The Terminator Resurrection

We are all at war, and nations are having to team up to fight a threat that is bigger than any ever known to man. Mankind is on the ropes, but we are trying to do whatever we can to turn the tide of war on our side.  Lives have been lost, and our cities are in shambles as the machines are running wild and they kill without remorse. This is judgement day, a time where man must face machine and learn that there is no fate but what we make. As I am sure you have guessed, this update is all about The Terminator and is in honer of Arnold Schwarzenegger returning back to this amazing sci-fi/action series that help mold and spawn many films that followed. Growing up, The Terminator films were very much in the pop culture and was super popular among the Brassfield Brothers and also was a film series that was a topic among me and my friends many times! So let’s take a few moments before we battle the machines and do some research so that we can understand our machine enemies…I am looking at you, PS3, and you as well, Microwave.  You’re not going to get me, no matter what Skynet is telling you!

T-800 WarSo to start our look at The Terminators, we should start by looking at the films in the series as they are what started it all and without them, we would not even be doing this update nor would Dark Horse Comics be doing the mini series that we are covering. So let’s take a look at the films in this series.

the terminator poster

In 1984, James Cameron and Orion Pictures teamed up to make a science-fiction/action film that followed a woman named Sarah Conner who was being targeted by a robot from the future in order to kill her before she could have her future child John who is the man that leads the war against the machines in the future. But her son also sends one of his soldiers back in time named Kyle Reese to protect her, and in fact he is also John’s dad! Yeah, this movie is super badass, and one of those films that spawned many sequels as well as imitations. The film starred many top notch actors that include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen and was in fact the film that made Arnold a box office star and even more of a household name. The effects are top notch and are very impressive for a lower budget film and showcased the work of Stan Winston, who was one of the best FX guys in the business up until his death in 2008. I first watched this film on HBO alongside my parents and my brother, and I can remember being glued to the screen and being amazed by the ecto-skeleton and just the size and cold nature of Arnold as the T-800. After watching it, I can remember playing with G.I. Joes and acting as if Dreadnok Road Pig was The Terminator! And as long time readers know, The Terminator was one of the first VHS tapes we owned when we upgraded (or is that down graded?) from Beta to a VCR, as my brother got it for Christmas while I got Universal’s Frankenstein. Funny thing is, years later my brother also got Terminator 2 for Christmas, and I got The Addams Family that year. At the boxoffice in 1984, The Terminator was the # 21 and beat out such films as Friday The 14th Part 4: The Final Chapter, Conan The Destroyer, Dune, The Last Starfighter, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Muppets Take Manhattan, Sixteen Candles, Missing In Action, The Neverending Story, Supergirl and many other cult and popular films. The Terminator also brought in a total of $38,371,200.00 for Orion in America alone and another $40,000,000.00 overseas! To this day, The Terminator remains one of science fiction’s most popular franchises and makes Hollywood lots and lots of money.

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The Terminator has officially four sequels with the second film Terminator 2: Judgement Day being the biggest hit out of all the films. I spent a lot of time on Terminator 2 on my update for Marvel At The Movies 2 so we will speed past it and talk about all the others really quick just so we are all up to date on the fight against the machines. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was released in 2003 and follows John Connor and Kate, a woman he has fallen in love with, as they are protected by the T-800 from a female super robot solider who has been sent back to once more take John’s life! Sadly in this third film Sarah Connor is dead as she passed away from leukemia in the plot leaving John on his own with the help of his trusty robot bodyguard. The film was # 8 and beat out such films as “Hulk”, “Freddy vs. Jason” and “Matrix Revolution” at the American box office and brought in $150,371,112.00. In 2009 “Terminator Salvation” was released and followed John Connor in the future as he and the rebels face the machines and come across a cyborg who just might be the tool to win the war once and for all. In this film Arnold was only in it via CGI, and the film was packed with all types of Terminators. The film was # 23 and beat out “Friday The 13th”, “Watchmen” plus “Inglourious Bastards” and brought in $125,322,469.00. While the second film might have been the super hit of the series, these other sequels hold true to the story and help add to the drama that is the fight for our future.

Terminator Genisys poster

Terminator Genisys hit theaters on July 3rd and is about Kyle Reese being sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor.  But this time around things have changed as Sarah is now aware of the hit placed on her life as she was a target when she was a child and has been trained and protected by a T-800 that was sent by her son John from another timeline! An evil T-800 has been sent to kill her as well as a T-1000, and to cause even more chaos, John Connor comes back to the past and is now a cyborg and has his own vision of the future! This film is a nice way to reboot the series and yet still pay tribute to the films of the past.  With Arnold back as the T-800 and with sexy Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, the film has all the right tools to be a classic film in the series! By this point of course I have seen it and for what I thought of it make sure to check out my first update of 2016 as I will give you my best and worst of the year in film of 2015! But one thing I can say is that it was nice to see this franchise back on the big screen and even cooler to once more see Arnold in one of his most iconic roles.  Now begins the countdown for the next Conan movie as he is suppose the play the Barbarian one last time in the film that is being called “The Legend of Conan”.

Terminator Genisys 1The Terminator is one of those movie franchises that had the power to spark lots of merchandise and make fans happy who want to collect all things this film had to offer. Things like toys, novels, soundtracks, costumes, stickers, trading cards, t-shirts, posters, video games, statues, drinking glasses, comics and so much more! Growing up I had most of Marvel’s T2 comic adaption, the novels based on the first two films, the soundtrack for the first film that I wish I would have kept on CD as well as many of the Kenner action figures based on the second film. I also had a really cheesy T2 t-shirt that I would wear all the time. In these modern times I also have many of the ReAction figures of the Terminator and for those who don’t know, they are modern 3 3/4” action figures that are in scale with the classic Star Wars making them super cool to an old school toy person like myself. So if you’re a fan of The Terminator, there are so many cool things out in the world for you to own and I am sure more stuff will be coming in the future for a long time to come.

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I am a huge fan of score music for movies and even help on a radio show called Alpha Rhythms that airs on Sunday nights on WYSO, a NPR station out of Yellow Springs, and I must say that the music for The Terminator is one fun and iconic piece of work. The original film’s music was done by Brad Fiedel, who created the main title theme that is the calling card for all the movies that followed.  Fiedel returned and did the score for the second film as well and spiced up the theme to update it for the time. Marco Beltrami handled the score for the third film, and Danny Elfman handled Salvation.  Each brought their own style to the music and both scores were well done. Lorne Balfe is doing the music for Terminator Genisys, and if a CD comes out of the score, I am sure if you listen to Alpha Rhythms you will for sure hear some music from it. Scores help make films what they are, and here is to all these composers for making the sounds that bring The Terminator films to life.

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Video Games based on movies sadly seem to be a dying breed of games, and if they are made nowadays you get them in the form of terrible cell phone games or ones that are on social media sites like Facebook.  It’s a shame no matter how good or bad they are, I always enjoyed playing a video game based on a film I liked. The Terminator has had many video games based around it from the original Nintendo all the way to PS3 games have been made, and this gamer has played many of them. The first movie had games made for NES, Genesis and even Sega CD, and while none of them were groundbreaking, I found the NES game to be a major challenge that was unforgiving on its difficulty. Terminator 2 had so many games based on it, from shooters to side scrollers, on systems like Game Boy, NES, Super Nintendo, Genesis and even Tiger Hand Held games. I still own the NES side scrolling game, and while it’s terrible, I still spent so much time trying to beat it! Terminator 3 had games made for PS2 and Xbox, while Salvation had games for PS, Xbox 360 and PC.  I never played Terminator 3, but I did play and beat Salvation on PS3 some years back. I also remember playing the arcade games based on Terminator 2 and Salvation at the local arcades and movie theaters.  My favorite game connected to Terminator has to be Robocop vs. Terminator for the Sega Genesis that was a side scrolling shooter where you play Robocop and fight the T-800’s as well as ED 209! Fun times playing this game with my brother and cousin Norman, and before you can ask, yes I have beat it! I have heard a rumor/story a few years back that Reef Entertainment, the same company who made Rambo: The Video Game, was working of a game based around the Terminator movie franchise, but as of this update that seems to be dead in the water. Here is hoping that a good Terminator game for the PS4 will come out and bring the war against the machines into the hands of gamers.

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Way before YouTube, the way you would see music videos was MTV.  I know my younger readers are saying no way the station who brought us such amazing shows as “The Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom” shows gross music videos, but yeah that station used to be good and was the main way, next to radio, to discover new artists as well as watch videos made for you favorite bands and songs. In 1991, one of the world’s biggest rock bands was Guns N Roses.  They were touring and making video for the next couple of years for their smash hit albums Use Your Illusion 1 & 2, and one song called “You Could Be Mine” was used in the film Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  For the music video they got Arnold Schwarzenegger to play a T-800 who enters the club the band is playing at.  This video was so badass when I was younger that I can remember me and my brother waiting for it to come on during the countdowns. So for those of you who want to see this video, look it up on Youtube and enjoy this great song that was used in T2 as well as Terminator Salvation. This song was off Use Your Illusion 2, and over the years I have owned this album on cassette and CD and had this song on a cassingle! While my Dad might have hated Guns N Roses, they remain one of the most iconic bands from my youth.

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So we have stalled as long as we can, and it’s time for us to go to war and destroy as many machines as we can as our fate depends on it…oh wait, it just a movie and I don’t think I could have broken my PS3 because it means me no harm and offers hours of fun game play, not to mention my laptop is how I write these Rotten Ink updates and even listen to my music CDs so that would have been very sad to have had to take them out just because of stupid Skynet! This mini-series is the first Terminator one made by Dark Horse Comics and spawned a few more that followed. But I need to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and I need to remind you 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 it’s time to gear up and join Dark Horse Comics as we do battle against The Terminators!

terminator 1

The Terminator # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $2.50   Dark Horse   # 1 of 4

It’s the future, and the machines are trying to exterminate the humans who have survived Judgment Day, but the humans are not giving up that easily and have taken the war to them. A group of human commandos lead by Mary have entered a base that was held by the machines and use a time machine to go back to the past, the year 1990 in Los Angeles to be exact, thanks to a chunky scientist named Koufaks who stays behind. All the while, a Terminator watches and goes off and brings to life three other Terminators.  They torture and get information from Koufaks and also go back to 1990! In the end the Terminators are in L.A armed as Mary and her crew separate to get the lay of the land.

The war for the future is being done Dark Horse Comics style in this 4 issue mini series that follows four Terminators on the hunt for five humans who are going to the past to get something or someone that will help the humans end the war. Colonel Mary is the leader of the humans, and she is a tough as nails as well as beautiful.  She is stern with her soldiers and is very focused on the mission. Mary is not fully fleshed out just yet, and I can’t wait to see what awaits her as this series goes on. Her soldiers are Bart, Raul, Alan and Naomi, and they are loyal to their commander and are all skilled in their own ways and are also not fleshed out. Poor fat Koufaks is the brain of the group and the one who sends Mary and crew to the past only to stay behind and get tortured and killed by the Terminators who break his bones and cut his flesh. The Terminators are killing machines who are going after Mary and her men with survival on their robotic minds as they don’t want to lose this war.  All they know is war and fighting. The comic is pretty brutal as humans are shot and one even has his whole head blown off in front of his friends. So far the story is pretty interesting as I am not 100% sure why they went back to the past and I found myself wanting to know why and started to come up with reasons. Plus I also like how we get a glimpse of Cyberdyne in 1990 and find out that they are not doing well as a company and it appears as if the C.E.O is pocketing the company’s profits. The artwork is very 90’s Dark Horse, done by Chris Warner, and is pretty well done and a style that I find myself liking. The cover on this issue as well is pretty cool and captures the feel of the series. So far this series is starting out pretty solid, and I am looking forward to reading the second issue.

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The Terminator # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $2.50   Dark Horse   # 2 of 4

Mary and crew are living in an old burnt out house in a bad neighborhood, and she has made a “friend” named Ed who works for Cyberdyne and more importantly, Doctor Hollister who is the person Mary and her friends are after to kill, but he is also the man who the Terminators are going to protect. Mary has lunch with Ed and asks him to have dinner with her that night so that she and Alan can force him to take them to Hollister’s house so they can put a bullet in his brain. Meanwhile The Terminators attack and kill police officers to steal their weapons and as well head to Hollister’s house. Mary and Alan try to kill Hollister, but Ed interferes just as the Terminators show up and kill Alan and make an attempt to kill Mary and Ed who just barely escape as issue two comes to an end.

More action and more importantly answers are packed into this second issue and helps make the story come alive. The plot in this one has Mary and Alan as well as The Terminators all going after a scientist who works for the company that helps set up the fall of man in the future. Mary uses her good looks and charm to use a goofy lab assistant to get her mission done, but while she is a user, it’s clear she has a good heart as when push comes to shove she saves him even after he made her miss killing her target. Poor Alan has a nightmare right before going on his mission where he is shot and killed by a Terminator. The rest of the group take back seats and just hang out at the house and eat and pick on each other for feeding stray dogs. The Terminators are cold blooded killers and mop the floor with some cops all because they want their guns, not to mention they have no feelings and kill Alan with no hesitation at all. Ed is kind of a goof, and I hope that he does not have a bigger part in the next two issues.  He served his purpose in leading Mary to Hollister. Speaking of Hollister, it’s clear as day he is not a nice person as he treats Ed like crap and is clearly the man behind some sort of aspects of Judgment Day. The issue is filled with some violence that has people shot and one even thrown through a car’s windshield, making this comic series hold the R rating of the films this series is based on. Art once more is done by Chris Warner and is good solid work with his Terminators most of the time walking around with red eyes. The cover is pretty cool but has zero to do with this issue as no Terminator rides around on a motorcycle. It’s staying solid so far so let’s see what issue three has in store for us.

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The Terminator # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $2.50   Dark Horse   # 3 of 4

The Terminators take Dr. Hollister to his secret lab and are on a mission to get him the wreckage from the original Terminator who was sent back to kill Sarah Connor. Ed is taken to Mary’s burnt house hideout and listens as they tell him that they are from the future and that Hollister is the start of the end of mankind. Ed thinks they are crazy and leaves to go to Cyberdyne and is attacked by a Terminator and is just barely able to escape, and of course he goes back to Mary and by doing so he leads The Terminators to them.  Raul and Naomi are killed as Mary, Ed and Bart barely escape with their lives.

Why in the world is Mary and her crew still helping Ed who has been the biggest dumbass in the world?  Not only does he screw up their mission by saving Hollister but now leads killing machines to their front door, and two of her friends are killed in cold blood as his goofy butt is saved once more for danger. Bart at one point wanted to kill him after he thinks Ed’s interference caused his friend Alan to die, but is talked out of it I am sure by the end of this issue he was wishing he did. Mary once more is the true hero as when their house is under attack she is the one that tries her best to lead them all to safety. The Terminators in this one just kill and kill, and one death has one chopping a cop in the back of his neck breaking it like a chicken wing. Hollister as well is showing some evil intentions as he starts to put two and two together and knows his saviors are not people nor are they cops, but doesn’t care as long as they can help him get fame and money. By the end of this issue with many of the good guys dead and Mary, Bart and Ed on the run, I want to see how they are going to get out of this alive and how they will destroy all the Terminators and change the future. The art is once more done by Chris Warner and is good stuff, but I will say this issues cover is a little weak and kind of generic. With one issue to go, this series is very solid and is very enjoyable, and I can say I am hoping that they don’t drop the ball on the ending so with that let’s get to it.

