriend Kathy Sutton has worried about him all night! The Construct is happy thus far as his plan to mentally break his android nemesis is going perfectly, and his next movie is to mind control Superman once more to set up a meeting with Red Tornado who thinks they are allowing him back into the JLA but soon finds himself ripped into pieces and thrown over the Brooklyn Bridge into the cold water below by Superman, his one time friend! Red Tornado brings himself back together and is now filled with anger as he does not understand why he has been targeted and snubbed by his friends  As our hero is deep in thought, The Construct starts his plan on taking over machines all over the world. All the scientists and labs are coming up with no answers to why the machines are acting up, and it’s only Thomas Oscar Morrow who figures out that The Construct is the world’s attacker but he doesn’t know what to do as he is a criminal and also the creator of Red Tornado! While walking in the park as John Smith, a call goes out about a massive fire where helicopter pilots and kids are in danger and once while saving them all from a terrible death, the crowd turns on him calling him a monster and evil machine.  He leaves and goes to the orphanage and is told by Traya that she no longer wants him around and that he is a soulless machine! And just as Kathy Sutton find him, Red Tornado snaps and turns on all the humans and tells them he no longer will be their hero as they have done nothing but demonized him and he leaves them all behind swearing never to help and see them again. Kathy Sutton is heart broken as she watches her boyfriend fly away, and as this happens The Construct has taken over all the world’s machines and is now in charge of the world!

This second issue follows Red Tornado as he is attacked by Superman and told never to help mankind again, only to go against orders and save some kids from a fire to have the crowd as well attack him.  His breaking point comes when his own friend Traya turns on him and tells him to get lost! This enrages the android who turns his back on trying to be human and leaves the world open for the attack by The Construct! Red Tornado just can’t get a break in this issue as everyone he tries to help or call a friend turns on him with Kathy Sutton being the only one who is not affected by The Construct’s mind control but it’s even to late for her to try and stop his rage of being blamed and spit on by mankind. You have to feel for Red Tornado as he really does wants to feel like a real man and only wants to help and can’t see that the world around him is going mad! Poor Kathy Sutton is worried to death about her man but seems helpless in reaching him before rages takes over and his feeling turn as cold as steel, and his friends Traya and Superman are used like puppets to drive him cold. The Construct’s plan is perfect as he clearly got under the skin of his only nemesis that can fight off his mind control and by doing so drives him away and opens up his path for world domination. This issue also makes me wonder how Thomas Oscar Morrow, the only scientist to figure out what’s going on will get help as he is not liked nor trusted by those who could help! This second issue does a great job of piling on bad events for Red Tornado to drive him off and does so that I as a reader was getting mad at characters and their behaviors! Now that’s a good sign of a solid writer in Kurt Busiek, who penned this story. The cover once more is very eye catching and has Red Tornado in pieces with the interior art once more being done by the talented Carmine Infantino who captures the mood so well of 80’s DC. Over all, this is a very solid second issue that brings the story closer to the final battle and showcases how cool Red Tornado is and how evil The Construct is! Lets see what issue # three has in store for us, shall we?

Red Tornado # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 3 of 4

The Red Tornado is away enjoying just being an android and not having any connection to humans, while around the world citizens and superheroes alike are fighting the machines being controlled by The Construct that are ready to take over the world, and to make things worse, the evil machine is now also controlling the minds of humans! Kathy Sutton is not infected yet and goes to a trip to find Thomas Oscar Morrow as she thinks he can help track down Red Tornado who can stop this madness.  As Morrow tells her the location and shows her his force matrix field to hold The Construct, his mind is taken over and now Kathy is alone on her quest to save the world. Kathy travels to the mountains of Colorado and finds Red Tornado who is so disconnected from mankind that he is watching as two campers face death from a fire that surrounds them.  Kathy explains that the world did not turn on him, that The Construct mind controlled people and he is still cold.  She explains that she never turned on him and loves him and still nothing.  But when she points out that he does have a soul and that’s why he questions his own being, it snaps him out of his robotic mood and he saves the campers, shows his love for Kathy and swears to destroy The Construct and save the world!

The Construct has made the world a terrible place to live as he has brainwashed many humans and is using robots to do so and attack those who stand up to his rule! Our only hope is Red Tornado but he has turned his back on mankind as he feels they have done to him and it takes one woman to put her safety on the line and get the world’s only savior back on track! This is the cool plot of this issue that follows Kathy Sutton as she has to dodge and listen to the evil taunts of The Construct who mocks her at every turn! What works the best for this issue is that Kathy is not just a throw away girlfriend character but takes the lead and becomes the key to help save the world! Poor Thomas Oscar Morrow tried to be the world’s hero, but his brain is zapped and he becomes a mindless zombie before he can do so.  But I am sure his new invention will come into play to bring down The Construct. Red Tornado is so cold for most of this issue and think about just how cold blooded it is that he was just watching people about to be burnt to death, but once he realizes that he in fact does have a soul and is more human than he ever thought, his cold fish manner disappears and back is the hero that was a member of the Justice League. The Construct is cocky and almost enjoys messing with humans that he finds weak or no threat to his goal of world domination.  It will be great to see him taken down a peg or five. Another cool aspect of this issue is that once more it has cameos from other DC heroes who are fighting robots like Superman, The Creeper, Batman and even Green Arrow. The cover is eye catching and has Red Tornado standing around the piled up bodies of brain washed humans as Kathy begs him for help and he just is not having it! The inside art is once more great and done by Carmine Infantino who really is bringing Red Tornado alive on the newsprint pages. Over all this is another great issue that is building us up for the final showdown that is coming up next issue!

Red Tornado # 4  ***
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics      # 4 of 4

Red Tornado heads toward the hideout of Thomas Oscar Morrow to find out if his machine is still intact, only to find that The Construct is waiting for him and has built himself a massive robot body and is ready to fight it out to the death with the world’s only hope. The fight is powerful as each robotic fighter tries to take down the other but finally The Construct overcomes Red Tornado and brings his broken body to the matrix field that was built to bring him down. The Construct then finds Kathy Sutton and takes over her mind as now everyone in the world is under his control when even Red Tornado allows him to enter his in order to get free of the matrix field. But as The Construct enters Red Tornado’s mind, he soon finds out it was a trap and our hero takes down The Construct on his own home turf of the electronic dimension by making him question if he is just a machine or something more! Once he beats The Construct, he traps him in the matrix field and even is able to break his bond with Thomas Oscar Morrow, freeing himself from everything that has tied him down. The world is saved and Red Tornado as John Smith decides that he fully wants to live life and along with Kathy and Traya he plans to try and partake in all the cool things our world has to offer.

This final issue in the series plot is: Red Tornado knows that he is a living being with feelings goes head to head with the worlds conquer The Construct who is out smarted when he must face the facts that maybe he is more than just a machine! This is a fitting way to end this series as Red Tornado finds the peace he is looking for and truly looks inside himself to see that he is a living thing complete with a soul, and he has wasted so much time trying to be what he thought a human should act like. The Red Tornado shows that he can have multiple moods in this series from super smart over thinking superhero, to hurt feelings when he feels he is being unfairly judged and even cold as a dead fish when he decided being human was not worth the time to please mankind. He also uses his tornado powers as well as his smarts to win this major fight throughout to not only defeat his enemies but also save lives. As John Smith he also grows from being a boring homebody and becomes a fun loving let’s go out and discover boyfriend. Thomas Oscar Morrow who is a bad guy seems like over this mini series as well is trying to change from being a villain to a hero and wants so much to have the respect of his creation the Red Tornado that he soon finds he must earn and not command. Kathy Sutton sticks by her man and is the only reason Red Tornado found his inner soul and decided to save the world, so the whole world owes her a thanks! Traya is your typical kid sidekick character who is around to idolize their hero friend and be used as a pawn when things hit the fan.  With that said, she is an okay character who filled her role well. The Construct was a great bad guy who for the most part seemed unbeatable until he is tricked to over think his own existence that leaves him open for defeat.  I mean think about it, he controlled the mind of Superman that shows you how powerful he was! Speaking of Superman, it was cool to see him in a cameo role for many of this series issues and it was great to see him act like a jerk to not only Red Tornado but also a young teenager who just wanted to thank him for help after the massive storm. While many might not like the way the final fight ends with Red Tornado using his smarts to defeat The Construct I found it very cleverly done and helped add a layer to this character and storyline. The cover for this issue is cool and while not as eye catching still holds a classic DC look mixed with TRON for me. The interior art is once more done by Carmine Infantino and is fantastic and really makes me want to see what other comics he did for DC. I must also praise the inker Frank McLaughlin and colorist Tom Ziuko of whom both really made this comic pop and come alive. Over all this was a great read and I would have loved this comic as a kid as it had robots fighting as well as showed Red Tornado doing what he does best and that’s be a hero the world needs. If you like 80’s DC or even have a little bit of interest in Red Tornado, I would suggest checking out this mini series as it’s a great read and well worth your time. Below is some artwork for this series and showcases the characters, you will encounter in this series.

While Red Tornado is by all accounts considered a B-Hero and not one of DC’s mainstream like Batman, Superman and Green Lantern, for me he has always been a great superhero who has always captured by attention and imagination. But while this update has us walking away from Red Tornado, for our next update we will however stay in the DC Universe as we will be taking a look at a classic public domain character they tried to bring back to the reading masses called Fighting American that was co-created by Jack Kirby.  This will be just in time for July 4th our nation’s Independence Day! So until next time, read a comic or three, buy a classic action figure or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for fireworks and a classic comic hero, see you then readers and friends.

The Day Superman Died

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my friends and readers.  For this update, we will be taking a look at one of comic books’ biggest storylines that captured not only the readers but also the media and people who thought that this was a milestone in culture and bought dozens of the issue hoping to send their kids to college on the resale of it. I am of course talking about the Death Of Superman, DC Comics’ top selling issue of all time as well as the best selling graphic novel of all time. My brother Bryan and I read lots of comics growing up and among issues we read often was Superman in Action Comics, DC Comic Presents and his self titled comic.  We loved the Christopher Reeve Superman movies as well as the classic George Reeves TV Show Adventures Of Superman…hell, we even grew up eating Superman Peanut Butter before it was discontinued! One of my brother’s favorite toys growing up was a Mego Superman figure that he lost on top of my Grandpa’s roof, and I had growing up the Kenner Super Powers Superman action figure that by the end of its life was so beat up and played as it was a major part of my backyard/woods action figure adventures. My favorite arcade machine at Game Swap is Superman, and over all, this superhero was a big part of my young life.  While he might not have been my all time favorite, he still was a staple of reading his new and old adventures for me. But on November 18, 1992 things changed for many comic readers as that was the day Superman died, and comics books would never be the same again.

death-of-superman-bloody-shield

In 1992 when the news broke that DC Comics was killing off Superman, I was 13 years old, and the every news station was covering this event from local broadcast news like Channel 7 all the way to MTV.  Superman was once more the king of comics as my friends at school were talking about it with many of them wondering how he was going to die and if he was going to come back more powerful than ever. My brother Bryan was already buying the issues leading up to his death from stores like the Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and was even trying to buy older issues that were rumored to be the origin and reference the monster and Superman slayer known as Doomsday. The feeling among comic readers was very mixed as many people were very upset that Superman, an Americana hero, was being killed with some people even getting tears in their eyes on TV while talking about the event on the news.  Others seemed happy to see Superman die and hit the big comic rack in the sky. Most comic shop owners and other fans just kept saying this was a cash grab by DC to breathe new life into the slumping sales of the Superman titles and that they needed to try to bring readers back to the title as well as entice new readers. But one thing was for sure, the sales for the titles went up with many jumping onboard before the dying issue that was Superman # 75 and the sales and interest in Superman was on the rise making him a household name again. The week that the death issue came out I can remember by brother trying his best to talk our parents into taking him to a comic shop and they didn’t and he missed out on the first printing of the issue that came in a black plastic bag with a bloody Superman S on it and inside besides the comic was a poster, trading card, a black armband and a Daily Planet Obituary instead he had to wait and get a second printing thanks to the fine folks at Mavericks who held one back for him. The funny thing about this media hyped comic event was that it was the first time I remember that a modern comic at the time it came out EVERYONE kept saying it was going to be a huge collectors item and would be worth so much money and oddly enough it was as the $2.50 black bagged edition was going as high as $100-$300 dollars and sometimes higher at shops and comic conventions right after being released! I can remember the first time I read Superman # 75 and being into the epic fight that was unfolding page after page between Doomsday and Superman and being shocked and drawn in as the Man of Steel died in the arms of Lois Lane as the city of Metropolis watched in horror and shock and for a short time I really did believed that DC had killed off Superman for good. But like most deaths in comic books nothing lasts forever but that will be for another update. Superman # 75 was so huge that it kicked off the big crash for comic books again and brought collecting them into the mainstream again, but this also brought on the era of comics that held gimmick covers, cover price hikes and in some cases took the fun out of the comic stories as companies focused on more flashy cheesy foil cover, hologram covers and over blown mega event type stories and simply forgot to be entertaining and this truly lead to the Comic Crash of 1993 that hurt many of the independent companies who many went out of business as once more greed from the major players left readers with boxes filled with over produced issues that were in some cases not worth the paper they were printed on, and this lead to readers and buyers walking away from comics for awhile. And sadly even in 2017 comic books are not nearly as big of a powerhouse as they were in the past, but I think there is hope as both Marvel and DC have stepped up their stories and characters and independent comic companies like IDW, Dark Horse, Image, Eibon Press, Action Lab, Boom! and even Sparkle Comics are making comics cool again! But while it might have brought on the downfall of comic books for awhile the Death of Superman still is a major event in comic history and one I can say I grew up in the middle of!

doomsday-and-superman-punch-and-punch

But while I was just a youngster reading comic books and seeing the hype and madness of the Death Of Superman was causing on TV and with friends and family some of my friends seen the madness first hand as they worked at comic stores and got to see just how crazy the lines to get a copy were and I would like to have them share their stories here with you my friends and readers as I am sure you as I do want to get a look into the madness that this issue caused. First up is my great pal and Co-Owner of Sparkle Comics the one and only Jason Young who was only 15 and was working for Mavericks Cards And Comics in Kettering at the time a place he still works to this day! So take it away Jason and let us know just how crazy November 18, 1992 was for you and the employees of Mavericks.

jason-young-with-superman-75-at-mavericks

“It was 1992 and I had been working at the comic book shop less than a year when Superman #75 hit the stands. Only fifteen years old, but I had read lots of Superman and World’s Finest comics by that point. Superman was never my favorite superhero, but I did like the guy. I mean, he’s frickin’ Superman! I remember actually thinking, “I can’t believe DC is going to get rid of Superman… that’s crazy!”

The day that book came out was insane. People lined outside of the shop waiting to get their copy which we limited to one per person because of the demand. Some people were annoyed that they could only purchase one copy as they wanted to open the black polybag it came sealed inside so they could not only read it but also enjoy all of the cool extras that came inside (poster, stamps and memorial armband)!

Luckily there was a newstand edition that went to grocery and convenient stores that people could read (even though that version didn’t come with the cool extras) if they couldn’t get a reading copy at their local comic book shop.

