American Hero: Bob Belcher

Every year here on Rotten Ink, we take a break from our cook-outs and fireworks to honor an American hero for our Independence Day update, and this year is no exception.  Hi everyone! It’s Juliet, back in the blogger’s seat to tell you about an all-American hero of TV and comics; he’s a humble man, a burger man.  That’s right, this year we’ll be spending the Fourth of July with Bob and the entire Belcher family 

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Known for his work on celebrated animated shows Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and Home Movies, Loren Bouchard created Bob’s Burgers to fit into Fox’s animation brand in the mid 2000s, the most successful shows of the time focusing on families. He teamed with King of the Hill writer and producer Jim Dauterive to develop the concept with the aim of showing being able to explore some workplace comedy tropes while keeping with the family theme.  There was one aspect of the original concept, however, that only made it into the finished product as a joke:  Bouchard actually wanted the Belcher family to be cannibals, something that gets used as a plot device in the pilot episode but only in the form of a rumor Louise starts at school.  Another switch is that there were originally two Belcher sons, but before production began, Daniel became Tina and given her popularity, that was most definitely the right choice.  

Bob’s Burgers premiered on Fox in 2011 on Fox with a special preview airing the prior Thanksgiving on the network.  The first season was met with shaky reception, but really found its stride with critics by the second season.  In 2017, Fox announced the development of a Bob’s Burgers, which, as many fans (myself included) rightly guess, would be a musical.  However, we’re still waiting to see this movie because several things happened: in 2019, Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, which wasn’t initially going to interfere with the film’s slated summer 2020 release, but then the coronavirus pandemic happened.  Like so many films, the Bob’s Burgers movie shifted around the release schedule for a while when it wasn’t certain when movie theaters would be safely reopened (and moviegoers would feel safe visiting).  Right now, it’s been delayed indefinitely, which I’m hoping is just a product of the studios having to completely redo essentially two years of release schedules.  It’s still super disappointing, though. 

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Despite being told by numerous people that I’d like Bob’s Burgers, it took me several years to give the show a try.  In fact I was rather stubbornly set on not watching because I was convinced that it was yet another show trying to be a Family Guy clone (and that’s unappealing because I’m NOT a fan of Family Guy), but what I learned is that it’s quite the opposite.  Somehow Matt convinced me to give Bob’s Burgers a try….or maybe he just put an episode on in the hopes I’d sit down and watch it, which I did, and I absolutely loved it.  In addition to being very dryly funny a lot of the time, Bob’s Burgers appeals to me because all of the characters are genuinely good people that are trying hard (even though they sometimes fail epically).  The family feels like an actual family — totally quirky but absolutely ready and able to have each other’s backs no matter what.  Unlike so many other animated and live action shows, Bob isn’t a lazy, bumbling idiot who somehow impossibly has a fairly cushy job; we get to see him as a businessman who genuinely cares about what he does (sometimes a little too much).  And then there’s Tina, who is me and I am her. It’s so great to see an utterly dorky teenage girl who isn’t a punching bag.  In fact, her family celebrates and affirms the fact that she’s into horses, writes erotic friend fiction (one of my absolute favorite details about her) and is boy crazy.  The show also has some amazing side characters from Teddy to twins Andy and Ollie to Marshmallow, who could easily be the butt of every joke as a Black trans woman but is instead celebrated and admired.  So despite my initial hesitation, Bob’s Burgers has become one of my favorite shows.  It’s utterly hilarious and is one that I both look forward to new episodes and can rewatch over and over again.  

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As Bob’s Burgers has increased in popularity and become more universally well-known, naturally, there’s been an explosion of merchandise.  The show is available on DVD (the early seasons were given proper retail releases with the latter seasons being released as “on-demand” DVDs available through Amazon).  You’ll see the Belcher family on a variety of shirts, hoodies, socks (yes, I’m the proud owner of Tina Belcher socks) and even an amazing pair of high-top sneakers made by DC Shoes.  There are Bob’s Burgers coffee mugs, a full set of Funko Pops and a variety of board games including Clue and Trivial Pursuit.  Two soundtrack albums have been released along with an awesome cookbook, The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book and its smaller companion The Bob’s Burgers Burger Box.  Check out the image below for a look at some of my Bob’s Burgers collection.

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In the summer of 2014, Dynamite Entertainment began releasing a short-run series of Bob’s Burgers anthology comics.  Each issue would follow a formula with stories and features led by/highlighting each member of the Belcher Family.  That series lasted five issues, but fans wouldn’t have to wait long for more as Dynamite released a special Bob’s Burgers issue for Free Comic Book Day 2015.  That was immediately followed by another short-run (7 issue) series that began in July 2015.  Dynamite would also continue releasing Bob’s Burgers issues for Free Comic Book Day through 2019, and I can’t help but wonder if both the coronavirus pandemic and the Disney acquisition, both of which also delayed the movie, caused the delay of further comics.  Hopefully we’ll see more Bob’s Burgers comics (and the movie!!) from Dynamite, or perhaps even Marvel, in the future. 

Today on the blog we’re going to look at that first series of Bob’s Burgers comics released by Dynamite.  Matt and I have had our copies for quite a while, but I think the majority of them came from Bell, Book and Comic here in Dayton.  As a reminder, here on Rotten Ink we grade comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, their entertainment value and their art and story. So grab another Hit Me With Your Best Shallot Burger and get another helping of fries (NOT sweet potato fries though, as according to Bob, they’re not real fries) and let’s visit Ocean Avenue and get a booth at our favorite family-owned restaurant.

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Bob’s Burgers #1  ***1/2
Released in 2014     Cover price $3.99     Dynamite    #1 of 5

This anthology comic features the following stories:

Tina’s Erotic friend Fiction Presents: My So-Called Life as a Horse showcases Tina as “a horse in a people world,” going to school and spending time with her human family.  However, Tina Belcher the horse aka Tinasus Belcher has a secret life as a member of the Equestranauts, and the team needs her as their secret weapon against the evil Xander, who’s stolen the Electric Leash of Doom, retrofitted to control horses. 

Burger of the Day Ideas: TV Catch Phrase Burgers & Hits of the 80s Burgers brings us a pun-tastic look at possibilities to grace the famed Burger of the Day board. I think some of these did actually make into the later years of the show

Louise’s Unsolved Mysteries and Curious Curiosities: takes on Picture Day as Louise tries to avoid having her brain stolen by an alleged alien photographer.

Letters From Linda: this one-pager features a modest proposal from Linda about a new wine pairing system: pairing the quantity of wine with an activity.

Gene Belcher Presents: The Boy in the Burger, a Musical: After Gene passes out from hocking samples in his burger suit on a hot day, the suit fuses to his body. Unsure of what his life will be as a burger boy, Gene disappears into the suit ala a turtle until a wintery day when his sisters need help for some snow fun.

Each member of the Belcher family gets to shine in this inaugural issue of the Bob’s Burgers comic with the kids getting longer stories and Bob and Linda each getting a one-pager.  I think this formula works well though I’d love to see Bob and Linda get featured just a tad more in future issues.  Tina’s story was, perhaps predictably, my favorite of this issue because I felt that of all stories, it was the closest to something you’d see on the actual show.  That’s not to say, however, that others weren’t good.  The entire comic is extremely well-done, and the fact that writers from the show worked on this really shows in terms of the quality of each section and the attention to getting each character’s voice spot-on.  The interior artwork also fits with the look and feel of the show, making this a quick, fun read for fans.  The exterior covers (there are several variants) get a little more experimental in terms of style, but keep the spirit of and vibe of the Belchers while being very eye catching. A special bonus for this first issue were some joke ads for businesses in the show, and a cut-out that would allow you to recreate the Bob’s Burgers Food Truck from season two.

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Bob’s Burgers #2  ***1/2
Released in 2014     Cover price $3.99     Dynamite   # 2 of 5

Following the same formula as issue 1, we get 3 main stories from the kids and one page features from Bob and Linda.  The book opens with Battleship Galac-Tina, another installment of Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction Presents that features Tina as the admiral of a starship during a robot war.  After an epic space battle, a robot hostage helps teach Tina and the rest of humanity how to dance.  Louise seeks out a fellow history book defacer in Louise’s Legacy and ends up discovering that her unseen partner in crime was librarian Mr. Ambrose.  Gene’s story, Genemadus, the Musical, pits him against Peter Pescadero in a keyboard battle ala Salieri and Mozart in the classic film.  For their features, Bob explores The Ten Commandments (well five of them at least) in burger form, and Linda pitches a raccoon playground turned disco turned apop turned reality show in a letter to her local trash collection service.

This is another really solid, fun installment of the Bob’s Burgers comic that showcases each character well and once again feels as if it could have been part of an episode or two of the TV show.  My favorite story this time around was Gene’s, which is surprising because in general he’s my least favorite of the Belcher family.  However, the way they took on Amadeus and twisted into a story for Gene was really smart and funny.  I also loved Linda’s letter this time around because the escalating absurdity of it was perfect. This time around, we see many more of the supporting cast including Andy and Ollie, Regular Sized Rudy, Daryl, Peter Pescadero, and of course we get several sketches of Little King Trashmouth in action as part of Linda’s letter. The cover and interior art are once again fun and well-done and fit into the vibe of the show.  This time around, we didn’t get any fake ads, but there was a nice pinup in the middle of the book.

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Bob’s Burgers #3  ***
Released in 2014     Cover price $3.99     Dynamite   #3 of 5

We begin this issue with another installment of Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction, entitled Trick Shot Tina that has the titular character teaming up with another gun slinger, Jazz Hands Jimmy Jr., to win back a shiny belt buckle. Bob’s Burger of the Day Ideas is an attempt at a Fortune Cookie Burger, while Linda writes to Smellopolis.com to suggest new fragrances including Pinot Noir. Louise builds the ultimate cardboard box fort in Who Forted? In Guys & Frogs, Gene adopts and promptly forgets about a bunch of tadpoles, while six weeks later overrun the Belcher’s apartment and the restaurant. 

As with so many great series, this one lost a little steam with issue #3, but only a little.  There were some super fun touches like the Uncle Pennybags (aka the Monopoly Man) cameo in Tina’s story.  Once again, Linda’s letter was great because you could absolutely read it with her voice in your head. This time around my favorite story was Louise’s, although it took a more bizarre turn than you’d normally see in the show, it felt like a sequel to the season two Halloween episode Fort Night (though that episode isn’t referenced at all, which I felt like was a missed opportunity).  Some of the interior art in this issue strayed a little bit from the style of the series, but still fit the overall vibe of each story so it was distracting at all.  

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Bob’s Burgers #4   ***1/2
Released in 2014    Cover price $3.99     Dynamite   #4 of 5

It’s a (mostly) Halloween issue this time around as Tina’s Erotic Friend Fiction presents Franken-Butt, the story of a girl scientist and her creation…but who’s really the monster of this tale?  After her science teacher warns of the dire consequences for doing an experiment wrong, Louise of course plans to capitalize on those consequences and turns herself invisible.  She wreaks havoc on her family and the restaurant, but then realizes she doesn’t know how to make herself reappear.  The Belcher kids go on a hunt for a chupacabra and meet the mystical creature only to learn that it wants to be a children’s magician.  So Gene, Tina and Louise set out to make their new friend’s dream come true at the restaurant.  In our non Halloween features, Bob creates a list that explores “If Heartwarming 80s Movies Were Burgers,” which includes the She’s Having a Bay Leaf Burger (cooked with bay leaf, comes with baby romaine), and Linda writes to the president of Super Sounds Records to inform them that she’s ready to record her long awaited sola album “Appetite for Lin-struction.”

Issue #3 may have been a slight disappointment, but issue #4 absolutely delivered.  Bob’s Burgers is known for its stellar Halloween episodes, and this issue delivered that spirit in comic form.  All three of the main stories felt like they could have been part of an anthology episode of the show, and the artwork and writing supported that.  It’s hard to even pick a favorite story because they were all so solid and each was special in its own way, but if pressed I’d choose Louise Is Invisible.  The other two elements, though not Halloween themed, were extremely well done too making this such a great entry in the series.

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Bob’s Burgers #5  ***1/2
Released in 2014     Cover price $3.99     Dynamite    #5 of 5

In a world filled with 14 to 16 year old boy zombies, Tina is the last person on Earth or so she thinks until she meets and saves the life of Jimmy Jr.  Together they realize that the zombies aren’t actually out to make them part of the hordes of the undead; they just want to play ping pong. Louise tries to get to the bottom of a boy band conspiracy in The Faux Boo Boo, and Gene takes a musical journey to Robot College. Bob works on ideas for Book Burgers including the Brine and Bunishment Burger, and Linda writes to Ginger about her revelation that somewhere in the world there’s another Linda whose family runs another restaurant.

What a fabulous way to wrap up this first run of Bob’s Burgers comics.  This issue’s stories are stellar with The Faux Boo Boo being my favorite (Louise’s obsession with Boo Boo is so funny), and Robot College being a delightful expansion of a tiny scene in season two’s “Bob Day Afternoon.”  Like the prior issue, everything in this one feels like it could have come right from an episode with great writing and artwork.  We also get a bit of bonus content with several pages of pinup artwork wrapping up the issue.  

Comics based on TV shows are super tricky.  It can be hard to translate beloved characters to the page and capture their voice and humor, but this series proves it can be done well.  If you’re a fan of the show and looking for a quick, fun read, check out this miniseries.

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Well it’s time to shut down the grill for the night and get ready to watch some fireworks.  I hope you had a safe and happy July 4th, however you spent it.  I’ll be handing the blog back to Matt for our next update which will focus on Satanic bicycle safety…..yes, really.  In the meantime, read a comic or two, make a delicious burger (meat or veggie depending on your preference) and support a family-owned restaurant.  Join us next time for Danny and the Demoncycle.

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Malibu Comics Ultraverse Memories: Prototype

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my little spot on the web where I enjoy looking back at things I enjoyed from my past all the way up to present day.  For this update I think it’s time that we again take a look at a hero from the world of Malibu Comics that was part of their Ultraverse comic line and one I can remember reading when I was a kid. The hero I decided to choose for this one is my third favorite character from the Ultraverse who was their version of Iron Man, and of course I am talking about Prototype! And if you are ready I am ready to talk about Malibu Comics and another hero from the Ultraverse.

Malibu Comics was, for a short time in the 90’s, the third top selling comic company in America and wanted so badly to topple Marvel Comics that was sitting at the top of the mountain, and they thought that the Ultraverse was the way to do so, as they created characters that were very similar to some of Marvel and DC’s top heroes.  With the character Prototype, they wanted to have a strong contender to Iron Man! So let’s take a brief moment and talk about who Prototype is and what powers he wields. Jimmy Ruiz is a man who works for Ultra-Tech and was an Ultra Human himself as he had his own internal energy source that was perfect for their Prototype Armor as he could power it himself. But in order to get the armor Jimmy had to allow them to surgically implant the cybernetics that allows him to also control the armor. You see Ultra-Tech on purpose injured the original wearer of the armor by the name of Bob Campbell so that they could replace him with Jimmy and the pair later on team up to break free of Ultra-Tech and become the heroes they know they are supposed to be. And after this Jimmy would go onto join the superhero team UltraForce! Jimmy’s powers are that his body acted as an energy source for the suit, with the suit on as well he could control powers he had such as the ability to fly and fire blasts from hands as well as lift up to 100 tons! And what of Bob Campbell you ask, well after Marvel Comics took over Malibu Comics, during the Black September Event they wiped away Jimmy and had Bob be the only Prototype, but before that while still being under Malibu Comics, he had a new set of Armor given to him by the group Aladdin and called himself Ranger. So that was a quick crash course on who was the hero known as Prototype.

What they could have done with the character in the Marvel Universe? Of course place him in Iron Man Comics! As Tony Stark is testing new armor and weapons, and he hires Jimmy Ruiz to test them out for him, and the reason he chooses Jimmy is he himself is a metal armored hero known as Prototype and could handle the pressure of using the armors and weapons. Imagine this in the Marvel Universe in an Iron Man comic storyline that has him teaming with Iron Will, War Machine and Prototype as they have to all come together to stop a terrorist group that has hijacked tech from a Stark Industry warehouse of old weapons of war! It’s the Iron Family vs. those who want to take over the world…in my book Prototype fits so well into the Iron Man family tree. You could also use Prototype as a member of The Avengers or even bring back the team Ultraforce and have the team being lead by Prime and the members be Prototype, Hardcase, Ghoul, Mantra, Sludge, The Night Man, Rune, Firearm and Solitaire and they are the outsiders of the Marvel Universe and stick together and fight crime and evil all the while earning the respect of the Marvel Heroes. No joke, I really do think that Prototype should be dusted off and placed in the Marvel Universe…in fact all of the Malibu Characters should be.

Okay, let’s talk about this again as I think that its worth talking about often and that’s the fact that Marvel Comics has really dropped the ball with buying the Malibu Comics library and characters as they have done nothing with them and for the most part the characters have sat around collecting dust and allowing most modern comic readers to even forget they ever existed with some never even knowing they did. We readers and fans will never get the real reason of why these comic characters are being benched and sent to the Comic Character retirement home, and that is just such a major waste of characters as I feel they all have so much more to offer to readers. I don’t think that the 5% profits to creators of the characters is really a factor as 5% of sales is really not much even with how poor comic sales have been for the past few years. The fact that former Malibu Comic owner Scott Mitchell Rosenberg is the producer for all Malibu projects could be a factor as rumor has it that he is very hard to deal with and could be making their comic returns just to miserable for Marvel to want to deal with, and this I think could be a possibility and would make more sense to why they are not being used. And it could be what Marvel Comics Tom Brevoort was speaking about when he said its had nothing to do with the 5% on why no return and the explanation could not be talked about due to a non-disclosure agreement…that makes me think that the deal must have been real bad that Marvel made to buy Malibu back in the 90’s. Plus there is always the rumor that has floated around that at the time Marvel’s powers that be decided that they disliked the Malibu characters and that they didn’t fit into the Marvel Universe vision, but I don’t believe this one and think that’s just fan/readers speculation.

Whatever the reason, I feel that Marvel Comics should work it out as they now have the power of Disney behind them and get these characters back into the pages of comics as well as get them into the Marvel movies, shows and video games! In fact why doesn’t Marvel Comics just bring back the Ultraverse characters as well as all the CrossGen characters they have bought and shelved as well like Simon Archard, Emma Bishop, Arwyn, Gareth and all the others that are being hoarded and hidden away by Disney! Why not give these characters another shot at making a splash in the stale world of mainstream comics? Why not allow Prototype to smash some baddies or have Arwyn go on anther epic adventure? But sadly I think with the sad state that mainstream comics are in right now, these characters will be left in the Retirement Home Long Box all itching to be unleashed at least one more time so they can show readers what they can bring to the table. But I really do hope that one day Marvel just opens the door and allows Ultraverse and CrossGen into the Marvel Universe as the character could work very well and add the spice needed to make their stale stories much better.

Before I get to the comics, I want to take a brief moment to remind you readers about the very short lived 1994-1995 cartoon series UltraForce that not only features Prototype but also had team members like Prime, Hardcase, Topaz, Contrary and Ghoul and they fought such characters as Rune, Sludge, Lord Pumpkin and Atalon. The cartoon would also have cameos from heroes like Night Man and the hero team The Strangers. The cartoon lasted a total of 13 episodes and aired on the USA Network. And sadly the show was met with very poor reviews from critics. And also during this time toy company Galoob did a very cool toy line for the show that allowed you to get some of your favorite Malibu Comic Characters as action figures! I have had the figure of Prime for awhile now and just recently got myself a figure of Prototype for my collection, and yes I have picked up several of the other figures and will show them off when we cover their comic series. Below is a look at the cartoon series that has never gotten an official DVD release and my figure of Prototype!

Well I don’t know about you, but I am really ready for the review part of this update as it’s been a while since I have read the comic adventures of Prototype and I want to see if they hold up as I can remember really enjoying them in my youth. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering, Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock and making this update possible as well as by stocking these I was able to put them in my comic collection again. I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready, let’s dive back into the Ultraverse and spend some superhero time with Prototype!

Prototype # 0  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $2.50    Malibu Comics   # 0 of 18

Stanley Leland is sitting on a couch talking to a psychiatrist as he is one of the heads of Ultratech and is talking about Bob Campbell, the original Prototype! Campbell was an ex-military and working as a stuntman on cheap Sci-Fi and Action films when he meets Leland who hires him to wear a tech suit for a demo reel that would be seen by the military powers that be, and Campbell does such a great job he is put on Ultratech payroll and travels around in the Prototype suit. But this power goes to Campbell’s head as he starts becoming a real life hero and saving the day, this angers Leland as every time he takes the suit out it coasts the company money and if pisses of Campbell’s wife Felicia as well who watches as all the ladies of the city swoon over her husband even though they can not even see his face! Campbell started drinking again and would spend his time traveling to make public appearances and fight with a metal suited bad guy named Arena that kept showing up! Bob Campbell over times keeps having a short fuse and is at odds with his employer as they want to place implants into his body and he refuses. They even create a genetic man named Glare to bring him down as they would like to see Bob die now as they just want him out of the way in order to bring in a younger man to use the Prototype suit. After Glare fails, Ultratech gets their wish when an “accident” happens that leaves Bob losing an arm and losing his job with Ultratech and that’s when Jimmy Ruiz is hired in to become Prototype.

This issue zero is a great way to try and get readers hooked on Prototype…but wait a minute this comic came out a year after the first few issues in the series was released…oh you have to love the gimmicks of 90’s comics! This comic does a fantastic job of showing the history of the original man in the Prototype suit Bob Campbell and his rise and fall of becoming the hero he thinks he was supposed to be. We see that the stress of being in this powerful suit forces him to become a hero as well and makes him start to drink heavy and even ignore his wife. Thinking about it, Bob Campbell takes to drinking just like Marvel’s Tony Stark aka Iron Man did…showing that Prototype and Iron Man really do go hand and hand. Bob Campbell aka Prototype is a military man who after serving finds himself working in movies as a stuntman and is hired by a tech company to test and showcase their new suit, but because he has a good heart he uses the suit for good and saves the day for many people who are in need, but the stress of being a hero that he thinks he needs to be drives him to drink as well as causes him to lose his wife. In the end all the good he has done for people leaves him missing and arm, no wife and no job…he is a broken hero with no suit as well. Stanley Leland, one of the heads of Ultratech, is a true scumbag as it’s clear as day that he is the one who set up Campbell’s fall from grace as he is the one who steals his wife and its very much hinted he is the one who caused the accident that took his arm as well. Stanley Leland is also the type of guy who puts profits before human life and is so greedy that he will do anything to gain cash. Arena and Glare are two villains who are clearly created by Ultratech to help show off the powers of the Prototype suit, so in other words, they are just pawns in this company’s war games for profits. I like that this comic is from three different prospective of what happened with Bob Campbell and gives you more of a look into his life and his want to truly become a hero. The cover is eye catching and shows the Prototype we all know and not the bulky suited original version that was Bob and the interior art is great and done by Gordon Purcell and is great Malibu Comics stuff. So with issue zero done, let’s see what the first issue has in store for us!

Prototype # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics     # 1 of 18

Bob Campbell wakes up in the morning and remembers back to his accident as the Original Prototype that caused him to lose his arm as well as job for Ultratech and he heads out as Ultratech has a shareholders event that afternoon. Meanwhile running wild in the streets is Glare who is now on a rampage, as he wants revenge on Ultratech and Stanley Leland for turning him into a green skinned monster and he is using his power to blind people on the streets. Meanwhile at the Ultratech shareholder conference and Bob sneaks in and watches as they show the new Prototype suit that is way thinner and lighter than his old bulky suit, and the new suit, while slimmer, is having some tech issues. After Prototype heads to the backstage lab, he alerts the workers and Leland that he is having bad headaches from the suit, while out front Bob is thrown out after asking about a lawsuit he has against them about his firing after the accident. After taking some pills, the new Prototype goes out to shake hands and get his picture taken with the holders at the lunch line, but before he can do so, Glare is out front of the building taking on the police force and Ultratech send Prototype into action! Outside the building the press is filming and broadcasting as Glare and Prototype start fighting it out, but the news is not the only ones watching as Bob Campbell as well as a man from a group called Aladdin are collecting details and judging the new suited hero. The fight ends with Prototype beating Glare and it appears as if he has killed him and the onlookers are not so sure what to think of this new version of Prototype.

The first issue of Prototype starts off with a bang as we follow the rise of a new man in the Prototype suit who is being judged by the original who has been shunned by the company who made the suit. We also see that Ultratech is truly a company who does not care about people as much as they care about money and fame. The new Prototype is younger and really seems to be digging his job as the man in the suit, well besides the head splitting headaches that come with the implants and the suit that glitches. The new Prototype is also very trusting of Ultratech and seems to worry about what they think of him and the job he is doing. Bob Campbell has a new mechanical arm and is super bitter of being let go from Ultratech as being Prototype was all he had left in life, and he so wants to make them pay for firing him. Stanley Leland is as big of a scumbag as he ever has been as he only worries about getting on the news as well as making large profits for Ultratech.  It’s clear as well that he will do whatever he can in order to protect himself from failure or danger and will put others in that spot to do so. And of course Glare, who was an Ultratech experiment gone wrong, is now wanting revenge as he feels that they have to pay for what they did to him…and that’s made him a green skinned monster with freaky blinding powers of light. And for his revenge filled hate he ends up dying at the hands of the new Prototype. When reading this as a new reader you get also some mysteries that will get you hooked, like who is this guy watching the fight from Aladdin and also when will heroes like Prime and Hardcase will show up as they are both mentioned. The one downside to the first issue I feel we get more character development from Bob Campbell then we do for the new young man in the Prototype suit, and they should spent a little time building him as he is the hero we will have going forward. The cover is great and eye catching and has that 90’s charm that hooked so many buyers back in the day…wait that was because it had the # 1 on it. The interior art by David Ammerman is very well done and shows why Malibu Comics had its own house style and charm. This first issue is great and has held up for me and is making me looking forward to reading some of these issues again as well as reading many for the first time. So with that let’s get to issue two!

Prototype # 2  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics    # 2 of 18

Prototype is in a virtual reality training program when things go wrong and he uses his own power to override the suits programing and by doing so his levels go off the chart and this impresses the workers of Ultratech, but also causes the suit to catch on fire! Once put out, he has another pounding headache and talks to his handler Hastings about the death of Glare and still doesn’t understand how his death happened and hates that the press is painting him out as a killer. Hastings does what he can to calm Prototype’s nerves over the killing and orders a woman to come down and give him a massage. Meanwhile at Ultratech headquarters Stanley Leland is mad about all the bad press over Glare dying in the streets in front of witnesses and almost wishes that Jimmy Ruiz, the new Prototype, would have died, as his main goal is a new suit called Prototype 2000! His assistant and creator of some of the tech Marjorie informs Leland that she has hired someone to take care of Campbell once and for all ending one of the company’s major headaches. At a bar Bob Campbell is buying parts from a smuggler as he is building his own suit, but he is also the target of a woman named Kaitlyn O’Hare who claims she is a stunt talent agent casting for a new Warner Brothers film. Bob and Kaitlyn end up at his place and the she shows that she is a razor clawed assassin named Backstabber who has been sent to kill him! And after almost doing so Bob saves himself thanks to help from his cat Thelma and is able to get his home made Prototype suit and is ready to fight for his life! And with the help of a buzzsaw arm he does just that, and injured he shows up at his ex-wife’s home as she is a doctor as his wounds from Backstabbers claws are deep and he needs help.

