DC’s Micro Masked Hero The Atom!

Here at Rotten Ink I enjoy covering classic Superheroes from both Marvel and DC as well as Indies, and over the years I have spent a lot of time with Marvel Comics and their heroes and have also made an efferent to cover more DC characters as I feel over all they seem to always take a backseat when people chat about comic heroes besides Batman and Superman as Marvel Comics has taken over thanks to their cinema movie hits that have brought their heroes into the mainstream pop culture and made many of them household names. So for this update, I am thinking about covering a DC hero that is pint sized in nature, and of course I am talking about The Atom! I am sure most of you readers at least know who The Atom is or have heard the name in your local comic shop or even seen him is some sort of other media from TV to Video Games. So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at the one and only micro hero of DC Comics The Atom.

Ray Palmer was a professor at New England school Ivy University who is working hard on a solution to the world’s over population and uses parts of a white dwarf star that fell to Earth to do so. You see, he has figured out a way to use parts of the star in order to shrink objects, but sadly they become unstable. While on a field trip with his students and girlfriend Jean Loring exploring a cave, they become trapped during a cave-in and Ray must use his shrinking lens on himself in order to get free and get those he cares about help, and to his shock he is able to shrink as well as become normal size again without exploding! Ray decides that he will use his new discovery to help mankind and becomes a costumed hero called The Atom and even helps Jean in criminal cases as she is a lawyer. Over his career of being a superhero, he has lost faith in mankind and made a choice to stay small. He has fought aliens and super villains like The Bug-Eyed Bandit & Doctor Light and was even a member of the Justice League Of America and even the Teen Titans when his powers turned him back young! The Atom was created by Gil Kane in 1961 for DC comics and made his first appearance in Showcase # 34 and is still a character in use to this day. The Atom thus far has spawned about five solo titles and has appeared in a massive amount of other characters’ books showing that he is a staple for DC and will be for generations to come. While The Atom might not be as forgotten about like some of the other DC Characters I have covered like Red Tornado, Jonni Thunder, Hawkman and STEEL: The Indestructible Man, he still is not as big as he should be in the eyes of readers…get it? Because he is small!

The Atom has become a B-league hero for DC Comics, and this has lead to him appearing in animated series, live action shows like Arrow and even in video games like Injustice 2 as a DLC fighter! As you can see, DC has some faith in The Atom and that’s why they have broken him out of the pages of comics and allowed him to show his hero skills in other forms of media. I think one of his best appearances is one that most of the world has never seen as it was a failed unaired pilot for a Justice League Of America TV Show that had him as one of the members alongside the likes of Green Lantern, Flash and Martian Manhunter, and boy was this one really bad! It was made in 1997 and was supposed to be a new hit series as DC Comics had found some fame making shows for television, and the JLA was one they thought could have been a major hit…that was until it was shown on CBS and it was trashed by fans and critics as it was deemed terrible. The film was a mix of comedy and action and would have the heroes doing interviews like the TV show The Office in between events of the show. The show did so bad that the series idea was canceled and this was buried for the most part by DC who knew they had a stinker on their hands. The Atom in the show looked terrible and his suit was bulky and made him look overweight. Below are some pictures of The Atom from all types of media which show you the different looks and styles of the character in toons, games and shows.

Like all good superheroes, The Atom has had his fair share of action figures released and they have been pretty cool looking for fans of this character. He has graced such toy lines as “DC Universe: Crisis”, “JLA Classified” and “Justice League Unlimited” to name a very few. And while these figures are cool and I do own the one from DC Universe: Crisis, it’s crazy to think that The Atom never got a figure in the classic 1984 Kenner series Super Powers! In fact the rumor of the un-produced waves of figures for that series shows that The Atom was not even considered for the series and that’s shocking as they had some very weird picks selected like Creeper and Blue Devil. Just wanted to take a few moments to let fans of The Atom know that if they collect action figures, there are options out there for you.

So as you can see, The Atom is a very cool character for DC Comics and is one I think should get a little more attention than he does. I also like the fact that he has made appearances in video games, cartoons, toys and TV shows showing that he is a great character. But we are now at the point of this review that I should take a look at the comics, and as I said, I have chosen to take a look at the four issue mini series called Sword Of The Atom for this update as I remember seeing them around when I was younger. I would like 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, their entertainment value and their art and story. So let’s see what adventure The Atom has in store for us with this 80’s series.

Sword Of The Atom # 1  **1/2
Released in 1983     Cover Price .60     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

On a rainy night Ray Palmer is waiting on his lawyer wife, Jean Loring, to get home from a late night at the office, and when he sees a car pull into the driveway and shut off its lights, he goes out to investigate and finds that his wife is making out with her new assistant! As he storms off, she gets out of the car and follows, and they two argue and share their issues about what has been going on in their marriage with much of it being the lack of time they spend with each other. That night Ray decides that they should take time away from each other and goes on a trip to South America in order to find more of the white dwarf star. Ray wires a plane to fly him over the Amazon, and he soon finds out his hired hands are drug smugglers and a fight breaks out that causes him to turn into The Atom and leading to the plane crashing with The Atom thrown from the plane and his two attackers dead! Now stuck in the Amazon, he tries to make his way to the crashed plane and finds that he is stuck being 6” tall, and worse, a snake has chosen him for dinner, but a group of small warriors help him out only to capture him and bring to their king. While in chains, he notices that a warrior named Taren is also prisoner and his only crime is he has fallen in love with The Princess. The King orders his guards to beat down Taren, and The Atom has seen enough and helps the fallen warrior. But the numbers are against them, and the pair is taken to a dungeon and their fate is to be eaten alive by rats!

