Who The Heck Is Drastik? I Mean Really Who Is He?

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and to our first update in the countdown to Thanksgiving! Just like covering a Hercules comic series on Thanksgiving, covering a Forgotten Hero is now a tradition for November, and for this one I am picking a hero from 2004 that seems to really be lost with time as finding information on him has been dang near impossible and I am talking about Drastik! As I said his name, I can hear the crickets from you readers as many of you I am sure just said out loud “Who?” and maybe, just maybe, this update will inform you a little about he is and what he is about. So sit back, relax and enjoy this fine November as we take a journey into the comic world of Drastik….and I will say this will be a very short journey!

The company who made Drastik was called Critical Element, and they appear to have had their home base in California.  The company was owned and run by Robert Rowe and by all research and accounts that I could find, this is their only comic release! When looking up Robert Lowe to see what he has done in the world of comics, it as well turned up to be a dead end unless he is one of the following people with the same name: Robert Rowe the writer of music and audio research, or Robert Rowe who is a real estate agent for RE/MAX in Columbus, Ohio, or he could even be Robert Rowe the actor in such films as The Living And The Dying and The Stone House! So I am going to guess that it’s none of the above and that this Robert Rowe is just a normal independent comic writer and creator who believed in his comic and character and opened up a comic company to try and get his vision out into the world and into the hands of comic readers! The comic artist on this book is James E. Lyle, who is an independent artist who has done work for such companies as Solson Publications, IDW and Zenescope and is a journeyman of comics. But I have heard that artist Fred Carrillo also is said to have done the art for this comic…so who knows, but I’ll soon find out once I read this comic for the first time. And it appears that comic legend Gil Kane did the cover art, and all classic comic readers will know him from his work with Marvel and DC. So that’s about all I could dig up on the folks who brought this comic alive and again I have to praise the fact that this small company tried to make a mark on the comic world and did so no matter how small it was.

This update for some reason also reminds me of an odd piece of superhero merchandise that was released in 1975 and was a rock opera based around Spider-Man! This musical release was called “Spider-Man: Rock Reflections Of A Superhero” and shows that Stan Lee would whore out the mighty Marvel characters to anyone who had cash and would offer him a place on the project –  of course Lee narrates this musical journey of Spider-Man. This rock opera is about Peter Parker’s struggle of being a college student and a web slinger superhero and is a mixed bag of singers and musical artists making this come alive with such names as Marty Nelson, William Kirkland and Terence P. Minogue and characters that make appearances include Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. And I should also note that one of the funniest things about this is they act as if other Marvel Superheroes are playing the instruments as they have Incredible Hulk on drums, Luke Cage on bass, Silver Surfer on keyboards, Conan The Barbarian on strings and many of the other heroes lending their talents. That’s what I love about the good old days of comics, so many off the wall merchandise was made in order to spread the heroes to new set of eyes and try and bring in new readers. This weird Rock Opera was released on vinyl and late on CD, and after hearing about it I made sure to track down a CD copy of it and I must say this is one weird and wild ride and it should be turned into a stage musical play as I would 100% pay to see it! Do yourself a favor, if you enjoy Spider-Man and cheesy 70’s Rock N Roll, find this CD and give it a listen.

So here we are at the point of looking at the comic Drastik showing that this character made a very small mark on the world of comic heroes. So with a chill in the air this cold November day, I would like to think my pal Jason Young for getting me this comic from the Gem City Comic Con and would like to once more remind you that I grade this 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 readers are ready, I am as well as this will be the first time I read this comic, and I am looking forward to seeing what its really about!

Drastik # 1  **
Released in 2004     Cover Price $2.95     Critical Element     # 1 of 1

Drastik busts into a lab where an evil doctor was hatching an evil scheme and kills him for his soon to be crimes. We then cut to Los Angeles where a bank is being robbed, and the robbers decide to kill the security guard on duty! Meanwhile, while on a walk, Drastik hears the gun shots as well as the ambulance on its way to the bank and rushes there to make the robbers pay for their crime. As the robbers try and get away, our robot hero Drastik stops their getaway car and blows it up with one of the robbers still inside! As the others run away, he goes and checks and finds that the guard is in fact dead.  The police want the robbers badly, as does Drastik who is hoping to track the others down as well as the person who hired them to rob the bank. The robbers decide to set up Drastik and try to smash him in-between cars and this goes south when the robot jumps out of the way and is able to kill the robbers as well as get the name of their boss who he kills with a shotgun! Next Drastik swears that he is going to kill a serial killer calling himself the Ape-Mask Strangler and finds him and knocks him out with one punch!

