From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Gorgo

For this second update of my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” Kaiju Month, we will be traveling to jolly old England to take a look at their giant monster named Gorgo! This is one of those Horror Movies I grew up watching on TV as TBS use to show it all the time, and I can always remember being glued to the screen when it was on. Many fans of giant monster movies seem to forget about Gorgo as he is always over shadowed by the likes of Godzilla and King Kong, but today he and his Momma will be getting the respect they deserve and it will be lots of fun to talk about them. So if you’re ready to find some shelter as Gorgo goes on the destruction city stomp, let’s talk about him and the film he’s from.

So first let’s see what Gorgo brings to the table when it comes to his destruction ability and his way to dispatch humans who are unfortunate enough to be in his way. Gorgo stands at 200 feet and has a reptilian appearance and an aggressive attitude. Gorgo hates humans and will not only use his massive size to stomp and smash but will also use his sharp teeth and claws to dispatch human lives. He also can use his appearance and roar to scare humans into being in frenzy, leaving themselves open for panic and leading to accidents that could cause death. Gorgo not only is a threat on land, he is also very dangerous in water as he can swim and breath underwater for long periods of time. What makes Gogro a big threat to mankind is the fact his mother Ogra is over 250 feet tall and is even more pissed and can cause way more damage. While Gorgo is a massive creature, he can be hurt as he hates fire, and even explosions and firepower can cause some damage. He can also be captured and by large nets and be kept as a prisoner by mankind. So while Gorgo might not have any special fire breath nor any other powerful abilities, he and his mother do have the tools to bring mankind to their knees if they truly go on a rampage.

So that’s what Gorgo brings to the table when it comes to his path of destruction and his way to deal with pesky humans. We should now take a look at the 1961 film Gorgo that this Kaiju appears in. As always, the film’s write up will be taken from our pals at IMDB and I will talk briefly afterwards about the film’s production as well as my thoughts on the film. So if you’re ready, I am ready to take a look at Gorgo!

Gorgo (1961)

A salvage vessel is nearly sunk off the Irish coast by an undersea earthquake. A few nights later, a walking sea monster tangles with the fishing boats and enters the town. The salvage vessel captures Gorgo and takes it to London for display. Gorgo’s mother, who is upset and significantly larger follows his trail to London leaving a wake of destruction in her path.”

Gorgo is a British giant monster horror movie that was released by MGM in America and British Lion-Columbia in England. The film was directed by Eugene Lourie and cast such actors as Bill Travers, William Sylvester and Mick Dillon as the man in the Gorgo suit. The film had a pretty normal production for this type of movie at the time and MGM was hoping that this film would be a mega hit for them and would be their Godzilla at the Box Office and usher in a new monster icon. Gorgo was released in 1961 alongside such other frightful shockers like Konga, The Curse Of The Werewolf, Reptilicus, Brainiac, Doctor Blood’s Coffin, The Pit And The Pendulum, The Beast Of Yucca Flats and Mr. Sardonicus to name a few. And the film ended up doing pretty well and built up the world of Giant Monsters at the cinema that was sparked by the success of Godzilla in 1954. There’s not much special about this production besides at one point the film was going to be set in Japan first and then was changed to France, Australia and finally was settled on England. And the film for the time was also praised very highly for its monster special effects.

Much like King Kong and Godzilla, the mighty Gorgo has always seemed to be a part of my life as I have seen this film so many times on TV as well as home media like VHS and DVD, and I have seen this film over a dozen times…in fact even while writing this update I re-watched the film again on DVD! And while I really enjoy Gorgo as a film, I have talked to many other Horror Fans of Kaiju films and one phrase always seems to come up and that’s, “It’s good but it’s kind of bland” or some phrase like it, and I think I know what they mean as the film is a little slow moving in spots and has a very British slow paced feel until the amazing climax. And I get what they mean for the most part as the film itself is a great giant monster film that showcases two massive and cool monsters, but it does have a very slow pace like many of the Hammer Horror films released in the 60’s and 70’s. But for me, the pacing and slow build are kind of what makes this film special as the over all runtime is pretty short at only 78 minutes long. The film also spawned not only the comic book series but also had a novel adaptation of the film, model kits, shirts, posters and many more merchandise items showing that Gorgo does have his own cult following. There’s not much more to say about Gorgo besides it’s a fun Kaiju film that delivers monster mayhem and shows just how popular these giant monster movies were back in the 60’s.

So now that we have taken a look at Gorgo as a Kaiju as well as the film he is from, I think it’s now time we take a look at the comic book adaptation of the film that was released by Charlton Comics! I want to send a big thank you to the Ebay seller that had this comic in stock and made this update possible. I want to also remind you all that I grade this comic 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 let’s see just how monstrous Gorgo really is when it comes to the world of Horror Comic Books.

Gorgo # 1  ***
Released in 1961    Cover Price .10    Charlton Comics   # 1 of 24

Sam Slade and Joe Ryan are business partners who search the sea for hidden treasure when a massive storm hits that is so bad that fish from the bottom of the sea are coming to the top. And after the storm they return to a small port that as well has been hit hard by the storm and are run off by Professor McCartin who is searching the sea for something. They soon follow one of McCartin’s ships, and they send a diver down who later comes back with a fist full of Viking gold but also dies of fright before their eyes! Sam and Joe dive next as Joe wants the gold and Sam wants to make sure his greedy partner comes back alive, and while down in the ocean they soon come face to face with a giant monster that makes them flee. Once back at the island they watch as the townspeople do a ritual and then watch as a massive creature Gorgo comes from the water and is forced back by fire by Joe and Sam who have figured our the creatures weakness. The villagers praise the pair as they Joe comes up with an idea to capture the massive creature with a steel shark net and the idea works and they take their massive find to London and are making tons of money showing it to the world. But Professor McCartin warns them that Gorgo is just a baby and that his mother is on her way to get him back, and she does show up and rampages across London until she gets her son back! The army, fire, electricity and everything is useless against the mother who grabs her offspring and heads back to the water ending her terror.