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The Terminator # 4  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $2.50   Dark Horse   # 4 of 4

At Hollister’s secret lab Mary, Bart and Ed are having a stare down with the Terminators who have one turn on them killing one of them and wounding another! The cops show up and Hollister is saved by the law and taken to safety as Mary, Bart, Ed and the turn coat Terminator escape. While on the run the turncoat explains that he is only half machine and he was used by them in order to repair the fake skin on the T-800 models. While driving, the remaining two Terminators come back for the attack and kill Bart by snapping his neck as he was driving and Mary, Ed and Turncoat use a pipe bomb on the car they were in and the Terminators were hanging on, blowing them up. Ed is banged up and Mary and Turncoat help him as they wondering if the Terminators are dead or not as Turncoat doubts that it’s over. In the end Hollister gets a package in the mail that is the head of a Terminator with a note that says from a friend!

The final issue is fun in many ways but also a let down in others.  Let’s start with the plot that has twists and turns and has Mary and the good guys going head to head with Terminators where only one side can win and with the help of a Terminator, her team barely wins. Mary who starts off as a badass by this issue seems more like a girlfriend worried over her “man” and spends more time worrying about Ed then blasting and killing Terminators who have butchered all her friends. Ed is just a waste of a character, and I found myself really not liking him and getting annoyed with all his boneheaded moves that leave the real fighters dead.  In fact, he was a goon almost this whole series. Bart almost lived, and while he had a short temper, his heart was in the right place as he risked it all to try and save mankind. The Turncoat Terminator had a change of heart once he was in 1990 and decided to kill his machine brothers and turn to the side of man.  This is one of the issues I had with this final issue as his reason for turning good seemed a little silly and rushed. I mean I get that half of him was human, but the fact his reason for turning 100% was well I see hope that mankind can win the battle now…wow that’s deep. Hollister in this final issue runs for his life during the shoot out at his secret lab and in the end is the proud owner of a T-800 severed head! He is such a greedy man who doesn’t care about the issues his work could cause in the future as long as he makes lots of money today. The Terminators are killing machines but in this final issue they are knocked around and blown away and let’s not forget up in what seemed like a rushed way to wrap up this story in this final issue in the mini series. While I enjoyed this series, it takes the route of something I hate as the end is just a build up for another possible mini-series and that’s annoying as I feel this one didn’t have a good ending. The art in this issue is a team up by Chris Warner and Paul Guinan and is once more solid good work, and for comic readers who read Dark Horse Comics they know the style of work that artist were doing for the company in the 90’s. The cover for this fourth issue is fantastic and showcases the T-800 looking like he is about attack his prey. Over all this series was a fun read that was a nice little story about Terminators that acted as a fill in for fans of the film series as the second film was coming the next year.  While not the best Dark Horse Comic Mini Series I have ever read, it was just middle of the road and never stepped out to shine one way or another.

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So as you can see, we are safe for now from the machines thanks to Mary and her brave men and Dark Horse Comics, but if Hollywood and moviegoers have anything to say about it, I am sure the T-800 will be on the loose again to try and ruin the future for the rest of us. Now if you’re a fan of Terminator, you should go to your local theater and watch Terminator Genisys and show that sequels are better than remakes! Our next update will take us to New Orleans and once more will bring Juliet back to Rotten Ink as a guest writer as she will be handling the next Horror Host Icon that is the one and only Morgus The Magnificent! This is one update that you will not want to miss at all as Morgus is one heck of a Host and inspired many and made being a Monster Kid cool! So until then, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two, support your local Horror Host and enjoy the rest of your summer!

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Marvel At The Movies Part 2: Rise Of The Machines

Welcome back to not only Rotten Ink but also Marvel Theater, a place where we can talk about those amazing comic adaptation made by the comic juggernaut back in the 80’s and 90’s. I really wish that Marvel had not been sold to Disney some years back as I feel that the overall vibe of the company switched from solid stories and fun events and adaptations for the readers, to making huge budget movies and large “epic” events that con people into buying mountains of issues they don’t need. But I guess we can’t change the past…or can we? You see for this Marvel At The Movies, we will be taking a look at the likes of Terminator 2, Transformers The Movie and Robocop 2, and if T2 taught me anything, it’s that the past can be changed to save the future! But really I chose these three films as I feel that in the 80’s and early 90’s robots and cyborgs were some of the most popular subjects in comics, video games and movies, and these three best fit that time of the robotic obsession. So grab some popcorn, get yourself a large soda or Icee and let’s get the perfect seats as we step into the theater for Marvel At The Movies Part 2. marvel-at-the-movies 2 I want to remind everyone 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, and I will give these comics a little slack on not keeping 100% to the film because they have only so many pages to contain it all in, but it will only be a little slack. I also want to thank Lone Star Comics, Half Price Books, Bell Book And Comic, Ebay as well as Game Swap Kettering for having these issues in stock.

Transformers Movie 1Transformers Movie PosterTransformers Movie 2 Released in 1986 by DEG, this first animated film was a showcase for the Transformers and a way for them to pass the torch from Optimus Prime to the new hip character Rodimus. The film has the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons raging hard and leaves Optimus Prime dead and Megatron injured at death’s door. But things change when the Matrix of Leadership is passed down and the Decepticons become the henchmen for the living robot planet Unicron. This animated film was a hit with the Brassfield brothers as we watched it many times on VHS that our parents would rent for us from the rental store. The film of course was based on the Hasbro toys as well as the Toei Animation cartoon that was super popular and helped secure Transformers’ spot as a top brand in children’s entertainment. I can remember many kids on the playground in Waynesville talking about this film as it shook the foundation of what we all knew and loved about The Transformers! The film did poorly at the box office, only grossing $5,849,647.00 but remains a cult classic film that is loved by young and old. So let’s not waste anymore time, and let’s take a look at Marvel’s three issue adaptation of Transformers The Movie. Transformers The Movie 1

Transformers: The Movie # 1 ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #1 of 3

Unicron is a planet eating robot who is on his way to eat the planet Cybertron that is being controlled by Megatron and the Decepticons but cannot when the Matrix of leadership is still fueling energy to the Autobots! Megatron, thanks to Laserbeak, finds out about a plan that has some members of the Autobots going to Earth, and this allows Megatron to get an upper hand as they kill all the Autobots on board and and hide on the ship coming to the Earth base. Rodimus Prime watches as the ship lands and all the Decepticons come out and attack the Autobots.  During the battle Optimus Prime and Megatron come face to face in a brutal showdown that leaves Megatron wounded and Optimus Prime at death’s door. The Autobots run off the Decepticons as Optimus dies and passes the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, who now becomes the leader. The Decepticons turn on the injured Megatron and the other hurt Decepticons and throw them into space where the are greeted by Unicron who heals Megatron and makes him more powerful.  He even gets a name change as he is now Galvatron and has the goal to destroy the Matrix of Leadership!

This is a great comic adaptation, and I must say changes enough from the animated movie to give it a slightly fresh feel. The plot of this issue has Megatron and Optimus Prime duking it out in order for both of them to be wounded bad enough that Prime dies so he can pass the Matrix down and for Megatron to be near death’s door and have his own robot companions turn on him allowing him to make a deal with Unicron to become more powerful and get a make over complete with a name change. The action is fast and brutal, and the death of Optimus Prime is impactful and handled well, even if it doesn’t capture the full sad moment like the film does. Optimus Prime is outstanding as the issue’s lead hero and stands his ground even when the odds are against him. He, much like Duke from G.I Joe and Lion-O from Thundercats, is a perfect example of an 80’s leader. Megatron in this comic is cold blooded and wants to kill and conquer and almost seems to be getting gleeful as he kills fellow robots. Unicron is just a giant hungry planet in this issue and reminds me of Marvel Comics bad guy Glactus with all his world eating. The art in the issue is fantastic and captures the look of not only the movie it’s based on but also the comic series that Marvel had going on about the Transformers. To sum it up, great first issue, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the other two issues left in this adaptation! Transformers The Movie 2

Transformers: The Movie # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #2 of 3

Starscream is about to be crowned the new leader of the Decepticons when Galvatron and his new more powerful men show up and kill Starscream.  By doing so, they get the rest of the Decepticons to join their side in getting the Matrix of Leadership. Meanwhile Ultra Magnus, who is now the leader of the Autobots, gets a call that a living planet has eaten one of the moons of Cybertron.  He gathers the troops to help when they are attacked by Galvatron and his men but luckily are able to lose them by causing a meter shower in space. Hot Rod, Kup and the Dinobots are on a shuttle and are attacked and crash on a planet filled with a race of robots who run a crude court that leads to death penalties for Hot Rod, Cup and Grimlock who are all to be eaten by small razor toothed bots called Sharkticons, but are saved when the rest of the Dinobots join the fight and Grimlock scares the Sharkticons into being his followers and they attack their old masters! Hot Rod and crew meet Wheelie who says he has a ship they can all escape on.  Ultra Magnus and crew have been found by Galvatron.  Their main shuttle is shot down, so they get inside a tiny one that’s loosing control.  Galvatron is called back to Unicron, who has just eaten human Spike and Bumblebee!

This second issue does a nice job of moving the story along and does a fantastic job in showing the odds that are now stacked against the Autobots and just how evil Galvatron and Unicron are, as power seems to be their motivation in killing and destroying anything that gets in their way. I do also like how they show Galvatron not really wanting to be loyal to Unicron and if he could he would turn on the world eater. The plot has the Autobots on the run as Galvatron and his army are out to kill them and collect the Matrix of Leadership.  Ultra Magnus is being pushed to the limit as he must come up with a plan in order to defeat the Decepticons and stop Unicron from eating anymore planets. Ultra Magnus, while a strong leader type, also seems to be a little cold as he shrugs off the would be deaths of some of his fellow Autobots, and really as of yet hasn’t taken the fight to his enemies. Galvatron just doesn’t care and wants to kill as many Autobots as he can so that his pact with Unicron can come to an end.  he also gets joy in killing Starscream and does so with no remorse. This issue ends with a nice cliffhanger as it makes you wonder if Bumblebee and Spike are dead, as they both are eaten alive by Unicron! The artwork is done by Ian Akin & Brian Garvey and is fantastic and captures the movie as well as the on-going Marvel series’ look and feel. Over all this is a pretty solid issue and does a good job of bring the film to comic.  So let’s see how the final issue in this adaptation ends. Transformers The Movie 3

Transformers: The Movie # 3  **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #3 of 3

Ultra Magnus and crew crash on a planet of junk and meet a race of TV talking robots who watch as Galvatron attacks and rips apart Ultra Magnus, who could not open the Matrix.  This allows Galvatron to steal the Matrix, and he thinks he can use it against Unicron and make the giant planet eater his slave! As Galvatron leaves, Hot Rod and his band of Autobots have tracked Ultra Magnus to the junk planet and finds him dead and the TV Robots hostile! But after talking with them using a nonsense greeting, they become friends with the Autobots and rebuild Ultra Magnus.  They all join forces to stop Unicron and Galvatron from destroying anymore planets! Galvatron tries to use the Matrix against Unicron and fails and is eaten for his backstabbing and as further punishment Cybertron will be his next planet meal! As Unicron attacks Cybertron, Hot Rod and the Autobots come to the rescue and attack the giant robot and enter his insides via his eye! While inside Unicron’s body, Hot Rod runs into Galvatron, and the two start fighting and during this fight Hot Rod is able to open the Matrix of Leadership and becomes Rodimus Prime and not only beats Galvatron but also destroys Unicron from the inside causing him to blow up.  Rodimus saves all the remaining Autobots who were stuck in Unicron’s belly and takes back control of Cybertron!

The final issue of Transformers The Movie comic adaptation is good but also very rushed as the plot seems to fly by and the end payout is very lackluster. Hot Rod finds out he is the chosen one and becomes Rodimus Prime and leads the Autobots into war with Galvatron and Unicron and in a matter of minutes is able to beat them as well as the Decepticons who had taken over Cybertron. Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime is a good hero and only in the first issues does he show any immaturity and pretty much from the start shows that he has good leadership skills. Ultra Magnus is useless; not only does he get his butt kicked and the Matrix stolen, he also is ripped apart and goes down like a chump. It’s sad to see both Optimus Prime and Bumblebee killed off in this comic while Prime dies in the movie, Bumblebee does not but in this comic he sure does as does human Spike and many other old school Autobots. Megatron/ Galvatron is again one mean son of a gun who kills with pleasure and is so power hungry that he even tries to turn on a more powerful robot who controls him with unworldly powers. Unicron is a big bully who likes throwing his huge size around and while powerful, can be beaten with the light power of the Matrix. Ian Akin & Brian Garvey do the art again, and it’s fantastic and shows that Marvel did put some time and care into this movie adaptation even if it did feel rushed in the end. This is a nice kick off to this second Marvel at the Movies and makes me wonder how Robocop 2 and Terminator 2 will compare in quality. So to sum up the Transformers The Movie comic mini series, I would say solid work that was entertaining and was a nice counter piece to go alongside to movie for fans.

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From Rodimus Prime to Robocop, we now move from a giant robots to a police cop cyborg! Robocop 2 Movie 1Robocop 2 PosterRobocop 2 movie 2

The original Robocop was a blockbuster Action/Sci-Fi film.  So in 1990, when Robocop 2 was coming out fans like myself were super hyped for a new adventure for the law enforcement of the future! While the first film was dark and brutal, this second film took a more silly cheesy approach and made Robocop even more appealing for kids. The film had Robocop, during a bad time for the cops of the city, going after a drug lord who is slinging his new toxic fix onto the streets.  Both sides clash, and the drug lord himself is turned into a metal cyborg.  The streets of Detroit are wrecked as the two cyber men clash. I can remember that this film was very popular with the kids I knew.  My brother and I also enjoyed it, and we would watch it along with the first movie many times on VHS and HBO. Looking back at it now, it’s still a fun cheesy film, but it does lack the charm of the original.  The story that was written by Frank Miller is a little over the top and filled with eye rolling moments. But what I always thought worked for the film is the fact they got Peter Weller back to play Robocop and that they had him fight yet another out of control machine that was twice his size. Rumor has it that many of the actors of this film were very displeased with not only the shooting of the film but also many of the changes that were made to the script. This film would also mark the final time Weller played the future of law enforcement. The film did pretty well at the US box office bringing in $45,681,173.00 and a decent money maker for Orion Pictures. As I stated, I liked the film growing up and even still don’t mind it as an adult so I can’t wait to see what Marvel does with this three issue adaptation. Robocop 2 1

Robocop 2  # 1  ***
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comic   #1 of 3

Detroit is in deep trouble as the police are on strike. The O.C.P corporation has loaned the city money, and because they missed the first payment, they now own the city.  Plus they are trying to make a more updated version of Robocop that has been leading to many suicidal cyborgs.  Worse, a drug called Nuke made by a man named Cain is flooding the streets! But not all cops are off the road as Robocop, his partner Lewis and a few other cops are still busting crooks and trying to have a war on Nuke! Robocop learns that Cain has a few trusted associates that include a 12-year-old boy named Hob, femfatale Angie and cop turned drug addict rat officer Duffy. Robocop busts Duffy red handed who spills the beans about where to find Cain.  Robocop goes to but him but sadly is outwitted.  Cain and his gang of thugs rip Robocop apart and leave his destroyed body in front of the police station as a warning.

