Watch Out Here Comes The Amazing Tiger-Man!!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place where I share my memories of the past as well as the present.  For this update, I would like to take a look at another comic hero from the world of Atlas Comics! In our past Atlas Comic updates, we have taken a look at The Brute, The Cougar and The Hands Of The Dragon, all great superheroes in their own right.  This time around we are taking a look at another one who, when I was younger, was one of my top Atlas Comics heroes.  I am talking about the one and only Tiger-Man! Have your ever-wondered why in the world of comic books there are so many heroes who have animal names? I mean just to name a few: Spider-Man, The Fly, Batman, The Tick, Hawkman, Black Panther, Wolverine, Black Canary, and Blue Falcon.  The list could go on and on, and on that list would be Tiger-Man showing that fighting crime and animals must go hand and hand! It’s a shame that Atlas Comics went out of business in 1975 as it would have been really cool to have seen what further adventures their characters would have had as well as what new heroes would have been made. I mean who knows, maybe a Tiger-Man vs. The Cougar could have been in our reading future if they would have lasted longer than only one year as a comic publisher. As always, I want to send a big thank you to the gone but not forgotten comic shop Bookie Parlor for introducing me to Atlas Comics all those years back, and I think that at this point we are ready to dive into seeing what this crime fighter offered to the world. Also yes, the picture below is Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin feeding a young tiger!

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So when I hear the name Tiger Man, one of the first things that pop into my mind is a figure in the “Galaxy Warriors” toy line that literally is called Tiger Man. Growing up He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe was one of my favorite toy lines for the longest time, and between my brother Bryan and I, we had a pretty massive collection of the figures, vehicles and castle playsets that we would get from not only garage sales and trades with friends but also stores like K-Mart, Hills, Hearts, Gold Circle and Children’s Palace among other toy and department stores. But while Mattel and He-Man took the toy aisles in the 1980’s by storm at major box stores, the smaller retailers who stocked the none-mainstream companies filled their section with toys made by Remco, Sparkle, SunGold and Imperial.  Being a fan of Masters Of The Universe, Conan The Barbarian, Beastmaster and other barbarian films, the knock off figures I had to get were ones like Defenders Of The Planets, Galaxy Fighters and Galaxy Warriors with the latter being the one filled with all type of animal people who had the bodies of a man and the heads of a animal, and Tiger Man was one of the figures in the line. While these knock-off figures ended up just being henchmen and guards and took orders from He-Man or Skeletor, they still added lots of great moments of toy adventures. I am sure you’re wondering if I have ever owned Tiger Man, and the answer is sadly no.  I would have to buy most of these types of toys from Woolsworth or Odd Lots and with us living in Waynesville, far away from the nearest one of those stores, we always had to get whatever ones were left on the shelf.  Most of the time, the more flashy and monster looking ones were always gone. Below are some pictures of Tiger Man, and the logo for the line of figures he was a part of.

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Lots of people in the world love tigers and I have had lots of friends and family who have had a love for tigers and had tacky posters, tattoos, statues and even t-shirts, but none of them took it to the extreme like a man named Dennis Avner, also known as Stalking Cat, who had 14 surgeries on his face and teeth in order to make himself look like a tiger! Dennis was born on August 27, 1958 in Flint, Michigan and is from Native American decent.  From a young age, he felt like he was a cat, and when the Medicine Man of his family’s tribe gave him the name Stalking Cat, he knew that his true spirit animal and totem was the great tiger. As he grew older, he worked for the Navy as a sonar technician and later on he took a job as a computer programmer.  During the 80’s he also started his body modifications, all with the blessing of the tribe’s chief who informed him that his totem was in fact a female tiger and that he should also blur gender lines. As his appearance became more extreme and more tiger-like from surgery and tattoos, Stalking Cat, as he changed his name, to went to Furry Conventions and met Tess Calhoun who is known as Tess The Red Pony and her husband Rick and the three would move together to a small town in Washington were Stalking Cat became somewhat a local celebrity being covered on TV and newspapers. Stalking Cat was also well known in the Furry world and tried to promote the lifestyle alongside Tess, but in 2007 Tess and her husband could no longer afford to pay for Stalking Cat to live with them as he did not have a job and in some ways his extreme appearance kept him from getting a regular 9-5. Stalking Cat ended up moving to Nevada in 2007, and sadly by 2012, he passed away alone in his garage due to suicide at the age of 54. Over his lifetime Stalking Cat enjoyed some fame thanks to Ripley’s Believe It Of Not! who brought him to the world’s attention as well as Larry King Live and Weird, True & Freaky. His extreme makeover was met with mixed reactions as many enjoyed the fact he was doing what he wanted while others thought he was just addicted to plastic surgery. But say what you want about Stalking Cat, the man sure did love tigers!

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Before we take a look at the three issues that Atlas Comics released based on Tiger-Man, I think we should spend some time getting to know him and why he is what he is. Tiger-Man made his first appearance in the first issue of the magazine “Thrilling Adventure Stories” back in February 1975 with the story being written by John Albano and the art was done by Ernie Colon who also handled the art on the first comic book issue that was released in 1975 and later in the series artist Steve Ditko would handle the duties. The series would only last three issues before being cancelled as Atlas Comics, the publisher, was not able to compete for retail space against Marvel, DC, Gold Key and Archie who all dominated shelf space on the racks. The character’s origin is this: Dr. Lancaster Hill, a scientist who is working on tiger blood to find the chromosomes that give the big cats their agility and strength who injects himself with a serum and gets the ability of a tiger complete with strength, reflexes and super sight. When his work is done in Africa, he returns to his home in New York and gets a job at a hospital.  After the murder of a loved on he puts on a costume made out of the fur of the tiger he gained his powers from as well as a tiger mask and roams the streets as a hero vigilante. His costume is this: a face mask that looks like a tiger, blue spandex bodysuit with his vest and boots made out of the tiger skin as is his gloves that sport razor sharp claws. His costume might not be super flashy, but it gets the job done and puts fear into the heart of those who are on the wrong side of the law. Tiger-Man does what he has to do to stop crime with most killers meeting their deaths by his hands and this is why he would make a great addition to the Marvel Comics Universe if only he could have joined them as he could have been a great foe for Spider-Man as they both have different ways of fighting crime. So that’s a quick crash course about Tiger-Man as I felt I needed to share this so if you didn’t know who he was, you might have more of a connection with him and might even trigger your interest in reading his comic adventures yourself. Check out the pictures below to see the outfit of Tiger-Man and notice the first picture has him with flesh colored tights!

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So now we are at the heart of this update jungle and we have talked a little about Tiger-Man’s publication history as well as Tiger Man, the action figure from SunGold as well as Stalking Cat the man who transformed himself into a tiger, but now we are at the point where we need to take a look at the three issues Atlas Comic released back in 1975! I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having these issues in stock as they are the closest thing to the Bookie Parlor we have around the Dayton, Ohio area and my favorite comic shop in the area! I want to also remind you my readers and friends that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s dive into the Atlas Universe and see just why this small company is one of my favorites from the past, I should also note that my pal Jason Young has been into reading old Atlas Comics and he is hooked on their classic stories and heroes, but with that let’s get to the comic reviews, shall we?

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Tiger-Man # 1   ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 1 of 3

A young nurse leaving work is attacked by two bikers who want to steal her car and kidnap her, but she is saved when Tiger-Man comes out of the shadows and shows the bikers that crime doesn’t pay with his super strength and razor sharp claws. After saving her life, he flashes back to how his crime fighting days started when he as his alter ego Dr. Lancaster Hill spent two years in Zambia, Africa and with the help of a captured tiger he found a way to make a serum that when he injected himself with made him faster, stronger and filled with the will to survive! He even saves the village from the rogue tiger set free by the old medicine man of the village who was jealous of his people trusting the young doctor’s cures over his. Once his internship is over, he returns to New York to find he has a job at the Harlem Hospital and to his sister Anna Hill who is a Broadway actress has a huge show the next night he is invited to! That night Anna is attacked and killed by two scumbags who think she is rich and this sets Lancaster off and with the tiger skin outfit the Tribal Chief made him, he becomes the vigilante avenger Tiger-Man and sets out to find his sister’s killers and does as they are a pair of rodeo riders and stalking them to a dive bar he makes his move and kills the pair getting revenge for his sister. Now back to present time, he wonders if he should have also killed the pair of bikers who attacked the nurse but while he thinks that over he knows his calling to be a superhero of the city.

The first thing I want to say is that this issue of Tiger-Man has the feel of a 70’s Marvel comic like Spider-Man or even Daredevil, and that’s the charm and appeal this character holds with this aging comic reader. I mean I could have seen Tiger-Man being in the Marvel Universe and running around New York fighting Kingpin and The Vulture! The plot of this issue is the origin story of Tiger-Man and follows his start of getting his powers in Africa all the way to avenging his sister’s death in the streets of New York and shows the rise of the Big Apples newest superhero. Dr. Lancaster Hill seems like a good Doctor who cares about helping sick people and wants to find new ways to heal and make the ill better, but it’s also clear he has a killer instinct side and will do what he feels right to protect himself and others. As Tiger-Man, he becomes almost animal like as he is able to stalk his prey just like a real tiger by using cunning stealth as well as amped up sense of smell, sight and reflexes. It also doesn’t hurt that he has superhuman strength much like Captain America or even Spider-Man just slightly toned down. The issue’s bad guys are a pair of rodeo cowboys who don’t mind robbing and killing women in order to get money as they let money rule them all the way to their deaths.  While they are no threat to Tiger-Man, they where still terrible people who deserved being killed by his hands. Over all this is a solid and fun comic that has a cool superhero who has the vigilante attitude of Paul Kersey of the Death Wish film series, and that’s why he was dark before Batman became all moody. The cover is eye catching and captured my attention all those many moons back when I found the first issue in Bookie Parlors $1.00 box. The interior art is done by Ernie Colon and is fantastic 70’s style art. I should also note that Ernie is also known for his work on such comics as Casper The Friendly Ghost, Creepy Magazine, Doom 2099 and Arak Son Of Thunder to name a few. If you like classic superheroes of the past and are looking for a fun origin comic, make sure to check out this issue as its really a fun read.

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Tiger-Man # 2  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 2 of 3

Three crooks in electric modified suits just robbed a bank and instead of just running away from the crime scene, they waste time and end up killing two security guards with the help of their amped up suits. Tiger-Man shows up and knocks the crooks around and finds that their suits were made by a Professor Anderson Kobart who teaches at Manhattan University and as Tiger-Man makes his way to the Professor to get answers to why he is supplying crooks with bio suits, he is attacked by a costumed character calling himself The Blue Leopard who has all the ability of Tiger-Man and even scarier knows his real identity! The pair of costumed figures fight it out above the Manhattan landscape and as they punch, scratch and flip each other around it becomes clear that Blue Leopard is from Africa and knew the Dr. when he was there for 2 years helping the ill in the village of Zambia.  But just when Tiger-Man gets the upper hand, he gets light headed and passes out thanks to a sleeping drug on the claws of Blue Leopard who leaves our hero asleep on top of a roof. Waking up many hours later, he changes back to Dr. Hill and does his shift at the hospital with both Blue Leopard and Professor Kobart on his mind, and once his shift is over Tiger-Man goes back on the prowl to get answers about both. As Tiger-Man gets to the office of Professor Kobart, he finds him dead already thanks to the claws of Blue Leopard who informs our hero that he was sent to kill him by the village’s Witch Doctor as he blames him for not just stealing his peoples trust in his medicine but also cause a food drought left many of his people dead and its because of his white man witchcraft! As Blue Leopard leaves the scene Tiger-Man is left at the crime scene questioning if killing the criminals is really the way to help New York.

This second issue is all about action and drama as we follow Tiger-Man as he tries to tangle with two set of bad guys, one being a mastermind college professor and his enhanced armor henchmen and the other is the African avenging Blue Leopard who wants to make our hero pay for his crimes against the village’s Medicine Man. Dr. Hill and his hero side Tiger-Man are having a hard time gripping the difference between the two sides as Hill saves lives daily as Tiger-Man takes lives of those who commit crimes, and the war in his heart and mind is causing him to be distracted doing both jobs. I like that about Tiger-Man, he has two sides and while a vigilante, he himself questions if he should act as their judge, jury and executioner. Professor Anderson Kobart is an older college teacher who for some reason has teamed up with criminals to make them powerful suits in order to steal money, but sadly the Professor dies before we can get answers to why he choose crime, and to be honest neither he nor his henchmen really put up a good fight against Tiger-Man. The issue’s main villain is Blue Leopard, a magically enhanced costumed baddy who is on a mission of revenge himself with orders to torment and kill Tiger-Man, all still over the jealousy of the African Medicine Man.  The worse thing for Tiger-Man is that Blue Leopard is as skilled and quick as he is! But while we get the answer to why Blue Leopard is around, we don’t get an end to his madness as he gets away at the end. This issue is well written, and the script was done by Gerry Conway and is solid and classic superhero stuff as is the cover that once more reminds me so much of 70’s Marvel. The interior art is done by artist legend Steve Ditko who is known for co-creating Spider-Man for Marvel as well as his work on so many other amazing titles. Over all this is a great follow up issue and shows that the folks at Atlas Comics knew how to make quality comics for readers. Well let’s see what the final issue in this series has to offer.  I can’t wait to re-read it as its been a very long time since I have read any of these issues.

