Welcome back to Rotten Ink! For this update I think that we will take a look at another Greek Mythology/Sword And Sandal film icon, but his time it’s not Hercules or Samson, though I have taken a look at them in the past…this time around I am looking at a titan and a man who holds the world on his back, the one and only Atlas! When I was a youngster, Greek Mythology was a something I always tried my best to read about as I found all the Gods, Titans, Demi-Gods and Mortals that made up the myths to be very interesting. When it came to Sword And Sandal films, I was always more of a Hercules fan, but I did enjoy the Atlas movies I watched as well. So if you are ready to go on a big classic hero adventure with Atlas, let’s get this update started, shall we?
Atlas is a Titan and brother of Cronus and was one of the rulers of the world and spawned many children including Hyas and Calypso and was super powerful. When the Olympians went to war with the Titans, the mighty Atlas made the wrong decision and decided to fight alongside the other Titans. When they got defeated, the new king of the gods Zeus gave Atlas a punishment that had him walk to the western edge of the Earth and he is forced to hold up the sky on his shoulders for eternity. And only once was he able to relive his burden of sky lifting when Hercules during his 12 Labors needed Golden Apples from the Atlas’ daughter’s garden that was protected by Ladon, a fierce dragon, and the Titan switches place to get the apples and tried to trick the powerful youngster into just holding the sky up while he delivered the apples, but Hercules did not fall for it and tricked Atlas back into holding up the sky leaving the Titan once more stuck in place. And this version of Atlas’s story is just one of many as there is several variations of it over the centuries, as this is the most known and popular. Of all the Titans I would say that Atlas is the most popular with maybe Cronus being the only one that comes close. And I will say this at some point Atlas and many of the Titans might show up in future issues from Sparkle Comics as this writer and editor in chief has a few ideas knocking around his mind.
In 196,1 the world of cinema was flooded with Sword And Sandal films as movie watchers seemed to not be able to get enough of muscle bound heroes. Italy was the nation to rush them into production to flood the market and quench the thirst of movie goers. During this boom of Italian Cinema, other countries tried to cash in and America of course was one of them as Roger Corman, the master of B-Movies, had to jump on the Sword and Sandal bandwagon and get his slice of the pie when he directed and produced Atlas. This version of Atlas stripped away the Titan mythology and just had our hero as a muscle bound do-gooder who would fight for the weak and do what he thought was right. The film was shot in Greece on a very low budget, and Corman brought in actors Michael Frost, Frank Wolff, Barboura Morris and Walter Maslow with Frost and Wolff being actors he had used in the past. The film did okay when released but did not bring in the numbers or gain the cult statues of the Steve Reeves Hercules film that spawned it. The film at this point in time is believed to be in the Public Domain and has been released on DVD by companies like St. Clair and Cheezy Flicks and has been hosted by Horror Hosts as well as has found itself on multipack DVD releases. On another fun note when the film was being developed writer Charles B. Griffith wanted to call the film “Atlas, The Guided Muscle” because he wanted to base it on the SM-65 Atlas ballistic missile. Atlas is one of those films I have seen many times and while it’s not one of my all time favorite Sword And Sandal films, it is one that I enjoy as its cheesy and fun.
Michael Frost is the actor who played Atlas in 1961, and he has had a long career in the world of cinema and TV. Frost was born Gerald Michael Charlebois on April 17, 1929 in Harvey, North Dakota and had a pretty normal childhood and even went to college where he got a degree in English and Drama. But he discovered that he wanted to be an actor in 1955, and his first role was as Pug in TV series “Lux Video Theatre” and from here he could not be stopped as he took roles in shows like “Highway Patrol” and “Studio 57” and in 1957 he even had an unaccredited role in the Universal Monster film “The Deadly Mantis”! From there he had many other roles in some pretty great shows like “The Adventures Of Rin Tin Tin” in 1957 & 1958, “Zorro” in 1958 and “The Rifleman” in 1959 showing he was making his mark on TV! In 1959 he made his return to Horror Movies when he plays Gil Jackson in the film “Beast From The Haunted Cave” and TV Series “One Step Beyond” in 1960 episode Encounter. With many more roles in film and TV in 1961, he landed the main role in “Atlas” a film directed by the great cult director Roger Corman! Over the following years he would take roles in such shows as “The Outer Limits”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Perry Mason”, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, “Gunsmoke”, “Days Of Our Lives”, “I Spy”, “Branded”, “Gilligan’s Island” and in 1967 he got one of his most popular roles when he played Apollo in an episode of “Star Trek”. And this is just a drop in the hat of films he has done as he is also known to most Anime fans as he has lent his voice to many films such as Crying Freeman, Mobile Suit Gundam, Street Fighter II V and The Twelve Kingdoms, to name a few. And at the age of 90 he is still active in acting with his last role being in 2019 in the short film “When The Train Stops” playing the character Marshal Preston Booth. While he is older, Forest’s love for acting is not slowing down and I hope one day that the Monster Bash will bring him in as a guest at one of the conventions I am attending.