The whole thing was exciting and intense, with people hanging out and talking about the insanity of a world without a Superman… how could we go on? How would the Justice League handle those otherworldly threats that the Flash’s speed and Batman’s detective skills were just no match for?

On that day, comic fans the world over asked themselves and each other those tough questions. Even if you weren’t a Superman fan, you knew he was as much a part of pop culture as anyone actually alive and to think of there being no more Superman comics to come was kind of shocking. 

Some people came into the store that hadn’t read a comic book in decades, but just had to see this one!  The last Superman comic… crazy! Of course, we all know that Superman eventually came back from the dead… but on that day it was a weird mixture of shock, excitement and mourning. A new comic book day like no other before or since!”

doomsday-killed-superman

So as you can see Mavericks was hit with Superman hysteria and they even had to limit the customers to one copy as collectors were going crazy to get their hands on multiple copies of this icon comic book event. Next up is my friend Pete Bell who is the owner of Bell, Book And Comic one of my favorite comic stores in the Dayton market and was working at the now long gone Dayton comic shop The Dragons Layer when Superman # 75 hit the shelves. So lets hear about the madness that Pete witnessed during this universally busy new comic book day that saw the death of DC Comics top hero.

pete-bell-owner-of-bell-book-and-comic

“Back in the 90 s boom of 40k titles and 1 million print runs on comics as standard practice, Superman 75 and the entire death of big blue storyline helped define our overprinted greed and need for comic book mainstream collecting!!! 

The main comic book con circuit back 25 years ago was called JUBILEE and traveled between southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and eastern Indy. It rotated and kept all of us hungry fan boys busy overspending to get in to purchase overpriced 90 s garbage. speaking in today’s view of course, but then it was all good to us! 

When the earliest appearances of Doomsday were coming out, and the con was here In Dayton, I remember walking around looking at all the stock boxes and wall books from dealers who would cram all they could on and behind 6ft worth of space for 60 bucks a table. All of a sudden I see an almost barren table with one guy behind it trying to peddle about 20 copies of his first cameo for 25 bucks each! That’s it. Just a guy who went around to newsstands and grabbed up all he could and thought he could be a dealer for a day to make a few bucks! That is what some people turned Into during this whirlwind!  

All the stores here in town limited Supermen 75 black bagged edition to one each!  So naturally we went around and got one from all the shops we could! Most shops had long lines of people waiting and we did just that. It was surreal to see mobs of mainstream people who haven’t even been in a comic shop in years, or at all, waiting to get their hands on just one copy. Now this book had a print run of 750,000! And most of those buyers just wanted it to resell it right away for quick profit, or keep it for their kid’s college tuition! Both extremes! Just a strange bizarre time! Most books these days have a print run of about 20,000 or less, and most Don’t even get sold out right away or are sought after on high demand! Never has any book been as sought after upon release or in any high demand before or since, until the amazing Spider-Man Barack Obama book!! And no one even died in that issue!!!! 

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Sunsoft was a company who was making lots of video games based on Superman in the early 90’s and in 1994 and 1995 they made a side scrolling beat’em up gamed called “The Death And Return Of Superman” for SNES and Sega Genesis that allowed the player to relive and play through the events of the comic series from DC and added their own silly twist to make the game more enjoyable. I can remember playing the Genesis version as my brother Bryan and I rented it from K & L Video and can remember having a good time playing it, but the thing about it by the time of it’s release it was just lost as most gamers I knew passed on this title and just played “Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage” instead. While not a perfect game it was a fun game and once more showed that even in late 1994 and 1995 people and companies were still talking about the Death of Superman and the storylines that followed. If you like typical 16-Bit side scrolling beat’em up games make sure to check this one out, while they both are about the same I think the Genesis version is slightly better than the SNES version.

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This next part of our Death Of Superman update has spoilers for the 2016 film “Batman v Superman Dawn Of Justice” so if you have not seen that and don’t want to have it spoiled skip this section now! When the Christopher Reeve Superman series came to an end in 2006 with “Superman Returns” it took many years for Warner Brothers and DC to bring the cinema a new one and they did in 2013 with the Hack…I mean Zack Snyder’s film “The Man Of Steel” and this lead to last years “Batman v Superman Dawn Of Justice” and the second film for actor Henry Cavill to play Superman and along the way fight with Batman and by the end die at the hands of Doomsday…who was created by Lex Luther Jr. from the body of General Zod….yep. In the film they play up the Death Of Superman and have him die thanks to Doomsday and kryptonite and by his death in the movie universe the Justice League will now be coming together to make the world a better place…for you and for me and the entire human race. In the film his death impacts the world and he is given a heroes funeral, while his alter ego Clark Kent is buried in his hometown of Smallville and only close friends and family attend like Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne. While in the comic world his death was shocking and impactful here in this film it just seemed tacked on and a lame plot point to play into his return by the next movie. While I don’t want to spend time on this movie as I did that back in my update called “Matt Goes To The Movies 2016” I just wanted to point out that the 1992 death of the Man of Steel carried over to even modern media based on the worlds most known superhero. I should also note that DC did an animated movie called “Superman: Doomsday” in 2007 that was very loosely based on the comic books.

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So as you can see The Death Of Superman has influenced not only the comic book world but also Superman in movies and video games and sparked many of great conversations over the years for comic fans who still talk about it to this day. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics and Amazon for having these issues in stock and I also want to thank DC Comics for making this epic and iconic event that spawned many acts just like a play as we follow Superman in Death to his Rebirth! The Daily Planet wanted me to let you all know that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So lets enter the battlefield of Metropolis and get a ringside seat for one of comic’s most brutal battles to ever take place in a DC Comic!

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Superman: Man Of Steel # 18  **1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25    DC   # 18 of 134

Keith is a young boy who is an orphan and has Superman as a friend, but when monsters in the sewer system tell him they have his long lost mother, he goes on a mission to find her and rescue her from their grip. Lois Lane finds an anonymous tip that something wicked is happing at the Metropolis power planet, and she heads out only to find herself now the prisoner of these underground dwelling monsters who want to start a war with the surface world and start by stealing all the power from the city. Keith leaves the sewer once he finds that Lois has been kidnapped and warns Superman of the monsters plan to attack and to kill Lois causing the Man Of Steel to spring into action. Meanwhile a huge monster of a being that crashed to Earth has freed himself from the wreckage and is headed toward the city killing anything that his foolish enough to get in it’s way…this monster is Doomsday! Superman stops the monsters and finds out that Lois has been taken away to be killed and upon finding her, he soon learns that a man named Charlie who is homeless and lives in the tunnels with the monsters was the tipster and is the one who saved Lois from being really killed! Meanwhile Doomsday is now in the city and causing mayhem and death and this alerts The Justice League!

The start of the Death of Superman is a little slow and this issue’s plot has Superman very easily stopping an invasion from monsters and homeless people who live in the sewer tunnels under the city. As always we have Lois Lane be in danger and a young kid who idolizes Superman. Doomsday’s story has him breaking free from his wrecked prison ship and is on a destructive path heading for Metropolis and laughing at all the death he is causing to animals and humans alike. Superman in this issue is cool and calm and don’t even break a sweat in his battle with the monsters, and only looses his cool when he thinks that Lois is dead/about to be killed as he truly cares for her. Superman’s power is at a peak and it’s clear that his Boy Scout attitude is in full effect showing that he is ready for the approaching battle with death. Lois Lane loves her man Clark Kent aka Superman and wants him to be the hero he was born to be, but she also really wants the big stories and puts herself in harms way and once more shows why in pop culture she and Jane from Tarzan and the biggest examples of damsels in distress. Charlie and Keith are great little side characters with Charlie and his tunnel living friends reminding me of the film RAW MEAT. The Monsters in the sewers have big plans for domination but soon find they just get dominated and are no real threat to the world if Superman is around…I wish they were instead C.H.U.D.S. and not generic and goofy looking monsters. Doomsday is wearing a green jump suit, red goggles and has steel holding one of his arms behind his back is pure evil as he crushes a bird with his bare hands and latter tips over a semi truck that triggers it to explode into flames…in over words he is death walking! While the start of this part of the “Death Of Superman” storyline is a little weak it’s clear they needed to close some loose ends in order to deliver the main goods of the epic battle that is about to start. The cover of this issues is pretty cool and shows a pissed off Doomsday, but the art inside done by Jon Bogdanove is a little sloppy and I can say I am not a fan of it. Over all this first issue is a spark that is being used to start the fire and with that lets move onto the next issue in this iconic story arch in comic book history.

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Justice League Of America # 69  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   DC    # 69 of 113

The Justice League show up to the site of the semi truck attacks and save the truck drivers from a burning death, on the team of heroes is Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Bloodwynd, Ice, Maxima and Fire and while Superman is live on a TV talk show they are out trying to find the monster who caused this accident in Ohio. But Doomsday finds them first and brings the Blue Beetles ship down and in the panic once more causes a major auto accident, Guy Gardner with his power ring attacks Doomsday first and learns the hard way that he is more powerful than all the JLA as he smashes Guy into the ground leaving him beaten and broken and if not for Fire he would also be dead! Bloodwynd attacks next and uses the energy of the dead spirits to land a massive blow that once more Doomsday seems not to even feel and punches the hero with a massive blow that takes him out of the fight for a moment. Fire is next to feel the power of Doomsday as he hurls a rock at her head knocking her out and then turns his brutal nature onto the Blue Beetle beating him bloody! And he knocks Bloodwynd and Maxima into each other knocking them both silly. Booster Gold tries his might next and is hit so hard that he is sent flying into the air at a fast speed! Superman stops the interview when he hears the JLA are in trouble and shows up in time to catch Booster in the air who warns him that a monster is on the loose….and worse Ice is left alone with him as is a dying Blue Beetle who needs medical help!

The plot and destruction thickens as Doomsday is now on a full warpath in Ohio heading for Metropolis and even single-handed beats the crap out of the whole JLA team! Like really he still has one arm tied behind his back! The plot for this issue has the JLA coming to Ohio to help find the monster that is causing so much destruction and when they find him Doomsday unleashes hell on them and shows that he is a true monster and is made up of rage and hate. Superman in this issue spends time having to answer questions from Teens and a talk show host to try and build a bond between normal every day Joes and superheroes, but when he finds out his fellow JLA members are in trouble he comes calling as fast as he can. Guy Gardner is a hot head hotshot who thinks he is unbeatable and is reckless in his actions and for this he gets his butt kicked and his head driven into the ground! Fire and Ice try what they can to help in the battle with Ice standing on the sidelines and fire gets a rock to the head that causes her to be out of the fight game…poor girls don’t stand a chance against the killing machine. Maxima however does put up a fight and is brave in her actions but soon collides into Bloodwynd knocking them both out and showing that they truly didn’t stand a chance. Booster Gold as well who is noble in his attempt finds that his most powerful hit didn’t even phase Doomsday who instead returns the favor and lands a punch that sends him flying! Poor Blue Beetle gets the worst of the attack as he is beaten bloody and thrown to the side near death! Doomsday adds to his character not only that he is evil but also he knows how to fight and can withstand power blows from heroes with little effort! When reading this for the first time I can remember being in shock of seeing the JLA being thrown around like ragdolls and wondering why Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman and Red Tornado did not enter the fight! While this JLA might have been the B-Team or even maybe the C-Team it still was shocking and I can remember telling my Mom that the Blue Beetle had to be dead after that beating. This issue for the most part is all action and only takes us away for the battle for Superman’s interview that is going along with the battle at hand. The cover art is great and showcases what action your in store for when reading this issue and the art inside is pretty good and done by Dan Jurgens and has that 90’s DC Comic look. Over all the showdown is about to take place between Superman and Doomsday in the next issue and I for one can not wait to re-live it!

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Superman # 74  ***
Released in 1992    Cover Price $1.25   DC   # 74 of 714

Maxima awakens to find Ice the only one standing and Doomsday is now gone from the battlefield, and with some pleading she gives up the fight and takes the Blue Beetle to get medical aid. Ice now the only standing hero goes after Doomsday and finds herself being flung into a house were a young mother along with her baby daughter and teenage son are putting them into danger as Doomsday is approaching fast! Superman and Booster Gold appear and Superman takes a massive punch from Doomsday and shrugs it off, but can not the massive kick Doomsday plants into his gut sending the Man of Steel as well into the house and out the other side! Booster Gold tries to hold Doomsday off again but is over powered and has his head rammed against a tree knocking him silly. Doomsday enters the house and is about to deliver a killing blow to the still knocked out Ice but gets distracted by the family and is about to smash them when Superman comes in and saves the day allowing them to flee. Once the family is safe Superman is joined by Fire, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner and Bloodwynd who all use their maximum powers at once to try and bring Doomsday down…it does nothing but free Doomsdays other hand and burn off some of his green costume. The full on assault leaves Booster and Fire drained and powerless and poor Guy’s eyes are swollen shut from the beating he took earlier and before the weakened heroes can escape Doomsday attacks and beats Booster Gold with the attempt to kill! Doomsday makes short work of the JLA again and leaves the family stuck in a raging fire and Superman ignores the teen’s plea for help as he continues his pursuit of Doomsday! Will the teen and his family be burned alive as the JLA are all out for the count and unable to help.

Superman and the JLA go toe to toe with Doomsday and they soon find out that this monster is a pure powerhouse and that even using all their powers together can not stop him or even phase him as he just laughs off their attacks and brings his own defense to them harder and more vicious than before. The poor JLA are just dissected and over powered beyond belief and are shown that they have NEVER faced a threat like Doomsday! While in the last issue Blue Beetle was the one who suffered the worst beating in this issue Booster Gold gets that award as he has his head smashed into a tree and later has a car door slammed on it and thrown around like a piece of trash. Superman is so worked up that he was watched his friends be beaten up and that is own attempts to stop the monster has fallen short that he is walking away from a family who needs help and could be burned alive! Doomsday almost the whole issue is still beating the heroes with one arm but once his other arm is freed he turns up the brutal beatings and turned up the threat level of his destruction. Really up to this time in DC Comics the only other unstoppable villain I could thank of is Darkseid and he had been stopped before, Doomsday was fresh and new and he was down right an evil SOB and this was how we all knew Superman was going to meet his maker. The issue is filled with lots of action and drama and showcased just how well this storyline was going as issue after issue built up excitement and made your crave to read the next issue in the series. Plus adding in a young teen who is from a good yet broken family who thinks Superman is lame is sadly how many young comic readers at the time seen the Man of Steel so it was cool they added that into the story as when in trouble the Teen calls out to Superman for help and at this point it’s falling on dead ears as Superman is putting the safety of the many over that of the few. I also pick up the underline fear that Superman is having toward Doomsday as he knows that this foe is more powerful than any he has fought before! The cover on this issue is great and the art once more is done by Dan Jurgens and is pretty good stuff! Over all this action issue is a great set up to take the JLA out of action and leave Superman a hero alone in his fight against Doomsday!

