Destructor The Mighty Atlas Masked Crime Fighter!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  I think it’s once gain that time where we take a look at a character from the world of Atlas Comics.  For this update I chose the one and only Destructor to be the latest to get the update treatment! It’s always a great time looking back at the world of Atlas Comics as I really do think they are one of the best 70’s independent comic companies to be created to try and compete with Marvel and DC. In modern times, I would say that for me the companies that I find to be the best of the best in the world of Indie Comic publishers that I enjoy way more than DC and Marvel would be IDW, Eibon Press, Dynamite and of course my own company Sparkle Comics. Besides looking at The Destructor, I will also talk about a few things cool from my past and present. So if you’re ready to take a look at Destructor, let’s get our Atlas Comics on and take a trip with a hero who should still be around today!

When I was a youngster I was an occasional gum chewer, and while I was not like Violet Beauregarde from “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory,” chewing on some Bubblicious, Bubble Tape and Fruit Stripe while reading comics or watching cartoons was something I did from time to time. And for some reason one gum I really liked was a brand called Tongue Splashers that’s gimmick was that it would dye your tongue different colors. I can remember the gum’s taste was pretty gross as it tasted like dye and didn’t last long, but I will say that the blue ones were the best and had the best flavor of them all. As far as I know, this gum is no longer made and was such a 90’s thing. I just wanted to flashback a little and talk about it as I don’t see the topic of gum coming up any time soon here at Rotten Ink.

I have been listening to lots of music as of late and thanks to a customer at my job, I found out about this very cool record store online that releases classic 80’s Hair Metal/Glam bands on CD, and of course being a fan of this style of music, I had to place and order and check them out. The site is called Demon Doll Records, and the first band I chose to look at is Miami Riot and their 1990 release of Dirty Living In The City! The first thing I need to say is that by 1990, the music scene was starting to change and rock n roll was only one year away from the grunge rock boom started by Nevermind released by Nirvana and had many rockers trading in their hairspray for flannel shirts. But for Meatalheads like myself, I was sticking to my 80’s rock and stayed clear from the first big wave of grunge bands, and I have to give Miami Riot lots of credit for making this record so close to the big change that was on the horizon. This Florida band consists of Bobbie Apel doing lead vocals, Robin Wilde on guitar, Eric Vee on drums and Micki Lords on bass, and they look like a mix of Britney Fox and Poison, true glam rockers. Once I got the CD in my hands, I listened to it on my drive to and home from work and played it very loud, and was surprised about just how good Miami Riot is and how much they reminded me of early Motley Crue with a mix of Ratt, What I also liked about this release is that it’s not overly polished and holds a grimy feel to it that brings out the style of this music. Some of the best tracks on this release are the title track “Dirty Living In The City” plus “Rock N Roll Suicide” and “Boys Are Gonna Rock” are all solid tracks and deliver a true sound and song structure that only the 80’s hair glam bands could deliver. If you enjoy 80’s rock n roll, do yourself a favor and check out Miami Riot as well as Demon Doll Records as they both are worth your time and both are worth spending money on.

On June 8, 2018 along with my friends Josh Weinberg, Victor Bonacore, and his seven-year-old daughter Riley, I headed to Burns, Tennessee.  Montgomery Bell State Park was our goal as it was Ernest Day and this location was the filming site for his 1987 film Ernest Goes To Camp! The drive was long and took about 5hr 40min and the weather outside was in the 90’s, but the trip was worth it when we finally made it. Because we arrived early, Victor and I were able to chat with a super cool Ranger as well as few other cool people who made this event possible. We also got to take a picture with the Kamp Kikakee sign before the crowds showed up. Then we all went and got some food from a near by Wendy’s and waited until the event opened. Ernest Day was very cool and was a kid friendly event filled with all types of cool event like archery, canoe rides, hikes, arts & crafts, a birds of prey show, face painting plus of course turtle catapulting! Also they had some meet and greets with the likes of John Cherry, the creator and mastermind of the Ernest universe, as well as actors from the film. They also had a museum open that featured some props from the film as well as other amazing Ernest stuff. Plus many of the cabins as well as other locations used in the film were available to visit and hang out at, and we could go to the mess hall and eat as well as buy cool stuff like t-shirts and stickers. Besides hanging out with friends, one of the coolest moments of the day was meeting John Cherry, such a cool guy and a person along with the late, great Jim Varney helped make my childhood rule. I also really loved eating a hotdog and chips in the mess hall as it felt really cool and I imagined Ernest P. Worrell walking out from the kitchen with a big plate of Eggs Erroneous. I really enjoyed Ernest Day 2018 and even though the heat was killer, the staff and Rangers were all super cool and had free water all over the place. At some point, I will definitely make the long trip back, and if you’re an Ernest fan, do yourself a favor and go to this event. Below are some pics from this cool day, check them out and yep that’s me and John Cherry!

My pal Travis Hatch is an amazing bargain finder as he goes to thrift stores, garage sales, auctions and flea markets, and during his many hunts he has found me some really cool stuff from old Incredible Hulk toys all the way to amazing Halloween makeup kits. In June 2018, he found something very cool, an item that I had as a kid and one I really loved and wanted to get back when older, a Russ Vampire bendy toy! I can remember I first got this figure when I was a youngster living in Waynesville at one of the many antique shops.  The same day I got the Vampire, I also picked up the Mummy and had them battle each other on the walk back home. Over the years I am not to sure what happened to my original one. If I had to guess, it was given away to a cousin or even sold in a garage sale. But really quickly I wanted to thanks Travis for finding me another one as it good to see the hooded caped vampire once again in my home. I’ll now also have to keep an eye out for the Mummy as he needs to also come back home. Check him out below to see him in all his cheesy goodness. I should also note that Travis also found the super cool 70’s Frankenstein’s Monster puzzle that I am using as the background and gave it to me.

On June 28, 2018 Juliet and I stopped by Jet Freeze in Beavercreek as we had just gotten back into Ohio after a long trip and we both decided to treat ourselves to some ice cream! Plus I had to try the Blue Raspberry Ice Cream, that is also known as Smurf Ice Cream and was a staple of Kings Island back in the day and is now at Jet Freeze…the rain was coming down pretty good when we pulled in, and to our luck, due to the rain, they were not that packed so we ordered and I got a small cone of this Smurfy good treat. What a great flavor of Ice Cream as it took me back to the good old days of Kings Island when Hanna Barbara cartoon characters were kings of the park and at any moment you could see Yogi Bear or Fred Flintstone walking around taking pictures with guests. The ice cream tastes like a berry cream soda and is true nostalgic bliss and a great treat for a long day spent on the road driving home from Pennsylvania. Also if you live in the Dayton, Ohio area and have not tried Jet Freeze located in Beavercreek, make sure you do as next to the Dairy Corner that was in Waynesville, it was my childhood ice cream place. Oh and on a side note at Kings Island, the blue ice cream was also called Huckleberry Hound Ice Cream due to his color being the same as the ice cream.

With this being an update about a character who sadly went away before he could really take the comic book world by storm, I wanted to also briefly talk about one who never made it to print but looks like he would have been a very cool comic character and that’s Slug Slayer Of Darkness! As you long time readers know, there was a comic company from Minnesota called Dead Dog Comics, that was created by Chazz DeMoss among many other creators, that would be at Cinema Wasteland when I was there working for Independent B Movie or even Andy Copp. Their table was a must stop for me as I had to have the new issues they released. I always really enjoyed their Horror Comics and even bought many of their none-horror books and enjoyed them…but one comic that would have been cool but sadly never made it into printing production was Slug, a green skinned warrior from the past who returned to modern times in order to battle demons and save us from Hell of Earth and was very much in the vein of Spawn but loaded up with way more medieval weapons. The comic series was written by DeMoss and was to have art by Matt Munn that was very much a 90’s style and clearly Spawn, who was very popular at the time, inspired this unpublished character. So who knows, maybe one day this character will see the light of day soon or even I will be able to track down elements and do a full update about him! In my opinion characters really should never be forgotten. Check out the pics below to see what Slug and his logo looks like.

The Destructor is one of Atlas Comics’ most popular Superheroes who had many of the industry’s top free agents working on it including Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Larry Lieber and Archie Goodwin showing that Atlas meant business when delivering quality comics to readers. Just like all of Atlas Comics, this character had a world of potential and was a hero like no other as he started out as a low life thug and due to his father’s unselfish act, he gets a new lease on life and decides to use his life now to crush baddies. But even being an interesting character, he could not fight the biggest of all villains and that’s “Going Out Of Business” as Atlas closed its doors the same year this comic series was released. I first discovered The Destructor at Bookie Parlor as many of his issues were in the cheap bin.  I was hooked on reading Atlas Comics so I gobbled them up and would read them in my room or in the living room in front of the fireplace and after reading would tell my brother Bryan about him. At a young age, The Destructor always reminded me of Captain America mixed with a dash of Spider-Man and Daredevil. He could have easily been one of Atlas’s best Superhero characters and the one that could have fit perfectly in the Marvel Comics universe. I don’t want to get to deep into The Destructor’s character’s history as the comic reviews will do that. But I also really do think that Atlas Comics saw lots of potential in Destructor and he would have been a major player for them if the company would have lasted as all the talent were in place. So check out the pictures below to see our masked hero in all his glory!

So as you can see, The Destructor is a superhero who should still be busting heads of bad guys in comics, but sadly he could not defeat his greatest enemy the closing of his publisher. We are now at the time for the review of the comics, and I am really excited to revisit this series as they are ones I bought from the old local comic shop Bookie Parlor when I was a young teen. Sadly the old issues I had were sold off a while ago in order to get some money to help a young lady I was dating in my early 20’s who had some issues at her apartment…it’s sad I sold most of my comic collection, but I’m glad I was able to help someone. The issues I have here I was able to track down thanks to Bell Book And Comic, Mavericks Cards And Comics and Ohio Antique Mall who had issues in stock. I would also like to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready like me, let’s take a look at Atlas Comic masked superhero The Destructor! I want to also dedicate this update to Steve Ditko who sadly passed away on June 29, 2018 while I was working on this update. His art and inspiration will live on forever.

The Destructor # 1  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics       # 1 of 4

Max Raven is a crime boss of Harbortown and thinks that two bit hood Jay Hunter has seen too much and orders for him to be killed after leaving the hangout one night. Jay arrives home and talks to his father who is a scientist and has created a serum that heightens senses when the hitman enters and opens fire striking them both.  Before he dies, the father is able to give his serum to his son saving his life and making Jay rethink his life of crime. He decides to become the superhero his father always wanted him to be, known as costumed masked hero The Destructor! Max Raven has his hitman killed for not getting the job done, and Jay goes into hiding and goes out as Destructor to bring down Max’s operations one at a time.  This means war to the crime boss who calls in Slaymaster, a top underworld assassin! Max Raven sets up The Destructor at an old warehouse as Slaymaster is waiting inside and is able to get the jump on our hero, and bullets hits him in the shoulder and arm, but lucky for him the serum heals him faster. Slaymaster plays a game of cat and mouse with Destructor who in the end finally gets the upper hand and brings down the masked assassin. In the end Max Raven is set up by his own men who gun him down for losing all the rackets, and Destructor brings them all down and swears on the graves of his parents that he will be the superhero the world needs!