Gorgo was made for comic books and that’s why he lasted 24 issues even though the final issue was renamed Fantastic Giant as he is a cool monster that has an amazing look to him. This comic follows the plot of the film pretty well and has humans capturing Gorgo and turning him into a paid attraction and by kidnapping him they unleash his even more massive mothers rage on the city to get him back. Our hero is Sam Slade, who is a man who co-owns a company that finds treasures at the bottom of the oceans and also is the one who don’t like the idea of capturing a massive Kaiju when all around him warn of dangers and bring it to a city…he and they were wise for their fears! Joe Ryan is a sleazy conman who allows money to rule his life and seem to not even care about other peoples lives and safety if money is involved, in fact even when everything goes to hell he is still willing to wait it out in order to see if he can come out ahead. Ogra is Gorgo’s Mother and she is one massive creature of the sea who can not be stopped once she starts and her child is involved, she brings down the military with ease and even shrugs off fire like its nothing…in other words she is really unstoppable! Gorgo while just a baby as well is a creature of destruction and if not for his fear of fire he could have crushed the small island and all those on it! Gorgo, just like his mother, seems to always be in a destructive mood and always in a bad one. While this comic does a good job capturing the film, it does feel a little rush and some characters from the movie seem to take more of a back seat in the comic like the Professor and the young boy who is his assistant. The comic is bloodless but does have death, injury and destruction in it and has a real classic Horror Comic feel to it. The cover is very eye catching and fans of the movie I am sure flocked to get a copy of the comic just based on it! The interior art is done by the amazing Steve Ditko and is top notch stuff and shows that his art and giant monsters go hand and hand. Over all this is a great adaptation of a solid Kaiju film and is one that you should check out if you like Gorgo and other giant monsters like him. Check out the art below to see what Ditko brought to the table.

Gorgo is a Kaiju that I think the world seems to be gaining more respect for over time as his design, movie and legacy is pretty great, and he deserves to find his cult following. Now that we have survived the rampage of Gorgo and Ogra and before that we barely got out of the way of Reptilicus’, it’s time for the main destruction event as our final Kaiju for this month long themes updates is the one and only Godzilla from the 2014 film and the graphic novel Awakening that was spawned from it! So be ready for that as it will be a massive good time. Until then, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! I hope you’re prepared for the Kaiju that is Godzilla!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Reptilicus

For the month of May, in honor of “Godzilla: King Of The Monsters” hitting theaters and it bringing us one step closer to King Kong and Godzilla battling it out in 2020, we are going to have Kaiju month here on the blof that will be filled with “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates all featuring giant monsters! And our first Titan will be Reptilicus, a sinister dragon-like beast who was the first Danish monster in cinema! Many people seem to forget about the likes of Reptilicus when they think of Kaiju and just giant monsters in general so that is why he was selected as my first choice to start off this event month. So if you’re ready, let’s see the terrors Reptilicus has in store for us and what destruction he leaves behind.

Reptilicus is a massive snake-like reptile that was frozen underground for centuries and is very combative in nature once awoken. The massive Reptilicus has many means to snuff out the life of humans as he can use his size and weight to crush and smash any and everything that gets in his way. He also sports very sharp snake-like teeth that could easily eat, impale and rip apart a man in no time. He doesn’t only attack on land but also water and even air with a strike upward. He also has the ability to grow back missing limbs and can heal from attacks pretty quick as he is a massive monster who can regenerate. Bullets, missiles and even fire from tanks do not hurt him, as he is able to shrug it off and keep on his path of destruction. And we are not even sure what his green acid spit could do when in contact with human flesh! Not to mention just the sight of him will cause panic and leave his human targets more easy to pick off as they make mistakes with minds full of fear. While he is massive and very hard to truly hurt, he can be killed as he hates fire and if burnt too long, he would die. He is also pretty slow moving on land and this also leaves him open for attacks and other means to stop him. He can also be drugged, and it’s even possible make him die of an overdose. While he might not be the most massive or destructive Kaiju in the world, Reptilicus is one of the most cold blooded who goes out of his way to kill and destroy, making him one deadly foe.

So now that we have taken a look at the destructive and killing nature of Reptilicus, we should now take a look at the film he is from. The film’s write up is taken from our friends at IMDB, and after, I will talk a little about the film’s production as well as my connection with and feelings about the film. So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at the film.

Reptilicus (1961)

A portion of the tail of a prehistoric reptile is discovered in Denmark. It regenerates into the entire reptile, which proceeds to destroy buildings and property and generally make a nuisance of itself. It can fly, swim, and walk, and has impenetrable scales, which makes it difficult to kill.”

In the 1960’s, giant monster movies were all the rage, and in 1961 American International Pictures and Denmark company Saga Studio teamed up to make Reptilicus! The film was directed by Poul Bang for the Danish version and Sidney W. Pink for the English one…as you see, the film was made in two different language in order to maximize the film’s audience with the only major change being the actress who played the character of Connie Miller. Another story goes that the English version was so bad that American International Pictures called in screenwriter Ib Melchior to help shape it up for release. This also caused Pink to be upset and threaten to sue the company, but rumor has it, after watching his version he dropped the lawsuit as he saw how bad it was! The film built a cult following in Denmark as well as the US, but critics were not kind to this film as they all mocked its cheap looking production values. So while Reptilicus might not be as loved and respected as King Kong, Godzilla or even Gamera, it still made its mark on the world of giant monster cinema. A fun fact is that in 2001 director Sidney Pink wanted to remake the film to try and cash in on the 1998 American Godzilla movie…but sadly this did not happen as Pink passed away in 2002 from a long illness.

Reptilicus was one of those movies I know I saw when I was a youngster and cannot remember if it was just shown on broadcast TV or if it was on a Horror Host program but I can remember enjoying the heck out of it. It would be years and years later that I would see the film again when my friend Jason Gilmore bought it on DVD and we watched it on one of our many late nights of video game playing and Horror Movie watching hangouts. Gilmore and I had a blast laughing at the Reptilicus puppet as it went on its rampage and for a while it was a film we loved to laugh at and reference. One surprising thing isthat growing up I never did have one of the comics by Charlton nor did I have the paperback novel adaptation even though I was into all those things at a young age. I would go on to own the film on VHS and DVD and from time to time still dust it off to give a watch. Many modern Horror Fans have also seen it on the rebirth of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that is on Netflix. I feel that, much like Konga we have talked about in a past update, Reptilicus is often over looked when it comes to Kaiju in movies as the monsters of Toho dominate it, and I feel that’s not fair as many of these less known Giant Monsters are as cool as those we all know and love. While Reptilicus might not be a household name, he is a movie monster that has built a cult following and has left his green acid spit all over the world of Horror Cinema.

So now that we know the killing power of Reptilicus as well as took a look at his only film appearance, I think we should gather our nerve and take a look at Charlton Comics adaptation of the film that ended up spinning off into a comic series. While we run for our lives from the rampage of Reptilicus, I want to remind you all that I am grading this comic on a 1-4 star scale and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank an Ebay seller for having this comic in stock and making this update possible! So let’s seek shelter and enjoy this horrifying adventure of Reptilicus.