This second issue in the series once more has most of the focus being on Bob Campbell who was the original Prototype as his former employers Ultratech who wants him dead as his outspoken nature is causing them money! And to close his mouth once and for all they hire a razor clawed woman to slice and dice him! And oh yeah there is a very small amount of Jimmy Ruiz as we get he has headaches, is becoming one with the tech, feels bad about the death of Glare and that his employers are not loyal to him at all! The loose cannon that is Bob Campbell is not only trying to get answers from Ultratech about his firing but is also building his own metal suit as he wants to become a hero again. And it’s clear that while Bob is missing an arm he does not let his handicap slow him down as he fights for his life when it’s in danger and does not let him slow him down. Jimmy Ruiz meanwhile is young and seems to be enjoying his time as the main in the Prototype suit and while is comes with side effects he thinks the fame and money it brings him will be worth it. Stanley Leland is a true scumbag as he only cares about profit and the lives of Bob and Jimmy mean nothing to him, in fact after stealing Bob’s wife he also seems to now have no time for her and he lives and breathes Ultratech. The razor nailed Backstabber is a killer female who uses her good looks to bring the targets in and then takes them out, but while she is made of a metal she is not unbeatable as Bob uses a buzzsaw in order to take her out! The main thing that this issue builds up is that Leland’s end goal is a new suit of armor that he will show off in the year 2000 that is called Prototype 2000 and that he dislikes Jimmy as well as he finds him to young and annoying. We are three issues into the series when you count issue zero and all seem to be mainly focused on Bob, and I think Malibu needed to also start building Jimmy up and laying the groundwork for him to become a hero. The cover for this issue is pretty great and very 90’s and the interior art by David Ammerman is good stuff and has that Malibu Comic style. Let’s now move onto issue three and see what happens now that Bob is at his ex-wife’s house and needs help after being attacked!

Prototype # 3  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $2.50    Malibu Comics    # 3 of 18

Jimmy Ruiz and Hastings are on a plane waiting for takeoff but like always there are delays and Jimmy is getting antsy as he wants to be on the go. Meanwhile on another plane the terrorist group Terrordyne Inc. is taking hostages as a sport team is on board and they want money for them to be returned unharmed! Jimmy hears about this and suits up as Prototype and has Hastings freaks out as they need Lelands permission to do so Prototype alerts his handler he has removed the suits shut down lock and heads off to be the hero he is hired to be. Meanwhile Bob Campbell is having his wounds treated by his ex-wife Felicia and they talk about the breakup and Bob lets her know he still cares for her very much. Meanwhile Prototype takes out the masked goons of Terrordyne Inc. but soon meats their leads the super villain called The Heater who uses fire blasts to knock Prototype down, and delivers a beating to our hero before he is able to blast Heater away. But before he can deliver a beat down to Heater he finds that the Ultratech plane has been hijacked and Hastings as been thrown from the plane that is now in the air! Prototype leaves the battle to save his friend and once back on the ground Heater is gone and Hastings alerts him that lots of tech is on that plane that needs to be saved! Prototype blows up the run away plane and this angers Leland who is getting more bad press from the event. And all the while the Aladdin company has the body of Glare and they steady it and the tech that’s inside him and then hire masked hero Wrath to follow Prototype and get the chips that are needed to make the suit any way he can.

This issues plot has a great classic superhero feel to it as a terrorist group holds hostages on a plane at an airport and out hero rushes in to save the day and by doing so more subplots are open and more tension is created between he and his employers. Jimmy Ruiz aka Prototype in this issue goes from being a bored young man into a hero who’s action saves the lives of a popular baseball team as well as takes down a bunch of henchmen that work of a terrorist company group. Jimmy also shows that he has studied his suit and is really starting to master its powers and how to control it on his own while being offline. While Jimmy is being a hero its also clear that he is making Leland very mad as he does not want him to do anything besides make money for Ultratech at public events. Leland also shows that he has more tricks up his sleeves as he wants to have staff now watch every move of Prototype as well as for them to hire more young men that can take over the role of the suited hero. We learn that Bob Campbell let Backstabber live who ran off into the night vowing revenge and that he wants his wife back! The goons of Terrordyne Inc. are masked well-armed troopers who do what they are told and they as well have an Ultra named Heater who is working for them, and he is dangerous as he has the power of fire and even puts a seed in the mind of Prototype that they are both working for criminals the only difference is his people are open about their evil deeds. And lastly we have to talk about Wrath on his way to get the chips from the Prototype suit and this hero vs. hero showdown that is about to happen has me looking forward to the next issue! Plus this issue puts us on the right track as Jimmy is the main focus and his storyline is getting new parts added to his arch. The cover is pretty dang cool and the interior art is once more great and done by David Ammerman. So let’s see what issue four has in store from Prototype as he has a list now of threats that could test his skills and even take his life as Wrath, Heater and even Backstabber are around and looking for a fight!

Prototype # 4  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95   Malibu Comics   # 4 of 18

Jimmy Ruiz is living in a high rise apartment that is paid for by Ultratech and while he enjoys the life of being rich and having a job, he’s missing his friends as well as having control of his own life. While downstairs his ex Angella is looking for Jimmy and the night watchmen runs her off just as Wrath enters and drugs the guard and breaks into the hidden lab in the basement of the building to steal the chip off the Prototype suit and by trying one of the chips inside Jimmy alerts him something is wrong and he rushes downstairs to check on the suit and his punched in the face by Wrath who leaves Jimmy stunned on the floor. As Jimmy gets back on his feet he changes into Prototype and rushes to the lobby and has a back and fourth fight with Wrath with both one upping each other with hits! Meanwhile Leland gets the call about the fight and instead of calling for backup, he sends in the media to cover the fight! Wrath ends up getting the upper hand as he has been trained in fighter way better and when Prototype gets distracted by his ex-girlfriend Angella and takes a massive blast that damages the suit and allows Wrath to escape via a helicopter pick-up. With all his energy he uses a microwave ray to hit the chip and he hopes it ruined the data on it as Wrath is angry that this might have happened. Prototype who’s on fire is put out and Leland tries to pay Angella to go away but she tries her best to get Jimmy’s attention. Meanwhile Bob Campbell has finished his new metal suit and takes it for a test fly as well as uses the weapons he installed, but he his interrupted by the cops who alert him he is under arrest for breaking into an Ultratech lab.

This issue is a full fledged battle issue as we see Prototype from Ultratech take on Aladdin’s very own Wrath as they duke it out in a lobby of a building as well as in the streets of New York! Prototype in this issue goes from being a young man messing around with his hot company paid lady, drinking beer and looking at the moon to getting his first taste of a real fight with a really skilled fighter who can expose all his flaws and show that the suit can only do so much again experience. And this also alerts Jimmy to how flawed this armor is as it does not take damage well and becomes damaged very easily. Wrath is a hero who thinks he is on the right side of the tech war and uses his powers to try and right the wrongs and his powers are great as he can turn his opponent’s own blasts and powers against them! Wrath I am sure is both impressed and annoyed with Prototype and you know the two will meet again to finish the fight. Leland as always is a jerk and wants to use the fight as good press for him and Ultratech and don’t care about the safety of others. Angella is trying so hard to find and talk to Jimmy in order to tell him he is going to be a father, and instead gets money thrown at her by Leland to go away showing he don’t care about anyone besides himself. I also like that the police and Ultratech are blaming Bob Campbell for the break-in and that he has crafted his own big heavy armored suit in order to be a hero again! The cover is pretty good and eye catching for fans of Malibu and the art by David Ammerman is great and classic 90’s stuff. Really enjoyed this issue and am looking forward to see what happens with Bob as well as Jimmy cause both have really good stories going.

Prototype # 5  **
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics    # 5 of 18

Security Guards are all around a launchpad where a rocket called JDH-3000 is set to launch the next day, but the Ultra-Powered team The Strangers (Atom Bob, Lady Killer, Grenade, Yrial, Spectral, Zip Zap and Electrocute) break in and steal the rocket as they need to get to the moon in order to find out more about why they have these powers. J.D. who owns the rocket is very mad as it was under the watch of Ultratech who he hired as the guards and the rocket coast them a ton of money to build. While at an Ultratech meeting Mr. Bell appearing only as a hologram is ripping into Leland and the others about the bad press of Prototype and Bob Campbell, and they get interrupted by J.D. Hunt who phones in and is raising hell over his stolen rocket as he wants Ultratech to pay for it or get it back. Meanwhile in jail Bob Campbell is sprung by Jake Alexander of the Aladdin Corporation who wants to discuss so very important business with him. Leland goes to Jimmy Ruiz and has him change into Prototype and alerts him that he is going to space to fight The Strangers and get the stolen rocket back and if he screws this up he can be replaced, he is also alerted that he will be joined by Empire-7 from Vietnam and team leader being the ravishing Russian Supra and they head off to space. The Strangers find that they can not control the stolen rocket as it will not allow them to land on the moon and instead lands on an abandon Russian space station and are attacked by an alien just as Prototype and his crew land at the station and come aboard.

I want to start by saying I know that I gave this issue only two stars and that it seems low as for me 2 ½ stars means that its great and above average read and this was a great read I just felt that so much of this issue is spent on J.D. Hunt screaming, Mr. Bell screaming and Leland screaming and plotting and not enough time was spent on Prototype or even Bob Campbell. With that said, it does do its job of setting up a run in between Prototype and The Strangers in space all over a stolen rocket and the need for answers of why powers was given to some people on Earth. Prototype in this issue is watching footage of The Strangers only to find himself being forced to fly to space to fight them and is forced to team with two other unknown powered people and is even threatened with if he don’t do this and get the rocket back they stole he will be replaced. The Strangers really just want to get to the moon as they think that the origin of what gave them all their powers came from there, but they find themselves instead on a rundown space station being attacked by an alien. Leland once more is a weasel who uses his gift of talking to try and smooth things over with a client and even dodges the rage of Mr. Bell and Mr. Hunt who are both displeased with him. Supra is clearly powerful and has some type of Ultra powers and is leading the Ultratech team on getting the rocket back, and I would guess Empire-7 as well has powers. I like the rundown Russian Space Station being the place that this showdown is going to happen in and adding a dangerous Alien is a great Sci-Fi Film touch. The cover is good and eye catching and this time around Roger Robinson is doing art and it’s well done. Over all this is an okay issue that builds a story and that’s pretty much all I can say about it. I should also say that this was part of the Break-Thru story arch.

Prototype # 6  **1/2
Released in 1994    Cover Price $1.95     Malibu Comics     # 6 of 18

Prototype is heading back to Earth and is following Prime through the Earth’s atmosphere and is starting to burn up and is second-guessing if this was a good idea to trust Prime and the idea of The Strangers member Lady Killer who came up with the idea of using Prime as a heat shield. And lucky for Prototype it works and he get back to Earth, but his suit is burnt and molded together in a lump of metal. At the office of Jake Alexander he alerts Bob Campbell that he knows everything about him and they discuss that fact that Ultratech is using Jimmy Ruiz and when they are done with him they will have him killed, Jake they informs Bob that he wants the original Prototype to work for Aladdin and they even have made him a new suit that is big and heavy and filled with lots of powerful weapons. Ultratech have found the hidden office of Aladdin and have sent in a female killer that is invisible who’s touch and kiss can kill a person in minutes and she gets into the office of Jake and fights with Original Prototype and places a kiss on Jake before she flees the battle and forces Original Prototype to take Jake to the hospital to save his life. While back at the Ultratech Offices Leland gets a visit from a very angry Jimmy Ruiz who is ranting about his space mission and almost dying getting back home when Leland calms the young man down with a big money bonus as well as a new Prototype suit that once Jimmy has on Leland shows him that the suit now has a brain attack button that overloads Jimmy’s brain like a drug! Jimmy hates this new feature but before they can chat about it the office windows are blown out and the armored bad guy Arena is there, looking for a fight.

Malibu Comics dropped the ball as they did the one thing that I think Comics in the late 80’s and 90’s did that was really dumb and that’s make it that to finish a story they started in one series continue in multiple others the dreaded multi-book crossovers…and then they screw up even more by not really even explaining to readers what took place with The Strangers, Alien, Moon and so on in this issue as all we get is that Prototype is following hero Prime to get back to Earth. With that said and that terrible annoying comic trope exposed, this is a good and solid issue that features growth for both Jimmy and Bob who are now both officially Prototypes! Jimmy learns that he has friends with other Ultra-Heroes and that he should not fully trust the words of Ultratech as they do not have his well being in mind when they send him on mission of both no and total danger. Bob Campbell learns that he as well as new friends with the Aladdin Corporation do have his best interest at heart and even have built him a new suit and with that the Original Prototype is back in the hero business. I am guess the invisible woman who is a killer with a deadly touch and kiss, I would guess is Marjorie Fredericks who works for Ultratech and wants to cut off loose ends. Jake Alexander is in bad shape by the end of this issue and has a very deadly poison running through his veins thanks to Marjorie. I also like that Arena has returned and once more wants to clash with Prototype, but unknown to him this is a new person in the armor…but I don’t think it would change his mind much of beating him up or ending his life. This is again a great issue I just really dislike the lack of closer to The Strangers and The Moon storyline as they wanted you to buy two other comics to close the story. The cover is pretty cool and shows Bob “Original” Prototype in his new armor and the interior art is done by Roger Robinson and is really good. Issue six of Prototype really does want me to see what happens with many of the characters and also want to see how the characters will grow in more issues, so with that let’s see what issue seven has in store for us.

Prototype # 7  ***
Released in 1994    Cover Price $1.95   Malibu Comics   # 7 of 18

Prototype and Arena start a fight above the city of New York as onlooker watch as the suited up Ultra’s exchange powerful hits. As the fight goes on Prototype alerts Arena that Bob is no longer in the suit and that he Jimmy is and that he is better then the original, Arena seems not to mind as he turns up the attacks and this leads him to also drop his powerful sword to the street bellow. While at the Hospital Bob Campbell talks to the doctor and finds that he got Jake Alexander help just in time, and Bob covers for how Jake was poisoned and goes into visit his new friend. Leland is in the Ultratech Building talking with the invisible woman who is now named Veil and she turns out to be Marjorie Fredericks and she has been hired to babysit and watch after Jimmy, and while Leland wants her to still protect him she thinks they should take him out after the fight with Arena and replace him. While poor old Angella ex-girlfriend of Jimmy is being chewed out by her mother to just forget all about Jimmy and move on with her life as she says he is beyond her now. Earl and T.J are gang members who are talking to a young girl from their neighborhood when a rival gang does a drive by, while T.J returns fire the poor young girl is shot dead. The government of New York is getting sick and tired of Leland and Ultratech and they have build their own armor hero called The Manhattan Project 1994 and they plan on letting him loose soon! While back at the battle Arena is beating up Prototype and is still comparing him to Bob Campbell and this angers Jimmy who blasts his opponent with a powerful blast and is ready for a fight!

This is a battle issue that has some side stories thrown in for good measure and delivers one heck of a fun read! The plot for this issue has Arena returning for a fight and Jimmy not being fully prepared for a fight that has his enemy being more powerful than him and worse more skilled at fighting! Prototype is becoming way to cocky and thinking that his powerful suit will win him every fight, but while the suit is powerful his fighting spirit and knowledge is not good and he is slowing figuring out that he needs a battle plan before rushing in to a fight. I also like that he is getting to the point where he is sick and tired of hearing the name of Bob Campbell and is willing to now fight over it! Bob Campbell in this issue spends his time in the hospital looking after his new friend Jake, and also figures out that he should keep his mouth shut about Ultratech for awhile. Leland and Veil are watching the battle and each have their own ideas on how this one should end, and she is sick and tired of the brat Jimmy. I cannot wait to see Manhattan Project 1994 in action and see if he is with or against Prototype! Not sure what is going to happen with the gang members T.J and Earl, and to be honest what is going to happen with Angella and her baby. I also like how the Government in New York talk about Sludge living in the sewer, just a nice touch to showcase another of their character is active in New York at the same time of these events. Arena is an interesting character as he is very much into the Ying and Yang of life and is like a super powered and armored samurai who is all about battle. The cover for this issue is solid and eye-catching and like before the interior art by Roger Robinson is great 90’s stuff. This far this series is a great above average indie superhero series and this is I think the best issue to this point, even if it’s a little all over the place. Let’s see what issue eight has in store for us!

Prototype # 8  ***
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.95   Malibu Comics   # 8 of 18

Arena is back up and now showcases some of his powers that once more show Prototype that he is losing the battle as he uses mini missiles to bring our hero down in front of a watching crowd. Bob Campbell is working in his garage when he sees the news and decides if he should put on his new suit and aid in the fight, but not before remembering back to all his battles with Arena…The Original Prototype does not come to Ultratech and Prototype’s aid this time. Besides the fight between Prototype and Arena, the news is also reporting on the state of New York going after Ultratech for a massive fine in the billion dollars and they also talk about the young girl killed in gang violence that was the cousin of poor Angella as she starts to realize that she is going to have to raise her child in a neighborhood that is overrun with gang activity. Arena defeats Prototype in the streets and has a chance to kill him, but does not and instead tells him to seek out Bob Campbell to be trained better for fights as he will alerts our hero he will return. Prototype is mad as the crowd hurl insults at him and he marches into Leland’s hidden panic room to have words with his boss, and Jimmy alerts Leland that he quits at being Prototype as well as quiets Ultratech and that he is going home!

What another great issue that showcases that Jimmy is really out of his league and is not ready for battle against any other super powered people and he gets beat up and knocked around by Arena and also comes to see that Leland and Ultratech have lied and used him this whole time! Jimmy who started off being super cocky and headstrong turns very humbled when he is handed his first major defeat. And he also does not take the defeat well at all cause he quits being the hero Prototype! Bob Campbell the Original Prototype is also interesting as he listens to the news as he works on his new suit and almost misses Arena as his battles with him seemed to be like hanging out with an old friend in his mind. Leland is a coward and during the fight runs and hides in a panic room and is scared when Jimmy comes in and quiets, as he knows that Ultratech is starting to crumble around him. Veil almost feels sorry for Jimmy after his loss as she knows what its like to be a Ultra and even a Prototype as her invisible suit is along the same line. Arena respects Jimmy’s spirit but also smartens him up to him not being a superhero like he thinks as he exposes the lack of training he has in combat. And let’s not forget to chat about poor Angella who’s having the baby of Jimmy who is paying her no attention and now also looses her young eight year old cousin for gang violence, this poor woman can not catch a break! I am really interested in finding out what Jimmy does from here as he is so filled with chips and tech and can he walk away from the suit or can they force him to come back to Ultratech and become their “hero” who is just a glorified mascot in many peoples eyes. Cover is pretty cool and showcases Arena and art by Roger is great like always. Another homerun issue and it seems that the creators at Malibu have found their stride with Prototype.

Prototype # 9  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics    # 9 of 18

Ultratech is holding a job interview to find the next person to wear the Prototype suit and it’s down to three people and they are all fighting each other in a open room while wearing different versions of the Prototype suit…in the end Donovan Jones gets the job! One of the interviewees is mad that he did not get picked and talks out loud about how he is going to expose Leland and Ultratech to his friend in the news and for this he is killed by Veil’s poison touch. Jimmy Ruiz is back home and chats with Angella at her cousin’s funeral and then heads to the hangout of his old street gang The Hardboys in order to try and talk them out of all the killings, they agree to stop killing only if he brings the trigger man who killed the young girl to the cops and he has only an hour to do so! Jimmy walks into the rival gangs hideout and dukes it out with them, when the gun man pulls a Uzi on him his time runs out and The Hardboys come running in with their guns, just in time to see Jimmy float into the air and shoot fire lasers from his eyes that cuts off the arm of the trigger man and leaves Jimmy passed out…the gangs run away and The Hardboys also denounce their friendship with Jimmy as they don’t think he is human anymore. Jimmy ends up at the hospital and the doctors cannot find out whats wrong with him and while there he also is told by Angella that he is going to be a father…and Jimmy knows that he must go back to Ultratech to get money for his lady and child as well as find out what the heck is wrong with him. While at Ulrtatech Leland is showing off the New Prototype who is in a bigger suit and now is Donovan Jones.

This ninth issue in Malibu’s Prototype series focuses more on Jimmy Ruiz the man who returns home to find that his old gang The Hardboys are at war with a rival and that more and more killings are happening and that his old girlfriend is about to have his baby! Jimmy shows that he has learned a little from his time at Ultratech as he learns how to take a beating, he learns that violence is not always the answer and he learns that those he cared about are suffering while he lived high on the hog working for Ultratech. I like how Jimmy tries his best to bring peace between two gangs and even risks his own life and safety to do so, but also finds that he has hidden powers even when not wearing the suit that gives him powerful eye blasts. We also see that Leland and Ultratech just move on fast even after Jimmy quite and hires a replacement in no time and even give him a more battle ready suit! Donovan Jones is the new Prototype, and I will call him Prototype III and he seems like a man who had nothing in life and is just happy to have a high paying job and will do whatever Leland and Ultratech wants, it will be interesting to see what he thinks when Jimmy comes back looking for his job as I think Donovan will fight to keep his job. Also glad that Angella finally got to tell Jimmy that she is having his baby, and also glad to see that Jimmy seems to be happy and will take being a father serious! Also I feel like The Hardboys will come back into play and will end up helping Jimmy in some way, even if he from time to time seems to have the powers of X-Men mutant Cyclops. The cover for this issue is just okay and remind me more of Robotech than Prototype and the interior art is good and done by Roger again. Well let’s see if Jimmy gets his job back at Ultratech or if he is out forever just like Bob Campbell.

Prototype # 10  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics    # 10 of 18

Terrordyne is back and has taken hostages at the Statue Of Liberty and even blow up the head of the statue and is killing hostages while filming! Bob Campbell and Jake Alexander are watching the news and they know that they have to do something to stop this terrorist attack and save lives, Bob once in his suit is now going by Ranger and the new friends head to gear up. While at Ultratech Leland is telling Prototype III that his time to be a hero is not now and tells him he will not be sending him to save the day…just yet. While at a government lab the android hero Manhattan Project 1994 is having some major bugs and attacks anyone in his sight, and this keeps it from being a hero as well as all eyes are on the Statue Of Liberty and at this point the state is without a hero. Karl is the leader of this Terrordyne group and while Ranger is getting into position Jake enters the area and takes a bullet to the knee when trying to work out a deal with Karl who informs him that they are making no deals. Jake stands back up and alerts them that he was wearing full body armor and that they are in deep trouble as he gives the signal and Ranger shows up and starts taking down all the Terrordyne agents while Jake and other Aladdin soldiers get the hostages to safety. Karl and Egon are the only two members of Terrordyne to escape and Ranger has to get ready as he has press interviews. After the interview Bob is loading up his jeep and is approached by Jimmy Ruiz who is asking him for help, Bob flies off the handle as he blames Jimmy for stealing his job and punches the young man who responds with his whole body being on fire begging Bob for his help!

Bob Campbell is now Ranger, a metal suited Ultra who is the hero New York is looking for as he stops a terrorist attack as well as saves the lives of many hostages, and he also now has Jake Alexander and the Agents of Aladdin at his side…and he loves every second of his new gig of being a hero! And the best thing for Bob is that his new suit of armor is better than his old and he no longer is saddled with the name Prototype as he is now Ranger! And Bob also in this issue gets to punch the face of Jimmy and man he blames for taken his job at Ultratech. And speaking of Jimmy, this young man is in a panic as he no longer has his Prototype suit, no longer has his job, his about to be a father and also has weird uncontrollable powers do to all the stuff Ultratech and is in a panic and needs help and Bob Campbell is the only person he can think off. Jake Alexander and Aladdin are trying to do what they can to keep New York safe from crime and terrorist and they along with Ranger are doing a great job. The Manhattan Project 1994 is a robotic would be hero that seems to be not controllable as he attacks even his own creators. This is a great issue and spends time building Bob back up at being the hero he loved being. Plus we find out in this issue that New York not only has a gang war issue but they are also having a terrorist war issue! The cover is pretty good and showcases Prototype and Ranger and like a broken record the interior art done by Roger is good stuff. I am looking forward to the next issue and seeing if Bob can not only help Jimmy but also if the two can bury the heat between them and become friends who both wear metal costumes.

Prototype # 11  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics    # 11 of 18

At the Aladdin Labs the thought to be dead bad guy Glare has woken up and is on a rampage and is blinding and killing anyone who is in his way…Jake Alexander has the lab sealed and as Glare pounds his way through the steal door they call Bob Campbell asking him to bring the Ranger suit! Before the call comes through Bob Campbell watches as Jimmy Ruiz almost explodes into a total meltdown and then pass out on the street as onlookers start to get rowdy about his fire and heat glow…Bob thinks fast and picks up Jimmy and drives off just as Donovan Jones watches them and judges them by comparing them to himself. Bob calls his ex-wife Felicia to meet him at the lab and while she tries to help Jimmy, he suits up and as Ranger heads into the lab to battle Glare and the pair punch it out. Meanwhile Felicia helps Jimmy as he is having another meltdown fit and works a way to reroute the power that is coming from one of him implants put in by Ultratech as they used his body to power the suit! Glare comes busting in and is ready to blind both Jake and Felicia and Jimmy uses his surging power to knock out Glare who before going down alerts Jimmy that he as Prototype never defeated him as it was Veil who did! After Glare is down, Felicia informs Jimmy that he is an Ultra and that Ultrateh used his powers to power the suit and that he needs to get the suit back on to stop the outbursts…and Bob agrees to help Jimmy break into Ultratech and steal the Prototype suit.

This issue’s plot shows that Leland and Ultratech have been users and liars from day one and have turned Jimmy Ruiz into a science experiment and fills his body with all types of chips and circuits and have turned him into a walking dangerous battery! And while Jimmy uses his power to take down Glare he is still very much a ticking time bomb that could kill and injury people. Bob Campbell aka Ranger goes hand to hand with Glare in order to save lives at the Aladdin Lab and even ends up getting his ex-wife to help Jimmy who he seems to now understand he shares a common enemy with and that Ultratech! I like the idea of Jimmy and Bob breaking into the lab in order to steal the Prototype suit as you know that when they get there they are going to have to fight Veil and Prototype III! Plus I think it’s clear that Felicia will start helping Jake and the rest of the Aladdin Lab crew as she knows much of the tech of Ultratech and the way Ultras work. Glare coming back from the dead and causing havoc is something I did not see coming and like before it shows that revenge is all that’s on his mind as he hates Leland and wants to do nothing but kill the man he blames for his strange look and powers. I would also guess that this might not be the final time we see Glare in this series, and I for one would like to see him join the side of Aladdin and become an Ultra Hero for them and as well help bring down Leland and Ultratech. Only downside for me is that I want to see Jimmy as Prototype and not just a man with X-Men type powers…so let’s hope he gets the suit back in the next issue. Interior art work by Roger is good and this cover is great and eye catching for fans of 90’s superhero comics. Over all another great issue and shows why Prototype was one of Malibu popular characters.