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Adventures Of Superman # 497  ***
Released in 1992     Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 497 of 649

The Justice League is knocked out cold as the young teen still begs Superman to come and help his mom and baby sister who is trapped in the fire ridden house! Superman takes notice that the JLA are all out of the game and decides to drive Doomsday deep into the lake and trap him in the soft mud for a moment and makes it in time to save the family with the aid of Bloodwynd. Once the paramedics show up and take the family and the JLA to the hospital Superman once more sets his sights on Doomsday who is once more free and is once more on a path of destruction as he goes not only toe to toe with Superman but also the army and Maxima who has returned to the battle! While in Metropolis Lois Lane needs Jimmy Olsen to come cover the story with her and with the help of TV Reporter Cat Grant she is able to get her into the filming studio were Jimmy is a new kids TV show star and they gather around and watch the broadcast that Doomsday is heading their way! Lex Luther and Supergirl also see the news and start to brainstorm on how they can keep Metropolis safe if the monster makes it to the city. Superman and Maxima are doing all they can but nothing seems to phase Doomsday who seems to be getting stronger the longer the battle goes on, but when Maxima makes a mistake causing sparks from a light post to hit gasoline leaking from a gas truck an explosion leaves her and Superman hurt as Doomsday just keeps walking toward the city! The Guardian shows up and checks on the falling heroes and while he tries to help Maxima, Superman The Man Of Steel declares that he alone must stop Doomsday.

The battle is getting more and more brutal as the news report in this issue have states that 30 people have died this far and hundreds have been injured showing that Doomsday really just don’t care who or what gets in his way. This issue is just another packed with pure action and Superman and Doomsday slug it out and try to make hamburger out of each other’s faces. I do also however like the fact that the teen who once hated Superman is now grateful for his heroic actions that saved his mom and sister from the fire, this scene adds to the drama that this epic battle is causing to normal people. This issue also shows that Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice and Booster Gold are in such bad shape and beat up that they all have to go to the hospital and that Bloodwynd is hurt but takes his leave to heal on his own…leaving for the most part Superman along to face this destructive monster of power and rage. Superman shows now fear and while he lands massive and powerful hits to Doomsday who seems to not feel them he still just keeps fighting and trying to stop his one monster riot. Doomsday just keeps on moving forward toward New York and Metropolis with not a care in the world and loving the battle that he is in, showing he is a freak of nature and a force to be reckoned with. Maxima while strong and having the warrior spirit is dumb in her actions as she is the cause for her and Superman to suffer damage from the gas truck explosion. Very cool in this issue we see Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen on the orders of Perry White gearing up to cover the epic fight for the Daily Planet. Plus I can remember the first time reading this thinking about what plan Supergirl and Lex Luthor have cooking in their minds to protect the city if the menace of Doomsday makes it to them. Great cover of Superman and Doomsday fighting plus the interior artwork done by Tom Grummett is fantastic and captures the over all comic book goodness a major storyline like this should have. Over all a solid and fun issue that builds up the fact that Superman might have finally meet his match!

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Action Comics # 684   **1/2
Released in 1992     Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 684 of 904

Doomsday is causing more mayhem and killing innocent people as The Guardian is getting Maxima to the hospital and Superman is trying to save lives of people caught in the path of his new and powerful foe. Doomsday ends up in a Lex-Mart shopping store and once more Superman tries to fist fight this titan of death and as the battle goes on Lex Luthor and Supergirl decide to really sit this battle out and will join once it hits Metropolis. Superman pounds on Doomsday with everything he’s got and sadly it’s still not enough as it appears the harder Superman fights the stronger Doomsday is getting! Superman follows Doomsday and drives him away from people and the who fight around a wood habit research base and The Guardian as well shows up and tries to help but after so much damage the habit falls on top of Superman and The Guardian and Doomsday is now on the edge of entering Metropolis!

In this issue and the 5th in the Doomsday (aka Death Of Superman) storyline The Man Of Steel spends half of the issue trying to save lives of people who are the victims of this rampage and the other part punching it out with Doomsday! The Guardian showed up late to the fight, but really I don’t think he would have been much help and I am sure he would have just ended up in a hospital bed next to Blue Beetle and Booster Gold! Oh wait by the end he did try to mix it up into the fight and has a habit fall on top of him and taken out of the fight! Maxima took her own self out of the fight by triggering that explosion and given herself a concussion. Lois and Jimmy are flying around in a helicopter covering the fight and deep inside Lois is scared for her husband Clark Kent aka Superman as she is seeing that he is having a hard time putting away his enemy. Supergirl and Lex Luthor are watching and waiting to see if Doomsday will make it to the city so that they can enter the fight and try to protect their hometown. By the end of this issue Doomsday’s body count is said to be over 100 dead and he seems to not be slowing down and he is clearly enjoying trading every punch and snuffing every human life out. By this time in the story arch as a reader the odds of stopping Doomsday look very thin and on top of that you start wondering were other heroes are to help with this menace…like The Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Dr. Fate and Wonder Woman…were are they when Ohio and New York need them!?! By this point the real reason for this issue is to show that Doomsday has taken out the JLA and has taken everything Superman has thrown at him and it seems not to have even slowed him down a bit, truly making the odds of Superman winning in a fist fight with this monster slim to none. The cover is amazing and has Superman and Doomsday locking up with destruction all around them, the interior art done by Jackson Guice is ok but a little to sloppy for my liking. Over all this is clearly an enhancement issue that helps build the evil nature of Doomsday and to build up the final battle that we all know is about to go down.

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Superman: Man Of Steel # 19  ***
Released in 1993   Cover Price $1.25    DC    # 19 of 134

Doomsday is destroying a construction site in Metropolis as Lois and Jimmy are hovering above in the Daily Planet Helicopter and Cat is in the News one both reporting the story as Superman appears once again and tries his hand at stopping the rampage with his wits and fists and drags the brute into the sky only to find himself of the receiving end of a massive kick that leaves the pair falling back down to the ground very hard. Doomsday falls so hard that he breaks a gas main and lands in the underground were he kills many of the monsters and freaks that live in the sewer before once more Superman tries to come to the rescue but in turn only helps trigger a spark that ignites the gas and causes yet another massive explosion that rocks the city. Superman is still fighting but the battle is starting to break him down as our hero is bleeding, bruised and getting tired he gets some quick help from Supergirl who sadly gets her clocked clean with a well placed punch from Doomsday as well as Superman’s pal Professor Hamilton who fires a giant laser cannon at Doomsday that only seems to piss the monster off even more! Superman weak from battle is still able to save the young boy Keith and others from the orphanage before once more returning to the battle with Doomsday who is now taking on the Metropolis police department as well as Lex Corp guards who are trying to lend a hand to Superman who once more is trading punches with the monster and claiming the fight must end one way or another!

Superman in this issue has been pushed to far when he sees all the death and madness Doomsday has caused in his city of Metropolis and no matter how badly he feels from the fight this far Superman never gives up and never backs down and best of all never stops trying to help those in danger. Call Superman a Boy Scout, a lame duck or even cheesy one thing for sure is that he is the true meaning of the word hero and in this story arch as well as in all issues of Superman comics he proves it with his actions. Lois Lane and Jimmy are clearly worried about Superman as they have been his friends for years and they have noticed that he seems to be having issues bringing this threat to a stop. The Guardian comes out of the rubble for a brief moment and tries to use his powers to read the mind of Doomsday and finds that all the monster thinks about is destruction, and once he gets that answer he seems to stay away and out of the fight. Supergirl finally cant sit it out any longer and tries to help her cousin but soon just finds that a power punch from Doomsday just leaves her knocked out and has her return to her alien appearance! Lex Luthor during this crisis takes to the TV and throws Superman under the bus by claiming that it’s clear that Doomsday is holding a grudge against The Man Of Steel and that’s why he is attacking the city, making people question if Superman does more harm than good for them. That’s the best thing about Luthor is no matter what he is always going to hate Superman and will always paint himself out as a savior. Doomsday is just one mean mother and like from the start of this story line he gets more joy and pleasure out of fighting, killing and breaking than any other Super Villain in history! This issue was a great way to build up the final fight between Superman and Doomsday as the stakes are high, all the key players are present to witness the epicness of a heroes fall and by now us readers were at the edge of out seats as we knew that in the next issue Superman was doing to die…But before we move onto that iconic issue I want to point out that the cover for this one is pretty well done and has a face off between Doomsday and Superman and the art inside is ok and done by Jon Bogdanove again. So to sum up this issue its action and drama wrapped up into one news print package with a hint of Rotten Ink smell that delivers the excitement that comics books are all about.

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Superman # 75  ***1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $1.25    DC   # 75 of 714

Superman and Doomsday are in the middle of the street exchanging powerful hits as the Lex Corp guards keep unloading on Doomsday and the news helicopters keep getting closer and closer to the fight, but this leaves them in danger as Doomsday slings Superman at the Daily Planet copter and causes it to crash and for Superman to once more pull Lois and Jimmy’s fat out of the fire. Once safe Lois and Jimmy beg Superman to wait for help as it’s clear that he is having issues with Doomsday but after given Lois a kiss and telling her he loves her he rushes back into battle for a final showdown with his monstrous foe. Doomsday gets the upper hand and knocks Superman into the ground causing Lois and Jimmy to rush to their friend aid, but when Doomsday sets his sights on Lois The Man Of Steel once more rises bloody and tired he pours every thing into fighting Doomsday and when each gear up for one last power punch they both fall in victory or is that defeat? As Doomsday is knocked out Superman dies in the arms of Lois Lane as the world watches on live TV in shock, sadness and horror as the worlds best hero passes away. Johnathon and Martha Kent watch as their son dies, Lois Lane watches as her husband passes on, Jimmy Olsen and the Cops witness his last breath and Ice and Bloodwynd who returned to late to try and help catch the death of their friend. Superman is dead and the world will never be the same again.

This iconic issue is told with full-page panels that follows the Man of Steel on his hardest battle that leaves the city of Metropolis in ruins and with out their protector. The issue has Superman saving his wife Lois Lane and friend Jimmy Olsen one last time before going into one of his most brutal fights ever that leaves him dead and his foe an unstoppable monster knocked out cold. Superman uses all his power and knows that he could very possibly die in this fight but he don’t care about his own risks and puts the city and it’s people’s safety as his top priority. He as well is able to tell Lois that he loves her and give her one last kiss before a short time latter he dies in her arms. Poor Lois Lane who is getting the story of her career also sadly gets to record the death of her husband and covers the death of the idol of millions. Jimmy Olsen as well is heart broken as Superman has been is longest and dearest friends. Not to mention that Metropolis has yet to discover that there favorite newsman and paper reporter Clark Kent is as well dead, for they do not know that he is Superman. Poor Ice and Bloodwynd the last two JLA members to bounce back from the beating the took issues back arrive to late and they feel as if they failed The Man Of Steel and the world by not making it back in time, as I am sure Supergirl does as well as she was defeated with ease the last issue and could not offer her cousin any help in the battle. Lex Luthor that slime ball I am sure is happy with the outcome of the fight and that his old foe Superman has a date with a pine box six feet underground. Doomsday proved that he was and still is one of the worlds worst super villains as he through out his rampage has causes tons of property damage, killed animals and humans alike and most important to the world killed Superman all the while laughing in his destruction. But his laughing stops when Superman with a well places axe handle punch knocks the big goons lights out. This issues impact was huge and while it may not have been the industries top selling comic it was the one that gained the most mainstream media and caused comic book collecting fever to reach an all time fever pitch as everyone wanted to read how Superman died. I mean comic shops had caskets and lines out the door to get a copy of this milestone issue. This final issue in the “Doomsday” aka Death Of Superman story arch is well told and had me as a reader feeling like this really could be the end of a heroes iconic adventures. The cover for this news stand edition is great and has the torn Superman cape on a spike flapping in the wind…sent chills down my young spine when I first seen it. The interior art is done by the team of Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding and its fantastic and to be honest one of the only times that I can remember that Superman was every that bloody in a comic! While like stated before many readers want to say that this issue is what brought on the comic crash that happened in the 90’s I for one can say that for me it only helped lock the fact that anything can happen in comics and that as long as the story is good and the art well done I will give it a read. Below is one of the most iconic images from this story arch and showcases the heartbreak and the sadness of the Super Hero icon fallen in battle to save the day.

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For me, The Death Of Superman lived up to the hype when I was a young comic reader, and at the age of 37 reading it again for this blog it still very much held up as I enjoyed the build up to the final battle and how DC and the writers built up the savage and brutal nature of Doomsday making him truly one of the best super villains of the early 1990’s. While The Death Of Superman might not have lasted as DC Comics used the press and hype to try and make Superman a cash cow for them again and rushed so many Superman comic mini series, toys and other merchandise to the market taking the impact away from what could have been even bigger of a storyline. At some point here at Rotten Ink, we will take a look at the second part of the Death Of Superman series called “Funeral For A Friend” as well as the other parts in the Life and Rebirth of this comic book icon. But for our next update we are leaving the super heroes behind and going to take a look at a horror movie slasher that made the leap to comic books thanks to Malibu.  I am talking The Sandman from the film Sleepstalker! So until next time, read a comic or two, think about your favorite fictional heroes who have fallen in battle and as always support your local Horror Host, and I will see you back here for the next update.

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The Ghost Who Walks Among Us And Can Never Die…The Phantom

In the world of comic books, crime doesn’t pay thanks to the Superheroes who protect the innocent and punish the guilty. I mean Gothom City has Batman, The City has Dick Tracy and New York has many like Spider-Man, Daredevil and Fantastic Four, to name a few. But while the big cities have their protectors, so does the jungles of Bangalla in Africa who has the one and only The Phantom! What is really cool about The Phantom is that he is much like Batman and Dick Tracy as he has no superhuman powers and is just a man who is a vigilante and dedicates his life to defending the weak and beating evil down. If you think about it as well, The Phantom, who was created in 1936, is a character who bridged the comic strip hero and the comic book superhero and is the first hero to really walk that line. So let’s kick 2017 off right and spend some time in Bangalla and see what The Phantom is all about and how DC brought him back to comic books in 1988.

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First, we must take a look at the life of the creator of The Phantom, the one and only Leon Harrison Gross aka Lee Falk, who was born on April 28, 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and had a decent childhood growing up Jewish.  Things would take a slight turn for the bad when his father passed away when Lee was still young, but his mother remarried sometime later and this gave Lee a stepfather he loved and respected and looked up to. The older he got, he began making comic strips and made up a fake bio story for himself as he claimed to be a world traveler who experienced so much out in the world which lead him to create the characters Mandrake The Magician and later The Phantom who were both picked up by King Feature Syndicate. He created The Phantom as he grew up loving the stories of Tarzan and The Jungle Book and decided to also add in pirates and thugs from around the world as it was a topic that also interested him.  Originally he wanted to call the character The Grey Ghost and wanted his costume and all to be grey but things changed when he liked the name The Phantom better and the news printer screwed up and made the costume purple, and the color stuck with readers. Weirdly enough, Falk did not have faith in his characters and thought they would only last a few weeks and was shocked that they lasted his whole lifetime, During World War II Falk worked for KMOX radio and was the chief of propaganda.  Also, the older he got the more world traveling he did in order to not have to lie about his background stories. Lee Falk was married three times and had three children with two daughters and one son. Lee Folk also loved the theater and over the years wrote 12 plays, directed 100 of them and produced over 300 others! Not to mention over his lifetime he even ran five theaters! His plays would have such Hollywood actors as Basil Rathbone, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Chico Marx and Charlton Heston acting in them! As you can see Lee Falk was a very creative man who did lots of very cool things. Lee Falk passed away from heart failure on March 13, 1999 at the age of 87 and up to his death he was still working on his comic strips…a true man who loved his characters and creations. It’s amazing to think about just how many comic strip creators worked on their strips all the way up until their deaths showing that unlike the comic book world, the creators loved their creations and got joy of bringing them to life for the readers. This update is dedicated to you, Lee Falk, a true icon of comic strip artists and a man who lived for what he loved to do.