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Tiger-Man # 3  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 3 of 3

Tiger-Man rushes into Manhattan Hospital with a man who set himself on fire for no reason.  While the man is getting help at the burn unit of the building, Tiger-Man turns into Dr. Hill and tries to save the life of the man who sadly passes away but does manage to say the word “Hypnos” before expiring. The death of this man shakes Dr. Hill, and a couple of nights later while on patrol in the city as Tiger-Man, he witnesses another suicide this time a old woman embraced death on train tracks as it hit her.  The only connection he can think to check into is the free clinic run by Dr. Otto Kaufman, a man who helps people with their deep mental issues.  As Dr. Hill, he pays him a visit and is not impressed with Kaufman’s attitude. That night Tiger-Man saves a woman who attempted suicide by driving her car off a bridge and she as well says “Hypnos,” and this time as Tiger-Man he goes to Kaufman’s clinic and finds files that proves he is hypnotizing these people into committing suicide and now is using his Hypno-Power to try and stop Tiger-Man from turning the files over to the police. But Kaufman is able during the fight to hypnotize Tiger-Man with the want to kill himself by setting himself on fire, but when a pair of robbers knock out Tiger-Man as he is pouring gas on himself in order to steal his wallet, they really saved his life as it broke the power Kaufman had over him. Tiger-Man goes back to the clinic just as Dr. Kaufman has polluted the mind of a young man to kill himself, and once Tiger-Man knocks out the young man he turns his fury onto Kaufman who ends up running to the roof of the clinic.  After a brief fight, Tiger-Man is able to rip off the monocle that is the source of Kaufman’s power and turns it onto him causing the crazed Dr. to leap from the building killing himself.

The third and final issue in this Atlas Comic series is a nice send off for this great character as the plot of a crazed doctor killing off his patients because he thinks they are all weak willed people is stuff classic 60’s and 70’s comic were made of. Tiger-Man/Dr. Hill in this issue is really upset that strangers around him are killing themselves and it really bothers him when he is not able to save them from death.  But while he was too late to save two of them, he did save two others who were near death’s door. Plus once he cracks the case and finds who was responsible for placing the urge to off themselves into the victims’ minds, he himself doesn’t pull the punches and wants the killer to embrace the cold grasp of death. Dr. Otto Kaufman is an older man who wears a monocle that holds a hypnosis power and runs a free mental health clinic in New York and uses his power of persuasion for evil as he wants to kill off most of the population of the world so he can fill it with super beings who are free of emotions. Kaufman is such a jerk that he wants his victims to die in horrible ways like setting themselves on fire, drowning and death by speeding train and has zero remorse for sending them to the grave. But when his power is turned on him, he himself knows that he is insane and leaps to his death from the top of a building! Dr. Otto Kaufman is a great bad guy and while not physically threatening, he is mentally threatening to Tiger-Man. The downside of this being the last issue is that we as the readers never got the answers and an ending to Blue Leopard who was still on the prowl in New York waiting to strike Tiger-Man and bring him down, not to mention the next issue was planned for Tiger-Man to fight a villain called The Slasher…imagine that, a serial killer taking on Tiger-Man…that would have been amazing! The character of Tiger-Man, I think, is my favorite Atlas Comics hero as I found him very much to be what I enjoy in a hero, let alone he is set in New York and if he was a Marvel Comics created character or even would have been bought by them in 1975, we could have seen him interact with such heroes as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Daredevil and Dr. Strange, to name a few. The cover this time around is pretty solid and has that 70’s look that flooded newsstands, and Steve Ditko did the artwork and of course it looks amazing. Over all Tiger-Man issue 3 is great and fits very well into the series and really if you are looking into getting into Atlas Comics, these three issues of Tiger-Man should be your starting point.  With rumors that Dynamite Comics now has the licenses for many of these characters, maybe sometime soon we could get a follow up series based on Dr. Hill and his Tiger-Man alter ego. Check out the art below to see Tiger-Man in action!

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Tiger-Man might not be a well known hero like Superman, Captain America or even Spawn, and that’s a shame as I find this costumed hero to be one that delivered good adventures and who could have had many more if he was allowed to stay around longer. It’s been a blast re-reading these old Atlas Comics and chatting about them here on Rotten Ink as this blog was meant for comics like this that I remember reading in my youth and sharing them with my readers who might not have even known about Tiger-Man or any of the other Atlas Comic heroes. But for our next update, we are leaving Tiger-Man and New York behind and we are traveling to the world of Nintendo for another NES Challenge.  This time I will be tackling the star of one of this summer’s biggest films, the one and only King Kong.  The game is based on the 1986 film “King Kong Lives” with a comic series from Markosia! So until next time, read a comic of three, do a good deed or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for an ape of a good time!

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Flash Gordon Savior Of The Comic Universe!

ROTTEN….INNNKKK….Savior of the Blog-verse! Yeah, I know that was super lame and not very clever, but this winter seemed like a good time to do a terrible parody of a classic Queen song as it fits today’s update as we take a look at the 1980 film Flash Gordon and the Whitman Comic adaptation.  It’s pretty great adventure stuff to get the blood pumping this cold winter night! Can you believe we are this close to Christmas and our huge Christmas Eve update? This time of the year is always wonderful, looking back at things from your youth and fun times with family and friends, and that’s why I choose Flash Gordon as the film and character this time around.  It’s something that always brings back good memories of when I was a kid. When we were young, my parents had a Beta player and this is how I first saw Flash Gordon as my Dad rented it from the video store for me and my brother.  From start to finish I can remember we both were glued to it.  Later, when it would showed on cable like HBO or Showtime, we taped it and would dust it off from time to time. I can also remember using our G.I. Joes and Star Wars figures to play Flash Gordon as figures based on this movie were never made in my youth. I miss those days of going to the video rental store with my parents and picking out a couple of films for us all to watch on a family movie night.  I have one funny story about a Troma movie that was rented for the kids that I will share in an update in the future. So get your space suit on and bundle up as space is even colder than this winter night, and we’ll go on an adventure with the one and only Flash Gordon.  Oh yeah, make sure to also bring a blanket, some hot chocolate mix or even some hot tea as the chill in the air will make them a must.

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In 1980 an epic science fiction film was released by Universal and was slated to be the next mega hit in the genre like Star Wars before it.  Best of all, the film was based on a character who already had a built in audience as he had comic strips, comic books, radio dramas, novels, movie serials and toys based around him so by this point Flash Gordon was a household name.  So why didn’t it overthrow Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back as the # 1 film of 1980? Flash Gordon ended up at # 23 bringing in $27,107,960.00 on a budget of $20 million, beating out such cult films as The Elephant Man, Raging Bull, The Fog, Mad Max, Prom Night, Motel Hell and The Gong Show Movie. I think some of the issue started with the production of the film as the rights owner for Gordon in films was famed producer Dino De Laurentiis who, in the 70s, turned down George Lucas who wanted to make a Flash Gordon film.  This sparked Lucas to make Star Wars.  Meanwhile De Laurentiis wanted to make his version of Flash Gordon cheesy and humorous, and this angered Sergio Leone, who was slated to direct, as he wanted it to be more faithful to the comic strip. But after many setbacks, a director was found in Mike Hodges, and casting started with Sam J. Jones playing Flash Gordon, Melody Anderson as Dale Arden, Chaim Topol as Dr. Zarkov and Max von Sydow as Ming The Merciless, all of whom were wise choices for their roles.  But once more, late in production drama reared its ugly head again and fights between De Laurentiis and Jones left the actor leaving prior to post production forcing lots of his dialogue to be dubbed by a voice actor.  This drama also lead to a sequel never being made. But in 2015 rumors began going around that a reboot sequel might be in the works and that Sam J. Jones might be returning in the role of Flash! So what do you readers think, should they make a Flash Gordon 2 with Sam J. Jones returning in the title role or do you think a remake is the wiser choice?

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The soundtrack to Flash Gordon is fantastic with the score being done by Howard Blake and the rest being done by the amazing band Queen! While the score is mostly forgotten, the song “Flash Gordon” by Queen is the first thing that pops into the people’s minds when hearing the characters name…you know at least a handful of times you yourself have done it while reading this update. That’s one thing the film always had going for it, the soundtrack was a popular album for people of the 80’s to have in their collection of vinyl and cassettes. Queen always did make amazing rock n roll music, and their work for Flash Gordon showed that they could also make the music of the movies and will always rank up as one of the most catchy theme songs for any science fiction characters. And for those wondering, I do play the score music from Blake on WYSO from time to time.

1980 Flash Gordon Queen SoundtrackQueen (Band)1980 Flash Gordon Score soundtrack

As I have stated, growing up me and my brother were fans of the film, and I would have loved if some company like Kenner or Remco would have made 3 ¾” figures based on this film as it would have been epic while playing Star Wars if Flash Gordon showed up and Princess Leia fell in love with this hero jock and he and Han Solo had to fight it out to win her heart. But in 2015, thanks to collectible website “Entertainment Earth” and toy company “BifBang Pow!” a series of figures was made. They released four figures this size that include Flash Gordon, Ming, Aura, Vultan and Barin, and each come with weapons and bendable knees and elbows. When I was just a youngster, the only things that I can remember that were released was a video game, the comic adaptation, the novel based on the film and the soundtrack. So for those youngsters reading this, and those young at heart, if you buy these Flash Gordon 3 ¾” action figures make sure to have them mix with your Star Wars toys as well as your Funco ReAction figures and have one hell of an epic Toy War!

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While we might not have gotten action figures, 20th Century Fox Games did release a video game based on the film for the Atari 2600 for all the fans to enjoy in 1983, but like most movie tie-in games, this one really had nothing to do with the movie and was in fact originally not even a Flash Gordon game as it was really just a redone port of a game called “Spider City” that was a popular PC Game in the early 80’s. But in this version you play as Flash Gordon who has entered Spider City to rescue missing spacemen and to destroy all the hatching spider pods. You of course are flying a ship, and by beating levels, the game will give you an extra life.  The graphics are what you would expect from an Atari 2600 game. The first time I learned about this game was in 2009 when Game Swap Kettering was stocking the store, and one of the Atari games in the box was Flash Gordon and of course I had to buy it and play it.  While very cheesy, it still was fun play and something that fans of classic gaming should try. Check out below for a screen shot of the game as well as the cover box front and back, and all you old school gamers who grew up playing this understand just how fun this and so many other Atari games can be.

1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 Cover1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 screen1980 Flash Gordon Atari 2600 back cover

So we have taken a look at Flash Gordon the Movie, the soundtrack, the video game and the toys, and now I think it’s time that we all climb aboard the Whitman Comic Rocket and travel to Movie Adaptation Land and see just how well this one holds up to the film. I want to thank Jason Young and his Mom for selling me these issues in a long box buy and must remind all you readers and astronauts that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, let’s prepare for lift off! I should also note that the adaptation was placed many issues into the long running Flash Gordon comic series put out by Gold Key and Whitman so that’s why the numbering is high on these issues. So it’s take off time, get ready to have a fun adventure with Flash Gordon and friends.

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Flash Gordon # 31  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 31 of 37

Flash Gordon is a football player for the New York Jets and is on a plane with Dale Arden when their plane goes down and lands near a greenhouse where by gunpoint they are forced onto a spaceship and into orbit by Dr. Zarkov who believes that they all must stop an alien attack that he thinks is forcing Earth’s moon to crash into the planet killing everyone.  He wants to find and stop the mastermind behind it. In space, the three pass out and are swept into a black hole and end up landing in the Mongo Kingdom run by Ming The Merciless along with his daughter Princess Aura and his golden metal masked adviser General Klytus.  This is bad news as Ming wants Dale as his slave, Aura wants Flash as her slave, and Klytus wants all three Earthlings dead! Flash does not stand for this and fights with the guards, but all this does is give him a one-way ticket to a public execution that very night! Flash is given a shot and then gassed and is believed to be dead, but in reality Princess Aura changed the shot that let her new man live and uses her boyfriend’s (Prince Barin of the Treemen) planet as a hiding place for Flash. Meanwhile Ming has taken Dale as his own and has ordered Zarkov’s mind to be taken over and turned into a slave! But thanks to Aura’s crown, Flash is able to contact Dale and tell her he is alive.  This causes her to escape Ming’s bedroom and start her escape and saving of Zarkov.

This comic adaptation does a good job of compacting the film into comic pages and moves the pace along really well! So far the story is the set up and has Flash, Dale and Zarkov traveling to space and crash landing on Mongo, the planet of galaxy warlord Ming, and finding out they are just pawns in his twisted game to destroy Earth. The comic has action, adventure, drama and romance as all these things were tangled together in ink and paper. Flash Gordon starts out as a hero jock who wins the attention of a young woman he is next to on a plane, but quickly turns into a hero as he is a prideful man who would clearly die to protect his new friends. Flash also has a charm as both Dale and Aura fall in love with him just by seeing him.  I wonder if it’s because he is a pro football player who has money or if it’s his chiseled good looks? We also learn he is good at fist fighting as he handles many guards at once and seems to know how to defend himself. Dale Arden seems like a normal young woman who, when survival is on the line, will fight back and not just roll over and die. It’s also clear that Dale fell in love with Flash Gordon at first sight and that she will not be Ming’s love slave without putting up a fight. Dr. Zarkov is a crazed old man who’s outlandish behavior got him banned from NASA and his way of getting help on his rocket ship is to pull a gun on people who just survived a plane crash. It’s odd as both Flash and Dale seem to forgive him pretty fast and even look to him as a friend.  Even more crazy is they would not be in the danger they are in if not for his crazy gun pulling ways. To be fair though, Dr. Zarkov did do all this to save Earth from doom that would be coming from the sky. Ming The Merciless is cold blooded, and life and death do not matter, as in his mind all that does is his rule over all. I think Ming is a great villain as he tries to murder outsiders on sight, forces women to be his love slaves and rules his Kingdom with such an iron fist that other planets are scared to feel his wrath. Princess Aura is a mystery at this point as she is a man-eater who clearly uses men to get what she wants but also seems to not enjoy her father’s wicked ways. General Klytus is clearly a man who loves to place judgment and punishment on anyone he feels is a threat to Ming and his rule. We don’t get much background on Prince Barin besides he loves Aura, and he is the leader of the Treemen. The winged leader Vultan of the Hawkmen is also around but is not given anything to make a judgment of his character. The cover is your typical cheesy photo collage mixed with art design that Whitman and Goldkey Comic used on most their adaptations, but the inside art is fantastic and done by Flash Gordon comic series artist Al Williamson who is an underrated artist who captures science fiction elements really well. This is a great start as on this cold day; I really enjoyed this first issue in the adaptation and I am really looking forward to seeing what issue 2 has contained.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 2

Flash Gordon # 32  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 32 of 37

While escaping, Dale Arden runs into Dr. Zarkov who claims that his mind could not be beaten into being blanked, and the pair board a ship and try to leave only to be captured by the Hawkpeople lead by Vultan.  They are about to deliver them back to Ming when Dale begs him to join forces with Flash Gordon, who still lives, and the Treemen to overthrow Ming who is they all hate. Meanwhile Klytus has heard that Gordon is alive and warns Ming who has his daughter who has returned home arrested and tortured in order to find were she has left Flash. Flash himself is being tormented and set up to be murdered by Prince Barin, who is jealous that Aura has fallen for the Earthman. During the fight, the Hawkmen attack and take both Flash Gordon and Prince Barin prisoner as Vultan is not going for an alliance against Ming and is delivering them all to the evil ruler. Prince Barin as a royal can challenge a duel before sentenced and picks Flash Gordon, and the two fight on a circle that has spikes. Flash wins and saves Barin from falling off the circle as Klytus arrives on the ship and demands all the prisoners come with him and this sets Flash off and he slams Klytus onto the circle of spikes killing him! Vultan and the Hawkmen fly away as they fear the wrath of Ming who now has shown up and has Dale, Barin and Zarkov taken to his castle, and after Flash refuses an offer from Ming to join his side our hero is left on the ship that is now blowing up.