Prototype # 12  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics    # 12 of 18

At the Ultratech building Felicia Campbell comes to visit Leland and before she goes to visit him she knocks out the guard and brings in her ex-husband Bob as Ranger and Jimmy and they head to the basement so Jimmy can get into the Prototype suit as they all have payback on their minds to Leland, but before Jimmy can suit up, they are attacked by Donovan Jones aka Prototype III who is cocky and wants to showcase his power to Ultratech and impress Leland. While Jimmy tries to get his suit ready for battle with Felicia, Ranger springs into action and battles with Prototype III keeping him busy even with his suit being less powerful, finally Jimmy gets into his suit and as Prototype he enters the fight and its clear the fight between Jimmy and Donovan both who feel like they have something to prove and neither want to loose and in the end Jimmy defeats Donovan with a massive energy blast that destroys the Prototype III suit and as Donavon is bleeding on the floor Felicia treats his wounds as Ranger and Prototype head to Leland’s office. Marjorie Fredericks is in Leland’s office and turns invisible with orders to kill both Jimmy and Bob and as Leland distracts them with offers of hiring them both back as spokesmen for Ultratech Marjorie tries to attack them both but is stopped by a can of pepper spray fired by Felicia who then knocks out the invisible assassin with a metal briefcase. Prototype grabs Leland and is about to smash him like a bug when Ranger reminds him that they are heroes and that they are better than violence as revenge and then alerts Leland that they are going to bury him with a press conference! But Leland is not done yet as he calls in his last chance of killing Bob, Jimmy and Felicia, and it’s Prototype 2000 the same suit of armor that took Bob’s arm during a fight! As Prototype 2000 comes close he opens fire on Leland and then tells the shocked heroes that he is really Gordon Bell the founder of Ultratech!

So many Prototypes to keep track off as this issue has a total of five of them all with different looks and all with different names and model numbers! This issues plot has Bob, Jimmy and Felicia going to Ultratech towers to get the Prototype suit for Jimmy in order to control his powers as well as to alert Leland that they are going to expose his crimes to the world, and while trying to do so they meet his armored and invisible goons and then watch the man that has caused them all so much heartbreak be killed before their eyes by the founder of Ultratech! Bob Campbell aka Ranger is very level headed in this issue and fights when he needs to do so and also is the voice of reason to Jimmy who is lashing out in anger towards those who tricked him into becoming a ticking time bomb of energy. Jimmy is clearly getting out of hand and his power surges are out of control and if not for the Prototype suit he could and would end up killing a lot of innocent people. Felicia is showing that she has a great heart and is teaming with her ex-husband in order to expose Ultratech for the greedy scumbags they are. Leland is just as selfish and evil as ever and wants to kill those who stand in the way of him making money, that’s why it’s so shocking that he is killed…or so we think he is dead as he is blasted and knocked out of a window. Ultratech’s paid muscle of Prototype III and Marjorie Fredericks fail in their attempt to stop our heroes and end up both just knocked out on the floor. The long thought to be dead Gordon Bell being the one controlling the Portotype 2000 suit has be asking so many questions like was he controlling the suit when Bob was injured? Is he really alive or is he also just tech and does this mean Bob and Jimmy are now back on the payroll? I like were the story is going, but I have to say they need to chill on all the different Prototype suits as they keep pilling up! Also I like how Leland’s death was a touch of Robocop in it as it reminds me when the board member is gunned down by Ed-209! The cover for this issue is good and has a Marvel Comics feel to it and the interior art by Roger still and is good as always. Lets see what issue 13 has in store for us!

Prototype # 13  *1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $3.50   Malibu Comics   # 13 of 18

Prototype 2000 has the mind of Gordon Bell, but he is out of touch with the times and seems to be flashing back to the time he was always at the office and is enraged by the stock market drops of Ultratech! Bob, Felicia and Jimmy are confused and not sure what to do as Leland’s body has not been found and they cannot find a shut off switch to Prototype 2000 and when they try to get close to find one, the suit fights back. On the news hero Warstrike and bad guy Blind Faith are being attacked by what looks like Prototype at Yankee Stadium and this causes Jimmy to head to the ball park and fight with this imposter Prototype that seems to be a robot, and after a brief fight the robot gets away and Prototype gets no answers from Warstrike who was confused to why he and his super villain were attacked, and Prototype wastes no time using his energy and blowing the robot up leaving scrap metal behind and Warstrike in shock of Prototypes pure power. Meanwhile back at the Unltratech Office Bob and Felicia are getting nowhere on finding an off switch, but do know that a small amount of living organisms are inside the Prototype 2000 suit and Bob puts on his helmet and as Ranger blasts Prototype 2000 hoping to expose what’s living inside it only for the killer tech suit to figure out that their stock is under attack! We then show across town in a room filled with heroes including Night Man that they are the ones going for the stock!

What a silly issue in this series as the action is packed with goofy humor and an ending that leaves you interested but also having to but other comic series to figure out what and why heroes like Night Man are trying to buy mass amounts of Ultratech stocks! The plot has our heroes trying to figure out why Prototype 2000 thinks he is the chairman of Ultratech, why Leland’s body has not been found and why a robot version of Prototype is attacking a hero at a baseball stadium. Jimmy is puzzled by why a robot wearing his suit is trying to attack a hero and get him bad press and has to rush to Yankee Stadium in order to clear his name of this weird attack. Bob is watching as his ex-wife is acting like an employee off Ultratech in order to get answers of what Prototype 2000 really is! Warstrike is the hero who is under attack by the robot version of Prototype and he is knocked around pretty bad and is super confused by the end of his real meeting with Prototype. And as for Prototype 2000 he is a super powerful tech suit with the mind of Ultratech founder Gordon Bell who is acting super sexist and like he is from the 1930’s or something, his humor is silly and eye rolling and he smacks Felicia on the butt and makes groaning sexist remakes that will make you want to watch him explode into a million different pieces. This issue also ends with showing cool Malibu hero characters like Night Man, Teknight, Solitaire and more being the ones behind the hostile takeover of Ultratech’s stock and while cool its also very goofy and also leads to the crappy other comic series crossovers that force you to buy more books to finish the story. While this was a fun read its also very generic feeling and over all not a great issue. The cover is cool and screams 90’s Superhero Comic and the interior art is just ok and is done by Dean Zachary who is not one of my favorite artist from Malibu as at times I feel his work on panels is very sloppy and rushed looking. Over all a middle of the road issue that sets up a series crossover that brings stocks into play and does have some good moments for Prototype (Jimmy) to show his new outlook on life at being a hero.

Giant Size Prototype # 1  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $2.50    Malibu Comics    # 1 of 1

Ultratech stock is dropping fast and Nuware is buying it up dirt-cheap! Meanwhile Gordon Bell in the Prototype 2000 suit is going crazy as now the building is under attack as Ultra Heroes have shown up and Ranger heads to the lower level to confront Night Man and Solution and Prototype heads up to the roof to hold off the Teknight! After fighting the heroes in the basement Ranger is taking out of commission after putting up a good fight and the heroes have a talk with him. Meanwhile on the roof Prototype and Teknight are having a massive battle with each other and both are showing that their armor and skills are pretty evenly matched! While on the street below Ultratech workers are leaving the building with many of them quitting including Marjorie Fredericks who’s invisible and before she leaves the area decides to kill a reporter live on air! Meanwhile the battle takes Prototype and Teknight into the office of Gordon Bell and they see Ranger and the other Ultra Heroes are already there as on the street bellow J.D. Hunt of Nuware makes the announcement that his company is taking over Ultratech as they have bought the majority of the shares. Gordon Bell snaps and as the heroes run from the building her destroys Ultratech headquarters and then flies off into space with a thereat that he will one day come back for J.D. Hunt and make him pay!

This Giant Size issue showcases the end of the storyline of the Hostile Takeover and shows that Nuware and its owner J.D. Hunt was the man behind the stock takeover as well as sent the Ultra Heroes into the battlegrounds to help drive it lower so he can take it all over. Gordon Bell who is looney tunes has a part of his soul and memory inside the Prototype 2000 armor and is extremely dangerous and when pushed too far and learning that his company has been taken from him goes on a rampage and then runs away to space! He is super dangerous and to be honest all the Ultra Heroes should have teamed up and tried to destroy it before it could have went made and caused a building to come down, as think about it we have zero clue how many people might have died because of this. Prototype is fighting for Ultratech just because he needs the money that a job with them brings and Ranger is fight as he is not sure what the hell is really going on! The Ultra Heroes like Night Man and Teknight are around and while they are apart of the plot there is no real rhyme or reason for them to be helping Nuware take over Ultratech. To be honest Night Man does not even say one word! The highlight of this issue is the fight between Prototype and Teknight as they two slug it out and both are equals and each do not want to loose making them fight even harder. This also finally brings Ultrateh to an end as well as Leland and it looks as if they are bringing in a new story arch for our hero. This Giant Size comic also has a backup story that has Ranger fighting Arena and finding out that it was a she behind the armor all along. The cover is really cool and eye-catching and the interior art for the main story is done by Roger so you know its good. A great issue that helps us bring an end to the series main bad guys and that of course is the people of Ultratech.

Prototype # 14  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics    # 14 of 18

Desperate to stop the chaos in New York The Manhattan Project is brought online and even kills its creator Douglas Platt. Meanwhile Prototype and his fellow heroes watch as Prototype 2000 blows up the Ultratech building as well as attacks other parts of New York calling out Prototype for a fight! And then Jimmy snaps out of his day dream of those past events (other comic issues from Malibu) and finds out that Ultratech is now merged with Nuware and while he is offered a job its at half of what he made and it forces him to move to New Jersey, but with a kid on the way he takes the job. He meets a few of the lab workers of Ultratech who are waiting to be let go and they talk about how terrible big tech businesses are to employees, this angers Jimmy and he leaves in a rush to get his Prototype suit on before he has an energy blast out of anger. While flying around New York getting his mind clear and trying to find a better way for the energy he builds up to be used he is attacked by The Manhattan Project to knocks our hero around. Once down The Manhattan Project starts to use his powers to drain all of Prototypes energy as he is not just a machine but a living thing from space that is now wanting to feed and become the most powerful being on Earth! Prototype has had enough and breaks The Manhattan Project’s hold on him and then over loads him with pure energy ending the fight. Jimmy goes to Bob Campbell’s house and finds that Felicia and him are getting back together and that they are moving to California again as Bob is going to work for the movies again as well as part time for Aladdin, and that Nuware has given Bob a large amount of money to clear their books of lawsuits. Bob and Felicia then offer to rent their home to Jimmy and his new family.

This is a pretty solid issue as it’s all about the fight between The Manhattan Project and Prototype and also closes some loose ends to the Ultratech story arch. In this issue Jimmy finds himself being hired by the company who bought out Ultratech with a massive pay cut and also finds out that he must move to Jersey to report into work or commute everyday. He also learns that his two new best friends Bob and Felicia Campbell are moving out of state leaving him without an Ultra Healthcare worker as well as a friend who can repair his suit when damaged. Jimmy’s life is changing and he is both scared, stressed and also slightly happy. It’s as if he knows that he needed a major change but he also can not get his head on straight as he has some much anger over what Leland had the workers of Ultratech do to him. The Manhattan Project is an alien life form that is mixed with tech and is craving raw power and energy and while he is super strong he has never faced the power of Prototype when he unleashes full blast on him, is The Manhattan Project dead or will he rise again to strike…only time and other issues will answer that question. This issue also shows that the creators behind this series wanted to take it into another direction as Ultratch is fully gone, Bob and Felicia are leaving the state, Leland, Gordon and Douglas are all presumed dead. And The Manhattan Project is destroyed making all the characters that Jimmy met in the start of this series have an ending or sorts. I think that making this issue a mostly battle one was a smart move as after building up the fall of Ultratech in issue 13 and then making the conclusion happen in other Ultraverse Comics was a crappy move and they needed to try and make readers of Prototype happy. Also bringing Roger Robinson back onto interior art was super smart as it was solid and great as always. The cover for this issue is also really cool as it has The Manhattan Project chocking the life out of Prototype. Over all a good quick read with battles in the middle of two big new plot directions for the series.

Prototype # 15  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.95     Malibu Comics     # 15 of 18

Donovan Jones is getting a laser energy tattoo of a dragon and has been accepted by Techuza, a group of Ninjas who are building him up in order to fight Prototype and Ranger in order to get revenge on the now gone Ultratech. Meanwhile Prototype and Ranger are saving people from a bridge collapse and talking about what its life to be a hero, and once everyone is safe they fly off to fanfare from those they rescued. The next day Jimmy takes the train to his new job at Nuware and meets his new boss Dennis Carlen in Marketing and the building is rundown and is a major step down for Jimmy. He gets orders that when he wears the suit he gets a $5,000 bonus from the company, but any tech repairs comes from his bonus. He then is told to sit at a desk along with many other Marketing Assistants with one massive one being called Ox. That night Jimmy takes Angella out for dinner and prepossess to her, before she answers she asks him to clear it up with her mothers as it’s a family tradition. As Jimmy and Angella leave the restaurant one of the staff is talking on the phone and is alerting someone that Jimmy is leaving and the time to strike is now. As the couple is driving away they are stopped by Donovan Jones who is now in new armor and calling himself Engine Of Destruction and Jimmy gets his Prototype suit on and the pair battle as Angella watches and questions if marrying Jimmy is what’s good for her baby and herself. We then cut to a meeting of the higher-ups of Terrordyne have a block of ice brought in and once it melts we see Leland Stanley was inside it and that he will now be the leader of the terrorist group.

The more things change the more they stay the same as it looked like we the readers had gotten away from Ultratech being the source for all the negative stuff going on in Prototypes life but while the company is gone we now see that their pains are back as Leland Stanley and Donovan Jones have came out of the wood work once more to cause some issues and deal out pain. I like that Jimmy is now working for a smaller company who just wants to use Prototype to help build their bank account and become a mascot for them of sorts, but with this new job its also clear that their bank account is not as big and that they are even more tight about money. Jimmy also is trying to be more grown up and is trying to find a way to become a “Hero” as well as a father and husband and is ready to settle his life down. Meanwhile Angella seems to be happy to have Jimmy in her life, but also seems to be fearful of his hero life and all the danger he is always in as well as what could cause issues for her and their soon-to-be born child. I like that Donovan is now working for Techuza and is now calling himself Engine Of Destruction and is so filled with hate and the want for revenge that he has forgotten his morals and just wants to kill Prototype for making him look bad and handing him his first major defeat when he was known as Prototype III. I have to be honest with you I hate the fact that Leland Stanley is back as his character had a great send off and should have been left dead, and now with him being the head of a terrorist group makes me know that his ego will be even more out of control. Over all this was a pretty solid issue that had a nice mix of adding in our new characters and stories as well as had a dash of the old story thrown in for nice measure wrapped around a grudge fight. The cover is cool and has Prototype with a cool Chinese Dragon and the interior art is done by Dean Zachary and I think that in this issue his art is really good and I will say I like it this time around and none of it looked rushed. Let’s see what issue sixteen has in store for us, and let’s hope it’s not a ton of Leland nor Jimmy being yelled at by his boss.

Prototype # 16  **1/2
Released in 1994     Cover Price $1.95   Malibu Comics   # 16 of 18

Prototype and Engine Of Destruction are fighting in the streets of New York as Angella watches on in shock and is wondering if this is what her life will be if she marries Jimmy. As the battle rages on Prototype learns that the more he hits Engine Of Destruction the stronger he becomes as the armor he wears repairs and protects itself, but by doing so it’s also making his suit more bulky and slowing him down. It works as Engine Of Destruction becomes too massive and it becomes hard for him to move around. As Angella watches, someone kidnaps her and says he is taking her to a place where Ultra babies are born. Meanwhile before Prototype can finish off Engine Of Destruction members of the Techuza attack and allow Engine Of Destruction to get the upper hand and take down Prototype and pound him into the ground, but Engine Of Destruction makes a big mistake when he removes Prototypes mask and Jimmy uses eye energy blasts to defeat Engine Of Destruction, but before he can really put him away the members of the Techuza come back and whisk their injured friend away and Jimmy sees that they also have kidnapped Angella and he is powerless now to save her as he wasted all his energy on that attack. We then see that Terrordyne doctors are working on Leland and are making him into something more than just a man.

Another battle issue that is surrounded by plot and like before this is a very entertaining issue that puts our hero in an epic battle and also ups the stakes as his lady love is taken away by his new enemies. Jimmy Ruiz who was a former gang member has a fighting nature and while it’s clear he wants to settle down and have a family, he also has way too much pride in being Prototype and cannot just stand around and allow bad guys to get away with crime. Angella who gets kidnapped also still is at war with herself as she loves her boyfriend and baby’s daddy Jimmy but also hates his fighting lifestyle. Terrordyne clearly has big plans for Leland as they have taken his corpse and are adding tech to it in order to bring him back to life to let him lead them as well as become more powerful than ever. Techuza are sneaky ninjas who watch out for each other but also seem to be very much into nabbing Angella as she has an Ultra Baby in her womb. Engine Of Destruction is a tank and can take a beating and use that beating to become stronger, but the man inside Donovan is also dealing with rage issues and this causes him to also make mistakes. The drama of Angella not being 100% sure if she can and should marry Jimmy adds that slight more human nature to this comic series and while she comes off very whinny its very understandable as who would want a life of super villains trying to kill your loved ones as well as yourself. The cover is pretty cool and eye-catching in a 90’s comic kind of way with the interior art being great and done by Roger Robinson again. Over all I have to say again a solid entertaining issue that makes me look forward to reading the next.

Prototype # 17  **1/2
Released in 1995     Cover Price $1.95    Malibu Comics    # 17 of 18

Stanley Leland wakes up after his resurrection surgery and has the body of a squid and is told by the terrorist group that he is the one they want to lead them and that they will help him get revenge on Prototype. Bob Campbell, Melina Campbell and Jake Alexander are working on the damage Prototype suit and they have made so very good adjustments to it making it run smoother and cause Jimmy far less pain when first putting it on. Once the armor is ready Prototype and Ranger fly off to save Angella from the grip of the Techuza and both in their own minds share how proud they are to be saving the day with the other. The heroes show up and fight off giant killer fish as well as Techuza henchmen and then finally they enter a room and their armor is scanned and Techuza alerts them that they have taken the fetus and that Angella is alive and they control the fate of Prototypes family! The Techuza also tells him that they are getting ready for war with Terrordyne and it will be fought with Ultras and bio-weapons and that Prototype should remember that he should be on their side as they control the fate of his family. Ranger tries to calm down Prototype who punches his hero friend and rushes to an image of Angella that turns into a pile of goo and he breaks down. Meanwhile the Techuza takes Angella back to New York and throw her out of a van minus her baby!

So a gang war between Techuza and Terrordyne is about to go down and both sides clearly will be playing for keeps as they are stockpiling Ultras as well as creating weapons that will cause mass destruction as well as death. So in other words we are in store for two terrorist groups fighting each other with heroes and normal people stuck in the middle! Prototype in this issue is filled with worry as well as rage as he just wants his girlfriend and baby back and is making bad decisions along the way cause he is lashing out and not using his mind in order to rescue her. And poor Angella has been kidnapped, her baby stolen from her womb and then dumped in a New York ally like she is trash, this poor woman has been through so much in a matter of hours. Ranger is doing his best to try and keep Prototype calm and on track and teaching him the ways of being an Ultra Hero, but is learning that Jimmy while a good guy is a little unstable and is always filled with anger. Leland is around and has the legs of an octopus, he is still snarky and ego driven and is promised revenge on Prototype if he helps Terrordyne in their quest for power, I wish Leland would have been left dead. The cover for this issue is terrible and is Leland his is octopus legs and is very cheesy and lame and not eye-catching and more laughable and the interior art this time around is done by George Dove and is good stuff. Crazy to think that we only have one more issue in this series and the Prototype would be over, let’s see how Malibu ends this series.

Prototype # 18  **1/2
Released in 1995     Cover Price $1.95.    Malibu Comics     # 18 of 18

Prototype is at a department store for their 10th Anniversary when he becomes under attack by Battlewagon a tech suited bad guy with tank treads for feet! The battle is going as reporter Lacy is on the scene broadcasting it live, when Battlewagon uses his force field to knock Prototype down with a hard blast he then uses a wall to trap our hero and reveals who he is as Battlewagon in Frankie the man who use to be Jimmy’s best friend! Frankie tells Jimmy that he feels like he was forgotten as he was given a job at Ultratech by Jimmy’s request and that was as a janitor and that one day when Prototype was fight Arena they knocked down a wall that killed Maria the love of Frankie’s life and put him into a coma. He then says that it was Terrordyne who brought him back and turned him into Battlewagon in order to get revenge on Prototype for taking everything away from him. Prototype snaps to and tries to talk to Battlewagon as he has something big to tell him, but the angry villain will not listen and as Prototype once more pulls his punches as he tries to talk to his one time friend who once more blasts Prototype with a massive shot and just as Battlewagon is about to kill our hero a voice stops him and its Maria who’s pregnant and very much alive, Terrordyne has lied to Frankie and he is overwhelmed and flees the scene. Prototype thanks Maria for coming and they both stand together wondering if Frankie will ever return.

The final issue of Prototype is a fun one that is its own story wrapped up in one issue, but it also does zero to answer the questions of issue 17 like the war between the two terrorist groups and what happed with Angella and her baby? But this issue has Prototype having a fight with a new Ultra Villain that turns out to be is one time best friend who blames Jimmy for all is issues and the death of his wife who is in fact very much alive. Battlewagon is the issue’s baddie and he is pretty cool as he has the torso of a man in a tech suit and the bottom half of a tank and he has massive firepower to boot! The downside to him is he is fighting with rage and this makes him sloppy in attacks as well as makes him way to talkative as he wants to alert our hero on why he hates him and wants him dead. Prototype in this issue is annoyed that he is having to do a meet and greet at a department store then turns into hero mode when he is attacked but ends up shocked and sadden when he fights out who his attacker is and why he is fighting. The story is very much like a soap opera and it’s clear that writer R.A. Jones knew this as he even has panels showing a soap opera on a TV, and while it feels out of place and disjointed from the last issue it still very much was an entertaining read. To be honest many times this comic series in its run feels disjointed as plots and characters seem to disappear and they also do the finish this story in this other comic series nonsense that has plagued mainstream comics for so long now. I really do enjoy Malibu Comics and Prototype is my second favorite character in the Ultraverse and it was a blast revisiting many of these issues again as well as for some a first time read and I still feel that Prototype and Ranger should be in the Marvel Universe as they are perfect fits in the Iron Man series. The cover is cool and eye-catching but has zero to do with what happens in the issue and the interior art is done by Paul Abrams and is good stuff! After this issue a mini series was suppose to be released called “Prototype Turf War” and would have been more about the terrorist war and would have wrapped up the story, but sadly it was never released thanks to the fine folks at Marvel Comics who botched everything Ultraverse from day one of them buying them. Check out some artwork bellow to see they style of art used in this series and I will say if you like 90’s Superhero comics make sure to check out Prototype as it really is a good series with some cool characters.

Prototype is one of my favorite characters from the Malibu Comics Ultraverse and his series was well done and had a nice build up and showcased many characters all with their own story arches and all building the world they live in. It’s a shame that Prototype as well as all the rest of the Malibu Ultraverse characters never fully got to have a solid ending or even found new life in the Marvel Universe. While Prototype did have flaws and some issues in storytelling, it really is a fun series to read, and I know this sounds crazy to many of you readers and friends but I would say that for me the Ultravese was better then just about everything Image Comics did in their first few years minus the likes of Spawn and Maxx, but let’s not get to much into that. For our next update I will once more be celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary Of The Horror Host Hall Of Fame and will be heading to the world of Crazyman! So until next time read a Malibu Comic or three, watch an Ultraforce episode or two and as always support your local Horror Host! On a side note I wonder if the Warden will have some beans for us to eat when we visit The Crazyman?

For the Honor of Greyskull: She-Ra Through the Ages

Greetings readers – it’s Juliet, reporting back in for blogging duty. Back in the early days of Rotten Ink, 2013 to be exact, Matt asked his friends what franchises they thought should have been made into comics.  Interestingly several of my picks have become comics since then with one franchise in particular enjoying a reboot and subsequent relaunch into popular culture.  That franchise is She-Ra, and today we’ll be taking a look at both the classic Princess of Power and the modern Princesses of Power series including a modern comic for younger readers.  So saddle up your flying horse, grab the Sword of Protection and let’s head to Etheria for the honor of Greyskull!

In 1985, Filmation launched a spinoff to it’s animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  Geared at young women, She-Ra: Princess of Power followed Princess Adora, the twin sister of Prince Adam (aka He-Man), who was kidnapped by Hordak at birth and was taken to Etheria where she served as Force Captain of the Horde.  After being saved by He-Man and reunited with her family, Adora then chooses to return to Etheria as a freedom fighter in the rebellion, taking up the Sword of Protection and the mantle of She-Ra.  

She-Ra: Princess of Power introduced many supporting characters, some of whom were created by Filmation and others by Mattel, presumably so they could add toys and other merchandise featuring the new characters. The series made its debut on TV in 1985, and the five episode introduction was packed as the film He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword. She-Ra: Princess of Power would run for two seasons and a total of 93 episodes. 

The original She-Ra series is one of those cartoons that’s just always existed for me.  I was so young when it debuted, that I can’t actually remember the first time I saw the show, rather, it was ever-present throughout my childhood.  Even after it went off the air, I had a VHS copy of He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special taped off TV that I’d regularly watch.  I loved the characters, but moreover, I loved the idea of the characters and their world.  These were the types of characters that I’d make my own stories about while daydreaming (hello, future fanfiction and original fiction writer). Like many cartoons of its era, it faded away for a while but saw a huge resurgence of interest with the rise of nostalgic pop culture in the late 90s/early 00s.  And of course, the release of the show on DVD helped fuel that fire.  I have the DVDs, and it’s been fun getting reacquainted with the series, especially getting the watch the entire run in order, something I didn’t get to do as a child.  

In 2018, a new version of She-Ra debuted on Netflix.  She-Ra and the Princesses of Power was developed by Noelle Stevenson, already well known for her Nimona and Lumberjanes comic series.  It focused on a teenaged Adora’s journey of love and friendship from being a Horde force captain to taking on the mantle of She-Ra, the savior of Etheria. This series ran a total of five seasons on Netflix to wide acclaim for both its storytelling and its inclusive characters and relationships.  