Reptilicus # 1 **1/2
Released in 1961     Cover Price .10     Charlton Comics   # 1 of 8

Svend Alstrup is a foreman and is drilling for copper when he uncovers a bad smell and a chunk of skin that is covered in scales from deep in the Earth. After closing down the drilling, Svend calls for Professor Martens who takes the flesh to his lab. Later on as Svend finds more hunks of flesh of the beast, he delivers them to the Professor whose two daughters have formed a crush on him. One night by accident the freezer door where the flesh is held is left open, and this causes the flesh to grow and heal causing them to inform the United Nations of the discovery who in turn send two military men to supervise the experiment. The army once at the lab dismiss the chunk of flesh as a joke and seem not to be bothered that it has grown 100 times its size in eight days. But things change when a freak thunderstorm roles in and a blot of lightning strikes the tank releasing the flesh that has now grown massive and is called Reptilicus! Professor Martin and the Army come together fast to try and figure out a way to bring down this massive monster and each attempt fails as Reptilicus keeps growing and even learns to fly causing chaos and destruction every where he goes. In the end General Grayson and Professor Miller create a drug that they load into a shell and fire at the creature knocking it out and leaving it open to be disposed of, but little do they know a piece of Reptilicus skin is in the ocean waiting to grow and bring the monster back.

The plot of this comic adaptation is based on both the American Version of the film as well as the Danish Version and delivers a fun read for fans of this monster flick. The major downside is that it’s an hour and twenty minute movie crammed into twenty pages and keeps lots of the boring science and military talk from the film in. The plot is pretty cut and dry and has a blob of flesh being discovered that regenerates into a massive monster that breaks free from a lab and goes onto a massive rampage in Demark as the scientist and army try to figure out a way to stop it. Professor Martens is one of the heroes of this tale as his knowledge of these types of creatures as well as his research on the skin allows him to stop the army from making big mistakes like blowing it up and causing all the small pieces to become full fledged Reptilici (Repitilicuses?)! General Grayson is also a hero as he does not back down from the creatures and does not allow his failed attempts to shake his nerves as he wants to save the people and stop the monsters rampage once and for all. Reptilicus is one mad giant monster who wants to take out all his rage and hatred on humankind and seems to not be phased when attacked by some of mankind’s most used weapons of murder. He also is so powerful that he does not stop when attacked and in fact it only seems to make him rampage more! The comic is bloodless and the body count is very low and all shown off pane, but it fits for this style of Horror Comic. The scares come more in the vein of nature running amuck and the idea of a massive beast crushing your city than blood, guts and gore. The cover for this issue is pretty great and is very eye catching for fans of 60’s monster movies, and the interior art is done by the team of Bill Moino and Vince Alascia and is fantastic classic style. If you like the film Reptilicus and enjoy Kaiju in your Horror Comics, this is one you should read, while not a perfect adaptation it is an enjoyable one. Check out the artwork below to see the style of this issue.

Reptilicus’s rampage might have came to an end, but not to worry friends and readers, Kaiju Month continues next update as we leave Denmark and travel to England and see what destruction Gorgo and his Mother will do! It’s weird that some Kaiju have never gotten a comic book adaptation or series as ones like Kraa!, Q The Winged Serpent and Deadly Mantis all would have made for great comics, and only time will tell if they ever will get their time to shine in the pages of a comic. So until next time, watch out for giant monsters, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update as we witness the destructive power of Gorgo!

 

Avengers Assemble…We’re Needed

Welcome back, True Rotten Ink-lievers!  Juliet here, on this momentous occasion where we’ll be covering one of the greatest team-ups to grace both the page and the screen. I’m talking about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, John Steed and Emma Peel.  That’s right, I’m joining you to talk about The Avengers….but not those Avengers. We’ll be looking at the spies played by John Macnee and Diana Rigg in the 1960s British television show, The Avengers, and their 2012-13 comic book series from Boom Studios.  So grab a bowler hat and a stiff drink, readers, we’re needed.

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Although knowledge of the show is more widespread these days, there are many people that don’t realize that the Avengers existed both before and after the Emma Peel years.  The show premiered in 1961 from the English ABC (Associated British Corporation), focusing on the espionage adventures of Dr. David Keel with Patrick Macnee’s John Steed showing up in the first episode offering his assistance.  Steed would remain in the assistant’s role for all of series one, which was cut short due to an Actor’s Equity strike. When production resumed in 1962, Steed was now the focus of the show partnering briefly with Dr. Martin King and Venus Smith and more permanently with Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman.  It was during this time that the show as we know and love it really took shape: Steed’s look was established as the bowler-wearing English gentleman spy, while Cathy donned leather catsuits, which Emma Peel would also adopt along with the latest in mod fashion.

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In 1965, the show was sold to the American Broadcasting Company (also ABC) and became one of the first British shows on to air on American television. The show moved from shooting on videotape to 35mm film, and in October, Diana Rigg debuted as Steed’s new partner Emma Peel.  We’ll discuss more about Steed and Peel momentarily, but for now let’s focus on the show itself. Along with Emma Peel, this new era of the Avengers introduced science fiction, fantasy and the occasional fetishistic elements to the plot. With the fifth series (aka season since we’re talking about British TV) in 1966, the show began shooting in color.  This was also the year that several of the show’s signature elements were introduced.

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Two of the best known elements that in truth only lasted for 15 episodes, are “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” and the “Steed does/Emma does” tags, both appearing at the start of an episode after of course the murder or inciting incident for the case had been established. We’d see Emma doing something ordinary. She’d then receive or encounter the message “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” at which time Steed would appear from seemingly nowhere and their adventure would begin.  The tag would show up under the episode title and give a comedic description of each character’s actions during the episode. For example, in “The Winged Avenger,” the tag is, “Steed Goes Birdwatching. Emma Does a Comic Strip”

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Diana Rigg left the show in 1967, gone was Emma Peel and gone were the sci-fi/fantasy elements with her.  The producers opted to return to the more realistic spy adventures that viewers had seen in the Cathy Gale era, and this time Steed’s partner was Tara King, played by Linda Thorson.  This sixth series would also introduce the characters of Mother and Father who would be central characters in the 1998 movie remake of the Avengers (more on that further down). But series 6 was to be the last as, although the show was popular in the UK and Europe, in the U.S. it was airing opposite the then number 1 show in the country Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and just couldn’t compete.  When the show cancelled in the U.S., the finances became unsustainable and Avengers ceased production in May 1969.

