In the words of Edwin Starr “War, huh, yeah…What is it good for…Absolutely nothing.” While the lyrics to that song make lots of sense, they also forget the fact that war is good for something as without it, the world would not have American Heroes in comic books like Captain America, Fighting American, The Shield and Super Green Beret to name a few. And let’s not forget literary and movie heroes like Rambo and Colonel John Matrix. For this quick update, I will showcase a DC Comics one-shot issue that reprinted a classic war story that featured some of their top characters of the time that included Sgt. Rock, Lt. Johnny Cloud and Haunted Tank driver Jeb Stuart as they have to work together to save and deliver one of America’s only hopes in an agent that’s very unusual. So if you are ready, strap on your helmet and let’s head to war DC Comic style!
I am sure you longtime readers know that the update after the July 4th has always been about my trip to the Horror Convention Monster Bash with Juliet, but sadly this year the summer event was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak that pretty much shut down the world and changed lots of events that I had planned. I 100% understand why events like Monster Bash, Horror Hound, Cinema Wasteland and others were cancelled as lots of people attend them and the virus could spread very easily from attendee to attendee causing more illness and even deaths. But while I do understand, I was also very disappointed as every year I look forward to going to Monster Bash and enjoying all the amazing restaurants, sites and friends I get to see while in Cranberry Township. So while I am bummed, maybe later this year if all this clears up, Juliet and I will take a trip and I will cover it here on Rotten Ink.
Typical none-superhero War Comics were never my thing growing up, and the only one that I really enjoyed and still do to this day is DC Comics character The Unknown Solider who I will 100% cover some year soon for a July 4th American Hero update as he is a true comic icon and hero in this blogger’s eyes! Growing up I can remember my brother getting some issues of DC war comics from our Grandma Brassfield when she would get them from garage sales for him, and for the most part I would barely read or look at them with Sgt. Rock being the only one I would once in a blue moon read as the action in his comic was slightly more fast paced. But one comic from those hauls that always caught my attention was called “Battle Classics” that brought Sgt. Rock together with many of the other War characters teaming up to save the life of a person stuck in a metal suit, and to be honest, the cover showcasing the metal suit is why I checked it out! When planning this update I figured that I should give a little brief bio on each of the heroes that are showcased in this issue. So sit back, relax, and let’s chat about DC Comic’s battle stars, only after I talk about the July 4th Holiday Horror Movie Marathon 2020!
With Monster Bash not happening this year, Juliet and I decided on the long July 4, 2020 weekend that we would have ourselves a Horror Movie Marathon! On July 4th we had ourselves a pre-show of four frightful films as we ate pork chops, baked potatoes and corn! The first film of the day was the 1958 Horror/Sci-Fi film called “Frankenstein 1970” that is about the last relative of Frankenstein trying to create a life in his image all the while hosting a TV Film crew trying to make a Horror series that are clueless to his plan of creating a monster. Next up was the “horror” western film “Rawhide Terror” about a masked killer who is killing people of a small town for crimes of their past. Fun side note: this film was done by Al Adamson’s dad! We then watched the 1970 made for TV version of the George Dibdin Pitt story The String Of Pearls with “Mystery And Imagination: Sweeney Todd” about a killer barber who is slipping into total madness. And the last film of the night was “Mystery And Imagination: Dracula” that was released in 1968 and is about vampire Count Dracula and attempt to turn Lucy Weston into one of his undead brides.
This was a super fun Holiday night of horrors as the food was great and the films were very entertaining! The Golden Turkey of this pre-show for both of us hands down was “Rawhide Terror.” While it was a very cheesy and poorly made western, the “horror” aspect was not in sight and to be honest the film had some many plot holes and dead ends that it made Swiss Cheese look solid. The best film of the night for me was “Mystery And Imagination: Dracula” as I felt this short film captured the book well in 75min with Susan George who played Lucy being not only beautiful but also fantastic in the role, and Denholm Elliot was okay as Dracula…even if we nicknamed him Chubby Dracula! Juliet picked “Frankenstein 1970” as she loved the vibe and feel of this Sci-Fi Horror film and thought The Monster was cheesy fantastic! For the Golden Turkey of the Pre-Show, Juliet and I both picked “Rawhide Terror” as it was kind of a mess plot wise, and while it had a killer on the loose, it was not pulled off very well at all…in other words this Horror Western was a miss. To sum it up, a great night as after the movies we sat and listened to the booms of the fireworks outside.