This first issue in this mini series starts off with a major downer as our hero is being cheated on by his wife who has found affection in her new hired helper, and he thinks by leaving for weeks could save their marriage. Very sad stuff as it’s clear the two are in a bad way and neither are really talking to each other about the issues that have caused this split. And worse, Ray finds himself stuck in his small size in the Amazon and as the slave to a race of tiny people! The Atom in this issue goes from being a heartbroken husband, to a man focused on his work to a hero forced to stay in his small size who becomes stuck in a world he does not understand. Poor Jean Loring in this issue goes from a cheating wife to a heartbroken one when she thinks her husband she has been fighting with is dead in the plane crash in the Amazon; this poor woman’s mind is broken by the end. We don’t get much info on the race of bright yellow skinned tiny people that live in the Amazon; all we do get is that the King is a cruel man and his daughter is the object of a damned man’s affection. I like the cliffhanger of Atom and Taren being fed to a bunch of rats as the odds look really grim for them, and it makes you wonder how two weaponless 6” tall guys are going to survive the attack. I also like when Ray Palmer has to get away from his cheating wife for a bit he is attacked while on a small plane by two drug smugglers that want to knock him out and then toss him from the plane…brutal. The cover for this issue is pretty cool and has a Conan The Barbarian vibe to it as a sword swinging Atom riding a frog is fighting off a massive mean looking snake…classic fantasy comic stuff. The art is done by comic legend Gil Kane and is topnotch stuff for fans who like the classic style comic art. Over all this first issue is a great read and does a nice job of building up the story of The Atom stuck in the Amazon, and with that let’s see what issue two has in store for us. On a side note, I really should have read this comic as a kid as I am pretty sure I would have loved it!

Sword Of The Atom # 2  **1/2
Released in 1983     Cover Price .60     DC Comics     # 2 of 4

As The Atom and Taren prepare to fight for their lives against the rats, a canister of gas is tossed in and their lives have been saved by the King’s advisor, who wants them to be healed up and trained so they can fight as gladiators in an arena for the people’s amusement and to show the true glory of the King. Weeks pass, and The Atom is rushed to the arena and given a sword and finds out his opponent is Taren, who has been blinded to secure the fact he will be killed in battle. The crowd goes crazy and turn on the King as anarchy rules out and The Atom and Taren run to escape and find Princess Laethwen waiting with frogs with saddles. The three flee into the jungle as The King can not understand why his people hate him and is furious as he thinks the fleeing heroes kidnapped his daughter. The Atom stays with Taren and The Princess as the rebels come to meet them lead by the ego driven Voss and are taken to camp. Meanwhile back in the Kingdom, we find that the advisor is the one who is setting up events to make the people turn on their King. In the end Taren asks The Atom to lead his men into war with the King, and as The Princess and Taren talk, our masked hero is attacked by Voss who thinks The Atom is a spy, but of course The Atom makes short work of the ego maniac Voss and the showdown is set between the rebels and the Kingdom.

In this second issue adventure, The Atom finds himself being saved from the rats and forced to become a gladiator fighter for the kingdom as is his new friend Taren who is blinded as well to ensure his death in the arena. But things are not so bleak as they get help to escape and soon find that the Princess is on their side, and someone on the rebel’s side is a true mole and is sharing information. The Atom shows that he is an honorable man who will do the right thing when faced with conflict and will stand by his friends and allies when they need him. Also its’ clear that he is drifting apart from his wife he is away from as he is barely thinking of her. And Jean, his wife, thinks he is gone and at the end of the issue calls the gentleman she was cheating with to come over as she does not want to be alone….sad to say, but I think their love has faded. Taren and The Princess are shown to be good people who want to do all the right things that are best for their people. Voss is a jerk, and I would guess he is the rat who told the King and his goons what Taren’s plan was that lead to him being captured and made blind. The King, I think, is clueless and is not fully evil as his people and the rebels are lead to believe as I think his scumbag advisor is the true fiend who is cruel and a liar. What really works for this story so far is the fact The Atom is a true fish out of water and is stuck in a jungle world where he is targeted for lunch by the animals around and most of the locals want him dead as they think he is an enemy of the kingdom, and when he makes his escape riding on a frog, you find yourself cheering him on. Once more, the cover is great and has a fantasy comic look to it and the interior art is great and done by Gil Kane. So as you can see, the second issue has set up that The Atom will be leading the rebels to fight against the kingdom as the King himself is facing an uprising from his own subjects. So with that, let’s see how this plays out and, if I am right that Voss is a traitor, and move onto issue three.

Sword Of The Atom # 3  **1/2
Released in 1983     Cover Price .60     DC Comics     # 3 of 4

After winning the fight against Voss, the Atom decides that he wants this brave warrior as his second in command as they get ready to battle with the Kingdom. Meanwhile, the King is upset at his Advisor, who he has found out is doing experiments on a fallen star without his permission, and still the evil Advisor works to make the King look terrible in the eyes of his subjects. While in the jungle, a horde of ants attack the rebels and while trying to escape their flesh eating ways Voss, The Princess, The Atom and Taren run for their lives and after reaching safety Taren flings himself into the ants killing himself and allowing the rage to build up in The Atom and moving the war with the kingdom closer. While in the Kingdom, the rebel spy sends a message to the Advisor of Taren’s death, and this pleases him as he knows that soon an attack will happen and he will get control of the Kingdom. Back in America, Jean Loring decides she is going to travel to South America and make sure her husband is really dead and not hiding from her. Meanwhile, the Atom and the Princess have fallen in love and get the rebels ready and are heading to the Kingdom for the big attack.