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Now that we’ve talked about the history of the show, let’s get into the characters and the people who portrayed them.  Born of a noble family and having served in the RAF in WWII (like his portrayer Patrick Macnee), John Steed is an agent in an unnamed British intelligence agency that some claim exists in the same universe/canon as James Bond.  In his initial appearances in Avengers, Steed was less refined than the character we’d come to know and love, but fairly quickly, he adopted the signature suave look of a three-piece suit, bowler hat, and umbrella, which would become his signature look. Steed is both sassy and sauve, and although he can be playful, when the time comes, he’s an ace spy and is well verse in hand to hand combat and swordsmanship. The role of Steed came around at the precise right time for actor Patrick Macnee.  After serving in WWII for England, he began his acting career in Canada with smaller roles but didn’t meet with much success. By the late 1950s, he was smoking and drinking to excess and had nearly given up on acting opting to produce documentaries when he was offered the role of John Steed, which he would play until 1969. Macnee helped establish the character’s look and personality, insisting, for example, that Steed never use a gun, in part because of the horrors that Macnee had witnessed in WWII.  He wrote two novels based on The Avengers and later hosted a documentary about the show. Macnee would go on to be in a James Bond film, Magnum P.I., The Howling and more, including a cameo in the 1998 Avengers remake (I promise, we’re getting there). Patrick Macnee died in June of 2015 at the age of 93.

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Dame Diana Rigg made her stage debut in 1957 and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959.  When Elizabeth Shepherd, originally slated to play Emma Peel, left the production, Rigg auditioned for the role having never seen The Avengers.  She was an instant star, despite making very little money for her work on the show, which is what ultimately drove her to leave after two years. Rigg went on to star in both film and television roles, including a stint hosting Mystery on PBS (taking over for Vincent Price), and she continued her work on stage. More recently, she’s captivated a new generation of TV viewers as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.  As for Rigg’s most iconic role, Emma Peel is a great mix of brains, battle-readiness, and sex appeal. She’s an accomplished scientist and martial artist who dabbles in many other fields, especially when it aids her investigations with Steed. Born Emma Knight, Mrs. Peel’s husband Peter is a pilot whose plane went down in the Amazon rainforest prior to her work with Steed. Peter was presumed dead for many years, returning as a plot device to write Emma off the show and introduce Tara King when Diana Rigg decided to move on.  Though the leather catsuits were introduced in the Cathy Gale era of Avengers, they became Emma Peel’s signature look along with the mod styles of the day. A quick wit with a silver tongue, Emma was the perfect verbal match for Steed, and their back and forth was part of what made the show such a joy to watch.

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I first encountered The Avengers on VHS at my local library.  I was lucky enough to grow up with two awesome libraries close by, one of which had an amazing selection of science fiction paperbacks and the other sported any amazing VHS selection, featuring a lot of British television and foreign and classic films. In the same way I have an affection for both really good and really cheesy science fiction, I adore both really good and really cheesy spy movies and TV shows, and I feel like The Avengers fall right in the middle.  It’s as classic as James Bond, but has an entirely different feel that’s so completely of its era. In the last five or six years, I’ve managed to watch the entire Emma Peel run of the show on DVD thanks to Matt, who bought me the Emma Peel Megaset after we found it at Half Price Books. In the same spirit as ST:TNG and the X-Files, I have certain favorite episodes that I go back to again and again, but I can also watch the series as a whole all over again and enjoy it, securing The Avengers’ spot among my all-time favorite TV shows.

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In 1998, Warner Brothers and director Jeremiah Chechik (of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fame) sought to revive Steed and Mrs. Peel for a new generation on the big screen.  The film, simply titled The Avengers starred Ralph Fiennes as John Steed, Uma Thurman as Emma Peel and Sean Connery as weather obsessed villain Sir August de Wynter. Rumor has it that Warner refused to pre-screen the film for reviewers to prevent negative reviews after test screenings prompted the studio to cut it from 115-minute to 89 minutes, removing key plot elements.  An original cut of the movie has never emerged, though Jeremiah Chechik has offered Warner Brothers a director’s cut for free. The movie as it stands is universally regarded as one of the worst movies ever, but I have to tell you something, dear readers: I love it. Okay, okay, it’s by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but I see the campy potential in the look and feel. Plus, it came out at a time in my life where I was actively seeking out very cheesy spy films and novels, the more bizarre, the better….and this one is certainly bizarre.  To parrot Stefon from SNL, this movie has everything: Uma Thurman with a bad English accent, giant teddy bears, a weather device, human sized hamster balls, Patrick Macnee as the Invisible Man, Eddie Izzard. If you have an open heart for utterly ridiculous trash, give it a try. It has little to nothing to do with the original TV series, but it’s silly fun if you’re up for that sort of thing.

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In terms of merchandise for the TV show, the modern fan can enjoy the series on DVD as well as a plethora of Steed and Mrs. Peel-themed goodies on sites like Etsy.  More classic gear includes trading cards, and most interesting, paperback books. The first novel, simply titled The Avengers and written by Douglas Enefer, was published by Consul Books in 1963.  It’s the only book of the original run to feature Cathy Gale. Many novels featuring Emma Peel and Tara King would follow in the UK and US, including several co-written by Patrick Macnee who was one of the first actors to write licensed spin-off fiction of their own shows.

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The Avengers first made it to comics in the U.K. as comic strips in TV listing magazines (similar to the US’ TV Guide).  Their first American outing was a 1968 collection of these strips released by Gold Key called John Steed Emma Peel because, of course, Marvel made it impossible for them to release a comic called The Avengers. In 1990 Eclipse released a three issue series called Steed and Mrs. Peel with script by Grant Morrison and art by Ian Gibson.  Boom Studios would re-release that series in early 2012. For our purposes, however, we’ll be covering the 2012-13 Steed and Mrs. Peel series from Boom Studios, written Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe. Before we begin our adventure, I must remind you that here at Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a 1-4 star scale and look for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get started, dear reader, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #0  *** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #0 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel investigate the mysterious of Agent Colin Whitcomb. Although the cause of death is straight forward (he was shot pointe blank), the strange part is that the missing agent has aged significantly.  Their only clue is the scent of a particular cheap perfume on Whitcomb’s body, sending the daring duo to the Hellfire Club, or rather the “New Hellfire Club” to investigate. There they meet the future obsessed Cartney who leads Steed into a fight with Father Time.  Meanwhile Emma outwits Futura, the automotan, and dons her outfit as a disguise to locate the missing Steed. Steed awakens older and grayer discovering that it’s no longer 1966, but the year 2000, and that he’s now a part of the National Archives, having served as an agent of much acclaim.  But of course Steed is on to the true plot of the Hellfire Club, using an aging serum to fool intelligence British agents. With Emma’s expert martial arts skills, the baddies, which include their old Hellfire nemesis Cartney, are defeated. With the aging serum’s effects wearing off, Steed treats Mrs. Peel to a concert.