When growing up, I can remember in Kettering, Ohio a giant workout gym was on Wilmington Pike and they had a massive Atlas holding the world statue out front, and this was something my brother and I when kids always looked forward to seeing when we would be in town to visit family or eating out at Captain D’s that was near by it. When the gym closed a short time later, the Atlas statue disappeared and the gym’s building was turned into many different things over the years like Pep Boys and is now a micro brewery…but I always wondered what happened to the Atlas Statue. I had heard rumors that it was at a car wash on Airway Road, but to my best memory I don’t remember seeing it ever on Airway. But then one day when Juliet and I were driving to Danbarry Huber Heights for a Horrorama event and going down Troy Street at a local gold and jewelry business right out front was the classic Atlas statue and I proceeded to talk to Juliet about it and how awesome it was. And in 2019 when I first started this update I wanted to take a picture of the statue for this blog update, but sadly the Dayton area was rocked by very bad tornadoes in one single night on May 27, 2019 with 15 of them touching down and causing lots of damage and injuries. Juliet and I even had to hide in our basement as the Tornado Warning went off in our area. And during this night of Tornado Terror sadly Troy Street was hit and the Atlas Statue was hit and by the looks of it, the statue was damaged and gone. But thanks to Flickr user Scott for taking this picture back in 2010 (Wow 10 years Ago) I can share this amazing statue with you readers. So take a look at it and enjoy.
So as you readers see, Atlas is a Titan who has the all the power in the world and it’s because of him that the world does not fall into the sun or spiral out of control…or so they used to say. But while he is a Titan, he seems to not be talked about as much as others these days as Cronus seems to always be the most popular. For the comic based on this Titan, I decided to choose the mini series done by Dark Horse Comics. Now I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock. So if you are ready to stand with the weight on your shoulders with Rotten Ink and Atlas, let’s get to these comics!
Atlas # 1 **1/2
Released in 1994 Cover Price $2.50 Dark Horse # 1 of 4
It’s a normal day in New York, and a group of homeless people are wandering around the abandoned warehouse district looking for a place to stay for the night. The group is lead by old man Monti Harper, mechanic Troy Maxwell and youngster Andrew Ray, and for them this day turns weird when they find a giant that appears to have fallen from Space and crashed into the warehouse! The Giant is holding a goldenrod, and when Monti touches it he feels pain and also sees that this Giant is really a God and was fighting just about Earth with another, and when his friends get him away from the rod, they are all startled when the Giant wakes up and tells them that he is the Titan named Atlas and that the other gods want Earthlings to go back to being primitive so they will worship them once more. Atlas decides that he is going to use the goldenrod and make the homeless group his soldiers to help fight the evil that is coming, but before he can, he captures a little monster that has been set free on Earth by The Keeper who is tracking the Titan in order for an attack to take place on him. Atlas leaves his new “friends” behind and does battle with The Keeper in front of the people of New York, but things turn really bad when another massive Titan like being shows up and clearly wants to do battle!
Let’s start by saying that this is a fun comic that brings the classic Titans and old world Gods into modern times and does a good job of building Atlas as mankind’s protector. The plot has the Gods in the sky being pissed off with the people of Earth are no longer worshiping them and have become too obsessed with electronics, and the only Titan that is on the side of man is Atlas who has stolen the powerful goldenrod and is fighting with his fellow Gods! But when he falls to Earth after a terrible fight in space, he soon finds that he has lead the war to Earth and his only new friends are a trio of homeless people who seem to be craving the power of the goldenrod. Atlas is kind of cocky in attitude, but yet also very heroic and friendly. He can change size from being a massive giant Titan to becoming human size. He is a skilled fighter and with the help of the powerful goldenrod, he is almost unbeatable. The Homeless Trio come off as nice people at the start but after two get a taste of power of the Gods, I do not trust Troy or Monti as they seem more into becoming godlike and not about the fact the world is in big trouble. The Keeper is a freaky monster looking man who holds a box that allows monster to come out and do his will and that includes fighting and tracking, but while he is a fighter, he is also older and out powered by Atlas. I for one cannot wait to see whom the other monstrous Titan is and how the fight between it and Atlas goes! This is a pretty interesting story so far, and I like that Atlas himself mentions that over the centuries he has been called many different names making it clear that all the gods of ancient times are they same ones just given a new name by whatever society worships them. The cover is pretty eye catching and has a Greek Myth meets Indie Comic look to it, and the interior art is interesting and done by Bruce Zick and has an almost classic Heavy Metal Magazine style to it. While this is not a full Sword And Sandal style comic as its based in modern times, I must say this first issue has made me interested in seeing what issue two has in store for me.