The first issue of The Destructor shows that besides Marvel and DC, Atlas Comics also knew how to do superheroes right in the 70’s! Our story is very simple: a young man who is heading toward a life of crime gets himself and his father shot and with both dying, his father is able to give his son a serum that heals him and gives him superhuman senses. Upon putting on a costume, he becomes a superhero and wages a one-man war with his former crime boss who is the man that wanted him dead. This comic series takes a lot from Spider-Man as both masked heroes think they have lead to the death of a loved one and now with new powers dedicate their lives to stopping any and all crime, great classic superhero stuff indeed. Jay Hunter is a young man who wants to make a name for himself in the underbelly of New Jersey and wants fast cash and respect and disrespects his father’s hard work in Science, but he makes a life change when his father is murdered and uses his own serum to save his life. Jay is also a young man who is plagued with guilt as he knows he is the cause of his dad’s death and wants to get revenge for it. As The Destructor, he is a crime fighting machine who busts heads, takes lives and cracks one liners! Destructor is very much into busting crime as he feels he owes it to his father and wants to make something better of himself. With his heightened senses he is strong, fast and can heal from wounds that should be fatal pretty fast. Our bad guys of this issue are Max Raven and his mobsters who are cutthroat and have no respect or loyalty even to each other. Max is cold blooded and once crossed will do anything to get his revenge of Jay Hunter…well that is until he dies from multiple gunshot wounds fired by his own men. Slaymaster is also a very cold blooded person who is the highest paid assassin in the world of crime.  This masked killer is skilled and is the boogie man among the scum he works for. But his skill doesn’t do him a world of good once he meets Destructor who makes short work of him and leaves him dead! The cover for this issue is amazing and the kind of comics I looked for when I was a kid and still do to this day. Plus I have to say that the interior art by Steve Ditko is top notch, and to me Ditko is just like Jack Kirby, a king in the world of comics. This first issue sets the bar high for the series as it captures what made Marvel Comics special at the time and adds its own flare and appeal to it. I loved this comic when I was a kid and it still holds up for me to this day. I can’t wait to read issue # 2 and see if it holds up as well.

The Destructor # 2  ***
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 2 of 4

It’s a cold night in Harbortown, and Mr. Lash and his goons are on the docks trying to pull off their next heist when The Destructor shows up and busts some heads and gets a name from Mr. Lash on who is the true crime lord of New Jersey. The Destructor leaves Mr. Lash behind as someone emerges from the shadows and it’s clear our hero has been set up. The Destructor heads out into the night still thinking of his father’s murder and how he must right the wrongs of his life. He knows he must rid his town of crime and chase off The Syndicate crime family once and for all. Big Mike Brand is the name given as the main crime boss, and he lives in New Mexico, while the man with Mr. Lash is Deathgrip a killer with a metal hand that is amped up with power who has been told to kill Mr. Lash after the plan is set in motion and he does. Jay Hunter heads to New Mexico and is setting up Mike Brand by getting to know him via his daughter as Deathgrip is also in New Mexico to make sure Brand is dead and Destructor gets the blame. Jay ends up taking a job at Brand’s ranch and soon learns that Big Mike Brand is sick and that he has been set up and soon must come face to fist with Deathgrip who has kidnapped Brand’s daughter and is going to crush her in a compactor in an auto junkyard! Destructor has a brutal battle with Deathgrip who is strong and a good fighter.  Once Destructor is able to save Brand’s daughter he also tricks Deathgrip who in returns gets crushed to death in the compactor.

Issue two is also a very great read that captures the true spirit of superhero comics from the 70’s and is great work from the creative team who brought it to life. This issue has Destructor going to New Mexico in order to bring down a high-ranking crime boss or so he has been told, when in reality he has been set up by a mechanical hand madman who wants revenge on the sick crime boss and wants to kill the masked hero. This time around Jay Hunter is a man on a mission as he has been a crime fighter for about a month now and is still plagued by the death of his father. At this point he as well has used his brain and not just his fists to bring down crime. As The Destructor, he is on a mission to shut down as many baddies as he can and best of all he is able to, one racket at a time, with ease. Mr. Lash has taken over the crime scene in Harbortown and is a scumbag who helps set up Destructor and is part of a network in the Syndicate who wants to take over with a sub group, and for his deed he is also killed by his own side as they feel he is a failure. Big Mike Brand was once a crime lord who now lives in New Mexico with his daughter as well as his close friend and is in the processes of turning his entire former crime friends in. The issue’s main baddie is Deathgrip, a bold headed creep who has a metal hand that is enhanced with strength as well as extreme heat.  He also does not mind killing and is brutal in his ways of doing so. What’s cool about him is that he meets his end as brutally as he dealt death. Once more the cover is fantastic and has that great 70’s superhero look, and as always Steve Ditko’s artwork for the interiors is great and shows he really knows how to draw superheroes right! Over all the second issue helps build the world of Destructor and is a top notch read for fans who enjoy independent heroes.

The Destructor # 3  ***
Released in 1975      Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 3 of 4

The Syndicate is upset over the defeat and slaying of Deathgrip and blame Dr. Shroud, the creator of his mechanical hand for the defeat. They are also upset that this might slow down a plan they have called “Darkriver Project”, but he has an answer to their worries as he sends the laser whip slinging The Huntress and her two lions after Destructor. While back in New Mexico, Destructor drops off Angela Brand at the front gates of her father’s ranch and as she gets into it with her father for being a former crime boss, Destructor sneaks back into his room and passes out. Later that night Angela goes to Jay’s room and talks to him about all her fears and anger with her father plus all the lies she has been told her whole life, and Jay is starting to crush on the young woman. The next day as Destructor heads back to the junkyard looking for answers, he is tricked and gassed and taken to a valley in a cage to be hunted live via remote cameras by Huntress, her two lions and her assistant Lobo for the crime bosses who are watching! The odds are against Destructor as he takes damage from the lions that he ends up knocking out and tries his best to dodge Huntress’s laser whip, and when Lobo goes rogue and tries to kill Destructor on his own, he is quickly tricked and beat leaving him and Huntress alone to go hand to hand that leaves Destructor tricking Huntress and having her fall to hear death! Destructor escapes the room and finds the crime bosses and beats many of them up before escaping into the night.

The third issue is fantastic and once more has a real Amazing Spider-Man feel to it as the plot has our hero being trapped and hunted by a villain that is deadly and skilled with a laser whip. Jay Hunter in this issue is torn on bringing down Mike Brand as he knows the old man is near death’s door and is trying to make a change, as well as Jay is starting to get a crush on the crime lord’s 19 year old daughter. As Destructor, he has the odds once more stacked against him as he must survive being the prey in a human hunt that’s being done by a skilled hunter and her animals and sidekick, but like before, he uses his power and brain to bring down the bad guys and save his butt. Dr. Shroud is a mad scientist who seems to hold some power in the crime world and is the mastermind of most of the attacks on Destructor as well as the powers the super villains have. The Huntress is a powerful and skilled hunter and fighter who looks at Destructor as the ultimate prey, and she enjoys having her great cats and her hulking sidekick Lobo on her side to help in the hunt. Plus she is very much dangerous and a great threat to our hero. I like the side story going that Jay is falling in love with the daughter of an ill crime boss that he is torn on if he should bring him down. Plus I love how Huntress is clearly inspired by Kraven The Hunter who is a master hunter who always tries to hunt Spider-Man, it’s clear to this comic reader that Destructor is Atlas Comics version of the wall crawler spiced up. The cover and interior art both once more are amazing and great stuff for fans of classic hero comics. This issue is a great and makes me look forward to revisit the fourth and final issue in this series, so let’s get to it.

The Destructor # 4    **1/2
Released in 1975      Cover Price .25      Atlas Comics       # 4 of 4

Destructor is hiding in a cave in New Mexico when two hired guns come looking for him to collect a bounty that was put on his head. While taking out the goons, he meets three strange humans who have weird powers calling themselves The Outcasts. The Eye, Sister Siren and Kronus take Destructor against his will to their hideout deep in the cave. Once in the cave hideout, Kronus tells Destructor about the underground city’s history that includes scientists trying to hide from the atomic weapons nations collected as well as murder of the people who funded this city by the scientists over nuclear energy! The Destructor listens to the tale and starts to feel for these oddly powered freaks and thinks that he himself might fit in their world as he like them has these powers and fights for what he thinks is right. While above ground, the Army tests an atomic bomb underground and the radiation hits the underground city and soaks them all in rays. Destructor finds that he has the power now to fire power blasts from his hands, and, along with The Eye and on the orders of Kronus, he goes above ground to take out the armies radar as The Outcasts are now at war with the army to stop the atomic bomb tests.

The fourth and final issue, like all of Atlas Comics we have looked at, ends in the middle of a storyline that never has seen the light of day due to the company closing. The story in this final issue as well goes away from the crime bosses and trades them in for weird underground mutants with powers. The plot is straight from the pages of Science Fiction comics as well as movies as it follows Destructor in an underground city befriending a race of freaks that need his help to keep their society safe from the terrible military who are testing bombs underground. I need to talk about The Outcasts first as I don’t trust them as their sinister glances at each other comes off as if they are playing our hero like a fiddle. Plus they all have weird powers like Sister Siren can sing a song that gets into your brain and Kronus can send you to another dimension. They are shady and again I would not trust them. Destructor, who has a price on his head, finds himself in a war between the army and the Outcasts and he easily tricked into becoming a foot solider for Kronus, plus due to radiation he now has the power to fire blasts from his hands making his superpowers even more powerful. And this is the thing I really liked, the masked hero taking on crime in the city and the criminals hiring weird masked bad guys to take him on…what I don’t like as well is the sci-fi direction this final issue went as I feel it changed the character and the world it had created in past issues by adding underground super powered freak beings who felt like something Jack Kirby would have added in a random issue of Fantastic Four. Plus this leaves us on a cliffhanger as Destructor and The Eye are heading to the military base to bring down their radar and we never know if they made it or not! I really wished that Atlas Comics would have lasted longer on the comic racks as they did deliver quality comics that had good stories and cool art and should have been the third biggest comic company then and even still now. I would also say that hands down I would put Destructor in my top three comic heroes from Atlas Comics as I find him interesting and his short time in the world of comics has held up with me as I find them all to be very well done and make for great reads. The cover for this issue as well is great and not to even mention that Steve Ditko’s artwork is amazing and makes me miss they days of that style art in comic books. Over all if you’re a fan of classic superheroes, the art of Ditko or just looking for a vintage comic series to read I would recommend Destructor! Check out some of the artwork from this comic series done by the icon Steve Ditko.

I know it sounds weird, but I really do think about what would happen if comic and movie companies had stayed in business and what amazing projects they would have unleashed. Atlas Comics has always been one I think about as I really do think they had some great characters and many of their comics ended on cliffhangers. But we all can’t live in the past, and we readers just are not meant to know what fate was in store for Destructor. For our next update we are leaving the world of Destructor behind and entering the world of Horror as we take a look at the 2006 film Driller! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See ya next update for a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic spooky good time.

Body Count The Forgotten Horror Series From Aircel

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place for me to share my past, present and future! On this update, I want to chat a little about independent horror comics and my love for them! Growing up I was a avid comic reader, and super heroes like “Captain America”, “Batman”, “Spider-Man”, “Superman” and “The Incredible Hulk” were what I was reading at almost any given time as those were comics that we could find at the local grocery stores and comic racks at convenient stores. Besides the superhero comics, I also read lots based on toy lines, books and cartoons like “G.I. Joe”, “Masters Of The Universe”, “Transformers”, “Conan The Barbarian” and “Thundercats” that were also easy to find. The only horror comic titles I had were copies of “Werewolf By Night”, “Swamp Thing”, “Tomb of Dracula”, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, “Godzilla” and “Man-Thing,” all mostly obtained at garage sales that acted as another source of a way for me and my brother to get comics. Growing up in a small town like Waynesville made it super hard to find out about other comics as it did not have a comic store (besides antique store Spencers that carried back issues of Power Man and Secret Wars 2). The closest ones around were Dark Star in Yellow Springs, Mavericks in both Kettering and Centerville and my all time favorite store Bookie Parlor that was also in Dayton/Kettering, and my parents would only take us to these stores from time to time when I was really young and more so when I was around 12 or 13. I can remember discovering that comic companies like NOW, Innovation, Eternity, Malibu and Epic were cranking out comics based not only on super heroes but also horror and science fiction comics and being blown away at the huge selection that comic shops had us readers able to choose from as I was used to the magazine section of Big Bear and Hearts in Lebanon where I got most of my comics from other than the subscriptions that my Mom and Dad would finally break down and get me and my brother. The good old Marvel Comics subscriptions through the mail was where I would get my issues of Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Amazing Spider-Man delivered to my waiting hands, but the worst part about it was our mailman would fold the issues in order to place them in our mailbox leaving the issues with a bend down the center! But while I loved my super hero adventures, I was a Monster Kid so I also loved to read about the night time terrors of Dracula from the pages of Tomb Of Dracula, the inner struggle of Jack Russell the Werewolf By Night, the stomping rampage of Godzilla as well as the burning touch of Man-Thing who I always enjoyed more than Swamp Thing in the comic world…I know it’s because I am a Marvel Guy. The only independent horror comics that I owned and had access to were from Gold Key and Whitman and were such things as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and some very beat up and in some case coverless issues of Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery that my brother Bryan shared with me. But my love for horror comics really exploded when visits to the local comic shops started to happen more often and my parents started to enjoy the fact I was reading a bunch and encouraged me to choose comics and even paperback novels I would enjoy.

