American Hero: Rambo

Happy Independence Day 2019 to all you readers, family and friends. This is a very important holiday for Americans as this the day that we truly celebrate our Independence! On this holiday we all prepare for the fireworks and are gathered with friends and family grilling out burgers, steaks and hotdogs. Here at Rotten Ink I have been working hard to once more bring you an update about an America Hero in the world of comic book, and this year I have chosen to take a look at John J. Rambo, the iconic character of novels as well as a film series that later this year sees a fifth installment! And I feel 100% that Rambo goes alongside other American themed heroes we have covered in the past like Captain America, Fighting American and The Original Shield who all fight for freedom and deliver amazing comic adventures. So while the burgers are grilling and the gathering is going strong, let’s sit back, relax and celebrate the one and only Rambo!

Let’s talk about the book that started it all for Rambo. First Blood was a novel written by David Morrell in 1972 and was about a Vietnam Vet named John Rambo who is being harassed while hitchhiking through a small town in Kentucky and fights back when the police department treat him like scum and cause him to flashback to when he was a POW. He escapes and this causes a manhunt for him that leads to a terrible shoot out where in the end both Rambo and the sheriff meet their maker, as Rambo dies by a shotgun blast to the head at the hands of his one time commander Trautman. The novel is a dark sad twisted ride as one man who served his country is treated like a common scumbag by the hands of those he defended just because of his look and the length of his hair. The book is a great read and is worth checking out if you like war books and or like the films.

The novel was turned into a film in 1982 and starred Sylvester Stallone as Rambo and made some major changes to the story having Rambo and the Sheriff both living and Rambo going to jail in the end. The film still followed the manhunt through the woods and the stand off in the town making this open for a sequel that came in 1985 with “Rambo: First Blood Part II.” This time Rambo is asked to go back to Vietnam and take pictures of POWs but instead rescues them! “Rambo III” was released in 1988 and had him helping Afghanistan fight off Russia as they tried to invade them. This film also had Rambo fighting a tank with a bow and arrow while on horseback! 2008 saw the release of “Rambo,” the final film in the series thus far that had Rambo saving some missionaries in Burma, and proving that he is a man of honor as he also helps take down an evil general who is committing genocide on his own people. The Rambo films are all badass and rank as some of the best action/drama films ever made! I could go on and on about the films and will in a future review. I just wanted to touch up on the films for this write up. If you have not seen these films, do yourself a favor and go watch them. You can find them on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray.

2019 is filled with many great films like “Avengers: Endgame”, “Godzilla: King Of The Monsters” and “Star Wars IX,” but for me my most hyped film of the year is “Rambo V: Last Blood”! I have been a fan of not only actor Sylvester Stallone but also the Rambo films for as long as I can remember and to see what is reported as the final film in the series this year is something very special for me as the character has been a big part of my childhood and even adulthood. In fact many people are shocked when I tell them my favorite actor, writer and director is Sylvester Stallone as many people always think that I would say John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George Romero, Tod Browning or some other icon of Horror Cinema. But do me a favor, if you’re reading this and enjoy the Rambo films or even just action films in general, make sure to go to your local cinema on September 20th and see this film as I am sure its going to be one amazing ride as Rambo takes on a drug cartel!