Flash Gordon steps up his game and not only passes the Treemen’s log test that has a poisons beast inside it, but he also beats Barin in a duel to the death as well as murders Klytus by slamming him down on spikes! Flash didn’t even blink as he slammed a living person onto spikes, killing him in a terrible painful way. But to be fair, the man who he killed was Klytus, the evil right hand man of Ming who looks like he took fashion tips from Dr. Doom and had sent a number of people to their deaths. This second issue covers Flash fighting the odds and yet still some how turning the negatives into positives and starting an uprising against the rule of Ming. It’s great as Ming even mentions that his subjects are starting to talk about this man named Flash Gordon who has beaten all the odds. Ming The Merciless in this issue tries his best to corrupt Flash, and when he can’t, he wants him dead, not to mention he also is ok with the torture of his daughter as he is pissed she disobeyed his wish of having Flash killed. Ming is also claiming Dale as his future wife and adds forced love to his evil deeds. Prince Barin is a jerk who comes around once he finds that Flash is a good man.  Vultan comes off as a coward and a lackey for Ming as Dale and Zarkov take a backseat and are just prisoners who are the driving force for Flash Gordon to fight and do the right thing to save them and the Earth. The cover is another photo collage/art mix and is cheesy good as the art inside is Al Williamson again who is doing a great job at capturing the looks of the actors as well as his backgrounds are really well done. This second issue is as good as the first.  Coming up is the final in this adaptation, and I for one am enjoying every page.

1980 Flash Gordon comic 3

Flash Gordon # 33  ***
Released in 1981     Cover Price .40     Whitman     # 33 of 37

Flash Gordon escapes the blown up ship on a tiny glider and is able to contact Vultan and the Hawkpeople who now are on the side of good and set up one of Ming’s warships that they take over. Meanwhile Ming has set his wedding to Dale for that night and is forcing his daughter Aura to be the Maid of Honor and is going to kill Zarkov and Barin live for entertainment! Aura sneaks away and frees Barin and Zarkov from the prison, and the two flee into some tunnels. Flash, Vultan and the Hawkmen bring the fight to Ming’s kingdom.  As Dale is being forced to marry Ming, the Earth is also on a path to doom as in only six minutes the moon will crash into the planet causing earthquakes and tidal waves. Flash crashes the ship into Ming’s castle and impales the evil ruler with the tip on the ship.  Ming however does not die and Flash rushes him with a sword in hand as Ming turns his own power ring on himself ending is reign of terror. In the end Aura and Barin take over ruling Mongo, Vultan takes the job of royal guard commander and Dale, Zarkov and Flash stay on Mongo as they do not have a ride home.

The doomsday clock was almost at 12 for Earth, but thanks to the heroic act of Flash Gordon and his allies, we are all safe for the time being. The plot of this issue is this simple: Ming is having a shotgun wedding, Flash has brought people together to fight the power and in the end, good clashes with evil and as always, good wins. Flash Gordon once more proves how loyal and brave he is, as he takes his own life in his hands and crashes a ship into a castle that had a force field around it and was only saved by Barin who blasted the controls with a pistol. But what Flash did to save the Earth as well as Dale shows you that he is a real hero who puts the needs of others before his own. Dale and Dr. Zarkov do what they can to help with Zarkov trying to help turn off the force field and Dale bides them time to attack. Glad to see Vultan and the Hawkmen turn from cowards to right doers as they join the forces to bring Ming’s evil rule to an end. Prince Barin wins the most as he gets not only Ming’s hot daughter Aura, but he also gets to rule the planet! Ming does not put up much of a fight as after he has the ships front needle impale him, he then would rather zap himself with his own ring than to fight Flash Gordon. I always wished Ming would have been a more badass villain like Darth Vader in Star Wars in this film and comic as an epic fight between Flash and him could have been a major movie moment of the 80’s. I think what really make this comic adaptation work is that it feels like a grand space adventure that you’re on with an iconic character that is allowing you to tag along on. The comic does a pretty good job of working the movie into comic pages but like most adaptations, some of it feels very rushed with elements missing. One par that is removed is the silly comedy moments of the film and in its place are more serious action moments. The cover is like the others, and Al Williamson’s art is classic and captures the feel of not only the movie but Flash Gordon altogether. If you’re a fan of this movie or even just enjoy a good Flash Gordon story, I would say check out these issues as well as the rest in this comic series as they are a fun read and can hold you over till Gordon’s next big screen film hits your local cinema. Below is a piece of art from Williamson that I think showcases everything that this comic has to offer, so take a look at it and enjoy.

Flash Gordon 1980 Comic Art 1

So yeah, Flash Gordon,, the film from 1980 as well as the comic adaptation of it are great ways to be entertained, and those of you who didn’t like the humor of the movie should check out this comic adaptation as it’s all the action elements. I really do miss the old movie adaptations from companies like Marvel, DC, Whitman and Dell as they always seemed like having something a little extra on the movie or even TV Shows they were based on. But it’s now time to reveal what our Christmas Eve update will be about.  We will be leaving the Mongo Kingdom and instead enter Kingston Falls as we take a look at “Gremlins” and the Golden Book comic adaptation based around this iconic movie that was one of my all time favorites in youth! So until then, be safe this winter, spend some time with your loved ones, read a comic or three and make sure to return on Christmas Eve to spend some time with Gizmo and all his friends.  See you all then!

Gremlins_logo

Stone Protectors: Trolls Who Wanted That TMNT Money!

Can you believe that it’s already December and we are just weeks away from Christmas? This time of the year always gets me sentimental for the past and when Santa Claus coming down the chimney to bring me toys, comics, movies, music and video games was all that was on my mind and made for many sleepless nights leading up to the big day. I am sure many of you as youngsters used to toss and turn all night with your brain working overtime thinking about what wonders awaited you in your stocking as well as the presents that were just in the living room under the family Christmas Tree, but that dang pesky night time was keeping you away from your holiday wonder. Another thing that comes to mind is Christmas lights on houses.  My mom used to love to look at houses with lights on them, and my Dad would drive us around to look at them when I was a kid, mostly in our town of Waynesville and in Kettering. When I was dating Jennifer Perkins many years back, I can also remember driving around Waynesville and surrounding towns looking at lights as that was something she enjoyed. With it being so close to Christmas, I figured we would take a look at a comic series based on a toy and cartoon line that many people have forgotten about from the early 90’s – The Stone Protectors those cool Trolls with stones for power! So grab a glass of eggnog and you might as well grab a few cookies as we take a quick and fun journey into the world of Trolls!

Crazy Christmas Lights

Troll Dolls were a popular toy back in the 1960’s and 70’s.  They were created by Thomas Dam back in 1959 in Denmark.  After he made one for his daughter for Christmas, the other kids saw and wanted one, and a toy franchise was born. The naked and some time dressed up wild bright colored haired plastic dolls were popular all over Europe and America but mostly with young girls who spent time dressing them up and collecting them on shelves. The toy fad of trolls in the US was very popular from 1963-65, making them a must have toy for Christmas and birthdays. But while the Dam Trolls were high quality, a copyright screw up in the United States lead to other companies flooding the market with cheaper made products that filled toy stores and local 5 and dimes. In the late 80’s, Troll dolls started to make a comeback in America as a new batch of youngsters discovered them at garage sales and thrift stores. They came back out with the tagline “Adopt A Norfin Troll” and were official licensee products put out by E.F.S. Marking Associates. By the 90s, Trolls were being marketed to boys with such action figure lines like Stone Protectors, Hairy Heads a series of Mighty Max toys and Battle Trolls, and this sparked video games, comics, videos and a massive amounts of Trolls dressed in all type of outfits. Lots happened with the rights, from Dam getting his copyright restored in 1994 to DreamWorks releasing a musical animated movie about the Trolls this year. But I am sure you’re wondering what my connection to Trolls is.  I grew up owning them and my Grandma Salyers had many of them as did my neighbor Joanna. I can always remember laughing about their bare butts and trying my best to play with them alongside other action figure, but they never did quite fit in. In my late teen years I worked for Krogers as a bagger and I can remember that we used to sell them for a while in the floral department, but once they sold them out at a discount they were gone for good. One day my good friend Jason Gilmore and I found one in the back stock room very high up almost to the rafters and using a broom that we threw as a spear we knocked it down! Once in my hands I used a sharpie and white out and created a voodoo priest Troll doll complete with a skull face and tribal tattoos! One bagger loved it so much he bought it from Jason and I for $20.  We turned around and used the money to buy used VHS horror films and music CDs. Years later while working at Game Swap in Kettering, Max Ervin took an old Troll Doll and made it look like Kiss Guitarist Ace Frehley! Love them or hate them, Troll Dolls made an impact in the world of toys and at some point in time I would guess most of you readers at least owned one of them in your household.

Original Troll Dolls

In 1993, Ace Novelty decided that they were going to take a stab at making Trolls hip and cool for boys too and decided that they could do so by making them in scale with Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures as well as make them dress like ninjas and pro wrestlers and give them evil and nasty looking baddies to beat up on. In 1993, I was about 13 years old and all the kids I knew were very much into collecting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I only remember one kid every having a Stone Protector at school and it was just a toy line that never caught on with me and my friends. The series had a total of seven figures made with all five of the Stone Protectors being made: Chester, Angus, Clifford, Cornelius and Maxwell as well as two of the bad guys Zok and Zink, with each figures coming with weapons and accessories. They would later also do a line of figures called “Stone Protectors: Sports Heroes” and would have our heroes dressed in sports gear like basketball and baseball outfits. Over the years of going to flea markets and thrift stores, I have seen these little guys all over the place selling as low as .09 a figure! I have also seen them used at Game Swap in Kettering and in the cheap toy bin at Mavericks Cards and Comics. I must truly admit that I have zero connection to the Stone Protectors, and by 1993, the toys I was buying were the likes of Toy Biz X-Men, Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and was buy tons of comic books and was well into trying to impress girls in my own awkward monster kid kind of way. So how about you friends and readers, did you collect and play with Stone Protector action figures?

Stone Protectors toys 1Stone Protectors toys 2Stone Protectors toys 3

Like any good toy line, a cartoon was made to help and push them into the minds of the youth, and Stone Protectors tried to capture the viewers who were already watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Toxic Crusaders or even Swamp Thing but just like the toy line, it failed in its goal as only 13 episodes were made and not all of those 13 aired on TV. Each episode was 30 minutes long and was a syndicated toon that could be aired on the station who bought the package. The toon’s plot followed The Stone Protectors as they tried to protect the Mythrandir Kingdom and its princess Opal from the evil Zonk! The cartoon would also be released on VHS for home video watching, and I must say I have never watched an episode of this cartoon nor do I ever remember any of my friends talking about this show. So yeah, like the toys this cartoon was not a shining star in the time of my youth.

Stone Protectors Toon 1Stone Protectors Toon vhsStone Protectors Toon 2

SNES players were treated with a game based on Stone Protectors for their system of choice.  The Super Nintendo game came out in 1994 and is your standard beat’em up side scrolling game that has you trying to stop Zok from changing the fate of a world. The game was also planned for release for the Sega Genesis but was never released likely due to poor sales of the SNES version and the fact the Stone Protectors failed to capture the toy, comic and cartoon market. I for one have never played the Stone Protectors game and in fact never even remember seeing it on the shelf at the local video rental stores…man, it must have been hard to be the Stone Protectors game as all you wanted to do is entertain and instead all you really got to do is collect dust. Below are some screen shots of the SNES version of the game as well as its cover box.

Stone Protectors video game 1Stone Protectors video game SNESStone Protectors video game 2

Troll Dolls have always kind of been creepy, and they have the cold dead eyes just like the Hugga Bunch dolls.  When surfing the net, this picture popped up and acts as proof that these little naked, dead eyed, creepy smiling little dirt bags are up to no good! I saw this picture years back and laughed my butt off, as it was a clever way to show just how odd these little dolls really are in appearance. The look of terror in this woman’s eyes says it all as the Trolls have her tied up and for sure have wicked things on their plastic little brains. Not much is known on the fate of this woman and the Trolls in the picture are being seeked out for questioning by both the Cowboys of Moomasa and C.O.P.S, so if you have a gang of Trolls living in your house make sure that at night they are locked up as you don’t want to go missing like she did! But for real this picture is funny, and I had to add it in as I think you my readers might also get a laugh from it.

Hot Woman Slave of the Trolls

Before we move onto Harvey Comics 4 issues in the Stone Protectors series, I think I should deliver some nightmare fuel for you tonight, just by simply letting you know that out in this wonderful world we all share are some costumes that will chill your bones worse than any horror film and will forever scar your very soul as some company thought that the world needed full body Troll costumes! Imagine coming home late one night from work and your street is empty as you shut you car door you notice a shadow with hair that is wild and pulled straight up to the heavens and as you start to walk to your door you notice another and then another and as you fumble for your keys you feel something behind you only to come face to face with this costume….its dead eyes meet yours and for the first time in your life you feel total terror! Look below and feast your eyes on these terrifying costumes.