Atlas # 2 **
Released in 1994 Cover Price $2.50 Dark Horse # 2 of 4
Atlas charges into battle with Sh’en Chui, and the gods go at it with Atlas using the goldenrod but not to its full power as he does not want to hurt the people around the docks watching the battle. After the goldenrod is knocked out of Atlas’ hands, he quickly goes into withdrawal as the power it holds is now something he craves, and once getting it back he makes the decision to use its full power and he “kills” Sh’en Chui with a power blast from the rod. As the people watch in shock, Atlas walks away not answering any questions from the press who has swarmed the area. On his way back to the warehouse, Atlas runs into an old enemy named Bol who threatens him that once he gets stronger a rematch will happens and then points out he seems to need goldenrod to fight his battles. Once back at the warehouse Atlas turns it into a home base that now looks like a place from mythological Olympus, and with this he also gives his new human friends a taste of power and gets mad with them when they crave the power. Meanwhile in the land of Gods, Neo figures out a way to prevent Goldenrod that is a living being as well from getting the sun energy it needs to have all its power, and this causes Atlas to be stuck in the middle of nowhere as Goldenrod loses its power while Atlas was trying to find the old God’s hang out to show to mankind to ease their fears.
This second issue has Atlas “kill” another god like creature in front of tons of New York, give and get angry with his human “friends” when they love the powers he gives them and takes back, scares the world with his battle and killing making him realize he needs to show them who he is and why he is…and lastly its clear that he is a junkie for the power that Goldenrod gives him as without it he withdraws! That’s right, Atlas in this issue is like a strung out addict who is also a cold blooded murder who commits his crime if front of hundreds of eyes…in other words while he might be a Titan, he has some major personal issues. We also find out that Goldenrod is alive and that its power comes from the sun and that all Titans and Gods want to control its power. The Homeless Bunch as I am going to start calling Andrew, Troy and Monti as I sadly at this point don’t think they are good people as they just want the power as well, and that’s sad as they could and should have been the true heroes of this mini series and lets hope that they come around and become it. Sh’en Chui, who looks like a badass at the start, gets knocked down to size real quick and is murdered by being blown into chunks, but I have a feeling he or something he will become will return. The Keeper meanwhile seems like a rat as he just barks orders and tells on whomever to get points with those above him. And Neo I am not sure about yet, he is definitely against humans and Atlas but it’s clear he takes orders from someone else. This issue is just an average read with long dialogue coming from humans that drags the pacing way down, and that’s a shame. The art is good again done by Bruce Zick and the cover is eye catching…but to wrap this issue up, it made my excitement sadly slip slightly, and I hope it becomes less talky and more action in issue three.
Atlas # 3 *1/2
Released in 1994 Cover Price $2.50 Dark Horse # 3 of 4
Atlas is holding a press conference for the people of the world and has given them the locations of God sites around the world so that they can discover the trueness of who he is and the others out in the universe. Once back at his new warehouse home base, he goes into a temple he built that has a statue of his love Eia and talks to it about how much he misses her and her advice…when he talks about Goldenrod loosing power and how he can stop the blocking of the sun rays he gets an idea and sends his homeless friends to go and get some powerful weapons, but this also causes a rift between the friends as Monti does not want to be a pawn in Atlas’s game of War of the Gods, while Troy is selected to go with Atlas in order to free Aox, a God who has been punished by the other Gods. Atlas asks Aox to get energy from a hidden well that has knowledge as the punished Titan is the only one that knows were it is. As Aox and Troy go on the quest to find the well, Atlas gives Andrew and Monti costumes that will give them a little god energy as he can not use Goldenrod. Meanwhile Neo now tells Bol that if he finds the location of the well he can and will give Bol back his beauty that the Gods centuries ago took away. As Aox and Troy enter the underworld, she is able to see a glimpse of the past and future that Aox is feeding her, meanwhile Atlas is feeling all alone and decides that he himself must go on a vision quest.