The first time I walked into the Bookie Parlor, I was a fan as the owner Hal and his wife Sue were super nice to me and my brother, and after coming in for a few times and spending money Hal would start to let me know when he got new back issues of Hulk and Captain America in. At the Bookie Parlor, I discovered Atlas Comics and its characters like The Brute, Son Of Dracula and their series like “Tales Of Evil”. And at Bookie Parlor is where I found comics by Epic based on the Clive Barker films “Nightbreed” and “Hellraiser” and started my obsession with the Nightbreed and Rawhead Rex cross over. It was also where I discovered Eternity Comics and the fact they made comics based on Full Moon Entertainment films likes “Subspecies” and “Puppet Master” that I had to have and read. Claypool was another comic company Bookie Parlor introduced to me who made comics based on “Elvira Mistress Of The Dark”!

At Mavericks Cards and Comics in Kettering, a place I would later work for, I met owner Jack who always treated me and my brother like we were his friends and would also give us discounts as well as free comics.  During these early years is when I met Jason Young who years later would be one of my closest friends as well as Jeremy Hoyt! While shopping Mavericks I discovered NOW Comics who made comics based on the TV Show “Twilight Zone” and horror film “Fright Night” as well as Innovation who did comics based on the films “Psycho”, “Child’s Play” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street”! Another independent comic company Mavericks introduced me to was Apple who did weird adult horror comics like “Dracula In Hell” and another company, Blackthorne, who shocked me with comics based on the film “Waxwork” and TV Show “Werewolf”. Between these two stores my want and need for horror comics was in full effect as I would buy whatever ones I could get my hands onto, from comics based on killer “Jack The Ripper” to ones based on classic monsters like “Phantom Of The Opera” and even ones that I had no idea what they were even about before buying like “Body Count.”  All I knew was that I needed to read them all! During this time I also started buying Topps Comics as they had many amazing titles out like “Dracula Frankenstein War”, “Bram Stokers Dracula”, “Satan’s Six”, “Jason Goes To Hell” and “Jason vs. Leatherface” and with Dracula Frankenstein War started my first ever comic store pull list. During this time was also the birth of me having to have all the comics based on horror films as many of the films I loved had adaptations and new comic killing adventures for them as such titles as “Re-Animator”, “Halloween”, “Army Of Darkness”, “Night Of The Living Dead”, “Blair Witch Project”, “Pumpkinhead” and so many more from many different comic companies all had comics based around them. For me the comic killing sprees for these movie monsters was another way to add to the characters’ legacy and a way for fans to get a little more while waiting for the next film.

During this time as well I didn’t give up on Marvel Horror as I went out of my way to get more and more issues of Werewolf By Night and the others as they also filled the need to read horror comics. During this time was a true magical age for horror comics as besides the companies mentioned above you had Arrow, Fantaco, Aircel, Northstar, Chaos, Dead Dog, IDW, Avatar, ONI, Fangoria and many others publishing and making horror themed comics from the late 80’s thru the mid 2000’s with each delivering blood and gore filled issues. But during what I call the Golden Years of Horror Comics also came the crash of the 90’s when Marvel and DC once more went to war to dominate the shelf space at comic shops and by putting out so much product, they forced many amazing companies to go under as did cut throat politics in the industry among small press companies. The companies that have fallen to the comic rack in the sky that I miss the most and wonder what they would be making now if still around have to be Topps Comics, Fangoria Comics and Dead Dog Comics all of whom were some of my favorite companies going and all who delivered some amazing horror comics into readers hands. During these years horror comics were coming out less and less, and many of them were not based on horror films as they were just original titles mostly based on vampires or zombies with 2003’s Walking Dead from Image being the biggest horror comic title in years.

We are now in 2017, and over the past two years, independent horror comic companies are back on the rise and are making some amazing and entertaining stuff. While the bigger companies like Image, IDW, Boom and Devil’s Due are putting out horror comics with titles like Lord Of Gore, Godzilla, Kong Of Skull Island and Walking Dead, it’s also the smaller guys who are coming into your comic shops and online stores with some amazing stuff that is bringing back the boom of these comics that has been long dead for to long.

My favorite small press company is Eibon Press, run by Shawn Lewis who is also the owner of t-shirt company Rotten Cotton.  They are doing amazing comic books with releases based on Italian director Lucio Fulci movies like “Zombie” and “Gates Of Hell”! They also have titles based on such films as “Laserblast”, “Maniac” and many more including an original series called “Bottom Feeder” in the works. Another cool thing about Eibon is that they have what’s called the Eibon Sleeve that is like a record sleeve for your comic.  They also back it with all types of great stuff like stickers, trading cards, bookmarks and even vinyl records!

Action Lab has a sub company called Danger Zone that has put out some great spooky series and mini series like ones based on Full Moon films “Puppet Master”, “Gingerdead Man” and “Trancers” as well as original titles like “Final Plague”, “Southern Dog” and “Blood & Dust”. While it seems at this time the Full Moon comic deal has come to an end, I have faith that their editor-in-chief Shawn Gabborin will unleash more horror themed comics to the market.

Small publisher Lion Forge has released the series “Night Trap” alongside other horror themed books like “Mad Balls” based on the spooky toys. This company prices their comics at a great price at $2.99 each and sadly seem to be gone or on hold as I have not seen much from them in Diamond Previews as of late. But while their fate of physical comics is up in the air, they still tried to make a small mark for Horror Comic readers.

Rough House Publishing run by Derek Rook has brought back two classic horror comics from the graveyard as they have released “The Dead Omnibus” as well as new issues of “Gore Shriek” with a comic based on the remake of the film “Nightmare City” coming soon. This is a company I cannot wait to see what else is coming from as rumors of music and other cool media items have surfaced as has lots of gossip about what’s in store for the comics they are doing.

The Blood-Shed Publishing has a series called “We Kill The Dead” on the way that showcases over 20 movie slashers from independent horror films doing battle with a government elite team. This is a mini series and rumors of new horror comics from them have been floating around. This is one comic company that is attached to a horror news website that you might want to keep your eyes on.

Space Goat is a company that has been around since 2014 making comics as well as board games. They have also delivered some great horror comic titles like “Evil Dead 2”, “The Howling”, “Zombie Camp” and “Forty Coffins” to name a few. And I also want to give a shout out to Titan Comics who have been doing their best at delivering entertaining spooky comics like “Anno Dracula”, “It Came” and even have Hammer Horror comics with “The Mummy” and rumor of “Captain Cronos Vampire Hunter” coming soon! Plus American Mythology is doing some great comics and even one based on the Adam Green film “Hatchet” as is Alterna who has titled like “Croak” and “The Chair” to name a few so as you can see the world of horror comics has lots of great companies doing amazing things.

When opening Sparkle Comics alongside Jason Young in 2016 and after getting friends and amazing artists like Damien Brunk, Jason Gilmore and Scott Scarborough joining the comic making family, I knew we had to make horror comics so we even opened a branch we are calling Blood Scream Comics that is slated to showcase gore and more mature style horror comics with the all ages and teen horror comics coming out via the Sparkle label. Sp far for Sparkle Comics, we have the free online comic called “Don’t Play With Monsters” that features foolish kids coming across monsters who are not as cute as they appear. “Shocking Macabre Theater” is an anthology comic that has Dayton, Ohio horror hosts Dr. Creep, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop sharing twisted tales with a stranded motorist. We also have “The Wolf Hunter” based on the shot on video film of the same name that was directed by Matt Hoffman who also played the title role and has The Wolf Hunter killing werewolves in the state of Ohio. We have a series called “Unknown Creatures” that features tales of cryptozoology creatures with the first issue being about the Flatwoods Monster! We also have 12 page issue # 0’s in the works that are based on shot on video films from Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video that will feature stories based on “The Sadness”, “Farmer Joe” and “Scars” and will allow our readers the chance to vote on which horror baddie will get a full # 1 issue! With many more amazing horror comic titles in the works, we hope to entertain readers with spooky, gory and twisted tales. One thing I am the most proud of is that via Blood Scream Comics we will be doing issues based on the films of Paul Naschy as well as have comics based on films from such companies as Warlock Home Video, Massacre Home Video, Brain Damage Films, Scream Time Films and Nevermore Productions in the works as well as comics based on pro wrestlers who fit the horror theme! So there are lots of great spooky reads are coming your way via Sparkle and Blood Scream Comics.

Sorry for being so long winded; it’s just I really do think that it’s a great time to be not only a horror comic reader but also just a comic reader in general. And I really do feel that horror comics have a bright future with many of these companies turning out very high quality comics that are well written and well drawn driving the market back up for the independents. But let’s get focused on the comic I have chosen to review for this spooky epic update and that’s Body Count, a silly horror comedy comic that I discovered at Mavericks Cards And Comics when I was a teen and bought and read and enjoyed for the wacky killer and the large chested heroine…oh and the over the top kills. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for making this update possible and having these issues in stock so that I could own them again and cover for this review. So if you’re ready, check your brain and taste at the door and let’s dive into a late 80’s and early 90’s horror comic that will have you screaming with fear and laughing after with joy. I also want to note that even as a youngster I never could find the 4th and final issue so this will be my first time reading how this story ends! Oh yeah I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story! So lets take a look at Body Count!

Body Count # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 1 of 4

Winter Falls College is a high priced school where the students are watched by the hotheaded Dean Burns and make fun of simple minded janitor Wanker. Professor Chill is a science teacher and has caught the eye of his student and assistant Becky who will does what she can to get him to notice her.  From short shorts to tights shirts, she brings her A-game, and together they are working on a formula that will in theory turn a nerd into a jock.  After they leave to get some dinner, a pair of students looking to steal knock over the formula and rush away telling Wanker about the mess in the lab. Wanker, being simple minded, takes a taste of the formula goo and it starts to melt him and flings his body into a deep sea divers suit.  He dons the helmet and becomes a crazed killer, and his first victims are the two thief kids that meet their ends with a mop through the head and a telescope through the eyes! When Prof. Chill and Becky return to the lab they find the dead bodies as well as the missing formula and call Dean Burns who heads to the lab to cover up the murder. Meanwhile Wanker is still on his killing spree and drops power cables into the pool killing three students by electrocution causing a power outage and as he is leaving the pool area, he catches Dean Burns and makes him drink Drano! As Chill and Becky leave the lab, they find the bodies and guess that Wanker must have drank the formula and is now a killer and is headed toward town!

This comic is just as silly and over the top as I remember it being when I first read it in my mid teen years. The plot is very much like an 80’s B-movie horror film as a geek puts on a mask and murders those who tormented him, the setting is a college, and the victims are all mean spirited and selfish people who are killed in horrific ways. Professor Chill is our hero, and while smart, he is also pretty goofy and has a hint that he does not really know what they heck he is doing in the lab.  While a goof, he still remains calm with all the bodies pilling up around him and it’s clear he is thinking of ways to stop the killer. Becky is a typical hot chick who showcases her amazing body and uses it to get her way, but when the killing starts she also becomes hysterical and screams her head off in fright! While she is just a scared woman now, it’s clear that she is in for the long haul with her man Prof. Chill. Wanker is just a simple minded janitor who is mistreated by both staff and students and after tasting the foul smelling formula goo, he transforms into a brutal killer who is on a rampage of revenge.  He also turns ugly and disfigured from the goo and wears a diver’s helmet as his killing mask. Wanker is cold and brutal with his best kill being the telescope through the eye as it’s so brutal and gross, it made my own eyeballs hurt! The gore is slightly over the top.  Not on the level of Arrow Comics’ The Dead but it’s more brutal than IDW’s The Fly: Outbreak so Gorehounds have a little splatter to make them happy. The true nature of the comic is also horror comedy as many silly lines are delivered by characters as is cheap sexual jokes that are fitting and add to the cheesy fun of the comic. The cover is okay and does not truly do justice to what the comic is about and the art inside is cartoonish and done by Dave Cooper, fitting for this style of horror comic. Over all, this is an above average horror comedy comic that acts as a build up for this four issue mini series.