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The Phantom is a hero who has no super powers and uses his wits, fists and guns to right the wrongs and protect his friends and tribes around his home in Africa. His costume is the following: a black eye mask, a skull ring and a purple costume that was based on an old African idol.  The look is used to scare criminals and pirates, who are his main targets. The Phantom is a costume and legacy that is passed down from generation to generation within the Walker family who do this in order to give the appearance that The Phantom is not human and immortal to strike even more fear into the hearts of those who do evil. The Phantom is a trained fighter with his fists, and I would guess that he has the punch of a heavy weight boxer! He is also skilled with a gun and while not a full dead shot, he hits his target when it’s needed. The Phantom is very smart and has the same kind of mind for solving crimes as Batman, The Shadow and Dick Tracy as he is also quick to get out of a bad situation. The Phantom’s main weapon is fear as legends spread of him being a ghost and not able to be killed, using superstition of the unknown to his advantage of just passing on the title to the next in the family bloodline. The 21st Phantom also has a pet wolf named Devil who helps him uphold justice and has his white horse Hero to get him places faster. Say what you will, The Phantom is a kick butt hero who might not be super but sure knows how to get the job done!

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On June 7, 1996, thanks to Paramount Pictures, a film based on The Phantom was released to theaters and was directed by Simon Wincer and had Billy Zane as The Phantom himself. Also in the cast were Catherine Zeta-Jones, Treat Williams and Kristy Swanson with the score being done by David Newman. Before it was made The Phantom had many different directors attached to it including big names like Sergio Leone, Joe Dante and Joel Schumacher who all left the project at one point or another for reasons of their own. Paramount picked the relativity unknown Simon Wincer, who had directed a few films before it like Quigley Down Under, Free Willy, Lightning Jack and Operation Dumbo Drop to name a few and they gave him a $45 million budget.  He is the one who hired Zane to play the title role as they both were fans of the character since childhood. The film’s production went smooth, and the hype was high for the film’s release as Paramount was wishing for the same kind of success as Warner Brothers had with Batman in 1989 and Touchstone had with Dick Tracy in 1990…but the box office and critics were not nice to this film as it only brought in $17,323,326.00 in the US and didn’t even get released in theaters overseas! The film came in at #93 of the year and beat out such films as The Frighteners, Trainspotting, Thinner and Mulholland Falls to name a few. While the film bombed at the theater, it developed a cult following when it was released on VHS and DVD, making the film turn in a small profit for Paramount. While I am a fan of The Phantom character, I skipped this film at the theater and waited for home video.  I found it to be a fun dumb popcorn movie that, while it didn’t 100% capture the magic of the comic strip, it at least delivered some fun action and adventure. And I must say that the outfit for The Phantom that actor Billy Zane wears was pretty well done and looked like a modern version of the classic suit and brought out elements to make it stand out on the big screen.

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But the 1996 film was not the first time The Phantom made the jump from comic strip to media on the big and small screen as the first was the 1943 Columbia Pictures serial simple called “The Phantom” that had a total of 15 chapters and had Tom Tyler as The Phantom. A serial sequel for The Phantom was in the works in 1955 with actor John Hart in the role of The Phantom and as production was chugging along they soon found that they no longer owned the rights to use The Phantom and quickly changed it over to calling it “The Adventures Of Captain Africa.” This was followed by the cartoon “Defenders Of The Earth” that aired on TV in 1986 and had Peter Mark Richman voicing the character for a total of 65 episodes, only lasting one season. In 1994, a cartoon called “Phantom 2040” was released as a series that lasted for 35 episodes and a total of 2 seasons with Family Ties actor Scott Valentine lending his pipes to make the character speak. And in 2009 they made a TV mini series based on the character and called it “The Phantom” that had two feature length movies to tell this new version of the character.  This time around actor Ryan Carnes landed the role of the character. So as you can see, Hollywood has had many plans for this character to be the next comic character to be on every kid’s t-shirt and have toys on every chain store shelf…while they tried, it just was not meant to be as it was clear the youth was just not biting at The Phantom to replace their Batman toys and comics. I can proudly say that as a youngster I did my part, as I owned The Phantom action figure from the Defenders Of The Earth toy line.

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Besides the movies and cartoons getting released on VHS and DVD, some other really cool stuff based on The Phantom has been released over the years from action figures, t-shirts, posters, statues, comic books, novels, card game, video game, Halloween costumes, replica skull rings, bobble heads, lunch box and so much more! The Phantom has had his fair share of collectibles for his fans to collect and enjoy, not to mention, besides DC, other comic book companies like Pacific Comics Club, Gold Key, Whitman, King, Pioneer, Dynomite, Marvel and Moonstone among others have printed adventures of this character. Besides some of the comics and the Defenders action figure, one thing I had in my teens was a skull ring replica that a fellow classmate gave me, and I can remember wearing it around school and feeling super cool…yeah, I know –  I was young and didn’t know any better. I wonder if that ring is still someplace in my parent’s basement, also know as Independent B Movie Studios. So in closing, if you enjoy The Phantom, the world is filled with collectibles for you!

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Speaking of Independent B Movie, the old shot on video company that my friends and I use to make films together under that brought you such shot on video classics as The Wolf Hunter, Farmer Joe and Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa to name a small few.  For a small time we toyed with the idea of doing fan films based on some of our favorite movies and characters with lots of things being written and talked about at our annual company meetings. Characters like Superman, Lone Ranger, Leatherface, Spider-Man and Neo from The Matrix all had fan scripts written or talked about, and one of the characters I was developing a fan film for was The Phantom! The idea for my film would have had Matt Hoffman or Jason Gilmore playing The Phantom who was sent on a mission to stop Dr. Frankenstein from creating a monster for the Nazi’s who needed this super solider to turn the tide of the war.  The setting was Frankenstein’s Castle in Kettering and the woods around it would have acted as the jungle with all the typical friends taking on roles like Josh Weinberg who I wanted to play Dr. Frankenstein.  Garrison Kane would have played The Monster and Dave Wean, Patrick Neeley, Mike Ritchie and Jason Young would have made up the supporting cast. If memory serves me right, I think the title of it would have been called “The Phantom vs. Frankenstein,” real original right? The costume was going to be ordered offline and The Frankenstein’s Monster mask was something we would have gotten from Foy’s in Fairborn. But the film idea went nowhere and a script was never written as only scraps of paper with notes was all I had taken down for my idea for this flick, and sadly that are long gone by now. I could have only imagined if we were to have filmed this just how cheesy and terrible the action fights would have been, but I am sure much like all the films we made, it would have had a small cult following for being so bad it’s good. Below is a mock-up poster for this movie done by my friend Jason Young who I’m sure would have been cast in this could-have-been fan made film.  Check it out!

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Speaking of Jason Young – before we get into the reviews of DC Comics first run of The Phantom, I want to share something very cool with you: my good friend Jason has started a comic review blog called “The Bewildering” for independent comics issue # 1’s he finds in .25 and $1.00 boxes at stores as well as conventions! And with his reviews, he breaks down the issues’ plots really well and will update about once a month.  It’s worth checking out if you enjoy your comics on the moldy side of the comic racks. Jason Young is a super talented dude as he is the owner of “Buyer Beware Comics” that puts out his bio comic called “Veggie Dog Saturn” among other titles. He is the co-owner of “Sparkle Comics” and its horror comic branch “Blood Scream Comics” and is working on a very cool comic called “Defenders Of The Planets” based on knock off He-Man toys from the 80’s! He also is co-host on the comic podcast called “Gutter Trash” with artist Eric Shonborn, not to mention he works at Mavericks Cards And Comics, a local shop that helps hook me up with comics for this blog! So in other words you are for sure in for a high quality good read with his blog, and I recommend that you check it out and show him some love.

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So now that we have taken a look at The Phantom from comic strip to an old never made fan made film that would have been directed by me, lets get to the main attraction here at Rotten Ink and that’s the comic book reviews! When choosing The Phantom as this update I had to think long and hard about what comic company I wanted to choose as many have tackled releases for The Phantom.  Most of the time I would just gone with Marvel Comics but decided to go with DC as the covers caught my attention more and looked like it could be a fun mini series.  Plus I feel like sometimes poor DC gets the short end of the stick here as I cover Marvel way more often. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock to make this update possible and want to also say thank you again to the late great Lee Falk for creating this iconic character for all us comic readers to enjoy! And as always, I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star scale rating and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s enter the Skull Cave and see what kind of adventure we can share with The Phantom!

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The Phantom # 1  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 1 of 4

A young boy named Kit Walker is writing in the journal in the Skull Cave as he is the next in line to be The Phantom, the ghost who cannot die.  He is talking about his fears and reads back to the first Phantom who watched as his father was killed by pirates and he himself washed ashore in Bangalla, Africa near death.  He was taken in by its tribe and found that if the world was going to get justice, it was by him becoming justice itself and becoming the first Phantom who wanted to protect his new home and get revenge on the pirates! Now Kit Walker is an adult and the 21st Phantom who along with his step-nephew Rex, wolf Devil and white horse Hero are called upon by the tribes people as some drug smugglers have kidnapped two of the patrol men and are waiting for the big drug transaction. As The Phantom rushes off to save his friends the patrol men, one who even is under his protection for saving his life some time back, Rex starts to read the history of The Phantom journal and learns that the 13th Phantom was tricked onto a pirate ship by a evil men named Chessmen and captured! In modern times, The Phantom arrives too late as one of the patrolmen is shot dead, and as he frees the other, he soon finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun of a hired gun of one of the original Chessmen who has always been told to kill The Phantom and his supporters!

Three Phantoms’ tales are woven together into this issue’s plot as we take a look at what sparked the 1st Phantom to take on the mantel of being the ghost of justice as well as follow the 13th on a set up mission and are in present day with the 21st who is battling relatives of enemies from the past! And while this might sound confusing, it’s really not and by all accounts is really well done and gives each of The Phantoms their own characters and own traits letting you get the feel that this is truly a mantel that is handed down from father to son over the decades. All three of the Phantoms are very strong-willed people who understand that evil in the world will prey and destroy the weak if someone does not watch out for them.  Each puts his life on the line to rescue the innocent and stomp out the evil that is running loose. Rex is a young man who while is not blood to current The Phantom, he is adopted into the legacy and feels very much connected to it all and wants to learn the history and family secrets to prepare for the day he is called upon to wear the purple costume of good. The pirates and captain are the villains of the story thus far and when they are not stealing or selling drugs, they are killing and have zero remorse for ending lives too soon.  One of them shoots a man in the head without a care all because he had the mark of The Phantom on him! And what’s really shocking is they show the aftermath of the gunshot with a body on the deck in a pool of blood; that’s pretty crazy for a comic based on a comic strip character. The only thing that kind of made this comic a hard read was that some of the lettering for the journal was written in cursive and at times it was hard to read as it felt piled up and a little sloppy. The cover is well done and has The Phantom doing what he does best and that’s beating up pirates! The art is great and is done by Joe Orlando who I think did a fantastic job of mixing the normal 80’s DC Comics style with a touch of Sunday Comics appeal. Over all I am very impressed with this first issue and really kick myself for waiting until 2017 to read this comic as younger me would have really enjoyed this back in 1988!

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The Phantom # 2  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 2 of 4

Rex is reading the history of The Phantom in the Skull Cave as The Phantom kicks into high gear and saves the remaining officer and takes down the captain and his men, but all he could get from the captain as who is his boss is the name Chessman because his own shipmate shoots and kills him before turning the gun on himself. The officer calls the colonel on the ship’s radio for back up and help as The Phantom slips into the jungle with anger and revenge on his mind as the name Chessman is attached to those who did his father wrong many moons back. After a few hours The Phantom contacts the colonel and finds that a man named Charles Chessman from New York is the prime suspect of being the head of the drug smugglers, so alongside Devil, The Phantom as Kit Walker boards a plane for New York to get his answers and justice…but soon finds that his American girlfriend Diana’s family are long time friends with Chessman! The Phantom heads to the office of Charles Chessman only to find himself under arrest! All the while young Rex is reading about the 13th Phantom and his struggle to break free from the pirates who sold him into slavery.

The Phantom once more shows why he is the man who cannot die when he beats up a boat full of pirates and heads to America to settle a score with a person connected with the torture of his father. While he is dealing with his want for revenge, his adopted nephew is learning the history of The Phantom. This issue feels like a great classic hero tale and adds in just enough violence, drama and modern settings to give it an appeal to readers who enjoy Batman, Superman and classic stuff like Dick Tracy and Flash Gordon. The Phantom is as heroic as he can be in this issue and saves not only the life of an officer but also a whole plane full of passengers and crew when a man tries to take it over and with one quick punch that threat comes to an end. Rex, like any young man, is wanting to learn all he can and prove that he could be very worthy of The Phantom legacy someday. The pirates and the captain are such scum that they even turn on each other when the odds are out of their favor.  The Captain has no spine and is about to squeal like a pig on who hired them before his own right hand man put a bullet to good use. Diana Palmer is a woman who clearly cares about her boyfriend The Phantom and understands his odd way of life, but her mother doesn’t like the relationship and thinks The Phantom is too creepy. Something that is working really well for this comic mini series is that like his father The Phantom is trying to get the revenge that his father was unable to dish out all those years back and this adds to not only the drama but also the action. The cover is pretty slick and holds a classic look and the interior art is done by Joe Orlando again and is fantastic.  Again, the only complaint I have is that some of the cursive lettering is hard to read in spots but that’s very minor and didn’t take away any of the enjoyment of the issue. So with issue two being as good as issue one, I cannot wait to see what issue three has in store for us the readers, and I wish I would have bought this series when I was a kid as I would have enjoyed it a lot.

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The Phantom # 3  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 3 of 4

The Phantom and Devil outsmart and out-maneuver the officers and as they go on a wild goose chase to track him down he slips back into the office of Chessman and beats him up and tells him he has a short time to turn himself over to the police and tell them the truth about his drug selling and stolen good ways or that he himself will be the judge, jury and executioner. After taking his leave, Diana comes to see Chessman and is upset over the fact that he beat up one of her friends who she thinks is truly a nice guy and decides to go on a dinner date with Chessman and has a terrible argument with The Phantom leaving the couple at odds and even possibly broken up. The Phantom goes out the night of the date and gets information on all of Chessman’s thugs.  Meanwhile, during dinner Chessman hires a hitman named Stryker to hunt down and kill The Phantom who is in turn now hunting down Chessman’s right hand man! All the while, we get flashbacks to the 13th Phantom who escapes his chains and goes on a hunt and kills the first of The Chessman brothers to send a message to the others that no one crosses justice and The Phantom.