When I first heard that Boom Studios would be doing a comic based on The Avengers, I was nervous to say the least.  The charm of the show is so particular – there’s a formula to the stories, but moreover the way Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg portrayed the relationship between Steed and Peel is so very specific.  I was hopeful once I saw that Mark Waid was writing, and he did not disappoint. This introductory issue was everything I had hoped for – it felt right at home in the universe of the show, teasing a time jump but keeping things firmly in the 1960s.  Longtime fans of the show got recollections of the Hellfire Club (**find out the name of this episode) and Emma’s spiked collar, cybermen (who also appeared in Doctor Who), the familiar “We’re Needed” start to the action. Most importantly, the dialogue was perfect.  I could hear MacNee and Rigg’s voices in my head as I was reading. Steve Bryant’s art is a good balance of realistic and stylistic and captures both the feel of the 1960s and the action well. I was pleasantly surprised by this one when I first read it in 2012, and 7 years later, it’s still a great read.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #1  ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #1 of 11

Masked men infiltrate a secluded base and launch a missile attack on London.  Steed and Mrs. Peel watch the carnage, along with Lord Bailey, in an underground bunker, but just as everyone has a moment to absorb what’s just happened, an alert sounds and our heroes leap to action.  A fire in the bunker forces Emma and a fellow scientist to lead everyone in the bunker topside, but once there, Mrs. Peel discovers something unusual. Although London is leveled and their instruments are showing radiation, there’s no effect on the soil or water.  There’s no time to question it further, however, because their fellow survivors spot a figure in the distance rapidly coming towards the group. The figure is some sort of mutated creature, and it’s not alone. Steed and Mrs. Peel battle the horde of monsters, and the book ends with them getting a vital assist from none other than the Hellfire Club.

This proper first issue of Steed and Mrs. Peel begins with action that’s sustained through the book.  Our heroes seem to be in some kind of post-apocalyptic disaster scenario, which is such a perfect melding of Cold War-era spy show sensibility and our modern obsession with post-apocalyptic stories (I see you, The Walking Dead and your many and varied progeny).  The action is such that we don’t get a lot of information about what’s happened other than London has apparently been nuked, and I like that because we’ll get to discover what’s happening along with Emma and Steed. The dialogue between the two is once again spot on thanks to the team up of Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe, and the artwork, this time from Will Sliney, is really great, classic looking comic style that lends itself to both action and dialogue well.  I know you’re probably wondering, like me, what the Hellfire Club is doing there and what they do or don’t have to do with this disaster so let’s get to the next issue.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #2 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #2 of 11

Steed, Mrs. Peel, and the British MPs they were previously sheltering with are now all guests of the Hellfire Club in their lavish bunker.  Although most of the other guests seem pretty comfortable, Steed and Emma are worried that they’ve not seen Lord Bailey, General Crampton or Mr. Stanton, the other scientist, since arriving. Although our heroes don’t yet know it, we see the general being brainwashed by a member of the Hellfire Club.  She and her brother, both the offspring of Cartney, chat a bit about how Steed and Mrs. Peel will of course be the hardest to break but it’s worth it get revenge for father. Steed and Mrs. Peel work on a plan over a game of chess. Emma goes to talk to Miss Cartney about the missing general, and gets attacked.  Later Steed stumbles into another brainwashing session and is also taken out, but when he awakens, it’s revealed that his attacker was Mrs. Peel, decked out in a familiar outfit, her Hellfire Club leather and spiked collar.

More of the mystery is unraveled and new twists appear in the second issue of this story arc.  While it’s no shock that the Hellfire Club is up to no good, what their goals are and who the mysterious Dirigent is remain a mystery. Also a mystery is whether or not this story ties in some way to the Cartney time-travel story in issue #0.  I like that we don’t know (and I genuinely don’t remember if it does from my first reading of this series seven years ago). As with issue #0, I love that this story is taking elements directly from the series and expanding them on the page, especially since they’re using one of my favorite plot elements that the Avengers shares with X-men: the Hellfire Club.  Is Emma once again brainwashed or she pretending to gain the trust of the Club? Onward to Issue #3, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #3 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #3 of 11

Steed is hopeful that the leather-clad Mrs. Peel is simply undercover, but alas, that’s not the case as she sends him through a wall behind which the younger Cartney is enjoying his lavish Hellfire existence. Steed snaps Mrs. Peel out of her brainwashed state using some trigger words they had developed “after the first few times someone tried this.” After Emma knocks her brother out, Miss Cartney arrives with her henchmen leading Steed and Mrs. Peel to flee.  They commandeer a motorcycle (and a new outfit for Emma) and lead the Hellfire Club on a chase into the nuked out wasteland. After fighting hand to hand with Miss Cartney, Emma shoots a flare, signaling the British Air Force, who she and Steed had secretly been in contact with after figuring out that the nuclear attack was a hoax and they the MPs had been kidnapped and taken to the South China Sea. Steed and Mrs. Peel sail off into the sunset, and back at the Hellfire Club the Cartney brother plots his next move.

Thus concludes the first story arc in Steed and Mrs. Peel…sort of.  Although they’ve solved the mystery of the fake nuclear blast and London’s destruction, something tells me that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Hellfire Club in the least.  This one is the last issue for which Mark Waid did the story and Will Sliney the art, but luckily scriptwriter Caleb Monroe sticks around for the rest of the series. There’s a temptation to say that the story wrapped up too quickly, but honestly it felt right in line with the TV show, and the pacing of these three issues felt like the pacing of the hour-long episodes.  So what’s next for Steed and Mrs. Peel? Let’s find out!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #4 ** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #4 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel have been invited to a ball. In full fancy dress, they, along with many British dignitaries attend the masked party of author Lloyd Cushing.  As part of the evening’s entertainment, they meet Mr. Blackwell, an eccentric conductor accompanied by his two Butoh dancers. But a party can never be just that for our two heroes as they’re soon called upon to investigate the murder of a man who turns out to the the real Mr. Blackwell.  Trading her ball gown for more action oriented clothes, Emma joins Steed in the ballroom where all of the guests are now missing. Steed tracks them outside where the Butoh dancers are to blame for the mass exodus. Meanwhile Emma confronts the imposter conductor, who turns out to be the Hellfire Club’s hypnotist Dirigent from their prior island adventure.  Dirigent explains that he can manipulate high frequency sound to bend people to his will, but he’s no match for Emma. As Steed and Mrs. Peel continue their previously interrupted dance, we zoom out, all the way to out space where a satellite baring the Hellfire Club logo looms over us all.