This first issue is great and really captures the action of the film as at no point does the story really slow down; it’s action and sci-fi adventure from page to page. The plot of this first issue is simple, a drug is on the street called Nuke being made and distributed by a man named Cain and his thugs.  The town’s only hope is Robocop, who sadly is outmatched and turned into a tin can by the end of the issue. Throw is a major corporation trying its best to disrupt the city so they can own it.  Robocop is as noble and on point as he is in film and comics and makes for one likable good guy. What works about Robocop is the fact he is more then just a machine as it’s clear some of his human side comes out and he wants to do the right thing by stopping Nuke from corrupting the youth of Detroit. Robocop even disobeys orders to try and stop the mastermind of the drug, but sadly it backfires and he gets his metal butt kicked.  So far all we know about Cain is that he is a murderer, a very mean guy and makes a drug called Nuke…so yeah, he is a terrible person. Officer Anne Lewis is his partner on the streets, and while she takes a back seat in this issue I am sure she will have a bigger part in the upcoming issues. The end panel of Robocop’s body being seen by the cops is stuff of nightmares! Really good comic adaptation so far, and I am looking forward to the rest of the issues. Mark Bagley does the art, and it’s pretty solid and captures the film as well as has that early 90’s look. The cover is great and has Robocop being shot by punks, and he don’t look happy as he is returning fire making it very eye catching. So let’s move on and see if Robocop can be rebuilt and take down Cain. Robocop 2 2

Robocop 2  # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comic   #2 of 3

Robocop is on life support, and O.C.P is dragging their feet on helping him and are moving ahead with a plan to build a Robocop II from the brain of a killer instead. Cain and his men kill Duffy as they feel he had ratted them out.  This is to also serve as a message to those who stand in Cain’s way. By the time they do fix Robocop, they fill his program data with all types of weird orders that take away his ability to be a good cop by being light on major criminals and overreacting to people who smoke and cuss. Lewis is upset about the changes in her partner and along with his handlers at the department, they discuss a way to try and remove all the bad commands.  One idea is use a large amount of electricity. Robocop hears this and on purpose grads high voltage higher and rids his mind of the bad commands and fires up the cops on strike.  Together, they go after Cain and his men! Robocop busts Cain and roughs him up doing so.  In the end O.C.P pull the plug on the dying Cain and are going to use his brain for Robocop II as the young Hob takes over the drugmaking racket.

Robocop might have been down and out in issue 1, but a little ways into issue 2 he is back and ready to kick Cain’s drug making butt! This second issue’s plot has Robocop being rebuilt and taking down his most-wanted tagert Cain and does so with aggression and authority. Robocop, when reprogramed, was a weather loving, pep talk giving odd ball who would be lucky to arrest a 85 year old woman who just stole coffee from the local grocery store. Robocop back to normal is fired up and wastes zero time in going after Cain and ramming a motorcycle down his throat. Cain is sleazy as ever and thinks he’s untouchable until he himself is at death’s door and smacked down to reality. One odd thing is, why and the world would O.C.P want to use a man’s brain who is a drug making, murdering addict who craves power and thought of himself as a god….all I can say is they are doing this to themselves, and once more shows even in comics based on a movie, huge corporations are just out of touch. I really like this issue as well, but I felt like the plot and story in this one seemed rushed and besides Robocop, no other character is fleshed out. Mark Bagley does the art again, and the second issue cover is good by not nearly as eye catching as the first. With another good issue, let’s move onto the final adaptation issue and see just how well Marvel did with Robocop 2. Robocop 2 3

Robocop 2  # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comic   #3 of 3

Robocop, who was once Officer Alex Murphy must tell his one-time wife that the man she loved is dead and that he as Robocop is just a tribute to his memory. The Mayor of the city is holding a telethon to try and save the city from getting into the hands of O.C.P and gets a call from Hobs who wants to make an offer to help save the city with cash in exchange to the city to back off on busting the selling of Nuke. O.C.P finds out about the meeting and send Cain now as the massive cyborg Robocop II to kill everyone.  While the Mayor escapes, Hob, Angie and many others are not so lucky as they are killed in cold blood. Robocop figures out the O.C.P is behind this and breaks into their lab and finds that they used Cain’s brain in the new machine, and he knows he must stop it. The deadline is here, and O.C.P now runs the city.  During the live take over on TV, they also introduce Cain as Robocop II to the audience, but when Cain has other things on his mind and starts to run wild, Robocop comes in and saves the day.  As the two battle it out on the streets of Detroit, it’s Robocop’s mind the beats the robo Cain who is still addicted to Nuke, and he uses that against him and is able to rip the brain from the machine and crush it on the street, killing it on impact. In the end O.C.P play the blame game on one of their own and get away with all the crappy things they did.

A really good, yet once more rushed finale to this Marvel Comic adaptation that captured the action of the film on comic pages. The final act in this series has Robocop finding out that O.C.P is using the mad man Cain’s brain to power a new robot cyborg who has just killed a warehouse full of people on the orders of the evil big business. And when Cain acts out, it’s Robocop who comes to the rescue and battles it to the death. Robocop, in this comic series, is a badass and even when the odds are against him as Robo Cain is more powerful and has way more weapons, he still finds a way to beat his stronger opponent down and even smash his brain on the street like roadkill. Cain as Robocop II is cold blooded and don’t care what it hurts as it even turns on its creators and only wants power and Nuke.  In fact he is a very classic movie bad guy as he is as soulless as they come. Poor Hob is shot and killed, and Angie gets stabbed leaving two criminals dead at the hands of their one time friend Cain. Officer Anne Lewis is Robocop’s loyal friend and partner, but her part never seems to pick up and she seems lost in the rushed shuffle. I will say that while I felt that the adaptation was sped along and at times things seem to happen without explanation as the lead up was cut out of the comic. I still really enjoyed this comic adaptation and felt that for the most part it did everything right. Mark Bagley did the art again, and it’s fantastic and really well done.  The cover for this third issue is just ok and is kind of sloppy looking. Another solid Marvel adaptation and so far chosing the winner will be very hard! Below is some art from the series for your robo enjoyment. I should also say that the art does make the characters look like the actors for the most part and Robocop looks fantastic.

Robocop 2 art 1Robocop 2 art 2Robocop 2 art 3

The Future of Law Enforcement to a robot from the future.

terminator 2 1terminator 2 2terminator 2 3

Terminator 2 was the biggest film of 1991 beating out many other great films like Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, Silence Of The Lambs, JFK, The Rocketeer, Star Trek VI and Freddy’s Dead The Final Nightmare to name very few, and it also marked in many peoples eyes, a sequel that was better then the original. The film follows another Terminator coming back in time to protect John Connor, the leader of the rebels in the future from another terminator who is made of liquid metal. The film was directed by James Cameron and brought back stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton from the original and turned up the action full blast and added a more drama to the mix as John builds a bond with his metal machine protector. In 1991, this film blew my socks off and was a movie I watched many, many times along with my brother who got the film on VHS for Christmas. The film was so amazing I can remember playing with G.I. Joes and acting as if they were characters from the movie, and then when the official toys came out, I rushed to buy a Terminator T-800. The film pushed Arnold as an even bigger top of the line action star and launched the career of Edward Furlong as well helped James Cameron become an in-demand director. The film rocked the US box office, bringing in a total of $204,843,345.00 making TriStar very happy. While I have read this Marvel comic adaptation before as the old library in Waynesville use to allow you to check out comics, I am excited to reread them and wish I still had one of my old Terminator 2 shirts so that I could squeeze into it to relive the time when T2 ruled the world of movies.

T2 1

Terminator 2  # 1  ***
Released in 1991   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #1 of 3

John Conner is the target of Sky Net again, and this time they plan on taking him out while he is a teen and send a T-1000 model after him who is liquid metal and takes the look of a police officer.  The John Conner of the future sends a T-800 back that looks like the original Terminator. Meanwhile John’s mother is at an asylum and is trying her best to get to medium security so she can get visits from John and she fails her review, but The Terminators are on the track of John and find him at the mall’s arcade.  Both try to nab him, but John escapes on his motorbike as they both give chase. The T-800 saves him and tells him the truth of why he is here, and they both head to the asylum to save Sarah who is also being targeted by T-1000! Throw in Miles Dyson a worker for Sky Net who is working with the hand from the original Terminator as part of the cover up over the original attack from the future. Sarah Conner meanwhile is trying to escape the asylum on her own and ends the issue with taking her doctor hostage with a needle filled with drain cleaner.

The # 1 film of 1991 got the Marvel adaptation, and I found this first issue to be pretty good and keeps the action up and still finds enough time to put in that pesky plot to tie it all together. The plot in this one has two Terminators coming from the future to the past to get John Conner.  One wants to kill him, while the other wants to protect him, so it’s a race to John! Also throw in the fact his mom’s in a nut house and a big corporation is working on making the robots that will kill off the human race in future. The T-800 at this point is all business and orders and has no issues killing people that are not John in order to protect the teen, but is also loyal to John who even as a teen can order him around. The T-1000 is a cold steel killing machine who can change his appearance and even turn his hands into knives and spikes to use to kill off the humans who get in his way.  He can also mimic the voice of people he steals the appearance of. Sarah Conner is a woman who is sane in a world of the insane as she is looked at as a loony tune all because she knows all our fates in the future, but even while she is a prisoner ,she still has a fighting spirit. While the issue has some action, it also has the build to the story that while rushed, is well done and at all points I get what’s going on as they didn’t cut out important elements. Now for the downside of this issue and it’s one that really stands out and is in your face, that’s the bad art done by Klaus Janson. I am sorry I am not a fan of the sloppy 90’s art that plagued many comics at this time and for some reason Marvel went the sloppy art route with T2. The cover is great and reminds me of an old T-Shirt I had with the same design when I was younger. So a pretty solid start and can’t wait to get onto issue 2 and see how well Marvel keeps up with the film.

T2 2

Terminator 2  # 2  ***
Released in 1991   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #2 of 3

John and T-800 get to the asylum and save Sarah, who at first is freaked out at the sight of The Terminator who looked like the one who tried to kill her in 1984. As John calms her down and they try to escape, the T-1000 also makes his move, and they all just barely escape his sharp pointy hands. Sarah thinks about destroying T-800 when they stop at a run down gas station to rest and they switch his brain chip to learn like a human, but John talks her out of it and the three travel to the desert to visit Sarah’s friend who houses all her guns and they prepare for war. While in the desert John and T-800 are starting to have a bond, and The Terminator is learning lingo and about human feelings. But things go south when Sarah leaves to kill Miles Dyson, and John and T-800 go after her to stop the murder.

The second issue starts off with action in the asylum but is really just the build up for the bond between John and T-800 making this issue one I have dubbed “A Boy and His Terminator.”  This is by no means a put down as I feel the issue is great and really well done and held my interest as I enjoyed every page. T-800 is now becoming more like a person than a machine in this issue as he learns not to kill people and how to use words like jerkwad. John Conner also turns from punk teen to caring teen that starts to come to terms with himself being the hope for the future and also shows he cares about human life. Sarah Conner, while a caring mother, is also overbearing and doesn’t show her son the affection he needs and is more about living the future then the present. T-1000 is badass but was slightly behind when it came to killing John at the asylum and then takes a back seat for the rest of the issue besides killing another cop along a stretch of highway. The cover is pretty eye catching and has John and T-800 on a motorcycle.  The inside is sadly once more done by Klaus Janson and has that same sloppy look. The art is truly the only thing taking me out of this otherwise solid Marvel adaptation, but let’s not let the terrible art get me down and move on to the third and final issue.

T2 3

Terminator 2  # 3  **1/2
Released in 1991   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #3 of 3

Sarah Conner can’t kill Miles, and when John shows up with the T-800, they fill him in on the future and the rise of the machines. Miles takes them to the lab, and together they try and destroy any and all research that has to do with the original Terminator. Miles gives John the original Terminator’s hand and chip, and the police show up and open fire hitting Miles who has the trigger to the explosions they have set.  As John, Sarah and T-800 get away, Miles passes away and the building goes boom! As they flee, the T-1000 finds them and a chase happens that ends at a steel plant where the T-800 and the T-1000 have a final showdown.  While it looks bad for T-800, he has an ally in Sarah, and together they defeat T-1000 by knocking him inside a vat of molten steel. As John throws in the arm and chip, the T-800 says farewell to them and jumps into the molten steel and gives the thumbs up as mother and son watch their friend melt away.

This third issue slips a little in the quality story department and rushes way too much of the film’s finale as the big end fight between T-800 and T-1000 is way too fast and loses all the excitement of the film’s fight. Not to mention, they cut out the scene when T-800 uses the mini gatlin gun on the police cars from the lab’s window. Plus I feel the death of Miles Dyson has no impact in the comic as he is shot and left to die via explosion really quick. For that matter, the death of the T-800 is handled all wrong too as in the film he lowers himself in as the sadness builds in the comic he leaps in like a kid in a swimming pool. The plot of this final issue is this John and group destroy all the research being done that would create The Terminators and then have a final battle with the T-1000 in a steel mill where they defeat him and T-800 learns why humans cry as he must end his own life. T-800, while outdated compared to the T-1000, shows that newer is not better as he takes a beating and is still able to defeat his predecessor by burning him alive in molten steel. Not to mention he is the true hero of the story and does whatever it takes to protect John even risking his own mechanical body. T-1000 is still just a killing machine who sadly spends a lot of the issues looking for John and having brief fights with T-800.  That’s one thing that kind of stunk about this adaptation, the main villain felt like an after thought. And to be honest, besides killing a few humans and beating up T-800 for a few panels he goes down pretty easy in the end. John and Sarah stay the same as they did in issue 2, and Sarah only changes slightly as now she knows that she needs to show love and affection toward her son and not just bark orders. The comic while having violence never shows blood and keeps the comic very PG, and I’m okay with that as you get the point when people are being hurt. The characters in this film/comic would and could have made a great series from Marvel making this a tough on to pick what of the three films should have continued on as a comic, but again the thing working against this series is the bland and sloppy art of Klaus Janson that is just so cheesy bad that many times I found myself being annoyed by it. Below is some samples of the terrible artwork and you can be the judge for yourself if you like it out not.

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So before I choose which of these films should have gone on to become a full series from Marvel Comics, I want to once more have a Fantasy Warfare match that will pit all the bad guys from the series against each other to see who rules supreme of the world of robotic bad guys! The setting will be AK Steel in Middletown Ohio during a very cold winter and a snow storm has just hit toward the end of the day. So let’s sit back and read about the chaos that could have been if these titans ever fought. So get ready for Galvatron vs. Cain vs. T-1000!