This third issue ushers in the idea that The Phantom is now onto the man who has not only killed his friend and is pushing drugs but also is a relative of the evil men who pushed his father, the 13th Phantom near death’s door. And while trying to put a stop to the evil of this man he might lose his girlfriend as well as his life as now the hunter might just very well become the hunted. The Phantom is a man alone in New York as his own lady thinks he is on the wrong track, and this leaves him trying to fight this fight without her knowledge of the target, but at least he has Devil by his side and is kind enough to give Chessman a choice of turning himself in or become a body in the morgue. Diana is making a big mistake by thinking that her longtime family friend is a nice guy and not scum.  This leaves her also at the madman’s mercy as she is now at his house for dinner and he is desperate to rid the world of The Phantom.  I would not put it past him to use her as a human meat shield when the action goes down. Chessman is just so slimy and plays the role of a nice guy who really has a black selfish heart, and I can’t wait for him to get served some cold justice. Stryker is a mystery and looks like your typical mafia style hitman, and he could be a challenge for The Phantom once they meet! The story of the 13th Phantom from the past and the 21st Phantom’s paths are one in the same dealing with the same evil and crappy people The Chessman family is good story telling and writer Peter David is doing some amazing things to make The Phantom cool for comic readers of 1988 and beyond. The cover once more holds a classic look and captures the adventure style of the character and his legacy as again the art by Joe Orlando is top notch and amazing stuff. Once more this issue is as good as the other two so far and leaves the reader wanting more and wanting to see how the story ends in the next issue. So like The Phantom, let’s lurk into the shadows of your favorite place to read comics and see what happens next.

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The Phantom # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.25     DC Comics   # 4 of 4

At dinner Diana overhears Chessman telling Stryker about his right hand man being busted by the cops thanks to The Phantom and that this spoiled a major drug deal for him.  Before she can get away, Chessman and Stryker take Diana hostage and want to use her as bait when they find out she knows him! The Phantom spends the next nights breaking up Chessman’s illegal operations but finally finds a message that Diana is in trouble and heads to Chessman’s house and into a trap. The Phantom sets Diana free but she is soon recaptured by Chessman who throws her into his car and hits the streets to get to his private plane.  While The Phantom and Devil make short work of Stryker, who, armed with a sniper rifle, hardly put up hardly before being knocked out. The Phantom watches as his enemy takes his true love away and borrows a police horse and tracks them down to bridge where traffic has come to a standstill and with a gun to her head Diana is forced to watch as Chessman and The Phantom have a showdown that leaves them both falling off the bridge. Chessman is in bad shape and rushed to the hospital but is suspected to live and will face charges for his drug empire.  The Phantom is thought to be dead until he shows up with Devil to Diana’s house and they patch things up and all ends well. We also see that the 13th Phantom also had an epic fight with the pirate Chessman brother that as well left them both falling off a mountain that they both died from, but this once more proved that the legacy of The Phantom would live forever.

This four issue mini series took us on an adventure that had us in the past and modern times as well as in the jungles of Africa and the slums of New York and pitted good vs. evil and justice against law breaker. The Phantom in this issue not only brings down many drug and gambling rings but also takes down a hitman as well as defeats a rich business man who is the ring leader of smugglers and has lived his life as a lie and gotten the support of many with his phony good guy persona. And most importantly, he also wins his girl’s heart back as well as keeps the legacy of The Phantom going and intact. The best part about The Phantom is that while he is super talented in hand to hand combat, he also uses his mind to really bring down those who are doing bad and wicked things. Devil is a loyal wolf and is a big help when it comes to fighting crime and is the best ally as he is threat with his razor sharp teeth! Rex learns lots about The Phantom legacy by going into the records, a place he is not meant to be, but a place it is known he would enter as all future Phantoms have interest in the past adventures. Diana Palmer is a woman who stands by her man…well that is until he beats up and points the figure at a rich family friend and then you turn on him and try and send him home until everything he said turns out to be true and he saves your life and then you fall back in love with him. Diana should have had faith in her superhero boyfriend as she clearly has a brain in her head. Stryker is all talk as he acts as if it would be easy to kill off The Phantom and when he gets his chance, he crumbles faster than a house of cards in a hurricane! The 13th Phantom in this series is a hero who is beaten, sold and near death but finds his inner power to get his revenge and to prove that his family legacy is not to be taken lightly. Charles Chessman is a man who has no morals and only cares about making money and getting his own fat out of the fire and would kill an innocent woman to get away, even after being given the chance to turn himself in he decides that he would rather not and try to kill his nemesis. He is much like the Chessman Pirate Brothers as his ego is what causes his downfall and leads him to a life in jail. The one thing that shocked me about this comic series was the fact that it shows not only blood but also a suicide and shows them both very gritty and this brings a more raw and natural feeling to it. The cover on this issue also is very well done and captures the heroic nature of The Phantom and adds the touch of mobsters and gritty city life to its appeal. The art is again done by the talented Joe Orlando and his work helped make this comic series even better of a read and added to the enjoyment of the sold story written by Peter David. Over all, if you enjoy classic hero tales that are filled with drama, action and a more realistic hero, then I suggest checking out this 4 issue mini series as I am glad that I did all these years after its newsstand run. Check out below to get a taste of the artwork from Joe Orlando and see just how good it is.

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Being a fan of The Phantom since a young age, it really is shocking that it took this long for me to read this mini series as to be honest I remember seeing it at comic shops in my teens and never pulled the trigger on buying the issues. I really think fans of such characters, as Batman, Dick Tracy, The Unknown Solider and Moon Knight should check out The Phantom if you have not already. With our next update, we are staying with DC and taking a look at one of the biggest events in comic history in my life time and one that some say brought the beginning of the end for the comic boom and I am of course talking about Doomsday: The Death Of Superman! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, read a novel or two and as always support your local Horror Host, and I will see you next update for Superman’s deadliest fight ever.

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Batman vs. The Abominable Snowman: Dawn Of Winter

Forget “Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” this update is the real battle for Batman that you comic book readers have been chatting about at your local comic shops for years and wondering when a rematch will happen, or better yet when the movie based on this epic fight will ever make it to the big screen! I am not talking about Batman’s epic fights with such characters as The Predator, Count Dracula, Xenomorphs or even with his regular baddies like The Joker, Bane, Two Face or Catwoman.  No, this battle puts them all to shame as I am talking about his fight with the king of the mountain, the monster of Tibet, the one and only Snowman aka The Abominable Snowman! Wait what? Some of you readers seem not to remember The Snowman, a character who was a thorn in Batman’s side for two issues of his ongoing DC titles in the 70’s. For this update we will not only learn a little about The Snowman but also about the legend of the Yeti and maybe I will try to play and beat a cool custom Batman NES Batman game put out to PacnsacDave! I know it’s the middle of summer and late July, but get your warmest jacket on as we are climbing Mount Everest to become one with The Snowman as we take a look at his two Batman appearances.  So grab some hot cocoa, and let’s start our fun and dangerous hike.

Mount Everest The Home Of The Yeti

The men and woman of Tibet and the surrounding area have had stories for centuries about a half man and half primate creature that roams the mountains around them that they call Yeti, Meh-Teh and other names like The Abominable Snowman. It’s been recorded that the Lepcha People of the Sikkim region worshipped a being from the Himalayan Mountains they called the Glacier Being and was the god of the hunt. In the 19th century, stories of a wild man who was ape-like carrying a stone as a weapon were told by people of the Bon religion. Throughout the 19th Century, many strange footprints were found in the snow on the Himalayan Mountains, and tracker B.H. Hodgson claimed that his guides had seen a giant hairy creature while climbing that scared them half to death.  He would later say he thought it was just an orangutan. The mystery of this unknown snow creature grew in the 20th Century when more and more sightings and footprints turned up in the mountains and of course more rich explorers and scientists rushed to be the first to capture, kill or get proof of the creature’s existence. Many more sightings and popped up through the decades, and the term Cryptozoology became a mainstay in believers’ vocabulary. In the 21st Century the Yeti has lost some steam and most of the time when it pops up in the news it is done by pranksters and hoaxers who are looking for attention and their 15 minutes of fame. Many TV shows, scientists and hunters have given their thoughts on what the Yeti truly is: an unknown ape species, all the way to just a plain old bear. So what do you readers think, is The Abominable Snowman real or is it a hoax? Check out the picture below that is said to be a true photo of the Yeti in the mountains and make up your own mind if he is really out there.

The Yeti caught on photo

Back in 1954, a scalp that was said to belong to the Yeti was found at a Pangboche Monastery along with a hand that was also claimed to have belonged to the creature. The monks were very protective of these items and kept them safe from outsiders and thrill-seekers who were on the hunt for The Abominable Snowman, wanting to make a name for themselves in the press. These items were just the kind of thing the Daily Mail, the newspaper who fronted the expedition, was looking for, and after pleading and ultimately tricking the monks, they were allowed to examine and extract some hair and skin tissue from the items. The media buzz around this was huge, and people thought that these samples held the truth of the Yeti’s existence, making the famed footprints look like thrift store leftover evidence. The first test on the hairs proved that they were not human nor ape, but scientists could not truly identify their species of origin, which of course sparked even more of a fever for those who wanted to find out if the Yeti was fact or fiction. The hand was also tested, and at first they claimed that it had Neanderthal qualities sending more people into the Yeti loving frenzy. Years later the hand and scalp were talked about on the hit TV show Unsolved Mysteries.  They tested a sample of the hand and found it to only have “near human” properties, but this episode sparked the hand to be stolen from the Pangboche Monks.  It would turn up in a private collection via the illegal black antiquities market and would pop back up in 2011 when new tests on it found that it had the DNA of a human. So are the scalp and the hand the real deal, or are they some from some poor human and animal? I should also note that besides these two items and the footprints, many other evidence has been found to prove the Yeti real from blurry photos to poop that is said to have belonged to the famed creature of the mountains. I am not sure what to think but would not rule out the existence of The Abominable Snowman as many unknowns lurk in this world we all share.

Yeti scalp and hand

Anyone who owned a computer in the early 90’s played a free game called SkiFree that was created by Chris Pirih and released as part of the Microsoft Entertainment Pack. The game was originally made by Pirih for his own use, but when his boss at Microsoft saw him playing it, an agreement was made for it to be released as part of their software pack in 1991. The gameplay has you take control of a skier who’s on the side of a mountain and must avoid obstacles like stumps, trees and worst of all, the a man eating creature called The Abominable Snow Monster who will chase you.  If he catches you, he’ll eat you like a chicken wing! I can remember playing this game on my brother’s old PC that he bought with his own money and finding it a cheesy way to waste time. I can remember screaming as the Yeti would give chase to my skier and how annoyed I would get when I could not out run him and had to watch as he gobbled my player up. But as you can see, even with this silly cheap game the Yeti has wormed his way into pulp culture. Check out below for some cool images of SkiFree.

SkiFree YetiSkiFree Title ScreenSkiFree Running Yeti

I should also note that the Yeti aka The Abominable Snowman has starred in his fair share of horror and science fiction films over the years with many of them being cheesy classics and some of them being very entertaining! Some are the 1957 Hammer Horror film “The Abominable Snowman” starring Peter Cushing and “Werewolf vs. The Yeti” starring the one and only Paul Naschy. Some of the cheesy ones include “Yeti: Giant Of The 20th Century” that was released in 1977 and the 1954 goofy classic “The Snow Creature.” Some of the not so good include “Yeti: A Love Story” that was released in 2006 and “Shriek Of The Mutilated” from 1974, a film so bad that I for some reason find myself loving it. Some video game appearances include “Plants vs. Zombies”, “Far Cry 4” and “Tomb Raider II” to name a few. And let’s not get started on all the comic books and novels that he has appeared in, let alone cartoons and toys! So one thing is for sure, The Abominable Snowman is in our culture, and he’s here to stay.

The Abominable Snowman DVDWerewolf Vs The Yeti DVD BootYeti Giant Of The 20th Centery DVDYeti A Love Story DVD

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and many hikers, explores, researchers and thrill seekers have tempted their fate and tried to make the climb to the top of the mountain that is super dangerous and is not recommended for armatures or even for that fact almost anyone! The first people to successfully climb Everest were Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.  The climb was dangerous but also inspired many people to want to tempt fate and become the second, third, fourth and so on to make it to the top.  Many craved the notoriety of being one of the select few to make it to the top and back down alive. But a sad truth about Everest is that the beautiful mountain is a graveyard for the remains of many hikers who never made it down the mountain.  It’s too dangerous to bring down the dead or injured so many bodies are left frozen in time. You see, many people are not prepared for the climb to the top, and fellow climbers are told that if you find someone in a danger zone, hurt or dying, to leave them behind as those who end up trying to help a injured person end up in danger themselves and 9 ½ out of 10 times more likely end up dead themselves from the elements and brisk cold unforgiving weather. So I would like to take a moment to mourn all those who have lost their lives climbing Everest –  may their souls find peace.  I also would like to show support for all those poor climbers who have had to leave a fellow person behind as I am sure that is a terrible feeling.

Mount Everest rip

We are halfway up to the top of this update so we should take a moment to sit by the fire, warm up, and sip a warm beverage and take a look at a comic that I ordered from Indy Planet some time back and have been itching to read and review.  I think that this update is the perfect time to unleash it on you the readers. The comic is called The Railroad Killer and is put out by a company called Jimmy Daze Comics.  It was one that caught my eye when I placed my last order of independent horror comics.  So let’s sit around and use this issue as our spooky story before we go back on the hunt for the Yeti.

The Railroad Killer 1

The Railroad Killer # 1  ***
Released in 2009     Cover Price $0.00   Jimmy Daze Comics   # 1 of 1

An old drunk near the train tracks is angered as the train speeds by, but his anger is short lived as someone brutally beats him to death. The next day the police show up and the urban legend talk of the Railroad Killer spreads among the youth who are near the crime scene. Miranda Jr. is one of the cops on the scene, and he has a flashback to when he was a kid in 1985 and he and his brother and friends watched as the local hot teenage girl was murdered by the train tracks by a strange unknown man with a sledge hammer! Miranda decides that tonight he is going to prove that the Railroad Killer is real and waits around the train tracks all night to capture this supernatural killer. Later that night he gets his wish and comes face to face with The Railroad Killer for the last time. After the fatal meeting, we flashback to the year 1881 when a young Chinese rail worker is accused of raping a white woman and vigilante justice is served as he is beaten and run over by a train…and so the revenge spirit of The Railroad Killer is born!

This is a fun quick horror comic read that was a nice mix of slasher and urban legend and was done with tasteful amounts of blood and violence. Our story is simple and effective as if follows a cop who wants to face the town’s local unknown killer and stop it once and for all. Miranda Jr. seems like a good cop who has guilt over watching a young woman get murdered in his youth and not doing anything to help her, but his need for redemption just leads him onto a path of his own destruction. The Railroad Killer is a supernatural killer who was wronged when he was alive and now takes his revenge on anyone near the tracks at night. He is brutal using a big sledgehammer as well as the moving trains themselves to kill and takes pleasure in the act of murder. The very cool part of this one shot comic is the fact they give backstories for both our hero and bad guy and brings the reader into the motives behind their good and evil actions. Besides the story, the art done by Arturo Delgado Molina is really good and brings these characters to life. The most brutal kill of the issue has to be the death of Miranda Jr. who is beaten and then placed under the trail and decapitated! If you’re a fan of horror comics like me, The Railroad Killer is one that you will want to check out as it’s a spooky urban legend about an effective and brutal killer. Below is some artwork from this issue to show you Molina’s style.