I had heard good things about She-Ra and the Princess of Power since its launch, but being notoriously late to the game on Netflix shows, it took me until the fifth and final season was released to start my watch.  In all honesty, however, my timing couldn’t have been better.  I watched the entire run of the show in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and was fairly awestruck.  It was amazing to see beloved, albeit sometimes one dimensional characters from the original series reborn with intentional stories and personalities all their own in bodies and with identities that reflect the varied and awesome realities of our world with a fantasy backdrop.  And then there’s the storytelling.  I have such appreciation for shows that are geared towards younger folks that don’t shy from complex stories and don’t pander to their intended audience.  Watching She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, I was moved to tears on more than one occasion and could imagine my younger self feeling all of the feelings when watching it.  

One thing that really surprised me going from She-Ra: Princess of Power to She-Ra and the Princesses of Power was which characters became my favorite from each show.  In the original show, I was a huge fan of Adora/She-Ra but also loved the looks of Peekablue and Frosta.  In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, I totally adored Mermista and, mostly surprisingly of all, became a diehard fan of Scorpia.  Both of those characters grow so much through the series, and with Scorpia, you just want her to win and find happiness.  

Before we go on, I have to talk for a moment about music.  Both She-Ra series have memorable theme songs.  The original 80s theme is a riff on the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe theme with a voiceover from titular hero and a chorus of their name, though I find the She-Ra theme to be much catchier.   The theme for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, however, takes catchy to a whole new level with the song “Warriors” performed by Aaliyah Rose.  It’s such a great anthem that’s guaranteed to get stuck in your head.In addition to the original run of Mattel figures and their accompanying playsets upon which the show was launched, the 80s version of She-Ra had plenty of merchandise both then and now including t-shirts, coffee mugs and cups, sticker and coloring books, board games, backpacks and Funko Pops. Starting in the 2000s, Mattel began to cash in on toy collectors’ nostalgia with several series of reissued He-Man and She-Ra figure sets, beginning with Masters of the Universe Classics.  This first series ran from 2008 until 2016 and featured She-Ra characters scattered among those from He-Man throughout the line.  These were good looking collectors’ figures that were based on the original Masters of the Universe sculpts rather than the original She-Ra figures (so they were bulkier and all plastic with sculpted hair).  My own collection includes both Adora and She-Ra as well as Teela from Masters of the Universe. There have been several additional reissue series in the same vein of Masters of the Universe Classics over the years with a new one that just started (the She-Ra from that series was released in February, 2021) and a line of ReAction figures.  Like its predecessor, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power also has its share of cool merchandise including t-shirts, enamel pins, stickers, a line of books and graphic novels aimed at younger readers, and an awesome line of Target exclusive figures.  

I had many of the original She-Ra figures growing up including She-Ra and a Crystal Swiftwind.  I remember always wanting the Crystal Castle playset, but alas, never actually had it (though my extensive Jem and the Holograms collection more than made up for that), but I do still have my childhood She-Ra coloring book.  I haven’t gotten any merchandise from the new show yet – save for the topic of our review, but I blame that on having watched it entirely during the pandemic and having not set foot in a Hot Topic in over a year as of this posting.  

So let’s talk about what we’re going to review today — in 2019, Scholastic (who you may know from your childhood book fairs) released a chapter book designed for grades 1-5 called She-Ra: Origins of a Hero.  Written by Tracey West, this book kicked off an unconnected series of books for the same age group that took place in the world of the Netflix show.  The fourth book, released in early 2020, however was a graphic novel called She-Ra: Legend of the Fire Princess.  It was written by D.G. Gigi and illustrated by Pauline Ganucheau with input from Noelle Stevenson.  That graphic novel, which was a gift from Matt, is the subject of today’s review. As a reminder, here on Rotten Ink, we grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So get ready for an adventure of friendship and wonder as we look at She-Ra: Legend of the Fire Princess

She-Ra: Legend of the Fire Princess  ****
Released in 2020   Cover Price $12.99   Scholastic   #1 of 1

The Spirit Ember is the hot topic of the day as both the Horde and the Rebellion are seeking this lost rune stone.  As Entrapta and Catra plan their search, Glimmer tells the other princess of the legend of the Fire Princess, whose years of solitude trying to master the secrets of the Spirit Ember ended up destroying her kingdom.  Adora is disturbed by the legend, but soon her attention shifts as a Horde vehicle is reported outside Thaymor.  Queen Angela sends Adora, Glimmer and the others to investigate and permits them to search for the Spirit Ember. Meanwhile, Catra and Scorpia are on their own search, but are decidedly not on the same page about their objectives for the day.  As both teams race toward the Spirit Ember, it becomes clear that everything is not as it seems with the lost runestone and each team will have to not only decide if the rune stone is worth it, but also confront issues of trust and friendship along the way.

Comics based on cartoons (as opposed to cartoons based on comics) can really go either way: they can provide fans with additional stories that are faithful to the shows they love or they can utterly pale in comparison with the source material.  Lucky for us, She-Ra: Legend of the Fire Princess is the former. Just like the show, while this graphic novel is aimed at a younger audience, it’s a great read for fans of any age.  The story of a quest for a lost rune-stone would fit perfectly in the middle seasons of the show and, like all of the episodes, manages to balance the “quest of the day” with the larger things the characters are dealing with emotionally and interpersonally.  You can tell Noelle Stevenson had a hand in this because the tone is just right.  Gigi D.G.’s script is well-paced and gives each character time to shine, and Paulina Ganucheau’s art, which you can see below, fits perfectly with the style of the show.  Given that it is aimed at young readers, this will be a quick read for most, but it still manages to pack in a lot of story and a lot of heart.  If you’re a fan of the show and are craving more She-Ra content after the final season, definitely check this one out.

What a fun trip down the nearer and further stretches of memory lane.  When I proposed a She-Ra comic back in 2013, I had hoped that it would provide context and depth to the 80s characters.  Never could I have imagined a show as amazing as She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and I’m so happy we have it.  For our next update, I’ll be handing the blog back to Matt, but we’ll stay in the world of nostalgia as we visit the 90s for a look at Malibu’s Prototype.  In the meantime, support your local comic shop, be strong and be brave.

Earthworm Jim Saves Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve! It’s crazy to think that another year is almost over and that we are about to celebrate another Christmas here at Rotten Ink. This time of the year is always very special for me and makes me think back to my youth and all the cool toys, games, music, comics and books I used to get for the holidays as well as always makes me think about how lucky I am to have so many amazing people in my life as I have a great family, amazing friends and am blessed to be able to have so many creative outlets like Game Swap Kettering, Sparkle Comics, Bloodline Video, Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, Radio, Rockstar Pro Wrestling, Rotten Ink and so many other top notch projects that allow for me to have an outlet. As I have said here before, one of the coolest Christmas gifts I ever got was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and that’s why I always think about classic video games around this holiday as if brings back great memories of playing them with family, friends and even trying to beat games myself! So for this update I have decided to take a look a video game character that made his major splash on the Sega Genesis that spawned a cartoon and even a comic series, and this cheesy character is the one and only Earthworm Jim! So if you’re ready to take a trip with Rotten Ink, Marvel Comics and Earthworm Jim this Christmas Eve, you should find a comfy chair, pour yourself some eggnog. and as we all wait for Santa, I think it’s time to have a classic game flashback.

Earthworm Jim was a normal worm on the planet earth that spent his days digging around in dirt and avoiding being eaten by birds. Meanwhile in space Psy-Crow, a feared bounty hunter, accidentally drops a cyber space suit from his ship that falls to Earth and Jim who is on the run from birds looking to make him a meal hides inside it and the suit evolves him into a more human-like life form with intelligence and a goofball charm. But with his new found power and mind, he becomes a marked worm as Psy-Crow on the orders of the evil Queen Slug-For-A-Butt is set for death and Jim himself now wants to meet the Queen’s lovely sister Princess What’s-Her-Name! And so began Earthworm Jim, space explorer and hero, who armed with his ray gun has saved worlds as well as those who are in need. Earthworm Jim in his cyber suit weighs around 154 pounds and stands about 5’8” and has super strength and a heroic heart, but he also is a little goofy as he still is a worm! Say what you will about Earthworm Jim, but he is the hero we didn’t know we needed.

Earthworm Jim is a side scrolling game that was created by Doug TenNapel and was a fun silly concept that captured the attention of not only gamers but also game publishers. The first Earthworm Jim game was released in 1994 for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo and has Earthworm Jim avoiding his enemies and trying to save Princess What’s-Her-Name! The game over the years would go on to be on many other systems like Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, Nintendo Game Boy, PC and Game Boy Advance. The game was super popular and by 1995 the sequel Earthworm Jim 2 was released and continued the story of the first game and was released for Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, PC and the Sega Saturn to name a few. This game was a hit but was not fully embraced by gamers and critics as the game did not change enough to warrant its quick release to cash in on the popularity of the original. The game series took a break for a while, and it was not till 1999 when the world got Earthworm Jim 3D that was only released for the Nintendo 64 and has Jim fighting to wake from a coma and must battle his rogues gallery who have all entered his mind. This game was not well received and marked the end of the series for home consoles.

In my youth, I can remember spending many of hours playing both Earthworm Jim and Earthworm Jim 2 for the Sega Genesis at my friends houses as well as at my cousins Dino and Norman’s. Shocking enough, I never did ever buy my own copy of the game and always just played it with them or borrowed it from them for a short time. Sadly I have never played Earthworm Jim 3D as it just never was on my radar as by the time it was released I was all about the Sony Playstation when it came to playing games. One other thing that is crazy to think is that games like Earthworm Jim helped spawn many other weird themed games like Conker, Crash Bandicoot, Banjo-Kazooie and Boogerman to name a few, and yes I know Boogerman was released the same year as Earthworm Jim. Say what you will about the Earthworm Jim series of games, but one thing is for sure, if you grew up in the 90’s and played video games they were on many of our must play games list.

Did you know in 1995 a cartoon series was released based around the adventures of Earthworm Jim? Released by Universal Cartoon Studios and airing on Kids WB starting on September 9, 1995, this series followed Earthworm Jim as he is being attacked by all types of baddies who want his power suit for their own evil plans! This cartoon was part action, part adventure and part silly as it played up on the over all goofy nature of the character and its universe. Voice actor Dan Castellaneta played Earthworm Jim, Jeff Bennett played Peter Puppy and Kath Soucie voiced Princess What’s-Her-Name showing they had some great voice talent on this show. The series only lasted for 23 episodes and ended its run on December 13, 1996 making it a very short run cartoon that built a very small cult fan base from those who grew up in the 90s. The cartoon has made its way to home media on both VHS and DVD with the latter being the complete series. This was a cartoon I can remember seeing from time to time, but was not something I watched often as I was a little older when it was released and was more into other shows at that time. But if you like this cartoon, make sure to do yourself a favor and get the DVD set put out by VEI and relive this classic toon.

In the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s toy company Playmates was one of the kings of the toy aisle as they delivered figures based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Trek, The Addams Family, Toxic Crusaders, The Simpsons, Dick Tracy, Skeleton Warriors, Flash Gordon, Coneheads and Zorro to name a few and along with these figures they also did Earthworm Jim ones based on the cartoon and video game! These figures were released in 1995 with a total of eight figures being made with three of them being different versions of Earthworm Jim. Also in the line was Princess What’s-Her-Name and Peter Puppy as well as baddies Psycrow, Henchrat and Bob! Each figure also came with weapons as well as a mini character like goldfish # 4 and Snott! The series of toys never made it to a wave two even though they made an appearance at Toy Fair with figures of Evil Jim, Queen Slug-For-A- Butt and The Hamstinator all planned. The figures were really cool and fit alongside Playmates other figures. Growing up I did not own any of them but do remember them in stores, to be honest it’s a little crazy that I did not at least buy Earthworm Jim as I was a fan of the game even in 1995!

Back in the 90’s Marvel Comics had already closed down their kids comic branch Star Comics and absorbed many of those titles under Marvel Comics proper like Muppet Babies and Thundercats to name a few. But they also had Epic Comics still going as it was a creator owned branch that was founded in 1982 and featured comics based on Horror Movies like Hellraiser and Nightbreed. In 1994 they tried to open a branch called Marvel Music that was comics based on musical acts like Alice Cooper, Rolling Stones and Billy Ray Cyrus and this was very short lived as by 1995 this branch was history and all titles canceled. But out of the ashes of the weirdness of Marvel Music and the cool kid friendly comics based on cartoons and toys of Star came Marvel Absurd a branch that would have issues of weird teen style comics based on popular toons and video games of the time. Some titles in this branch was just carry overs from Marvel Titles like the Nickelodeon cartoon “Ren And Stimpy” plus the hit MTV cartoon “Beavis & Butthead” that switched over to this branch way into their series. And the new title launched for this branch was “Earthworm Jim” based on the popular video game at the time not to mention the silly parody comic “Marvel Riot” that lasted only one issue. But like most things at Marvel Comics at the time as soon as it started in ended as its whole run was from around 1994-1996 as the brand was just not super popular for Marvel. But I want to take a moment to let you readers know that in 2020 I will do a Top 10 Countdown Of Things That Should Have Gotten An Absurd Comic!

So as you can see, Earthworm Jim was a perfect fit for the short lived Marvel Absurd comic line as he was wacky, weird and over the top! And not so surprisingly, this comic series is a little hard to get and the issues hold a decent price on them to get so I want to thank sellers on both Ebay and Amazon for having them in stock and making this holiday update possible. I want to remind all you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you are ready to see what Marvel Comics and Earthworm Jim have in store for us, let’s get to the comic review section of this update.

Earthworm Jim # 1  ***
Released in 1995     Cover Price $2.25      Marvel      # 1 of 3

Queen-Slug-For-A-Butt, Major Mucus and Doc Duodenum have entered Heck and asked the underground ruler Evil to let them hire an army of evil lawyers so they can sue Earthworm Jim for all the years of stopping their evil schemes! Meanwhile Jim himself is on a “date” with Princess What’s-Her-Name and they are attacked by Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head who take them prisoner, as Professor wants the cyber space suit and Psy-Crow wants to eat Jim once he is out of the suit!!! As Jim escapes the grip of Psy-Crow his suit runs amuck in the lab while talking goldfish Bob and his catmen have Princes What’s-Her-Name prisoner and force her to agree to marry him as they fake that they will kill Jim if show don’t! Meanwhile the escaped worm Jim finds himself in the prison area and meets many failed experiments that are being locked up and that includes a small puppy man named Peter Puppy, and once Jim finds these creatures need help he returns to the lab and gets his suit back by beating Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head, heads to the dungeon and frees the creatures and along with Peter jumps on a rocket to stop the wedding of Princes What’s-Her-Name and Bob!

This comic is super silly and really is Absurd and that’s a great thing as a comic based on Earthworm Jim needed to be this way. The plot has all of Jim’s bad guys wanting to defeat him with some trying to hire lawyers to sue him with others wanting to kill him and steal his suit to build an army of super soldiers! But while the lawyers do not find Jim in this issue, they are still on the lookout for him as his main nemesis are Psy-Crow and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head who kidnap him and his Princess girlfriend and want him dead in the ground! Earthworm Jim in this issue is heroic and slightly goofy but shows that he will always stand up for the little guy and do whatever it takes to do the right thing! I love how Jim in this issue also finds his inner hero when he meets a group of freaks that have been created and kept prisoner and knows he must set them free! Princess What’s-Her-Name also shows that she is a great person that is able to take care of herself as she mops the floor with many catmen! I also feel bad for her as she thinks her man Jim has been tortured and even cut by his captures, and this makes her agree to marry a goldfish. Professor Monkey-For-A-Head and Psy-Crow are the issues main bad guys as they are teaming up with the idea to finally bring down Jim once and for all and they are cruel and seem to get joy in this sick game they are playing. Bob the goldfish as well is a sick man who is a terrible creature who is trying to force love in order to gain power. We shall see how the lawsuit goes if the Lawyers of Heck come into play in one of the further issues. Over all this is a very fun action, adventures, comedy and silly comic that brings the video games/cartoon character to life on the pages of a comic book. The cover is fantastic and very eye catching and captures that 90’s style, the interior art is done by Barry Crain and is top notch and does capture the fun nature of the Earthworm Jim universe. So with this first issue being great, let’s see what the next issue has in store for us.

Earthworm Jim # 2  **1/2
Released in 1996     Cover Price $2.25     Marvel     # 2 of 3

Evil, the cat leader of Heck, is upset at his lawyers and orders them to get the job done this issue or they will all way the price! While Earthworm Jim and Peter are lost in space, as they cannot find the hideout of Bob and even after getting directors from a Gas Station planet it takes them sometime to find their way. Meanwhile Bob is gloating and bullying his soon to be wife Princess What’s-Her-Name, as a cat slips a bomb into the Princess bouquet! Meanwhile Earthworm Jim has found the directions to stop the wedding, as Bob now knows that Jim is on his way to stop the wedding! Even Queen-Slug-For-A-Butt the sister of Princess What’s-Her-Name shows up for the wedding as this will truly give Bob power. Once Jim and Peter arrive they take a mutated hamster and head to the ceremony to save the day. Jim just in time is able to save the Princess before they say the “I Do’s” and Bob climbs into a mega mech suit and puts a hurting on Jim, but lucky for Jim he is able to crack Bob’s fishbowl and wins the day! As Jim, The Princess and Peter celebrate the Heck Lawyers have arrived and worse the bomb in the bouquet is about to explode!

Earthworm Jim and his puppy friend Peter are on a mission to stop a forced wedding that will see Princess What’s-Her-Name being the wife of the cruel goldfish Bob…and along the way Jim must fight off catmen, not get lost and come face to face with Bob who also now has a massive suit that is more powerful! I like in this issue that Earthworm Jim once more has a good heart and so wants to be the hero, not to mention he is still shown to be a total goof who it seems by luck is able to save the day. Peter Puppy is shown in this issue that when pushed he can and will turn into a dog monster, making him a good ally for Jim to have. Princess What’s-Her-Name who is a great and loving character shows she is willing to ruin her life in order to protect the life of her wormfriend Jim! Bob is such a jerk and when he don’t get what he wants in this issue spends his time beating up Jim, oh and he also seems to love to boss around his catmen henchmen. The Lawyers From Heck at the end of this issue finally find Jim, but worse just as they have the bomb planted is about to blow. The issue is filled with dumb humor as well as some zany action and adventure moments making for a good read. I also really enjoy the fact that both Pinhead from Hellraiser and the Creature From The Black Lagoon have cameos in this issue and Pinhead is shown as one of the Lawyers of Heck and Gillman is the Preacher for the wedding. The cover for this issue is lots of fun and has a James Bond feel to it and the interior art for the start of the comic is done by Barry Crain and is great with the later part of the issue being done by Manny Galan & Carlos Garzon and is just so-so. Over all this was a good issue, and I cannot wait to see how this series ends.

Earthworm Jim # 3  **
Released in 1996     Cover Price $2.25      Marvel     # 3 of 3

Earthworm Jim is being surrounded by all his rogues gallery as well as Lawyers from Heck as they were their for the wedding of their evil friend Bob, but things turn good when Peter by accident sneezes the flowers with the bomb in it into the crowd of baddies and the explosion leaves most of them down and out! As Earthworm Jim, Princess What’s-Her-Name and Peter escape the planet the Lawyers try and figure out where he went now so they can serve him papers. Peter would like to go back to his home world and Jim agrees to take him, but he soon learns that Peter when hurt, scared, mad or even slightly annoyed will turn into a wild dog beast that is looking for a fight! They go back and fourth with Peter raging and threatening to fight Jim that is until the Princess has had enough and puts them both in their places. Now at Peter’s home planet, they have been followed by Evil and the Heck Lawyers who know have decided to kill Jim and just sue his estate! But before Evil and them can commit the murder Jim and his people are attacked by a giant red dinosaur and Jim is stomped into the ground and is loosing the fight, but lucky for him Princess What’s-Her-Name gets into Jim’s suit and powers up her already massive power and she beats the Dinosaur with ease. With Peter home and Jim back in the suit, the puppy ends up asking if he could just go home and live with them as he now knows that his planet is a terrible place to live. Jim and The Princess agree to take Peter to their home planet and while there Peter ends up saving the day as he attacks and eats Evil and chases off all the Heck Lawyers after becoming the dog monster! In the end Earthworm Jim and Princess What’s-Her-Name continue their date and all ends well.

This third and final issue is fun, but is the weakest issue in the series as I feel they waste so much time with the joke everything sets Peter off in becoming the dog monster…and while funny maybe the first couple of times it wears thin pretty fast when its back to back to back, making me as a reader kind of be annoyed with the Peter character. It almost seemed liked they ran out of story ideas and just made this final issue filled with lots of filler moments. The plot has Earthworm Jim and Princess What’s-Her-Name taking their new friend Peter to his home planet, and they are being stalked by Evil cat ruler of Heck and his demonic army of lawyers as well as trying to survive the planet that is filled with all types of creatures all want blood and kills. In this issue, Earthworm Jim is still a hero but also shows that he can be defeated and also can have a short fuse when annoyed time and time again. As I said before, Peter is pretty annoying in this issue and spends almost all the issue being triggered by everything and going back and fourth into becoming a monster and a normal puppy man. Princess What’s-Her-Name is as always a hero and shows that she don’t even really need Jim to be her hero as she has the power and mind to take care of herself. Evil and his Heck Lawyers are pretty silly and like in the other issues just kind of fumble around and miss their chances to strike. The threat in this issue is around but the stakes don’t seem as high as really this whole issue’s purpose is to get Peter home, and to this reader I kind of feel that this is just a average read with not real thought put into the story and was made to fulfill the contract made with the people who made Earthworm Jim. The cover on this issue is great and eye catching, and the art in this issue is all done by Barry Crain and is good but also seems rushed. To sum it up, this is an entertaining comic mini series based on a very goofy video game character, and I am sure will please fans of Earthworm Jim. Check out the art below to see the style of Barry Crain and enjoy.

So before we end this update, I really wanted to share some of the Horror Movie characters that have cameos in this series. The first one I spotted was Pinhead from the movie series Hellraiser in issue # 2 who is on the planet Heck and is one of the Lawyers that has been hired to bring a lawsuit against Earthworm Jim. It was pretty cool seeing him as Marvel Comics under their Epic line use to make Hellraiser comics. Also in issue # 2 was Gillman from the Universal Monster movie Creature From The Black Lagoon as he is the preacher that is marrying Bob and Princess What’s-Her-Name! Sadly I think these two are the only two Movie Monsters in this series, but I must say this is very cool and I wish more comics would add little Easter Eggs like this more often.

So I hope you enjoyed this Christmas Eve update all about Earthworm Jim and it helped add to your holiday season with great memories of playing the video game, watching the cartoon, playing with the toys and even reading the comics. This time of the year really is filled with magic and makes me always think of my youth and all the great memories of Christmas pasts. So I don’t want to take up more of your holiday with my ramblings, but do want to let you know that our next update will be my Films Of 2019 update and will be the first update of 2020! So until next time enjoy your time with loved ones, have fun opening your gifts and always watch out for each other. Oh and make sure to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Ballad Of Stretch Armstrong

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! I am sure you readers are as excited as I am for Christmas, which is just around the corner as is my Christmas Eve special! For this update, I decided that I was going to take a look at a toy that started in 1976 and is still going strong today, Stretch Armstrong! I am sure if you’re an older reader or a younger reader to this blog, you either had a Stretch Armstrong figure, know someone who did, or at least know who he is. It’s crazy to think that Stretch Armstrong, as of the posting of this update, is 43 years old and has faded in and out of toy stores over those decades and has now finally made it to an update here on Rotten Ink as one of my countdown to Christmas Eve updates. So sit back and pour yourself some eggnog, and let’s talk about the one and only blonde muscle-bound stretchable hero known as Stretch Armstrong and enjoy this flashback down action figure lane.

Jesse D. Horowitz developed the concept of Stretch Armstrong (originally called Stretch Man) for Kenner, and he had two different directions they were going to look at with one being a muscle blonde man and the other a large sumo wrestler. They went with the muscle bound blonde to keep costs down as the sumo was just too bulky. They brought in Bill Armasmith to develop the figure once Kenner loved the idea. When the figure went into production, they used a liquid sugar gel to give the figure his stretching ability and it became a hit with youngsters. And this also sparked other figures in the Stretch Armstrong series that included bad guys that he could fight with. The original run for this toy series lasted from 1976-1980, and those are now major collectors’ items as many of the originals now are long gone to the toy chest in the sky thanks to them degrading. In the 1990’s, Cap Toys got the IP of Stretch Armstrong and tried a come back to the world of toys to once more capture the attention of the kids and become a must-have toy. They added a new villain as well as a dog sidekick called Fetch Armstrong, and this once more has a short lived run in toy stores before once more fading away. And from then on, off and on many more Stretch Armstrong remake figures have been released to stores, but have never captured attention like the original did in the late 70’s and has never made it back to the must-own figures on Christmas lists. Who knows what the future will hold for Stretch Armstrong and his conquest to once more dominate the toy aisles, but one thing is for sure, those youngsters from the past who owned one sure did enjoy playing with it and he will forever live on in their minds.

As I stated above, Stretch Armstrong had his own set of villains with the most popular being Monster Man who was a green skinned reptilian like humanoid who was released in 1978 and is our heroes most popular baddy. Monster Man is also worth lots of money as many of the original figures have not made it undamaged to this modern time. In 1977, the see-through alien Stretch X-Ray was released and was a strange looking guy who grossed out youngsters with his appearance of being able to see his guts and organs. He as well is very rare and the original sales for lots of money. Vac-Man was released in 1994 and was the newest of the Stretch bad guys and was also unique as he came with a pump that allows you to suck the air out of the toy and that made him stretchy. Vac-Man is a red skinned alien who was one mean creature. Growing up I remember the same kid who had Stretch Armstrong also had Vac-Man and all of us kids took turns playing with this figure! One thing is for sure, Stretch Armstrong had one kick butt rogues gallery that I would have loved to have seen in the pages of a comic book series when I was a kid and should have been made by Star Comics in the late 80’s or even early 90’s! Check out the pictures below to see his foes in all their evil glory!

Really quickly, we should talk about the clones of Stretch Armstrong as this figure series had its fair share of imitators that tried to cash in on its popularity with youngsters. Some of the most popular were Mego’s “Elastic Heroes” that started in 1979 and featured DC Comic heroes Batman, Superman and Plastic Man and from Marvel they had Hulk and Spider-Man. They would later add cartoon characters Casper, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Growing up, I always wanted the Hulk one but never could find one used at one of the antique stores in Waynesville or at a garage sale. In the 1980’s LJN decided to get into the game and made “WWF Stretch Wrestlers” that were stretchable pro wrestlers and in the line was Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, Randy Savage, George Steele, Junkyard Dog, Ricky Steamboat and King Kong Bundy. I knew one kid who had one of these and I can remember of the playground a lot of us kids stretching the heck out of Randy Savage! Also released in more modern times is a stretch Scooby-Doo figure that is sure to please fans of this classic cartoon character and collectors of stretchable action figures. And these toy series are just a drop in the hat of figures that were inspired by Stretch Armstrong showing that he was a major player in the world of toys and was pretty innovative in its stretchable feature. Check out the pictures below for a look at some of these inspired toys.