Trolls Costume 1Trolls Costume 2Trolls Costume 3

So there you have it, Troll Dolls can be fun and collectable as well as can be creepy and things of nightmares and mental torture! But we are now at the point in this Christmas Countdown update where we must take a look at the Harvey Comic series based on the Stone Protectors toy and cartoon line, and I want to thank both Game Swap in Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock. While you dye your hair and spike it just to get into the spirit of this update, I need to remind you that I grade these issues 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 your hair is ready, let’s go on an adventure with Cornelius and the rest of the Stone Protectors and see just what these guys are made of.

Stone Protectors 0

Stone Protectors  # 0  1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $0.00     Harvey Comics   # 0 of 3

On the planet Mythrandir an eruption causes havoc and frees the evil Zok and his henchman Zink to attack the Crystal Castle, and just in time Princess Opal is able to split the magic crystal into gemstones that come to earth and find a terrible rock band to become a powerful group of Trolls calling themselves now the Stone Protectors! While Princess Opal becomes the prisoner of Zok, the Stone Protectors get onto their tour bus called The Rolling Stone and are sucked into space where they arrive at the Crystal Kingdom and are attacked by a giant lava monster that traps them inside the bus ship and due to magic from Zok, they are frozen in place as his the monster. But the Stone Protectors are not going to be beat that easily.  They play some good old rock n roll music causing them to break free, save Princess Opal and escape. Zok is ticked off and wants the stones that are stuck in the bodies of these troll looking rock stars, as Princess Opal tells them that they are stuck with the gems and that they must be the champions of the Crystal Kingdom! In the end, The Stone Protectors are hyped that they are now not only a rock band but heroes.

This was hands down the worst comic I read this year, and I am not just saying comics I have read for Rotten Ink updates but over all, even ones I have read without writing about…in other words, this is terrible! The plot has a numbskull band being chosen by powerful gems from space to be their protectors and by choosing them, it also gives them powers and draws them into space where an evil goblin looking troll named Zok is taking over a kingdom that was once beautiful. They save the pretty princess and now are targeted and at war with Zok and his evil henchmen. The Stone Protectors are all the same, and none really have any personality besides they all talk like dumb surfer dudes and care about their hair. They fall ass backwards into saving the day and even with super powers thanks to the gems, they still come off as numbskulls. The Stone Protectors also look like Troll Dolls but dressed in over the top hip cloths, and they never reference the fact they look like trolls once the gems attach themselves. Princess Opal looks like a normal blonde who could have been lifted from She-Ra The Princess Of Power, but not nearly as cool. She also really has no personality besides the fact she cares about her kingdom and doesn’t like being called “Babe” as the annoying Stone Protectors call her almost the whole time the meet her. Zok and Zink are evil but not really shown how evil they are as all they really due is turn the castle ugly, and Zok creates a Lava Monster. One thing funny is that by the end, Zok all but flat out says that he will murder The Stone Protectors and rip the gems from their dead bodies…now that’s evil! The cover is not really good and not eye catching.  As for the interior art, it’s done by Bill Valley and looks as sloppy and amateurish as it comes! I have seen high school artists make better-looking comics. Over all this was a poor way to kick off a comic series and really is not making me looking forward to reading and writing about the rest of the issues in this short-lived comic series.

Stone Protectors 1

Stone Protectors  # 1  *
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 1 of 3

The Stone Protectors are attacking a Zok stronghold in the Kingdom, and the battle is pretty one sides until Zink shows up.  The bad guys are able to kidnap Maxx and force the other Stone Protectors to retreat, leaving their bandmate and friend behind. And worse, they soon find out that a spy is filling in the bad guys on plans of attacks, and it’s Haret, the teenage daughter of a top rebel warrior named Lantar.  She is helping the good side lose in this gem war. But soon Haret learns that Zok has been lying to her, and she takes Cornelius to rescue Maxx and the friends fight for their life to escape the bad guys’ base. Once free, Haret confesses to Princess Opal, and she is forgiven and goes on the rescue mission that allows them to save her dad Lantar and all make it back safely where The Stone Protectors have a rock concert to entertain the troops.

This issue is only slightly better than issue 0, and I must say that the downside to this series so far, besides the terrible art, is the fact The Stone Protectors are just bland typical party dudes who are not likable. The plot of this issue is super simple and has a spy leaking information to Zok that leads to the capture of two key fighters for the good guys. Once the spy figures out that she is wrong, she helps the good guys rescue the prisoners and all ends well. The Stone Protectors are as annoying as ever with Cornelius being the most annoying, always talking about how good looking he is and going on and on about his hair. The Stone Protectors are such a poor man’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and have no real individuality to make them cool or likable for this comic reader. Princess Opal, who also for some reason is called Empress Opal, takes a back seat for the most part and only shows that she cares once more for her people and kingdom and is willing to fight herself to try and win it all back. Zok and Zink are around but really offer not to much in the way of action and for the most part, the bad guys of the issues are just henchmen who are easily beat. The cover is better this time around and has Cornelius jumping into action with his swords…and wait a minute, Cornelius is the leader of the Stone Protectors and Leonardo is the leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and they both use swords…man, the Stone Protectors are true rip off artists. The art inside once more is done by Billy Valley and is as sloppy as before and not to my liking at all. Over all this is another poorly plotted and drawn issue that is something I think I just want to wrap up, so let’s move on to the next issue.

Stone Protectors 2

Stone Protectors #  2  *1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 2 of 3

The Stone Protectors are in the middle of battle once more with Zink and the evildoers, but during the fight Princess Opal is shot and is taken to safety were she is diagnosed to have a stage 5 coma, an injury that doctors say she will not recover from. Haret tells The Stone Protectors of a wise lizard man named Mystan who lives in a cave and might be able to help the Princess.  He tells them of a magic healing cloak on the dangerous planet of Turbulantia…and without a second thought The Stone Protectors head out on their quest to save the Princess. Our heroes crash land on the planet and are attacked by weird creatures that are wanting to fight just cause that’s all they know, and after the fight the Stone Protectors meet Giddy who tell them the cloak they seek is being worn by the planets evil king named Gollun who they track down beat up and take the cloak and bring not only Princess Opal back but also peace and beauty to the planet that was ruled by evil for thousands of years.

I am noticing something – this issue is slightly better than the last issue showing that the series, much like wine, was getting better with age. The plot of this issue is as simple as the issues that came before it and has Princess Opal in a coma and the Stone Protectors must take on an evil King to get his magic cloak in order to save their friend’s life. The Stone Protectors are less annoying in this issue and shockingly enough, act like heroes.  While they have cheesy things to say, it’s clear that when given a mission they focus and get it done. Princess Opal is a major part of the story even if 99% off the comic she is as stiff as a board and near death, while other heroes Lantar and his daughter Haret take backseats and only put in cameos. The series’ main bad guys Zok and Zink as well do very little in this issue besides the fact Zink is the one who shot Princess Opal and almost killed her. King Gollun is a pushover, and they take his cloak pretty easily and by doing so the evil King dies! That’s one thing I should point out: in this kids’ comic lots of henchmen and bad guys are killed most with grenades! The cover is pretty cool and reminds me of issue 7 of DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths that has Superman holding the body of Supergirl with tears in his eyes. The art once more is done by Bill Valley, and while still very sloppy, it’s a tad better than it was in the past issues. Over all, this is another bland issue, and with this one out of the way it makes me happy that I only have one more to go!

Stone Protectors 3

Stone Protectors  # 3  *
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50     Harvey Comics   # 3 of 3

The Stone Protectors and Princess Opal are in a battle are pushing back Zok’s men, and this makes the evil ruler very upset.  He sets a new plan into action that consists of kidnapping the daughter of Yatzir, a powerful spiritual man who can bring to life monsters to fight for the safety of his people, and forces him to join his evil side to defeat the Stone Protectors once and for all. But good always beats evil, and The Stone Protectors save Yatzir’s daughter.  The wizard turns his power on the evil Zonk and once more the good guys get a victory, as Zonk suffers another defeat.

The final issue is super basic and has a paper thin plot showing that this series was in trouble as it was clear they had nothing to really add to the adventures of The Stone Protectors. The plot is simple and bland and has Zonk kidnapping a wizard’s daughter making him join his side in the war for the Crystal Kingdom, but the Stone Protectors save her and the wizard is able to turn his powers now to fight on the side of good. The Stone Protectors are just around, and by this point, as a reader I was just bored with them as in a total of four issues they never did really get personalities that made them likable or even made me care about them. Princes Opal is brave but pretty much has zero personality too, besides she hates being called babe and as I have stated before will fight for her people. Zok and Zink are evil but offer no major threat and both seem like normal henchmen, not the major evildoers they are supposed to be. Yatzir and his daughter have magic powers but like all characters in this series, they have no personality making them feel like throw away characters. It’s clear as day that this comic series was not a priority for Harvey Comics as no time or effort was made to make this cartoon and toy tie-in series good. And like most toy tie in comic series, this has no clear ending and for all we know, this battle for the Crystal Kingdom and the Gem Stones is still going on to this day. The cover for this final issue is back to being really bad and looks sloppy and half assed. The art inside is done by Bill Valley again and looks the same as it was last issue, so bad. Over all if I was a youngster reading these comic adventures of the Stone Protectors, a toy line I was buying, I would be very disappointed and this would not have brought any new fans to the toys as the comics were just really poorly done. Over all, I am really glad to be done with this comic series and check out below for an art sample of this series done by Bill Valley, and keep in mind this is the better panel I could find.

Stone Protectors art 1

After reading these comics this cold December night, I can really go for some Christmas cookies and eggnog as well as a stack of Spider-Man comics to wash the taste of these poorly told adventures of The Stone Protectors. I am also really glad that as a youngster I didn’t have a connection of the cartoon and toys as I would be very angry about the way the characters were treated by Harvey Comics for this small run series. But for those who grew up loving The Stone Protectors, I would love to know what you thought after reading these comics, did you enjoy them? But it’s almost Christmas time and for our next update I want to chat about a comic adaptation based on the classic 1980 science fiction film Flash Gordon by Whitman. So until then, stay warm, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a adventure in space!

Flash Gordon Movie Logo 0

Motorcycle Riding Rodents From The Red Planet

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! If you grew up in the early 1990’s then I am sure you knew just how tight of a grip Teenage Mutant Ninja had on the youth, but then you also know how many knock offs flooded the toy and cartoon market the years that followed.  Who could forget Street Sharks, The Toxic Crusaders, Cowboys Of Moo Mesa, Creepy Crawlers, Extreme Dinosaurs, SWAT Kats and of course The Biker Mice From Mars! While all these had their own charm, they still were very much inspired by the Turtles’ popularity, and the one we will be focusing on today is Biker Mice From Mars. Growing up through the 80’s and 90’s I was around for the huge boom of popularity of the Turtles, and Biker Mice From Mars was the butt of many jokes between me and my friends who just laughed about the silly name and the idea of alien mice on bikes saving the day. I can remember that you were made fun of if you said you watched the cartoon, and no one I knew admitted that they had any of the toys as they were afraid of being mocked. While I never owned any of the toys, I did watch the cartoon and thought how wonderfully cheesy it was.  At the time I was the proud owner of pet mice so of course I was going to check out a cartoon about ones that rode motorcycles! So you could say I was living a double life as at home I watched the cartoon but at school I made fun of it as if it was garbage left in the bottom of a Burger King trash can. So I admit it now; at a young age I watched Biker Mice From Mars.  Now at age 35, I am going to do an update about them here at Rotten Ink so let’s jump on our bikes and have some adventure, shall we?

The Biker Mice From Mars

In 1993, Biker Mice From Mars was released by Saban Entertainment to the syndicated cartoon market and had many companies behind its creation that include Galoob Toys, Marvel Productions and Worldwide Sports & Entertainment. The series followed three anthropomorphic mice that came to Earth from Mars after their planet was stricken by a harsh war and their race was wiped out.  They are Throttle, Modo and Vinnie, and they love to ride motorcycles.  They crash land in Chicago where they meet garage owner and mechanic Charlene “Charley” Davidson. Each of the mice have serve injuries that they got on their home planet and each have a different personality and color of fur. Throttle has tan fur and is the leader.  He is noble and driven to save Earth as well as his fellow mice men.  His injury is his eyesight that was damaged in an accident. Vinnie has white fur and is a smooth talker.  He has a crush on Charlene and had one side of his face burned off in the accident and must wear a metal mask to hide and protect it. Modo has grey fur and is the team’s powerhouse and lost one of his arms that is replaced with a metal one. Their friend and ally is Charley Davidson, the owner and mechanic for a small garage in Chicago called Last Chance Garage.  She is tough as nails and pretty to boot. But things are not all well as they find that the owner of one of Chi-Towns biggest industries is a Plutarkian named Lawrence Limburger, the same fish-headed smelly race that ruined their planet and worse, he has allies with him like dumb as a box of rocks henchman Grease Pit, evil scientist Dr. Benjamin Boris Zachary Karbunkle and weirdo Fred The Mutant to name a few. Now on Earth, the Biker Mice must try and stop Limburger from trashing their new home. The series lasted for 3 seasons and a total of 65 episodes. In 2006, The Biker Mice From Mars made a small comeback and had new episodes made for one season with a total of 28 episodes. So one thing’s for sure, while they might have been the butt of jokes at school, they still had an impact on the world of cartoons.

Biker Mice 1Biker Mice 2 logoBiker Mice 3

In 1993 to go along with the cartoon Galoob started to make action figures to push Biker Mice From Mars toward becoming a name in children’s entertainment.  The figures stood a little taller then Ninja Turtles and came with all types of weapons as well as vehicles and playsets that could be bought separately. All the main characters were made into the toy line that lasted till 1994, but before the toys were canceled, many different variations of the biker mice themselves were made and released. Besides the action figures there were also bendable figures, 12” figures as well as Micro Machine versions of the bikes. Growing up, I didn’t know any kids that had any of these figures, nor did I, but to be honest by 1993 I was older and not really buying a lot of toys as girls were more on my mind than buying an action figure. Over the years, I have seen lots of Biker Mice figures at local thrift stores and flea markets showing that somebody bought them back in the day.