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Jim Wilson Jr. is the last man to leave AK Steel that night as a major snow storm is hitting in Middletown, you see Jim is the janitor and while the workers got sent home for the evening due to driving risks his boss decided that Jim needed to mop all the floors and change some lightbulbs before he could leave to get home to his studio apartment at the Dayton Towers. Jim is about to lock up when he hears a noise from inside the factory that startles him, and it’s coming in from some molten steel that was just brought in from another steel plant early that morning as Jim slowly makes his way to the noise he lets out a very weak sounding “Is some one there?” as he turns the corner his fear turns to terror as he watches a liquid mass turn into a human form of a cop and it’s none other then the T-1000 who turns toward the janitor with his arm transforming into a knife and has murder in it’s cold eyes. Jim starts to run when he hears a massive rumble at on of the loading gates as the door bursts apart and in comes a Robot Cain who is covered with snow and his high on Nuke and is out of control with rage, Jim before Cain can see him hides behind the forklift as Cain spots the T-1000 and thinks that it’s a real cop and goes on the attack! T-1000 turns it’s sights from Jim to Cain as well and leaps into the air and tries to drive it’s now spiked hands into Cains head, but the attack fails for a moment as Cain catches T-1000 in air and rips him in two! Cain gloats with his “win” but to his surprise the T-1000 melts in mid tear in the air and reforms into his police cop shape and his hand a giant spike that he rams through the right shoulder of Cain, who in turn flings T-1000 off slamming him into the wall. As T-1000 stands up behind him, in the shadows giant red eyes appear and an echoing voice rings out saying “ENOUGH” and a fire blast erupts from the darkness blasting T-1000, the heat is intense and extreme and melts the liquid robot into a puddle! Cain looks on as oil is pouring out of his shoulder, Galvatron emerges from the shadows and raises his fist and comes down and crushes Cain like a pop can ending the battle fast and allowing Galvatron to go back into the darkness and find the rest he was seeking. After the battle has died down and Galvatron is napping Jim comes out from behind the forklift and looks around the plant and see’s the crushed body of Cain and the melted mess that was T-1000 and rushes to his old beat up Ram Truck parked outsides, the snow is falling even harder now and the Janitor is happy to have escaped his work alive this night.

Winner: Galvatron

Like Cain and T-1000 had a chance against a giant pissed off robot with a cannon arm! But while Transformers’ Galvatron might have won easily the Fantasy Warfare, I can say that Transformers: The Movie didn’t win The Marvel Comic award that I would like to see turned into a full series.  The reason being that Marvel already had a long running Transformers series going, and the fact I don’t know how hyped I would be to read about the adventures of Rodimus Prime. Robocop 2 was followed by a Marvel Comic series based on Robocop and again, not sure how much more life they could have gotten out of Cain. So the winner hands down would have to be Terminator 2, as I would like to see the T-800 take on the T-1000 again as well as see how John and Sarah deal with the rise of the machines not being over. But while I picked T2, I should also note that I would choose it only if they took Klaus Janson off the comic and put someone like Herb Trimpe on the art!

Winner T2

The Marvel Theater is getting ready to close, and the clean up crew is waiting for us to get out so they can clean up all the popcorn on the floor.  So I should tell you that our next update is going to be another Horror Host Icon as we take a look at that cool Detroit Vampire, Sir Graves Ghastly! So with that we should head out.  Make sure to read a comic or three, watch a movie at your favorite theater, and support your local Horror Host.

Sir Graves Preview Logo

DC At The Movies: Batman (The Christmas Eve Special)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Eve.  While this has been a year filled with lots of ups and downs for me, I have also had a great time loving life and am happy for all my friends and family in my life who have helped make me the person that I am today! While last year we covered Thundercats, this year we are going to cover something a little different as we will be looking at the movie series Batman that started with the Tim Burton directed film in 1989.  When that movie came to theaters on June 23rd the following Christmas every male kid I knew wanted Batman stuff for presents, and boy was their a lot to choose from! On this update we are going to cover the DC Comic Movie Adaptations of the Batman films so let’s sit back with some eggnog and wait for Santa to come down the chimney and talk DC At The Movies: Batman!

Batman 1989 Symbol

When I was a kid, the most popular superhero films were the Superman films starring Christopher Reeves as Superman/Clark Kent.  The only other DC heroes I could think of that had their own movies were Swamp Thing in 1982 and Batman had a film based off the 60’s TV show in 1966.  They did also have some great TV shows like previously mentioned Batman as well as Shazam, Wonder Woman, Legend of Isis and of course Adventures of Superman. Marvel at the time was mostly just focusing on TV with shows and made for TV Movies based on Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America and Doctor Strange and did have the bomb Howard The Duck in 1986 a cheesy film directed by George Lucas, but I must say as a kid I really liked the film Howard the Duck.  I guess very loosely you could say that the Conan films as well as Red Sonja were a sliver connected to Marvel who made comics based on those characters at the time. But when 1989 came around, and Tim Burton, director of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, made Batman, the youth at the time exploded and Batmania was born! You couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing something about this film, and most kids at school had Batman t-shirts, folders, backpacks and toys. If your grew up when the 1989 film and its sequels came out, then you know what I am talking about when I say Batman ruled the world for those months leading up to the releases and the months that followed. So before we get too much into the insane popularity and merchandise of Batman I should give you a crash course on the films, and of course I will be getting the help of IMDB for these write ups as I would be far too long winded to tell you the readers the plots. So let’s set the bat signal off and see what these films were all about! Oh I will also put on here who played Batman as well as who played the main villain in each of these films.

Batman (Keaton)Batman 1989 PosterThe Joker (Jack)

BATMAN (1989)

Gotham City: dark, dangerous, ‘protected’ only by a mostly corrupt police department. Despite the best efforts of D.A. Harvey Dent and police commissioner Jim Gordon, the city becomes increasingly unsafe…until a Dark Knight arises. We all know criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot…so his disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. He becomes a bat. Enter Vicky Vale, a prize-winning photo journalist who wants to uncover the secret of the mysterious “bat-man”. And enter Jack Napier, one-time enforcer for Boss Grissom, horribly disfigured after a firefight in a chemical factory…who, devoid of the last vestiges of sanity, seizes control of Gotham’s underworld as the psychotic, unpredictable Clown Prince of Crime…the Joker. Gotham’s only hope, it seems, lies in this dark, brooding vigilante. And just how does billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne fit into all of this?

Batman – Michael Keaton

Joker – Jack Nicholson

Bob The Goon – Tracey Walter

Batman (Keaton 2)Batman Returns PosterThe Penguin (Danny)Catwoman (Michelle)

Batman Returns (1992)

Having defeated the Joker, Batman now faces the Penguin – a warped and deformed individual who is intent on being accepted into Gotham society. Crooked businessman Max Schreck is coerced into helping him become Mayor of Gotham and they both attempt to expose Batman in a different light. Earlier however, Selina Kyle, Max’s secretary, is thrown from the top of a building and is transformed into Catwoman – a mysterious figure who has the same personality disorder as Batman. Batman must attempt to clear his name, all the time deciding just what must be done with the Catwoman.

Batman – Michael Keaton

Penguin – Danny DeVito

Catwoman – Michelle Pfeiffer

Batman and Robin (Val & Chris)Batman Forever PosterThe Riddler (Jim)Two Face (Jones)

Batman Forever (1995)

The Dark Knight of Gotham City confronts a dastardly duo: Two-Face and the Riddler. Formerly District Attorney Harvey Dent, Two-Face incorrectly believes Batman caused the courtroom accident which left him disfigured on one side; he has unleashed a reign of terror on the good people of Gotham. Edward Nygma, computer-genius and former employee of millionaire Bruce Wayne, is out to get the philanthropist; as The Riddler he perfects a device for draining information from all the brains in Gotham, including Bruce Wayne’s knowledge of his other identity. Batman/Wayne is/are the love focus of Dr. Chase Meridan. Former circus acrobat Dick Grayson, his family killed by Two-Face, becomes Wayne’s ward and Batman’s new partner Robin the Boy Wonder.

Batman – Val Kilmer

Robin – Chris O’ Donnell

The Riddler – Jim Carrey

Two Face – Tommy Lee Jones

Batman Robin Batgirl (movie cast)Batman & Robin PosterFreeze Ivy Bane (movie cast)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman and Robin are back working side-by-side to stop the villains of Gotham City, but is there tension appearing between them, especially when one villainess who calls herself Poison Ivy can make anyone fall in love with her…literally. Along with Poison Ivy, the icy Mr. Freeze is freezing anything which gets in his way from achieving his goal.

Batman – George Clooney

Robin – Chris O’ Donnell

Batgirl – Alicia Silverstone

Mr. Freeze – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Poison Ivy – Uma Thurman

Bane – Jeep Swenson

The first two films were directed by Tim Burton and have a brooding dark feel to them while the latter two were directed by Joel Schumacher and take a more neon and goofy approach. Say what you will about any of them, you cannot deny the impact they had on the youth at the time as well as the box office. If you look at 1989, Batman was the # 1 film of the year bringing in $251,188,924.00 beating out the likes of Lethal Weapon 2, Back To The Future Part II, Ghostbusters II, The Little Mermaid, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Born on the Fourth of July, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Karate Kid Part III, 007: License To Kill, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween 5, All Dogs Go To Heaven, No Holds Barred, Cyborg, Kickboxer, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, The Burbs, Major League, Tango & Cash as well as Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade! So as you can see it had very stiff competition and ended up beating them all. Batman Returns took the # 3 spot in 1992 beating out Wayne’s World, Lethal Weapon 3, Hellraiser III, A Few Good Men and Alien 3 to name a few! While in 1995, Batman Forever took # 2 and beat out such films as Pocahontas, 007: Goldeneye, Seven, Braveheart, Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers and Billy Madison. Batman & Robin took # 12 in 1997 and beat Scream 2, Austin Powers, Cop Land, Jackie Brown, Wishmaster, An American Werewolf in Paris, Lost Highway, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and Alien Resurrection. But one thing I want to point out, is does anyone else notice that in every Batman movie in this series Bruce Wayne has a new love interest and almost always shows them that he is Batman! I think if I was Bruce Wayne, and while all the ladies are very lovely, I would try to stay with Chase Meridian played by Nicole Kidman as she is smart and very good looking! But no mater how you slice it, Wayne knows how to pick the ladies!

Kim BasingerBatmans RŸckkehrNicole Kidmanelle macpherson

The first batch of action figures based on the Batman movie was made by Toy Biz and showcased not only Batman but also The Joker and Bob The Goon. While many kids like myself rushed to get these figures to have our own Batman Movie style adventures, the figures themselves looked terrible and nothing like the actors from the film. I can remember many kids bringing these figures to the playground, and while we were happy to have them, we still all knew that the figures just looked cheap and were shells of what they should be. I had Batman and The Joker and skipped Bob The Goon, The Joker’s action was a squirting flower that acted like a squirt gun while Batman’s was his belt could be used as a hook. While Toy Biz tried, they really did fail, and the license was quickly taken away and given to Kenner.

Toy Biz Batman ToyToy Biz The Joker ToyToy Biz Bob The Goon Toy

When toy company Kenner got the license to make Batman movie toys, they went for the kill and made figures that looked like the actors as well as accessories like the Batmobile, The Batcopter and the Batcave. They also stayed with the film series and made figures for Batman Returns, Forever and Robin! Each series focused on many different versions of Batman and did all the core bad guys from the movie. On some of the molds they reused ones from their old Super Powers line as The Penguin is the same figure just his suit is painted a different color. When Kenner put these out I had to get my hands on one of the Batman’s as well as Catwoman, and they quickly replaced the Toy Biz ones when it came to Toy Wars. One thing that always cracked me up is the Poison Ivy figure done for the Batman & Robin line looks nothing like Uma Thurman who would not give them permission to use her likeness and looks like a man in drag instead! Don’t believe me, just take a look below, as well as take a look at some more of the Kenner Batman figures!

Kenner Batman ToysKenner ivy & Freeze

Back in 1989 Taco Bell released collector cups featuring Batman, and these were something that I felt I had to have when I was a kid and begged my parents to take me to Taco Bell to get one! When I did get one I can remember drinking everything from Mountain Dew to Chocolate Milk out of it, and it lasted away! After so many washings, the image on the cup began to disappear and sadly the Batman cup was retired and sold in a garage sale. I also remember them doing the cups for Batman & Robin, and I also collected those and got the whole set. McDonald’s did cups for Batman Returns, but I never did get any of those.

Taco Bell Batman Cups

McDonald’s had some Happy Meal toys as well as other merchandise for Batman Returns when the film was released, and many kids I knew had the cars that came in the meal. I can remember having Batman but none of the others. My cousins Dino and Norman had them all and so did Nathan. During this time, they also had pen necklaces that had Batman, Catwoman, Batmobile and The Penguin as topper caps on a very cheap pen. McDonald’s took some heat for putting out these toys in their kids meals by parent groups who thought the film was too violent and should not be geared towards the youth.  Parents groups sure can be silly sometimes.

McDonalds Batman Returns Happy Meal BagMcdonalds Batman Returns ToysBatman Returns Neck Pens

Trading cards have been made for all the films, but none were as popular as those based on the 1989 film put out by Topps. I used to get packs of the cards at United Dairy Farmers as well as at Big Bear and would trade my extra cards and stickers to my neighbor Carmen Fields who was making a whole set. The cards were well done, and they did two sets based just on the first film! I used to love buying old wax packs of cards and chewing on the stale gum as I flipped through to see what cards I had gotten. Oh the good old days!  But while the cards were cool, the whole set doesn’t sell for much as on Ebay.  They go for about $14.00 for both 1 and 2.

Topps Batman CardsTopps Batman Cards 2Batman Returns Cards

Batman t-shirts was also all the rage when I was younger, and while I didn’t have any for the first film I did have some for Batman Returns and as of the last few years I do have a Mr. Freeze one from Batman & Robin thanks to my brother Bryan who found it at a thrift store. I can remember that when I got my Batman Returns shirt for school I felt really cool with my all over print shirt Batman design and wore that shirt for many years after, mostly for gym or to sleep in. Sadly the shirt got holes in it and went to the big washing machine in the sky. But I am sure many of you reading this remember just how important it was for you to have the right cool shirts or shoes to fit in, I however was always just me and would wear movie and band shirts way past there popularity like my old blue Alice Cooper shirt or even Flattop from Dick Tracy. But while my old Batman shirts are gone or way too small at this point, I still have great memories of wearing them and being me.