This is a weird superhero comic that is very much pro vigilante justice as our robotic hero goes on a one bot killing spree of criminals! The plot of this comic is simple: Drastik has zero tolerance for criminals and goes into a rage when robbers kill a guard during a bank robbery and spends little time hunting them down and killing them and even finding their boss and murdering him all the while he also kills a mad doctor and a killer! It’s a very simple plot with not much depth to it as it was very cheesy stuff and feels very dated for 2004 when it was released with such a simple story. Drastik is a robot who acts like a human but has an ego that will not allow him to fail in his quest to stop crime for good, he is super powerful and smart and seems to have no emotions for those he kills but does for the victims of their crimes. He also is very much a smart ass as he has puns and jokes for the evil doers he is killing and for the most part is a pretty likable hero if you like vigilante justice! His friend in this comic who only is seen walking with him down the streets of LA is Valori Vane a woman he saved from a crime scene who know acts as his closest friend, she is not flushed out at all and is just kind of a background player. The bank crooks are just normal gangster looking criminals who are being lead by a homeless guy and none of them really put up a fight and all meet their end in the name of justice. The Mad Doctor and Ape-Mask Strangler are barely in it and we get no feel for who they are and how bad they were! That’s the main downside to this comic, NONE of the bad guys seem like they even stand a chance against this killing machine of a hero, and with no threat comes no suspense and that leads to an average independent hero comic adventure. The cover is pretty plan and is clearly just a sketch done by iconic comic artist Gil Kane set over a yellow background, but while simple it is eye catching due to the bright color and cool character design. The interior art is done by another iconic comic artist Fred Carrillo and is great classic comic book art and I really dig it as it reminded me of the comics I grew up reading. The story and character creation was by Robert Rowe and it makes me if he or some one he loved was the victim of a crime and this kill all the bad guys character was created as a way to deal with it…makes me wonder. But over all this was a fun average comic book that was a fun read and a great one to share with you readers as he really is a forgotten hero! Check out the art below to see the style of Carrillo and the classic look of it.

While Drastik is not a household name and is not ever going to get a big budget movie based on him, he still made is tiny mark in the world of comics and added his own brand of justice for readers to enjoy. It’s very weird to think that this character never got a second issue, and in fact, I don’t think he ever appeared again after this issue! But thanks again goes to Jason Young for giving me this comic as it was a fun one to cover on this countdown to Thanksgiving update and introduced me to a new character I would have never know was created. For our next update, we are walking away from a Forgotten Hero and back into the world of From Horror Movie To Horror Comic as we will be talking about the horror, comedy musical Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes! So make sure to join me back here for that one.  Until next time, read a comic or three, call a friend or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Oh yeah and until next time avoid tomatoes ’cause who knows, maybe they are trying to eat you!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Legend Of Diablo

The Aztec culture has contributed many great monsters to films based around their ancient legends and practices including The Aztec Mummy and the evil demon Azar, who is the main movie monster from today’s film and comic, The Legend Of Diablo! In the last 10 years Hollywood has filled the cinemas with films about ghosts and possessions, and independent labels have flooded the DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming market with lower budget films of the same kind filling the horror genre with lots of films that carry a PG-13 rating and deal with the spirits of evil. The Legend Of Diablo is a possession film that pre-dates the big boom and was, instead, riding the coattails of The Exorcist, Stigmata and The Blair Witch Project making it a low budget clone of its own time. Also The Legend Of Diablo shows that no matter how big or small your horror film is, it could be made into a comic book and people will buy it as one things for sure, Horror Comic readers love what they love! So get ready to open the box and free the evil Azar and learn about the film and the comic and enjoy another “From Horror Film To Horror Comic” update.

So let’s take a look at what Azar is and what it’s capable of! Back in the time when the Aztec’s were still sacrificing humans and ruled the land an evil demon was among them that had the ability to raise the dead as well as brainwash the living. It was up to the Aztec Chief to defeat the demon who had claimed many lives and with this defeat he was imprisoned in a box for centuries. When in 2003 he is freed from the box thanks to a noisy researcher, he once more is on the prowl, this time in California, and possesses innocent people and have them kill one another and this is his mission as death and destruction is what it craves. Azar’s main power comes from creating zombies who will do his evil will and allowing his followers to defend him and cause their victims to become slaves as well. He craves human flesh and by consuming it his powers become greater. He also seems to enjoy playing mind games with his intended victims by using possessed loved ones against them as well as speaking to them via their mind. He can also teleport and jump from body to body when needed in order to avoid being defeated. The main body he takes in the film is that of a preacher who was trying to stop him and his spirit form has the view of seeing red. While in his ancient times he looks like a huge demon with horns and even a long sinister tongue. His weakness is the box and artifact that his being was trapped in for years, as he fears being trapped again and loosing his grip on his plan to infest the world with his slaves. He also has an ego and is on a power trip that leaves him open for defeat as spreading his work of possession clouds his judgment to truly win. While only a spirit, his evil body jumping ways makes his a true evil demon who can cause major havoc and destruction to any one and place that he sets his sight on.

So as you can see, Azar is pure evil and if unleashed could easily bring the world as we know it to an end! Plus besides the change in appearance as far as the eyes and voice, the demon Azar could be walking among us. But now that we understand who and what Azar is, I think we now should learn a little about the movie.  As always, the description will be taken from our pals at IMDB and after I will share my memories and thoughts about the movie, so let’s see what this Horror flick is all about.

The Legend Of Diablo (2003)

“The small California town of Diablo is plagued with mysterious deaths after Sheriff Roberts Lopez unearths an ancient box. Legend has it that the box holds the sixteenth-century Mexican demon named Azar.”