Biker Mice Toy 1Biker Mice Toy 2Biker Mice Toy 3

Like all good cartoons of the time, it was turned into a video game for the Super Nintendo, and for the re-launch a game was made for PS2 and Nintendo DS. But let’s focus on the SNES version as it’s the classic of the bunch and was released during the height of Biker Mice Mania. In 1994, Konami released a racing game based on Biker Mice From Marsfor the Super Nintendo that would allow the player to choose a character and race around different tracks. The game was over all praised for its game play and is somewhat of a cult classic in the world of SNES games. I can remember seeing the game for rent at K&L Video years later and never renting it.  Maybe I’ll see if Game Swap in Kettering has it in stock.

Biker Mice SNES 1Biker Mice From Mars SNESbiker mice snes 2

So we took a look at the cartoon, toys and video game attached to Biker Mice, and we even talked a little about the uncool factor it had from my former classmates so now I think it’s time we take a look at the Marvel Comic mini series based on it. I want to thank Half Price Books and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and allowing me to read them for the first time here on Rotten Ink. So before we hop on a chopper and go for a ride, I want to remind you that I grade these issues 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 hit the road and see what adventure we can have with The Biker Mice From Mars and Marvel Comics.

Biker Mice From Mars 1

Biker Mice From Mars # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993      Cover Price $1.50     Marvel Comics    #1 of 3

In space aboard a ship the biker mice Throttle, Modo and Vinnie are relaxing and even a little bored when they are attacked and shot down by evil, smelly, fish faced Plutarkians and crash land in Chicago during a baseball game. The Biker Mice mount their bikes and avoid security.  While leaving the ball field, Vinnie even stops a robbery of a hot dog dealer, and they ride off and notice how the place they are at now looks as run down as their home on Mars. Meanwhile in a big skyscraper Lawrence Limburger, the town’s bigwig business man, is talking to his henchman Grease Pit about his plans to drain Chicago of all its natural resources in a week.  He needs a location to complete his task, the Last Chance Garage, and sends Grease Pit there to rough up its female owner Charley Davidson. As she tries to fight off Grease Pit, the Biker Mice arrive and save the day by making a fool out of Limburger’s henchman and send a message that they are here to uphold justice.

This comic series clearly would have been a Star Comic if Marvel would have let the company stay open long enough. This mini series is clearly just based on the first couple of episodes in the Biker Mice cartoon series, and this first issue shows how they crash land on Earth and how they become friends with Charley and get on the radar of Limburger. The Biker Mice come off as noble rodents who love to ride and relax and most of all love to stand up for good and justice. Vinnie is the one who comes off more reckless and focused on fighting than the other two.  It’s clear he in is the Raphael as he follows his own set of rules and is the first to jump in a fight. Throttle and Modo don’t get to shine as brightly in this issue and very little of their personalities shine through.  All we really get is the basics. Charley Davidson comes off as an independent woman who is not afraid to stand up to those trying to bully her and take what she has worked hard for. Grease Pit is a muscle bound goon who is dimwitted and covered with motor oil and uses his muscles to try and push around those he views as weaker. Limburger is scum and is a big business man all the way as he doesn’t care about people or environment when a quick buck can be made.  Plus it shows he has no guts as he sends others to do his dirty work. So far despite giving some of the lamest lines in kids comics history, the Biker Mice are likable characters and ones that I think translate very well to comic books. The art in this issue is done by Rurik Tyler, and he does a great job of making it look like the cartoon.  The cover is also fantastic and very eye catching. So let’s move on to issue # 2 and see how this mini series plays out, shall we?

Biker Mice From Mars 2

Biker Mice From Mars # 2  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50    Marvel Comics    #2 of 3

Charley Davidson is confused and amazed by her new friends and rescuers The Biker Mice who explain that they are from Mars and that they are the last of their kind because a race called the Plutarkians raided and stole all their natural resources and wiped them out.  Charley tells them she thinks the same thing is happening there in Chicago.  Limburger is mad at Grease Pit for not getting the garage and is even more upset when he hears that he was stopped by the Biker Mice who he knows all too well as they were his prisoners sometime back.  So he gets the crazy mad scientist Dr. Karbunkle to build an ultimate mouse trap, and they set out to capture the Mice. Charley works on the mice’s bikes and even adds new weapons.  This leaves her open to be kidnapped by Grease Pit and placed on the twisted mouse trap as bait, but once more Grease Pit is outsmarted and The Biker Mice send him back to Limburger, save Charley, and destroy the mouse trap. In the end The Biker Mice are on the way to Limburger’s to take the fight to him as Karbunkle is bringing in an enforcer from another planet!

This second issue is used as a quick back story of Mars and all the bad stuff that happened that forced the Mice to live a life on the run.  It also shows that Limburger is already at his boiling point, and he wants those pesky rodents dead. I also like how it shows that Limburger has many oddballs working for him and each is as crazy as the next. Once more The Biker Mice come off as major good guys, and finally Throttle comes off as a leader and is clearly smart in his “war” tactics. Vinnie comes off a little more goofy in this one, always talking about how good looking he is and how his body looks.  He’s a little silly and makes you wish he would have stayed more like the brooding kick butt type. Limburger is as sleazy as ever and bullies his own men and wants to make short work of this planet so he can move on and pillage the next city. Grease Pit is as dumb as ever, and Karbunkle is super crazy and seem to be getting his kicks in torturing some strange little man who’s getting off on the abuse…it’s kind of creepy. At one point they ask Charley if she wanted to be rescued by Turtles, showing that they were aware that many kids compared the two. This second issue is pretty entertaining, and I found it to be on par with issue # 1 making this a good read for fans of the cartoon and characters. The artwork is done by two artists this time with Rurik Tyler returning and Gary Fields helping out.  Tyler’s work is better, and you can tell when Fields is working the pencil. The cover on this one is kick butt and eye catching, and I am it was appealing to kids who spotted it on the newsstand. Well let’s get to the third and final issue in this Marvel series based on a cartoon.

Biker Mice From Mars 3

Biker Mice From Mars # 3  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.50    Marvel Comics    #3 of 3

The Biker Mice are on the way to Limburger’s building and are greeted by armed guards and must fight their way to the top where they come face to face with Grease Pit and Limburger who cower to the Biker Mice. But when Limburger calls on Dr. Karbunkle who is the man responsible for the injuries to the Mice, they are filled with rage and are ready for a fight.  Instead they’re greeted by a killer robot called X-Terminator who knocks them out the window.  A chase on Motorcycles ensues that leaves Throttle knocking The X-Terminator into boiling metal and the Biker Mice win a big victory. In the end they meet up at the baseball field and decide that their base will be inside the scoreboard and out of the radar reach of Limburger and his goons.

This third and final issue is good but it’s clear that everyone who worked on it knew that this was the final issue.  Many pages are large art splashes with little to no dialogue.  That said, I still found it to be a very fun and silly good read. The story is that The Biker Mice get to the location of Limburger and come face to face with the evil doctor who has scarred them for life.  They tangle with a robot man who is programmed to kill them and in the end destroy their robotic stalker and find a new place to live at the baseball field. The part of the story I really liked is that Dr. Karbunkle is the one who did some horrible things to The Mice while they were prisoners and he gets joy when he sees his dirty work up close again – sick serial killer kind of stuff. This time around The Biker Mice are more fleshed out as we see Throttle really show leadership skills.  Vinnie is still ego driven but ready to kick some fish men butt, and Modo is a powerhouse who beats up anything that gets in his way. While Grease Pit takes a backseat in this final issue, Dr. Karbunkle moves to the front and shows he is a man with plans and cruel ideas. While X-Terminator has the weapons to kill the Biker Mice, he seems more into delivering one-liners taken straight from Terminator 2 then killing them off, not to mention he goes down like a chump at the hands of Throttle. Limburger, while loud-mouthed and very mean, sure is a coward when having to come face to face with the Mice. The comic was a nice treat for fans of the cartoon, and I can’t help but feel that if Star was open when this was released, the series would have lasted a little longer than three issues.  Much like Camp Candy, I feel Marvel just put little to no care into making this series work while the people working on the comics put time and care into making a quality kids comic for readers. The art for the final issue was Rurik Tyler and like the others, the cover is fantastic. To sum it up, if you enjoyed the cartoon when this was released, I am sure you had a great time collecting and reading these issues, but TMNT super fans might find the series to be a rip off of their favorite heroes in a half shell. Check out the artwork below to see how good it looks compared to the style of the cartoon.

Biker Mice Art 1

So The Biker Mice have just rode off on the forgotten highway into a sunset as our time with them has come to an end.  I will say that the comic series was pretty good and was a nice way to help promote them at comic stores and on newsstands. Our next update is a subject very special to me as well as I am sure many horror host fans from the Dayton, Ohio area and beyond/.  I will be taking a look at the one and only Dr. Creep in a new Horror Host Icon update! So until then, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a classic cartoon or two and as always support your local horror host.  See ya next update for a Shocking good time…

Dr. Creep Horror Host Icon Logo

Let’s Go Ghostbusters…Let’s Go!!!

Who you gonna call…Rotten Ink! Okay maybe not, but if you’re a kid of the 80’s you shouted Ghostbusters or maybe even He-Man like the kids at the birthday party did in the film Ghostbusters II! One thing is for sure, Ghostbusters was super popular with kids and adults and became a cult classic that spawned a movie sequel as well as a number of video games, toys, comics and cartoons. But did you know that the Ghostbusters that we all knew and loved might have been the “Real” ones, but they were not the original ones as Filmation made a live action TV Show called Ghost Busters in 1975 that would spin off into a cartoon series in 1986, the same time that the 1984 comedy hit Ghostbusters debuted its spin off cartoon The Real Ghostbusters.  This was a confusing mess for young kids who were fans of Ghostbusters as the cartoon and toys would come out at the same time, and I am sure the mix up of the figures ruined many Christmases. Do you kids of the 80’s remember just how big of a cartoon company Filmation was? I mean they made the likes of “He-Man Masters Of The Universe”, “Bravestarr”, “New Adventures of The Lone Ranger” and “Aquaman” to name a very few! I wonder if friends like Josh Weinberg, Todd The Fox, Garrison Kane and Stephen Alexander would ever be interested in having a Saturday Morning get together where we watch classic cartoons we all grew up with and eat bowls of cereal..hmmmm…if this ever happens I will for sure blog about it. So while we all are winding down from July 4th and all those wonderful fireworks as well as trying to stay cool from the summer time heat, I think it’s time to chill out and take a look at The Ghostbusters!

Masters of the Universe Season 1filmation logoTrix Cereal

In 1975, Filmation made a live action kids show called “The Ghost Busters” that reunited F-Troop actors Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker as Kong and Spencer, two goofy detectives who research paranormal occurrence along with their pal, a trained gorilla named Tracy. They ran business from a rundown office that had a payphone, and they would get their missions via tape recorder left in the general store by a mysterious man named Zero. They would use a Ghost De-Materializer on the monster or ghost they were busting and Kong would scream ZAP as he sent the ghoul away. The ghosts included Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Red Baron, Billy The Kid and The Canterville Ghost, and our heroes would end up defeating them in a very slapstick manner. The series only lasted one season and ran for a total of 15 episodes. The show would later come out on VHS and DVD, but those are now out of print and the DVD complete season set sells for over $200.00!! Growing up as far as I can remember I never saw an episode as I was born in 1979 long after The Ghost Busters had been sent out to pasture. I can remember seeing the VHS tapes at Hearts but never had an interest in asking my Mom to get them for me, and thats odd as I loved monsters and ghosts and this would have been right up my alley! Truth be told, even to this day I have not seen an episode of The Ghost Busters, and I hope to change that sometime soon as I would love to get the DVD set. I should also note that Bob Burns, legendary cult film collector, was the man in the monkey suit as he played Tracy. After the series ended and in the 80’s when Colombia Pictures began working on a comedy film called Ghostbusters, they paid Filmation royalties to use the name showing that this off beat kids show is truly the original Ghost Busters!

Filmation Ghostbusters VHS vol 3filmation ghostbusters live cast 1filmation ghostbusters live cast 2

In 1986 Filmation made a cartoon sequel to their 1975 failed live action kids show and it was clear that this show only was made to cash in on the huge popularity of the 1984 Ivan Reitman film and the cartoon series it spawned as well in 1986. Filmation also made this series out of revenge as they pitched the idea of turning the 84 film into a weekly toon series and Columbia wanted nothing to do with them and went to their rival DIC to make The Real Ghostbusters! Filmation’s cartoon followed the sons of Spencer and Kong who were named Jake Kong Jr. and Eddie Spencer Jr. who along with Tracy the Gorilla go up against Prime Evil, an evil wizard who had unleashed and united evil sprits from around the world and has kidnapped their fathers! The sons have inherited the ghostbusting business and must learn how to capture ghosts and find a way to free their fathers. The series was not a hit, and while a total of 65 episodes were made, it failed to capture the kids and proved not to be a rating winner for stations that aired it. I only slightly remember it being on and like 99% off the kids of the time, I was too busy watching The Real Ghostbusters and many other cartoons and just thought that this series was cheap spin off. In fact I think the first time I ever saw an episode of this cartoon was at my Dad’s friend Paul’s house when I watched it with his son Will.  I can remember him having a few of the figures, and I was shocked to see that someone owned one. I will get into the toys and my first impressions of them a little later. The cartoon has come out in two volume DVD sets thanks to BCI that make up the whole series and select episodes made it to VHS back in the day. I must say that as a kid I might not have watched it but I did find myself as an adult really enjoying it, and me and my girlfriend Juliet go around singing the show’s theme song.  If you have not heard it, look it up on Youtube and be prepared for it to be stuck in your head. While this cartoon might not be as iconic as The Real Ghostbusters, it still holds an amazing charm and made its mark on the world of toons.

Filmation Ghostbusters DVD vol 1Filmation Ghostbusters castFilmation Ghostbusters DVD vol 2

Schaper Toys, the company who made such classic games as Ants In The Pants, Cootie and Don’t Break The Ice, was the company who also made the action figures for Filmation’s Ghostbusters, and I must say they did an outstanding job on the figures designs. A total of 13 figures were made and each came with different accessories and a mini comic book.  There were also some vehicles showing that Schaper believed in this cartoon series and was hoping that they as well would hit gold with the action figures. Growing up, I only have some small memories of fellow classmates having any of these figures and I didn’t have any until I was much older. While the toyline much like the cartoon was not a super smash hot success they still had an impact of those kids who collected them. I almost wish I would have bought them as I could have had some fun toy cross over adventures with the Real Ghostbusters that could have been one of the most epic spooky toy war adventures for all the ages.