Like I said, as a kid I never did own a Stretch Armstrong and only played with them when my friends brought one to school or over at my cousin’s house when they had one for a short time…until they decided to cut him open and see what he was made of. Well I am proud to say that in 2018 I finally got myself a Stretch Armstrong, and best of all he is called the World’s Smallest! And while he is super small and does not stretch as far as the normal larger sized one I would say this that he is single handedly the worst Stretch Armstrong figure ever made! He is made just of rubber and has a hard plastic skeleton and a vey cheap paint job…no joke when opened I was 100% disappointed in this figure and after only stretching him for a few moments I placed him on a shelf and that’s were he has sat for over a year now. So this is just a warning if you want a Stretch Armstrong don’t go cheap and just order a normal sized one like I wish I did.

Hasbro, who now owns the rights of Stretch Armstrong, decided that they wanted to develop the toy property into movies, comics and TV shows and for years talk went around Hollywood about a big budget movie when Disney bought the rights and wanted to make a family comedy film that had many different scripts written and even stars casted including Tim Allen and Danny DeVito at one point being cast in the title role. But Disney failed to make the movie and then the rights went to Universal and it has well turned out many scripts. They wanted actor Taylor Lautner to play Stretch, but Universal as well dropped the ball and never made the film Relativity Media picked up the rights and before anything really went too far the film was scrapped once again. And the last rumor going around I have heard is that Paramount is now the ones who have the rights to make a movie and have as well just sat on the property with no movie set for production. But in 2017 Hasbro and Netflix decided to team up and make a kids cartoon based on Stretch Armstrong and called it “Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters” that would change the age and nature of Stretch and would has him be a young man and his friends who mutate into stretchable heroes! The series is still going now and is the first of Stretch Armstrong media projects to ever see the light of day.

So while Stretch Armstrong never did get his big screen flick, as you have just read, he did get his streaming show in the forum of a cartoon and because of this cartoon we also got a comic series that made this update possible! And while I wish this comic mini series was based on the original figure or even the 90’s one and not a kids show with a younger Stretch, but beggars can’t be choosy and this is was IDW has given us. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock and need to also remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if you’re ready I am ready to have an adventure with Stretch Armstrong and see if he can bring some fun to this holiday season.

Stretch Armstrong And The Flex Fighters # 1  **
Released in 2018       Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 1 of 3

Jake Armstrong along with his friends Nathan and Ricardo become superheroes Stretch, Wingspan and Omni-Mass respective and go by the team name The Flex Fighters. They are now in the city fighting a massive praying mantis that has emerged from the ground attacking workers for a drilling company. The Rook Company lead by Mr. Rook who is responsible for training The Flex Fighters has ground troops also on the ground being lead by Malcolm Kane who can use force if the super team fails to get the mantis under control. The Mantis is strong and is given the powered teens a run for their money, but they are finally able to use extreme sound to knock out and capture it in order for Mr. Rook to study it…but their giant insect is taken away when The Extreme Hazard Unit a government agency takes it away with plans to burn it to death. But while this is going on Omni-Mass has Stretch and Wingspan follow him into the whole the mantis came from and find that its filled with babies and she was only attacking to protect them, and the team now make a pact to save the mantis mom from death.

This very kid friendly comic captures the silly nature of the NetFlix cartoon series and delivers a pretty good middle of the road read with this first issue. The plot has Stretch Armstrong and the rest of the Flex Fighters taken on a massive insect all the while getting orders to capture it alive and protect all civilians while being heroes, and for Stretch to be dealing with the pressure of time schedules his father gives him. Stretch Armstrong is a teen who has lost his mother and has an over baring dad who pushes his son way to hard, and unknown to his father Stretch is also a super hero who has the same powers as Plastic Man and Mr. Fantastic. Stretch seems like a good kid with lots of stress and just wants to do the right thing as well as not disappoint his father. Mr. Rook and Malcolm Kane are the heads of a private group that do good deeds and try and use what they uncover to help mankind, good guys with good values. The Extreme Hazard Unit I am not sure about as they appear when the danger is neutralized and take the creature away with the promise of killing it….I think they have other plans. Wingspan is a teen with flying powers and Omni-Mass is a teen with the power to make his limbs grow massive and kind of has a rude attitude. The Mantis is just a giant mantis who fights to protect her babies and really is not bad at all. Over all not much to say about this first issue as I feel it does a great job of capturing also the atmosphere and style of classic superhero books of the 60’s and we get a little backstory on most of our heroes. The cover is pretty great and eye catching for fans of the cartoon series and the interior art by Nikos Koutsis is really good and has a very modern style of what I would think if Star Comics was still around would look like. To sum it up a pretty good first issue and does make we wonder what is going to happen next in issue two.

Stretch Armstrong And The Flex Fighters # 2  **
Released in 2018       Cover Price $3.99    IDW     # 2 of 3

The Flex Fighters are in the tunnel with all the baby mantises and make a call to their boss Malcolm Kane who shoots down their idea and plan to save the giant mantis as he reminds them that their authority runs only through the city. This does not stop them as Stretch and Omni-Mass head to the Extreme Hazard Unit base and Wingspan stays behind the babysit the little ones. Stretch and Omni steal some haze mat suits and enter the lab and set free the giant mantis and as they are about the escape they are stopped by Agent Rathjani who is the one in charge at the Extreme Hazard Unit and uses her tech to capture Stretch, Omni and the Mantis…but to the rescue comes Wingspan and the baby mantises who free their mom and friends and they all try to get away with the Extreme Hazard Unit on their tails.

The second issue the pressure and heat is turned up on the Flex Fighters who want to save a momma creature from being killed and taken away from her babies as well as must disobey their own bosses to do so! In this issue we get more of the backstory of Nathan aka Wingspan as he is from a large family and often feels as if he is over looked and never listened to. And while he is creeped out by the baby Mantises they seem to really like him and is able to lead them to help in their mom’s rescue. Stretch in very confidante that he and his friends are doing the right thing in saving the giant creature and even does a good job of trying his best to lead his friends on this rescue mission. Omni-Mass does what he does best and that’s be ready for a fight and have an attitude doing it! The Giant Mantis and her Babies seem to understand when they are being talked to and offer support and help when they can on this breakout. The Extreme Hazard Unit are jerks as is their boss Agent Rathjani as they really don’t care about leaving babies orphaned and claim they have to kill the mantis for mankind’s safety. As a reader and the cliffhanger ending of the Flex Fighters as well as the giant Mantis and her babies being stuck in the lab of The Extreme Hazard Unit with armed troopers all around! The issue still captures a real kids comic feel and delivers a simple yet entertaining adventure that helps bring more life to our hero characters. The cover is pretty great and eye catching and Nikos Koutsis interior art is great and is truly a through back to classic kids comics of the late 80’s and the 90’s. So with that let’s see what issue three the final issue has in store for us and let’s see how they wrap up this tale.

Stretch Armstrong And The Flex Fighters # 3  **
Released in 2018       Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 3 of 3

The Flex Fighters and the giant creatures are making a run for it and Omni-Mass is holding off all the armed guards by smashing the ground around them. Once outside they are faced with tanks and it’s up to mama mantis and her babies to take them down, but while this is going on Agent Rathjani captures Stretch and informs him that he and his team are trespassing on their land and that they are going to be in very big trouble! That is until Mr. Rook shows up and informs everyone that he has bought the land and it now falls under Charter City rule and that the The Extreme Hazard Unit has 30 days to move their base and now the Mantis and her babies fall under their care! Mr. Rook and the Flex Fighters end up taking the creatures to an island Rook owns and allows them to live their life there. But as they good guys are about to leave they are being watched by Monster Man who has plans to experiment on the mantises once they leave and so ends this mini series with a cliffhanger for another that is clearly not ever coming.

Stretch Armstrong And The Flex Fighters is a mini series that has a story that could easily been wrapped up in two issues but they needed three in order to make a graphic novel to make a little extra money on licensing the IP. The story of the Flex Fighters fighting and then saving a massive mantis all the while thinking back on their personal life moments that fit for this mission at hand really does have a Saturday Morning Cartoon vibe mixed with a Star Comic issues from the 80’s. In this issues we get to learn more about the life of Omni-Mass and find out that his parents move from town to town and its been hard on him to make friends and even trust people as they are never in his life long enough, we also see he fears letting people down. Stretch and Wingspan take a back seat in this issue and just react to the battle going on around them, but they are fighting the best they can in order to save a life. Mr. Rook is the real hero who out smarts the Extreme Hazard Unit by just buying the land from under them and making their jurisdiction smaller and further out! Super smart move and a way to show up Agent Rathjani who is a pretty mean spirited government worker who loves that she has power and has no remorse for her bad actions and behavior. Another cool aspect of this series is that the giant mantis understands English and does her part in the escape and tries to not only protect her babies but as well as her new human friends. Sadly we get very little of Monster Man as he is on the island and has experiments he wants to do, but never once does he fight a Flex Fighter making the cover very misleading, but to be fair comic companies have been doing this for decades. The art for the series done by Nikos Koutsis is great in this issue as well and I would like to see him at sometime take on doing a comic based on the old Nickelodeon show Doug. Over all this kids comic is nothing special but is very well done and I am sure young readers who watch this show would also really enjoy this silly adventure. While I wish this had been a comic based on the classic Stretch Armstrong this is the series we were given and after reading it I am ok with it as I originally thought this was going to be terrible and poorly written and it really did turn out to be not that bad. Below is a look at art from this series so you can see the style of Koutsis.

So while I am sure that Stretch Armstrong will get his chance again in the world of comic books, I do think it will be many years away and will not be based on the Flex Fighters. And will a live action film based on Stretch ever be made…I am going to guess no and if he does ever show up it will be in a crossover film done by Hasbro in something like G.I. Joe or Transformers. But with this update done the next one will be my Christmas Eve update and originally I was going to cover “He-Man & She-Ra: Secret Of The Sword” in honor of the live action film that was slated to be released by Warner Brothers this holiday season, but they dropped the ball and did not get the film into production in time so I decided to take a look at something super silly and fun and that’s video game icon Earthworm Jim! So until next time drink a glass of eggnog or two, spend time with your family and as always support local business this holiday season. See you in space with a mechanical suited worm very soon!

 

The Holiday Challenge Of The Go-Bots!

As I have said many times here at Rotten Ink in the early and mid 80’s robots ruled the world for kids as so many cartoons, toys, comics, video games, model kits and movies showcased them and the young and young at heart could not get enough. For many the King of 80’s cartoon/toy robots are the Transformers followed by Voltron…but for me the top are the Go-Bots! Yeah I know many of you are laughing out loud and saying how in the world could you put the Go-Bots over Transformers, Voltron, Robo Force and the answer is very simple as I liked the fact they were in scale with my G.I. Joe’s and Star Wars figures plus I liked many of the characters like Leader-1, Scooter and Cy-Kill! For me this update is lots of fun to cover and write about as The Go-Bots deserve way more respect than they get from toy collectors and it’s about time they get a proper comic book series! I also want to remind you all that Go-Bots was my # 5 out of 10 for my Should Have Been A Star Comic way back in 2013 and it took till 2018 for IDW to make this happen! So if you’re ready to take a trip down memory lane and chat about the Go-Bots lets get to it!

Go-Bots hit toy shelves in 1983 thanks to Tonka Toys who was able to get molds from a Japanese toy company Popy who had a series called Machine Robo that was going strong there. Tonka wanted to cash in on the Robot-Mania that was going strong in America and taken an unknown toy series and rebranding it for the US market seemed like a quick and easy way to cash in and deliver a cool toy line for kids who would buy them up. And this worked as Go-Bots became a pretty popular toy brand and had a good following with youngsters who enjoyed these simple changing robots who were in scale with their Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures. These guys also ended up getting their own cartoon series in order to help push the toys and give the figures more character. The figures like all good 80’s toys had good guys called Guardians that were lead by Leader-1 who could turn into a jet and the Renegades lead by the motorcycle transformer bot called Cy-Kill and they were bitter enemies who lead their respected sides into battle and every day life. But Go-Bots time at being the most loved changing robot figures was cut short when America was blessed with Transformers both as toys and a cartoon in 1984 and they dominated pretty much ever sense when it came to robot action figures. The figures even though loosing the grip of being must have transforming robot toys for kids survived until 1987 when the final GoBots were released. Tonka sold the Go-Bots to Hasbro in 1991 and that is were the brand is still to this day, even having modern figures that were made for very youngsters. While they might not be as respected nor collected like Transformers the Go-Bots are still a very cool toy and cartoon brand that was spawned in the 80’s! I for one remember using the figures in my toy wars and Leader-1 was always in the planning room with Luke Skywalker, Buck Rogers, Captain Kirk and First Sergeant Duke!

Hanna-Barbera in 1983 to go along side the toys made a cartoon mini series to help push the figures and give the characters a backstory as well as personalities. The main series “Challenge Of The Go-Bots” started in 1984 and lasted 65 episodes with 2 seasons and ended in 1985! The episodes followed the war between the good guys lead by Leader-1 as they try and stop the evil ways of Cy-Kill and his band of evil bots! Each episode ran for 22 minutes and was made by Hanna-Barbera Productions and was a semi popular cartoon for the time. I mostly remember it airing in reruns on USA Cartoon Express on the USA Network, and with this sparked my love for the figures even more! It’s crazy as just like the figures the cartoon is often over looked and forgotten about as it’s our shadowed by Transformers even in the toon world, and while the cartoon is great and I have lots of great memories of watching it…I must admit that the Transformers toon is a better show over all. The cartoon has been released on VHS as well as on DVD and are worth watching if you grew up with the Go-Bots as its are true blast from the past viewing.

A short time after the Challenge Of The Go-Bots ended Hanna-Barbera Productions and Clubhouse Pictures teamed up and made “Go-Bots: Battle Of The Rock Lords” an animated movie that hit theaters in March 21, 1986! The film is about robotic transforming rock people from space who need help from Leader-1 and the Guardians to return to their planet and overthrow the evil Rock Lord Magmar who is killing his own kind to get their power sceptres! And of course Cy-Kill joins the fight and helps Magmar and his evildoers. The film did very poorly at the Box Office here in the US only taken in $1,338,264.00 and worse critics and fans alike also trashed the film as they thought it was a poorly made family flick….not to mention “Transformers: The Movie” was also released that year and once more it out shadowed Go-Bots in another medium…is it just me or do you feel like Transformers was the bully of robot properties in the 80s? GoBots: Battle Of The Rock Lords was released on VHS and has yet to get a proper DVD or Blu-Ray release here in America. While it might be the weakest of the 80’s toy line movies released it still is a flick that entertained fans of the Go-Bots. I can remember renting this movie on VHS and liking it, but it sadly was a shell of a film compared to “He-Man & She-Ra: Secret Of The Sword”, “G.I. Joe: The Movie” and “Transformers: The Movie” all that are amazing watches and captured the mood and feel of the toys and cartoon series that spawned them.

Growing up I had lots of Go-Bots that I would get from stores, garage sales and even trades with fellow kids and they seen lots of play as I really did like them, while I know they are very basic in their transforming features but they held a special place in my toy collection. I had many favorites as Cy-Kill and Turbo were at the top but for me the best figure was Leader-1 as he just was such a cool figure as both robot and jet and he was always a major part in my Toy Wars and always looked after the droids during battle. As I got older many of my toys were donated to my cousins and in that batch was my Leader-1 figure and while I am glad he made them happy and they were able to have adventures with him, he was one figure I missed. But lucky for me while at Mavericks Cards And Comics one day they had a near mint one for very cheap so I was able to get one back and now he sits on a shelf at my job looking over the store. I can remember many of my friends growing up who had Go-Bots always mentioned Leader-1 as one of their favorite figures from the line. So if you grew up with the Go-Bots or still love them to this day leave me a comment and let me know what character was your favorite.

Also besides the toys and cartoon the Go-Bots also spawned lots of cool merchandise over the years for the fans to get their hands on and for them to bring in extra money for the brand. They have and had Halloween costumes, magazines, posters, home media, lunch boxes, shirts, computer game, comic books, books, soundtrack, coloring books, card game, board game and so much more! Over the years I have had many of these items like the cartoon on VHS, a T-Shirt of Leader-1, some of the books, coloring books & magazines and of course I have the comics from IDW as they are the main attraction of this update! So if you are a fan of Go-Bots there is some great stuff out there for you to collect.

I have worked for both a Comic Book store as well as several Media stores and a topic that has came up at many is the Go-Bots or Transformers talk and I have always found it very interesting as in all the talks I have been apart of most have a very weird hatred for GoBots as the fans of the Transformers are very rabid when it comes to the honor of their favorite changing robots, and to be honest besides myself I can only think of one other coworker who would take up for them during these topics. One phrase that is said so much during talks is that Go-Bots were the K-Mart versions of the Transformers, and to me this is a silly statement as while they might not have been as detailed nor as popular they were released before and did bring transforming robots into the minds and hands of the kids to pave the way for the Transformers. Plus most modern mass market Transformers in my opinion are really junky and are bargain basement level toys. So I also need to stress I love Transformers and grew up watching the cartoons, playing with the toys as well as reading the Marvel Comics and they were a major part of my youth, I just want to take up for Go-Bots as they seem to always get the short end of the stick when it comes to respect for them when it came to 80s toys and cartoons. Plus the art below is pretty great and well played to whom ever the artist is!

So as you can see I am a fan of Go-Bots and I know many of you readers are or were a fan at one point and had at least one in your collection. So now lets get to the comic reviews and I want to thank IDW for making them and Mavericks Cards And Comic for stocking them. And for me this is really a great way to start the countdown to Christmas Eve as Go-Bots really does make me flashback to my youth. I want to remind all you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if you are ready like I am, as I have wanted a comic series based on the world of Go-Bots sense I was a youngster and now its time to finally read one.

GO-BOTS # 1  ***
Released in 2018     Cover Price $3.99     IDW     # 1 of 5

The Go-Bots are leaving among humans now and Leader-1 and human Mark are one secret missions to save prisoners of war. Scooter along with his human friend A.J are hanging around and while she is at classes he is getting paid to drive people around to get extra money for A.J. And the world’s top sport now is racing Go-Bots and Turbo and his human rider Matt Hunter are champions of that sport. And after winning the big race Matt and Turbo are approached by. T. Coriander Banks who takes them to an underground fight arena and the witness Cy-Kill kill other Go-Bots and robots. And Matt and Turbo soon find that Banks has tricked them and wants them to fight with Cy-Kill and they decline and barely escape alive. They return to the site of the arena and everyone is gone besides dead bodies of Go-Bots and Humans! Meanwhile Mark and Leader-1 get a new mission to stop a rouge band of Go-Bots and once found Leader-1 is tricked and all his programing and codes stolen by Cy-Kill who is running the pack of evil Go-Bots as he wants to kill all the humans and rule the world! A.J meanwhile goes to have a quick meal with her teacher Professor Braxis who informs her that he as well has his own Go-Bot and shoves her into his basement were she see’s Vamp who approaches to attack when Scooter busts in and saves her and roughs up the Professor who claims he was just joking. Once outside the world is going crazy as the Go-Bots have turned on humans due to the stolen codes and A.J asks Scooter if he is going to turn on her as he stands with his fist clinched.

This first issue shows that Go-Bots are not just kid’s toys anymore as this issue is filled with murder and death plus does a great job of building this comic universe. The plot of the comic has the Go-Bots being programed to obey humans and work alongside them and for our entertainment and when Cy-Kill the evil robot decides he wants to take over the world he and his followers start a Go-Bot revelation and turn on the humans they once served. And all of this is set in motion when Leader-1 is tricked and defeated and all his secrets and codes stolen. Leader-1 and his human friend Mark are heroes who help our government in secret missions and really is a hero who don’t care to take a human life in order to save those who are in need…that is as long as Mark allows it. Scooter and Turbo as well are good bots that as well have befriended humans and seem to do their best to protect both Matt and A.J who are their pals. This far hands down my favorite good Go-Bot is Leader-1 as I find him to be smart, brutal and yet noble. Cy-Kill is as evil as ever as he does not mind killing his fellow Go-Bots as well as humans and robots and wants nothing better than to kills anyone who opposes him on his quest to take over the world. Very evil Cy-Kill is and the perfect bad guy for this series and really is a baddie that you can fear and I look forward to see just how bad he will get as more issues are released. To be honest I have read lots of IDW comics based on toys/cartoons over the years and I must say that Go-Bots # 1 is the best I have read and really makes me hyped for this series as a whole. The cover I have is very eye catching and showcases Leader-1 who is the true icon of the Go-Bots. The interior art is done by Tom Scioli who also wrote the script and at first I was a little “blah” on the artwork when seen in previews but once reading the full book I must say I really liked it and I feel he captured the look of the characters as well as has a dash of the old school yet has a modern and updated feel. So lets see what issue two has in store for us.

GO-BOTS # 2  ***
Released in 2018     Cover Price $3.99       IDW       # 2 of 5

Cy-Kill listens as Screw Head who tells of how he and a human were working in a dangerous mind that ended up taking the like of the human and leaving the robot hurt showing mankind does not care about the Go-Bots! This sets Cy-Kill off who demands some of his followers to dump Leader-1 in a junkyard as he and his crew cause chaos and damage that will hurt mankind. Meanwhile we find out that Scooter fights the urge to attack and tries to get A.J. to safety and they end up running into Turbo and his driver Matt Hunter and they quickly know that they will have to all stick together as they are found by police Go-Bots who want to break up these do gooders. Meanwhile Leader-1 barely escapes being crushed and kills his captives and is now our for revenge. Scooter and Turbo ditch the police bots and make their way to Tonka as they hope to find a patch that can fix all this and meet a programer and his forklift Go-Bot Spoons and are informed that this has nothing to do with the chip and is all about the fact the Go-Bots are having a revolution! Once outside A.J., Matt, Scooter and Turbo figure out that they must fight to live and find T. Coriander Banks who is dying and admits he is the cause of this all and as he dies the evil GoBots attack Turbo and Scooter who fight for their lives as well as of their human friends. As things look bad for our heroes they are saved from death when Leader-1 and a band of good bots show up to take on Cy-Kill and his renegades as the humans also make their play with the army! As Leader-1 and Cy-Kill have a bloody fight that leaves them both injured its Leader-1 that comes out the winner and he is surrounded by both sides who want them to lead them…one sides wants to get things back the way it was with humans in charge while the other side want to take over…what is Leader-1 to do.

This second issue is fantastic and brings GoBots to a whole new level as the Renegades as cold blooded and enjoy not only killing humans but also fellow robots who are loyal to mankind. The plot of this issue has Cy-Kill leading his Renegades to war with the humans as Turbo and Scooter along with their humans try to survive and almost are killed until the once injured Leader-1 shows up and wins a massive battle that now leaves him with a decision to make on to help mankind or be loyal to his own GoBots who are sick of being used and taken advantage of by man. I love that this issue leaves us on a cliffhanger that leaves the hero Leader-1 with a decision that will change the lives of many and will give him not only power, but will also make him a hated figure as he will not be able to please both sides. Leader-1 in this one is a hero who steps up and becomes the warrior we all know that he is, plus I love that even with his face cut halfway off and bleeding like a stuck pig he never gave up and was able to defeat a well more rested Cy-Kill. Speaking of Cy-Kill he is 100% cold blooded and gets joy out of killing and loves that his followers do so blindly and do whatever he says. Turbo shows that he as well is a fighter and even with the odds against him is willing to fight to save his human friend as well as do what he thinks is right, meanwhile Scooter is kind of a chicken who is by no means a fighter and quickly begs for his life when things go bad. I also love that Tonka is the company who make the GoBots and they through up their hands when things go bad and say well people should have treated them better! And somehow I feel this is a hidden message for toy collectors who always seem to trash GoBots and treat them like they are generic dollar store toys. The cover for this issue is great and showcases Cy-Kill and the interior art is great and done by Tom Scioli, again his style has grown on me. So lets move onto issue three and see what Leader-1 decides and if Cy-Kill will once more rise to cause an issue for humans and robots alike.

GO-BOTS # 3  **1/2
Released in 2019      Cover Price $3.99       IDW       # 3 of 5

On GoBotron the planet of the Go-Bots and under the rule of Leader-1 is being visited by a group of astronauts from Earth who is with space shuttle bot Spay-C and are attacked by Zod a massive dinosaur robot who is the terror of the planet! And before the attack Leader-1 and his followers chase Zod off and take Spay-C prisoner and it’s clear that Leader-1 is running his world with an iron fist as he sets Spay-C to be reprogramed the next day, and the astronauts are lucky enough to escape, and they risk their lives to save him. Leader-1 has a vision and returns to ask Spay-C to help him and his followers and as they start their journey they are attacked by Cy-Kill who once more has followers and has also got Zod as an ally and this causes Leader-1 and his crew to flee to space but the renegades give chase, but are tricked and left behind. Leader-1 and his group hyperspace to the other side of the planet and Leader-1 explains that the item they seek is here, as the enter the inner layer of the planet its clear its not like the above world as this one is covered in rocks and sand and Spay-C runs off only to fall and become injured, he is later found by Turbo and Scooter who share with the astronauts that Leader-1 is not the kind Go-bot he claims to be, and as Spay-C tries to attack Turbo the astronauts run off and find Rocklords as well as that the planet they are on is Earth!

This issue takes place way after the events of issue 1 & 2 and has Leader-1 ruling over the world and is paranoid about his enemies trying to over throw his rule, but while once noble he is now more unfair and has no issues killing those who do not follow as well will brainwash to get allies. And when he meets a Go-Bot from space he thinks that he has the answer of how to bring peace to the worlds, but of course Cy-Kill and the Renegades want to rise to power and will do whatever they can to stop this quest. In this issue Leader-1 really is not a nice robot as he comes off as a crazed paranoid leader who will do whatever it takes to keep his power…and this makes him very dangerous. Cy-Kill is as power crazy as ever and seems like he will not stop until he takes over. Zod who is a massive dinosaur robot that is such a killer that all the Go-Bots fear him, plus once he joins forces with Cy-Kill all bets are off! Spay-C is an interesting character who goes from protecting his human friends to drinking the Kool-Aid that Leader-1 is forcing on him. The true hero of this series is Turbo who really is the one who watches after humas as well as his fellow Go-Bots like Scooter, he really is the most heroic bot of this series this far. I like also how in this issue the Go-Bots under the rule of Leader-1 build their own world GoBotron over Earth causing the world as we know it to be forever changed. The series has taken a real downbeat turn as it’s clear that there are very few heroes left and the world is filled with lots of greys that seem to be only looking out for themselves. The cover for the issue I have is pretty cool and showcases Spay-C and the interior art is great and done by Tom Scioli again. I do also want to say that while I enjoyed this issue it’s story does seem a little disjointed and that hurts it slightly when it comes to the star rating. But while flawed still highly entertaining and I cannot wait to see what issue four has in store for me.