Batman Returns T Shirt 1Batman Returns T Shirt 2Joker T-Shirt

Do you remember when companies like Post and Quaker Oats made cereals based on all types of cartoons and movies like The Addams Family and Gremlins? Well of course Batman cereal had to be made and company Ralston was the one to deliver it to the masses. Every morning when I was a kid my Mom made sure we ate some breakfast, and while some times it would be eggs & toast or oatmeal, it was mostly cereal and Batman was one that we tried and kind of liked. I can remember the main reason I choose it from the shelves of Big Bear is because it came with a free bank shrink-wrapped to the box. While the original Batman cereal was pretty good, the Batman Returns one made as well by Ralston was not so much! I can also remember eating Batman cereal watching Saturday Morning Cartoons.  Man I really do hate that in October 2014 Saturday Morning Cartoons ended on all major stations, ending an era.

batman cerealBatman Returns cereal

What would a movie be without a video game tie in back in the 80’s and 90’s and of course Batman had a number of game come out based on the blockbuster flicks. First Batman: The Video Game for NES came out in 1990 by SunSoft, and this game was super popular with the Brassfield cousins as we would all try and beat it while at our Grandparents house or even at each others. This game was followed up by Batman: Return Of The Joker, a follow up to a movie game that has no ties to any Batman movies by SunSoft for the NES and Sega Genesis in 1991 and 1992. When Batman Returns was released, a video game was made for many home consoles like NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD and even Sega Master System. Batman Forever, a very cheesy beat em up game, came out for Sega Genesis and SNES while Batman Forever The Arcade Game was made for Arcades, Playstation and Sega Saturn. Batman & Robin also got the video game treatment as a game was released for Playstation, and I can remember getting this game from Blockbuster Video and trying my hardest to beat it…I never did and I blame it on the poor controls. While they all have a charm in their own way Batman: The Video Game for NES remains the best video game based on this series.

Batman NesBatman Returns GenesisBatman Forever GenesisBatman & Robin PSX

When Batman and Batman Returns came out in theaters I did not get to see them as we had to wait for the VHS tapes for hit the library and local video rental store.  My Dad was not a fan of the 1989 film when he watched it and didn’t want to spend money on the second one. But I can remember me and my brother trying to get them to take us but it didn’t work. Well for my 15th birthday, my parents and brother took me to the Belmont Drive-In to watch Batman Forever and I can remember the night we went it was kind of rainy out but while I was not a fan of the movie it was fun watching the flick in the old family car with everyone. I can remember that they also made snack food for us to munch on. Sadly the old Drive-In went out of business thanks the those wonderful land hogs at Reynolds and Reynolds who bought them out and let the land sit empty for years till they built another soulless building in its spot. I saw Batman & Robin in the theater inside The Dayton Mall with my Brother and younger cousin Nick when our aunt asked us to babysit him and offered to pay for our tickets and snack food, how could you go wrong. After the movie we played on the arcade machines that were in front of the theater. In closing, I miss the Belmont Drive-In and wish it was still around today.

Belmont Drive In

Well my fellow Bat-Fans, we are at the point of looking at the comic adaptations and I for one can’t wait to relive many of them. You see in my youth I had read the comics based on Batman and Batman Returns and want to see if they hold up! And want to thank you for spending this Christmas Eve here at Rotten Ink. So before we Biff and Pow our way into action, I should remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. I want to also thank Mavericks and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock.  So put another log on the fire and get your self another glass of Eggnog we are going to be having a good Bat Time.

Batman 1989 1

Batman  # 1  ***
Released in 1989   Cover Price $2.50   DC Comics   #1 of 1

A family is robbed and left in an ally.  As the crooks make off with the loot, they get a visit from Batman who teaches them that he is the night! Crime Lord Carl Grissom is being targeted by Gotham Police Department but up to this point they have nothing on him as he has a rat in the department who fills him in and helps cover things up. Reporter Alexander Knox along with photographer Vicki Vale are on the case of who and what Batman is, as crime on the streets is lowering as criminals are in fear. Billionaire Bruce Wayne is in fact Batman, but no one besides his butler Alfred knows his secret. Grissom’s girlfriend Alicia is cheating on him with his right hand man Jack Napier who he sets up at a chemical plant that leads to Batman knocking him into a vat of chemicals, and his face is turned white and his hair green and Jack becomes The Joker! Bruce Wayne however finds himself falling in love with Vicki Vale.  As they go on a date The Joker shoots and kills Grissom and now is in charge of his operation. Vicki is following Bruce Wayne and while out The Joker attacks and his men fire guns into crowd.  When the attack is over, they interview Vicki on TV and The Joker likes what he sees. Weird deaths are happening all over Gotham as people are dying of laughter and it’s shown that The Joker is using chemicals in every day products to spread his death. The citizens found out thanks to Batman who saves Vicki Vale from a Joker attacks at a restaurant and gives her the secret.  The next day Bruce Wayne on his date with Vicki is about to tell her that he is Batman when The Joker once more attacks and with this attack Bruce Wayne figures out that Jack Napier (now The Joker) is the thug who shoot and killed his parents! The Joker throws a parade in downtown Gotham and not only giving out free “money” but also poisoning people via balloons. Batman spoils his fun as The Joker takes Vicki prisoner on top of a bell tower.  Batman comes to her aid, and the fight leaves The Joker falling to his death as Batman becomes the savior of Vicki and Gotham.

This is 100% a comic movie adaptation done right, as the look and vibe of the comic captures the magic of the film. The story of this comic is Batman is new to Gotham, and the cops nor the civilians know what to think of him as he takes down crooks with his vigilante justice, and during one of his crime stopping nights he takes a crazy crook and by accident turns him into an even more crazy crook, The Joker, who is tormenting the city! Throw in the fact that Batman is Bruce Wayne, a rich respected man who is torn between doing what he thinks is right and love as he falls for a beautiful photographer who has also captured the eye of the crazed Joker! Batman comes off as a focused hero to the helpless who takes his crime fighting very serious, while Bruce Wayne is an odd rich man who is complex and is torn between fighting and love. Vicki Vale is a likable female lead who has just the right amount of damsel in distress to make you as the reader want to see her get saved. The Joker is crazy and seems like his whole goal in the issue is to cause chaos and to murder the helpless, very great bad guy character and changed just enough from the normal comic series that was also going at the time of this comic adaptation’s release. The Joker’s death is impactful as he falls from high above and dies still with a laugh as a laugh box in his pocket goes off after the impact. The cover is very eye catching, and fans of the movie would for sure nab this one up.  The art inside done by Jerry Ordway is fantastic, and all the characters look like the actors that played them in the movie. I can remember that I read this comic when it first came out as our friend Mike Cessna had it, and I loved it back then, but then again I did have Batman fever! In closing if you like the 1989 film and like comics then check this one out as it was made for you.

Batman 89 Art 1Batman 89 Art 2Batman 89 Art 3

So The Joker is dead, and Batman is now a full savior of the city.  So what baddies awaits him in this second comic movie adaption?  Let’s read on and find out!

Batman Returns 1

Batman Returns  # 1  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

It’s in the past as a family drops a baby in a basket off the side of the bridge, and as the basket floats down the river and into the sewer, a family of penguins are there to rescue it. Max Shreck is a very powerful businessman in Gotham and is a man with a vision of a more powerful city.  He has the Mayor in his back pocket and he even runs his poor assistant Selina Kyle day and night. While giving a speech about Christmas, Max and company are attacked by a band of scary circus performers know as The Red Triangle Gang.  As Batman comes to save the day, Max himself comes face to face with a strange deformed man called The Penguin who lives in the sewer and knows all Max’s dirty little secrets.  So the two team up to allow Penguin to come above ground and be loved by the people of Gotham. Max has an idea to have a power planet that does not give off energy but takes energy to store, and when Selina gets too close in looking into the plant, she is shoved out a window by Max and is saved by cats who she now has a bond with.  This also makes her an anti hero as she dons a leather cat suit and calls herself Catwoman. Bruce Wayne and Max have a meeting over the power planet but don’t see eye to eye, as Selina shows back up to work to Max’s surprise as he thought she was dead. This bad meeting makes Max turn to Penguin who he now wants to make Mayor, and they hatch a plan of mayhem as they set the Red Triangle Gang free on the city.  As Batman takes out the trash he comes to find that Penguin is not a good role model as Max wants them all to believe and also meets Catwoman who is targeting business owned by Max. Catwoman and Penguin team up to frame Batman and to get the people of Gotham to turn against him by killing The Ice Princess and making it appear as if he did it.  While he is trying to save her ,they will turn the Batmobile into an out of control death machine! With the Ice Princess dead and Batman able to get back control of his car after a nasty joy ride, he is able to use messages he tapped of Penguin to have the people of Gotham turn on him and as he goes back to the sewers he tells his gang the plan of stealing all the first born children of the city and how he wants them all to die in a watery grave! Also by this point Catwoman and Penguin have turned on each other and to make things worse Bruce Wayne has to go to a costume party put on by Max, and that’s when Selina and Bruce find out each others secret identities. Penguin crashes the party and kidnaps Max who he has now turned on, as Bruce turns into Batman and stops the kids from being killed.  With one plan stopped, Penguin now sends his animal penguin brothers above ground complete with bombs and rockets strapped to them to cause death and destruction! Batman stops this attack as well and knocks Penguin out a window and he falls into the sewer bellow. Meanwhile Catwoman kills Max and herself as Batman is powerless to stop her and looses his love.  As Penguin once more appears and is at death’s door complaining of the heat and dies in the sewer water as his animal friends take his body away. Bruce Wayne won’t forget Selina Kyle as Catwoman’s shadow is seen in a ally.

Good comic adaptation follow up to the original but slightly looses the magic of the film, as many plot moments seemed a little rushed. Bruce Wayne/Batman in this comic are almost one and the same as he allows emotions to interfere with his personal life as well as his crime fighting mission. I also am puzzled as too how quickly Vicki Vale is thrown to the side and in a matter of seconds, he is head over heels in love with Selina Kyle who he briefly meets as Bruce during a meeting at Max’s and once for seconds as Batman during the first Red Triangle Gang attack. Bruce is really like a love struck teenager who is longing to be loved and chooses the most complicated women to fall for. Max Shreck is your typical rich big business man who acts as if he cares about the people, when really he cares about his own personal gain. Max is a total scumbag who kills and manipulates whoever he can to become more powerful in Gotham. Penguin is also a very violent and conniving man who kills and takes advantage of whoever can get him ahead in his plan to take over the city. The fact that he runs a gang of circus rejects and has a plan to kill children shows you just how gross of a person he is. Penguin’s death is a little to close too The Jokers with it coming via a fall, but it still works as he makes one last attempt to kill Batman grabs the wrong umbrella, and then falls just short of making it into the cold water before he dies. Penguin is nothing like the comic version and is not classy in any way and is more of a freak, but he still does use umbrellas of all types to fight with. Catwoman/Selina Kyle is an interesting character as she is not good nor bad and while she loves Bruce Wayne, she dislikes Batman and does take the life of his boss Max in the end. This really is a cool adaptation and is a nice follow up to the first with an equally cool cover, but I will say the artwork by Steve Erwin, while good, does lack the charm of making the characters look like the actors of them film, while some do, many don’t. I can remember buying this comic as a kid from The Bookie Parlor and thinking how cool I was cause I had it.  Also while reading this comic, I listened to the score for the film done by Danny Elfman. If you like the film and liked the original film adaptation, this is a good one to have in your collection!

Batman Returns Art 1Batman Returns Art 2Batman Returns Art 3

Penguin is dead and Catwoman is missing, who will be the next to step up and get beat down by Batman? Well let’s see in this next issue based on my least favorite Batman film of all time or should I say forever?

Batman Forever 1

Batman Forever  # 1  ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

Two Face has escape Arkham Asylum and is robbing a bank and has a live hostage, as Batman approaches Commissioner Gordon.  Batman also meets Chase Meridian, a doctor in abnormal psychology.  He goes in to save the day, but while he does save the guard Two Face gets away. Edward Nygma works for Bruce Wayne and is a little crazy.  When Bruce shoots down his idea of a TV that broadcast into your brain he decides to kill the manager and seek revenge on Bruce whom he leaves a riddle for. Bruce takes the riddle to Chase, and after they crack it, they go to a charity circus event and when The Flying Graysons are on, Two Face enters complete with a bomb.  As son Dick Grayson gets the bomb to safety, his parents are murdered by Two Face and Bruce can do nothing to save them. Dick stays at Wayne Manor as once more Two Face tries to kill Batman and fails.  While at his hideout he gets a visit from Nygma who is know calling himself The Riddler, and they two form a team to kill Batman that involves Nygma’s TV Mind Box! Dick sneaks and follows Alfred to the Bat Cave and takes the Batmobile for a drive and saves a woman from some street punks and gets a taste and wants to join Batman as a team who of course rejects the idea. At a party for Nygma’s new invention that is making his company out do Wayne Enterprises two to one, Two Face crashes and Batman this time around is hurt in the fight but is saved by Dick who is wearing his circus outfit and a tiny mask. Alfred tries to push a bruised up Bruce that he should train Dick and allow him to help in crime fighting.  As Bruce thinks it over he becomes Batman and meets Chase at her house as it’s clear she has feelings for Batman as well as Bruce Wayne, but she in the end chooses Wayne! The Riddler finds out thanks to his TV machine that Wayne is Batman, and the evil pair decide to make a statement. Bruce invites her over to tell her he is Batman, and Two Face and The Riddler come in and shoot Wayne, kidnap Chase and blow up the Batcave. After the attack, Batman along with his new sidekick Robin (Dick Grayson) head to Nygma’s factory and battle it out with the baddies. The end fight leaves The Riddler’s brain boiled by his own machine, and Two Face falls to his death into spiked rocks and ocean water. With The Riddler crazy and in Arkham Asylum, Chase knows now she loves the man behind that bat.

I must say I liked this comic adaptation better then the film it’s based on! Gone is the terrible over acting of Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face; missing is Jim Carey’s version of The Riddler just being silly and Ace Ventura like.  Instead we get a fun kid friendly Batman adventures that is laced with some fun silly moments. The story has Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman once more falling for a woman who is torn between the two, not knowing till later that they are the same person.  Along the way Batman makes enemies with a crazy inventor and a baddy from his past comes out to play. He also adopts a circus performer who turns into his sidekick in fighting crime. Batman/Bruce Wayne in this issue is on the verge of walking away from crime fighting to settle down with a woman he once more just meet, but by some point comes to learn that both sides of his life are important, and they can come together. Dick Grayson/Robin for the most part takes a back seat and is used just right, not forcing him down your throat and allowing him to become important to the film’s end plot. Chase Meridian is smart and pretty but besides being a love interest does nothing to special to make her on the level of Vicki Vale or Selina Kyle. The Riddler/ Edward Nygma is crazy and wants to really show Bruce Wayne up and is obsessed with power.  His defeat coming by his own invention is well done, as is the fact his head becomes misshapen with the overload. Two Face loves to kill and is a good comic book villain in this comic. The lame thing is once more Two Face, much like The Joker and Penguin before him dies via a fall! The cover on this one is okay and not as eye catching as the other two.  The art done by Michel Dutkiewicz is really great and helps add to the over all appeal of the comic. To sum it up, a solid good adaptation that is better then the movie it’s based on!

Batman Forever Art 1Batman Forever Art 2Batman Forever Art 3

Two Face dead via a fall onto some pointy rocks and The Riddler looks like the Elephent Man and is in the loony bin.  So who’s next on Batman’s list to rid Gotham of?  Let’s read the last to find out!