Body Count # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 2 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky, along with a device they created that picks up the chemical that created the killer Wanker, head out into town to see if they can find him before he kills again. Meanwhile two fisherman in a boat are not so lucky as the now farting and stinky Wanker sets his sights on them and kills one by crushing his head and leaves the other in a state of shock wandering the roads when he runs into Chill and Becky who take him into town and try to warn the law of the killer on his way. Meanwhile Wanker has found a new pair of college victims who are on a motorcycle joyride as he decapitates the man with a fish and causes the woman to be flung from the bike and smash into a tree! Chill arrives at the police department, and the Sheriff and Deputy rush off to the College before they even could hear why they are running! As Prof. Chill and Becky wonder what they can do to stop Wanker, the police run into the killer that leaves the Deputy dead from a ricochet bullet and the sheriff is bull rushed into some bushes, After the screaming stops Wanker appears, this time around bigger in size!

The rampage of Wanker continues as he makes his way closer to town with murder and destruction on his sick and twisted mind. Professor Chill and Becky come up with a tracking devise that goes off when the killer is around and can also be used to save others, as it’s a warning to the approaching death dealer. They also try the best they can to get help and rush an injured scared to death man to the local law office only to be greeted by the world’s worst police officers! So as you can see the pair of scientists have done all they can up to this point to try and save lives of the townspeople. The Sheriff and Deputy are as backwoods as they come and think everyone is an alien or a communist and are easily slaughtered and out smarted. Wanker is now turning worse and is smelling terrible, becoming more ooze-based with even more of a thirst for blood. He is slowly making his way to the town and killing almost anyone that gets in his way, but oddly enough he allowed one of the fisherman to live! It’s shown that bullets can’t kill and stop Wanker as he is shot a number of times by the Sheriff and simply shrugs them off like Michael Myers from Halloween. Plus at the end of the issue, he grows in size and makes you wonder: did he eat the sheriff or can he body jump like in the films The Hidden and Jason Goes To Hell. The best kill in this issue has to be the decapitation of a collage age brat on a motorcycle with a fish! It’s an over the top and dumb kill but is hands down my favorite in the issue. The blood and gore is once more present and not terribly over done. The cover this time around is better and shows Wanker in all his slimy glory, and the art once more is done by Dave Cooper and is well done for this style of horror comedy comic. And just like the first issue, this one is holding up to what I remember and was a fun read and makes me look forward to reading the next issue again after all these years.

Body Count # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 3 of 4

Becky and Professor Chill are at the bar in Winter Fell and trying to get the locals to believe them about the Wanker Killer that is heading their way, but no one does no matter how hard they try. Meanwhile Wanker stalks and kills a young man on a date by ripping his head off and than turns his attention to the young man’s girlfriend who is running toward town to warn others. Chill and Becky next try to warn the town barber shop of the killer’s rampage but she as well meets her fate by the hands of Wanker who snaps her neck. Chill and Becky run around town trying to warn people of the killer after the barber shop also gives them the high hat as does the post office and the mayor who allows his bodyguard to beat up Chill on his front lawn. In the end Chill and Becky spot Wanker now in town and run to the town’s switchboard operator, and they phone the National Guard and talk to General Howitzer who tells them they are on their way.

The plot thickens as now Wanker is in town and no one believes the warnings being given by Chill and Becky who try every major place in town to spread the coming of a killer. Chill, who feels responsible for the Killer as his formula is what turned a nerdy janitor into a head crushing killer, must push as hard as he can to inform the townspeople as their deaths would be on his hands…kind of. After being beat up and called a communist by all the towns people he almost just walks away to let them deal with the approaching death, but he is reminded that he loves this little town that has acted as away for him to score with collage chicks and get away from his nasty wife. Becky tries to help spread the warning the best she can, but sadly she is just eye candy and no one really listens to her. Wanker is shown to be using the Sheriff’s body as a suit as he has half way crawled up the bodies back and controls it. Wanker is stronger now and after killing a couple on a date has entered town to cause some major damage. This issue only has two deaths and while violent, they are not super gory and a little toned down, with the best being the head rip off from the shoulders of the boyfriend. The story in this issue reminds me of “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” and “The Blob” as no one is listening to our heroes as everyone thinks their story is to over the top, and this brings more of the B-Horror Movie aspect out of this comic series. The cover is pretty good and once more captures what this series really is all about and the interior art is still done by Dave Cooper and is fantastic for this goofy, gory comic. This issue is filled with lots of humor and once more is a mix of redneck humor, slap stick and adult humor all done at the expense of Becky. Another fun issue just like I remember it and is the lead up to the last issue in the Winter Fell rampage of Wanker and his over sized divers helmet. So let’s move onto the fourth and final issue and discover how Wankers is stopped…or is he, as this will be the first time I have read issue four as I never could find it, so it will be a first time read for me!

Body Count # 4  **
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 4 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky wait in town, and the pressure hits Chill who feels bad about the rampage of Wanker as his formula goo is what created him! But before they can wonder if the Army can stop the rampage, they show up lead by the crazed and kill hungry General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur who’s first plan of action is to blow up the bar with his tank as Wanker is inside killing off drinkers, but his attack fails to stop Wanker! The next target is the barbershop as Wanker enters it and kills off the barber and a man looking to get a shave, this time The General hits the business with a missile from a helicopter…it as well fails as Wanker is spotted again alive and unwell! Chill informs them that if they can capture it alive he might be able to cure Wanker and the Army turns on the Professor calling him a monster lover and boot him and Becky off the tank and head back into the hunt for the killer. As Becky and Chill hide the Army finds Wanker who is not scared of the tank and guns and charges causing The General to panic and order for the big bomb to be dropped, as the plan does so and the atomic bomb goes off our story ends with Chill hugging Becky and wondering what effect the radiation will have on Wanker!

The final issue is by far the weakest issue and I am pretty sure even in my middle teens I would have not been a super fan of this overly plotted army based issue that seemed to be rushed and with a very weak ending for the killers rampage. Prof. Chill and Becky are once more thrown to the side when the army gets mad that they want to cure the killer and not kill him like they want to do, but by the army turning on them and chasing them off is what saved their lives as they were able to hide as the bomb was dropped. These lovers are more just waiting to be saved as they have done all they could to save the townspeople and watch in horror as not only Wanker kills those who were rude to them but so does the army! The Army and their leader General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur are fools who like to blow things up and really have no plan of action of how to really stop Wanker besides just that blow things up…reminds me of the army in Return Of The Living Dead. The townspeople are all crazy and rude and none of them want to believe that a killer is heading their way ready for mayhem and murder, and they get what’s coming to them for being such scummy people. Wanker who is still using the body of the Sheriff as almost a suit of armor is finally in town and wants to make his body count rise hire and hire by knocking off the towns people, and he proves that he is not even scared of a whole army as when they finally have him cornered he don’t back down he lunges forward to take them all one and their tank! His brutal and quite nature makes him like Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and Michael Myers (Halloween) but not taken as serious by the writer and creators of this comic mini-series. The issue has some blood, guys and kills but they seemed very toned down this issue as does the art done by Dave Cooper that seems very much rushed and lacks the appeal and moody nature of the issues that came before it. The cover as well is not all that great as it just showcases the army…yep, not the killer or even something that shows it’s a horror comic at all! While this might not be the best Independent Horror Comic series of the late 80’s and Early 90’s and by most accounts I am sure this is forgotten and issues can be found in .25 or $1.00 boxes around the world at comic shops, to me it is one that stands out and one I can remember picking up from Mavericks all those years back and reading them while sitting in my room in Waynesville and wondering just how the story was to unfold as I never could find this final issue….and after all these years finding a copy and reading it, while I am little disappointed in the way Wanker’s rampage came to an end I do enjoy the fact it was left wide open for another mini series that sadly never was made. If you love horror comics from the 90’s that have a hint of humor in them, I suggest you check out Body Count, as it is sure to please or at the very least entertain you slightly. Below is some artwork samples from the Body Count series and I should also note that artist Dave Cooper is known for his work on such comics as Suckle and Bent as well as he worked on Nickelodeon Magazine and co-created the cartoon “Pig Goat Banana Cricket” for the station.

I see lots of great horror comics on the horizon for us readers, and it really is a great time to be alive and a comic book fan. Body Count was one of the early independent horror comics I read and after all these years, it kind of holds up as I still find it entertaining, silly, bloody and gory with a lackluster ending. I would love to hear from you friends and readers about what horror comic you first remember reading when younger and even what horror comics are you reading now.  Leave me a comment as I would love to hear from you about this. So for our next update we are leaving Winter Fell behind and joining a underrated Superhero from DC Comics, the super android The Red Tornado! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you soon for some DC Comics talk…

Watch Out Here Comes The Amazing Tiger-Man!!

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

croc-hunter-and-a-tiger

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

galaxy-warriors-tiger-man-in-packagegalaxy-wariors-logogalaxy-warrior-tiger-man-figure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Deadly Hands Of The Dragon, The Quick Bite Of The Cobra!

Here at Rotten Ink I love martial arts and not just in comic and movies but also in the world of MMA! Growing up I used to watch Kung-Fu Theater on USA Network and always looked forward to a special they had on USA Network called Kung Fu June, not to mention from time to time Commander USA would host a martial art film.  Because of all this I became addicted to watching Kung Fu martial art films. Names like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and The Shaw Brothers became staples in my young mind and were at the top of the list of stars in this genre. But what also helped kick off my love for Kung Fu films was a book I found at Waynesville Antique Mall called “Kung Fu: Cinema Of Vengeance” by Verina Glaessner that was all about the films and actors of the genre.  I learned so much about the genre at a young age thanks to this book and USA Network, not to mention films like The Karate Kid and all the Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris action films I grew up watching! So this update is for martial arts fans all over the world who enjoy the art of fighting and self defense.

Kung Fu Cinema Of Vegeance Book

One of my favorite martial art films I saw on the USA Network was called “Chinese Super Ninjas,” made by The Shaw Brothers in 1982 and is also known as “Five Element Ninjas.” It’s about a young man whose teacher and fellow students are killed by a ninja.  Lost and filled with rage, the young man finds a new teacher and fellow students and learns a new style of martial arts.  Together with his new friends, he must take on ninjas who represent the elements like wood, water and fire. When I was a late teenager, I moved back to Kettering and was close to a Blockbuster Video (that I would later work many years at) where I picked up a bunch of old martial arts films on VHS in a discount bin for .99 each that included such titles as “Chinese Samson”, “Fearless Hyena”, “Snake Eagle Crane” and one of my personal favorites called “Chinese Hercules” that starred the one and only mountain of muscle Bolo Yeung! Chinese Hercules was made in 1973 and is about a peaceful man who swore off fighting and works for a dock that is taken over by mobsters.  The workers are mistreated by him and his muscle bound goon who is the Chinese Hercules.  The man is forced to fight to stand up for what’s right. When I started to work for Blockbuster, they where still renting out VHS and during one of our shipments we got a classic martial arts film in for sale.  It was called “Five Deadly Venoms,” and I was taken back on how kick ass the film was when I bought it! My friend Jason Gilmore also saw the film around the same time and he was also a super fan and we both cracked up when rapper O.D.B (Old Dirty Bastard) used samples from the film on one of his CD’s. The film was another Shaw Brothers production made in 1978 and follows five students who are trained in many styles based on poisonous animals like snake, toad and scorpion.  While all are trained by the same teacher, they all don’t know the true identity of the others and some are good and some are bad.  In the end the two sides clash in a breath taking kung-fu showdown! This is just a tiny taste of the martial arts films I truly like but these three are very much at the top of the list of some of my all time favorites. I could also list quite a few Bruce Lee films but I figured I would talk about three that some of you fine readers might not have known about, so if you have not seen any of these and enjoy classic Kung-Fu flicks, I say check them out.