In the issue, The Atom starts to see that the jungle is a dangerous place and life can be taken away very quickly and that he must really step up and be the hero the rebels need when their leader dies. And while The Atom is in this wild world, he also learns to trust those who don’t trust him and to fall in love all over again. Our hero The Atom in this issue becomes a true leader to the people as he prepares them to war, he also decides to prove his dominance of the jungle that he must kill an alligator! He also wastes no time in falling in love with the Princess after the death of her boyfriend. The Princess herself is very tough and spends very little time on being sad about her man’s death before putting the moves on The Atom. I find this quick love affair very odd as it’s clear The Princess respected him throughout this series, but now she is madly in love. Taren is a warrior who has lost the will to live and once he knows his army is in good hands decides to commit suicide by letting ants eat him alive…the strange part is while people seem slightly sad about his death, they all move on very fast with life without him. Voss is a really loudmouth and untrusting warrior who likes to stand against yet with The Atom who he blames for being a spy for the other side, when I think it’s him! The King and his Advisor are playing a chess game against each other and don’t really know they are, and both are just being driven by power. Jean Loring, who has moved on as she is with her boyfriend, now seems hell bent on exposing if her husband is dead or not. What’s unclear is if she is trying to find the truth out of love or hate. This was a pretty good issue and is a great one that builds to this final fight between rebels and soldiers, builds the tension between the King and his people, shows that The Atom is the leader the rebels needs and all pieces of this jungle action puzzle of love and war are coming together thanks to this issue. The cover is great and once more captures a fantasy comic look and has The Atom fighting the alligator, and like before Gil Kane did the interior art and its great. Very solid issue and was a great way to build up the next and final issue in this mini series, so if you’re ready, I am ready to see how this clash in the jungle ends.

Sword Of The Atom # 4  **1/2
Released in 1983     Cover Price .60     DC Comics     # 4 of 4

The Atom stands on the outskirts of the castle lost in his own mind of what it will take to truly win this fight when he is joined by the Princess, and the pair talk about how much they love each other when they are interrupted by Voss as they have found out who the spy really is! The spy was one of the rebel archers and before he is put to death, he spills the beans that the King’s Advisor is the mastermind behind the downfall of the Kingdom and that they all can live in the Kingdom if they pledge their loyalty to the Advisor once he becomes ruler. After the spy is killed, The Atom leads the rebels into war that has three forces with their own battle plans as the rebels must face those loyal to the Advisor and those who stand by their King! The battle rages on as the people are screaming for the deaths of both the King and his Advisor who are having words as the King has finally found out his most trusted is who ushered in his downfall. The Advisor stabs the King in the back and runs to activate the white star that will blow up the kingdom! The Atom, Voss and The Princess makes it to the throne room where the dying King informs them of his Advisor’s plan, and our heroes rush to the energy plant where the star is stored and find they are too late! Voss puts an arrow through the brain of the Advisor as The Atom rushes inside to see if he can stop the meltdown, but the power of the star turns him normal size again and is driving him mad as he rampages through the Kingdom even chasing off The Princess and Voss. After everyone is safe, The Atom stumbles around and passes out on the banks of the river and is found by fishermen and awakens in the hospital, and Jean is waiting for him down in the lobby. In the end Ray must find out if he truly loves Jean or if he wants to find his Princess.

This final issue of this mini series plot has The Atom and the new love of his life The Princess lead an attack on her father’s Kingdom only to find that his trusted Advisor has struck and killed the King and has set a meltdown due to a white dwarf star being used as a source of energy. And with everyone in danger, The Atom rushes in and soaks up most of the star’s radiation causing himself to grow big and pass out leaving his new love behind as well as his sanity as he is unclear if any of it was real. The Atom proves he is a born leader as he leads rebels into a war that they win! He also shows that he no longer would like to live his normal life as Ray Palmer and would love to stay small and be The Atom from here on out and be with his Princess girlfriend and leave his wife Jean behind forever. The Atom also goes from being a confident hero to second guessing just what he is doing with his life showing that even a superhero has his doubts. The Princess is a fighter as well who wanted her father The King out of power but is very upset when his life is taken. Plus she gets even more heartbroken when her new boyfriend The Atom grows and is taken away when found. The one weird thing about her is she really dose not mourn that much over the death of her first boyfriend who dies by suicide. Voss is a hardened warrior who I was wrong about that could be the most composed person in this comic series as he does what’s right and uses his brain in situations and not his heart. The King was a man who ruled with a big ego, but he was not as bad as his subjects were lead to believe and almost seems angered and saddened by his advisor’s betrayal and the fact his own people want him dead. And when he is stabbed and dying, he does show remorse and love toward his Kingdom and his daughter. The Advisor is the true villain of this series as he really just wants to rule and will do whatever he can to gain power including murder and using unsafe measures to try and impress the people. So when he takes an arrow to his head, I found myself cheering as he was a pure narcissistic terrible person. And poor Jean Loring is a woman who cheated on her husband and has tried to move on when she thinks he is dead, but also must come to terms that even if he is alive, what is left of their marriage. This mini series was a great way to update the dated hero The Atom and even added the realm of a fantasy comic to it and was a great way to cash in on the popularity of the likes of Conan The Barbarian. I also like that in the end they leave it open that maybe this jungle society was all in the mind of The Atom who was injured in the plane crash…so was his war with a Kingdom real or just a delusion? The cover for this fourth issue is pretty cool and while eye catching, I would say is the weakest in the series. Gil Kane’s art is fantastic and really shows that he is the best one to draw this as he created the character and knows how to bring him to life on pages. To sum it up, Sword Of The Atom is a very good mini series released by DC and was a great way to get comic readers to check out classic characters that needed a boost and might have not sold well if given a continuing series. Check this series out if you enjoy The Atom, and check out the art below for a look at Gil Kane’s art style.