Batman & Robin 1

Batman & Robin  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1997   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

Batman and Robin try to stop Mr. Freeze from stealing a giant diamond but fall short when Robin is turned into an icicle and Batman must save him from freezing to death as Mr. Freeze escapes. Meanwhile in South America, Dr. Pamela Isley is working on a chemical that will make plants stronger as her partner Dr. Jason Woodrue uses it to make super soldiers and creates Bane, a muscle bound brute who does what he’s told.  When Isley finds out, he attacks her and knocks her into chemicals that turns her into Poison Ivy who kills Woodrue with a kiss, and she and Bane heads to Gothan City. Meanwhile Mr. Freeze is only doing all these bad things so that he can get money for research to cure his sick wife.  While Alfred’s niece Barbra comes to visit and stays at Wayne Manor. Batman uses diamonds from his private collection to lure Mr. Freeze out of hiding but it also draws out Poison Ivy who turns Batman and Robin against each other to get her attention. But the trap works, and they are able to capture Mr. Freeze and send him to Arkham Asylum, but the heat between Batman and Robin grows deeper. Ivy and Bane break Freeze out, and Batman and Robin find them at Freeze’s old hideout and while they fight off Bane they also come face to face with Ivy again who uses her charm to make Robin and Batman fight which leaves Robin knocked out.  She also unplugs Mr. Freeze’s wife and blames it on Batman making him want to kill his enemy. During this time we also find out Alfred is sick with the same disease that was killing Freeze’s wife leaving Bruce, Barbra and Dick helpless to save their friend and loved one. Barbra finds out the secret and becomes Batgirl and teams with Batman and Robin to fight off Ivy, Bane and Mr. Freeze who plans to make the whole world freeze in another ice age. Batgirl takes out Ivy with Robin beating Bane and Batman knocks around Mr. Freeze and tells him that Ivy pulled the plug on his wife but he saved her just in time and talks sense into him and gets him to help cure Alfred’s diseases. In the end, Alfred is okay and Batman & Robin have a new partner in Batgirl as Ivy gets a new cellmate Mr. Freeze!

The first thing that I have to say about this adaptation is that I hate the fact it starts off showing a movie set setting up the first shot…this takes you 100% out of the comic and makes you say who cares it’s all just a movie.  Dumb move by DC for allowing this to be the opening panel of this comic. But take that terrible mistake out of the picture, and this is a fun average adaptation that showcases the silly nature of the film it’s based on. The plot is Alfred is sick and his loved ones want to save him, Batman has an issue trusting that Robin can handle himself, Ivy wants to save Mother Earth and Mr. Freeze wants to save his wife….this comic is all about saving. Batman is a little controlling in this one and seems to almost have a chip on his shoulder, but as Bruce Wayne he is more caring and worried about his sick friend Alfred. Robin is a ball of rage as he feels Batman just won’t let him be the hero he is. Batgirl is a waste in this comic and besides the very end when Barbra becomes Batgirl, she is given very little to do. Alfred is caring and sick so you find yourself hoping and knowing he will get better. Poison Ivy is an extreme environmentalist who puts nature over human lives, and for all accounts is like a pretty ex-girlfriend who is borderline psychotic. Bane is a mindless brute who says nothing at all through at the whole comic.  He is as far from his comic counter part and is nothing more than a glorified henchman. Mr. Freeze retains all his cheesy one liners that all tie in to cold, and is a bad guy that you feel sorry for as he is doing everything bad to try and save his wife, but man when he’s doing bad he goes for broke! Much like the movie that I don’t think is as terrible as people say it is, this is pretty average and cuts out many of the really silly things from the movie like the Bat Credit Card. The cover is average as well and for some reason more reminds me of the kid’s novel version that you would find at a book fair. The art is done by Rodolfo Damaggio and is pretty well done.  In some panels it seems rushed but is not terrible looking even then. Over all if you like the film check it out, otherwise I would avoid this one.

Batman & Robin Art 1

That was a good time for me, and we have read some pretty good comic adaptations that did the films they were based on justice. The art of making movie adaptations seems to be lost as now it’s not so much a comic of the movie as they are mini series that act as lead up to the films. Say what you will about them now, but The Batman films was a series that got the young and young at heart hyped to go to the movies and I for one grew up being a Batman kid thanks to not only the 60’s TV show but also the 89 Burton film.  So with this I should tell you the next update will be my top films of 2014 and I look forward to bringing you that. Well I hope you all have a great Christmas and Santa brings you all what ever you asked for.  Until then spend time with your loved ones, read a comic or two and have a safe holiday.

2014

Top 10 Should Have Beens In The Star Comics World

Welcome back to my blog, and thank you for reading my trip down memory lane mixed with pulp culture and things that still fascinate me to this day. Last blog I mentioned that Marvel pulled the plug on Star Comics after only a four year run, and I then mentioned that during that time they missed lots of great stuff that could have made some some great comic adventures.  What if they were still around to this day; what great stuff might have come from this?  After thinking about this, I decided that this blog entry will be my top 10 properties that should have been turned into a Star Comic.  Then Part 2 will show some friends and family’s top 5 picks, so sit back and enjoy!

#10 

Adams Family Logo

They are spooky, kooky and an all around fun time for the young and young at heart.  This off the wall family have been around for many years and have been in every kind of media from comic strip, TV, movies, games and books.  In 1938, Charles Addams created The Addams Family (Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Puggsly, Fester, Gramama, Lurch & Thing), and the comic strip was published in the New York Times and was a popular read for the masses. In 1964 ABC aired The Addams Family in which live actors like John Astin, Coralyn Jones, Ted Cassidy and other actors played the parts of the family. The series ran until 1966 and had good solid ratings. Then in 1973, Hanna Barbara made an animated series that ran for a year and featured silly adventures of the family done in the style of Scooby-Doo.

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In 1977, a new live action special was made called “Halloween with the New Addams Family,” and while John Astin and most of the original cast returned to play the characters they did many years before, the magic seemed to be gone and the special was only so-so. In 1992 they tried an animated series again that only lasted one year, “The Addams Family: Animated Series.”  This series also inspired some action figures from Playmates. The kooky family’s next major break was the 1998 film starring Raul Julia, Angelica Houston, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd.  The film was a hit and made The Addams Family a household name once again. The film sparked two sequels, video games, novels, pinball game and lots more merchandise. While many other small Addams Family specials and such were made, the two most impactful were the 1964 ABC show and the 1998 Paramount film, but the 1992 cartoon series also holds a special place in my heart.

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Now let’s talk the merchandise for a moment to show the popularity of the Addams Family.  Many amazing products were made including a fun kiddie board game from Milton Bradley based on the 1973 Cartoon.  In 1965, Ted Cassidy made a song and dance craze called The Lurch.  The amazing NES Video Game System had several games including the very hard “Festers Quest”, and even a breakfast cereal was made to go along with the 1998 movie. All this was in addition to toys from Playmates, and many more fun and silly products. I used to eat the cereal and was always happy to get a box because they used to give away free mini flashlights as a prize! I still have my Lurch and Fester flashlights to this day. I also spent many hours along side my brother Bryan and friend Mike Cessna playing Festers Quest and never beating it. As for the Play Mates toys based on the 1992 Cartoon, the only one I ever owned was Lurch and he came with a old pair of sheers.  It was a cool toy for the time.

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But before I go into why Star Comics should have created a comic based on The Addams Family, I do need to touch up on the fact that a mini series was made by Gold Key Comics based on the 1973 cartoons. The 3 issue run came out in 1974, the year the toon was canceled, and featured silly very kid friendly stories. As always the people at Whitman comics always republished what Gold Key had released the same year. I’m not sure why the comics only lasted three issues, but it might have had to do with the fact the cartoon was canceled within a year, leading me into my pitch of what Star could have done.

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If Star Comics were around in 1992, the issues would be based on the cartoon and would follow the family doing all types of silly stuff from going to the beach to having normal yet odd holidays such as Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. While the main stories would follow Wednesday and Puggsley to gain the kid crowd, it could also follow Lurch and make the silent and hulking butler a main focus.  As an example, he goes to camp with the Addams kids, and they get lost in the spooky woods,  While other kids are scared, The Addams kids and Lurch are having a blast. The rest of the family would be shown and highlighted as well. Say what you want about the Addams Family, but they are nice spooky kid-friendly characters that would been pleasing in a comic series from Star. I am guessing if this comic would have been made it would have run for at least 3-4 issues before the plug was pulled like so many before it, but I guarantee that those issues would have been a fun time for those who enjoyed the cartoon.

#9 

hey dude logo

Hey Dude was a popular live action show on Nickelodeon in 1989 that followed workers at a dude ranch called the Bar None owned by a city slicker named Mr. Ernst and his young son Buddy. Workers included Ted, a smooth talking ladies man and Danny, a local Native American.  They were joined by blonde cutie Melody and rich horse trainer Brad.  All the staff are in their teens and are joined by Lucy who is the overseer of the workers and is in her late 30’s/early 40’s. The show revolved around the Ranch, and the silly wars the boys and the girls would get into over petty things.  The show also built up sexual tension between Brad and Ted adding some teen drama to the mix. In my youth this was one of my favorite shows and was one of the best live action shows of the time on Nick. It also sparked my second major celebrity crush as I had the hots for Kelly Brown who played Brad.  I also found Christine Taylor really hot!   But my first major crush (that I still have to this day) is Danielle Harris, but that’s for another entry.

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Hey Dude ran for five seasons and was canceled in 1991.  During that time, the Ted character came and went and Jake was introduced who was Mr. Ernst’s nephew from L.A. who was also kind of after Brad.  The show was a staple of my youth, and I can’t count the times I watched the same episodes over and over, having a blast doing so. I was so bummed when the show went off the air and was shocked by the little merchandise the series got. To this day besides the DVD season releases by Shout Factory, the only item I can think of was a novel called “Hey Dude: Show Down at the Bar None”.

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Besides the stunning Brad, one of my favorite characters from the show was Danny Lightfoot, a Hopi Indian who was not only wise but also a total goofball who loved to fuel the fire of Ted’s numbskull ideas and bets. But during many episodes Danny would always explain that his people were the ones who created a custom or food item, and this sparked my brother to always walk around and make fun of the character by asking if “Danny and his people created that.”  It was all in good fun, and just the other day on the phone he even referenced it again! I am sure that one of the reasons I really liked the character is because both my Grandfather and Grandmother are part Native American, as were my great-grandparents and so on before them.

Danny

If Star Comics was still active in 1989, they could have reached out to a teen audience and did some issues about the Bar None Ranch and its workers. The comics could have followed Ted and Danny (and maybe Jake depending on when the comic was made) as they got into trouble and adventures in and around the ranch. It could also have built up the flirting of Ted and Brad giving female readers some romance to keep them interested as well. Another fun aspect that they could have played up on in comics would be cowboy ghosts and Native American spirits and beliefs, giving it a little more action and adventure. But with this show airing a year after Star was shut down, we’ll never get to know if this show would have gotten the Star treatment. I will say in closing that it’s about damn time this show saw a DVD release, so a big thanks goes out to Shout Factory. And my guess it would have lasted at least 4-5 issues.

#8

Tales From Cryptkeeper

In 1950, EC Comics was making horror comics called “Tales from the Crypt,” “The Vault of Horror” and “The Haunt of Fear.”  Each issue was hosted by a grim yet tongue in cheek host such as The Crypt Keeper, The Vault Keeper or The Old Witch. The comics were filled with ghouls, blood and grim stories and were crowd pleasers to young readers. But much like many things over the years, parents hit the roof when they found that their children had been reading comics about murder, death and ghouls. So like any good crazed, tightly-wound parent would do, they protested the company and the comics and had a massive bonfire in which hundreds of copies of the classic comic were burned making original copies highly collectible.  EC also sparked the comic code, that tried to ban comics that found unsuitable for children and eventually causing the demise of EC in 1955 after dipping sales and the overly huge backlash of parents, teachers and the comic code.

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But the Crypt Keeper came out of the ashes in 1972 when a live action movie starring horror legend Peter Cushing was made, taking many of the comics’ old stories and adapting them to film.  The film’s plot had a group of strangers who were on a tour and get lost and end up in a tomb like area where the Crypt Keeper tells them strange and brutal stories with each person as the lead.  Of course, this all has a twist ending. In 1973 a sequel was made called The Vault of Horror, and it followed the same formula as the first but this time the guests are trapped in an office building. In 1989, HBO made a hit TV series out of the comic that ran for 7 seasons and had the Crypt Keeper acting almost as a horror host, introducing each episode with a touch of comedy and skits. With the HBO series came films based on the show like Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood and Ritual, making this the most popular version of the comic to come alive. In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon was made for ABC called Tales from The Crypt Keeper that featured kid-friendly horror stories hosted by an overly silly Crypt Keeper who still had a mean streak. In season two, the Keeper also found himself at war with old rivals the Old Witch and Vault Keeper, and this was the formula for that whole season. After season two ABC pulled the plug on the series, but it was only gone a short time as NBC picked up a third season in 1997 and changed the format and animation.  This only lated one season.

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Both the live action HBO show, and the cartoon sparked merchandise for kids and collectors.  There was a pinball machine, talking dolls, action figures, shirts, Halloween masks and decorations and of course reprints of the old comic. My brother had one of the talking dolls, dressed in a tux who said a few hammy lines from the HBO show, and he of course got the reprint comics. I didn’t get any merch until many years later and own a few of the toys based on the animated series and also own a Halloween mask of the Crypt Keeper. Like all merchandise, these things helped keep the Crypt Keeper in the minds of the masses.

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So again in order for Star Comics to make issues based on the 1993 cartoon, they would have had to hang on and been given a better chance by Marvel. But this would have been a no brainer and would have just followed the formula of the cartoon and the original comic series and could have had The Crypt Keeper telling cheesy kid friendly stories that all ended with a lesson learned, never really pushing the envelope to cross the line into making them too gruesome. I know as a kid I would have eaten this up.  I grew up watching horror films and horror hosts, and this would have been a series that I would have bought like clock work. The animated version of the Crypt Keeper was green in color, and his attitude seemed to be that he was your friend telling you a spooky story to have fun alongside you.  This would had transferred perfectly to comic. It’s a shame that Tales From The Crypt Keeper never did get a comic, and Star would have been the perfect company to do so.

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On a side note, back in the days of Waynesville I owned one of those mini black and white portable TV’s, and FOX got the rights to rerun the HBO series.  So I would turn off all the lights in my room and shut the door and would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and then Tales From The Crypt. It was a fun time at night that allowed me to see the show.  I am sure many of you readers remember this showing and have fun memories of watching. Oh yeah, and if Star were to have done comics for Tales from the CryptKeeper, I would have guessed a 5 issue run.