Man this series started out so promising and issue after issue it has became a very slow moving overly wordy so-so average read that does not deliver enough action this far. This issue is filled with so much set up as the plot is that Goldenrod is weak and Atlas himself is losing faith in himself and mission. Monti is getting jealous that Troy and Andrew are following the orders of Atlas as they find him wise. While Neo is just around his Kingdom getting updates and barking orders and Bol is just lying around giving said updates. This issue has zero action and is just filled with long drawn out drama and plot that could have been done way better in a faster pace. I do like that Atlas in this issue is more down and out as in the past issues he was very much ego driven as he knew he had the massive power of Goldenrod, speaking of Goldenrod it’s loosing power and life and this is a bad thing as it really is a tool for good…but I guess if evil has control of it bad things could happen. Aox is a Titan who was punished by the Gods and now is helping Atlas and has fallen in love with Troy, who in this issue is clearly the only one of the Homeless Bunch that has potential to be a hero. The rest of the characters are around and do nothing important. I should also say that the chunks of flesh of Sh’en Chui are up to something as they are moving around in the harbor. The cover for this issue is okay and not overly eye catching as it looks more like a pin up in an issue, and the interior art is good and done by Bruce Zick again. Over all this is a bland issue and did zero to build up the final issue in the series and created zero excitement for me to read it, plus it took me days to read this issue as I found myself getting more and more bored after every page.
Atlas # 4 *1/2
Released in 1994 Cover Price $2.50 Dark Horse # 4 of 4
The chunks of Sh’en Chui has spawned tiny little demon like monsters who are now attacking New York and Atlas along with Monti and Andrew (whom he has give power to via Goldenrod) try and save the day, but the odds are not good. Meanwhile Troy and Aox are still on the quest to the well and as they bond and Troy tells of her time as a nurse in Vietnam they reach they well and soon find that Bol and some demon minions are also there and a fight against the odds happens for them as well. While in New York the demons start to bring down tons of buildings and Atlas turns giant again and holds them up and people below run for their lives and Andrew and Monti have lost their powers and are helpless to save Atlas who gets crushed after all the people below are safe. While back in the Underworld the demons are swarming Aox and Troy as Bol barks out insults and orders and after being beaten down Troy finds her inner strength and breaks Aox free from his captives and he kills Bol and then makes the sacrifice of his life as he takes the energy of the well into himself and they travels fast with Troy to New York and gives Goldenrod and Atlas all of the raw energy and after Atlas and Goldenrod destroy all the demons, Aox falls dead as Atlas and his Homeless friends morn the loss. In the end Atlas and his friends burn the body of Aox and he tells them that this battle might have ended but the war is not over.
This final issue in the Atlas mini series is pretty much a let down and while the issue is action packed, it seems to end way too fast with no real pay off to this lackluster story and they could have done more to make a good ending if they wiped out the terrible long winded dialogue from the previous issues. The plot of this issue has Atlas going to New York and fighting demons and with a weak Goldenrod and Aox killing himself to give power to Goldenrod and in seconds the end battle is over and Aox is dead….yep its that cheesy of an ending and no major clash between good and evil, Neo is never seen at all and all of a sudden Aox and Troy become madly in love…this is just so cheesy. Atlas in this issue is the hero that Earth needs as he fights off demons and then risks his life to hold up tons of crumbled buildings to save lives as people have to run to safety, but think about this Atlas is also the Titan who held up the sky…but buckles under buildings…so they made this Titan a hero but also weak and not living up to his legend. Aox is just around and is creepy flirting with Troy and in the end is the real hero as he gives his life to save Atlas and Goldenrod from being crushed to death. And Goldenrod in this issues is weak, gets a little bit of power to help and then fails only to drain power from a Titan…and then is strong again. Andrew and Monti are a waste in this issue as they get powers for seconds and help a few people while Atlas fights the demons, and we do see that Monti cares about Andrew and looks at him almost as a son. Troy finds her inner power as she lets out her hurt of not being able to save lives in Vietnam, and oddly enough she also finds love with a Titan. Bol who is stuck in the body of an ugly grotesque creature is truly slimy as he finds the well and does what he can to make sure Aox can not save his friend by delivering the energy, but lucky for New York Bol is killed in the fight by the well. Neo and the Demons are waste and have zero backstory in this series and make me as a reader not care. And the end “battle” of this series is just so bad and lackluster it made this series a major dud for me. The cover this time around is good and eye catching and the interior art is once more done by Bruce Zick who tried his best as well writing this boring comic series based on a great Titan of legend. While I am not a fan I would say make sure to check it out if you like indie comic based on Mythology characters. Also check out the art below to see the style of Zick.
While I hate to say it this Indie Comic mini series by Bruce Zick and released by Dark Horse Comics was just not a well told story and has so many plot holes and filler that it makes for one boring read. And while the comic ends with the door wide open for a second mini series, it would never see the light of day as far as this blogger could tell, and while I was not a fan of this series and its style of storytelling, I would have for sure checked it out to see if Zick’s writing would have changed to deliver a solid Atlas comic story. But for our next update we will be walking away from the old sky holder and into the world of the seven seas as we take a boat ride with Morgan The Pirate, that’s right we will once more be taking a look at a Steve Reeves movie and the comic based on it. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a High Seas adventure!