The Atom might not be as popular as Batman, Superman or even The Flash, but one thing this mini series does show comic readers is that he can deliver good classic superhero adventure that is mixed with classic science fiction fantasy flare. I’m not sure which DC hero will be next to get the Rotten Ink treatment, but I do have a few in mind that include Green Arrow, Aquaman, Martian The Manhunter or even Wonder Woman! Only time will tell who will be next, but one thing is for sure, I really am enjoying reading and talking about these DC heroes. But our next update will be up on July 4th and will be another entry in the American Hero updates. For this year I have chosen to talk and showcase action movie hero John Rambo! So until next time, read a DC Comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time as we see who draws first blood!

Marvel’s Fastest Gun In The West…Rawhide Kid

Once upon a time western comics were all the rage for young readers, and cowboys like Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, Billy The Kid, Roy Rogers and so many others entertained and captured imaginations. In fact besides comic books, westerns also use to rule the box office as well as TV airwaves and cheap paperback novels, and it seemed like every kid wanted to be the cowboy when playing “Cowboy And Indians”. But like all super popular media, it, of course, also had a big fall and has lost its hold on the youth today who seem to prefer video game heroes to those from the old wild west. Growing up, I loved films like Once Upon A Time In the West, Magnificent Seven, Young Guns and Quick And The Dead, not to mention the classic true tales of Billy The Kid, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok! Plus no joke. The Rifleman is one of my all time favorite TV shows, and Lone Ranger was a hero of mine when I was a kid! So while westerns in media even by the time of my youth were not as popular of a genre, they still had their hooks in my entertainment. I mean let’s be honest, many of you readers growing up have played Cowboys and Indians and even looked up to the likes of Roy Rogers or John Wayne. For this update we are going to take a look at a western hero from the Marvel Universe and after looking at all the options, I decided to take a look at Rawhide Kid and his 1985 mini series. So get your spurs on, find a trusty horse and let’s head out to the wild west and see what Marvel has in store for us when it comes to Cowboy heroes. This update will be a quick one and should be a fun one for fans of classic Marvel western heroes.

Some of you younger readers I am sure do not remember the Rawhide Kid as Marvel Comics over the years have not really done much with him besides give him a MAX series and turn him into a raunchy character to try and be edgy in 2003, and then in 2010 he had another mini series put out this time again simply released by Marvel. But before we dive too deep and start the review of Rawhide Kid, I want to share a little of the character’s back story and history with you readers who might be unfamiliar with Rawhide Kid’s slinging ways. As a baby, Johnny Clay had most of his family killed by Indians, and he was left behind as his brothers fled and one was even captured and taken. Ben Bart, a fast Texas Ranger gunslinger, took in the infant Johnny and raised him as his own family on an old ranch, where Johnny at the age of 18 became the fastest gun in the west. One day Johnny heads to town for supplies, and while away, some gunslingers sneak onto the ranch and kill Ben and this sparks Johnny who finds the body to become on a quest of revenge. Once tracking them down and out-dueling them both in a gun fight, Johnny turns his adoptive father’s killers in and decides to change his name to Rawhide Kid and to use his fast shooting skills to help others. And after having it out with an evil ranch owner that leaves the man shot, the Rawhide Kid becomes a wanted man when a sheriff fails to see that the Kid was only saving the day. But even as a wanted man, the Rawhide Kid used his gun skills to help people and to fight crime. Over the years Rawhide Kid has teamed up with the likes of Two-Gun Kid, Kid Colt, Phantom Rider and even Iron Man! This character ran from 1955 -1979 and lasted 151 issues for his first solo run and would come back in 1985 for a four issue mini series. While Rawhide Kid is not a popular Marvel Comic character nowadays, he was one who made his mark for the company and is one that deserves respect for being one heck of an entertaining western comic character. Growing up, I read many of his adventures from comics that my Grandma Brassfield would buy for my brother from garage sales, and can remember enjoying them pretty well but still always preferring the superhero and horror comics. If you like classic western movies and TV shows and also enjoy reading comic books, give Rawhide Kid a chance as the early stuff is lots of fun and holds a real classic feel. Oh and I should also note that Rawhide Kid’s drink of choice is milk, and him asking for it at bars and saloons is a running gag in the series.