Railroad Killer Art 1

That was a fun break, but I can hear the howl of the Yeti in the distance. I am not ready to come face to face with him yet so let’s just sit around a little longer and play a video game! I am on a kick of getting NES carts of “homebrew” or unreleased games, and one of the guys I have been getting items from is named Pacnsacdave who just so happened to have a homebrew game called “Batman & Robin: Shadows Of Gotham” that acts as the third in the NES Batman series that already consisted of “Batman” and “Batman: Return Of The Joker” and hell I guess you can count “Batman Returns.” Each of those games were a challenge so I am sure this one will be no different. Batman: Shadows Of Gotham is a two-player game that lets you choose between Batman and Robin.  The back of the box reads, “Gotham city, a city plagued by crime, violence and villains. The citizens are crying out for help. To cleanse the streets of Gotham…two shadows appear. They are called Batman & Robin, Shadows of Gotham.” I played this game on a RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) with an original NES controller and asked my cousin Stephen Alexander if he wanted to join me on this epic game adventure, and of course he said yes.  We did not do an NES Challenge for this game; we just wanted to give it a good play and let you know that this video game is out in the world ready to be played.

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES CaseBatman Shadows Of Gotham NES CartBatman Shadows Of Gotham NES Game In RES

We played it on May 14 2016, and the weather outside was very chilly and perfect for playing a video game.  I should note that Stephen and I played one player and passed the controller back and fourth, and of course we picked Batman. The game is a side scrolling action game that has Batman fighting with his hands, batarangs and other gadgets from level to level.  At the end of each level, you of course face one of his major villains, in this order Scarecrow, Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and finally The Joker! The Scarecrow and his level offered no challenge as I mastered it in one try.  Steve took on The Penguin and after a couple of tries was able to smack around the umbrella-carrying madman who was hiding in a tank.  I made a quick fight out of The Riddler, and both of us tried and tried and screamed at Two-Face who was trying his best from keeping us from beating the game! It looked like Two-Face was going to be our stopping point, but once we figured out his patterning, Steve was able to smack that two sided coin out of his hand and we were at the last level. The last level is pretty tough and will take you a few tries, or at least it did for us to make it to The Joker who also took us a few tries.  But once again, when we had is pattern down, Steve hit the final blow, and a game that we were just testing became a game we beat! The nice part about this game is that it has unlimited continues and gives you no real reason to stop playing.  The challenge is there and can be frustrating but not enough to turn it off. Over all, it’s a nice addition to the NES Batman games and once more I want to thank Pacnsacdave for this amazing cart. So if you’re a classic NES fan and are looking for a new game to play, make sure to check this one out as well as many of Dave’s other games that include the likes of Gremlins, Big Trouble In Little China, The Lost Boys and Spider-Man 2! So I guess we should start our way back on the journey to find The Snowman, but while we climb maybe I should tell you a little about him.

Batman Shadows Of Gotham NES Screen Grab

Klaus Kristin is the son of a Yeti and a human mother named Katrina, and he has the ability to shift between being a human and a Yeti. As the beast, he is called The Snowman and has the power to survive in very cold elements, has super strength, a ice cold touch and can kind of control his surroundings in a winter environment. As a human, he is an albino and has the ability to charm ladies, is an Olympic skier and comes off as a normal rich jock playboy who loves to brag. The Snowman has appeared in three comics for DC that include Batman # 337, Detective Comics # 533 and Justice League Adventures # 12 as he was a part of a group called Cold Warriors alongside Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold and Killer Frost among other cold style baddies. While The Snowman has not been officially in a game, there are two that might be loosely be based on him: the unlockable Yeti character in “Lego Batman: The Videogame” and in “Batman: Arkham City,” inmates are talking about it being cold saying “It’s colder than the Snowman’s heart.”  Rumor is, that was a nod to The Snowman, while others say they are talking about Mr. Freeze. So while not a major villain, The Snowman has made his small mark on the Batman universe, and I just wanted to share a few fun facts about him before we make it to the top of the update and arrive at the review.

The Snowman DC

As I have stated before, music has been a major part of my life growing up, and I have spent countless hours listening to many different songs from many different artists with them all acting as the soundtrack to my life. Who doesn’t have memories of driving around with friends late at night blaring music or sitting with the love of your life listening to music in your car talking about the future? I have artists that I call my must-buy-day-one-of-release favorites: Motley Crue, Billy Idol, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., Jewel, Cinderella, Guns N Roses and Danzig.  The last one this list brings me to a CD that I would like to briefly chat about as I feel the music from the band was a huge part of my teen years. Danzig was one of those bands I discovered on a Public Access music show called Metalmania (and I should also give props to MTV for making the song “Mother” a Buzz video) and became a fan of, as I felt singer Glenn Danzig has an almost Elvis Presley sound and being a fan of The King made this a no brainer that I would dig a harder rock version of that sound. In 1996 when “Danzig 5: Blackacidevil” was released, I can remember leaving school midday and walking to NRM Music at the Town And Country shopping center to get my hands on the cassette and listening to it on my Walkman during classes. Danzig was also a band my pal Jason Gilmore and I would always listen to and chat about our favorite songs and videos. I can also remember being at my friend Jeremy Foster’s house and hanging out while listening to a mix of Danzig and Pantera. These great memories bring me to Danzig’s 2015 release, the 10th album for the band, an album of cover songs called “Skeletons” that I got for Christmas of 2015 as I had to wait to buy it because of the holiday season. I was pretty hyped to listen to this CD, but lots of things kept me away from being able to pop in the disc and listen to what Danzig had to offer on this release…and I must say that when I got around to it I was pretty underwhelmed! Now I want to stress that this is not a bad album.  In fact, I found myself enjoying many of the tracks on the release like the Black Sabbath cover “N.I.B” and “Lord Of The Thighs,” a cover of the Aerosmith cheesy classic song from the album “Get Your Wings”. While tracks like those were good, there were some that just sounded off and un-mastered, almost like a recorder was placed in a room with a band next to some beer and they said just jam and record and who cares if it doesn’t sound polished or hell even in tune…just do it.  The song “Satan” from the biker film Satan’s Sadists is a prime example of the odd sound that many of this tracks on this CD offer in terms of sound quality.  Again, I want to stress that it’s not a bad song and Glenn’s take on this song is solid…it just sounds very off, as if his vocals was recorded in a living room. Over all Skeletons is a interesting listen but lacks the true sound that Danzig fans have came to expect…if I had to give it a Rotten Ink 1-4 star rating, I would say for me it would be a solid 2, middle of the road.  If the sound issues were fixed, I could see myself giving it a 2 ½ or 3. Danzig still remains a must-buy artist for me, and I can’t wait to see what his next release brings to the table. Well I can see the top of the mountain, and as Butthead would say, “ And it is good”.

Danzig - Skeletons CD

We have reached the top of the update, and it’s time to take a look at Batman vs. The Snowman.  I have been on a kick of reading classic Batman comics as of late and can remember reading both these issues in my youth.  When re-buying them, I knew they had to be something I reviewed here on Rotten Ink. I want to think both Game Swap Kettering and Mavericks Cards And Comics for having these in stock, and while the wind is blowing and the snow is coming down I can hear the howl of the Yeti saying “ Remember he grades these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and is looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.”  Now let’s snap this picture of the Yeti and get back down the mountain, and we should also get to the reviews of this classic and epic battle issues that pit Batman against The Snowman!

Batman 337

Batman # 337  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .50   DC Comics   # 337 of 713

It’s a cold night in Gotham City, and a sporting good store has a robber inside who is shooting at Commissioner Gordon and the cops.  Batman shows up, gets inside and finds that the robber is scared out of his mind and his partner has been frozen solid! When the robber is under arrest and his nerves calm down, he tells them a story of how he and his friend started to rob the place and were attacked by a snow creature he called The Snowman who stole the cash from the store and left the scene as well made him go mad with fear. Batman changes back to Bruce Wayne and heads home as he is holding a huge party.  His guest of honor is playboy Klaus Kristin who is winning the hearts of many of the woman with his tales of skiing, but Bruce notices that Klaus’s shoes have slush on them and the morning’s snow has been gone for hours. The next night The Snowman strikes again, robbing a jewelry store and killing the night watchman! While Batman is in Klaus’ room looking through his stuff, he finds a diary written by Klaus’s mom and his aunt, and it tells of how Klaus is the son of a normal woman and a Yeti, which explains why and who Klaus really is.  After his last crime, Klaus skips town and heads for Austria’s ski resort, and Batman follows and has a showdown with The Snowman on top of a mountain.  While Snowman is stronger, Batman is smarter and with the help of a flare in the eyes of his opponent, the Bat wins the fight when The Snowman falls from a high cliff and to his death.

What an epic battle, right? I mean Batman and The Snowman trade a total of one kick that Batman lands to the back of The Snowman….yep, that’s the fist to fist action you get in this issue! But even though it’s not super action packed and does not deliver an all out drag down Batman fight, it does have a fun entertaining superhero horror story with some entertaining characters. The plot is this: world class Olympic skier Klaus Kristin is a shape shifter who can change into a Yeti and is stealing money from stores around Gotham as he needs cold weather to live and must move around in order to stay cold weather.  His crime spree that leaves two people dead makes Batman spring into action and crack the case. Batman/Bruce Wayne is shocked when he finds the first body of a crook that was frozen stiff, and this makes Batman’s mind work over time as he wants to solve the crime and get this killer off the streets.  This just shows you that no matter how rich Bruce Wayne is and no matter what else is going on around him, solving crime is the most important thing in his life. Batman is truly a master detective as he pieces together who The Snowman is and where he has run to really fast.  Let alone, he make quick and easy work of this man creature in a fight that is in his opponent’s favor. Klaus Kristin is a snooty sort of bragger who thinks that because he won three medals in the Olympics and travels the world to high end ski resorts, he is better than most normal people.  He also has a weird charm that makes woman flock to him as he tells his stories of being a playboy. As The Snowman, he seems to not care about killing to get the money that he needs in order to stay where the cold weather goes, but it makes one wonder if his ego is so big that he would rather kill than to live say in Alaska or the North Pole where it stays cold year round. As always, Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth (Bruce Waynes Butler) have cameos in this issue, and both are always great to see. Batman thinks that The Snowman might have thrown the fight as he wanted to be stopped and this was his way of ending his cursed life, but I am not so sure as it’s clear he has an ego.  I think he lost the fight because Batman out smarted him. The issue has two deaths of people who are frozen to death and has the possible death of The Snowman. The cover is super eye catching and has Batman on skis looking shocked as The Snowman, who looks like a giant, is popping out of snow ready for the attack. The story in this issue was written by Gerry Conway, and the art was done by Jose Garcia-Lopez with inks by Steve Mitchell.  All is well done, and that art has stuck with me since I was a kid as has the whole issue. I am sure many comic readers would look at this issue as just a fill in, but to me it has and will always be a key issue. I should also say this issue has a back up story about Robin! Check out some artwork from this issue to see just how massive and abominable The Snowman is, or is that was?

Batman # 337 art 1Batman # 337 art 2Batman # 337 art 3

So the first meeting is down, but there’s one more to go.  The first meeting lead Batman to believe that The Snowman was dead, as did all of us readers, so let’s see what happens in round two!

Detective Comics 522

Detective Comics  # 522  ***
Released in 1983     Cover Price .60     DC Comics   # 522 of 881

Batman and a guide named Chi are climbing the Himalayan Mountains looking for the famed creature Yeti as Batman thinks that it might just be his foe The Snowman returning from his supposed death. While climbing Batman and Chi are almost killed by an avalanche, Batman witnesses a tall and strong looking shadow above them, and after this near death experience they decide to spend the night in a near by cave for shelter. In the cave Batman, remembers back to being in Vicki Vale’s office and waiting for her to go on a date.  He flipped through a magazine and spotted Klaus Kristin in a photo, and this is what lead him to this hunt in the mountains. In a small village, Batman spots Klaus, and the two struggle falling into the cold water.  Batman strikes his head on a rock and Klaus pulls him from the water, but when they are back on land Klaus is shot by a villager and stumbles into the cold and disappears up the mountain.  Batman now needs to check on his one time foe who saved his life and follows the blood trail. Batman climbs the mountain and is attacked by the Yeti along the way and finds Klaus in a Buddhist temple as he is bleeding to death.  We soon find out that his dad, the Yeti, was the one who has been attacking Batman while in the mountains, and he takes his dying son into the cold as Batman watches as a father mourns his fallen son.

So the second epic battle between Batman and The Snowman is not really a fight between the two but instead has the Bat tangling with the Yeti, the father of The Snowman. This issue has Batman traveling to the Himalayan Mountains in order to look for his foe The Snowman, who is wanted for not just robbery but also murder, and soon finds that his old foe is not a threat and just wanted to find peace alongside his father! Batman has lots on his mind from drama with the ladies in his life Vicki Vale and Selena Kyle, as well as just being a crime fighter and focusing his sights on The Snowman, but he soon learns that people (or is that things?) can change. Batman also shows compassion as he could have taken down the Yeti, who has tormented villagers for years but instead lets him be with his son in his dying moments. Klaus Kristin never changes into The Snowman in this issue and after faking his own death really just wanted to be left alone.  He also shows that he has grown as a character as he saves Batman from drowning. Chi is a villager guide and acts as a good side character, loyal to Batman and trying all he could to guide him on his quest. The Yeti is in a fury and wants his son’s pursuers dealt with and tries to do all he can to stop them, but sadly he as well has a weakness and that’s bright lights from the likes of a flare. Once more, this issue is not wall-to-wall action.  It feels more like an adventure that pits our superhero not only against his foes but also nature and his surroundings. This issue as well held up all these years, and as I read it, moments came back to me in memories that proved for some reason that the Batman vs. Snowman issues had a impact on this young comic reader’s mind. The cover is fantastic and has Batman on the side of a mountain as The Snowman is lurking into battle. The story was written by Gerry Conway again with art duties this time around going to Iry Novick and Pablo Marcos, and they do a great job of making The Yeti look different from The Snowman. The back up story in this issue is a Green Arrow adventure and is worth checking out if you like that emerald archer. Check out the art below that will showcase the mighty Yeti as well as other art from this fun and entertaining issue.

Detective Comics 522 art 1Detective Comics 522 art 2

Was this a better fight than Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice? Depends on your opinion…but I will say these comics made more of a impression on me than the film. While The Snowman might not be a big name villain like The Joker, Killer Croc or The Riddler, he was one I always remembered as a kid, and for some reason I really did think he was a huge deal in my youth. I can remember talking to kids on the playground in Waynesville about how Batman took on The Abominable Snow, and many of them looking puzzled or claiming they remembered with blank unsure look in their eyes. But now that we are off the hunt for The Snowman and made it back down unharmed, I think it’s time that we take a break from comics and once more step into the world of Horror Hosting as our next update will be about an icon who like Commander USA and Dr. Creep helped shape me into the person I am today.  I am talking about Grampa who hosted Super Scary Saturday on TBS! So until next time, read a comic or three, enjoy your summer days and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a Super Scary good time.