Chinese Super Ninjas PosterChinese HerculesFive Deadly Venoms DVD

Bolo Yeung is one of my favorite classic Kung-Fu actors and is one of cinema’s best bad guys of the 70’s and 80’s. Yang Sze was born July 3rd 1946 in China and before he became an actor, he was a completive body builder and was Mr. Hong Kong Champion, a title he held for 10 years! Bolo also studied many styles of martial arts from many teachers and mastered the art of self-defense that helped him when he decided to become an actor in action films. Bolo started acting in 1970 in Shaw Brother films with his first role being in a film called “The Wondering Swordsman” and took roles mostly as bad guys in other films like “The Oath Of Death”, “Tiger”, and “The 14 Amazons.”  His biggest role was in the Bruce Lee film “Enter The Dragon” where he played a character named Bolo. Many other great roles followed like “Chinese Hercules”, “Soul of Chiba”, “Bolo The Brute”, “Bruce The Superhero” and “Fearless Hyena 3”. In 1988 he played the role of Chong Li in the film “Bloodsport” that starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and would be in another Van Damme film called “Double Impact” in 1991. Bolo continued to star in several action films through the 90’s and into the 2000’s, and it appears he will be in a film this year called “The Whole World At Our Feet”! Love him or hate him, Bolo Yeung is one of the best badass actors who made playing a bad guy cool during his career on the silver screen.

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The 1970’s in the world of comic books, most companies rode the wave of the popularity of martial arts films and many great characters came out of this time. Marvel Comics has two popular characters that were hand to hand combat experts, Iron Fist and Shang-Chi The Master of Kung-Fu. Growing up I had issues of both of these characters and with Iron Fist I had mostly the ones were he teamed up with Luke Cage Power Man.  For Shang-Chi I had many of his issues and enjoyed them a lot.  A couple years back, I had a pretty good run of Master of Kung-Fu’s and like a numb skull I sold them to a web based comic store….I know a run of them would have made a great update. DC Comics had Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter and Val Armorr The Karate Kid. I never owned an issue of either of these characters and sad to say had zero interest in both characters. The martial arts was so popular in the 70’s even independent comic companies got into the market of making comics based of karate characters like Charlton’s House of Yang and Hong Kong Phooey based on the popular cartoon. While many of today’s super heroes know karate and martial arts, the magic of the 70’s kung-fu fighters will always live on.

Master Of Kung Fu ComicKung Fu Fighter ComicHouse Of Yang Comic

I have been watching The Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) since the start thanks mostly to my uncle George who would order the PPV and invite us over to watch them with him.  It was a blast watching George get worked up over the fights! You see my uncle George is a bad ass when it comes to the martial arts and I am sure could and would have done very well in the early days of UFC. I can remember sitting at his house along with my dad, brother and cousins Dino, Norman and Nick and watching the likes of Don Frye, Royce Gracie and Maurice Smith duke it out and do whatever it took to get the win under their belts. Over the years the sport of MMA and the company UFC have changed, and UFC has become of the biggest mixed martial arts companies in the word running others like Pride FC, Strikeforce and EliteXC out of business. And along this long journey of watching the sport and seeing it evolve, I have a list of fighters that I love and loved watching in the ring and really briefly I would like to share some of them with you.  This list is in no order, and I picked my top five MMA stars.

UFC Red Logo

So let’s step into the octagon and see what I would call Rotten Ink’s MMA Hall of Fame Class 1!

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Vitor Belfort

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort has always been one of my favorite fighters ever since I saw him KO the likes of Tank Abbott, Wanderlei Silva and Scott Ferrozzo in the early days of UFC. He is trained in many fighting styles like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo, Shotokan and Boxing with the latter truly being one of his strong suits as Belfort can throw wicked fast punches with knock out power in each strike! Belfort started his fighting career at the age of 19 at an event called SuperBrawl 2 in Hawaii and beat the much larger Jon Hess by KO in 12 seconds into the first round! Some key names he has also beaten in the sport include Gilbert Yvel, Heath Herring, Randy Couture, Marvin Eastman, Rich Franklin, Anthony Johnson, Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson. To this day, Belfort is one of my favorite fighters to watch and here is to hoping that he holds the middleweight title for a long time! His record thus far is 24-11 and his career looks as if it will not be slowing down anytime soon.

Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman

Mark “The Hammer” Coleman is the godfather of ground and pound as well as the first ever UFC Heavyweight champion! Much like Vitor I have always been a fan of Mark Colman as in his early days in the sport he was one of the most dominate fighters to step into the octagon and pound his opponent down. Another great thing about Coleman is the fact he is also an Ohio boy who in college was a freestyle wrestler and went to OSU (The Ohio State University) and as well made it to the Olympics. Coleman first entered the UFC in 1996 at the point when each event was a tournament, having the fighters at some points fighting up to three times a night! Coleman’s first fight was against Moti Horenstein that he won when he pounded Moti in to sudmission! Coleman would not stay in the UFC his whole carrer and would go on to become a even bigger star in Japan fighting for Pride FC. In 2009 Coleman made his UFC return at the age of 45 and had a short run before being let go and later retiring from the sport. During his amazing MMA run he went 16-10 and beat such talents as Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, Dan Severn, Igor Vovchanchyn, Mauricio Rua and Stephan Bonnor. Mark Coleman is also in the UFC Hall of Fame and still remains a major figure in the history of MMA.

Ken Shamrock

Ken Shamrock

The World’s Most Dangerous Man Ken Shamrock was the sport’s first major megastar who helped bring MMA into the main stream. Ken was the first fighter to use a shoot style and would show the world that Royce Gracie was human after all as he wore out the legend in a 36 minute fight that ended in a draw. Shamrock also was the head of a training camp called The Lion’s Den that dominated the octagon for years and had/has such fighters as Guy Mezger, Vernon White, Frank Shamrock, Maurice Smith and Roy Nelson showing the talent that has come from his camp. Shamrock fought not only for the UFC but also companies like Pride FC, Rage Cage and Pancrase and was a major draw for each. Ken’s biggest feud in the sport was against Tito Ortiz, and their first fight was one of UFC’s top purchased PPVs.  The next three times the fighters stepped into the cage was a draw for viewers. Ken Shamrock was also on the UFC reality TV show called The Ultimate Fighter as well acted in some films like Scarecrow Gone Wild. Ken has victories over such fighters as Bas Rutten, Maurice Smith, Dan Severn and Kimo Leopoldo to name a few.  In his career Ken holds a fight record of 28-16-2, and while he has fought this year 2015 and lost in the first round to Kimbo Slice, Shamrock claims he is not retired and might fight sometime again. Ken is trained in many styles of fighting but is best described at a shoot fighter. Ken Shamrock as well is in the UFC Hall Of Fame.

Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz

The Huntington Beach Bad Boy Tito Ortiz is one of those fighters you like or hate, and I find myself being a fan of Ortiz who brought back ground and pound to the UFC when he busted onto the scene in 1997. Ortiz early in his career made an impact with fans with his take no crap attitude and his outlandish opinions of his opponents. I mean what other fighter can you name that in a short time could piss off a whole fight camp like the Lions Den and to back up his mouth was able to beat down many of the camp’s top stars! Ortiz has been a Light Heavy Weight Champion, a coach on Ultimate Fighter, a short lived pro wrestler, acted in movies and shows like Zombie Strippers and Crow: Wicked Prayer and married adult film actress Jenna Jameson. Ortiz was never one to keep quiet on things and has had falling outs with UFC and it’s president Dana White on many occasions and most of the times worked things out to return to the octagon. Ortiz is now fighting for Bellator after UFC wanted him to retire from the sport. Ortiz is a well rounded fighter and learned many types of martial arts to become the fighter he is and one of few to be inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame. Ortiz in his career thus far has wins over such talent as Guy Mezger, Wanderlei Silva, Evan Tanner, Ken Shamrock, Vito Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Ryan Bader and Stephan Bonnar. His record in the sport as of the day this update was posted is 18-11-1 and here is to wishing Ortiz more wins and one last title run.

Mark Kerr

Mark Kerr

The Smashing Machine Mark Kerr is a fighter that I feel is often overlooked when people talk about the legends of MMA.  Much like Belfort and Coleman, he is a fighter that I have found myself cheering for since he broke into the fighting world. Mark Kerr comes from a collegiate wrestling background and was one of the best at what he did, making people submit and dominating them with his pure power. Mark made his MMA debut in 1997 at World Vale Tudo Championship 3 where he beat down three opponents to win the event and did so with a broken hand! Kerr went on to fight for the UFC where he made a name for himself by smashing the competition.  He later went to Pride FC and became a mega star but at the time he was always battling some demons and his career took a hit for it with a string of loses in the company. After Pride, Mark went on to fight for many smaller companies and was a draw for them on his name value. Mark Kerr was the subject of a documentary about his addictions and the sport of MMA for HBO called “The Smashing Machine” that helped open eyes for many about the dangers of addiction and it also showed how competitive MMA is. While later in Mark’s career he had a string of losses those can’t take away the impact of what he contributed to the sport and showed that wrestlers can be top fighters like Mark Coleman before him. I should also state that Kerr is born in Ohio making him one of us! In his career Kerr has victories over the likes of Paul Varelans, Dan Bobish, Nobuhiko Takada and Enson Inoue. Kerr, who is retired, holds a MMA record of 15-11-1, and is sadly not in the UFC Hall of Fame.

ronda rousey

Rhonda Rousey

I am still a huge fan of MMA, but I seem to think the sport is currently lacking the type of top notch athletes that made the sport from the start, I mean who can look up to the likes of Jon Jones or Chael Sonnen? But one fighter I find myself liking is Rowdy Rhonda Rousey who is a Judo machine who even has Gold Medals from the Olympics to prove it! Rhonda who is only 27 has already won the UFC Light Weight Championship and has starred in many movies like The Expendables 3 and Furious 7 and is sponsored by Reebok Shoes. She has wins over the likes of Miesha Tate, Sara McMann and Alexis Davis and holds an impressive record of 11-0! I am keeping an eye on Rhonda as I feel she is truly the next big thing on the world of MMA, and I see her holding the title for a very long time! Plus she loves Pro Wrestling so she is A-OK in my book!

The Octogan

Well we talked about Kung-Fu films, martial arts comics and MMA so I think it’s time we jump into our comic made by Atlas Comic,s a company you long time readers know I love and learned about thanks to the gone but not forgotten comic shop The Bookie Parlor. But much like the other Atlas titles we have covered in the past, this series disappeared as fast as it appeared as the company folded up thanks to the shelf hogs Marvel and DC who made it impossible to get their issues on the news stands when they would flood the racks with tons of titles at a time. And if you think about it, they both still do it to this day – I mean how many Batman and Avengers titles do we need? The title we are looking at today is so fitting for this update, The Hands Of The Dragon, and follows a masked Kung-Fu hero named The Dragon as he attempts to stop his evil brother and avenge the death of his grandfather. I found this comic at an antique mall so I want to thank that vendor for having it in stock for me to buy and review. So let’s see what The Dragon can do, but before we do, I must remind everyone that I grade this issue on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s karate chop our way to an adventure packed time.

The Hands Of The Dragon 1

The Hands Of The Dragon  # 1  ***
Released in 1975    Cover Price .25    Atlas Comics    #1 of 1

It’s World War II and an old man along with his two baby grandchildren (Wu Ten & Ling) have returned to Japan at a horrible time as the atomic bomb is dropped and the radiation burns the face of Ling badly.  The old man goes to the only place he feels safe, the monastery where he grew up. As the kids grow up, Wu Ten is a noble and strong young man who has mastered the art of fighting as has his scarred brother Ling but he is filled with rage and anger and has been hanging around a bad influence named Dr. Nhu.  A fight between the brothers leaves their grandfather dead by the tip of a spear thrown by Ling, and this starts a feud between the brothers that leaves them as mortal enemies. The years pass and Wu Ten moves to California and becomes a news anchor.  At night he puts on a mask and calls himself The Dragon and is looking for his brother Ling who is now going under the name The Cobra! After he finds a picture taken by co-worker Nicky he finds that Cobra as well as Dr. Nhu are in town and planning on killing the Prime Minister of Japan! During a speech at a college, the Prime Minister is shot by the Cobra as The Dragon is fighting Dr. Nhu who escapes after The Dragon himself is shot by the Prime Minister’s scared bodyguards in the back! In the end at the hospital, the Prime Minister is in a coma but comes out of it thanks to The Dragon who uses a mystic medallion to give him strength.  When The Dragon leaves the hospital in the shadows, he knows that he must find his brother and stop his killing rampage.