#7 

Conan Adventure Logo

In 1932 Robert E. Howard created Conan The Barbarian and wrote his adventures for Weird Tales Magazine, and the character became a hit with the fantasy world. In 1950 his stories started to be turned into paperback novels and were taken not only from Howard’s writings but also other authors who wrote of his journeys. In 1970 Marvel Comics began the comic series “Conan The Barbarian” that spawned spin offs like Red Sonja, Kull and King Conan. The main series ran for 275 issues and stopped being made in 1993. For many years no comics came out based on the raven haired brute, then in 2003 Dark Horse Comics picked up the licenses and Conan is still coming out as of 2013. This is only the literature part of Conan’s vast history, and this is only a quick sampling.  This part could have gone on and on!

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Conan was such a hit that for years many other merchandise came out including video games, t-shirts, board game, toys and statues, all these making fans of Conan very happy. Some of the most popular ones are the Remco 5 ½” action figures that were just generic Masters of the Universe cash-in’s that came out in 1984.  To this day, they fetch lots of money on Ebay and toy conventions.  Of course the video games that have been made for systems such as Commodore 64, PC, NES, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360. While none of the games did well critically, I found the PS3 game to be very fun and the NES game, while crappy, is still a fun goofy play. It’s a shame that the PS3/Xbox 360 game did not sell well because this caused THQ not to give it a sequel.

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Now for Conan in film and TV, a fun journey for all! In 1982, a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was released.  The film was a blood bath that had Conan going after Tulsa Doom, the leader of Set worshipers who was responsible for his parents’ death and him being sold into slavery. The film follows Conan as he grows up and gets revenge. The film is amazing and is in my top 10 films for sure.  In 1984, a sequel was made called Conan the Destroyer, and sadly this film took a PG-13 route and took out all the over the top blood shed of the original and tried to make it more kid-friendly and has Conan trying to protect a young princess from a wizard.  While not called by name, Schwarzenegger once again played a Conan-like character in the 1985 film Red Sonja. In 1992 Conan The Adventurer,the animated adventures aired, early mornings and followed Conan and his friends as they try and stop the evil Wrath-Amon who was the priest of Set who needs the star metal to be free once more.  It lasted 65 episodes and also spawned a second animated series that flopped called Conan and the Young Warriors that only lasted 13 episodes. Then with the success of Hercules and the Legendary Journeys TV producers thought why not try a show that’s hammy and base it around Conan, and thats what happened in 1997 with a show simply called Conan.  German bodybuilder Ralf Moller played the title role, and the show followed him and his friends’ adventures through 22 episodes. Finally in 2011, the Conan movie franchise got rebooted with Jason Momoa as the Barbarian. Although some were not as good as others, Conan has had a good run in film and TV.  The TV shows and the 2011 film were not well received, but still gave fans something new for the iconic character. In my younger days, I spent many hours watching the 1992 cartoon and watched the original 1982 more then any kid my age should have. 

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The 1992 cartoon is our focus and would be the best bet for Star to base a comic series around.  But before we get into that, let’s talk the terrible toy line that went alongside the cartoon. These things were large clunky pieces of plastic with terrible sculpts and bad paint jobs! I felt that way now and I felt that way then. I was and will always be a Conan fan and when the cartoon and toys came out, I was super hyped to see both. The cartoon lived up to my expectations and was a fun adventure cartoon, while the toys just sucked.  I only bought one, the Skeleton warrior Skulkur, and man what a disappointment.  From the moment I took it out of the package, I knew I was in trouble as the figure was stiff and had this terrible spin around action. No one else I knew in school had one of these figures making this one a school yard dud. To this day I do not have any of these figures laying around Independent B Movie studios (the place all my old toys are) nor will I ever get one of these abominations again. Oh yeah and the main Conan figure looks like a generic toy you would find on the shelves of Odd Lots/Big Lots.  In fact, I remember when these toys did flood those shelves.

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Much like Tales From The Crypt Keeper, this would be a no brainer run of comics.  The fact that Marvel was all ready putting out comics based on the Barbarian would have made this one an easy sale. The comic would have followed the same formula as the cartoon and would have Conan and his friends fighting bad guys like Skulkur and Wrath-Amon and trying to find hidden treasures, protect the star metal and such. Plus they could have used Needle, his Phoenixx sidekick more and made him just like Snarf in Thundercats or even Orko in Masters of the Universe.  Many more of the side characters like African Warrior Zula and Jezmine the female circus performer could also be showcased, and the characters could be fleshed out and given time to really shine . While the main Marvel book was geared towards teens and adults, this series could have captured the younger crowed. The issues could also have an underlying meaning like don’t steal or be nice to others and do it so slyly that the readers wouldn’t pick up on the fact they have just been taught a lesson in manners. I could see this series running 10 issues for Star before they pulled the plug on the series.  I think this one would have had a little life even after the cartoon was canceled.

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#6 rockafire explosion logoIn 1980 a pizza chain was born that was the rival to McDonalds in getting kids hyped up to go out to eat.  That place was Showbiz Pizza Palace. The restaurant had many gimmicks that were used to bring kids in such as arcade machines, ticket prizes, toys, and most famous was the animatronic band The Rock-A-Fire Explosion who would bring young and old there to see them perform. Showbiz became so big that they started to buy other pizza chains that were going under including Chuck E. Cheese. But the fun times came to an end in 1990, as Showbiz had some major changes in its business including a rebranding campaign.  This led to The Rock-A-Fire Explosion getting the boot and Chuck E. Cheese becoming the star of the show. While Showbiz and The Rock-A-Fire are gone they are not forgotten. I have many fond memories of Showbiz and going to birthday parties there and watching The Rock-A-Fire show and only somewhat liking the pizza.  I have never been a pizza fan, and I remember thinking that the pizza was mediocre at best. My younger cousin Steve, who I now work on many movies and TV shows with, was scared to death of the band and I think Fatz Geronimo was the one that terrified him the most.

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The Rock-A-Fire Explosion had many members that included Billy-Bob, a hillbilly bear with a great heart and who played bass guitar for the group.  He is the most popular of the members and was the pizza chains mascot.  Fatz Geronimo was a gorilla who sang and played piano for the group; at one time he was to be the main man of the group.  Beach Bear plays guitar and sings and is a surfing polar bear.  Looney Bird lives in an oil can and offers vocals.  Mitzi Mozzarella is a teenage mouse wearing a cheerleader outfit and sings.  Dook LaRue is a dog who wants to go to space and plays drums.  Lastly while not part of the band but acting as a warm up act was Rolfe deWolfe & Earl, a stand up comic wolf and his puppet. The band was huge and drew many people to the restaurant. While the stage show was animatronic, at times a man in a costume would walk around as Billy Bob and greet the guests in the arcade area. To this day people who grew up in the 80’s and have been to Showbiz Pizza have a special place in their hearts for The Rock-A-Fire.

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The company made lots of merchandise based on the band in order to make that extra dollar off the guests that included glasses, mugs, vinyl records, dolls, small toys, posters and so much more. In 2008 a documentary about the band was also made and showed just how in love people still are with the band and the idea of Showbiz Pizza. All the classic vintage items are huge collectors’ items and go for high prices on Ebay and conventions. In 2011, I was lucky enough to find a classic mini Fatz figure for only a $1.00!

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If Star Comics would have jumped on this popular kids attraction, they could have had a fun and silly comic on their hands and could have got major push by selling the comic at the pizza place.  Showbiz could have used the comic as a tool to try and draw more guests in. The concept of the comic could have followed that band as they toured the world and got into many off the wall adventures, I mean could you imagine Billy Bob in Japan or Russia?  Chuck E. Cheese also would be used and could have been written in as the bands manager giving that hat wearing rodent a push as well. Plus with all the band members all with different personalities, they could have had many funny moments just with the in-band fighting. But for some reason Star Comics just must not have seen how easy this comic would have been to make and how kids at the time would have eaten it up. Given Stars track record I would guess that this would have lasted 3 to 4 issues if it was made and would not have had a clear cut last issue. Here is to someone who I hope some day will make the comic based on these amazing characters that meant so much to so many kids of the time.

Billy Bob on The BeachChuck E CheeseMits

#5

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In 1983, Tonka Toys brought out a line of changing robot toys called The GoBots.  The toys were simple and would change from robot to some sort a vehicle and were geared towards younger kids. At first, the toys sold really well and seemed to be building up steam even without the backing of a cartoon or comic to push it. But this ride at the top of changing robots came to a quick end when in 1984 Hasbro released The Transformers toy line in the United States. Fans flipped for Transformers and loved characters like Optimus Prime, Jazz and Bumblebee as well as the superior designs and tranforming abilities of the new figures. Gobots tried to fight back and in 1984; an animated TV mini series made by Hanna Barbera was released to compete with the Transformer cartoon called Challenge of the GoBots. While the cartoon did not do as well as its competitor, it did get full seasons starting in 1985 and ran for 65 episodes. In 1986 a theatrical film was made called GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords and released 3 months before Transformers The Movie.  The GoBots film was a flop and performed poorly at the box office and with critics. The toy line came to an end in 1987, ending the legacy for a short amount of time, until Hasbro bought the rights from Tonka and turned them into toys for kids under 5.

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Many people seemed to think that the GoBots toy line was the K-Mart version of the Transformers, and most think that they just followed the trend, but this is not the case.  While the toys were very cheaply done, they were still out a whole year before Transformers. The main bad downside to the toys was the fact that the joints would become super loose and your figure would lose an arm here and there.  I cannot count how many Cy-Kill toys I had that one of the arms would fall off. One of the other terrible aspects of the toys was the fact that most of their transforms were terrible and would be just a bend here or there, making them seem like bulky silly robots. Growing up I had many GoBots and used them when I played with Star Wars as other robots that would join in on battles or be at Jabba’s Palace. I think my two favorites in the toy line are the most popular characters, Cy-Kill and Leader One.  While they were nothing special, I found them to be pretty bad ass toys at a cheap price. I still find loose GoBots at Mavericks Cards and Comics and get a chuckle at seeing them.

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Besides the toys, cartoons and movie, many other merchandise was made based on the series that included a game for the Commodore 64, lunch boxes, Halloween costumes, magazines, coloring books, stickers and many more items. It’s odd that this property never did get a comic run from either Marvel or DC. It’s also odd much like the back lash of the toys many of the other items made based on the characters have negative vibes around them.  The Commodore 64 game is always ripped apart and is considered a turkey of a game.

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This is yet another easy one to make into a Star Comic and would have fit in with the rest of the properties that they all ready put out. Marvel Comics was already making Transformer comics for the older teen reader, and GoBots would have been a perfect way to get younger readers drawn into Marvel and to maybe push them towards books that were only a few years away. The plot of the comic would be the same as the cartoon and would have had Leader One and the good guys battling Cy-Kill and the evil robots. It could be a pretty cookie cutter format and could have relied on mindless robot battles with normal recycled plots. I know it’s sounding like I am saying that Star should have made a half ass comic series, but that’s not what I am really meaning at all. All I am saying is that this could have been a fun cheesy comic that was geared towards young readers.  I am sure I would have eaten it up even with tame and generic story lines, as would many other kids of that time. I think this would have lasted for about 12 issues if Star was to put it out and would have gotten a clear cut last issue. It’s a sad world we live in when Leader One never made it to a comic book in his prime.  What makes it worse is the ad below for the cartoon that is drawn in your typical Star art style, making me wonder if something was in the works and fell through when the film bombed and the toy line was on a decline making Star cancel the deal.  I guess we will never really know.

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#4

mad scientist logoWhen you were a kid in the 1980’s, lots of things came out that were related to horror and monsters.  In 1987 Mattel released a toy line that claimed to be Too Gross! Mad Scientist allowed you to be your own Dr. Frankenstein or even a Egor, if you owned a bendable Mad Scientist figure, and would allow you to create, dissect and melt your own creations. The line of toys also had dress up kits to become a crazy doctor yourself. In 1988 as well a very short lived animated cartoon was made that lasted two episodes called “Mad Scientist: Experiment of Error” and was only released on VHS. Weirdly as fast as it came, the Mad Scientist toy line disappeared in less than two years, making it one of those toy lines that made you wonder what just happened.  Many blame the NES for the death of this toy line that seemed to be gaining more attention than action figures.  Some also blamed the price of the playsets claiming that they were too expensive for parents to get for their kids.  All I can say is that it was a fun toy line that had some amazing animated/ live action commercials.

Monster Lab

My first introduction to this toy line was of course the commercials that aired during Saturday Morning Cartoons.  While they got my attention, I was not so hip to the whole chemistry set aspect of the toy line making me at first blow the whole line off as just another silly creepy toy. But then one day at school someone had a few of the figures on the playground.  They had Dissect an Alien where you removed the guts of a monster alien with slime in his belly and a bendable Mad Scientist figure.  I played with them both and really found the toys neat and offered to trade to get the Scientist figure.  To my shock, he did not want to trade but instead sold the figure to me for a dollar! This made my day and for weeks at home I would do odd little science experiments alongside my new figure. Next at KB Toys, a now dead toy store that was in the Dayton Mall, I found gummi bear style molds of creatures from the lab of the Mad Scientist and bought those and made plaster molds from them and spent time painting them to give to my Mom. Sadly I never owned any of the major play sets, but what little I did have from the toy line I enjoyed a lot.

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I know what you’re all thinking why, did he pick a toy line that for all accounts failed,  had a cartoon that never even made it to TV, as his # 4.  Let me tell you why. I think that one of the big reasons this toy line failed is the lack of real push from Mattel.  I think they lost interest in it fast and never fully saw the potential in its appeal. If Star Comics would have made this into a comic, I think that it would have kept the line a little fresh in kids’ eyes and might have made it last a little longer. The comic could have followed The Mad Scientist and let’s say a every day normal boy who helps him in all his wacky experiments that of course go wrong! You could have issues where monsters escape and they must round them up, a potion that makes The Mad Scientist normal and his young friend must find a way to return him to his crazy self and many more plots like that. Not to mention think of all the monsters you could add.  As far as bad guys, you could have the town mayor be the one who wants to lock up the Mad Scientist and throw away the key. But sadly Star Comics was all ready on the verge of closing up, and this series never did make it to the light or I should say was never even considered. If this was a Star Comic though, I could almost guarantee that much like its shelf life on toy shelves, its comic stand life would also be short.  I see it only lasting for about 4 issues. It’s a shame this never happened I would have loved to read the adventures of a lunatic Mad Scientist!

mad scientistmattel logoMad Alien

#3 

commander usas groovie movies LogoI have always been a fan of Horror Hosts, being young and watching scary films alongside them always seemed to make the film less scary and you felt protected by the hosts’ silly antics. Saturdays were always a fun day for me.  I would spend the mornings watching cartoons and eating cereal.  Every other week we would go shopping at Big Bear & Hearts, and then we would get home in time to watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies on the USA Network! After the Groovie Movie was over, I would go to my room and play with toys or go out side and play ball tag (where we would play tag with a soccer ball that we would throw at others in the game) or even possibly record my own radio show via a tape deck and then at night it was time for USA’s Saturday Nightmares! Commander USA was a retired super hero that rented space under a shopping mall in New Jersey and would host a movie or two and would have some sort of crazy thing going on in his Video Vault. He was joined by his best friend and sidekick Lefty who was really just Commander’s right hand with a cigar ash smiley face drawn on. The show started in 1985 and ran until 1989, switching from Saturday to Sundays and was a staple of my youth. The thing about Commander USA, who was played by a great stage actor Jim Hendricks, was that during the movie you felt as if he really was watching the film along side you.  That’s something a really good host can do, is make you think he or she is watching whatever turkey they are showing this week. It’s odd looking back over my life and seeing just how many horror hosts motivated me to be the creative person I am today, hosts like the late great Dr. Creep, my “Dad” A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Joe Bob Briggs, Grandpa Munster, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Son of Ghoul, Sammy Terry and many more.  So to all of you hosts out there, thank you for doing what you do and inspiring people like me with your antics.