The main day of The Holiday Horror Movie Marathon Weekend took place on July 5th and started at 8am, and of course this day was as well packed with good food that included breakfast casserole, chips and dip, mixed nuts and burritos! We started our day with the 1958 Sci-Fi/Horror flick “Colossus Of New York” about a genius that dies in an accident and his father & brother put his brain into a massive robotic man. We then viewed “Pharaoh’s Curse” about a tomb being opened in Egypt that turns one of the expedition team members into a walking Mummy! For the third movie we stayed in the 1950’s and watched “Invasion Of The Saucer-Men” about aliens that land near a lovers lane and a couple trying to prove that they are real to the adults and the law. “The Gallows Act II” was the next fright flick and it was about a young woman who craves fame and makes the mistake of taking “The Charlie Challenge” on a YouTube Video. Space themed Horror Flick “Plaguers” was next on the blood tap and is about a space crew and space pirates fighting for their lives against infected mutated humans. The super cheesy and sleazy “Dracula In A Women’s Prison” was next and follows Dracula and his vampire brides running a prison, while a former victim’s sister tries to kill him. Indie film “Moon Of The Blood Beast” was next and is a sort of sequel to the film Track Of The Moon Beast that’s about a killer monster on the loose in a park. Next up was “A Nun’s Curse” a film I helped crowdfund that is about an evil sprit of a Nun called Sister Monday who has become a life long obsession of a young woman. The unlucky number nine film of the day was the reboot/sequel film “I Eat You Skin” about a group of photographers in the Philippines trying to take a picture of a rare bird, but instead one becomes a murderous zombie! The next indie fright flick to try and scare us was “Straight Edge Kegger” about a group of Straight Edge young men who snap when a member leaves the group and goes to a party, and all they can think of is to kill the drinkers! We then watched the 1989 Italian Horror Flick “Paganini Horror” about a popular female singer shooting a music video in a haunted mansion, that turns out to be a true nightmarish terror for her and her band. The final film of the night is the Bela Lugosi film “Invisible Ghost” about strange killings that take place in a respected Doctors home, who’s the killer and why are they killing? Over all as always this was a great day spent with Juliet as we watched many great films and ate some amazing food and was a great way to forget the Virus Crisis for just one day.
So something happened on this Horror Movie Marathon that has never happened before: Juliet and I picked the same films in the same order for our top three films of the event and we both choose the same film as the Golden Turkey! For The Golden Turkey we picked “Moon Of The Blood Beast” and while it was not a bad film at all, the only thing that took us both out of the film was the long segments that just showed footage from the old flick “Track Of The Moon Beast” which is a kind of prequel to this film. Otherwise, the monster was cool and plus seeing Alana Evans in a none adult film role was great to see. Our # 3 pick was “Straight Edge Kegger,” a really cool indie Horror Movie that starts out as a drama of a young man struggling with the Straight Edge militant lifestyle and then turns into a mix of The Purge and You’re Next! Our # 2 was Paganini Horror a silly and yet entertaining Italian spooky ghost mixed with a slasher film with a very cool killer and silly 80’s music! And our # 1 went to “Colossus Of New York” as it was a great classic Sci-Fi Horror Film that mixed the elements of both very well and even had a cool looking robotic monster that racked up a decent body count. I also want to note that Invisible Ghost almost took my # 3 spot as I really enjoyed the cheaply made Lugosi film. This Marathon from start to finish was packed with some great films and even the Golden Turkey ones we picked were good and entertaining in there own way.
So The Golden Massacre Award goes to the Straight Edge Warriors from Straight Kegger as they racked up a body count of over 15 people in brutal and quick ways! One of the most brutal has a poor partier who had drain cleaner forced down his throat via a beer funnel! The Straight Edge Warriors killed people in a pack and had a very brutal mentality when dealing death and sadly think that their killing of people drinking and using drugs is right. So here is to the Straight Edge Warriors who made this July 4th 2020 marathon a little more bloody.