Now let’s talk about the man John James Rambo, who is the son of R. Rambo and Marie Drago. He was born in Bowie, Arizona and in 1964 at the age of 17 he was drafted to fight in Vietnam straight out of high school, and after his tour at war, he returned to the U.S and joined Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg and was trained by Colonel Trautman. Rambo returns to the Vietnam War as part of the SOG brigade in 1969 and during this time he is traumatized by events he sees with one being the death of his close friend Joseph Danforth. He would later also become a POW. and he was repeatedly tortured and only he and one other member of his team were able to escape the camp. A short time later, Rambo asked to return to the war and even learned new skills like how to fly a helicopter. By 1974 he finally was discharged from the military holding a pretty high rank, mostly likely a Captain. Once back home in America he returns to find that people are very hateful towards the soldiers returning home and he himself is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rambo, now a drifter and homeless, goes to Hope, Washington to visit an old war friend only to find he is dead and that the local law enforcement don’t want him around as they are cruel and try and bully him to leave their small town. Rambo is pushed and he fights back and takes the war to the Sheriff’s office, and it’s only Colonel Trautman that is able to talk him down. After these events Rambo is sent to prison, but Colonel Trautman is able to get him out to do a secret mission for the government to find out if Vietnam still has prisoners of war…Rambo takes this mission and disobeys orders as instead of just taking pictures and reporting back, he saves them and brings them home. In 1988 Rambo is next sent to Afghanistan in order to help the people fight the Russians who have tried to invade their country. In 2008 Rambo is now living in Thailand and makes his living capturing snakes and selling them to locals for fighting as well as giving rides on his boat. Rambo is asked by a bunch of missionaries to take them to Burma that is a warzone in order to help its people with medical and spiritual aid. And after saying no at first, it’s because of a woman named Sarah he agrees to…and once he does his job and the Burmese army captures and kills some of the missionaries, it’s up to Rambo to go in and save them, and of course he does. At the end of this rescue Rambo decides to let it all go and returns home to America. And this is where we are at in the life of Rambo as the events of the fifth film will tell us more about his life and who knows maybe death. Rambo is very layered and deep character, and the film and novel versions have different paths for his life, but one thing is for sure, Rambo is an iconic character of American pop culture.

Rambo has also made it to the world of video games and has had games on systems like Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Arcade Machines and as of late a rail first person shooter for PS3 and X-Box 360. The one that most know about is the NES version that has you playing Rambo who is wearing red spandex pants and mostly uses a knife to fight Vietcong, spiders and other animals. This game was also on the receiving end of a review done by The Angry Video Game Nerd for his popular YouTube show. So for those who like Rambo, there are video games out there for you to play. I thought about doing a NES Challenge for the Rambo game but decided that maybe we will tackle that on a later update.

In 1986 Rudy- Spears Productions was at it again when they decided to turn the R rated Rambo films into a cartoon series called “Rambo: The Force of Freedom” in which Rambo was no longer a loner but instead helped lead a group called The Force of Freedom alongside his friend Colonel Trautman into doing battle with a terrorist group code named S.A.V.A.G.E. lead by the General Warhawk who was a trader in his home country in Europe. The series ran for one season and a total of 65 episodes before being canceled, and the episodes would have Rambo and gang stopping such plots as stopping takeovers of small countries, fighting cults, stopping missiles and everything else in between. While Rambo and Trautman were the main attractions, characters like White Dragon and Touchdown Jones were the support that helped make the cartoon series more fun. While it only lasted one season, it had a lot of episodes and helped fans of Rambo with the wait in between movies. Growing up I remember watching this show from time to time and found that all I wanted in the series was to watch Rambo kick some S.A.V.A.G.E. butt! Not a lot of kids I knew watched the series, and by this time a lot of them were watching more Nickelodeon shows or the more popular shows on ABC, NBC and USA. The series did get some VHS releases as well as later some episodes released on DVD.

So besides the movies and cartoon on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and other home media and the novels and video games, many other very cool merchandise items have been made based on Rambo! Many action figures have been put out and have been done by companies like Coleco, NECA and Toy Island to name a few…my favorite is the Coleco Rambo figure that was based on the cartoon that I had as a kid. Also made were the films’ score soundtracks that have been released on Vinyl, Cassette and CD! These scores are amazing and the song “Home Coming” by Jerry Goldsmith from the First Blood album is powerful and iconic. There were also T-Shirts, Posters, Comics, Buttons, Chewing Gum, Trading Cards, Stickers, Magazines, Lunch Boxes, Halloween Costumes, Erasers, Toy Guns, Arcade Machines and so much more amazing products! So if you are a fan of Rambo, there are many amazing things in the world for you to collect…and I suggest not only the Coleco toy but also do yourself a favor and get the score soundtracks for the film as they are top notch.