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Commander USA had very little merchandise, but what he did have was pretty cool as you could join his fan club that came complete with a membership card.  Also an official fanzine was made called ” Commander USA’s World of Horror”. Over the years his show has shown up on sites that offer his show on DVD-R’s and are worth getting if you want a nice flashback to a great era of the USA Network. Also Jim Hendricks is talked to in an amazing documentary about horror hosts called American Scary.  If you like horror hosts, this is a must-see.

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A comic book based on the adventures of Commander USA still needs to happen! Star Comics could have drawn in the horror kid crowd like myself by making issues about the Commander’s super hero ways in and out of the Video Vault! This comic series could have been played two ways, and both would have been good,  One could have followed him as he is retired and is forced back into action to save the day, like to find a purse snatcher that has been running wild in the mall above the Video Vault, or say stop an ice cream monster that has been made by a mad doctor who was mad when a store ran out of his wanted pair of gym shoes.  The second route they could have taken was to follow the Commander in his prime and to show him doing amazing feats like fighting super villains or going up against famous monsters like Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster. This comic would have made me so happy and would be a series that I would have bought every issue back then and even to this day.  But if I know Star Comics like I think I do, I would say that if they did take a chance and make this comic, it would run 3-4 issues before they got cold feet and ended it. That’s one thing I will say, more horror hosts need comic books based around them.  At this time the only ones I can think of that have their own is Indiana’s icon Sammy Terry, Elvira and one about Wolfman Mac and his Chiller Theater . I think that a Baron Von Porkchop Comic will be coming your way soon, and I hope that these four books will trigger more comics about Hosts. With that to quote Commander, “Keep your nose in the wind… and your tail to yourself…”

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#2 

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In 1986 a plush doll that was aimed toward boys was released by American Greetings.  This doll was named My Pet Monster and was a blue furred, devil horned, sharp teeth, big nosed creature who was bound by bright orange handcuffs, and if those handcuffs came off he was said to come alive. The toy was one of very few plush dolls that was geared toward boys and to many people’s, surprise it was a huge success! The doll was so popular that many more were made in the line that included such beasts as Gwonk, Rark and Wogster. My Pet Monster warmed his way into hearts up into the early 90’s before the line went silent. In 2001 he came back for a second run but went through some changes.  While most of him looked the same, his nose and snarl looking teeth were way more tame, and this change was to please kids who found the original too scary. The rebirth was short lived but the doll now is a collectors item that kids of the 80’s will search for it to relive their youth. I never owned one of the original dolls but I do remember that a classmate had one, and he was a hit for the day on the playground when he came to school with his owner. I remember many of us going down the slide with him and spinning on the merry go round was a blast with our friend, My Pet Monster. The one I own is the 2001 rerelease that I found at a thrift store some years back.  It was in perfect shape and now even as I write this, he sits in an old vintage chair in my apartment looking at the TV. 

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My Pet Monster was so popular that is spawned many other merchandise and came to life in films and cartoons. My Pet Monster was made into kids books, coloring books, puzzles and a lunch box. In 1986 My Pet Monster also was made into a live action direct to video film, and had a young boy who when he got hungry would turn into the monster and get into all kinds of silly messes. The film was only moderately successful and has never made it to DVD or Blu-Ray. In 1987 ABC picked up a cartoon based on the toy line that followed a young boy named Max who was the keeper and best friend to the My Pet Monster who was more silly than scary. The cartoon ran for one season and had 16 episodes that can be found on DVD.

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If this were turned into a Star Comic, I would have skipped the film and cartoon and focused on the toy line itself.  The charm of the My Pet Monster was that when the orange shackles came off, he was free to act wild and crazy making the comic being able to go above and beyond with him going crazy in all types of areas. Like say he wanders to a school where a young man is picked on and watches as bullies keep making fun and shoving the kid around.  So My Pet Monster sees enough and talks the kid into un-shackling him and letting him show the bullies that it’s wrong to pick on others by pulling pranks and scaring them half to death.  Each issue could be a new kid with new issues and each time My Pet Monster is the problem solver, and while he is doing good things, he could still have a mean streak. This would have made many kids happy to see My Pet Monster in comic forum, and I am sure would have made Star a lot of money. I give this an 11 issue run with Star and I think it would have gotten a real final issue. It’s odd that this was never looked at to become a comic, and I believe that not only did Star/Marvel drop the ball on this, I think DC and Archie did as well.

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#1

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Now before you get all huffy and say that The Incredible Hulk is already a long running series with Marvel Comics, you should take another look as I am saying that one should have been made based on the 1978 live action TV show. So with that let’s look at the Hulk’s history

The Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1962.  Issue # 1 that shows how scientist Bruce Banner was hit with gamma rays trying to save a young hot shot Rick Jones.  When the moon was full Banner would turn into a super strong brute called the Hulk and became wanted by General Thunderbolt Ross and the US army. Originally the Hulk was grey skinned, and as the series matured a few issues they changed him to green and instead of the moon triggering his transformation, it happened when he was angry . The comic series was and is Marvel’s top comic based on a monster type character out lasting the likes of Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, Man-Thing, Godzilla and Monster of Frankenstein.  The Hulk has many great enemies that include the Leader, the Abomination, the Glob, Wendigo, the U-Foes, Absorbing Man, Dr. Samson and many more. In fact as I am all sure you know, Wolverine’s first appearance was in a Hulk issue (#181). The character became so popular that he even got his own comic Magazine called The Rampaging Hulk in 1977. The comic is still going strong to this day and doen’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.  I could spend pages and pages talking about this because the Hulk is my all time favorite super hero and the series is just so rich with plots and characters.  But I am here to get to the point of why Star should have made comics based on the TV show so let’s move on shall we.

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The Hulk was a fan favorite of kids who read comic books.  So they thought, hey why not make some cartoons based on the giant green monster and they did just that in 1966 as part of The Marvel Super Hero’s show that lasted 13 episodes. The 1966 series animation was based on the comic panels and was very crudely done, but still was a solid toon. Then in 1982, they gave it another go around this time the cartoon was just simple called The Incredible Hulk and was played along side Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  The animation was better, and the plot’s were silly fun adventures but this one only lasted one season and 13 episodes as well. Many years would pass before they gave him another chance at the animation world, and 1996 marked his return to TV in animated form.  This one was called The Incredible Hulk as well and lasted two seasons and 21 episodes making it the longest running cartoon and had Lou Ferrigno come back to voice the Hulk. While this one was more up to date, I think it lacked the charm of the 1982 show which is my favorite. Sadly, none of the cartoons are out in the USA on legit DVD’s, and the only way you can see them is on Netflix, PAL Region 2 DVD’s or on Bootleg DVD-R’s. But I hope in 2012 they will be released for US fans.

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The Hulk has also had many action figures, and while some are based on his film appearances, other great old school ones have been made based on the comic and loosely on the live action show. My favorite one has to be the Mego Hulk.  While he is way off scale compared to the rest of the Mego collection, he still has a simple charm to him.  Plus fans of Wizard Magazine’s Toy Fair Issues will always remember him in their stop motion comics as a lunk head. Both small and large versions of the Mego dolls are worth tracking down and owning if you are a fan as well. I also really liked Mego’s Pocket Hero version of the Hulk because he was in scale with Star Wars and G.I. Joes. Lastly I have always had a soft spot for Toy Biz’s first Hulk toy that actions such as him bending a bar and smashing a soft rock. These four are just a drop in the hat of all the badass Hulk toys out there. One thing that always let me down is the fact Mattel never produced their Hulk figure for the Secret Wars line.  Many rumors say that he and The Abomination would have made it to series 3, and it’s a shame the line folded before then.

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The Incredible Hulk has also made his way into the video game world like in 1984 when “Questprode:Hulk” that was released for Commodore 64 and Atari Computers.  It was a text adveture game and marked the first video game to be based on the character. In 1994, a side scrolling action game was made for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo called “The Incredible Hulk.”  While the game is by no means a masterpiece, it still is a fun button masher, and let’s you face some of your biggest foes like Abomination, Rhino and The Leader. In 1997 “The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga” came out for the Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn and was a terrible action game plagued by bad controls. Next up was “Hulk” a 2003 game based on the movie by Ang Lee and was made for Sony Playstation 2, Xbox, PC and Nintendo GameCube. Then in 2005, a pretty badass game came out called “The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction” and was an open world mission based game that allowed you to go as rampaging as you wanted.  It came out for Playstation 2, GameCube and Xbox. Last on this list for now is a 2008 game made by Sega and based on the film starring Edward Norton called “The Incredible Hulk.”  It takes the same idea as Ultimate Destruction and just ties it into the move. On a side note an Atari 2600 game based on the Hulk was in the works but was never finished by Parker Brothers due in part to the video game crash of 83. The story goes that the game was almost done and this gives hope a ROM of it will be found soon because the cover box has been discovered. While none of the games above are groundbreaking, I did find each and every one of them a fun play through even if some of them made me want to scream.

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Many more great merchandise items have been made that include coloring books, lunch boxes, stickers, Halloween masks and costumes, banks, Halloween pales, board games, Colorforms, candy, toy boxes, shirts, shoes, hats and so much more. One of my favorite things as a kid was my brother’s and my Hulk toy box that was a purple base and the lid was a giant Incredible Hulk Head! We use to even take it outside and play with it putting it over our heads and stumbling around like little fools. Sometimes we would fill it with water and drop the figures inside it and act if it was a deep dark abyss. I miss that damn thing! Oh and my mom still has pages of an old Hulk coloring book I colored for her when I was like 4-5, showing that I have always loved The Hulk.

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We still have one more thing to cover about The Incredible Hulk and his impact on our culture and his popularity, and that’s Hulk at the box office. Hulk films have been made before the ones that made it to theaters but those will be separate from this due to the fact they tie into the TV show that I think should have been continued in Star Comics. The first film in theaters was Universal & Ang Lee’s 2003 film called HUL.  This film had Eric Bana playing Bruce Banner who as a child was given Gamma radiation by his father who worked for the government, who also happened to be The Absorbing Man.  The film’s Hulk was CGI and looked like a dated video game graphic.  This film was more drama then action and while it made money at the box office, it left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. In 2008 Universal tried to reboot the film and made THE INCREDIBLE HULK.  This time amazing actor Edward Norton played Bruce Banner, and while the Hulk was CGI, they got Lou Ferrigno to voice him. The film has Bruce on the run from the government and trying to learn to control The Hulk.  Oh yeah, throw in The Abomination for fun, and you have this fun smash’em up movie. Again this one did well in the theaters but not well enough for them to do a sequel.The Hulk was also in 2012’s Avengers the movie and steals the show as he smashes his way throughout the film.  While he only had two solo theater movies, many fan-made films have been made as well.

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In 1977, a movie pilot was aired on CBS based on the Marvel Comic called The Incredible Hulk and followed David Banner (they thought Bruce didn’t sound manly enough) who during a test overdosed his body on Gama Radiation.  When he becomes angry he grows into being a muscle bound green skinned monster know as The Hulk. David goes to his friend and fellow doctor Elaina, and together they try and find a cure, but when a snooping reporter named Jack McGee gets involved, an accident leaves Elaina dead.  David is thought to be dead as well, and The Hulk is blamed.  This was such a hit another made for TV movie was made, and in 1978 it became a full series that followed the same formula: David would go town to town changing his name to find work or to get one step closer to a cure, and Jack McGee would be on his heels looking for the big news story of The Hulk.  Bad things would happen, and The Hulk would come out and save the day.  Then David would be forced to leave in order to hide his secret. This show ran for 5 seasons and a total of 82 episodes. After the show was cancelled, made for TV movies were still being made. The show was one of my favorites, and I found myself glued to the TV whenever it was on.  I remember coming home from school and skipping the after school Disney Shows (Duck Tales, Gummi Bears, ect.) and trying to tune in a fuzz station on the kitchen TV that would show reruns of The Incredible Hulk.  To this day, the show remains my all time favorite! Lucky enough Universal, who owns the show, has released all seasons on DVD! I think the show was amazingly acted with Bill Bixby playing David Banner being one of the best portrayals ever in TV and film, and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno was perfect painted green and playing The Hulk. Growing up Ferrigno was one of my heroes because of this show.

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A total of 5 made for TV films were made.  The first was the pilot that kicked off the series, and the second film “Return of the Incredible Hulk” quickly followed and had David/The Hulk having to help a young woman who is crippled and getting bad medicine from the family doctor and her step-mother. The first film to follow the end of the series was the 1988 film, “The Incredible Hulk Returns” and has Hulk teaming up with Thor to stop organized crime. Then in 1989 came “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” in which David Banner is framed for a crime and becoming The Hulk, he and Daredevil must clear his name and stop The Kingpin. Then in 1990 came the final film “The Death of The Incredible Hulk,” and it involves spies and the Hulk falling to his death in the end. Another film was planned, but sadly Bill Bixby lost his battle to cancer in 1993. When these movies were coming on, I know I drove my Mother and Father crazy.  That’s all I would talk about and when they would finally air the whole family would gather in the living room with a big bowl of popcorn and we would all watch the film. Times like that will always be an amazing memory of my youth and how great my family was. I remember also being so sad when in the final film The Hulk died.  While the way he died was pretty lame, it was sad because I knew that this was the end.

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Now let’s get down to it.  This live action show was made for comic books and should have continued in comic books.  Star Comics would have been the perfect home for it. The issues could have followed the style of the show and could have had David Banner going from town to town finding people in need and turning into The Hulk to save the day only to have to restart over again in the next issue. They could have picked kid-friendly issues and topics and tackled the “Just Say No To Drugs” attitude that was big at the time. The Hulk of the show was perfect for kid’s comics because he was never smacking animals or flying off the handle, he seemed to have a good childlike nature that showed him who was bad and who was good. Plus they could have had some of the better artists of Star work on the book and have the comic versions look just like the actors, making this truly fit in the same storyline of the TV Show. Plus they could have turned the planned yet never made film into a comic and gave us the fans young and old the real closer we needed for the series. While this doesn’t stand a chance I wish Marvel would even consider doing this now! This was a no brainer for Star Comics to do, but they really missed the boat on this one, due to the fact they owned the characters! I would say that if made this would have had a pretty long run for them something like 10-12 issues.

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So there you have it from Commander USA to The Incredible Hulk, you see what comics I would have been lining up for if Star/Marvel would have made.  In the next blog I’ll let some family and friends give you their top 5 choices! See you all next update.

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