GO-BOTS # 4  ***
Released in 2019     Cover Price $3.99       IDW       # 4 of 5

The astronauts are shocked and sadden by the fact Earth is now a shell that is the underbelly of a world created by the Go-Bots. Turbo meets up with the humans and forces Spay-C to explain what happened to the world and he lets them know that he has been looking out for them as from space he witnessed the destruction and was waiting to wake them from sleep chambers when things got better…but they never did. As Turbo shows the astronauts the remaining humans who have devolved Cy-Kill and the renegades appear and snatch up some humans causing Turbo and Spay-C to spring into action and save some of them. But the Renegades drop Zod who is ready to kill all in his way, and during the drop the ground shakes and Leader-1 has a vision of the Go-Bot God named Courageous and sets his way to find the Lazer Lance a staff he thinks can kill Zod and stop this fighting once and for all. After the explosion Spay-C is down for the count and Leader-1 runs into Turbo and Scooter and tries to call for a truce and asks them to help him find the Lance so they can all defeat their enemies, and Scooter knows the location! So they all climb to a skull cave and even have a run in with some of the Rock Lords, but once in the cave the run into Professor Braxis who is old and crazy and has created an army of Vamps who attack Leader-1, Turbo, Scooter and the rest of the Go-Bots but lucky for everyone during this fight the Lazer Lance is found and the Vamps flee as Leader-1 goes outside with lance in hand just as Zod and Cy-Kill and the rest of the Renegades appear! Just as Leader-1 is about to use the Lazer Lance it’s taken from him by Cy-Kill who breaks it and all looks bad for our heroes until the Rock Lords help them and cause all the Renegades to fall into a pit! Leader-1, Turbo, Scooter and the repaired Spay-C with the astronauts all join forces and use the damaged Lazer Lance to take down Zod once and for all as he explodes and causes a massive earthquake! As they regroup they notice the Go-Bots Command Center approaching and it open fire and many blasts hit Leader-1 and it even beams up Scooter and other Go-Bots…and we learn that Cy-Kill and the Renegades are the ones controlling the massive ship, and Turbo and Spay-C decide to go on a suicide mission to try and get Scooter back as the Go-Bots mourn what looks like the death of Leader-1.

This fourth issue is a great read and one heck of a great chapter in this mini series! This issues plot has Leader-1 still on his vision quest to get a lance that is his only hope to finally stop Zod, but along the way he must face Cy-Kill and his band of evil doers as well as make peace with Turbo, Scooter and the Rock Lords! Leader-1 in this issue comes off a creepy, crazed cult leader who has a vision and makes his followers follow him on a quest blindly. While in this issue Leader-1 starts off a little power crazed, by the end I think he is starting to realize that he has become a monster himself and tries to rebuild a friendship with the likes of Turbo and Scooter. And while Leader-1 was gunned down at the end of this issue and it looks like he is dead…I am going to say he is not and will be back for the 5th and final issue in the mini series. Turbo once more is the real hero as he looks out for his now dimwitted friend Scooter, is man enough to put his fight with the Go-Bots aside in order to bring down Zod. Cy-Kill is a psychopath who guns down and kills many Go-Bots, tortures humans for his own amusement and is just as power hungry as Leader-1 as he wants to rule the world. Spay-C in the issue comes around and fights on the side of good, glad to see him have a bound with Scooter and Turbo. Oh I also really like that Cop-Tur tries to step up and challenge Leader-1 to become the leader and gets his block knocked off…great stuff! One element I also found very interesting in this issue is the addition of Courageous who is a God like figure for the bots, I also like that the Rock Lords are around and have been created by the “Gods” and they are the more pure versions of the Go-Bots. While the story again jumps oddly in spots it is a great read that is packed with action, drama and even some cool cliffhangers. The cover I have is a little weak and does not do this issue justice. And like before Tom Scioli did the interior art and does a fantastic job. So with that lest see what the final issue in this mini series has in store for us, and most important lets see what the fate of Leader-1 is!

GO-BOTS # 5  ***
Released in 2019     Cover Price $3.99       IDW       # 5 of 5

Spay-C drops Turbo off on the command center that has been taken over by Cy-Kill and his Renegades in order to get his friend Scooter back and bashes and smashes all that get in his way. He finally makes it to the control room and confronts Cy-Kill and gives him a choice fight him and die or let Scooter go and let them leave…Cy-Kill decides to fight and his gunned down. Turbo finds Scooter and the pair try and leave but are found by Crasher who ends up becoming allies with them and both want to end this war that was started by Leader-1 and Cy-Kill! The newly allied Go-Bots return to Earth and Spay-C and some of the Humans are going to try time travel while the others stay and find that the Earth has been under attacked by an army of Vamps being controlled by Professor Braxis and they meet a younger generation of Go-Bots who are now fighting this war, showing that the fighting will never end. The new Go-Bots decide to head to space and make their own world and even take the bodies of Cy-Kill and Leader-1 and rebuild them as one new Go-Bot. While the humans on Earth along with Go-Bots start their own quest to rebuild the planet and in the end Spay-C and some of the some of the astronauts return to the past to warn the world about the uprising of the Go-Bots…but like always those in power do not listen so it as it appears our future is doomed.

This mini series is fantastic and has a surprise connection that I will discuss a little later in this issue review, as it’s a big spoiler. The plot of this issue has Leader-1 dead and Turbo on a quest to save his friend Scooter from the command center that is being controlled by the coldblooded killer Cy-Kill. Once Turbo finds his enemy he kills him and saves his friend only to find that GoBotron has been attacked by Vamps and that the younger Go-Bots have grown in size and have no ties to Earth and want to make their own way on a new planet so they leave. And with that the humans that are left as well as many of the old Go-Bots must find away to rebuild the Earth that has been left in terrible shop after the rise of the Go-Bots. Turbo once more shows that he is the true hero of this series as he does not care about this war that rages on over two Go-Bots egos and just wants to save his friend and respect humans and their lives. I like the fact Turbo don’t want to be in charge and really just want the world to get along and for both humans and Go-Bots to live together. I also like that this series had the guts to kill off both Leader-1 and Cy-Kill who are the franchises two biggest characters, and this move reminds me of how they killed Optimus Prime in the Transformers Movie. I also like how the astronauts decide that they will try and make the best of the new Earth and will help and try and educate the remaining humans who have almost became cavemen again. Plus its so true to life that with major warnings of doom for the world we all share, those who have power choose not to listen as they don’t want to change their lifestyles to make a difference. Now I have to talk about the series main spoilers so if you don’t want to know skip the rest of the review…..Ok I need to stress I think that it’s amazing that the younger Go-Bots will grow to be the Transformers and that the artificial planet GoBotron will become Cybertron! That’s right we get a sneak peek of Optimus Prime who is GoBot Road Ranger as well as Bumblebee and the bodies of Leader-1 and Cy-Kill and are turned into Starscream! I love that finally someone gives Go-Bots the respect they deserve, as they are really the first major changing robot toys! The cover for this issue is cool and yet silly and has Leader-1 holding the body of Cy-Kill and I must also say again the art of Tom Scioli at first was not my cup of tea, but this series made me a fan. Check out the art below to see the style of Scioli.

Go-Bots really do make me think about my youth and Christmas time so this comic mini series was the prefect way to get me into the holiday season! I would love for IDW to do more as I feel that many other stories could be shared about Turbo, Scooter and the rest of the Go-Bots. And for the next update and our countdown to Christmas Eve I will be staying in the world of classic toys turned into comic book heroes as we will be looking at Stretch Armstrong! So until next time readers and friends read a comic or three, watch a Christmas Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a stretching good time.

American Hero: Rambo

Happy Independence Day 2019 to all you readers, family and friends. This is a very important holiday for Americans as this the day that we truly celebrate our Independence! On this holiday we all prepare for the fireworks and are gathered with friends and family grilling out burgers, steaks and hotdogs. Here at Rotten Ink I have been working hard to once more bring you an update about an America Hero in the world of comic book, and this year I have chosen to take a look at John J. Rambo, the iconic character of novels as well as a film series that later this year sees a fifth installment! And I feel 100% that Rambo goes alongside other American themed heroes we have covered in the past like Captain America, Fighting American and The Original Shield who all fight for freedom and deliver amazing comic adventures. So while the burgers are grilling and the gathering is going strong, let’s sit back, relax and celebrate the one and only Rambo!

Let’s talk about the book that started it all for Rambo. First Blood was a novel written by David Morrell in 1972 and was about a Vietnam Vet named John Rambo who is being harassed while hitchhiking through a small town in Kentucky and fights back when the police department treat him like scum and cause him to flashback to when he was a POW. He escapes and this causes a manhunt for him that leads to a terrible shoot out where in the end both Rambo and the sheriff meet their maker, as Rambo dies by a shotgun blast to the head at the hands of his one time commander Trautman. The novel is a dark sad twisted ride as one man who served his country is treated like a common scumbag by the hands of those he defended just because of his look and the length of his hair. The book is a great read and is worth checking out if you like war books and or like the films.

The novel was turned into a film in 1982 and starred Sylvester Stallone as Rambo and made some major changes to the story having Rambo and the Sheriff both living and Rambo going to jail in the end. The film still followed the manhunt through the woods and the stand off in the town making this open for a sequel that came in 1985 with “Rambo: First Blood Part II.” This time Rambo is asked to go back to Vietnam and take pictures of POWs but instead rescues them! “Rambo III” was released in 1988 and had him helping Afghanistan fight off Russia as they tried to invade them. This film also had Rambo fighting a tank with a bow and arrow while on horseback! 2008 saw the release of “Rambo,” the final film in the series thus far that had Rambo saving some missionaries in Burma, and proving that he is a man of honor as he also helps take down an evil general who is committing genocide on his own people. The Rambo films are all badass and rank as some of the best action/drama films ever made! I could go on and on about the films and will in a future review. I just wanted to touch up on the films for this write up. If you have not seen these films, do yourself a favor and go watch them. You can find them on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray.

2019 is filled with many great films like “Avengers: Endgame”, “Godzilla: King Of The Monsters” and “Star Wars IX,” but for me my most hyped film of the year is “Rambo V: Last Blood”! I have been a fan of not only actor Sylvester Stallone but also the Rambo films for as long as I can remember and to see what is reported as the final film in the series this year is something very special for me as the character has been a big part of my childhood and even adulthood. In fact many people are shocked when I tell them my favorite actor, writer and director is Sylvester Stallone as many people always think that I would say John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George Romero, Tod Browning or some other icon of Horror Cinema. But do me a favor, if you’re reading this and enjoy the Rambo films or even just action films in general, make sure to go to your local cinema on September 20th and see this film as I am sure its going to be one amazing ride as Rambo takes on a drug cartel!

Now let’s talk about the man John James Rambo, who is the son of R. Rambo and Marie Drago. He was born in Bowie, Arizona and in 1964 at the age of 17 he was drafted to fight in Vietnam straight out of high school, and after his tour at war, he returned to the U.S and joined Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg and was trained by Colonel Trautman. Rambo returns to the Vietnam War as part of the SOG brigade in 1969 and during this time he is traumatized by events he sees with one being the death of his close friend Joseph Danforth. He would later also become a POW. and he was repeatedly tortured and only he and one other member of his team were able to escape the camp. A short time later, Rambo asked to return to the war and even learned new skills like how to fly a helicopter. By 1974 he finally was discharged from the military holding a pretty high rank, mostly likely a Captain. Once back home in America he returns to find that people are very hateful towards the soldiers returning home and he himself is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rambo, now a drifter and homeless, goes to Hope, Washington to visit an old war friend only to find he is dead and that the local law enforcement don’t want him around as they are cruel and try and bully him to leave their small town. Rambo is pushed and he fights back and takes the war to the Sheriff’s office, and it’s only Colonel Trautman that is able to talk him down. After these events Rambo is sent to prison, but Colonel Trautman is able to get him out to do a secret mission for the government to find out if Vietnam still has prisoners of war…Rambo takes this mission and disobeys orders as instead of just taking pictures and reporting back, he saves them and brings them home. In 1988 Rambo is next sent to Afghanistan in order to help the people fight the Russians who have tried to invade their country. In 2008 Rambo is now living in Thailand and makes his living capturing snakes and selling them to locals for fighting as well as giving rides on his boat. Rambo is asked by a bunch of missionaries to take them to Burma that is a warzone in order to help its people with medical and spiritual aid. And after saying no at first, it’s because of a woman named Sarah he agrees to…and once he does his job and the Burmese army captures and kills some of the missionaries, it’s up to Rambo to go in and save them, and of course he does. At the end of this rescue Rambo decides to let it all go and returns home to America. And this is where we are at in the life of Rambo as the events of the fifth film will tell us more about his life and who knows maybe death. Rambo is very layered and deep character, and the film and novel versions have different paths for his life, but one thing is for sure, Rambo is an iconic character of American pop culture.

Rambo has also made it to the world of video games and has had games on systems like Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Arcade Machines and as of late a rail first person shooter for PS3 and X-Box 360. The one that most know about is the NES version that has you playing Rambo who is wearing red spandex pants and mostly uses a knife to fight Vietcong, spiders and other animals. This game was also on the receiving end of a review done by The Angry Video Game Nerd for his popular YouTube show. So for those who like Rambo, there are video games out there for you to play. I thought about doing a NES Challenge for the Rambo game but decided that maybe we will tackle that on a later update.

In 1986 Rudy- Spears Productions was at it again when they decided to turn the R rated Rambo films into a cartoon series called “Rambo: The Force of Freedom” in which Rambo was no longer a loner but instead helped lead a group called The Force of Freedom alongside his friend Colonel Trautman into doing battle with a terrorist group code named S.A.V.A.G.E. lead by the General Warhawk who was a trader in his home country in Europe. The series ran for one season and a total of 65 episodes before being canceled, and the episodes would have Rambo and gang stopping such plots as stopping takeovers of small countries, fighting cults, stopping missiles and everything else in between. While Rambo and Trautman were the main attractions, characters like White Dragon and Touchdown Jones were the support that helped make the cartoon series more fun. While it only lasted one season, it had a lot of episodes and helped fans of Rambo with the wait in between movies. Growing up I remember watching this show from time to time and found that all I wanted in the series was to watch Rambo kick some S.A.V.A.G.E. butt! Not a lot of kids I knew watched the series, and by this time a lot of them were watching more Nickelodeon shows or the more popular shows on ABC, NBC and USA. The series did get some VHS releases as well as later some episodes released on DVD.

So besides the movies and cartoon on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray and other home media and the novels and video games, many other very cool merchandise items have been made based on Rambo! Many action figures have been put out and have been done by companies like Coleco, NECA and Toy Island to name a few…my favorite is the Coleco Rambo figure that was based on the cartoon that I had as a kid. Also made were the films’ score soundtracks that have been released on Vinyl, Cassette and CD! These scores are amazing and the song “Home Coming” by Jerry Goldsmith from the First Blood album is powerful and iconic. There were also T-Shirts, Posters, Comics, Buttons, Chewing Gum, Trading Cards, Stickers, Magazines, Lunch Boxes, Halloween Costumes, Erasers, Toy Guns, Arcade Machines and so much more amazing products! So if you are a fan of Rambo, there are many amazing things in the world for you to collect…and I suggest not only the Coleco toy but also do yourself a favor and get the score soundtracks for the film as they are top notch.

So as you can see, Rambo and America go hand in hand and in fact all through the 80’s he was used as an icon to show the American Spirit and even the likes of President Ronald Reagan used him as an inspiration to hype up his run. And now that the burgers are probably almost done and the fireworks are about to fill the sky, we should get to the review of the Blackthrone Comic simply called Rambo! I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having this issue in stock and want to also remind you all that I grade this comic 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 get your red headband ready as we are going to war alongside the one and only John J. Rambo.

Rambo # 1 *1/2
Released in 1989     Cover Price $2.00     Blackthrone      #1 of 1

Major Valane was a bad apple and was dealing in the black market during his time in Nam and after being investigated by higher ups in the US Military, things turn bad and he is believed to be dead…until he is spotted on a nature documentary. The government sends for Rambo to make sure that he can spot Valane and make sure he is alive as Rambo was one of his solider who witnessed the Major set up his own people and even killed Rambo’s friend Wild Bill and forced a wounded Rambo to be in a prisoner of war camp! So ready for a rematch and revenge against Valane, he heads to Canada and battles the harsh weather until he can track Valane and his band of militant hoods. During his search Rambo is attacked by a mountain lion and is saved by one armed vet Brewster who befriends the war hero and helps him stand his ground when Valane’s men track them down and Rambo comes face to face with the man who helped murder his friends.

Sad to say this is really bad and does not capture the feel, mood or character of John J. Rambo at all and really just feels like a cheesy C-Grade army comic! The plot has Rambo traveling to Canada to find a beloved to be dead army Major who was a trader and a black market dealer that set up his own men leaving many of the dead and Rambo a prisoner. Rambo then fights for his life and finds that his old foe is indeed alive and surrounded by a new group of mercenaries. John Rambo in this comic is a man who loves America and loved his fellow solider who survived beside him in Vietnam, he also is a survivor and is willing to run into danger to get the Intel his country needs. But this does not feel like the Rambo from the films, as he is way to positive talkative, makes lots of mistakes and seems to be really aligned with the army in this comic….so in other words the comic Rambo seems very much off. Brewster is a pretty cool side character who is missing an arm that happened during the war being a hero and lives alone in a cabin in the woods of Canada, and the best part is he is still great with a gun! Major Valane is a scumbag who sold out his own team in order to gain money and now has faked his death and is still doing crime! He is cocky and surrounded by tons of militant soldiers who are willing to kill and be killed for him. He is a great bad guy for this style of army comic and sadly didn’t get to live up to his full potential…and the reason being is that the series was canceled after this issue and we never even get to know how Rambo escaped Major Valane and his goons grip! Yep Blackthrone pulled a Star Comics and canceled this series before it got a proper ending for readers. The cover for this comic is pretty eye catching if you’re a Rambo fan even if the art is only so-so. The interior art is very hit or miss as at times it looks like your standard late 80’s indie comic and other pages almost seem unfinished or rushed, and I am sure artist Aaron Lopresti knows that this is not his best work. Over all this Rambo comic is a big letdown as it does not tell all that great of a story, does not do justice to the character and is over all below average. Check out the art below to see the style used in this comic…and yeah Rambo looks nothing like Sylvester Stallone.

While the comic might have been a letdown, we still have all the movies we can watch to scrub this from our memories. I hope you are having (or had) a good fourth of July as this day is one we should truly take pride in our nation and celebrate our freedoms. For the next update we will be leaving Rambo behind and will be going on vacation to once more visit Monster Bash and talk about Night Of The Living Dead as we spend some time in Evan City Cemetery! So until next time, watch a Rambo film or four, see Rambo V in the theater and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as we spend more time with the undead.

The Bright Colored Fur Balls Known As The Popples!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my place on the World Wide Web that brings my past and present together and allows me to chat about things I enjoy from comic books, movies, video games, music and Horror Hosts. It’s crazy to think that it’s already 2019 and 2018 is in the history books. Before we start our look at Popples, I am going to answer a few questions that I get asked by readers and friends about what are some of the most popular posts on this blog! I will break them down and share the top two posts for some of the most popular update themes, “Horror Host Icon” and “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic,” the ones you readers seem to love the most and the ones I get the most requests to cover. The “Horror Host Icon” updates are hands down one of my most popular themes as they hit home for many of you readers who grew up watching Hosts on TV and even modern viewers who catch their favorite’s on the internet. The top three most read Horror Hosts I have covered as of this posting are: Morgus The Magnificent being the most read Icon update followed very closely by both Commander USA and USA Saturday Nightmares! As for the From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update that has been the most read, that honor goes to Phantasm and is followed by I, Frankenstein and The Willies! So there you have it and with more updates in both of those themes, who knows what updates will be the top in 2020! So with that out of the way, I think it’s time we once more visit that magical world of Star Comics and chat about their mini series based on the popular 80’s plush dolls The Popples. So get your cool 80’s gear on and let’s travel back to when plush dolls were cool and no one had a smart phone glued to their face.

Popples were stuffed dolls that were weird looking animal creatures who could roll up into a ball and were a craze for a short time in he 80’s. So let’s take a look at Popples: the doll, cartoon and comics! American Greetings company Those Characters From Cleveland (TCFC) was the company behind the creation of Popples as their employee Susan Trentel was the designer who invented the roll up action of the dolls as she drew inspiration from rolling up socks! Susan was also the designer who brought to life Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake showing that she was a pioneer of 80’s toys and characters. She along with Thomas Schneider created the first Popples prototype. They went to toy company Mattel, and in 1986, these stuffed dolls were unleashed in toy aisles as well in the world of cartoons thanks to DIC Entertainment and comic books thanks to Star Comics. The dolls would last until 1988 and would have many waves and styles released during this short run including Pocket Popples, a line that was almost like action figures. The cartoon would run for 44 episodes and would go off the air in 1987 with three episodes never airing. The comic series would last for 4 issues and would come to an end in 1987. This sadly is much like many of Star Comics releases based on toys and cartoons. But while the Popples did not make their way into the 90’s and the toy industry moved on, they had two short lived comebacks with the first being in 2007 when Playmates released new Popples figures that only lasted four releases and in 2015 Netflix did a new cartoon series for their streaming service and toy company Spin Master ended up doing a toy line based on this new show. What does the future have in store for the Popples? In 2018 they were sold to Hasbro leaving them open to be made into more toys, cartoons, comics and even video games!

Growing up a kid of the 80’s and 90’s was glorious. As you have heard me say before, we had so many amazing movies, video games, comics and toys and it really was a great time growing up! In these times before the internet was all the rage, many of the big deals that were the talk on the playgrounds was stuff like video games, wrestling, comic books and the newest toys that were on everyone’s must own list…and I can safely say that while I heard them mentioned from time to time and even saw some of the girls have them, the Popples were never a major deal at my school. I remember my neighbor Joanna had some and that’s how I got to first interact with one, and while it was cool that they could turn into a ball, I never did want one as by the time they were released so many other toys, games, comics, horror movies and one special girl were on my radar. Now I need to stress I had nothing against the Popples, they were just clearly more geared toward girls and they were just not something many boys were flocking to. In fact I can remember many toy ads for these plush dolls showing up in comic books I was reading at the time, showing that the toymakers were really trying to make youngsters pay attention to them and help create the demand for them to be on every child’s Christmas and Birthday list. So while Popples were around and a part of my youth, I never really had a major connection to them and by all accounts they just were viewed by my friends and I as girl toys.

So like all good 80’s toys at the time Popples were just not dolls and action figures as these little puffballs have graced all types of other merchandise! The Popples also had the cartoons released on VHS. They had their own vinyl records, books, coloring books, lunch box, board game, shirts, cake pan, bowls, TV tray, stickers, valentine cards and much more. In other words the Popples were everywhere, and they were being pushed to really be a powerhouse in the kids market. While they had a good run, they never did capture the market like Care Bears, Smurfs and Strawberry Shortcake did before them.

Stuffed Dolls in the 80’s and early 90’s were very popular among the youth as besides Popples ones like Pound Puppies, Care Bears, My Pet Monster, Rainbow Brite, My Buddy and Teddy Ruxpin were all on kids must have lists and many of my friends as well as myself had many of these plush. So let’s now dive into the world of Star Comics who made a very short lived comic series based on the cartoon version of the Popples and see how well they were as kid comic stars. I want to think both Lone Star Comics and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock and making this review possible. I must also say that I am very shocked and yet really not that Star Comics decided to do a comic series based on Popples in 1986 as they ignored some vey popular toys from the time like Teddy Ruxpin, Jem And The Holograms, My Pet Monster, Nerfuls and so many others. Plus I still really wished that they would have done a comic series based on one of my childhood heroes and icons Commander USA, who was a Horror Host that would have made an amazing kids comic book hero. But let’s not talk about would could have been and instead, let’s focus on what was, as we take some fun adventures with the Popples. Oh and what would an update be without me reminding you all that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and you are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.

Popples # 1   *1/2
Released in 1986      Cove Price .75       Star Comics      # 1 of 4

Youngsters Billy and Bonnie have gone into New York to go shopping, and after some time passes, the Popples decide to follow them and wind up wandering the city. While walking the streets they come across a dog who has stolen an orange from a stand and follow it back to a limo where they find Alice the young daughter of the ambassador, who has decided to run away from home and hide in her father’s car. Some of the Popples follow the dog into the mansion and find out the young girl’s babysitter is really Madam Spy who is looking for top-secret information! When Alice decides to go back home, the Popples warn her of Madam Spy and they all escape in the limo as a Popple uses magic to drive and Madam Spy puts on jogging shoes and gives chase! Madam Spy wants to get to the Ambassador first so she can take him hostage and find out the big secret, and Alice with the Popples want to get to him to warn of the spying! In the end the Popples and Alice warn her father of the danger and Madam Spy and her helper are arrested with Alice learning the big secret is she is going to be a big sister! In the end the Popples find Bonnie and Billy who hide them in their shopping bags and set out for home.

This Star Comic first issue based on an 80’s toyline is not very good and is so far the weakest I have read from Star to date as I found this kids comic very boring and the characters of the Popples really annoying! The plot of this issue has the Popples going to New York and helping a sad young girl to warn her father of the evil Madam Spy who wants to steal all the secrets he has. The Popples who are the heroes of this comic are riddle talking, bouncing around little fuzzy goofballs who just want to have fun and help capture a spy by accident by stumbling in on the crime. Plus I need to say the Popples also all have weird names like Potato Chip, Party and Puffball to name a few. Madam Spy is the main baddy in the issue and she is by no means dangerous, she just really wants to steal secrets and bring them to the league of spies. Alice, Billy and Bonnie are all just goofy kids who enjoy shopping, oranges and having fun. The thing about this kids comic is that it really is kind of dull and never once did I feel like Alice, her father or the Popples had any danger around them. The cover is pretty eye catching and has that true 80’s kid comic charm, and the interior art is good and done by John Costanza and has that Star Comics style. Over all I don’t have much to say about this issue besides it was a below average read, and it makes me hope the rest of this series is not this bland.

Popples # 2   **
Released in 1987      Cove Price .75       Star Comics      # 2 of 4

Bonnie and Billy come home from school super sad, and the Popples find out that they have both lost their positions on the sports teams and are down in the dumps over it. Some of the Popples stay home to try and cheer up the kids while the others go to the school to see who replaced their friends on the teams. And while there, they meet Tina Terrific a young lady who never jokes and laughs and is good at everything and have replaced Bonnie as head cheerleader and Billy as quarterback. All the other kids fear and dislike her as she shows them all that she is the best and likes to rub it in their faces. After practice a Popple tries to make Tina laugh and find himself being kidnapped by her, and as the others find out the all give chase to get their friend back and that includes Billy and Bonnie. Finally the Popples are able to get their friend back and try to make Tina laugh, and even inform her that people dislike her over her behavior and attitude. This upsets the young girl who runs away and into Billy and Bonnie who end up inviting her to a party at their house and find a new friend in her as she also changes her way of thinking and becomes a fun person.