So as you can see, Rambo and America go hand in hand and in fact all through the 80’s he was used as an icon to show the American Spirit and even the likes of President Ronald Reagan used him as an inspiration to hype up his run. And now that the burgers are probably almost done and the fireworks are about to fill the sky, we should get to the review of the Blackthrone Comic simply called Rambo! I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having this issue in stock and 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 get your red headband ready as we are going to war alongside the one and only John J. Rambo.

Rambo # 1 *1/2
Released in 1989     Cover Price $2.00     Blackthrone      #1 of 1

Major Valane was a bad apple and was dealing in the black market during his time in Nam and after being investigated by higher ups in the US Military, things turn bad and he is believed to be dead…until he is spotted on a nature documentary. The government sends for Rambo to make sure that he can spot Valane and make sure he is alive as Rambo was one of his solider who witnessed the Major set up his own people and even killed Rambo’s friend Wild Bill and forced a wounded Rambo to be in a prisoner of war camp! So ready for a rematch and revenge against Valane, he heads to Canada and battles the harsh weather until he can track Valane and his band of militant hoods. During his search Rambo is attacked by a mountain lion and is saved by one armed vet Brewster who befriends the war hero and helps him stand his ground when Valane’s men track them down and Rambo comes face to face with the man who helped murder his friends.

Sad to say this is really bad and does not capture the feel, mood or character of John J. Rambo at all and really just feels like a cheesy C-Grade army comic! The plot has Rambo traveling to Canada to find a beloved to be dead army Major who was a trader and a black market dealer that set up his own men leaving many of the dead and Rambo a prisoner. Rambo then fights for his life and finds that his old foe is indeed alive and surrounded by a new group of mercenaries. John Rambo in this comic is a man who loves America and loved his fellow solider who survived beside him in Vietnam, he also is a survivor and is willing to run into danger to get the Intel his country needs. But this does not feel like the Rambo from the films, as he is way to positive talkative, makes lots of mistakes and seems to be really aligned with the army in this comic….so in other words the comic Rambo seems very much off. Brewster is a pretty cool side character who is missing an arm that happened during the war being a hero and lives alone in a cabin in the woods of Canada, and the best part is he is still great with a gun! Major Valane is a scumbag who sold out his own team in order to gain money and now has faked his death and is still doing crime! He is cocky and surrounded by tons of militant soldiers who are willing to kill and be killed for him. He is a great bad guy for this style of army comic and sadly didn’t get to live up to his full potential…and the reason being is that the series was canceled after this issue and we never even get to know how Rambo escaped Major Valane and his goons grip! Yep Blackthrone pulled a Star Comics and canceled this series before it got a proper ending for readers. The cover for this comic is pretty eye catching if you’re a Rambo fan even if the art is only so-so. The interior art is very hit or miss as at times it looks like your standard late 80’s indie comic and other pages almost seem unfinished or rushed, and I am sure artist Aaron Lopresti knows that this is not his best work. Over all this Rambo comic is a big letdown as it does not tell all that great of a story, does not do justice to the character and is over all below average. Check out the art below to see the style used in this comic…and yeah Rambo looks nothing like Sylvester Stallone.

While the comic might have been a letdown, we still have all the movies we can watch to scrub this from our memories. I hope you are having (or had) a good fourth of July as this day is one we should truly take pride in our nation and celebrate our freedoms. For the next update we will be leaving Rambo behind and will be going on vacation to once more visit Monster Bash and talk about Night Of The Living Dead as we spend some time in Evan City Cemetery! So until next time, watch a Rambo film or four, see Rambo V in the theater and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as we spend more time with the undead.

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!