Upon first glance, the is your typical post-story arc issue, a one-shot where the characters get to have a minor adventure and perhaps some fun before the next big thing.  But actually, this issue, although basically a one-shot, continues our Hellfire Club storyline and presumably is going to bridge the prior arc with the one to come in Issue #5.  Although this one has significantly less action than the last few issues, there are some really nice things happening in the dialogue, both between Steed and Peel and among the other characters.  I feel like this was perhaps Caleb Monroe’s chance to provide some of his analysis on the original show and characters, and as I fan, I really enjoyed reading it. Yasmin Liang takes over on artist duties for this issue, and although she doesn’t capture Steed and Peel’s expressions as perfectly as Will Sliney did, she’s a great addition to this story, and I’m excited to see how she tackles the action scenes that are surely coming in the next book.  So let’s get to it!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #5  **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #5 of 11

The fallout from last issue’s ballroom party gone awry continues as Steed and Mrs. Peel find out that his friend Trevor Seabrook has been arrested for a theft related to his wife’s disappearance from the party. The curious part is that the kidnappers tasked Seabrook with stealing a seemingly empty jar, but the truth is the jar contains something that has regenerative properties, which is of course of interest to the Hellfire Club’s Dr. Peter Glass, previously presumed to be dead.  Seabrook’s wife is returned, Steed and Mrs. Peel begin to piece things together, and Glass unveils a special piece of tech as this issue ends.

The interesting thing about this issue is that both everything and nothing happens, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like the prior issue, this one was low on the action but high on information that’s obviously leading to the next chapter in the Hellfire Club’s evil plans that Steed and Mrs. Peel are constantly working to unravel.  

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #6 **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #6 of 11

Through a flashback and conversation, Steed and Mrs. Peel reflect on the aforementioned Dr. Glass and his death, for which Steed was an eyewitness.  Seabrook’s wife is awake but only repeating the words “bleeding heart” so Steed and Emma decide to regroup. On the way, however, Emma is tricked by Glass’ assistant Jamie and kidnapped.  Meanwhile, Steed is nearly ambushed when inquiring about Seabrook’s stolen empty jar, but soon our heroes are reunited in Glass’ lair where it’s revealed that the mad doctor survived his untimely death using special goggles sported by three versions of Jamie that allow him to time travel. As Glass is apprehended, one of the Jamie’s slips away to inform someone on the other end of a video camera that this phase of the plan has failed.  Steed and Mrs. Peel end our issue reflecting on the practicality of time travel over a drink as a rocket launches on the horizon.

One of the things that I really love about this series is the layered story.  Each arc leads to another and contributes to a larger story. This is especially interesting because the show generally did not do this, but I wish it had.  All of that said, this wasn’t the most exciting arc. Granted, this issue had more action than the prior two, but the payout felt a bit weak. Although thinking of it in the grand scheme of a larger story makes even a weak arc feel important.  So let’s get to the next one, and hopefully we’ll find out who Jamie was talking to and what dastardly plans they have in store for Steed and Mrs. Peel.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #7  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #7 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel are sent to a small Welsh mining town to investigate an unprecedented wave of suicides. Posing as scientists (though Steed is the only one posing, as he points out), they begin their investigation by consulting with Dr. Mortimor, a psychologist specializing in suicide.  After tea with Moritmor, our duo walks back to the inn where they’re staying, taking the scenic route to stop by some of the scenes of the some of the crimes. On a seaside cliff where several people fell to their deaths, both Steed and Emma seem to lose control of themselves and nearly jump off the cliff, the other stopping them just in time. They of course realize that Dr. Mortimor and his terrible tea is to blame.  The evil doctor explains that he’s not a murder, merely an experimenter in the weaponization of suicide. Steed, Mrs. Peel and the gathering crowd of villagers are less convinced of this excuse.

What a breath of fresh air after that slightly lackluster last arc!  Although the story was a bit predictable, it shone because of both the art (great panel structure in this one!) and the writing.  We got a lot of great little moments of Steed and Emma quipping back and forth while working to solve the mystery, and these moments are golden.  I didn’t realize how much of this was missing from the prior issue until I read this one. The chemistry between them, both in the dialogue and the artwork, was so spot on, and this definitely felt like an episode of the show that I would have loved. With that, let’s see what our next issue has in store!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #8  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #8 of 11

The Cartney family is back!  Steed and Emma’s beachside holiday is interrupted with the news that Joan Cartney has been broken out of jail by a strange silver man.  While Steed and Emma investigate, knowing there’s more to this than meets the eye, the Cartney siblings are reunited with their father who is alive, but not well. Donning costumes to make them look like Steed and Emma, the younger Cartneys set out to fulfill their mission of killing our heroes by blowing up Steed’s flat, while their father undergoes a procedure to rejuvenate his body…as a Cybernaut.

With last issue’s palate-cleanser, I’m ready to dive into a new story arc, and this one sets up our story nicely.  It’s no surprise that the Cartney’s are back, and we learn that it was, indeed, them that Jamie was contacting in Issue #6.  As we set up our villain’s story, we once again get really cozy fun interactions between Steed and Peel, making me thinking that writer Caleb Monroe has gotten into the same comfort zone that Mark Waid began the series with.  I’m eager to see where the Cybernaut story is going so let’s get to the next issue!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #9  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #9 of 11

While Cybernaut Cartney shops for a suit, his children learn that even a bomb can’t take down Steed and Mrs. Peel.  The siblings’ bickering about what went wrong is interrupted when their intended victims confront them, and quickly things turn into a street fight (with swords!). The Cartneys get away, but of course that was the plan as Steed, harkening to the original Cybernauts TV episode, plans a transponder his umbrella which he allows them to escape with.  After a quick wardrobe change, Steed and Mrs. Peel head to the Hellfire Club’s base of operations where they spy General Seabrook smuggling army tech to the enemy. Although they’re able to sneak in undetected, Cybernaut Cartney uses his super strength to bust through a wall and grab our heroes.

With the last issue being mostly set up for the new story, I was worried this one would be more of the same.  But happily, this issue is heavily on wonderfully drawn action with some great dialogue to accompany it. The way the panels mimic the style in which the show was shot is a really nice touch and combined with the coloring gives the book such a great retro feel.  My only concern moving forward is that there are only two more issues, and I honestly can’t remember if the book ends at the conclusion of an arc or if we’re going to be left hanging. I guess there’s no way to find out until we get to the next issue….