This is a great Atlas Comic that I had never heard of until I found it at the antique mall, and I must say I am glad I did as I think it was fantastic and had so much potential to be a great martial arts comic series. Sadly I must say that much like the other Atlas Comic series I talked about, The Brute and The Cougar, this series just ends on the promise of a new issue coming that never came to be thanks to the doors of the company closing. The plot of this comic is pure Kung-Fu movie stuff as it has two brothers on two different paths becoming enemies over the death of their “master”. The plot thus far was really well done and easily could have given Marvel’s Master Of Kung-Fu a run for its money. Wu Ten/ The Dragon is a noble and nice young man who defends the defenseless and has a sense of pride in his family and his heritage. He is skilled in hand to hand combat and can shut out pain when it comes to saving lives and stopping bad guys, and I can’t forget that he is super strong. When becoming The Dragon, he wears a mask to hide his face and hides in the shadows much like Batman…in fact The Dragon/ Wu Ten is a combination of one part Peter Parker, a dash of Clark Kent with the appearance of Iron Fist, and for good measure add in some Jackie Chan. Ling/The Cobra is not as fleshed out as his brother.  All we really know is that he is badly scarred in the face, he is filled with rage and doesn’t care about taking other people’s lives, he hangs around with shady people and he is not as skilled as his brother. The Cobra/ Ling is a mix of the following: add one splash of Storm Shadow, two parts Shredder with the appearance of Freddy Kruger and the attitude of Bolo Yeung. Dr. Nhu is a man covered in tattoos who is a bad man and is not liked by the monks, and when Ling kills his grandfather this man takes him in. Grandfather is a fighter who did whatever he could do to save his grandchildren whose parents were killed in the war.  Grandfather hates war and hates the needless violence of others. I also need to add that Grandfather had radiation poisoning and was able to kill a polar bear with his bare hands….now that’s a badass! It’s a shame that this comic series ended before another issue was able to come out as I would have liked to have seen a little more character development for The Dragon and The Cobra. The art is pretty solid and is done by Jim Craig and holds that 70’s comic feel and also looks like it could be a Marvel Comic in it’s style. Once more Atlas proves why it’s one of my favorite independent comic companies of the past and delivered another action pack character whose life was sadly cut short by lack of rack space at the comic racks at the five and dime stores.

Hands Of The Dragon Art 1Hands Of The Dragon Art 2Hands Of The Dragon Art 3

Well it’s the fifth round of this Atlas Comic title fight, and I had a blast taking a trip down memory lane of the old love I had for martial arts films as well as talking about the warriors of MMA that I cheer for as they step into the octagon. But our next update is taking us away from hand to hand combat and into the world of spooky ghosts as we not only take a look at the comic series based on Filmation’s Ghostbusters but I will also go on a local ghost hunt and tell you all the spooky details! So until then, Young Grasshoppers, be active and make sure to take some time to read a comic or three and remember: No Retreat and No Surrender!

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Jason Voorhees’s Bogus Journey To Hell

As you long time readers remember when New Line Cinema told the world that Freddy Kruger was going to die in their film “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare” and that it was the final film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, it sent shockwaves through the youth at the time who believed their marketing tool. But could they trick us all again when they did the same thing with the newly acquired Friday The 13th film series? Paramount Pictures had been making and putting out Friday The 13th films since 1980 when they released the original film.  To their surprise, it was a huge hit and sparked 7 sequels for them, but this whole time while they made money on them, it almost seemed they were embarrassed to be the company making these slasher films. The final film for them came in 1989 with “Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan,” and while it made money, its profits were less than before.  Paramount had enough of the hockey mask killer, and they sold the film rights for future sequels to New Line Cinema who made the A Nightmare on Elm Street series as well as films like Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Man’s Best Friend. This was shocking for fans of the series as now New Line had the rights, and no one knew what was going to happen.  Would they do a remake of the series or would they continue on? We got our answer as they announced Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, and they once more let it out that this was it.  If you like Jason Voorhees, you better come see this film and say your goodbyes because this was the “Final” one. Of course time would prove that they were full of crap as sequels like Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason and even a reboot was made by a coproduction between New Line and Paramount in 2009. In 2013, Paramount has gotten the rights back to Friday the 13th for 5 years and plan on making the 13th film in the series soon for a 2015 release date. The actor best known for playing the part of Jason Voorhees is Kane Hodder, a stuntman who has been in many great horror films over the years such as the Hatchet Series, Project: Metal Beast, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Wishmaster and 2001 Maniacs.  He is also the actor who played Jason in the film this blog update is about.

Jason Voorhees 1Paramount logoJason Voorhees 2

For those who don’t know who Jason Voorhees is, here is a quick bio for the famed hockey mask killer. Jason Voorhees was born a mongaloid, and when he was young and at camp he drowned in the lake at Camp Crystal Lake while the councilors were making love and partying.  Over the years, his mother, Pamela Voorhees, did all she could to have the camp closed.  She murdered people and even poisoned the water to try and keep people away. Pamela’s reign of terror came to an end when a young woman named Alice chopped her head off after she had already killed all of Alice’s friends and co-workers. Alice had a vision of a boy in the lake who pulled her under, but no such boy was found. Years pass, and the boy who was really Jason Voorhees killed Alice and spent all his time getting revenge on those who entered his camp. At first Jason wore an old sack as a mask, but later he was able to get a hockey mask from one of his victims. While at first Jason was just a deformed human, it was after he died at the hands of Tommy Jarvis (a young boy whose family he attacked) that he later became an undead killing machine who could not be stopped. Jason was brought back from the dead thanks to Jarvis, who over they years brooded over the killer and believing he was not truly dead dug up his body and like Frankenstein’s Monster a bolt of lightning brought back the killer who spent many years hacking up teens and even battling one with psychic powers. The hockey face killer even caught a cruise at one point and traveled to New York and later was set up and blown to bits only to be shown that he has a demon inside him that can body jump.  Le also later went to space in the future and turned metal and even fought dream killer Freddy Kruger in a bloody battle. Jason over the years has been hacked up, blown up, set on fire, drowned, hung and shot and nothing ever seems to stop him. Actors who have played Jason over the years in 12 films include Kane Hodder, Steve Dash, Richard Brooker, C.J. Graham, Ken Kirzinger and Derek Mears to name a few. Jason Voorhees remains one of the most popular horror characters of the 1980’s, and while this bio was rushed, you should do yourself a favor and watch all the films and enjoy the blood splatter goodness. 

Alice Cooper and Jasonjason x jasonremake jason

1993 marked the first film of the Friday the 13th series done by New Line Cinema called Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, and like before they acted as if this film was the last to be made for the Jason Voorhees character like they did before with Freddy Kruger and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. This time around while I was hyped for the idea of a new Friday the 13th film, I was not as sold on it being the final one, all that kept going through my young mind was “Why would they buy the rights only to end it with one film?” Still the hype of final did fill my mind and made me wonder just how they would kill him off, and when Fangoria Magazine started to show pictures on the set and showed a more bloated looking Jason who looked battle tested and his mask seemed fused to his face, my hype built slightly even more. I can remember talking to my brother about how they were going to kill Jason off this time and ever so slightly the rumor of Freddy Kruger being in the film echoed in my brain. The kids at school, while some horror film fans, they were few and far but the ones that did, I can remember talking of ideas of this final film and what we thought was going to happen. I can even remember Entertainment Tonight doing a big segment of the film, adding more hype to its release. The film came out and grossed $15,935,068.00 during its run at the box office, and being younger my mom and dad would not allow me to watch the film in theaters. I can remember hearing negative reviews from older friends who saw it, and even my brother got to see it and disliked it. While I heard positive stuff about the gore, the fact that in this film Jason had a little demon that lived in his heart and would body jump kept being compared to films like The Hidden. It took it coming to VHS before I was able to see it, and after watching it I found myself liking it, while I would say next to part 5 it’s the weakest in the series, it still has a charm that I find entertaining.

The film’s gore effects are great and perfect for the 90’s slasher film, and while the Jason body jumping demon was dumb, when the hockey mask wearing Jason is on screen, it’s good stuff. The end of the film when Freddy’s glove shows up and pulls Jason’s mask into Hell was so awesome and built up the fact that you knew that the Friday The 13th film series was not over and that the two horror icons would meet each other in a film. So while it did not hold the questions and mystery of Freddy’s Dead, this film still held some great memories of talking to my brother and friends of the Final Friday. 

Jason Hell 1Jason Goes To Hell PosterJason Hell 2

Jason Goes To Hell is filled with a few other horror film relics and characters.  The most known is Freddy Kruger’s glove that pops from the ground at the end and pulls Jason’s mask down to Hell while giving his evil laugh. The second is the Book of The Dead from the famed Evil Dead series that sits in the Voorhees house, making one wonder is Jason a deadite? And last is the crate from Creepshow that houses the razor teethed monster that eats Adrienne Barbeau, that is now being stored in the Voorhees basement. Very cool little surprises for fans of horror in this flick and are worth trying to spot on your next watch.

Freddy's GloveEvil Dead BookCreepshow crate

Like all good popular horror films, Jason Goes To Hell had its share of merchandise like t-shirts, trading cards, cardboard cut out, Halloween masks, model kits, toys and magazines. Some of the best are the Mezco Jason Goes To Hell figures from their Cinema of Fear line. McFarlene Toys had a Jason Goes to Hell figure in their Movie Maniac line, and Fangoria had a magazine dedicated strictly to the film.

Movie Maniac JasonJason Goes To Hell MagazineJason Model

One other cool piece of merch that came out was the soundtrack to the film done by Harry Mantredini on both cassette tape and CD. The film’s score, while updated, still holds the classic Friday the 13th feel and even has brief moments that echo the classic score. This is a score that at some point I want to get and start playing a few tracks of it on WYSO’s Sunday night radio show Alpha Rhythms.  So listeners of that, keep your ears open.  

Jason Goes To Hell Soundtrack CD

When I moved back to Kettering I hated it.  I felt like I did not connect with the other kids, and I felt like the schools themselves were nothing but one big joke more concerned with test scores than actually teaching kids. While I had some great friends in Kettering like Josh Weinberg and Patrick Neeley, it was when I was placed in the media class that I found friends who were just like me.  They were into horror films, music and being creative. Guys like Dave Wean, Rion Neeley, Linda Webb, Dan Salter, Brandon Womeldorff and Matt Hoffman were all amazing and fun people. With these guys I also helped build a small shot on video film company called Independent B Movie. One of the first people I bonded with in that class was Matt Hoffman over a T-shirt I was wearing that lead to us talking about music and then of course horror films. Hoffman was a fan of Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and I can remember him even printing out rumors of what the Freddy vs. Jason film would have been about. One of the coolest things Matt did was he gave me a double sided official movie theater poster of Jason Goes To Hell that I still have to this day.  So once more thank you, Hoffman, for being a great friend, and this update is for you and all the other horror fans in the world who stick together.

Jason Goes To Hell Poster 2

So here we are at the point of the comic reviews, and I want to let all you readers know that the issues I am about to re-read are the same ones I bought off the news stands when they first were released. I got these comics from Mavericks Cards and Comics as well as The Bookie Parlor and have kept them all these years.  At one point in time when I sold off my comics to pay rent for me and my girlfriend’s place, I kept these as well as a handful of others so these comics hold a lot of memories. Remember I grade these comics 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. So if you’re ready, let’s get into the Final Friday.