Cowboys also made a mark in the world of video games with most modern gamers agreeing that the Red Dead Redemption series is one of the over all best games going! But one of the earliest western games I remember was for the Atari 2600 and was called Outlaw and has you having to outdraw an outlaw in order to score points. And when getting this update together I figured it would be fun to take a small NES Challenge on a western themed game for the Nintendo and decided to settle on Gun.Smoke released in 1985 by Capcom. So I picked January 22, 2019 as the day to play this game and hooked up the RES (Retro-Entertainment System) and was ready to just sit back for a few minutes and just have fun and play this game and see how far I could get. My goal this time around is to not even beat the game but to just replay it after all these years, I want to thank Game Swap Kettering for having the game in stock for me to buy and make this quick play a reality. So after pouring myself a tall glass of water and eating a good meal of home made chicken and dumplings, I set out to take a shot of surviving the 8-bit wild-west! And the game was just as fun as I remember as I just ran around shooting all the baddies in town with my goal being to collect a bounty put onto the head of a criminal. The longer I played the more I enjoyed it, but also the longer I played it my hands became more and more cramped as the game forces you to always move up and you must be dodging and shooting at the same time. Capcom should make an updated version of this game and make it like an alternative to Red Dead Redemption and have the player play as a man on the side of the law whose goal is to capture some of the worst gun slingers the wild west has ever known…just an idea. If you enjoy classic NES games and also like wild west shooters, make sure to check out Gun.Smoke as I think it’s a forgotten gem for that system that is worth your play time.

I am not a big soda drinker, but from time to time I do enjoy a good soft drink, and for those wondering it really is hard to pick between Pepsi or Coke as each I think go well with different types of meals with Coke being the best with Pizza and Pepsi going well with Mexican food. But in October 2018 I must say I had one of the worst sodas I have ever tasted (minus those weird ones like Ranch and PB&J) and it was called “Moxie Original Elixir” and my gosh it had one of the worst after tastes of any soda I have drank as it tasted like cough syrup…it was so gross! So this is just a warning for you cola soda drinkers, stay clear of Moxie unless you have a bad cough cause who knows it might help ya!

While working on this update, I got thinking about the old steakhouse Ponderosa that was really inspired by the old west and flavors of the past as well as the TV show Bonanza. Growing up here in Ohio, we had a few of them around and I can remember that my Grandparents on my Dad’s side really loved eating there. I can remember eating the salad bar and loading up on small steaks and baked potatoes and chatting with my brother about toys, comics, video games and horror movies as we ate. But while they were popular places to eat here for a while, they faded away from the Dayton market and all went out of business with the longest one to hold on being on Airway Road. So I wanted to have a meal at Ponderosa in order to celebrate Rawhide Kid and Marvel Western Comics and to relive a little bit of my youth. The nearest Ponderosa is over an hour away from where I live and is in Hillsboro, and after calling up my pal Josh Weinberg, we hit the rode to have a good lunch at an old staple restaurant for our family growing up. The only downside is that I no longer eat red meat and must find some food I can eat from a place that is a steak house. We hit the road on January 15, 2019 to the good old Ponderosa, and on the drive there we chatted a little about the future of the Wolf Hunter movie series as well as a wrestling and baseball talk. It took a little over an hour to get there, but once we did, the place was pretty epic and from the outside was one of the biggest Ponderosa’s I have ever seen! The setup inside was very nice and clean, and Josh and I decided to eat the salad bar buffet. Our waitress was super cute and looked like she could have been a model or a pop star country singer. I chose water as my drink of choice and during my lunch I had chicken wings, mashed potatoes with two types of gravy, mac & cheese, green beans, ham and chicken noodles. And I must say it was all pretty good with the mac & cheese and chicken wings being the stand out and the most tasty. Over all while the inside was very Texas Ranch looking, the meal was good southern style cooking and flavors. On the ride back we talked lots more about MLB aka the Cincinnati Reds and had a hoot as we spotted in someone’s yard a statue of the Apple Pie Tree from McDonalds. It was worth the drive to eat once more at Ponderosa Steakhouse and over all was a fun cold day in Ohio. Below are pictures I took on that day.

So now that I have my belly filled with some good old Ponderosa food, I think it’s time we sit around the campfire with a cup of coffee and start our look at Marvel Comic western hero The Rawhide Kid and the 1985 mini series I have chosen to cover for this update. Now 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’re ready readers and friends, let’s review the Wild West adventures of The Kid! Oh and I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this whole mini series in stock.

The Rawhide Kid # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75       Marvel       # 1 of 4

The Rawhide Kid is an old man now and is making his way atop Nightwind to town when railroad workers spot him, and the oldest member of the team shares the story of Rawhide Kid being the fastest gun in the west and how he avenged the murder of his adoptive father. After hearing the story, a young city boy on the rail team decides to quit his job to follow Rawhide Kid into town and asks him to train him in gun slinging. Rawhide Kid finds a saloon to relax in as the youngster also enters the bar and hears some of the men talking about the greatest gunslingers of the west and he chimes in Rawhide Kid and points him out to everyone as being the best! The saloon owner refuses to serve Rawhide Kid a good breakfast now as he thinks he is an outlaw and worse as he is about to leave some of the railroad workers have shown up for lunch and bait Rawhide into a massive fist fight that he is winning and is broke up by Sam the town Sheriff and friend of his who takes his old friend to the jail in order to give him a place to rest. That night the City Boy breaks down the wall of the jail to “free” Rawhide Kid who was not even locked up, and this makes the town go crazy as they all start firing at him and his new young goofy friend! But Rawhide Kids still keeps them safe and the Sheriff is able to calm the towns people down, as the City Boy comes to learn that the Rawhide Kid is really in town to put a flower on a grave of a young kid he gunned down in the city many years back.