Tracy the Gorilla toyPrime Evil toyFangster toy

I first saw Filmation’s Ghostbusters figures at Cub Foods, a grocery store that was located in Sugarcreek, Ohio that had not only a wicked breakfast cereal aisle but also a tiny cool toy section that had lots of Hot Wheels, Barbies and Masters Of The Universe and yes those Ghostbusters. At the time, my dad worked for the Cub Foods that was by the Dayton Mall, but we lived in Waynesville and we would travel to the Sugarcreek one from time to time to go shopping. Most of the time my brother and I would walk around the store and check out the cereal and chat about comics, movies, cartoons and TV shows and then head toward the tiny toy aisle and see what He-Man figures they had in stock. Well on this grocery adventure what greeted my eyes was figures that said Ghostbusters and the one I saw was not Peter Venkman nor even Dracula but that of a Gorilla named Tracy as well as other characters that I had never seen on the cartoon “The Real Ghostbusters” and I wondered who were these generic characters! Then my brother and I remembered that there was another cartoon that was made that at the time all kids believed was a rip off of the Real Ghostbusters, and then I started to kind of want them as I imagined them being a part of my Ghostbusters adventures and all the Filmation ghosts would have made great additions for Ray, Egon, Peter and Winston to bust. We also were interested because they came with a mini comic and we both loved the mini comics that came with He-Man, Super Powers and M.A.S.K. to name a few. So I went to my mom and dad and asked for one of the figures that if I remember right was Prime Evil, and they told me no.  In my youth I never did get a Filmation Ghostbusters figure; it was not until my late 20’s when I ended up picking one up from the flea market for $1.00 and that figure was Tracy The Gorilla. Sadly that Cub Foods as well as all the others in the area went out of business and while I was not as attached to them as I was Big Bear/Hearts, I still hated to see it close. So this update as well is not only for Filmations Ghostbusters but also all those who worked for Cub Foods over the years.

Cub Foods Logo

So are you ready to bust some ghosts with your specter snare and ghost gun? I know I am, but first I must thank Bell, Book and Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock as well as remind you that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So let’s keep repeating to ourselves “I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts” and let’s get ready to go on a ghost hunting adventure with Tracy The Gorilla and see what First Comics had to offer to help push Filmations busters.

Filmation Ghostbusters 1

Filmation’s  Ghostbusters # 1  **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $1.25    First Comics   # 1 of 4

It’s Halloween time and Jake, Tracy and Eddie are having a party at the office and invite Belfry, Futura and Jessica Wray to celebrate this spooky holiday. Meanwhile in the past, Prime Evil and Mysteria decide to call upon all the ghosts and attack the castle of King Fred! The kingdom’s wizard Morton comes up with the idea of calling in The Ghostbusters from the future to help them chase off Prime Evil and allow the kingdom to have their Hallow’s Eve Feast by the fire! They show up and make short work of Mysteria as they bust her and make their way to the castle where they figure out that if they can crack a code from an old spell book, it will clear out all ghosts and ghouls within 20 miles of the castle and will send Prime Evil and his goons away. Prime Evil sends Sir Trance-A-Lot to stop the Ghostbusters, but with the help of the Princess they distract him and bust him as well.  Morton and Jessica crack the code and send Prime Evil packing! In the end, the feast happens and The Ghostbusters are the guests of honor.

This is a really fun kids comic based on a cartoon that adds puzzles and other activities to entertain the readers. The story is very simple and has Prime Evil showing up in the past to collect ghosts and spirits and the kingdom he has invaded calls in the help of The Ghostbusters from the future.  Together, they chase off the evil and have a good time on Halloween. Jake and Tracy seem pretty together and by all account rush in to help save the day.  They are the ones who bust Ghosts and come up with the plans to set them up to take them down. Eddie is a chubby coward who spent more time figuring out what costume to wear for the office party and wanting to turn back than figuring out a way to run off Prime Evil! Belfry is a tiny little pink bat who has a good heart but is a goof ball much like Snarf in Thundercats. Jessica Wray is a good looking reporter who goes on cases with the guys from time to time and is smart and clearly has a crush on Jake. Futura is a stunning blue skinned woman from the future who also helps and joins the guys on busting ghosts. Morton The Wizard along with King Fred and the Princesses are nice touches to the story and add the drama of people being scared of the unknown who must fight the fear in order to save what they love. Prime Evil, much like all bad guys of 80’s cartoons, has the power to stop his enemies but always puts it into the hands of his henchmen who screw it all up! Speaking of his henchmen I should also give you a run down of the ones who appear in this issue like Sir Trance-A-Lot who is a skeleton knight and Mysteria who is a raven-haired mist spirit that looks like Lilly Munster, Morticia Adams and Vampira got mixed in a blender. Fans of the cartoon I am sure would enjoy this simple first issue, but fans of The Real Ghostbusters would use its simple nature against it to show that it was too childish. I also found it a nice touch that Morton knew Jake and Eddie’s dads as they helped many moons ago to bring down a dragon that was tormenting the kingdom. The artwork done by Howard Bender is fantastic and looks as if you are reading the cartoon, and is some topnotch work for a comic based on a cartoon at the time. I can’t wait to see what issue # 2 holds as I found this one a very entertaining read and a nice way to start off the series. The cover is very eye catching and is just flashy enough to catch the attention of fans of the cartoon as well as those who were not.

Filmation Ghostbusters 2

Filmation’s  Ghostbusters  # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $1.25     First Comics    # 2 of 4

Jake, Eddie, Tracy and Belfry get a call to go to the museum by Dr. Brown who has seen Prime Evil along with Scared Stiff, a robot skeleton who falls to pieces easily and can build things, as well as green skin sorceress Apparitia who are using a machine to bring dinosaurs back to life! As The Ghostbusters travel to the museum, Prime Evil brings three dinosaurs back to life that are T-Rex, Brontosaurus and Pterodactyl, and they are all running amuck.  As The Ghostbusters arrive, Tracy and Belfry set up and capture Apparitia as the whole group brings down the Pterodactyl. They trap the Brontosaurus in the lunch room as he is friendly, and they trick the T-Rex with a giant balloon and a machine Tracy made that turns the giant beast into a pile of coal! In the end the museum is happy for the help but a little annoyed with the loss of the T-Rex bones!

This second issue also holds the charm of the cartoon and has even a more simple plot as Prime Evil brings back dinosaurs and The Ghostbusters come to the rescue and save the day by running off Prime Evil and his goons and stopping the dino rampage. In this issue, Tracy the gorilla is the true smart one as he invents the machine to stop the T-Rex as well as comes up with most the plans that work to capture and stop the bad guys. Belfry makes himself useful and helps the gang capture both the Pterodactyl and Apparitia showing that the goofball characters can be heroes. Jake, while clearly the leader of the group, has some ideas and shows he’s brave as he shows no fear in tricking the man eating T-Rex. Eddie is as goofy as ever and even causes accidents by being a bumbling fool, and as always has the spine of a jello mold left out in the summer sun. Prime Evil once more has a good idea and leaves its success into the hands of his minions who amount to a shaking bucket of bolts known as Scared Stiff and a sexy evil sorceress named Apparitia, both of whom try but fail. Speaking of Apparitia I would love to see cosplayers like Ivy Doomkitty or Nicole Marie Jean dress as this character! Kids at the time who like dinosaurs and monsters I am sure got a kick out of this issue and I will say it was a great issue to build up readers. The art is once more done by Howard Bender and is fantastic and makes me ready to read issue # 3 so let’s waste no more time. And oh yeah the cover on this issue is ok and while not as cool as the first issue’s, it does capture the mood of the story.

Filmation Ghostbusters 3

Filmation’s  Ghostbusters  # 3   **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $1.25    First Comics    # 3 of 4

The Ghostbusters are gearing up for Christmas when they get a call from a family that is having a ghost run amuck in their home throwing around all the presents and smashing the Christmas tree.  As they are leaving, they get a call from a department store who is having a ghost issue in the bike department! Two Christmas ghosts running wild miles apart in places that are over 100 years old and really close to each other. At the family’s home, the sounds of crying can be heard, and at the store the ghost is really mad about bikes.  The Ghostbusters must figure out a way to help both as the holiday is being ruined for many. So Jake, Tracy and Eddie travel 100 years into the past and find out that the ghost in the house and store are connected as the house one is a grieving mother whose son went missing and never returned, and the store ghost is the missing kid who got lost and was locked in the store over night and died from not wanting to talk to strangers. The Ghostbusters save the kid and bring him home and travel back to the future and find that they have solved the issue and have a good home cooked dinner with the family.

The first issue was a Halloween Special, now this third issue is a Christmas one that has the storyline of a family’s past holding the secrets of haunts that are happing in present day and The Ghostbusters must go back in time to set things right and save a child’s life! This issue has no Prime Evil or any of his goons causing the issue and in fact no ghosts are seen at all making for a pretty tame yet entertaining issue. Tracy and Jake seem to be annoyed with each other at the start of the issue but soon work together in order to save Christmas. Eddie this time around is the more focused one and is really in the spirit of the holiday. James is the kid who haunts the store and it makes me wonder how he died in the store after only being locked in it for a night? Then it makes you wonder how dumb is he if death is a better option then asking a store clerk for help! This issue is very cheesy, and the only thing that could have set it over the top and made it a full fledged hunk of limburger is if Prime Evil at the end would have been having Christmas Dinner with them all! The art once more was done by Howard Bender and is fantastic as the others before have been. The cover for this issue is okay, and while it has Christmas themes to it, they should have gone a little more crazy with it. Over all another solid issue and shows that First Comics put time and care into this series, and I can’t wait to read the 4th and final issue to see if it keeps the charm all the way till the end.

Filmation Ghostbusters 4

Filmation’s  Ghostbusters  # 4  **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $1.25    First Comics    # 4 of 4

It’s dinnertime, and Eddie is making something special as Tracy is making banana soup and Jake and Belfry are ready to eat when they watch a TV Report done by Jessica Wray in the everglades swamp in Florida where local Melvin Loner has seen ghosts in the swamps as well as the alligators dancing to haunting music. The Ghostbusters drop what they are doing and head to Florida.  In the swamps Prime Evil along with Scared Stiff and Float-Zart, a ghost maestro, who all have a plan to take over the swamp and make it their new home base. The Ghostbusters arrive and Melvin acts as their guide.  They are able to bust Float-Zart as he tries to keep them away from Prime Evil, but all things don’t end well for Prime Evil as the experiment Scared Stiff was working on explodes and blows up their base! In the end the swamp is safe, and our heroes return home to a long over due dinner.

This final issue shows that First Comics really knew how to handle this cartoon property and made a good mini series that sadly ended only after 4 issues when 6 was planned. This issue’s story has The Ghostbusters heading to the everglades to stop Prime Evil and his goons and barely have to put anytime in busting as they go down easy, and they once more leave the scene of the haunt as champions of good. Jake, Eddie and Tracy work great as The Ghostbusters and all of them are likable with Tracy being my favorite because who in the world wouldn’t like a hat wearing gorilla who busts ghosts! I also really liked all the side characters as Belfry was not nearly as annoying as he could have been, Jessica Wray is a nice normal straight laced character who helps report the truth of hauntings and Futura is interesting and a time traveler who enjoys busting ghosts in her spare time. The best part of all these sidekick characters is that they are not over used, making each time they appear something special. Prime Evil, while powerful and even frightful, seems to be kind of lazy in his haunting as he always passes off the hard work to his goons who clearly cannot get the job done as they all are beat easily. The one letdown is that the future werewolf ghost Fangster does not appear as I would have liked to have seen him in action and fail. The Ghostbusters is a kid comic series that I could say gave most of Star Comics a run for their money and showed that all the people involved cared about making quality stories with good art and fun puzzles.  I am wondering if First Comics had to pull the plug on the series due to the cartoon and toyline failing or if sales on this issue were too poor to continue. The cover of this final issue also is well done but kind of looks like the 1st issue’s making for an eye catching and fun cover that has a touch of something familiar. The art for the whole series was done by Howard Bender, and he did fantastic work.  I would have loved to have seen him work for Star and on comics based on the likes of My Pet Monster, Go-Bots or Commander USA if he ever got his chance at kid comic greatness. This is a mini series that shocked me as I feel it was way better than I ever could have imagined and lived up to the toon it was based on making a nice addition to fans who watched, and I would say that this is a series worth reading for sure. Below is some artwork from these issues, and you can see how Bender’s art looks just like the cartoon!

Filmation Ghostbusters Art 1

So while these Ghostbusters might not be as popular or as beloved as The Real ones, they still made an impact in the world of cartoons, toys and comics for those who followed their busting adventures! I should also note that the amazing voice actor Peter Cullen did the voice of Eddie Spencer Jr. in the cartoon, and for those who live under a stack of old 90’s comic books, Cullen is best known for voicing Optimus Prime in Transformers.  Speaking of a robot, our next update will be all about The Terminator in honor of the 5th film in the series coming out this summer! So until then, read a comic or three, support your local horror host and don’t be afraid of no ghosts! See you all next time.

The Terminator logo

The Strong Arm Of The Law Of Marshall Bravestarr

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place were we can talk about classic toys, cartoons, movies, horror hosts, video games and so much more.  For this update we are going to travel to space and meet a cowboy who is the law on the planet New Texas that goes by the name Marshall Bravestarr! That’s right, a planet called New Texas is where we will be traveling for this update, but I should warn you that while we are traveling on the BlackThorne Comic Express we will need some 3-D glasses for this adventure. Thinking about it, is New Texas on the Planet Texas that Kenny Rogers sang about in his super cheesy song called “Planet Texas”? Just ponder that for a while.  So I hope you’re ready for a Texas size good time! I must also say that growing up I was not a super fan of Bravestarr, but did watch the cartoon from time to time so this will be nice to go back and try to reconnect with a character I have not thought about in years. Oh yeah, and on the last picture below does it look like maybe Bravestarr ate the wrong kind of mushroom or he just witnessed something very, very bad that marked his very soul?