Sgt. Franklin John Rock is part of the infantry branch of the U.S. Army during World War II and later became the head of a unit that was called Easy Company that would get into the dangerous missions. He joined the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor as he was working in a steel mill and was set off by the sneak attack. His time in the military he was well respected by his peers and feared by his enemies as he was a great combat fighter, a crack shot, is hard to kill, seems to have a weird sixth sense when it comes to battles and is a quick thinker under extreme pressure. Sadly the Earth 1 Sgt. Rock was killed at the end of the war by the final bullet fired by the enemy. He is a true icon of War Comics and a true Comic Book American Hero.
LT. Johnny “Flying Cloud” Cloud is a Native American fighter pilot that is very skilled and respected by most of his peers as he single handily killed many Nazi pilots by gunning their plans down in firefights. His unit of fighters was called “The Happy Braves” and later became a member of a group called “The Losers”. Johnny would also go on to be promoted to Captain and by the end of the war he was thought dead, but it turned out to not be true and he went on to live a normal life. A very interesting and cool character that played up on the treatment of Native American people at that time, worth checking out if you like war comics.
Jeb Stuart is the commander of a tank in World War II that is dubbed The Haunted Tank as the spirit of his ancestor J.E.B. Stuart, a General in the Confederate Army, haunts the tank and helps Jeb in battle against the Nazis. The Haunted Tank was DC Comics second longest running War Comic character and would over the years go on to make appearances in comics. I would like to also point out to those who might not know that J.E.B. Stuart was indeed a real General during the Civil War. The Haunted Tank is a cool concept for a character but not one I have must interest in.
So before we get to the review section of this update I want to take a moment to talk about a 1980’s shot on video fan film called Sgt. Rock that was done by Red Planet Films on a budget of only $300.00! This short film’s plot is about Sgt. Rock being thirteen years old and fighting cyborgs, zombies and the evil Queen that controls them. Along with two of his best soldiers they travel behind enemy lines and come face to face with a skilled ninja, a killer Cyborg with massive firepower and after defeating them and stealing the armor and helmets of two other Cyborgs Sgt. Rock and his one surviving ally enter the Queens base and blow it up with her inside it.
And after watching this short fan film I must say it was lots of fun and these guys clearly loved the comic series Sgt. Rock and as well loved Horror and Sci-Fi films as they mashed them all together like a big bowl of mashed potatoes and delivered a really fun and entertaining flick. The acting is pure backyard film stuff, but I must admit it is better than most I have seen. The Cyborgs and Zombies are nothing more than Halloween masks and helmets with one actor wearing an old Darth Vader helmet! While it’s not perfect, it is a really fun little fan film that you should check out on YouTube after you read this update.
So I can see you readers are ready to gear up and head into Battle Classics so let’s not talk about our fellow soldiers on the suicide mission, let’s not talk about fan films and let’s talk about how I am grading this comic on a scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. And if not for those brave soldiers at Bell, Book And Comic for having this comic in stock this Classic Battle could not be talked about…so grab your MRE Full Meal and pull up your seat as it’s time to talk about Sgt. Rock and his war time buddies.