Jason Goes To Hell 1

Jason Goes To Hell # 1   **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #1 of 3

A young woman goes to Crystal Lake and lures Jason Voorhees out of hiding and tricks him into following her into an ambush set up by a SWAT team who use a bomb and blow Jason up “killing” him once and for all. But when Jason’s body is taken to the corner’s office, something goes wrong as one of the men working on his body takes a bite out of Jason’s over sized heart and has the spirit of Jason inside him and goes on a killing rampage. Meanwhile Robert Campbell, a TV host for a tabloid show called American Case File, has put up $100,000 to bounty hunter Creighton Duke who travels to Jason’s old stomping ground and talks to waitress Diana who he thinks can help him kill Jason.  Diana’s boyfriend is the town’s sheriff, and after some heated words Duke is kicked out of the diner and arrested. Diana wants to talk to her daughter Jessica’s ex-boyfriend Steven about the family’s secret and makes him promise to come visit her at 11pm that night. Meanwhile one of the town’s cops is attacked by the coroner who has Jason’s spirit inside him and via a strange worm demon that comes from his mouth, the curse is passed onto the cop who goes to Diana’s house and attacks her while she is on the phone with the sheriff.  Steven goes in and tries to save her but during the attack Diana is killed.  Jason Cop is knocked out the window and the sheriff blames Steven for the death of his girlfriend.

The Jason Voorhees kills are kept to a minimum in this first issue as is all the cussing and naked boobs of the film.  In fact one whole scene that has a couple of collage kids getting naked and dying is missing from the issue all together. The scene should have taken place before Steven goes to Diana’s house as he is the one that picks them up hitchhiking and drops them off in the woods. Jason in this issue is seen in the traditional hockey mask very little and spends most of the issue in other bodies like the monster from “The Hidden.”  This takes away the Friday the 13th feel to the killer. Steven, who is being prepped to be the comic’s hero in this issue, does very little besides get thrown around by Jason Cop and does ram a fire poker through the killer’s body. Diana seems like a sweet woman who wanted to be happy with a husband and a perfect life.  Too bad she was the main target of Jason who wants to have his little demon thing inside her…yeah, I know how that sounds. The Sheriff and the cops seem like closed minded small town good old boys, and if they are the main protection for the town when the blood hits the fan then I feel sorry for them all. First impression of Robert Campbell is jerk, and he has that Bill O’ Reilly sleaze factor to him. Creighton Duke is badass, and I can’t wait to see him more in action.  Out of everyone shown thus far, he is the only one who stands a chance of killing the hockey mask killer. The small dinner where Diana works is also a great small town attraction as they even make Jason Voorhees burgers and are milking all they can out of the killer’s “death”. The artwork in this series is done by Cynthia Martin and has the 90’s comic charm to it.  While I am not a super fan of this style, I still enjoy it for this comic. The cover is great and has Jason’s hockey mask on blac,k and best of all it glows in the dark…classic 90’s comic gimmick stuff…oh yeah, it also came with three Topps trading cards based on the film. So with issue one down, let’s move onto issue two as we continue our comic adaptation of “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday”.

Jason Goes To Hell 2

Jason Goes To Hell # 2   **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #2 of 3

Jessica along with her baby daughter Stephanie and her new boyfriend Robert Campbell have all come to town after her mothers murder, while Steven is locked up next to Creighton Duke who is now being held because they think he stole Diana’s body that is now missing form the morgue. Duke shares some info with Steven that explains Diana and Jessica are related to Jason, and he needs one of them to make himself reborn so he can be the strong killing machine once again. Steven escapes the jail and starts his quest to get to Jessica who has allowed her friend and her mom’s co-worker Vicki to watch her daughter who takes the baby to work with her at the diner. Steven goes to the old Voorhees house and watches as Robert Campbell talking to his producer admits to stealing Diana’s body and using Jessica just to get this big news story for his show, but his dreams of having high ratings is cut short as Jason Cop enters and now inserts the worm demon in Robert! Steven rushes to Jessica and kidnaps her and runs over Robert right in front of her.  The two argue, and Jessica breaks away and leaves Steven at the side of the road who is then in turn arrested again.  As Jessica is also at the police station, Jason Robert shows up kills the cops and tries to kill Jessica as Steven comes in and tries to stop her attack.

It’s a Voorhees family reunion as it’s revealed that Jessica and her child are relatives to Jason who wants nothing more than to put his worm demon inside Jessica’s mouth…yep, again I know how it sounds. While Jessica is a major part to this comic series plot, I really don’t feel that she is fleshed out and that’s a shame because in the film you find yourself liking her more so than here in this comic adaptation. Once more Robert Campbell shows that he is a total scumbag as he steals a dead body and uses a woman just because she can get him ratings on his trash TV show.  What a turd that you find yourself happy about when he dies and the Jason worm demon takes him over. Steven turns into a macho man as he breaks free from jail and tangles once more with Jason who was in the body of Robert this time around.  It’s a shame that in the story it’s explained that he walked away from Jessica because he found out she was going to have his baby…not cool, Steven, not cool. Creighton Duke takes a backseat in this issue and is used only as a source of information to give our hero Steven all the knowledge he needs to know. Most of the cops in the issue are useless and are taken out pretty fast by Jason Robert. One character in the comic that is not in the film is Vicki’s boyfriend who gets killed getting out of the shower after Jason Cop shows up to steal the baby that is no longer there and is at the dinner safe and sound in a cardboard box…yep. This issue has more kills, more blood, more cussing and more Worm Demon Jason than issue one and keeps the pace building.  So over all, this is not a bad issue. The art this time around is done by Bobby Rubio, and in my opinion is terrible and looks more like a sketchbook than a finished comic. The cover is pretty cool and has a woman just out of the shower looking into a mirror and seeing Jason behind her…classic slasher film stuff. Well we have one issue to go, so let’s dive into it and see if Jason really does go to hell!

Jason Goes To Hell 3

Jason Goes To Hell # 3  **1/2
Released in 1993   Cover Price $2.95   Topps Comics   #3 of 3

Steven and Jessica flee the police station.  As Jason Robert makes short work of the remaining cops, they make their way to the dinner to pick up baby Stephanie only to find that the owner of the diner is not having it because Steven being wanted for the death of Diana. Things get worse as Jason Robert shows up and kills everyone in the diner including Vicki, and baby Stephanie is missing! Jessica leaves Steven behind and rushes to the Voorhees house were Creighton Duke has the baby and explains to Jessica that she must kill Jason and send him to Hell once and for all. While talking to Duke, an accident happens and Duke falls through the floor and crashes to the basement as the sheriff and another cop show up and each are suspected of having the Jason demon inside them.  After a scuffle the sheriff dies and the other Cop picks up Stephanie and is clearly the Jason Demon! Steven shows up just in time and cuts off the cop’s head, freeing the worm demon who in turn gets into the dead body of Diana and poof the Hockey Mask killer Jason Voorhees is back! Jason kills Duke by snapping his back and then goes after Steven and Jessica, but as the legend goes Jessica is able to take Jason down with a dagger to the heart and with a final blow from Steven, Jason is taken to Hell by giant demon hands and just as they think its safe he pops back up and tries to drag Steven down with him! Jessica saves Steven and as they walk off together with baby in hand.  They are about to start their new family as Jason’s Hockey mask is pulled to hell by the razor gloved hand of Freddy Kruger.

Jason Voorhees is back by the last few pages of this comic, but sadly after throwing Steven around briefly he is taken down by the dagger of Jessica really quick and we never do get the full Jason effect! Though I will say that while better done in the film, the massacre at the diner is the brutal killing style that we all know and love coming from Jason even though he looks like a TV reporter. That is the only downside to this comic and even the film is that in our Friday the 13th media, we want Jason in all his glory not a body snatching worm demon. Steven, while very noble in wanting to save his love Jessica and his daughter, is just not a badass hero as much as he is a punching bag! In fact at the end when he is the one that hits the final blow to the dagger that sends Jason to Hell, I felt like he did not deserve it as that glory should have been given to Jessica. Speak of Jessica by this third and final issue its clear that she is more of the hero and is the only one who can kill Jason once and for all. Her character comes around and you find yourself liking her more so than in the past issue. The cops once more are just filler and human sacks of meat for Jason to get his body count higher as are the workers at the diner. Creighton Duke, while the information giver, is dogged out in the comic pretty bad as he goes down for the count really easy and Jason makes quick work of the bounty hunter. One thing that has always bothered me in both the film and the comic is when Jason Demon jumps into the final Cop’s body, why in the holy hell can he talk and sound just like the cop…now that’s some dumb bull stuff. The art is once more done by Cynthia Martin and look very 90’s, while the cover once more is well done and has Jason being pulled down to Hell by the demons. This is a pretty cool horror film comic adaptation and holds the cheese of the film really well.  The series had okay artwork and the story was a mix of the final film print, the script and the comic writers’ own take making for a good read. While it does not hold 100% true to the film it was based on, it still holds up as an average 90’s horror comic read and is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the Friday series.

I should also note that all three comics came with trading cards and truly show that it is a comic product of the 90’s where gimmicks ran wild. Oh yeah, I am sure you are wondering yes, it was cool to see Freddy’s Glove in comic form pull down the mask of Jason to Hell..and made you wish Topps would have pulled the trigger and made their own version of Freddy vs. Jason in a comic book. 

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Topps Comics had a lot of guts bringing Jason Goes To Hell to comics and putting them out at your local comic shop next to Batman and X-Men.  While horror comics were being made, none of the big companies at the time were touching IP’s based on horror films so I give them a lot of respect for that. It’s a shame that Topps pulled the plug on their comic branch because I would have loved to seen what they would be working on now in 2014. While Jason Goes To Hell is not a great movie nor would I even say is it a cult classic, it is a fun cheesy film that tried to do something new with a horror icon that was running thin on ideas to keep itself fresh. While no one I knew bought into the gimmick of this being the last film in the series, it was still a fun event to think about. These past few updates have been filled with many spooky horrors from Frankenstein’s Monster to the hockey mask killer Jason, so our next one will be something a little less frightening as we take a look at Star Comics series based on the dolls The Hugga Bunch…oh wait, this might be more terrifying!! See you next update! 

Hugga Bunch Logo

The Incredible Brute

Welcome back, everyone! After traveling the comic shops in the area looking for issues to get for this blog, I got a sad feeling when I remembered that one of the best comic stores in the area has not been in business for many years now.  That was a shop called The Bookie Parlor, run by Hal and Sue Blevins. Bookie Parlor not only had the new comics that came out every Wednesday, but they also had a huge selection of back issues, old comic related books, t-shirts, posters, and sports and trading cards. When I was younger I spent many hours going through their cheap bin and Incredible Hulk back issues and remember always be greeted with Hal’s gravelly voice as he would say “Welcome to the Bookie Parlor” and would go right back pricing sports cards.  Most of the times I was there, he seemed to be messing with sports cards. Many teens and kids would complain about Hal being rude to them, and while he was gruff, he always treated me with respect and would help me find issues I needed. His wife Sue was always super nice and would always make you feel welcome. Everything in the shop was easy to find and Hal always seemed to get new back issues that he would restock like clock work. My brother and I used to always imitate Hal to each other and would chuckle as we would watch him go off on people in his shop, oh the good times of that. My first knowledge of Bookie Parlor came when his shop was on Wayne Ave near downtown Dayton. The side of the building had a huge painting of Superman plus the bicentennial march of Spider-Man, Hulk and Captain America.  Every time we would pass it going to my grandparents’ house or Renaissance Music (the best record store EVER in Dayton), my Brother and I would get super hyped to see the paintings. It wouldn’t be until years later when the shop moved to Wilmington in Kettering that we would actually get to shop there. Thanks to Hal and his trading cards, I learned who Bettie Page was as I would buy cards based on the sexy pin-up model. Bookie Parlor maybe gone but it won’t be forgotten.  The years of great nerdom the store spread is still felt to this day.

marvel 1976Hal Bookiebettie page

The Bookie Parlor also introduced me to a small comic company from the 70’s called Atlas Comics that will lead us into our look at The Brute. As I mentioned, The Bookie Parlor had a great cheap bin of comics that I would raid for off the wall comics, some that were in terrible shape but among these misfit comics I found a comic called The Brute, that had a huge ape like man rampaging in the streets like the Incredible Hulk. The cover piqued my interest, and the issue came home with me.  I read the comic and loved it and so began my love for Atlas Comics. In 1974 Seaboard/Atlas Comics was created by Martin Goodman (the man who made the launch company that would become Marvel) and was his way to compete with Marvel and DC. Goodman hired many veteran comic workers and aimed to make his company # 1 in the market. But sadly only one year later the company would shut down, and Atlas was forgotten. But not only did great characters like Iron Jaw, Wulf, Grim Ghost, Brute and Son of Dracula come from this company but so did the power to creators! You see if you made a character for Marvel and DC, they would own the character once it was green-lit but at Atlas the character was the creator’s property and this gave the power back to the people who made comics what they were.  There could be no Stan Lee slapping his name onto anything and everything, making the world believe he created it. This noble stand was also what Image Comics was founded on showing that Goodman had truly the right Idea. In 2010 Goodman’s grandson relaunched the company that is still going. To this day I still love Atlas Comics and look forward to exploring its many back issues.