Super Scary Saturday Preview Logo

The Next Generation Of The Final Frontier

First officer’s blog, Stardate 69885.3.  Greetings, Inkfleet cadets – Juliet once again reporting for blogging duty.  Today we’re heading to the final frontier to talk about a show (and the comics based on it) that is and was incredibly important to me, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I’ll henceforth be abbreviating as ST:TNG.  So why The Next Generation and not the original series?  As I’ll get into further along in this update, I adore the original series, but ST:TNG was such an important part of my childhood, for better or worse.  Matt, on the other hand, is a HUGE original series fan so it’s only appropriate that I handle this one while he takes on the original series at a later date.  So settle in with some tea – earl grey – hot and prepare to bolding go where no one has gone before.

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In 1986, 20 years after Star Trek’s debut and as Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were demanding larger salaries during the production of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Paramount began to consider a new Star Trek television series.  This actually wasn’t the first first time they had toyed with the idea.  In 1977, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had announced that Star Trek Phase II would be coming to the small screen as part of the newly created Paramount Television Service.  The series was to feature a second five year mission for the original series crew, but when Paramount Television Services failed to launch, the plot for the pilot episode was rewritten and became Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Star Trek: The Next Generation was announced in October of 1986, the cast in the spring of 1987.   Originally Gene Roddenberry hadn’t planned on being involved in the production but came on as creator, working with Paramount exec Rick Berman, after he was unhappy with some of the original concept designs.  The show premiered in October, 1987 in what’s called first-run syndication, meaning that any TV station, regardless of network affiliation, could carry the show in the timeslot of its choosing – a fact that I actually just learned while researching this blog that clears up a lot of my own confusion as to whether I was viewing the episodes first-run or in syndicated re-runs (both, kind of).

star trek the next generation series premiere tv ad2

The first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” introduces us to the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D (Kirk’s Enterprise was the NCC-1701 in the show and then the NCC-1701-A beginning in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) roughly 70 years after Kirk and co’s original five year mission.  Captained by Jean-Luc Picard, the Enterprise’s ongoing mission is, like in the original series, to seek out new life and new civilizations.  This Enterprise, however, is home to more than officiers, and the presence of children and families on the ship becomes a subtle but important theme throughout the show’s run.  The Federation and the Klingons enjoy a relative peace, making it possible for a Klingon officer, Lt. Worf, to be head of security.  New threats, however, have emerged most notably with the Borg Collective joining other villainous races like the Romulans.  The Borg are a cybernetic race assimilated from other conquered species.  Their origins are a bit vague as they hail from the faraway Delta Quadrant (where Star Trek: Voyager takes place), but their story and the threat they pose is explored throughout ST:TNG and the subsequent movies and shows.  I’m actually really curious to see if they’ll be a part of either the forthcoming CBS Star Trek series slated for 2017 of which very few details have been revealed, or, if perhaps they’ll make an appearance in the Abrams-verse Star Trek films, which are simply an alternate timeline/universe split off from the original series – more on that in a moment.

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I would be remiss to mention the Borg without mentioning Q, as he both begins ST:TNG and introduces the Borg to the Enterprise crew and the viewers.  Q is an omnipotent being, one of many like him who form the Q Continuum.  Masterfully played by John de Lancie, Q serves as a both a framing device for the entire ST:TNG series and a recurring meddlesome presence who, although typically arriving humorously, often raises huge philosophical and ethical questions about the Enterprise’s mission to “seek out new life and new civilizations.”  So although he was a bit over the top, Q really helped add a whole new dimension to the stories of his episodes.  Speaking of dimensions (see what I did there?), Q was often (especially in the novels – again, stay tuned, we’re getting there) involved in stories that explored the concept of multiple dimensions and the space-time continuum.  Although The Original Series dealt with these concepts quite a bit, I feel like they really shone in ST:TNG, and the novels that centered around time were particularly interesting and well crafted. We’ll talk about those in a moment, but first a bit about my history with the show itself.

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I was four years old when ST:TNG premiered so unlike The X-Files, I don’t have a distinct memory of the first time I saw the show.  Rather, the show’s been ever-present in my life; much like public radio, ST:TNG was just always there.  By 1991, our local station had also started re-running episodes daily as I do have very clear memories of watching ST:TNG every night at 7pm after Little House on the Prairie in our then-new house (which is my parents’ house to this day).  Several year later, I think after the show had ended in 1994, they moved the reruns to 11pm, and I remember being completely upset because that was past my bedtime. Pretty quickly, however, my bedtime was changed to accommodate watching ST:TNG every night even though I had probably seen every episode five times over already – thanks, Mom and Dad!  That should be some indication of how much the show meant to me.  I’m going to get into that a bit further, but first let’s talk about some of the merchandise as this kind of all ties together.

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There was SO.MUCH merchandise for ST:TNG.  The variety of toys alone was rather staggering.  I can remember going to the Bookie Parlor (yes, the same comic store Matt’s spoken of fondly many times here on the blog) as a child and being rather amazed at how many ships and playsets were available, not to mention the posters, books, comics, t-shirts, lunchboxes, pogs and more.  In terms of action figures, the first set of ST:TNG action figures came out in 1988 from Galoob.  This set of 10 3.5 inch figures came out as a limited release and are pretty rare to find today.  The largest and popular assortment of ST:TNG figures were the 5” Playmates figures that were released in waves of 10-23 figures beginning in 1991.  Funny enough, I never had any of these as a kid.  I couldn’t even tell you why, but I only ever got a handful of the First Contact figures which were larger at 6 inches tall.  However, thanks to the heroic efforts of Matt, in my 30s I’m now the proud owner of a nearly complete set of the 3.5” ST:TNG figures.  Other notable merchandise that I actually owned includes a replica communicator that actually featured Patrick Stewart’s voice,  a giant poster with bios of each crew member and a more recent acquisition: a complete of set of PEZ dispensers of the whole ST:TNG crew (check out the photos below).  Though not exclusively ST:TNG, I also owned and proudly wore a Women of Star Trek t-shirt that featured the amazing ladies from the original series all the way through Deep Space 9 (my version of the shirt pre-dated Voyager’s premiere though I’ve seen later editions that included Captain Janeway).

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There were also VHS tapes, and lots of them.  Beginning in 1991, tapes of individual episodes were released and eventually every single episode made it onto VHS.  They also made it onto LaserDisc, released with two episodes per disc.  Again, a full run of the series was released in this format.  The first season of ST:TNG came out on DVD in 2002.  All seven seasons were eventually released, and in 2007, the full series was released in a 49 disc set.  The series was also released on Blu-Ray, remastered from original 35mm footage using a special technique that allowed for maximum picture quality.

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The the video game department, ST:TNG had lots of options for the PC gamer, from movie tie-ins for Generations and First Contact to highly specialized games such as Armada and Borg Assimilator.  On the home console front, NES, Gameboy and Gear Gamer players got Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993.  Sega would follow in 1994 with Star Trek: The Next Generation – Echoes From the Past and Generations: Beyond the Nexus.  ST:TNG made it to the Playstation 2 with Encounters and Conquest (which was also available for the Wii), and was represented in the Xbox 360 and PC game Star Trek: Legacy.  Arcade fans got to experience the super cool Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine.

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Of all the really cool pieces of Star Trek: The Next Generation merchandise that I either owned or coveted, by far the most important items to me were the paperback novels.  They began in 1988 with Ghost Ship, the first of the numbered series, which went all the way to 63.  I was the proud owner of all of the ST:TNG numbered paperbacks through #45 (at the time, that was the most recent release).  I got the majority of the early run at a library sale, and began seeking out others at the library and then buying them from Books & Co as I found them.  There were also one-shot novels outside of the numbered series including titles like Q-Squared, Vendetta, Imzadi and Kahless.  These books were hugely, hugely important to me as a young reader.  I had always been an advanced reader for my grade level, but because I was so excited about having more ST:TNG stories to consume beyond the seven seasons of the show, I devoured these books, sometimes reading one in a single evening.  From the age of 11 to 13, you typically didn’t see me without one or several ST:TNG paperbacks in my possession at all times.  My quest to find new ones to read meant I spent a lot of time looking through the sci-fantasy paperbacks at my local library and eventually I began picking up other titles, both by genre mainstays like Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffery and other random one-offs, some very good and other delightfully cheesy.  But it wasn’t all warm fuzzy scifi nerd joy for a young Juliet.  As I’m sure you can imagine, the other 11-13 year olds I went to school with didn’t quite think the ST:TNG novels were as cool as I did.  Pair that a teacher who required you to track the pages you’d read, out loud, in front of class each day (remember that sometimes I’d read a whole novel on a usual day), and you’ve got a lot of pre-teen mocking and accusations from  classmates and a teacher that I was lying about the reading.  Sigh. Pre-teen angst aside, I learned a lot from these books as I came to understand which of the regular authors tended toward which type of stories and who was stronger with certain characters.  It’s helped me as a writer think about my own strengths and the type of stories I both like to tell and am good at writing.  By far, my favorite ST:TNG novel writer was Peter David.  I absolutely loved his use of multiple timelines that could both stand on their own as interesting stories and intersected in interesting ways.  David’s Q-Squared more than likely laid the groundwork for me to fall in love with even more complex timelines in novels like The Man in the Empty Suit and even experimental work like House of Leaves.

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The novels weren’t the only books released around the ST:TNG franchise.  There was an episode guide called The Complete Guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation that was re-released several times as the show was renewed for additional seasons (and that at one point in my life, I had memorized – no joke).  There were also several technical manuals, books about the science of Star Trek, and a host of other random series tie-ins like Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek:  The Next Generation.

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This of course brings us to the comics.  There were several series of ST:TNG comics released by DC and later their Wildstorm imprint.  For our purposes, I’ll be covering the first ST:TNG six-issue miniseries, now called Volume 1, released in early 1988.  They were written by Mike Carlin, who was also group editor for Superman at the time and later served as DC’s executive editor from 1996 until 2002.  The artwork was by Pablo Marcos, who had previously made a name for himself doing horror comics for Marvel.  Marcos would stay on for a good portion of the second ST:TNG DC run (Volume 2), the bulk of which was written by Michael Jan Friedman.  Big thanks to Matt for tracking down the Volume 1 series for me via Lone Star Comics, and before we engage, remember that here on Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and look for how close the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s set a course for the DC six-issue mini-series of Star Trek: The Next Generation….Engage!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation  #1  *
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.50    DC    1 of 6

We begin with Captain Picard’s opening narration (the same one that opens the show), which leads into a monologue of his reflections on the Enterprise, its mission and the fact that unlike his prior command posts, this ship is carrying not just his crew, but their families including many children.   On the bridge, Picard’s crew, including Commander Riker, Lt. Worf, Lt. Yar, Counselor Troi, Lt. Commander Data and Lt. LaForge, are ready to proceed with their first mission as they conduct scans of a nearby planet and adjust to working together.  An alien race makes contact and expresses and interest in meeting the Enterprise crew.  As Picard begins to make plans for an away team, Dr Crusher and Wesley visit the bridge to ask for more medical supplies, but everything is interrupted when the supposedly peaceful aliens fire on the ship.  After consulting with Riker and Troi, Picard decides that the away team will go ahead as planned with Riker, Troi, Yar, LaForge and Data visiting the alien planet.  As soon as they arrive, they’re fired on again again and pursued by warriors in a large armored vehicle.  Meanwhile, back on the ship, Picard has to deal with young Wesley asking him about his plans for dealing with the potentially hostile aliens and a husband and wife bridge team who are bickering nonstop.  Back on the planet, Yar gets the hostile aliens under control for the moment, and Troi probes their minds to discover that their actions aren’t necessarily purely hostile but that they’re involved in some kind of war games.  The team is then transported elsewhere, by another set of aliens who apologize for the welcome the Enterprise crew has received to their planet thus far.  Out of concern for his crew, Picard has jumped into a transporter and ends up on the same ship as his away team to be greeted by the aliens, who appear to be children.

Huh.  So…that was….an issue that I read.  The beginning of this issue read almost like it was going to be a comic version of the first episode of ST:TNG, Encounter at Farpoint but ended up veering off to its own story. According to the editor’s notes in the back of the comic, DC began work on this ST:TNG mini-series in early 1987, right around the time the show began shooting its first season, which I think, explains a lot about why some of the characterizations feel just a bit off.  For example: in the show, Data rarely speaks with contractions, save for some very deliberate scripting choices and the occasion flub, but in this comic, he uses them nonstop.  It’s entirely possible that decision wasn’t made until Brent Spiner began shooting as the character so the DC folks had already started working on the comic and this wasn’t communicated to them.  The way the characters interact with one another, even the way they address each other (commonly by first names instead of by last name or title) also feels just a bit off from the show. Speaking of out of place, the biggest problem I had with this issue were the things that felt like DC trying to “comicfy” ST:TNG – as if the show itself didn’t have the right elements for a comic in the 1980s (come on guys, it’s in space!) so they added giant Mad-Max-esque armored vehicles, warriors who looked like your usual Conan-Krull-HeMan clones and gave the bickering bridge couple capes…just so you were sure you were reading a comic book  The art itself is okay – very much of its time and nothing to write home about.  The cover is pretty cool with a painted looking Enterprise in warp flight over the LCARS display.  Let’s see if they can iron out some of my complaints in the next issue, though it’s got Picard fighting aliens in front of a Christmas tree on the cover so I’m not exactly optimistic.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #2  *1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    2 of 6

The Enterprise is en route to a Federation Starbase for standard maintenance, and the crew is preparing to celebrate Christmas on the holodeck.  The sensors pick up an alien vessel traveling at warp speed nearby so Riker proceeds with the usual diplomatic greetings, but when the communications channels are opened, the Enterprise’s instruments go berserk.  They recover quickly and finally reach the strange mummy-like aliens who are happy to accept the crew’s invitation to join them in their holiday celebrations.  The rest of the crew make merry on the holodeck, which is made up to look like ski slopes, but Picard and Yar excuse themselves to greet their alien visitors.  As they proceed to the holodeck, one of the aliens wanders off and catches Wesley, who’s also wandered away from the party, but says that he’s “not the one I’m looking for.”  Wesley tries to warn Picard and the rest of the crew, but when confronted, the aliens just say that there was an odd presence that they were chasing, which could also explain the earlier malfunctions on the Enterprise.  Picard doesn’t seem terribly concerned, so Wesley throws a tantrum and leaves the party.  Troi chases after him saying she believes him because she’s sensed something strange as well.  The aliens and the Enterprise crew clash as the presence once again wrecks havoc, materializing to look like Santa Claus (seriously).  When this happens, the aliens are unmasked and revealed to look suspiciously like a race of Grinches (again, seriously).  Finally the presence is freed out in space and the aliens agree to stay and celebrate Christmas with the Enterprise crew.