Battle Classics # 1 ***
Released in 1978 Cover Price .50 DC Comics # 1 of 1
“Suicide Mission” Fighter pilot Lt. Johnny Cloud is given a very top secret special mission that does not even allow him to open until he is in air and away from enemy lines and is given orders if captured to blow himself and the orders up! After taking a Nazi plane, he opens his orders that is to pick up an agent named “Martin” and get him to a military base as he has info that could help end the war as well as save lives! Johnny Cloud arrives at the pick up point and finds a fatally wounded man who shows him a man in a heavy iron suit that is Martin, you see the Nazis trapped him in the suit so he could not get away, and just in time Johnny is able to help Martin into the plane and they fly off as a Nazi gunner shows up missing his time to bring them down. And while in the air Johnny has another air battle with Nazi planes and bringing them down, he gets help from an American tank lead by Jeb Stuart who gets Martin and Johnny into his super tank as Johnny’s plane is down for the count after the battle. Jeb in his tank with his new passengers inside goes up against a Nazi tanks and when things look bad the Ghost of a Civil War General that haunts the tank helps guide them through, and things look good until they hit a land mine! Sgt. Rock and his men are nearby and start to make their way to the stalled American tank when a blast from a Nazi tank leaves them all dead, besides Sgt. Rock who with every bit of energy he has fires a bazooka at the tank blowing it up. Sgt. Rock makes his way to the US Tank and is meet by Jeb Stuart and Johnny Cloud and all three men help Martin out of the tank and they start their journey to home base. Along the way Sgt. Rock gets Jeb and Johnny to help him get Martin out of the metal suit and find that Martin is really female French Agent Mlle Marie! Now the four of them make their way faster to the US Military Base, but they get stopped by a Nazi Tank close to the base and with quick thinking Sgt. Rock is able to use his skills and blow up the enemy tank and saving all their lives as they were all marked for death. In the end for delivering Mlle safe and she tells the secrets that she knows Sgt. Rock, Johnny Cloud and Jeb Stuart all receive promotions for their bravery in what was called a Suicide Mission.
This World War II war comic from DC Comics is a fantastic read that brings together some of their best characters from this genre of comics in one single issue on one epic mission that they all have to work together in order to pull off. Suicide Mission is a great title for this story arc as pilot Lt. Johnny Cloud is given a mission to pick up and rescue a French informant that has info that could help win the war and has orders that if he is captured to self destruct his plane! And when things go south after he gets the informant, they must depend on American soldiers to get the informant safe to the Military base. Lt. Johnny Cloud is awesome and is a Native American pilot who wants to make his tribe and country proud of his actions, and he is damn good at what he does! He is a character that I knew about but never read any issues off besides this one and now as an adult I find myself wanting to find some issues to enjoy. Jeb Stuart and his Haunted Tank that has a ghost of a civil war general that haunts it is a little silly, but yet still pretty cool as DC blends their war and horror comics together. While Jeb Stuart is interesting and very noble to the cause of bringing down Nazi’s he was the weaker of our heroes, as I don’t think they let his personality really shine. Mademoiselle Marie or Mll. Marie for short is the female agent that is stuck in the iron suit and goes by the name “Martin”, and she herself is a hero of DC war comics and is really a Nazi butt kicker in her own right. And Mll. is the true hero of the issue as she is the one that has all the information of the super weapon that the enemy planned to use! And the main star of the comic and the most iconic is Sgt. Rock, a tough as nails soldier who has no fear and risks his own life in order to save his fellow fighters and to help completer the mission at hand. I also like how Sgt. Rock brings down a tank with some grenades like it was something he does every day! The Nazis are total scumbags and as the reader you find yourself cheering for our heroes to deal out death to them, as they are super cold blooded and egotistical and deserve it.
This comic really did hold up for me and in fact I think now that I am older I enjoyed this comic even more and was even able to understand the stakes a lot better that each of our war heroes faced. The cover is great and fantastic and eye catching and is what made me read it when I was a kid from the stack of comics my Brother got that day, and to be honest that cover has always stuck in my mind when I think of comics from my youth. The interior art is done by the iconic artist Joe Kubert and is fantastic, but what do you expect from an artist who had his own art school named after him that is still going to this day. Over all I am not a major fan of War Comics but I will say that this comic as well as Unknown Solider issues are worth checking out and if you find a copy of this at your local comic shop make sure to pick it up and give it a read. Check out some artwork bellow from this issue and check out the style of Kubert.
I hope you enjoyed this quick update and that maybe it has also sparked your interest in checking out this one shot issue as it really is a good read for fans and even none fans of War Comics. While I am very much bummed out about not attended Monster Bash and being in Evans City walking around the NOTLD Cemetery I am very thankful for all of my family, friends and you readers being well! For my next update I am going to be turning over Rotten Ink once more to Juliet who is going to be covering the HBO Vampire show True Blood, so you know that’s going to be a good one. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two, support your local Horror Host and let your loved ones know you care. See you next update for a good old glass of True Blood to keep those hunger pains away.