This is a movie that I can remember being on the shelves at Blockbuster Video when I worked for them.  It was what was commonly called shelf filler by my manager who would always laugh at the cheesy horror films that filled our new release wall. I never rented The Legend Of Diablo from work which is kind of shocking as I watched all the horror films I could get my hands on.  Plus I have always been into Latina Women and this flick has its share of them. Many years had passed and this film slipped from my mind and I forgot it even was made until one day working at Game Swap in 2017 it crossed my path again when a regular customer named Steve who loves horror films as much as I do thought about buying it but didn’t.  This lead to me seeing that it had a comic based on it and made it a perfect fit for a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update. On a cold February in 2017 via a new DVD I bought for only $1.67 on Amazon. I watched this film for the first time and was amazed at just how low budget yet kind of charming it was, but while charming it is by no means a good. Azar for most of the film is just the POV of the camera with a red filter and when taking over bodies, the effects are nothing more than contacts and make-up and this is slightly disappointing as seeing a creature/demon version would have been pretty cool! The plus to the film was actress Calvi Pabon who played Mary Lopez who dressed in alternative Goth cloths, and this rocked! The film was released on DVD and VHS on March 2, 2004 and was lost in the shuffle for most horror fans as other films released that year were Seed Of Chucky, Dawn Of The Dead, Ginger Snaps 2-3, Tremors 4, Bone Sickness, Dracula 3000 and Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys to name a few and they all gained their cult status over this film. The Legend Of Diablo was directed by Robert Napton and stars Fred Estrada, Lindsey Lofaso, Mario Soto and Calvi Padon all who try their best with what they had to work with and that’s a very small budget with the DVD I have being released by Trinity. Over all this film may not be an amazing piece of horror cinema but no matter how small it still added to the genre as a whole.

So now that we have an understanding of Azar and the film that spawned him, The Legend Of Diablo, I think it’s time to go from the movie to the comic book that was released by Image Comics. The only reason I knew this comic book was made was again thanks to Game Swap and the customer who brought up the DVD that boldly states “based on the popular comic character!” And that sparked a hunt for what comic this film was based on and with the help of Todd The Fox we found it, but only after asking many comic reading friends of mine if they knew like Jason Young and Jeremy Hoyt and none of them knew…so Azar must not have been that popular of a comic character. I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having this issue in stock as that made this update possible. The Aztec spirits are wanting me 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, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So beware of the stalking red light that lurks outside as it could be Azar, and let’s dive right into this comic that helped spawn the film or is that they spawned each other!

Knights Of The Jaguar # 1  **
Released in 2004    Cover Price $0.00     Image Comics     # 1 of 1

The year is 1819, and the Aztec’s have called upon their warriors called Knights Of The Jaguar who, when wearing their helmets, become Jaguar men who’s main goal is to fight the evil of demons like Azar who tried to take over their land.  With their tribe’s chief they tried their best to defeat the evil demon and were able to trap him but not fully defeat him. Now in modern times Agent Vega takes the trial of the Jaguar and becomes a modern member of this secret order of warriors and heads to the city of Diablo in order to try and bring the war back to Azar and end his evil ways once and for all.

This short ashcan comic acts as a way to try and explain the legend and lore of Azar and the men who spend their lives trying to stop his evil rampage known as the Knights Of The Jaguar. The plot goes back in time when the Aztec people fought against the demon Azar who would corrupt many and that only brave warriors who would dawn the jaguar helmets are the ones who can save mankind form the evil. We then show modern times and a good Agent takes the trial to become a member of the order of the Jaguar and when he passes, he heads to a town that is rumored to house the spirit of Azar. Really the plot is that faced paced and really just acts as a tool for readers to rent or buy the film The Legend Of Diablo. The downside is besides the fact you know the Knights Of The Jaguar and Agent Vega are good guys and that Azar is an evil demon so you get no real time to bond with the characters or fully get to know them, and that’s the weakness of this comic as you really don’t get to care about any of them! The comic has little amounts of blood and is not really all that scary making it feel like it’s a horror comic that’s spinning its wheels and not living up to the demon possessed comic it could be. The art is pretty good and has a true 90’s feel to it and is done by Mike Choi who does a good job of making the story seem more epic.  The cover is cool but really does not represent the film and the characters in it at all and that’s odd as this comic was meant to be a tool to get readers to become viewers. Over all not much can be said about this comic besides Aazar is evil, the art is good and its way to short for its own good. Fans of the film might want to give this a read as it gives more back history to the demon Azar as well as Agent Vega. Your average horror comic reader who has zero clues that the movie was even made will probably want to stay clear, as it offers nothing for you besides more questions than entertainment. Below is art from this mini comic and shows Azar in all his glory.

So as you can see The Legend Of Diablo might not have set the horror movie world on fire it still got the comic book treatment, and I wish more smaller horror films and companies producing and releasing these films would take note and make comics based on their films as there are readers out there like me. While we leave Azar behind, we are starting our countdown to Halloween with out next update and I feel like we should take a look at another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” so I decided to take a look at the comic and slasher film The Orphan Killer! What better way to kick off a Halloween countdown than with a gory slasher comic and film…am I right? Well until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a very bloody good time!