I spent the first few minutes of this comic extremely confused because I thought that this was going to be a continuation of the story from issue 1, but nope.  Instead we forge ahead into a rather ridiculous holiday story that ultimately results in the Enterprise crew and some aliens bonding over the spirit of Christmas.  It’s exactly as cheesy as it sounds, and I groaned loudly when the mysterious presence began to manifest itself in the shape of Santa Claus.  I won’t tell you what I said, when, upon flipping back through the pages to write this review, I realized that the aliens looked like the Grinch. Sigh. I suppose I should mentioned that I’m not a fan of holiday specials in general so the concept was already rather painful.  But even putting that aside, this just felt way too wacky to be ST:TNG – like bad fanfiction.  The art in this issue was slightly improved from the last – the characters are starting to look a bit more like themselves.  Let’s see if we can take a few more baby steps towards a good read in issue 3.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation  #3  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.35    DC    3 of 6

The Enterprise is beginning another mission when Picard catches Yar and Wesley running through the corridors playing a game.  He chastises them, and Yar tells Wesley a bit about her childhood on a rough colony planet before she’s summoned to the bridge.  The Enterprise has encountered a strange ship of unknown origin with no apparent lifeforms on board.  Yar volunteers to lead an away mission, saying that it’s best to investigate now that get caught in a trap later.  The mission, however, quickly goes awry as the team is attacked by invisible assailants, who seem to somehow know Tasha Yar.  Back on the Enterprise, Picard has to figure out whether or not to destroy this mysterious ship, and as he grapples with the ethics, Q appears on the bridge to throw his two cents in.  The alien ship begins firing on the Enterprise, and Picard makes the decision to protect the civilians onboard by separating the saucer section and commanding from the battle bridge.  Meanwhile, Wesley observes the transporters being used without anyone seemingly being beamed aboard the saucer section, while Deanna senses a psychic attack on Tasha Yar.  Q tries to bait Picard into destroying the alien ship, but then the Enterprise receives a hail of distress from the human-like creatures aboard who claim to have been abandoned by their leader.  While Q continues to argue with Picard, the aliens board the battle bridge and accuse Q of breaking his part of their deal.  While Picard tries to make sense of the arrangement that Q has made, Gordi informs him that the saucer section has vanished in space as our story is to be continued.

FINALLY, a comic that feels like ST: TNG and not some silly kids book (no offense if that’s what you’re into, it’s just not what I’m after in a Star Trek comic).  The story for this issue very much had the feel of a regular episode with moments of comedy, adventure and drama as well as Q meddling about as Picard tries to navigate the Prime Directive and captaining a ship with both commissioned crew and civilians onboard.  If that wasn’t enough, we got the ship separating, which always felt like a treat in the show (by treat, I mean thing that would cause a young Juliet to demand the attention of everyone around me: “Look! Look!  They’re going to the battle bridge which means THEY’RE GOING TO SEPARATE THE SHIP!!”).  The art’s still not fabulous, but for the most part, everyone looked remotely like themselves.  I’m actually a bit excited to see how this one wraps up so let’s move on to the next issue.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #4  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.35    DC    4 of 6

The saucer section is lost in space as Q argues with Picard’s crew on the battle bridge about his role in this situation claiming that there’s someone else controlling the situation that even he does not have influence over.  Meanwhile, the saucer section under Riker’s command is experiencing strange turbulence as it hurls through space.  In sick bay, Tasha Yar awakens to see a mysterious cloaked figure named Reglech, who she recognizes from her childhood on the colony planet.  While Picard discovers that Q has mysteriously lost his omnipotent power (and manages to get a good punch in), Wesley sneaks onto Riker’s bridge and manages to be in the right place at the right time when Riker relieves his helmsman of duty.  Tasha, meanwhile, has wandered away from sick bay with Reglech who taunts her about her childhood.  As a Q appears on Riker’s bridge, other Q’s watch as Tasha overpowers Reglech and observe that she shows promise.  Tasha brings “Reglech” (who’s now revealed to be another Q) to the bridge and the Q’s leave the saucer section, which finally stops shaking.  Meanwhile back on the battle bridge, Q finds himself abandoned on the Enterprise, powerless, and lashes out.  As the saucer section comes back into range, Q’s tantrum causes Gordi to be shot by a phaser, seemingly killing him….to be continued.

Interesting that this comic came out in May 1988 because almost exactly a year later, season two episode “Q Who” would air, the main plot of which is that Q is kicked out of the continuum for his meddlesome behavior.  That aspect of this issue is interesting, but feels kind of rushed in comparison to the way the story is told in the episode.  The bits about Tasha’s childhood are also interesting but rushed.  One thing that did annoy me was that the Bickley’s, the bickering husband and wife crew members from the first issue, are back and bickering in full force.  Seriously, who are these people and why are they necessary?  They aren’t even comic relief, they’re just annoying.  Another thing that’s more bothersome than outright annoying is Data’s reaction to Gordi’s apparent death.  I’m hoping they better explain his emotion-drive outburst in the next issue because this early in the show, it’s really not fitting for the character.  So is Gordi really dead?  Let’s find out!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #5  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    5 of 6

Gordi is seemingly dead, and Data is furious.  The Android attacks Q as the saucer section is re-attached to the ship.  Dr. Crusher arrives on the battle bridge and begins to tend to Gordi.  She takes him and Q (who’s still powerless and was pummeled by Data) to sick bay.  Worf and Picard discuss whether or not Q’s lack of power can result in him eventually changing and shedding his trickster nature, while Data worries over Gordi in sick bay.  Reglech has been confined to the detention deck with the aliens from the ship back in issue 3 (hey, remember those guys?) and manipulates them into facilitating his escape.  Tasha pursues the escaped Reglech, who goes to sick bay as Q is awakening.  Reglech is to kill Gordi, but Data jumps in the way, seemingly unhurt by his phaser blasts.  Then Q jumps in the way, sparing both Data and Gordi as he willingly sacrifices himself.  This puts Q back in the good graces of the continuum and he leaves the Enterprise unharmed as Gordi finally awakens.

All told, this isn’t a terrible arc, though really, I think the story would have been better served over a few more issues.  I seriously forgot about the aliens from the beginning of the story and was a bit shocked that for all of issue 4, they were apparently biding their time on the detention deck.  The Enterprise crew is once again all over the place.  It’s really interesting because for as well as they’ve got Picard down in this story arc, other characters just seem so off in terms of characterization.  Data is by far the worst offender.  Whereas others seem off, there are things about him in this story arc that are straight up canonically wrong.  As I mentioned in the prior issue’s write-up, I was hoping that his emotional outburst over Gordi’s attack was some kind of product of Q’s meddling, but apparently, it was just the product of bad writing -or- of the comics being written/produced prior to or concurrently with the beginning of the first few episodes so the characters weren’t really properly fleshed out.  And that’s the thing I have to remember, people reading these comics in 1988 only had a handful of ST:TNG episodes to compare the characterization to whereas I have multiple viewings of seven seasons under my belt, not to mention the novels.  So with that in mind, I’ll move on to the final comic in this six-issue mini-series.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation #6  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $1.00    DC    6 of 6

The Enterprise is finally on its mission to the mystical planet Faltos (which is where they were headed before the great Q interruption that made for the last story arc).  As Picard gives the orders to set course, Data begins to argue with him about the coordinates, saying that Picard is wrong.  Just as Data is about to be relieved of duty, the crew figures out that he is telling the truth, Starfleet command has implanted secret information about Faltos into Data’s brain.  The Enterprise finds the mysterious planet and send an away team to meet with the Faltos world tribunal, made up of many different races of aliens. Deanna has a bad feeling about the mission, but Riker doesn’t want to keep the tribunal waiting so they proceed.  The tribunal treats them as welcome guests, so welcome, in fact, that they’re informed that the Enterprise’s crew will now be permanent residents of the planet as so many visitors have done before them.  Naturally, the away team and Picard are outraged, and as they try to figure out what to do, Data realizes that perhaps there’s additional information hidden inside him.  So Picard and Dr. Crusher beam down to the planet under the pretense of diplomacy and proceed to help Gordi tinker with Data.  they learned that Data’s creator, Dr. Soong, studied crystalline energy while trapped on Faltos and used that knowledge, now implanted in Data, to escape.  So Picard and his crew put their plan into action and escape in the Enterprise, but not before the leader of the world tribunal uses his powers to remove all knowledge of Faltos’ location from Data’s (and thus Star Fleet’s) memory.

Story-wise, this was actually a pretty good way to wrap up this six-issue run.  Of all these comics, this one felt the closest to an actual episode of the show, just adapted to the pacing needs of a single issue comic, and there’s a part of me that actually wonders if this story wasn’t somehow recycled for an early episode of Voyager that’s very similar.  I’d love to know a bit more about Faltos, and see more of the planet, but even that didn’t bother me as it was obviously the easiest thing to skip for page restraints without messing up the actual story.  The art, on the other hand, still wasn’t great.  There are panels where everyone looks good, like comic stylized version of their TV characters, but in others, the characters, Data in particular, just looked ridiculous.  Earlier in the series, I was really unsure as to whether I’d be interested in reading the volume two comics, but I think with this ending, I may give them a shot at some point.  Speaking of which, I have a few more comics to cover here on Rotten Ink, the two movie ST:TNG movie adaptation comics.

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Of course, there were actually four ST:TNG movies, or three and a half depending on how you classify Generations since it is technically both an original series and Next Generation movie.  Generations was released in 1994, and the tactic of having a film covering both shows was interesting.  On one hand, I get it – all of the Trek movies up to that point were based on characters from the original series, and only three years prior, while ST:TNG was still on the air, Star Trek VI came out in theaters.  The flipside of this is that ST:TNG ended a successful TV run only months before Generations was released in theaters so it kind of begs the question, what else did that property need to do to prove itself worthy of getting its own film.  But ultimately Generations was a good passing of the torch and paved the way well for First Contact, which to me is the best ST:TNG film.  I’ll leave the plots of both of these for a moment as we’ll get to them in the comic reviews below.  After First Contact in 1996, Insurrection followed in 1998. I have mixed feeling about that one.  I don’t think it was quite as bad as many people claim, but it reminds me a lot of X-Files: I Want To Believe in that it really wasn’t a film, just a two-part mid-season episode on the big screen.  And then we have Star Trek: Nemesis.  I’ll level with you, dear Rotten Ink readers, I’ve only seen once, in the theater, and even fourteen years later that still feels like enough.  I ought to be able to have the same attitude about Nemsis that I do about Insurrection because I think the logical side of my brain knows that’s the case.  However, because Nemsis was considered such a commercial flop and a mess of a movie, it ended up being the last Star Trek movie before the JJ Abrams films (which I actually don’t mind especially since they’re attempting to simply make them an alternate universe which keeps in the spirit of Star Trek), which just really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  But we aren’t talking about Nemesis as there wasn’t a comic adaptation of it.  So here with go with Star Trek Generations.

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Star Trek Generations # 1  ***1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $3.95    DC    1 of 1

Captain Kirk, Scotty and Chekov are in attendance for the high profile launch of the Enterprise B.  On the ship’s maiden voyage, it encounters a distress signal from the Laku, a transport ship of refugees.  The rescue effort, however, goes completely awry resulting in Captain Kirk’s death.  Years later, the crew of the Enterprise D is celebrating Worf’s promotion when news arrives both of a personal tragedy for Picard’s family and in the form a distress call from the Amagosa star observatory.  The crew meet Dr. Soran, who was once a refugee on board the Laku.  He’s in league with the Klingon Duras Sisters, stealing trilithium and kidnapping Gordi, all in an effort to return to something called the Nexus.  Picard agrees to a prisoner exchange, but tricks the Klingons and goes after Soran, entering the Nexus himself.  While the Enterprise battles the Duras Sisters, Picard meets up with Kirk, who’s been living inside in perfect fantasy in the Nexus since the launch of the Enterprise B all those years ago.  Together, the captains defeat Soran, but not without a price as Kirk truly dies this time around.  Picard returns to his own reality to find his crew safe, but the Enterprise D destroyed.

I should have known that with Michael Jan Friedman credited for the story adaptation, this would be a great comic.  As I mentioned above, Friedman wrote most of the ST:TNG Volume 2 comics as well as a good number of original Star Trek and ST:TNG novels.  So not only is the characterization spot-on, the plot follows the movie extremely closely with good pacing for a comic adaptation (pacing is one of those things that seems really tricky to nail when adapting a film into a single comic).  The only thing that didn’t quite work story-wise was the subplot of Data getting the emotion chip, and that’s really because so much of what makes that great in the movie is Brent Spiner’s acting, not the script itself.  Plus, a tricorder singing about “lovely little lifeforms” just doesn’t read with the same charm it has onscreen.  Gordon Purcell’s artwork is wonderful.  Everyone looks, not just like the actor that portrays them, but there’s a lot care to capture their facial expressions and mannerisms.  Also, (and I realize that this also has to do with age and changes in the way comics are printed) the colors are really rich.  This comic both does the film justice and is an interesting read on its own.

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Star Trek First Contact # 1   ***
Released in 1996     Cover Price $5.95     Marvel     1 of 1

Picard still has nightmares about his time with the Borg, and because of his when they attack Earth, Star Fleet sends the Enterprise E (yes, they got a new ship) to patrol the Neutral Zone instead of into the action.  But when they learn that Star Fleet is losing, Picard disobeys orders takes the Enterprise into the thick of battle.  They’re able to destroy a Borg cube, but not before it launches a smaller sphere ship that creates a temporal vortex that sucks the Enterprise in.  Quickly the crew realize that they’ve been transported back in time, and that the Borg are trying to go back to assimilate Earth before First Contact (the first time humanity used warp engine technology triggers a visit from the Vulcans) and thus change the future.  The Enterprise destroys the sphere, but not before some surviving Borg beam onto the ship and begin assimilating it, including the Borg Queen who takes a special interest in Data.  Meanwhile on the ground, an away team attempt to aid Zefram Cochane and his assistant Lily in succeeding in their destiny of flying the first warp ship thus alerting the Vulcans to the fact that humanity has evolved in its intelligence.

Switching things up a bit, this adaptation was released by Marvel instead of DC.  Luckily, in the same vein as DC’s Generations adaptation, this was written by John Vornholt, who’s written a ton of Star Trek novels so it’s safe to say that like Michael Jan Friendman, he’s well versed in the universe and the characters.  The story fit the film nicely, but for me didn’t have the same impact as the movie.  To be fair, First Contact is by far my favorite ST:TNG movie, and to again draw an X-Files comparison, like Fight the Future, it’s one I still get excited about watching no matter how many times I’ve seen it (and I still get a little teary-eyed when First Contact happens).  So for most people, this comic will absolutely do the job and then some, but I still came away just a little underwhelmed.  The artwork by Terry Pallot and Rod Whigham is good.  Slightly more cartoony than the Generations artwork, but still great for the human characters.  Actually my super minor artwork complaint is more about the space scenes.  In panels where something is happening with the Enterprise, especially when it’s fighting the Borg cube, there are super cartoony sound effect words that for me ruined the mood of what otherwise would be a very dramatic moment.  The overall presentation of the book is nice – it’s thick with a cardstock cover as part of the Star Trek 30th anniversary line of products.  Again, this is certainly worth a read to get a taste of the film and for ST:TNG fans.  Earlier in this update, I showed you the Enterprise D, so check out the Enterprise E below….

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Alas, it’s time for me to set coordinates for another mission and return the helm to Matt for our next update.  We’ll be staying in space (sort of) and in the 90s for his next update, which is also (sort of) holiday themed. While I was crying over Vulcans in First Contact in 1996, earlier that year another space movie was released that also pitted hostile aliens against humanity for the fate of the future.  Since we’re two years too early for X-Files Fight the Fight, I’m obviously talk about Independence Day.  So join us next time as Matt dives into this film, its comic tie-ins and it’s sequel…20 years later.

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