AvengersComic10Steed and Mrs. Peel #10  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #10 of 11

Cybernaut Cartney is about to kill our heroes but Emma appeals to the villain’s hedonistic side, saying that if he kills them now, it’s all over. This is much to Joan’s chagrin as Steed and Mrs. Peel have been a thorn in her side for far too long, but father knows best…..only Cartney isn’t really her father. Joan and her brother discover documents in Cartney’s desk revealing that they’re a young married couple who went missing and were subsequently brainwashed by Cartney in what he calls, “my greatest practical joke of them all.” After her husband (formerly her brother) is killed by Cartney, Joan sneaks back to the prison to get help from a former ally.  Meanwhile Jamie is torturing Steed in the Hellfire Club dungeon forcing Emma to strike a bargain with Cartney – Steed’s life for her hand in marriage. The issue ends with Cartney presenting Emma to the rest of the Club as his fiance and the new Queen of Silver.

This issue has so much going on!  The reveal about the Cartney siblings (or rather the not Cartney, non-siblings) was really great.  I truly didn’t see that coming, and in addition to being a great twist, it packed an emotional punch.  Cartney’s line about this being “my greatest practical joke of them all” was an amazing touch. In this issue we get more about Cartney’s weird obsession with Emma, which is framed in both flashbacks and present moments, something I like because it really gives the reader the sense that Cartney is an absolutely twisted villain.  I also loved the touch of the Silver Court being introduced to the Hellfire Club. But my concern from last issues remains; there is a lot to resolve in one issue to wrap up both the arc and the series. I suppose the only way to know how that works out, however, it to read on.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #11 ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99   Boom Studios    #11 of 11

We open in a church where Cybernaut Cartney stands at the altar with a silver bedecked Mrs. Peel.  The officiant asks if there are any objections to the union, and right on cue, John Steed drives his car through the window of the church.  He shouts Emma’s trigger words, but she doesn’t need to be un-brainwashed this time, she was merely buying time for Steed. While a battle ensues in the church, Joan sneaks into the room containing John’s human body that’s feeding the Cybernaut and gives him the brainwashing serum, prompting the Cybernaut to seek out its human body to destroy it. Emma and Steed follow, and Emma uses the aging serum from all the way back in issue zero to prevent the Cybernaut from destroying human Cartney.  But alas, he dies shortly thereafter anyway. The issue ends with Joan escaping to make a better life, and Emma and Steed watching the sun set and reflecting on this latest chapter in their adventures together.

This issue does a pretty good job of wrapping things up.  Yes, the Steed crashing the wedding scene is ridiculous, but it fits the show quite well.  I really liked that the aging serum from issue 0 comes back into play, but the sequence of Cartney dying anyway was slightly confusing.  The ending with Steed and Emma watching the sunset was quite lovely, and I do like that the Hellfire Club story wasn’t so final that they can’t come back again in some future series.  Speaking of future series, Boom Studios would try for another arc in 2014 called Steed and Mrs. Peel: We’re Needed, but alas, what was to be a six issue series only made it three, and quite honestly those issues didn’t hold a candle to this series. Avengers22

Part of the reason I chose to cover this particular comic version of The Avengers is that, in my opinion, it’s the most faithful to the spirit of the show, and despite a few missteps, uses the structure of comics to create an ongoing story in a way that the show didn’t back in the 1960s (though I suspect a modern rendering would).  For our next update, we’ll be leaving the world of spies, but staying in the 1960s as Matt kicks of a month of Kaiju updates in anticipation of Godzilla: King of the Monsters with a look at Reptilicus. In the meantime, read a comic or three, and support your local horror host!

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Konga

Giant Monster Movies were all the rage back in the 1960’s and many followed in the giant footprints of the 1933 film King Kong and none followed more closely than the 1961 film Konga as it as well featured a giant gorilla running wild in a major city! And I figured covering the first issue of Konga by Charlton Comics would be a great way to talk about the film and its title monster as it’s an adaptation of the movie! So if you’re ready to once more take a look at a giant hairy movie monster with me this winter and take another journey on a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. It’s a great honor that I bring you this look at Konga, a very underrated monster movie.

We need to take a look at Konga himself before we dive into the film that he comes from. Konga was a baby chimpanzee from Africa who is brought to London, England by Dr. Charles Decker, a famed botanist who has discovered a serum to make planets and animals grow very large. Konga is the test subject for this serum and grows to the size of a full-grown gorilla, and, after being given too much of the serum, he grows to super size! Konga has a very violent streak and uses his brute strength and power to choke the life out of humans when he’s gorilla-sized and has been given the orders from Decker. As a giant ape, he has no loyalty and wants to crush and smash people in his way. Konga’s way of killing includes choking, throwing and crushing, and he can easily do so no matter his size. He not only can use his power and strength to dispatch his victims but can also use his massive size to his advantage as he towers over buildings and homes and can carry a person in his hands like a doll. But while he is a giant and strong, Konga does have weaknesses as he can be hurt by weapons like guns and rockets and while large, it also appears as if he loses some of his smarts and becomes confused easily, leaving himself open to attacks. But while he can be stopped and killed, Konga is still a force to be reckoned with and is a killer primate brute who don’t realize he is a killing machine frightful bad guy.

So as you can see, Konga is a massive powerhouse of fury and animal instinct who is a giant monster who can smash and crush us humans. But now that we all know about Konga the giant monkey, we now have to take a look at the movie he stars in! So I will be taking the film’s plot from our pals as IMDB and after I will talk a little about my connection to the film as well as some cool other facts. So let’s learn a little about Konga the film that was supposed to be the first colorized version of King Kong.

Konga (1961)

“Dr. Decker comes back from Africa after a year, presumed dead. During that year, he came across a way of growing plants and animals to an enormous size. He brings back a baby chimpanzee to test out his theory. As he has many enemies at home, he decides to use his chimp, ‘Konga’ to ‘get rid of them’. Then Konga grows to gigantic proportions and wreaks havoc all over the city of London!!”