This Marvel Western Comic is lots of fun and this first issue was a fantastic read to kick off a mini series as it blends his old adventures and his current story really well and brings new readers up-to-date on who the character is and was. The plot of this issue has the Rawhide Kid now an old man who returns to a town that he killed a young gun slinger in and soon finds that the town dislikes him and look at him as an outlaw, that his friend is now the town Sheriff and he also has a young city boy who idolizes him and wants to learn to become a gun slinger like him. Rawhide Kid is an aged fast draw gun slinger who is a man that is haunted by his past as he has taken so many lives with his guns. Plus I like that even though he is an old man he don’t take guff from people who want to try and test him and his legend. I also like that he just wants to avoid trouble and that all he really wanted to do in town is have some ham, eggs, bread and of course a glass of milk before visiting the grave. The City Boy is a young man who gets wrapped up in the stories of how great Rawhide Kid is and decides that by being trained by him will lead him closer to fame and fortune instead of working hard for his money. While he is a good kid, he also is a screw up and causes Rawhide Kid lots of issues with the locals in this issue. The townspeople are all mostly judgmental who hate Rawhide Kid due to old wanted posters that use to hang, forgetting that he was the one who gunned down a madman who killed many of the townsfolk many years back. Sheriff Sam is the only one who seems to know that Rawhide is a good man and he has to be the voice of reason when it comes to them getting trigger happy. And Nightwind is still the same old fast horse long time readers love. It’s great to see that Rawhide’s trusty horse is still alive and helping his owner to get out of tough spots. The comic does a great job of building up a good story that shows our hero is an aging man who still is as skilled as he was in his youth as the world around him is changing and his good deeds are out shined by damning words from the past. The cover is great and has a real classic look and the interior art is done by the iconic Herb Trimpe who is one of my favorite classic Marvel artists. I am surprised on how much I enjoyed this issue, and I am very much looking forward to reading what’s to come in issue two. So with that let’s see what Rawhide Kid gets up to in his next adventure.

The Rawhide Kid # 2  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75       Marvel       # 2 of 4

Rawhide Kid and City Boy board a train to get out of town and to check one of Rawhide’s bank accounts in a nearby town as he is owned money from a writer who has been writing dime store books about Rawhide Kid’s past adventures as well as tall tales about him and who has not paid! While on the train City Boy gets real nervous when two men approach and even tries to shoot them with a gun he has hidden in his boot causing panic on the train and for Rawhide Kid to also be the target of the two men who turn out to be the law as City Boy is a wanted man! Rawhide Kid and City Boy escape the train and the law as City Boy shares his story of how he accidentally murdered his old boss in Chicago defending the honor of his sister. The pair find an old abandoned shack and spend the night there only to wake up and find that they are in the practice area of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show! And after some talk Rawhide Kid joins the cast of his traveling road show as does City Boy. While working for the show he runs into the writer who he makes pay him all the money owed and also runs into Annie Oakley who was an old fling of his. But the lawmen also show up and he and City Boy must race off as Oakley and the rest of the crew run distraction.

This second issue has Rawhide Kid once more being on the wrong side of the law thanks to his new student City Boy. We find out his real name is Jeff Packard and he is wanted for murder back in Chicago of a slaughterhouse owner who employed him and his sister. Our plot of the issue has two main storylines with one being City Boy and his running ways from the two officers out to get him and the other is Rawhide Kid who has been ripped off by a writer who owes him lots of back pay money for books he wrote about the living legend. Rawhide Kid is very noble and not only wants what’s owed to him but also wants to teach and protect him from the law who wants to take them both in. Jeff Packard aka City Boy is a young man who still has the idea of being a gunslinger will bring him money and tells a tale of why he is wanted in Chicago that involves a man using and abusing his sister, and when thinking about it, I am not sure I believe him and I think he killed the man in a botch theft as City Boy is very much into money and is saying this in order to get the help of Rawhide Kid to escape the law. What really is cool about this issue is the fact they add in real Wild West people like Wild Bill Cody and Annie Oakley and have them at the Wild West Show! Makes me hope that more real cowboys show up in this mini series! The over all feel of this issue is the great chase as our heroes spend the issue on the run from the law who are outclassed by the fast and adventures style of Rawhide Kid who always is one step ahead of them. The cover for this issue is great and holds a classic western comic look and once more Herb did the interior and is fantastic. Over all this second issue is, as good as the original and I cannot wait to see what issue 3 has in store.

The Rawhide Kid # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75       Marvel       # 3 of 4

Rawhide Kid and City Boy have made camp outside of a town were Rawhide is teaching him how to be fast with a pair of six shooters. Meanwhile the law has hired a former slave now turned bounty hunter to bring in the pair of “fugitives”. While at the camp, Rawhide Kid goes for a quick swim as City Boy goes to make breakfast and is attacked by the law and Bounty Hunter who informs him that his sister is fine and is now to be married off, but thanks to Rawhide Kid and Nightwind, they are able to free City Boy and they ride off to find shelter and a place to hide and regroup in the near by town. Once in town they find that it is made up of former slaves and all the males have been killed and the women and children are hiding in the church and tell Rawhide kid that a hate group killed all the males and are returning for them all because they want the town cause oil has been discovered under it. The Bounty Hunter leaves the law behind and tracks his bounties down to the same town. Once the Bounty Hunter finds them in the church a showdown is about to happen until the hate group shows up and they have to join forces in order to save the locals as well as themselves. In the end the good guys win and kill and chase off the hate mongers and the Bounty Hunter drops out of turning them in and decides to stay in the town and help them rebuild and protect them from others trying to steal the oil. Rawhide Kid and City Boy ride off still on the run but also as heroes.