Issue two brings this kids comic in the right direction as it offers a lesson as well as a fun and goofy adventure for our heroes the Popples. This time around the Popples meet a young girl who pushes herself to be the best at everything and has an ego about herself that drives her peers away, and our fuzzy little friends must show her the error of her ways. This comic has a message and that’s make sure to have a little fun in your life and don’t treat all other around you as if you’re better than them, it also has a message of don’t judge people before you really get to know them. The Popples in this issue are the same fun loving, cheesy joke spewing fuzz balls who just seem to be wandering through life spreading joy and laughter. Tina Terrific is a lonely young girl who has no friends and is so good at everything she walks around school like she’s pro wrestling icon Ric Flair! The thing is she is just a sad youngster who would love to have friends but doesn’t know how to make them. I want to also point out that Puzzle Popple is a jerk as he with no thought tells a young kid that nobody likes her, I mean my gosh I was surprised he didn’t just tell her to kill herself! Puzzle Popple, you’re a terrible little creature with no respect. The pacing of this issue is better than the first issue and while better is still about and average kids comic based on toys. The cover on this issue is just okay and nothing special and this time around again John Costanza does the interior artwork. Over all not a terrible issue and was entreating for the most part, so let’s see what issue three has in store for us.

Popples # 3   **1/2
Released in 1987     Cove Price .75      Star Comics      # 3 of 4

The Popples are on a camping trip with Billy and Bonnie and have decided that they wanted to explore the wilderness for awhile and have fun by building a campfire and telling stories. Meanwhile at one of the nearby cabins, a young man named Seth who only watches TV that features aliens is forced to go outside by his mother and freaks out when he sees the Popples in the woods as he thinks they are aliens! As the youngster runs for his life he runs into real aliens Yuckle, Buckle and Clive of the Kelvin Empire who look like normal people and decide to investigate these fuzzy aliens the youth is telling them about. And once the aliens find them the Popples welcome their new friends to spend time around the campfire and play and this scares the aliens out of their minds! The aliens think that the Popples are bloodthirsty war machines and run for their lives as the Popples chase them thinking they are playing chase, the aliens make it to Seth and them have themselves beamed back up to their mother ship. With the aliens gone the Popples end up talking and playing with Seth who learns they are not aliens and has made new friends.

Issue three of the Popples this far is the best in the series as it really captures the true fun and silly nature of a kid’s comic and brings more personality to them. The plot has the Popples on a camping trip were they meet a new friend who is a fan of Sci-Fi films and as well unknowingly save the Earth from an alien invasion as their fun ways chase them off. The Popples in this issue are in nature and enjoying life by playing and telling stories by a fire, and thanks to their good nature attitudes they are able to scare off aliens who wished to do us all harm. The Aliens who look like little kids start off as war focused and fearsome on wanting to take down Earth and soon turn into cowards when they come face to face with the Popples magic. What makes this issue work for me is the fact it’s a camping issue as I feel that kids comic based around doing this activity always makes for a good atmosphere and brings back so many memories of being a kid running around the woods. The cover is pretty good and is eye catching with the use of the color yellow that always makes a cover stand out. The interior art once more is done by John Costanza who really does great work in the world of kids comics done by Star as it has a really cartoonish look. Over all this is a solid and fun read and mixes Kids comics with Sci-Fi comics and this far is the best issue in the series, I wonder if the next and final issue will be as good or better…so let’s not wait and find out.

Popples # 4  **1/2
Released in 1987     Cove Price .75      Star Comics     # 4 of 4

Bonnie and Billy are down in the dumps as they do not have enough money to buy their mother a gift for her birthday, and this even has the Popples a little down. But when Billy comes home with a flyer for a pet show that pays $50.00 to the winner the Popples are go out into the world and is going to find a pet for their friends they think could win. While across town at the mansion of the Van Ritz their pet French Poodle Prince who is sick and tired of being treated like a puppy by his owners and escapes the house via the fireplace that turns his fur black and while on the streets he is being chased by a dog catcher and is saved by the Popples who take him to Billy and Bonnie as their new pet they name Champion! But things look rough as Champion due to being babied his whole life does not know any tricks or the ones he does he completes them all wrong. But the Popples and the kids don’t give up and end up training Champion so well that he becomes the winner of the contest! But during his award ceremony Champion has an itch and by scratching he knocks off the black color and the Van Ritz come alive when they see their lost dog Prince is in fact Champion! So the Van Ritz’s get their dog back and Billy and Bonnie win the money and end up buying a puppy for their mom for her birthday.

The fourth and final issue in the Popples comic series from Star Comics is a pretty good read for fans of these fluffy plush dolls and those who love 80’s kids comics. This issue’s plot has the Popples and their human friends finding a stray runaway dog and training him to win a dog show so they can get the prize money and buy the mom a great birthday gift. This one is fun as it really felt like a cartoon episode that you would have seen on Saturday Morning Cartoons back in the 80’s and as well had a little Harvey Comics feel. That’s the one thing that for me always set Star Comics apart from the other Kids comics being made in the 80’s and even early 90’s is they always delivered entertaining adventures for home grown characters as well as others that came from toys and cartoons. And while I do think that the Popples is one of the weakest series they released, it still holds lots of nostalgic fun for a reader like me who grew up in the 80’s and know what the Popples are. The Popples not only in this issue but in the whole series are silly, happy go lucky fuzz balls who enjoy pranking, partying and laughing and its clear P.C. Popple is the leader of this group as he has the true magic touch and can do what ever he wants just by snapping his fingers. Billy and Bonnie are just good kids who enjoy as well having a good time but also show they focus on being active and doing the right thing. This ones cover is ok and is eye catching for fans of these guys and once more John Costanza does the interior art and shows that he has true talent for drawing kids comics. Over all this comic series was just ok and this could be one of the cheesiest and lowest rated from me this far on Rotten Ink, but I still had lots of fun reading it and revisiting the 80’s and when Popples originated no matter how little they impacted my youth. Check out the art below to see the style of Costanza and see what I mean that his style really does fit for kid’s comics.

So now that we have had a fun time with the Popples and shared some flashback memories with many of you readers, I think my next update will be something cool from my past that did mean something to me and impacted my youth and that’s the original Star Trek and the film Wrath Of Khan! As I promised back on my update for the Marvel Comic Star Trek series, I think it’s time to start the adaptations of the films and our next update will do just that. So until next time, read a comic or three, buy a 80’s toy or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for another space adventure with Captain Kirk.

 

Look In The Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Hawkman!

DC Comics has been in the comic book game since 1934, and for the longest time was the top comic company in the world until Marvel Comics came onto the scene in 1939. Over the years, they have traded places off and on being the top company in the game. DC Comics has brought the world some amazing superheroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash who over the years have all been on many fans’ top Superhero lists as well as have done their share of bringing in money and readers to DC, but while those heroes are household names, many of DC’s heroes slip under the cracks like Red Tornado, who I covered last year. For this update I am going to cover another hero that I feel does not get the respect and attention he deserves. I am talking about the Justice League Of America and All-Star Squadron member Hawkman, who has always been one of my favorite DC heroes and who I feel has been underrated by comic readers for many years. So let’s travel to the DC Universe and enter that Shadow War as we talk about Hawkman and breakdown his 4 Issue Mini-Series from 1985! I hope you have packed a snack as this one might get a little long as Hawkman has been around for many decades and has lots of cool stuff to talk about.

The DC Universe is filled with many Earths, each with a different history for characters and even in some cases names are changed and even characters have died with new people stepping into the shoes of the fallen hero. But while Katar Hol and Fel Andar have been Hawkman, for me, the only guy to wear the bird mask is Carter Hall! Back in the days of ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu was kidnapped and killed by his arch nemesis Hath-Set, and in the 1940’s Khufu is reincarnated as Carter Hall, an archaeologist from America who soon gains the memories of his past life and is able to figure out that his life means more to the world and that his enemy of the past is also wandering the Earth as a scientist who has kidnapped a woman. This causes Hall to become a costumed hero named Hawkman! As Hawkman he wears a mask, wings and created a gravity belt out of Nth Metal. After saving the woman Shiera and falling in love with her, she later becomes Hawkwoman! Hawkman would go on to be a member of the super hero team Justice Society Of America and even joins the Air Force and fights in World War II. Along with the JSA during the 1950’s, he took on Congress when they wanted all the heroes to tell them their real identities causing the bulk of the team to retire for some time. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the JSA comes back and somehow meets with Earth-1’s Justice League Of America, who, for some reason over the years keeps the kids of the JSA members from joining the team and is thus responsible for the creation of the team Infinity Inc. Due to the massive age difference and after the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, they explain that Hawkman’s aging has slowed down thanks to a super villain who put a spell on the heroes and their spouses…yep now that’s an evil deed, am I right? Now during modern times both Carter Hall Hawkman and the original Hawkman Katar Hol were active in the same Earth, and over the years Hawkman has died, been brought back, joined teams like the Justice League of America, become a terrorist and so much more! This is just a very brief look at Hawkman as sadly the world of DC Comics is one mixed with lots of silly different Earths and reboots that sadly, for the most part, becomes a tangled mess of nonsense. But one thing I must stress is that Hawkman is one kick butt character, and if you like the brief bio I supplied you readers with, make sure to visit your local comic shop and buy a few comic issues that star this mace-carrying winged hero. Check out the images below to see Hawkman in all his glory!

In 1984, Kenner released the first series of their DC Super Powers toy collection, and in that first wave was Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and others that included Hawkman! When I was a youngster, my brother and I tried our best to get any and every Super Powers we could find at local stores with many of ours coming from Hills or Children’s Palace.  The first figures from this series I owned were Superman and The Joker that I got on the same day! Later on I would get Hawkman, who was one of my favorite figures from that toy line. It’s funny to think that as a kid, even though I read comics with Hawkman in them, I always made him super strong in battlers, like he has Superman level power! In 1991, Kenner, the maker of the Super Powers figures, reused many of the figure molds when they started making figures based on the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves and the body of Hawkman was used for the Dark Warrior as well as Little John. In 1990, Toy Biz made a figure that looked like a cheap knock off of the Kenner Super Powers Hawkman, and it stunk up toy shelves. These two figures are only a small amount of toys made based on Hawkman, and for me are the two I remember the most from my youth. Check out the pics below to see what they look like.

Back in 1967, Filmation created a cartoon called “The Superman/Aquaman Hour Of Adventure” that featured 6 minute cartoons featuring the likes of Hawkman sandwiched between longer Superman and Aquaman toons. Hawkman would also go on to star in many other cartoons through the ages like Challenge Of The Super Friends, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, Justice League Unlimited, The Batman, Batman: The Brave And The Bold and Young Justice, to name a few. It’s crazy to think that Hawkman has been a star in so many cartoons that spanned over many decades, and he is not nearly as remembered or loved by comic readers and those who grew up watching these toons. But again,, while he is not as popular as Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman the winged hero Hawkman still has made his mark on the world of cartoons.

Besides cartoons, Hawkman has also appeared in many live action shows and showed that while DC might not treat him with that much respect, young fans did indeed like Hawkman. In 1979, two episodes of a show called Legends Of The Superheroes were made that had Adam West and Burt Ward once more playing Batman and Robin. They were joined by many other heroes like Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, and yes, Hawkman who was played by Bill Nuckols and wore the classic outfit and hammed it up for both silly comedy kid friendly episodes that were called “The Challenge” and “The Roast”. Years later Hawkman would appear in several episodes of the hit show Smallville and was well liked by viewers, but sadly just like in the comics, they decided to kill the character off in Smallville. He was played by actor Michael Shanks. Hawkman, played by Falk Hentschel, would then go onto be in many other modern CW Shows based on DC Comic heroes like The Flash, Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow and while he has yet to be in any live action films, here is to hoping that sometime in the future he will appear in a Justice League film. My favorite live action version of Hawkman is hands down from Legends Of The Superheroes as it’s super cheesy and his over dubbed loud hawk yell is the stuff of legend when it comes to bad TV from the 70’s, complete with laugh track. Plus while the other actors did a great job in their roles, they did not have the muscles and build to pull off the character right. Below are images from all the actors who have played Hawkman on these TV Shows and each have made their mark on the legacy of the character.

I first discovered Hawkman thanks to old comics that came from garage sales, and I was drawn in as I found the comics weird and entertaining. Besides the comics, the Kenner Super Powers figure was also a very big introduction to the character for me. Much like many of the Superheroes from DC, the main issue is that they have silly costumes and names and always seem dated as they fear making major changes to them and this causes lots of modern comic readers to dismiss some of the characters as out of time. But for me, the outdated look and Boy Scout attitude is what makes DC characters so different from those of Marvel. Over the years of buying comics from all the local shops, I always find myself picking up copies of All Star Squadron or Justice Society from .25 and $1.00 bins if Hawkman is on the cover as I enjoy reading about him trying to save the day. So this update is for Hawkman and Hawkwoman and all the creators behind them from the past and present.  While he might not be an A-List hero, he is a great hero who this comic reader has always enjoyed and it’s because of their hard work that made him so awesome.

So we are at the point of this update where we will be reviewing some Hawkman in the world of DC Comics.  The series I chose was The Shadow War Of Hawkman because I remember reading it when I was a youngster and want to see how well it holds up now that I am in my 30’s. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having all the issues in stock and allowing me to be able to re-read them as it’s been too long. One thing I want to stress to all you comic collectors reading my blog is don’t be like me and sell off your collection at an early age to get money to help a girl you were dating at the time.  While I enjoyed my time with that girlfriend, I also have always regretted getting rid of 90% of my collection. With that, let me also once more remind you 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 get your flight wings on, as we are going to war with Hawkman and Hawkwoman!

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

Mousy Mason is a down on his luck cat burglar who one stormy night is visited by a race of mean aliens who bully him into taking a heist for them to steal the anti gravity units from Hawkman and Hawkwoman and threaten him with harm if he refuses. Meanwhile in the city Hawkman and Hawkwoman stop a gang of crooks who have been targeting the elderly, and after making short work of them, they fly off and chat about their old home planet and whether it’s right to read the minds of humans if it is to help them. The pair change into their human identities of Carter Hall and Shiera and start to go to work as they need to set up an exhibit for Mavis Trent and her press agent Joe Tracy, but before they can start, an alarm goes off that someone has broken into their home.  Hawkman heads home to bust the intruder, and Shiera stays behind to work. As Hawkman gets home, he finds Mousy, and the pair are attacked by the aliens who murder Mousy with their vaporize gun and as quickly as they attack, they retreat. Hawkman figures out that this was just a distraction and rushes back to Hawkwoman’s side at the museum but finds that the aliens have been there and that they have used their terrible vaporize gun on Hawkwoman who is now nothing more than a shadow on a wall!

This first issue is as good as I remember it being and showcases why Hawkman is an amazing character that is underrated! The plot of this issue has Hawkman, who has just patched things up with Hawkwoman, at war with himself over the use of his alien powers to look into the minds of man. As he is dealing with that, a race of aliens with a powerful burning vaporizing gun have targeted our heroes as they want the technology that allows them to fly. Hawkman is a man deep in thought who knows that helping people is the right cause, but hates the fact that he can enter the mind of man and see what they are thinking. He is also very much homesick as he misses his home planet and it’s clear that all of this has been a strain on his relationship with Hawkwoman even though they are both very happy being with each other. While battling his own inner thoughts, when it comes to fighting Hawkman in this issue pulls no punches beating up thugs and aliens alike. Hawkwoman is such a cool character who clearly loves her mate as well as fighting crime.  She also has a sense of humor and sadly while fighting against aliens who attack her while at her day job, she is “killed” by their zap gun or so it seems. The aliens in this issue are true scumbags who use their weapons and powers to try and intimidate and kill those who they think are in their way.  They even kill two people just so they can steal a belt! Mousey Mason is just a crook who makes a living breaking into peoples homes, and he becomes the target of the aliens as they use him to distract Hawkman so they can attack Hawkwoman. This poor guy loses his life trying to help battle the aliens that have forced him to enter the home of Hawkman. Mavis Trent and Joe are great side characters with Mavis being a snob who has a crush on Hawkman and Joe Tracy is her smart mouth press agent who likes to tease her as it almost appears he has a crush on her. The cliffhanger of this issue, the “death” of Hawkwoman, is really well done and leaves the reader wanting to find out if she really is dead, and if so, how is Hawkman going to avenge her! The part that works really well for this comic is the fact that writer Tony Isabella mixes this superhero comic well with elements of drama, action, science fiction and even some comedy making for a solid read for fans of Hawkman. The cover for this first issue is fantastic and very eye catching and would surely draw in fans of the character as well as first time readers. The interior art is done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is great stuff and showcases the great 80’s DC art style. Over all this is a great comic and held up very well for this comic reader and now makes me very much look forward to reading issue 2 again after all these years.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 2  ***
Released in 1985    Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 2 of 4

Eddie Hamilton is a young man who dares to dream of one day being a superhero.  He has the power to grow wings and fly if he thinks hard enough about it and even has a name he wants to be known as, The Icarus Kid! While training to control his power of flight in the farmlands of Kansas, those pesky aliens show up and use a new gun to shoot Eddie from the sky, and the blast burns him alive…the aliens have killed yet again! Meanwhile Hawkman is alone in the Museum room looking at the brunt shadow on the wall that was once his wife.  As he leaves the room he asks police Captain Frazier if he could chat with him for a moment, and Hawkman even snaps at artist Mavis Trent as he does not want to speak to the woman who has a crush on his alter ego. Hawkman opens up to Frazier and tells him who he really is and allows him to witness as he disposes of alien tech that he fears is the cause of this alien attack. Hawkman asks the Frazier to keep his men at the museum as he goes off the fight the aliens alone. Hawkman talks to the birds around his house and finds a hint of radiation and is able to pick up the aliens trails that leads him to the side of a mountain that is the hideout for the aliens. As Hawkman enters and make short work of some of the aliens, he soon finds that these aliens are from his own home planet of Thanagar and are working on orders from their government that wants them to conquer the Earth first and then the rest of the universe!

This second issue has the plot thicken as we learn why the aliens are attacking and that they are attacking superheroes in order to get them out of the way before the invasion that’s planned happens! This issue has Hawkman gearing up to avenge his wife’s murder as the aliens are killing and gearing up to attack the planet Earth in order to take it over. The shocking part of this issue is that the aliens are from Thanagar, the same home planet of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and that their home world is now on a path to try and take over the universe! It also is shown that the alien who killed Hawkwoman was not supposed to, he was only told to capture her! Hawkman in this issue is heartbroken over the loss of his wife and wastes no time getting rid of the high powered tech he has hidden and sets out to bring the aliens to justice. Captain Frazier is a good cop who Hawkman respects, and our hero tells him his true identity as well as gets his help to keep the museum safe just in case the aliens come back. Mavis Trent is upset that the superheroes have caused her some delays and bad press for her art showing, but does seem to have something important that she would like to tell Hawkman, but he just blows her off. Joe Tracy in the issue really is a terrible human as he is more worried about bad press than he is that a brave hero just died before his very eyes. The aliens are super cold blooded and are cruel to mankind and even toward each other, and they clearly have lots of high tech weapons that could kill anyone who gets in their way. And poor Eddie Hamilton aka The Icarus Kid is killed before he can truly be a hero of the world. This issue is really great and had enough drama mixed into the action to build the mini series’ story up. The cover is great as is the interior art once more done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala, making this second issue just as good as the first. This issue holds up to my childhood memories, and I can’t wait to see if issue 3 does as well.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 3 of 4

The alien who killed Hawkwoman gets a punishment from his fellow kind as they make his mind and soul bound to a computer, making him a living instrument of information and mind reading. Meanwhile Hawkman is trying to get answer from the aliens he has just beat up and finds that his home world has lost all technology and that they are no longer advanced in the ways of weapons and that’s why they targeted him and his wife. As Hawkman gets his answers, he is attacked by a group of the aliens who beat him down and bind him and just as they are going to steal his anti gravity belt, the aliens are blasted by a stun blast fired by Hawkwoman!! The heroes escape the base and after they are safely away, they take a moment to catch up with each other and Hawkwoman explains that she was not killed in the museum, and it was Mavis Trent who was killed as the artist was the one in the costume, and after she was murdered, Hawkwoman quickly dressed as her in order not to be attacked and killed herself. The pair decided that they can not get any help from anyone as they cannot allow the enemy to find out about their hidden ship and tech and travel to JLA Headquarters in order to erase their history and to do so ,they must stun Aquaman and Elongated Man, but just as they are to erase their history from the computers the screen shows a message from the aliens who have found their old war ship and are on their way to attack and kill them!

Wow, this issue is a roller coaster of emotions as we go from thinking Hawkwoman is dead to finding out she is alive and well! This issue’s plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman attacking and retreating the aliens and having to sneak around and attack fellow Justice League Of America in order to keep the war they are fighting in the shadows and protect the Earth and all the people on it including those with super powers. The aliens meanwhile have figured out a way to read minds and all the world’s computer information and have highjacked the hidden spaceship of the Hawks and are on a path to use the ship to kill them! Hawkman in this issue is filled with rage and wants to not only get information from the aliens but also wants to beat them to death! His mood changes when he finds that his wife is alive, and he is filled with joy but also has the will to save the world from an unknown terror that they do not know is coming. Hawkwoman is alive and is sad that Mavis Trent died in her place, but also knows that she must pull it together and with her husband stop this Shadow War. One cool thing also in this issue is having Aquaman and Elongated Man in cameos, and it’s sad as both Hawkman and Hawkwoman feel bad that they had to stun their friends with guns in order to achieve their goal. This third issue also does a great job of building the story of the Shadow War and makes the readers wonder how Hawkman is going to stand up to a space ship that is hellbent on killing him! The cover for this issue is as well great and has Hawkman fighting with both Elongated Man and Aquaman, and the interior art once more rocks and is done by the team of Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is such great 80’s DC style. With the alien ship heading toward our heroes and this issue as well holding up to this long time comic reader, I think it’s time to read the final issue in this mini series.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 4  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 4 of 4

The aliens of Thanagar have started their war with earth in secret as they have used their mind reading computer to get the dirty little secrets of people in power and will use it against them unless they go along with what they say. Meanwhile Hawkman and Hawkwoman leave the JLA Headquarters with Aquaman and Elongated Man still knocked out and beam themselves aboard their old ship and are met with aliens who want them dead! Our heroes fight off the waves of gun firing aliens and make their way to the ships second control room in order to override its controls as they find out the ship is going to crash land in Detroit on purpose starting the war and making a statement for all mankind. While Hawkwoman works to overwrite the controls, Hawkman battles an alien and gets stabbed as they also cut off the air supply to the ship. Hawkman wounded takes over the controls and does what he thinks is best to save lives and that is he blows up his own ship just as he and Hawkwoman beam down to Earth and the explosion kills all but one of the aliens as the leader of this task force also beams down, but he meets his fate at the hands of the mega mind reading computer who uses all its last energy to blast it’s one time captain. The bleeding and wounded Hawkman and his wife Hawkwoman have saved the world from a war they did not even know was happing. In the end the new artist hired at the museum is shown to be a spy from Thanagar and the Shadow War has really just began!

The Shadow War comes to an end thanks to the heroic efforts of Hawkman and Hawkwoman who had to put their own lives, friendships and even ever returning to their home planet on the line, and the sad part is no one besides the aliens they beat and themselves will ever really know what they did to save the Earth. This final issue in the mini series plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman beaming aboard their highjacked war ship and beating up some aliens and then blowing up their own ship that has been set to blow up Detroit by the aliens! Hawkman in this issue once more shows that he is a skilled fighter, but also is super smart and can use his brain to also defeat his enemies. Hawkwoman as well shows that she is smart and super skilled in combat and proves why she is not a sidekick but a full fledge equal in the superhero partnership. The Aliens from Thanagar so wanted to kill our heroes as well as start the war full force showing that they were cold blooded and murder and mayhem was what they enjoyed. While they might now have been super powered super villains they still were a major threat to the world as we all know and love it. The thing that works so well about this comic mini series is that at all times the odds seem against Hawkman and Hawkwoman and they seem to be trying so hard not to alert Earth to the battle and war that is gearing up to crash down on them, and all this dread and heroic moments makes this feel really more epic than it should feel. And this is why as a kid I really liked this comic series and even now as an adult I find myself still very much enjoying it. The cover of the fourth and final issue is well done and has our heroes beating up the aliens and the interior art once more is crafted by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and show that they are a pair of artist that work so well together. Over all this is a great read for fans of the character Hawkman as well as those who enjoy 80’s era of DC Comics as this is a cool mini series that showcases why Hawkman is still around to this day in comics, no matter how neglected I feel he is by DC. Below is some cool artwork from this cool comic series, so check it out!

So now that we have witnessed Hawkman win the Shadow War, I think it’s time we walk away from the world of DC Comics and their underrated heroes and into a world with giant monsters that come from the deep where our only hope is giant two person controlled robots….that’s right, we will be entering the world of Pacific Rim! Thanks for spending some time with me here at Rotten Ink, and I really do hope you friends and readers enjoy my updates as much as I do writing them. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update as we talk about war ready robots!

NES Challenge: The Adventures of Bayou Billy

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! I am sure you’re wondering why we are here in the bayou of Louisiana in the middle of gator ally.  Well, we are here waiting on the one and only Bayou Billy! So you readers know what that means, we are at another NES Challenge.  This time around we will be playing The Adventures Of Bayou Billy on the good old RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) to see if I can beat it once and for all! Bayou Billy is a game for the Nintendo that almost every kid I knew owned, and not a one of them could beat it much like Dick Tracy and Goonies II that seemed almost impossible to beat and made for many hours of frustrating play. My cousin Stephen Alexander hates this game as he also has never beat it and in fact can barely get off the first level, and he is a pretty good old school NES game player with over the last few years beating such titles as The Karate Kid, Monster In My Pocket, Jaws, Karnov, Metal Fighter and Super Mario Bros, to name a few. So as you can see I have a pretty tough challenge ahead, but I am up for it as for this play through I am going to pig out on Cajun style food and drink to get me into the mindset of Billy! So let’s watch out for gators and see if we can lend a hand to Bayou Billy as he tries to save his lady from the evil grasp of Godfather Gordon!

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In 1989 Konami unleashed The Adventures of Bayou Billy onto the masses in North America, and a cult game was born. The game is a hybrid of side scrolling beat-‘em up, jeep driving and light gun shooter that follows Billy from level to level as he fights his way through a total of 9 of them. The plot of this adventure is pretty simple: you take control of Billy West, a former U.S. soldier turned vigilante who goes by the name Bayou Billy who is going up against crime boss Godfather Gordon’s smuggling operation.  For this, the crime lord kidnaps his girlfriend Annabelle Lane! This of course is a trap and leads Billy on a butt kicking New Orleans high stakes adventure to get her back and to stop Godfather Gordon’s reign of terror. The game was originally released in Japan in 1988 by Konami under the title “Mad City.”  When coming to America, the game went through some changes as they decided to make the game way harder, added in voices and laughter plus changed some background layouts & colors! The game was a pretty big hit for the NES and is one that most kids of the late 80’s had in their game collection.