Atlas Comic Logo

Now I am sure many of you are thinking what the heck is The Brute?! Well let me sum him up real quick for you so that you might have more of a bond with the savage man-beast. The Brute is a primitive man, half human and half ape.  He has the mind of a hunter and was frozen in a block of ice during the ice age.  In 1975 the temperatures have heated up and freed this hunter from his icy prison. Now he is free and has traded bears for human prey as this hunter does what he knows best and that’s killing. The Brute has blue skin, long black hair and ape like features making him very different looking than modern man. He is also very tall and very strong making him a major threat to those he crosses.

Brute 2

 So with that let’s get down to business and take a look at the 3 issue run of The Brute for Atlas Comics.  Remember 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, its art and story. This review is a team up from Bookie Parlor, Mavericks Cards and Comics and Bell Book and Comic. 

The Brute 1

The Brute # 1  ***
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #1 of 3

Three brothers enter a limestone cave and only one leaves alive as a primitive missing link of a man makes two of them dinner! Sherif Frazier with his force alongside Dr. Turner, a female scientist who wants to study the beast man once he’s captured, go to the scene. Frazier and his men capture The Brute and then it must stand trial for the murders. Dr. Turner wants to study the creature while the father of the dead boys wants it dead.  The judge sides with Turner but puts her fully in charge of the beast man. Turner works for months with The Brute and forms a bond with it.  One night the father breaks in and knocks Turner out, letting The Brute free! The Brute kills the father and leaves the jail.  When Turner comes to, she is in trouble for it escaping and Sherif Frazier gives the order to capture it alive or dead!

This 1st issue reads like a pure B-Movie and would have been right at home not only in comics but also on a drive-in movie screen. In this issue, The Brute is very much a killer and more animal then human, but after his friendship with Turner, more of its human side is shown giving this nonspeaking character some depth. Dr. Turner is turning out to be just like Rick Jones as far as being a mindless monsters friend and trying to make it do good. Sherif Frazier is a hero but not given much to do after he captures the Brute. What works the most for this comic is the story.  While it’s very simple and for all accounts not all that original, it still holds something that’s sure to please cheesy horror/sci-fi fans as well as fans of comic characters like The Hulk, Man-Thing and Solomone Grundy. The art is pretty good and has that classic 70’s look and could easily have the Marvel logo on the front in terms of quality. The cover while very cheesy is still a classic Atlas cover. At 33, I found myself still loving this issue and enjoying the hell out of it! So let’s get down to issue 2 and see if the charm is still there for the blue skinned Brute.  Oh yeah think about that: The Hulk is green skinned and The Brute is blue skinned – clearly this was Atlas’s attempt to capture Hulk fans. 

The Bute 2

The Brute # 2  ***
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #2 of 3

The Brute hides on a small plane and in fear causes it to crash deep into the woods.  But before the crash, the pilot is able to send out an SOS call and speak of a monster on board. After the crash, The Brute is injured but alive and is found by a mad scientist named Dr. Speer and his deformed assistant Eric who take him to their secret lab and turn The Brute into a mindless slave. No longer needing Eric, Speer has The Brute kill him and then go after members of the science board that had taken his license away so he can turn them into reptile people! As this goes on, Sherif Frazier goes to Dr. Turner tells her of the plane crash and says if she can get there before the cops she might be able to save The Brute’s life. When Dr. Turner gets there, she is attacked by Speer who wants her to become a female reptile person in order to mate with one of his other freaks, but The Brute breaks the mind control and proceeds to beat up all the reptile people and then kills Dr. Speer. The fight leaves the hidden lad in flames, leaving Dr. Turner to think The Brute is dead but this is not the case as it wanders off into the woods.

It’s Frankenstein meets cave man once more, much like the 1974 film “Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks.”  But this time throw in some reptile people, and you have an issue that is slightly better than the first. In this issue The Brute is still the mindless killing machine but for the most part is mind controlled by an evil doctor who is hell bent on making all humans into reptiles. Once more The Brute is shown to understand friendship as he breaks his mind control to save his only friend, Dr. Ann Turner. The plot of this one also reminds me of “House of Frankenstein” in which a Mad Scientist wants nothing more than revenge on fellow scientists who have spoken out against his crazed work. Dr. Turner is a likable character who you find yourself wanting to see help The Brute from being killed. Sherif Frazier has very little time in this issue and is shown to be a friend of The Brute as he gives Turner a lead to save its life. The art is pure Marvel Horror and makes the comic seem even better. The cover again is good work and makes for an eye catching issue. I think so far this is a great solid series that showcases an amazing powerhouse character. Let’s see if issue 3 can end the series with a good finisher.

The Brute 3

The Brute # 3  **1/2
Released in 1975   Cover Price .25   Atlas Comics   #3 of 3

The Brute is alone in the woods, confused and hungry, when Sherif Frazier sends his men out to capture him.  At first they are told to kill The Brute, but Frazier’s crush on Turner makes him change his mind to capture him. One cop disobeys orders and puts a bullet into The Brute’s brain.  What should have killed him only puts him at death’s door. The Brute is rushed to surgery where its life is saved and it starts to learn to talk, but when The Brute escapes again he runs around looking for a ball to play with like a child would. But The Brute is about to meet his match as a super being called Doomstalker takes the beast down and makes threats to the cops! And so ends Issues 3 on a cliffhanger that was never resolved.

This third issue starts off with a bang and is a great story but when Doomstalker enters the issue, it slips a little. This one has The Brute learning how to speak, showing that the primitive man is learning. In this issue the Brute is pure Hulk rip off at the start complete with torn purple pants and childlike actions. Dr. Turner is turned up a notch as well and for some reason is a total flirt! Sherif Frazier is more of a hard ass with a soft spot in this issue, changing the past vibes the character has given off. The addition of another mad doctor with a super being is a little silly and Doomstalker seems like a total hammy generic bad guy goof. There’s also the normal drama of the cops trying to kill or capture the Brute, making it have a slight been-there-done-that feel. This was not intended to be the final issue but as fate would have it, this issue did mark the end of The Brute’s run at the Seaboard Atlas Comics.

The Brute was the first comic I read from Atlas comics and remains one of my favorites from the short lived company. It’s a shame that his tragic story never fully unfolded and at the end of issue 3 you are not sure if he’s alive or dead and what the fates of Dr. Turner and Sherif Frazier will be. That’s one thing that always sucks, when a series never gets to have a full ending much like many of the STAR Comics we have reviewed in the past.  It makes your wonder the fate of characters you have invested time and emotions into. While it’s clear as day that this is a cheap cash in on Incredible Hulk, the Brute still makes his mark in my comic world. Man with all this talk of Incredible Hulk, I have decided to also do a quick review for issue # 121 from that series and will also try something new after that! So with no further wait, let’s take a look at Incredible Hulk. 

Incredible_Hulk_Vol_1_121

The Incredible Hulk # 121   ***
Released in 1969   Cover Price .15   Marvel Comics   #121 of 474

The Incredible Hulk has a hurt leg and decides to hide out in the swamps of Florida after he has a mishap with a rocket. The Hulk wanders the area enjoying the peace and quiet, taking in the sights of nature. General Thunderbolt Ross, alongside Major Talbot, is planning his next attack on The Hulk when they get word he has been hit by a rocket and landed in the swamps of Florida.  They whisk off to attack him. Meanwhile in the swamp, a thing has come out of the muck, once a man who was on the run, now a giant mucky monster known as The Glob. Thunderbolt and his men head into the swamp as Talbot stays with Betty Ross (the general’s daughter and lover of Hulk’s other side Bruce Banner) and they stay at a hotel near the swamp. As The Hulk fights with the army, The Glob is attracted to Betty and comes for her and takes her deep into the swamp. After Hulk beats the army he must save Betty from The Glob and must do so with a very badly hurt leg! In the end a toxic substance the army put into the swamp water ends the Glob and he makes sure Betty is out of harms way and into the hands of The Hulk.

This is a great classic Hulk vs. other monster match as he takes on the swamp muck man The Glob. This fight is pretty lackluster as The Hulk is fighting with a bum leg and The Glob seems not to even care to fight. The Glob is very underused in Marvel Comics and mostly only fought The Hulk and Man-Thing.  While he is a mute villain, he can still add some trouble for any hero he faces. It was also nice to see The Hulk hurt in this issue stacking the odds against him as he had to take on Thunderbolt and his men as well as The Glob, The Hulk is one of the strongest characters in comic history so seeing him as an underdog was nice. Thunderbolt Ross is as always a bitter old man who will stop at nothing to crush The Hulk once and for all, but does show some mercy as The Hulk saves his daughter and quietly gets away into the swamp. Betty Ross is still sweet as ever and cares about Bruce Banner and The Hulk knowing they are one in the same. General Talbot is as sleazy as ever and while a good man, he still is not to be trusted. Over all this is a great issue in the long running Incredible Hulk comic series and has a monster battler as well as an monster vs. army battle so what more could a reader want! The art is amazing classic Marvel and the style I miss in modern comics.  The plot is your classic Hulk story. The cover is eye catching and lets you know that you will see two monsters fighting it out.

So with that, let’s take a new look at something new here: a dream match up that pits three monsters against each other! Fighter one is The Glob, the muck monster of Florida! Fighter two is the primitive powerhouse The Brute! And the third is the green skin power house The Hulk!

The GlobVSThe BruteVSIncredible Hulk

The battle place will be the swamps of Louisiana and The Glob will be the first one there.  As he comes from the muddy banks he shuffles around, almost lost in his own thoughts, but at that moment The Hulk lands from one of his mighty leaps.  The Hulk knows The Glob and knows they have fought in the past and a battle is about to happen as Thunderbolt Ross drops in his new secret weapon that he captured known as The Brute into the battle ground! The three monsters would size each other up, and then the battle would start. The underdog of the fight would have to be The Brute.  While he is strong, he is still mortal and can feel pain. The wildcard would be The Glob.  While he is not super strong, he has enough power to inflict some major damage, and with being mute he could hide in the back and choose when to strike. The odds on favorite is The Hulk with his brute strength and pure raging power. I think The Hulk and The Brute would go at each other first, and The Hulk would make quick work of The Brute with a few well placed punches.  The Glob would then attack from behind and would get the best of The Hulk for a brief moment, but when Hulk got his balance back, a well placed Thunderclap and ground stomp would send The Glob into the opened Earth.

WINNER: The Incredible Hulk

Atlas Comics is a short lived company that had a good impact on my life and showed me a whole new world of independent company. So this update I got to look back on The Bookie Parlor, The Brute, a primal man and The Hulk, my favorite superhero of all time. Next up is Dark Horse Comics’ short take on horror icon Pumpkinhead! See ya next time.

Pumpkinhead logo

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.

halloween-with-the-new-addams-family2The_Addams_family_cartoon 90sMovie Poster

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.

Addams Family 1Adams Family 2Adams Family 3

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.

TedChristine Taylor MelMr. E

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”.

Hey Dude BookBrad and TedHey Dude DVD

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.

Tales From The Crypt ComicVault Of Horror ComicHaunt of Fear Comic

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.

Tales From The Crypt PosterTales from the Crypt TVetales from the cryptkeeper DVD

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.

Crypt Keeper ToyCrypt PinballCrypt Keeper Halloween

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.

Sherlock KeeperKeeper season 2 dvdtopten_cryptkeeper

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!

Conan The Conqueror novelConan the Barbarian 44Conan DarkHorse

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.

conan NES video gameconan warrior remcoConan PS3

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.

Conan ToyHorse ToySkulkur Toy

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.

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#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.

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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!

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#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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