Wow this is a great issue and shows that Rawhide Kid is a good man who does what’s right and is also teaching City Boy the same morals. This issue has Rawhide and City Boy being hunted down by a skillful Bounty Hunter who ends up joining with his bounties in order to protect a town that is being slaughtered by a group of hate and greed filled men. Rawhide Kid is still a man trying to avoid his legend as he knows that much of it was made up by writers and storytellers, and while some think he is an outlaw, he is really a man who does the right thing and even risks his own life to save others. He also has zero tolerance for those who hate due to skin color and has no issues standing up for what he thinks is right and putting haters in their place or even six feet under. So I have to say I was wrong about City Boy as it looks like he was telling the truth about killing the man over his sister, and he in this issue is learning not only to be fast with a gun but also how to be a better person and to help others. The lawmen are desperate in this issue and go looking for help to capture their “outlaws” by hiring a bounty hunter and once more when they go for the arrest they fail. The Bounty Hunter is a former slave who also fought in the civil war and is now super skilled with a gun and always gets his man and seems very happy to be hired to take down a legend like Rawhide Kid, and in the end he learns that he needs to also look at valuing innocent human life and not just look at all people as dollar signs. This issue really does take a look at racism and does it in your normal Marvel Comics way and shows that they tackled all types of issues in their comics. One of my favorite moments in this issue is when the Bounty Hunter tricks members of the hate group into a barn and traps them inside and burns them alive…very brutal! The cover for this issue is great and showcases true comic western action and interiors is once more done by Herb and is fantastic! With the next issue being the final in the series, I am wondering how this will all wrap up and if City Boy will be reunited with his sister and if Rawhide Kid will find the retirement he so badly wants. Well let’s not delay and see what issue four has in store for our cowboy hero.

The Rawhide Kid # 4  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75       Marvel       # 4 of 4

Rawhide Kid has a terrible nightmare about having to save a faceless woman from a pack of skull faced baddies who all represent death while the town around them burns! City Boy is startled but warns him that it sounds like one of the tall tales from one of the dime novels written about him and they go back to bed after Rawhide burns the book in the campfire. The next day they ride into town and Rawhide Kid finds it’s the same town from his dreams and after City Boy goes to feed the horses a woman runs to Rawhide asking for help and out comes a pack of men who are the law looking for City Boy! Rawhide Kid tells the lady to warn City Boy to leave town and out smarts and moves the lawmen who warn him they will never give up till they get him! Rawhide Kid finds City Boy who is sick of running and is going to stand his ground against the lawmen and even sucker punches and knocks out Rawhide Kid who tried to talk him out of fighting. When Rawhide Kid comes to he finds that City Boy has been shot dead by the Lawmen and in a dazed state he refights the ghosts of his past leaving them once more dead. When he comes to he finds that he has killed all the lawmen who killed his new friend and this also allows him to bury his past and embrace his legend and to move on in what’s left of his life into the sunset.

This fourth and final issue in the mini series brings together all the stories that ran through it and gives a closing to Rawhide Kid who just wanted to retire and get away from his legend. The plot of this issue has Rawhide’s nightmare of a burning town with people trying to kill him coming to life and while he is able to face his inner demons and let go of his past, he also loses his new friend City Boy in the process. Rawhide Kid is an old man who has a bad rep with some people and others view him as a hero…and all he really wants is to be left alone and enjoy the time he has left on this world without having to fear that some upcoming gunslinger wants to put a bullet through him. The thing about Rawhide is that he is very loyal to his friends as well as to his morals of what he finds right, and because of this as reader I found myself feeling bad for him as trouble always seems to find him. In other words Rawhide Kid is a western hero who has baggage and guilt for those he has had to gun down in the past and would love to just disappear and never shot another person again. Poor City Boy I really did judge him all wrong, and he is no liar or coward in fact he is a young man who has warped views on how to be a good guy and what it means to be a true gunslinger, but means well. It’s crazy that in this issue he is gunned down and his body is just left on the back of his own horse for the town to see…no wonder Rawhide Kid has to go all quick shot on some lawmen ass! The major downside to City Boy dying is that he does not get to see his sister before he died. The lawman in this issue are very cold blooded and seem to get joy in trying to gun down the “outlaws” and are proud the shot and killed a young man who only killed to protect his sister. But while they are cocky at first, they all end up dead when they piss off Rawhide Kid who out classed them and leaves them all dead in the dusty streets. The end gun fight between the lawmen and Rawhide Kid is well down as he is still dazed from being knocked out by a sucker punch and envisions old baddies he has killed as well as loved ones he has lost, and with each re-kill or re-lose he is letting go of his past that haunts him. This mini series is great and really shows that Marvel has always made the best western themed comics with some of the most interesting original characters. The cover for this issue holds a little horror element to it and is very eye catching and as I have said before Herb Trimpe’s interior art is amazing! If you like westerns, cowboys and classic Marvel Comics check out this mini series!