Anglo Amalgamated and American International Pictures teamed up in around 1959 to make a release of the film Konga thanks to British producer Nat Cohen asking American producer Herman Cohen to make another Horror Picture in the U.K. after “Horrors of the Black Museum” was a major hit in theaters and drive-ins. Herman, who was a big fan of King Kong, decided that he was going to make a colorized version of a giant gorilla this time around running wild in London. So Herman, along with Aben Kandel, wrote the script to the film that was being called “I Was A Teenage Gorilla” and was later changed to Konga. Herman would hire John Lemont to direct and brings on actors like Michael Gough, Margo Johns, Claire Gordon and Paul Stockman as the man in the Konga suit. Gerard Schurmann was brought in to score the movie and was filmed in Croydon and Merton Park Studios in England. With a budget of $500,000.00 production went by pretty easy and smooth and was ready to take cinemas by storm. For marketing the film Herman also paid RKO Pictures a pretty big sum in order to use the words King Kong on his posters and marketing. When released, it was shown on a double feature with the film “Master of the World” and would go one to be a cult classic film. The year of Konga’s release, it was joined in the cinemas by such other Horror titles like Curse Of the Werewolf, Doctor Blood’s Coffin, Beast Of Yucca Flats, Gorgo, Reptilicus, Snake Woman and Brainiac to name a few. When released the film also spawned a comic book series as well as a paperback novel adaptation.

My first memory of Konga was watching it on cable when I was a youngster as I think it was on TBS and I was glued to it as it was like a generic King Kong.  Over the years, the film faded in my mind and it was not until MGM released it on DVD and VHS that I remembered it and was able to watch it again, and man did I enjoy this cheesy and fun giant monster run amok film! While Konga is no King Kong, he is a nice knock off version that offers some great moments and a super sad ending that will leave an image of a street and a small chimp forever burned into your memory. Another way I remember Konga is the comic series that was released by Charlton Comics in the 60’s as I would see them at comic shops and even in a few antique stores growing up. The thing about Konga is that he is not super respected by fans of Kiju Films as many do not even put him in that category of Horror and Science Fiction Films and look down upon his rampage and size. Now most of the Kiju we think of all come from Japan or some weird island and are the likes of Godzilla, Gamera and King Kong and most lists of these films leave Konga off, but I feel he belongs.  While smaller than many of the above mentioned, he still is a giant monster on a rampage. So here right now on Rotten Ink we are going to give Konga the respect that is long over due and say he is a Kiju Monster and that his film is entertaining and underrated.

So now that we have taken a look at Konga as a monster and the film that spawned him, I think we should dive into his comic adaptation released by Charlton Comics in 1960 a short time ahead of the films release as a tool to promote it before it hit theaters and drive-ins. I want to thank the Ebay seller who had this comic in stock and made this update possible. I also want to remind you that I am grading this comic 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 it’s art and story. I also want to say that I am only reviewing the first issue in this series as it’s the adaptation of the film and it would cost me a small fortune to get all the issues in this series as well as its follow up series. So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at Konga in the world of comics.

Konga # 1 ***
Released in 1960       Cover Price .10      Charlton      # 1 of 23

Doctor Decker along with his pilot are flying over Africa when the plane starts to have issues. Before it crashes, Decker is able to jump out and is found by a small monkey named Konga who takes him to a village of giants. While with the giants, Decker discovers a plant that brings growth when eaten and can bridge a link between planets and humans! Decker returns home to London with some seeds and Konga and has some experiments in mind that will help mankind become more powerful than ever before. Along with his wife Margret, they inject Konga with some of the seed serum and he grows showing this experiment will be a success, but also Decker must return to his teaching job and takes on a new student aid named Sondra who’s boyfriend Bob is not happy nor is the Dean of the school who thinks Decker’s claims of planets and man being linked looks poorly on the school and says he is going to request that Decker takes time away. Decker returns home very upset and injects Konga with more of the serum and now the monkey has turned into the size of a gorilla and he picks up the anger of Decker for the Dean and escapes his cage and kills him! After the attack, Decker meets a fellow scientist who is coming close as well on figuring out planet growth being used on humans and once more after Decker thinks bad of this man Konga escapes and kills him! The crimes are going unsolved and when Sondra steps down from being Decker’s aid due to her boyfriend Bob he once more returns home and upset with the young teenage lovers, and Konga once more escapes and this time injects himself with more serum and grows to be giant and busts the house in pieces. By this time Decker has figured it out and is able to call the police before he and his wife are killed by the house falling apart after Konga busts out. The massive Konga is now in the streets of London and thanks to the Police and Army, they are able to kill the beast who shrinks back down to small monkey size.

This comic was used to help promote the movie a year before it was released, and boy is this story way different in this comic than in the movie! The plot here has Doctor Decker returning from Africa with the idea to help mankind with his experiments done with the seeds of massive planets, and when using his friend, a small monkey, as the test subject the primate grows and picks up the anger thoughts of his friend and kills his enemies for him. But things really get out of hand when the monkey injects himself with lots of the serum and grows into a massive ape that terrorizes London and must be brought down by the army. So as you can see, in the comic Konga is the true bad guy who kills and is out of control with Decker being a kind man who just wants to help mankind, while in the movie Decker is the one who uses Konga to kill and he himself is a sleaze ball with Konga being the gentle one who is forced to be a massive ape. Plus in the comic, Margret is Decker’s wife when in the film she is his assistant who loves him, not to mention in the comic he only wants Sondra to help in in class, while in the movie he wants to have relations with her! Decker here in the comic world is a nice guy who took a bad situation like a plane crash and turned it into a plan to help mankind. He has a big heart with lots of goals in life and wants nothing more than to get his experiments done and become famous for doing something that a positive. Konga starts off as a small ape who is friends with Decker as he watched after him in Africa and comes to London to be a help and soon turns their friendship into a gateway to murder as the more Konga grows, the more bloodthirsty he gets. Just like in the movie, Konga dies in the comic when he is fired on by the Army and Police and in death shrinks back down to his normal size. The comic does not have any blood or gore and the horror element comes from the off panel deaths and the fact it’s a giant ape running loose in a city! The cover for this issue is great and classic and showcases Konga bringing in fans of giant monsters as well as King Kong fans. The interior art is done by comic artist legend Steve Ditko and is really great early comic art from a man who first drew Spider-Man for Marvel and by all accounts co-created him. I think about it two years after this comic that Ditko did Amazing Fantasy # 15. Over all, this is a great early Horror Comic that was based on a film that never has gotten the respect it should. Check out the artwork below to see some of Ditko’s early comic work.

Konga is a cool cult classic film that is also a great comic book that is worth checking out in both forms of media. And think, while the film was only one, the comic series lasted 23 issues and had a second series that lasted 3 issues. So if you love Konga, his giant sized adventures continued in ink for you to enjoy. So while we must leave London and Konga behind, our next update will place us on Christmas Eve and after some major thought and eliminations I decided that I will take a look at Garfield’s Christmas Special as well as have a NES Challenge of the unreleased Garfield video game! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a giant monster movie or two and as always spend some time with your loved ones. See you next update for a fun time with Garfield as well as the NES.