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I first learned of The Adventures Of Bayou Billy thanks to TV commercials that aired on TV during Saturday Morning Cartoons as well as after school toons and can remember being pretty hyped to play the game as the hero reminded me of the movie character Crocodile Dundee. My parents decided that we did not need The Adventures Of Bayou Billy in our collection and did not buy our household a copy, but lucky for me, neighborhood kid brothers Jeremy and Aaron did and they would invite me over to play the game or try to as I can remember it being so hard that it became almost a challenge between us to try and beat it…we as young kids failed. The next run in with The Adventures Of Bayou Billy came when my cousins Dino and Norman had the game, and once more we played it and failed and I even borrowed it from them to try and beat it and could not even get to the final battle with Godfather Gordon. When I was older, I ended up buying a copy of the game from a second had store around here called Replay Media, and this time around my good pal Jason Gilmore and I tried to beat it and just like before, we failed…so as you can see, failure and Bayou Billy go hand and hand for me as a gamer. And just last year I bought a copy of the game complete in box from Amazon just for this update, cause now at 37 years old I am looking forward to trying to beat this game for the first time…but to be honest I would be surprised if by the end of the day I get to the end screen…I know I have no faith in my abilities of being an old school player. Check out below for a look at the copy of the game I will be playing as well as its box and booklet.

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The Adventures Of Bayou Billy TV commercial was one I remember as it had an actor playing Billy in the heart of the swamp wrestling with an alligator all the while he was telling us about the game play of it being three styles in one from side scroller, to driving to shooter, all the while doing a terrible and over the top bad Cajun accent. The alligator in most shots was a rubber one with one close up of a real one. This overly done and cheesy commercial worked on the youth at the time as it made this game a must have for kids as Konami built it up to be so grand that we just had to have it to impress our friends and to be cool on the playground.  Not to mention that we had to try to beat the amazing adventure that awaited us. Video game commercials like this were a great way for companies to get the attention of the youth who would see it and talk about it at school and with friends building a buzz around the game that caused many kids to bug their parents enough to get it. Nowadays I feel like YouTube and sites like IGN are the tools that spread the hype and game trailers to the target audiences. If you feel like having a good flashback or even want to see the commercial for the first time, check it out on YouTube and be ready for a laughable good 31 seconds with the one and only Bayou Billy.

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Besides the TV commercial, Konami pushed Bayou Billy by running sales on the hit game in toy store ads like Children’s Palace, Toys R Us and Kaybee Toys making it easier for kids to get the game by showing their parents the marked down sale price. They also made a handheld version to give young gamers another way to play the game besides on the NES and to get more money from what they saw as a franchise I am sure. Thinking about it now, I wonder why Konami never made a sequel to Bayou Billy as it would have been neat to have seen the character make the leap to the Super Nintendo or even the Sony Playstation. But any chance of Bayou Billy making a return with a new game on any video game systems is slim to none as Konami is a shell of a company they use to be and many of their workers have left them as they are focusing on gambling machines mostly…so sad.

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Bayou Billy also made the leap to the cartoon world as he appeared in two episodes of the 1989 cartoon series “Captain N: The Game Master” and was resident of Bayouland in the Videoland universe. In the cartoon, Billy had a pet gator named Loafer and helped main character Kevin Keene learn to survive in the swamp land as his game was one that Kevin could never beat, sounds like the story of many gamers’ lives. The episodes that Billy appeared in were called “How’s Bayou” and “Having A Ball,” and this once more showed that both Konami and Nintendo really wanted to push this game and title character to the moon by even adding him to their popular video game themed cartoon. The Billy character in the cartoon acted like the movie character Crocodile Dundee and this was a plan again, to help push the character as Mick Dundee was very popular in pop culture at the time. If you want to see these episodes, make sure to check out the Captain N: The Game Master complete series DVD boxset put out by Shout Factory, but be warned, it is out of print and carries a high price.

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Before we get to the NES Challenge and the Archie Comics Bayou Billy comic reviews, I would like to take a moment to take a look at the band Zebra and their first album that was self-titled as they were formed in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1975 and fit perfectly for this bayou themed update! The band members are Randy Jackson, who is the vocalist and guitarist, Guy Gelso on drums and Felix Hanemann on keyboards and bass, and this line up is still going to this day! They built their name playing clubs around Long Island, New York and covered songs by bands like Rush, Led Zeppelin and The Moody Blues, and this got the attention of Atlantic Records who signed them and released their self-titled album in 1983 making it a huge hit for the company and band. Over the years they released a few more albums via Atlantic like No Tellin’ Lies (1984), 3.V (1986) and Live (1990), but none of them did as well as their first release.  They were dropped in the early 90’s from Atlantic and took a break as a band while Randy Jackson made a side band he called Randy Jackson’s China Rain, but fans would be happy when Zebra would return in 1997 and in 2003 would release their final studio album to date Zebra IV. While not a band that is a household name, Zebra is still active and rocking clubs in New York and New Orleans showing that this band knows how to rock.

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I decided to cruise around Kettering, Ohio in my 2004 Ford Mustang and listen to Zebra’s 1983 release, and on this day the weather was chilly with slight rain and the sound of Zebra was fitting for the smooth and peaceful ride. The first thing I noticed about this album is that it has a weird mix of styles.  The best way I can describe it is if you mixed bands like Keel, Asia, Alan Parsons Project and slightly Cinderella into a blender and poured it all into a glass that had the logo of the band Fastway on it! With that said, this is my type of rock n roll as I enjoy the sounds of 80’s rock, and singer Randy Jackson has the pipes much like Ron Keel of Keel and Dave King of Fastway. Many of the tracks on the disc are solid and great tunes with the two most famous tracks off the disc being the best and those are Who’s Behind The Door? and Tell Me What You Want with the latter being my favorite as it is catchy and has great guitar rifts. Another great track is Take Your Fingers From My Hair, a ballad that is soothing and well structured, so much so that band Dream Theater even did a cover of it back in 2009. I don’t want to spend too much time on this CD, but if you enjoy good clean 80’s metal, make sure to check this disc out as it’s a good one.

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I selected the day January 24, 2017 for my showdown with Adventures Of Bayou Billy, and for this epic day of another NES Challenge, I decided I needed food and drinks that fit the New Orleans bayou theme of the game. Juliet, whose family is from Louisiana, bought me some snacks that are favorites for the bayou like Zapp’s Potato Chips, and to drink I stuck to my classic ice water. She made some chicken and sausage jambalaya as sadly I am allergic to shrimp, and it slowly cooked in the crockpot. The weather outside was grey and cloudy with slight rain with the high of only 45 degrees so it was perfect to sit inside and try and beat this classic Nintendo game! Below is a picture of the jambalaya and Zapp’s that we ate during this epic NES Challenge.

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I started my quest to beat this game at 12:00pm in the mindset that I had to beat this game as it has tormented me for years, but I must also say that doubt also was lingering as the visions of just how hard the game is kept creeping in as did the failure of my last NES Challenge of trying to beat Werewolf The Last Warrior. But I shook those thoughts off and fired up the RES, took the controller in my hands and began my quest to save Annabelle Lane from that evil crime lord Godfather Gordon! To my surprise, after only a few tries I was able to defeat the first level only dying a few times kicking at the alligators and moved onto the second level that was an easy shooter where I had to take on a helicopter while using my d-pad for the gun. The third level was the start of me having a real hard time with the stage boss who is big, mean, and ready to fling Billy around like a rag doll. After losing on stage 3 and wasting all my continues, I took a break and watched Hatchet III for the second time to keep with the New Orleans bayou feel of the day. I jumped back into my quest to save Annabelle after the movie, and I failed really hard as I was not in the groove and kept dying on stage one! I walked away for a moment, and Juliet gave it a shot and sadly she didn’t last long as she allowed Billy to be beat worst than S.D. Jones against King Kong Bundy in a WWF Wrestling match! I cleared my head of the butt whooping I had just taken, and after taking a deep breath, I turned on the RES for the last time of the day and got into the zone of trying like hell to help Bayou Billy get his girlfriend back! I started out strong once again kicking the crap out of the bad guys who are just hit sponges who take way too many hits, and after losing my cool after cheap enemy hits I came to the conclusion that this game is just way too hard for no reason and instead of busting a blood vessel to try and beat it I would rather just turn off the RES and sit back and relax and read some comics because this game was not worth the anger it induces.  All joking aside, this game was just too hard for this aging gamer to beat in one day. But with that said, I must say that the Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtators potato chips and the homemade jambalaya were fantastic and made this day of defeat a heck of a lot better!

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To no surprise I was unable to beat The Adventures of Bayou Billy as I find it to be one of the hardest games in the whole Nintendo library! But I need to give a shout out to all the henchmen and crazed animals who all tried their best to keep me away from their boss. I need to show some respect to Godfather Gordon, that man who made this adventure so hard to beat not only because of his toughness but also his ability to hire the right muscle to keep me and Billy at bay! I also need to speak about Gordon’s bodyguards Rocky and Rocco who show their power by stopping you into the ground like you were just a tiny ant under their boot. In other words, all these bad guys do their jobs of making this game almost impossible to beat very well! So here is to all of them for making this old school gamer once more walk away from his RES a defeated man.

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So while beating the game was a complete bust, I still was able to enjoy some good bayou style food and a fun filled silly day of playing a classic NES game on my RES while hanging out with my girlfriend Juliet! I also want to thank Konami for making this classic game because while it has tormented me for years, it still has added entertainment to my life. But now it’s time to tackle the Archie Comics series based on this video game that thanks to the team up of Lone Star Comics, Darkstar and Bell, Book and Comic I was able to collect, read and review for this NES Challenge Update. And as Bayou Billy dusts himself off after the butt kicking we both just took, he wants me to remind you 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 grab your giant Crocodile Dundee knife and let’s head back into the swamps and this time enjoy some comic books based on this video game adventurer Bayou Billy.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 1 of 5

Bayou Billy is on his way to testify in court when he stops some street punks from robbing an old couple on vacation from New Jersey. Once in court the words Billy says and the fact he can point out the perpetrator who started some wicked fires named Hurricane Hank, leads to the pyro to be found guilty, and along with Assistant District Attorney Annabel Lee he is able to get one of Godfather Gordon’s henchmen off the streets. That night Annabel gets an anonymous call to meet some people who have the dirt on the Gordon Crime family only to find herself the target of a hit that leaves her shot and wounded, but luckily she knows karate and is able to steal the hitmen’s boat and finds herself weak at the doorstep of Bayou Billy’s home deep in the swamp. Godfather Gordon is mad at his son Rock Gordon for botching the hit as now they know Billy is now at her side. Rocco Gordon, Godfather’s stepson, comes up with an idea to send their mercenary team F.I.S.T to kill not only Annabel and Bayou Billy but also his Delta Force friends who were heading to the home to join their friend in the approaching war. Bayou Billy is joined by trap master Broadside, Tracker a Native America tracker and fighter and lastly the eye-patch wearing Sureshot who is a master of the bow and arrow and together they protect Annabel and defeat the likes of Mr. T.N.T and Cut Throat. In the end the battle leaves Bayou Billy’s swamp home destroyed but he and his team have mopped up some of Gordon’s top henchmen and saved the town’s Assistant District Attorney who is now out to get Godfather Gordon in a jail cell.

This first issue sets the groundwork that Bayou Billy is a bounty hunter who once was a Delta Force solider who still has war buddies and is a legend around New Orleans as criminals think that he can not be killed and will not die…hey wait, just like The Phantom! The story for this issue is that Annabel Lee has become a target of the Gordon Crime Family as she has been very outspoken about their crimes.  This leaves her the target of a hit that she is lucky to escape from, getting help from the town’s hero Bayou Billy who along with his own team are ready to tackle crime and bring it down. Bayou Billy is a little cocky yet very loyal and committed to doing the right thing.  You can tell he has a crush on Annabel Lee, who doesn’t have the same feelings for him. He has no fear and tackles trouble head on laughing off threats from baddies. His Delta Force buddies Sure Shot, Tracker and Broadside are loyal friends and clearly guys Billy can depend on for the coming turf war. Godfather Gordon and his two sons Rock and Rocco are pure evil crime lords who have their hand in all types of crimes and don’t care who they kill in order to get what they need and want. Their elite team called F.I.S.T is made up of all types of criminals from the hitmen Cut Throat and Creole all the way to helicopter pilot and gunner Wild Bill.  But while they are all skilled at what they do, they are just out classed by Billy and his group. Annabel Lee is a woman who wants to use the justice system to put criminals away and does a great job at doing so; she is also pretty and can defend her self as she as a green belt in martial arts. Over all this is a fun kid friendly adventure comic that takes some liberties with the video game it’s based on.  One of the major changes is that Rock and Rocco are the sons of Godfather Gordon and not his bodyguards. But while changes like that might upset The Adventures of Bayou Billy diehard fans, I can look over it, as I found they mixed action, drama, crime and war comic well to make for a kids comic that packs a gator sized bite. The cover is great and is a more cartoonish version of the NES cover box.  The interior art done by Amanda Connor is fantastic and she helps bring Bayou Billy to life on the comic pages. I should also note that The Adventures of Bayou Billy is apart of the Archie Adventure Series line and joined its place in history along side other titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, The Fly, Sonic The Hedgehog and ManTech Robot Warriors for delivering quality comics aimed toward early teen readers. But with issue # 1 being a great read, I am looking forward to seeing what issue # 2 has in store for us.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 2  **1/2
Released in 1989   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 2 of 5

That firebug Hurricane Hank is having nightmares in prison about his last run-in with Bayou Billy that not only landed him in jail but also minus a hand! He wants so badly to get out of jail and get his revenge once and for all and must come up with a plan. Meanwhile Bayou Billy pays Godfather Gordon a visit, and after roughing him up, is able to get money to build a new house as his F.I.S.T agents blew up his last one so Billy finds it fair that the crime boss pays to build him a new one. Worse for our heroes is that the whole F.I.S.T group is freed, and Hurricane Hank does escape jail and sets into motion a scheme to kill Bayou Billy! Tracker however followed Hurricane Hank and alerts Billy as the Gordons alert Annabel Lee to where he is hiding as they find their one time henchman too much of a loose cannon now. Bayou Billy knows it’s a trap and shares a story with Annabel from his Delta Force years about how he was set up by a Gordon back then that left him dead for a short time and was only brought back thanks to the effort of his friends.  He shares the story of the second time he was dead and saved when a hitman sent by Godfather Gordon named Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill used a nerve gas that took his breath away.  If not for an old man living in the bayou named Papa Jambo, he would have once more been in a grave. Bayou Billy takes Annabel Lee to his friend Grease Monkey and her garage as he goes after Hurricane Hank.  A battle breaks out that leaves a warehouse burnt down, Bayou Billy bruised and sore and Hurricane Hank once more on the losing end of life.

This second bayou adventure is a fun kid friendly read that loses the charm of issue # 1 slightly as this one just was kind of middle of the road and comes off as almost a watered down version of a Dick Tracy story. The plot is: a criminal who Bayou Billy put away and cost him to lose one of his hands escapes jail more crazy than ever. and his madness to get revenge is what leads to his downfall. Hurricane Hank is a man who had slipped into madness as he is plagued with nightmares of losing his hand and every moment of his life is used plotting the death of Bayou Billy and setting the world on fire. While once a respected henchman for Godfather Gordon, his mental state has even made the crime family turn on him. Plus his ego gets the better of him as when he had Bayou Billy down for the count and could have fried him like chicken on a boat, he instead chooses to try and kill our hero with his bare hands that just leads to him being out smarted and out classed and at the bottom of the water. Godfather Gordon as well as his sons and F.I.S.T stay out of this fight and pretty much lay low after the last beating they took, but Godfather does at least call in a tip so that Hurricane Hank can be found with the hope he and Billy will just kill each other! Tracker, Broadside and Sure Shot act as distractions so Billy can get Hurricane Hank and each play their part well.  We also meet Grease Monkey, the cute redhead female mechanic and friend of the Delta Force group who works on their trucks and boats. Annabel Lee is now clearly in love with Bayou Billy and is still trying her best to put the Gordon crime family behind bars, but is faced with lots of setbacks and bribes to judges. I also enjoyed Papa Jambo who not only saved Bayou Billy from death but also taught him all his tricks of the trade in the swamps. The fights in the issue between Hurricane Hank and Bayou Billy are great and reminded me a lot of classic comic book fights you would have seen in Mighty Crusaders and other independent hero comics. The cover is just okay with the black lines being used as shadows on Bayou Billy being a little cheesy.  The interior art is also a little off and is done by a team up of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito who both normally do great work. While this issue is just okay, I did have a good time reading it and enjoyed the idea that Konami and Archie Comics put time and thought into trying to make this comic series based on a video game work. Well let’s see what issue three has in store for us. Oh and I have to say, I want to know more about Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill ,the man who killed Bayou Billy for the second time and wore a trench coat, a hat and a gasmask!

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 3 of 5

The New Orleans Police Department is having a heck of a time trying to break down a man named Blackie Blue who is in fact really a creature that is part human and part ferret thanks to a scientist to did an experiment on him while on death row in prison! After Blackie makes short work of the cops, he rushes away and the job of finding him goes to Tracker, Sure Shot and Broadside as Bayou Billy goes out on his own to try and find Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, the man who killed him many years back. But when Billy joins his friends, he soon finds out that Blackie Blue is as strong as an ox and escapes our heroes with ease. Later Bayou Billy and Annabel Lee meet up and return to Billy’s new home paid for by Godfather Gordon’s money, and they are as well visited by Tracker, Broadside and Sure Shot and plan to talk over a cup of coffee when Blackie Blue attacks and pulls Billy underwater almost killing him if not for the help of the alligators of the swamp who attack and keep Blackie at bay! As Billy fills his lungs with air and warms up, Annabel Lee comes up with a plan to capture both Blackie Blue and Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill by pitting them against each other! Bayou Billy likes the idea and sets up the trap that works as a charm as Gaskill is knocked silly by a mighty punch and Blackie is knocked out via gas grenades and all Billy has to do is cuff them and bring them to face justice. In the end as Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is in court he escapes thanks to a smoke grenade and a terrible lawyer who allowed him to get his hands on one.

This issue’s plot has Bayou Billy on a mission of revenge as he wants to bring down Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, a hitman who was hired to kill many years back, but to add to the madness an inmate that had been experimented on has escaped and is now more beast like and he has his sights on killing Billy! The two fights between Bayou Billy and Blackie Blue are one sided as the beast man is way stronger and has raw animal instincts to kill his targeted prey making you really feel as if our hero could be taken down! Blackie’s fight with Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is also pretty much one sided as the beast pushes through the madman’s gas attacks in order to knock him silly and only after he complete his goal does he fall. In this issue Bayou Billy is as noble as ever but does have the nagging want for revenge that keeps him off the case of the major threat at the time as he wanted to stop his old foe who had been laying low for years. Plus I like the fact that Bayou Billy is very loyal to his friends as well as his girlfriend and that they all hang out not only in town but also in the swamp…that’s what I call friendship goals! Blackie Blue is an interesting bad guy as when human he had an accident that dyed his skin and hair blue and it’s hinted that Batman was responsible and that his partner in crime was The Joker! Blackie was on death row and because he didn’t want to die, he was chosen to be a subject in a experiment that turned him into a wereferret that has raw power and the need to kill his prey! As the beast Blackie’s appearance is this blue fur all over, sharp teeth and claws and wearing a prison jumpsuit.  For Wolf Hunter 2 fans, think Panthor. Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill on the other hand has a hideout in a shack near an old farmhouse and is still toying with making new gas grenades and is taken by surprise when he is attacked by Blackie, but is smart enough to escape in court. This issue was lots of fun and had just the right amount of action, adventure and even a dash of horror to keep this 37-year-old comic reader entertained. The cover is pretty cool and showcases the horror element with a dash of late 80’s Marvel Spider-Man cover appeal, and the art inside is solid again and done by the team of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito again showing that they work very well with each other. We are three issues in and over all Archie Comics as part of there Adventure Series is doing a great job of making this Konami video game character a very fun comic one, well worth reading, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue brings.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 4  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 4 of 5

Bayou Billy is having a nightmare about the death of his first wife Laurie who was blown up with a car bomb that was meant for him.  The hit was placed on him by one of the Gordon family and after quitting his job as a New Orleans police officer, he became the bounty hunter he is today…that was two years ago to the day and he still wants answers to who wanted him dead. Once more he gears up and sets out to look for Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill whom he thinks might have the answers and heads to a rough bar called the Rue Morgue.  A lead brings him to loan shark enforcer Two-Head McGraw and after a brief fight, they send him to a slimy man named Snitch who spills his guts that Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill is hiding in an old chemical plant. Bayou Billy shows up and tries to get the jump on his old enemy only to find himself on the receiving end of a gas bomb that leaves him disorientated! Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill goes to Grease Monkey’s garage and knocks out the young mechanic and steals one of Billy’s monster trucks.  Once Billy awakens to try and find Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, he is attacked with his own truck! But with the aid of a can of red paint and good luck, Billy is able to trick Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill and use his own jeep as a bomb that leaves the killer gas man at the mercy of Bayou Billy who gets the name of the man who placed the bomb that killed his wife.  It’s Hurricane Hank, the man who drowned two issues back, but with this shattering news he also has delivered Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill to the cops and justice….but through out his adventure a shadow figure has been following him!

This issue works really well as we get a good background on to why Bayou Billy does what he does and why he hates the Gordon crime family so much.  Plus his reasons are legit as they tried to not only kill him but killed his wife! Bayou Billy has spent the last two years of his life hunting down criminals in the big easy all to find out who of the Gordon’s paid for the bomb to be placed that killed his wife, and sadly at the end of the issue he does not get the answer he seeks. Also packed into this issue are many of the criminals who work for the Gordon Crime Family like Snitch a skinny eye glass wearing weasel of a man who will spill his guts for the right price, Two-Head McGraw who are joined twins who act as muscle for Rock Gordon when people cant pay pack the loans he has given them, and lastly Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill who we all know is the gas mask wearing killer who tried to murder Bayou Billy a few years back. All the bad guys are pains in the butt this issue but all fall to the hands of Bayou Billy who is a man on a mission to get answers. Grease Monkey, the female mechanic and friend of Bayou Billy, also comes into play as she is attacked by Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill who knocks her out and steals one of the monster trucks she has in storage.  Lucky for her, she was not killed. This issue is packed with drama but also an equal amount of action making for one heck of a good kid friendly comic read! The cover on this issue is a little downbeat with Billy at the grave of his wife, and I am sure scared some parents away from buying the issue for their child. The interior art was done once more by the team of Amanda Connor and Mike Esposito and is great as always.  In fact, the month this issue was released, Amanda Connor was Archie’s Artist of the Month, way to go Amanda! Over all this was a great issue and worth reading for sure, now sadly we are at the last issue in the comic series based on The Adventures Of Bayou Billy.

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Adventures Of Bayou Billy # 5  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00     Archie Comics   # 5 of 5

Bayou Billy robs criminal La Rue and his henchmen Mitts and Slugger of a briefcase filled with dirty money, and now he is wanted for questioning by the local law.  This shocks his friends Tracker, Sureshot and Broadside as they don’t know why Billy did it! Also at this time, fellow bounty hunter Black Gator is very upset that the media only pays attention to Bayou Billy and wants to shutdown his competition permanently! We soon find out that Godfather Gordon has hired Schwartz N. Eiger, a criminal ex-soap opera actor to play as Bayou Billy and pull off the crime so that his enemy will take the rap for the crime and be out of their hair for awhile.  Meanwhile Billy himself is having bad dreams about a black gator and is under arrest for a crime he did not commit when he wakes up, but lucky for Billy he has some tricks up his sleeve and escapes the cops only to run into Black Gator who wants to kill Bayou Billy to prove he is the best bounty hunter.  All the while Godfather Gordon is watching as it all comes to a head when Bayou Billy, Black Gator, The Cops, La Rue and Schwartz N. Eiger all meet up at an abandoned theater where Billy clears his name and comes out the winner in the fight with Black Gator.

This final issue was clearly not intended to be so as many questions are still left unanswered like how will Bayou Billy get his revenge of the Godfather Gordon family for putting a hit on him that backfired and killed his wife as well as many bad guys are still out in the world including Black Gator who clearly wants to kill Billy and ruin his reputation at being the best bounty hunter in the bayou. But with that said, I must also say this issue has a fun vibe to it as it pits our hero Bayou Billy against a Black Gator, a man who wears a ninja outfit and is as skilled as he is in fighting! Plus throw in washed up actor Schwartz N. Eiger as well as smaller crime lord La Rue and his baseball dressed bodyguards Mitts and Slugger and you have a recipe for a fun kid friendly crime caper. This issue as well is really cool as many of the faces of the past issues are around like his mentor Papa Jambo as well as Godfather Gordon and his sons making this a cool send off for the comic series. Bayou Billy is a solid character who is badass when he needs to be as well as a quick thinker when the time calls for mind over muscle.  I also like that while he kicks the crap out of people he is also shown getting his head knocked around to making him a more believable character than many comic heroes based on video games. Tracker, Sureshot, Grease Monkey and Broadside are all great sidekick characters who help add to the story as well as each have their own generic yet so good personalities. Annabel Lee is a cool character as she is not only a lawyer but also Billy’s girlfriend and not a female character that is always needing to be saved by the hero! Godfather Gordon and his sons Rock and Rocco are slimy, and you want to see them get theirs.  They also employee so many colorful and odd mercenaries & scumbags like Schwartz N. Eiger, Swamp Gas Charlie Gaskill, Hurricane Hank and Wild Bill to name a few! Not to mention this series had some other cool bad guy characters like Black Gator and the werewolf-like Blackie Blue both who were foes that Billy had a hard time with. I think the best fight in the whole series took place in this issue as the Billy and Black Gator’s fight was epic and was what comic book fists fights are all about. The cover for this issue is good and reminds me of something you would have seen on a Marvel Comics G.I. Joe cover. The art inside is solid once more and is done by Amanda Connor and her partner in crime for this final issue Robert Downs, and it’s great kids comic work. Over all Adventures of Bayou Billy was a very good kid comic series that showcased a Nintendo game character in a great way and gave him even more of a personality, and I am sure it drove some comic readers into buying the game, just like the game forced people to look into buying the comic. I for one wished the series had more issues as I enjoyed reading this for the first time for many of the issues and again for others. Check out the art below for a sample of what you will see if you read this comic series.

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While I might have failed at beating The Adventures of Bayou Billy on my RES, I did get a victory in getting to read the Archie Comic adventures based on the character! I am also very shocked that this game never did get a sequel as like I said, many kids I knew owned it and for the most part it’s a pretty beloved game for many old school gamers. But for our next update, we are going to be leaving the bayou and heading into the world of animals running wild with the taste for human flesh as we take a look at the Action Lab: Danger Zone series The Final Plague! So until next time friends and readers, play a video game or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host.  See you in about 10 days!

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