Bravestarr sprit animalsBravestarr open logoBravestarr 0

So before we move onto Bravestarr, I finally must touch up on WWE 2K15 for the PS3, and wow, I must say 2K Sports who took over the IP when THQ went sadly out of business REALLY dropped the ball this first year of them being solely in charge of the wrestling game. The roster is the weakest it’s been in years and the lack of push and updates to their website show just how little they care about the fans of this game series. The fact the major WWE Summer Slam roster reveal panel was incomplete and left out many of the superstars in the game just shows you how lazy 2K is about doing anything with this. I mean when they crammed out NBA 2K15, they really pushed it! This year the major focus of the game is legendary feuds in WWE History like such “major” beefs like Triple H vs. Shawn “HBK” Michaels, Christian vs. Randy Orton and who can forget John Cena vs. CM Punk…..yeah no Hogan vs. Piper or Austin vs. Bret Hart, this feature is super lame on most accounts. Some of these feuds come as DLC as well; they are making you pay to play Orton vs. Christian as well as get a terrible storyline pack for Mark Henry that only adds The Great Kahli to your roster besides some arena and outfits! The only really awesome feud pack that will be released is one that follows the career of The Ultimate Warrior that adds many great legends to roster like Hulk Hogan, Macho King Randy Savage, Sargent Slaughter, Honkey Tonk Man, Ravishing Rick Rude and Andre The Giant. They also will have a WCW roster pack that will add Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, Bam Bam Bigelow, Fit Finley and William Regal that will be a pretty good addition. They also have a story pack based around the rookies of NXT that helps bring the next generation into this generation and legends.

WWE 2K15 Hulk HoganWWE 2K15 HBKWWE 2K15 Goldust

But while 2K tries to make the theme of this year the terrible feuds, for me and others this game belongs to Sting! That’s right the icon of WCW, Sting, is in the game and not only do we get the Crow version but we also get the late 80’s/early 90’s blonde hair one as well! Who would have thought that in 2K15 fans would be treated to Sting in all his video game glory allowing you to have him wrestle the likes of The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels and rematch with Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin. Not to mention many other faces of his past are present like Ravishing Rick Rude who he had a great set of matches with in WCW, his friend and some times enemy Lex Luger and not to mention his old tag team partner The Ultimate Warrior.

WWE 2K15 StingWWE 2K15 PS3WWE 2K15 Sting (Crow)

So let’s take a look at 5 wrestlers that had great matches with Sting in WCW that should have been included in this game instead of being snubbed and left out in the cold.

Big Van Vader

Big Van Vader

One of the best big men in the business, Big Van Vader should have been in the game and could have had great matches not only with Sting but many others on 2K’s roster. Starting his career in 1985 in AWA under the name of Baby Bull and later changed to Bull Power, he took the scene by storm with his large size and powerful moves. In 1987 he went to New Japan Pro Wrestling and changed his name to Big Van Vader and dominated the competition becoming one of the biggest stars the company has ever had. He had great matches and feuds with the likes of Stan Hansen, El Canek, The Great Muta and Antonio Inoki and was feared by the Japanese audience. During this time New Japan was trading talent with WCW and would have Vader come in for pay per views and take on the likes of Tom Zenk and Stan Hansen, but by 1992 Big Van Vader had left New Japan and took full time work in WCW where he was managed by Harley Race and was the company’s new major heel! Vader dominated once more the competition with matches against the likes of Cactus Jack, Nikita Koloff, Dustin Rhodes, Britsih Bulldog Davey Boy Smith and Sting, and with Sting he defeated and became the World Champion. As years passed and new talent came in, Vader found himself still a draw but taking a back seat to the likes of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage who had jumped ship from WWF to WCW. By 1995 and before the first WCW Monday Night Nitro Vader had left the company. In 1996 he returned very briefly to New Japan Pro Wrestling to finish his feud with Antonio Inoki. WWF came calling in 1996 as well, and Vader made his in ring debut for them at the Royal Rumble.  Very soon after coming in he was managed by Jim Cornette and it looked like he would be pushed once more as a monster heel, but sadly this never was as he seemed to be lost in the shuffle thanks to the likes of Shawn Michaels and Diesel. But during this run he did have some great matches with The Undertaker, Yokozuna, The Patriot and Kane. Vader left WWF in 1998 and went on to wrestle for All Japan Pro Wrestling as well as other independent federations, and still makes appearances from time to time in WWF (WWE).

Key Match Against Sting: WCW Slamboree 94

Barry Windham

Barry Windham

Bad Boy Barry Windham is the son of legendary tag team wrestler BlackJack Mulligan and is a super talented and hard worker who was also a member of The Four Horsemen in NWA/WCW. Barry began is career in 1980 and worked for many NWA territories including Florida Championship Wrestling. He feuded with Kevin Sullivan and later went on to capture tag team gold alongside Mike Rotunda. By 1984, WWF came calling and Barry and Mike went to New York and became the tag team known as U.S. Express and had a short year run winning tag gold and losing it to teams like Iran Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff and The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg “The Hammer” Valentine), making the U.S. Express run out of gas by 1985. In 1986 Barry, as a singles wrestler, returned to NWA and took on the likes of Ric Flair and even formed a tag team with Ron Garvin as they had a good feud with The Midnight Express. Around this time Barry became allies with Lex Luger who would later turn on him and join Ric Flair’s stable known as The Four Horsemen. Barry floated around for a while having matches with Dr. Death Steve Williams, Black Bart and Rick Steiner. In 1988, Barry and Luger, who had left the Horsemen, had patched things up and took the tag titles away from Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard who were members of the Four Horsemen, but when defending them Barry turned on Luger and became the newest member of the Horsemen that consisted of Flair, Anderson, Blanchard and Windham. During this heel run, Barry would become NWA United States Champion and take on many top names in the wrestling world like Sting, Dusty Rhodes, Brad Armstrong and Bam Bam Bigelow.  He would later lose the title to Lex Luger, and in 1989 he left the NWA. Once more he went to WWF and took the name The Widowmaker and played an evil tough cowboy character who went undefeated for over 4 months, but this was very short lived and he once more left the company as quickly as he entered. In 1990 he returned to NWA now WCW and rejoined the Four Horsemen and even helped his fellow member Sid Vicious win the world title from Sting, as Windham dressed as Sting and allowed Sid to pin him! This run in WCW would see him turn from face to heel and make allies and enimies out of the likes of Dustin Rhodes, Brian Pillman, Stunning Steve Austin, Ricky Steamboat and The Great Muta, as well during this time he would win many titles and become a solid worker for the company. But once more he left the pastures of WCW and went back to WWE in 1996 to become a character called The Stalker a crazy outdoors hunter type who was a babyface.  Thank God that in 1997 they changed his character and teamed him up with Justin Hawk Bradshaw to become The New Blackjacks, but this as well didn’t last long as they had Windham turn on Bradshaw and join a faction of wrestlers who were pro NWA. And once more as quick as it started Windham left WWF and went back to WCW to be part of a team called The West Texas Rednecks alongside the likes of Curt Henning, Bobby Duncum Jr. and his younger brother Kendall Windham, and they all were a bunch of good old boys who hated rap music. Barry and Kendall would team up and become Tag Champions before they both were fired in 1999. Barry after this release would go on to wrestle for many small independents around the world where he still was able to make an impact. While all the Four Horsemen should be in this game, we do already have Ric Flair so it would have been nice to see the likes of Barry Windham to have feuds in 2K15 with Sting and even guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Rob Van Damn.

Key Match Against Sting: WCW Clash of The Champions # 22 – Barry Windham, Vader, Paul Orndorff vs. Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Cactus Jack.

British Bulldog

British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith

It’s a crime that Davey Boy is not in this game and more so that he is not in the WWE Hall Of Fame! Davey Boy began pro wrestling in 1982 in Stampede Wrestling and had a series of matches against his cousin, the Dynamite Kid. He later went to New Japan Pro Wrestling and had tournament style matches against Dynamite Kid and The Cobra, and after this he and Dynamite formed a tag team they called The British Bulldogs and shocked the world when they jumped to All Japan Pro Wrestling. But during this time they also caught the eye of WWF who signed them as a team to a contract in 1985 where they came in as a baby face power house team who had many great matches with teams like The Hart Foundation, The Dream Team, The Islanders, Rougeau Brothers and Demolition and won tag gold and became one of the biggest tag teams for WWF. But by 1988 they were released from their contracts due in part to Dynamite Kid’s reputation of being a bully backstage. In 1989 they returned to Stampede Wrestling and stuck around for a year, but issues between the cousins arose and Dynamite went to All Japan while Davey Boy went back to the WWF as a solo wrestler in 1990. Davey Boy returned and became a popular star having matches with the likes of The Warlord, Mr. Perfect Curt Henning, The Mountie among others. During this run at SummerSlam 1992, he defeated Bret “Hitman” Hart for the Intercontinental Title and became even bigger of a draw and a star! Davey Boy lost the belt to Shawn Michaels on Monday Night Raw and a little later on he and the Ultimate Warrior were released from WWF for using growth hormones. By 1993 Davey Boy signed to wrestle for WCW where he paired with Sting to feud with Big Van Vader and Sid Vicious, but once more trouble appeared and Davey Boy was fired from WCW over a brawl he had with a fan at a bar over his wife. Davey Boy floated around small independents in England for awhile before coming back to WWF in 1994 where he joined in the family feud between brothers Bret and Owen as he is in fact their real life brother in-law! After that died down, he formed a tag team with Lex Luger called The Allied Powers, but this didn’t last long as Davey Boy turned heel and joined Jim Cornette’s stable of wrestlers that included Owen Hart and Yokozuna. During this time Smith would have matches for Tag Titles as well as The World Title and even became the first ever WWF European Champion! Davey Boy would later join Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman to form The New Hart Foundation.  Davey Boy left WWF alongside Bret and Jim when at Survivor Series 1997 Vince McMahon screwed over Bret Hart during the world title match against Shawn Michaels by pulling real life underhanded dealings. Davey Boy joined Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart in WCW in 1998 where he floated around the midcard tag team division until he seriously hurt his back in the ring and was served his pink slip via FedEx while in the hospital. In 1999 Davey Boy returned to WWF with a new attitude and look as he simply wore blue jeans and boots and won the Hardcore title from Big Bossman.  He later turned heel and set his sights on the world title and had a few title matches against The Rock who was the champ, but Davey Boy never could get the gold away from the peoples champ. Davey Boy was pushed down the card and had matches against the likes of Crash Holly and Val Venis. Davey was let go in 2000 for having an addiction to pain pills among other drugs and sadly passed away in 2002. Besides teaming with Sting in 2K15, I would also love to have him in matches against the likes of Ryback, Mark Henry and Rusev.

Key Match Teaming With Sting: Beach Blast 1993 – Sting & Davey Boy vs. Big Van Vader & Sid Vicious

Black Scorpion

The  Black Scorpion

Okay I know what you’re all thinking, how could I pick such a cheesy wrestling gimmick as The Black Scorpion as my pick for being snubbed from the game, as others would say he wasn’t he just Ric Flair in a mask? And the answer is yes to both! While The Black Scorpion was discovered to be Ric Flair, many wrestlers played the part, and Ole Anderson who came up with the storyline said it was not supposed to be Flair but him! The Black Scorpion appeared in NWA cutting odd promos about then World Champion Sting claiming that he was from his past and making people believe it was one of his former tag team partners like The Ultimate Warrior or Angel Of Death. During his taunts to Sting, the black masked Black Scorpion would do simple magic and illusions to try and confusing Sting even during matches sometimes multiple versions of him would appear. Every time Sting would get close to unmasking The Black Scorpion during a match, the masked wrestler would be saved by a clone of himself or Sid Vicious who was also having a feud with Sting at the time, never letting him see the identity of his foe. This all came to a head at Starrcade when Sting beat The Black Scorpion in a steel cage and when unmasked, it turned out to be Ric Flair! The character was dropped after this even though rumor has it that he was supposed to go on. The Black Scorpion could have easily been in the game if 2K didn’t cheapen out on his “Feuds” campaign and gave Sting one as he could have been a alternate attire for Ric Flair even! If The Black Scorpion would have been in the game as his own character I would have not only feuded him with Sting but also The Ultimate Warrior and The Undertaker.

Key Match Against Sting: Starrcade 1990 – Sting vs. Black Scorpion in a Steel Cage

Vampiro

Vampiro

In 1984 at the age of 16 Vampiro wrestled his first match in Canada and from that moment on, he was hooked on being a Pro Wrestler. His career would lead him to Mexico where he would wrestle for many promotions and have great matches against luchadors like Konnan, Dr. Wagner Jr., Silver King, El Dandy, Dos Caras and El Canek to name a very few. During this timem he also worked a little in Japan but landed a job in WCW in 1998 where he made a splash in the midcard division and formed a stable alongside Rappers ICP and ECW Original Raven called The Dead Pool, and while very short lived, they had a great rivalry with Konnan, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Eddie Guerrero. His next major matches came when he brought in Punk Rock Band The Misfits and took on Dr. Death Steve Williams. Vampiro then formed a team with Sting that they called The Brothers In Paint, but Vampiro had other plans as he turned on Sting, and while most times Sting always got the upper hand, Vampiro won the “Human Torch” match and set Sting on fire causing the icon to disappear from wrestling for awhile. After beating Sting, he set his sights on The Demon, a wrestler who was based on the rock band Kiss, and after a Graveyard Match, Sting returned and set the wrongs right. Vampiro then went on to team up with The Great Muta and win the tag team titles from KroniK that they lost the next day to Rey Mysterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera, causing Vampiro to turn on Muta and later sparked a three way match with Sting. After this he went on to have a few matches against Mike Awesome and while injured WWE bought out WCW and his contract was not picked up. Vampiro returned to Mexico and even made a few appearances for companies like TNA, JCW and Wrestling Society X. Vampiro is currently working as an announcer for Lucha Underground, a show on El Ray Network featuring matches from wrestlers from AAA. If Vampiro was to be in this game besides Sting I would have him in feuds with The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio Jr., Alberto Del Rio and Goldust!

Key Match Against Sting: Great American Bash 2000 – Sting vs. Vampiro in a Human Torch Match. 

So those are a few names I would have loved to seen in WWE 2K15 for a Sting Rivalry/ Feud story line! I know that Sid Vicious is supposed to be in the game as a manager, but not a wrestler because that makes a lot of sense, 2K, and the fact that none of the Four Horsemen besides Ric Flair is in the game makes me really want to see them in next years. Plus I would love to see guys like The Great Muta in a WWE game, but sadly I see this never happening. While this could be the worse WWE game roster in a long time, here is to hoping they get their act together next year and give us long time fans something better.

WWE 2K15 Sting with Bat

For those of you wondering and don’t know who Marshall Bravestarr is, let me tell you a little about the character. Bravestarr is of Native American decent and is a very good man who wants to uphold the law and help those who can’t help themselves. Bravestarr can call on his spirit animals and gain superhuman powers for a short time.  For example, if he calls on the Bear, he gains its strength, and if he calls on a Hawk he gains super sight and so on and so on. His best friend is his trusty cyborg horse name Thirty/Thirty who not only walks on all fours but can also walk on two legs like a person and fire a gun to help. He also has a small deputy named Fuzz, a green powerhouse bartender named Handlebar, a female Judge named J.B. McBride and has many other strange and helpful allies in New Texas. So if you find yourself in space and in need of help just call for Marshall Bravestarr as he will be there to lend a hand.

Marshall Bravestarr 1Marshall BravestarrMarshall Bravestarr 2

Filmation,the same company who made “Masters Of The Universe”, “Ghostbusters” and so many more great cartoons in 1987, decided to make a cartoon about space and then they had the idea of mixing in the old west! Back in 1984 while they worked on Ghostbusters, they created an evil ghost cowboy named Tex Hex as one of the series baddies, but the character was pulled from the list as founding member of Filmation Lou Scheimer liked the character’s look and didn’t want him to be a second banana villain so Tex never made it to the cartoon. Tex Hex sat around for 3 years until 1987 when they began to develop the space western animated action cartoon Bravestarr. The series would run for 1 very long season with 65 episodes total as well as a film in 1988. When I was a young lad, I knew very few kids who watched Bravestarr and even fewer kids who owned any of the toys! If I remember right, I think Jeremy Patton had a few that he would bring to the playground in Waynesville, and Grandma Brassfield had Tex Hex and Bravestarr at her house. I can remember watching the cartoon from time to time and while it was fun, it just didn’t catch my attention like other toons released the same year did like Ducktales, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, not to mention other cartoons still running at the time like Muppet Babies, Dennis The Menace, The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Snorks and so many others were things I watched. Plus at this time I was watching horror hosts Commander USA and Grandpa Munster who started Super Scary Saturday on TBS in 1987, so sadly Bravestarr was just not a shinning star for a young Matt to be watching all the time. The show also just like many other Filmation cartoons always ended with a lesson to be learned and would teach not only the characters but of course us the viewers. While I was not a loyal watcher, I do have a fond likeness for Bravestarr, and even went out and bought all the seasons on DVD.

Bravestarr 1BraveStarr 2Tex Hex 2

In 1988 “Bravestarr: The Movie” was released to limited theaters and was a bomb at the box office as it mostly showed during the day on weekends for its short run. The film was trashed by critics and even fans of the show were not sold, and the film fell off the radar. The film was groundbreaking on some small levels as it was the first animated film to use computer graphics, and was the first animated film to come out after the original show was off the air. The film’s plot was an origin story and followed how Bravestarr and Tex Hex became bitter enemies and showed that the Bull Skull named Stampede is the true evil mastermind. I barely remember the film coming out and for some reason think that it might have had a showing at the movie theater that use to be inside the Dayton Mall. The film did come out on VHS and twice on DVD, one being on a single disc release and the other being part of a best of.  So if you want to watch the origin story of the law of New Texas then you have options.

The Legend of Bravestarr 1The Legend of Bravestarr Movie PosterThe Legend of Bravestarr 2

I must mention that one of my favorite bad guys from this series was a fish faced lizard man named Sandstorm! Sandstorm’s power is that he can breath out large amounts of sand and create sand clouds, sand creatures and even can put people to sleep with his sand much like the famed folklore legend Mr. Sandman. His race is called Sand Walruses, and his kind are native to New Texas. For some reason his look reminds me a lot of Mer-Man from Masters of the Universe. Ed Gilbert is the voice actor who played the part who also did voices for characters like Blitzwing (Transformers), General Hawk (G.I. Joe), Metlar (Inhumainoids), Mr. Smee (Peter Pan and the Pirates), Major Disaster (Toxic Crusaders), Baloo (Tailspin), El Seed (The Tick) as well as many other characters in many cartoons. My brother Bryan seems to think we had the Mattel figure of Sandstorm growing up, I however barely remember owning it. So just wanted to give Sandstorm his tiny time to shine before we move onto more history of Bravestarr.

Sandstorm 1SandstormSandstorm 2

I wanted to take a brief moment to cover this: many of the women I know have this weird thing where they think cowboys/country boys are the definition of a man’s man, and even in media, it’s pushed this way from John Wayne all the way to the Marlboro Man, they are considered tough rugged good looking guys. Well I am going to take this time and be on the opposite side and say that I find country and cowgirls sexy! And I am pretty sure I can pin point the moment I found the look of cowgirl sexy, and that’s Brad from Nickelodeon show Hey Dude played by Kelly Brown started it for me and Faith Hill the country singer sealed it. Something about a pretty girl with the looks of the Girl Next Door wearing a cowboy hat and chaps is something that a guy like myself can appreciate. Don’t want to waste too much time talking about this, but just wanted to give a shout out to all the cowgirls out there. Below are some cowgirls including former WWE Diva Maria dressed as one as well as singer Jewel.

Maria as CowgirlJewel CowgirlGirl Next Door CowgirlBlonde Cowgirl

Mattel Toys started to make figures based on Bravestarr almost immediately when the cartoon came out and made them different and more “grand” then many of the figures being released at the time as they stood 8” tall and many of them came with infra red backpacks that interacted with a laser gun you could buy and have your very own shoot outs with the figures! Besides all the main cast of characters like Marshall Bravestarr, Tex Hex, Sandstorm and Deputy Fuzz, they also made the town and jail play set, the wagon and the laser gun. The figures when released came in boxes with very cool art on them and a window to peer in and see the toy. But as I stated before, not many kids I knew had these toys but I do remember seeing the toys on the shelves of stores like Hills, Hearts and Gold Circle and remember seeing lots of them in stock. I can’t be for sure on this statement, but from what I could see at a young age these toys must not have sold very well in normal department stores and must have found some tracking via discount stores like Odd Lots. Being older now and looking at the figures now I must say while they are bulky, they are very well done, and I am sure really made kids of the time happy if they were fans of the cartoon.

Bravestarr figureTex Hex FigureBravestarr Sandstorm Figure

Funny enough as I was working on putting this blog together, my friend Brett Prescott who does video game reviews called “Bad or Rad” brought almost a full set of Bravestarr figures into my work to sell! While going through the collection, a sense of nostalgia rushed over me as I looked up the going prices for each figure and even the jail/town playset. And while I knew I wanted them, looking at the figures made me want to own them even more.  So what you are looking at below are the Bravestarr figures I bought from my work thanks to my pal Brett!

My Bravestarr FiguresMy Sandstorm Figure

Besides the Mattel Toys and Blackthrone Comic series, lots of other merchandise was made to try and make money off the cartoon that includes Halloween masks, lunchboxes, a video game for home computers, pillow cases and bed sheets, Colorforms, storybooks, stickers and even water guns! They tried really hard to try and make kids of the 80’s care about Bravestarr, and for those who did, they had plenty of things to choose from. I really think that both Mattel and Filmation thought that Bravestarr would have been their successor to Masters Of The Universe and put lots of eggs in that basket that sadly for them just didn’t bring the draw that He-Man did.

Bravestarr colorformsBravestarr lunchboxBravestarr Halloween CostumeBraveStarr video game for Spectrum

So are you ready to hit the old trail and stop outlaws with our good pal Marshall Bravestarr? Before he swears us in as deputies hoever, I do need to thank Lone Star Comics and Mile High Comics for having these issues in stock and must also remind everyone that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s saddle up and go kick some Tex Hex butt as we put on our 3-D Glasses and hit the trail.

Bravestarr 3d 1

Bravestarr 3-D  # 1   **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne    # 1 of 2

Shaman is the father of young Bravestarr who sends him away to become a Marshall at a young age, when he finds that his powers could no longer defeat his enemy Stampede. Years pass, and the planet of New Texas is a hole in the wall that’s main resource is Kerium crystals that is used as fuel sources for large ships. The planet is also filled with outlaws and that’s why law enforcement like Judge J.B. McBride, outpost owner Handlebar, Mayer Derringer and of course Marshall Bavestarr with his trusty cyborg horse 30/30 and pint size Deputey Fuzz look after the townspeople. The ghost bull skull known as Stampede sends his right hand man Tex Hex alongside Sand Storm, Skuzz and Vipra head to town and have a showdown with Bravestarr and his allies.  The fight doesn’t last long, and Barvestarr sends them high tailing it outta town. As Bravestarr is proud of his heroic deed, he gets a visit from Shaman who tells him a long fight is ahead of them all and to learn from each other. In the end to show the townspeople strength, Marshall Bravestarr, Fuzz, 30/30. Handlebar and J.B stand tall and ready for the tough fight ahead.

First thing I have to say is that I hate 3-D comics, and this is one where the “3-D” doesn’t work as well and just kind of looks blurry, so I had to order better 3-D glasses from Amazon to try and help see if I could actually read this comic and get the full effect! The new glasses did help, and I was able to enjoy the sci-fi Western with more enjoyment. The plot is really a crash course of an origin story as we are shown a young Bravestarr being sent to a Marshall station and then follow him as he makes quick work of his enemy Tex Hex to show just how noble and strong he is to the townspeople. Marshall Bravestarr is 100% pure cheesy old school western hero complete with white hat and a sense of pride and very high self-confidence. He is a great hero for this style comic, and I can see why Mattel and Filmation thought they had a hit on their hands. Judge J.B. McBride is a great female character who is pretty and also a fighter; it’s also clear that she has a crush on Bravestarr. Deputy Fuzz is your typical small annoying character that appears in most of Filmations IPs as well as many other 80’s cartoons so just think Snarf and Orko and you have Fuzz. Handlebar and 30/30 are not given much to do in this issue so I hope that in the second they are fleshed out more as they are both important in the cartoon this 3-D comic is based on. Tex Hex is kind of wasted in this issue as he is made of full of pretty quick and is knocked on his butt with a single punch from Bravestarr.  It does show however that he has powers as he turns into a giant. Other bad guys like Sand Storm, robot Thunder Stick, pint size terror Skuzz and female reptile woman Vipra are all wasted and are taken out super quick by the heroes. While the first issue is good, it also adds no real threat as we just see in matter of panels that all the bad guys can be beating with little to no effort making me wonder just who can beat Bravestarr? The art is done by Adrian Moro and is pretty dang good and looks like the cartoon.  The downside is the terrible 3-D effect put onto the art by Bob & Nancy Fritsch that worked only some of the time. Over all this is a pretty good comic that captures the cheesy feel of the cartoon it was based on. I really dig the cover of this issue, as for some reason it has a old western trading card look to it. Let’s move onto the second and final issue in this series and see just how Blackthorne Comics sent Bravestarr off into the big canceled newsstand in the sky.

Bravestarr 3d 2

Bravestarr 3-D  # 2   **1/2
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne    # 2 of 2

A group of kids are fighting and one time friends are really mad at each other as Bravestarr, 30/30 and J.B McBride come over to break it up. The kids are fighting over a item that one thinks the other stole, and J.B tell them a story of how Bravestarr meet 30/30! It begins with Shaman training Bravestarr and tells him that he must go to and find the ultimate weapon.  The young Marshall rushes off into the desert and finds a old temple and inside is a powerful gun as well as a cyborg horse named 30/30 who is mad and thinks Bravestarr is nothing more then a treasure hunting thief.  The two duke it out and cause the temple to collapse! Bravestarr saves 30/30 from the destruction and the two become friends with Bravestarr learning that friendship is the ultimate weapon. The kids learn the lesson and rush off to enjoy the day as do Bravestarr and his friends.

A heart warming issue that teaches us all that with a good friend at your side you don’t have to live in fear, that is unless you are both stuck in the path of King Kong…or you’re both cornered by a horde of zombies with no weapons…or if you’re on the bad side of Doctor Doom…or…wait you get the point. The plot of the issue is when Bravestarr met 30/30 and how they fist fought and then became best friends.  While Bravestarr comes off like his boy scout self, 30/30 comes off as a hotheaded bully who would rather fight then talk it out. Judge J.B acts as a storyteller as she is the one to speak to the kids of this epic meeting. This issue has zero bad guys and once more has no threats, making you as the reader know that nothing bad is going to happen to anyone. Art is well done by Adrian Moro once more as the 3-D effects were handled by Bob & Nancy Fritsch again.  This second cover is okay, but for some reason it looks like Bravestarr is having a stroke on it. This second issue is the same as the first a cheesy comic based on a cheesy sci-fi Western cartoon. Below is some of the 3-D artwork used in the two issues so enjoy!

Bravestarr Art 1Bravestarr Art 2Bravestarr Art 3

Well it looks like we took out old Tex Hex pretty quick, and it looks like Blackthorne didn’t truly believe in Bravestarr 3-D as a series as they pulled the plug only two issues in. While I was not a super fan of Bravestarr growing up, I found that these comic were pretty well done and the younger me would have enjoyed them and even maybe helped me care more about catching and watching the cartoon when it was airing. But as Marshal Bravestarr rides off into the sunset, I feel the need to tell you that our next update will be about the DC Comic based on the arcade video game Centipede! So until next time make sure to read a comic or two and support your local horror host.

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