So while Marvel Comics has left the Wild West far behind and have not had an ongoing series for decades their ones from the past live on for readers to discover at their local comic shops as well as conventions. I would recommend tracking down such titles as Kid Colt Outlaw, Two-Gun Kid and of course Rawhide Kid if you enjoy old western films and comics as they are really entertaining reads. For our next update we are going to stay in the world of Marvel and take a look at one of their most popular Superheroes The Amazing Spider-Man…but there is a twist as we will be looking at his Power Records Book and Record release that features an original story! So until next time cowboys and cowgirls, read a comic or three, watch a classic western film or two and as always support your Local Horror Host! See next update for a web slinging good time!

Hercules: The Turkey Day Wars

Happy Thanksgiving readers and friends, and welcome back to another Rotten Ink Turkey Day update all about the one and only mighty hero of Greece, the slayer of the Nemean Lion, the pride of Olympus and the hero who has been a main stay in culture and media as he has muscled his way into books, movies, TV, comics and video games. Of course I am talking about Hercules! Writing about Herc on this holiday as truly become something I look forward to doing; this sword and sandal hero was always one of my favorites growing up as his labors and adventures always captivated me. So while your turkey or ham is cooking and those potatoes are waiting to be mashed, let’s take another turkey day adventure with the one and only Hercules and this time the company who has brought us this adventure is Radical. So sit back, hit mute on the football game and get ready to spend some quality time with Herc and me here at Rotten Ink!

As I am sure you readers know what I am about to say and it may come as no shock, but I am going to say it anyway: I am a fan of the legend of Hercules from the myth all the way to cinema and have always enjoyed the fact you could take this hero and place him in any situation and watch as he saves the day. I mean think about classic style films “Hercules Against The Moon Men” and “Hercules Against The Mongols” that took our hero out of his normal settings and had him battle people and things not from his era.  Somehow, they just worked. But one of the biggest adventures Hercules has ever had was from the myth and would be his 12 Labors. Ever since I was a kid, one of my favorites of his 12 Labors was when he took on the Nemean Lion, a true battle of man and beast. The Nemean Lion was a massive beast that had super sharp claws and his skin could not be pierced by weapons. He tormented the people of Nemea and was rumored to been created by Typhon and Echidna. King Eurystheus was in charge of giving Hercules his labors, and his first one was to kill Nemean Lion who was a super lion and who was said to be unkillable, Hercules started his journey by buying arrows and talking to locals about the location of the beast, and once he found its cave, he blocked one entrance and forced the lion to fight him in closed combat where he was able to nab the lion into a headlock and choke the life out of it. Once dead, Herc used the animal’s own claw to skin it and carried the dead animal back to the kingdom where he both amazed and scared the King who banned him that moment on from entering the Kingdom after his labors. Hercules would go on to wear the hide of the Nemean Lion as part of his armor. I am not sure why I like the first labor as much as I do….I am sure it has to do with the fact I have always liked lions and Hercules and having them fighting each other in a death match is pretty epic. I want to also say that The Nemean Lion, while dead in the mythology world, just might live again in the pages of Sparkle Comics, but you will have to wait and see how and what comic it comes back in. And I want to say this is just the start of Hercules’ Labors as we will be taking a bigger look at his labors on another update in the future.

In 2014 Radical Comics was able to have a movie made based on their Thracian Wars comic series thanks to Paramount Pictures who released it worldwide to the joy of modern sword and sandal fans. The film was directed by Brett Ratner and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hercules along with such actors as Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and Reece Ritchie and was a great action film with lots of Hercules moments of power…well sort of. The film is about Hercules and his friends creating a legend about himself that allows them to get paid in order to do amazing things like defeat the undefeatable and wage one man wars, all the while the story goes out about it being Hercules, when in fact it was he and his crew. But they soon find themselves being tested when one kingdom doesn’t buy into the stories, and Herc and his crew must fight for their lives. I really do like the twist in this film as it makes you wonder if Hercules really the son of Zeus or is it all made up in order to build his legacy, then at moments he is as great as he says he is…so I think it is really up to the viewer to decide. I saw the movie in the theater when released, and it was fantastic even making the # 5 spot on my “Matt Goes To The Movies 2014” update for Superhero Movies and was one I recommended to friends who ended up seeing it and enjoying it. Oddly enough, in 2014 another Hercules movie was in cinemas called “Legend Of Hercules.” While entertaining, it was not in the same league as this one. The film did poorly at the US box office only bringing in $72,688,614.00 on a budget of $100 million and was 46 over all at the cinema. But it did however bring in more than many other cult films released that year like “Purge: Anarchy”, “Robocop”, “Dracula Untold”, “Muppets Most Wanted”, “John Wick” and “Birdman” to name a few. So if you like Hercules films or just like fun action films starring The Rock, make sure to check this movie out!

So now that we have chatted a little about Hercules in myth as well as in modern cinema, I think it’s time we get to the comic review of the five issue mini series from Radical, because I am sure you are ready for some tasty thanksgiving dinner like I am! So let’s get into this one. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for pulling these comics for me when released. Yep, this is a comic mini series that I made sure to get when released as I worked for Mavericks at the time and had to check out a new Hercules book. I want to also remind you 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. So if you’re ready to join Hercules as he goes to war, we should get to the comic reviews.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 1  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $1.00     Radical Comics     # 1 of 5

Iolaus and Meneus are traveling to a poor and sloppy kingdom on Amphiaraus’ promise of gold and victory as the young King has hired Hercules and his crew to bring Thrace back together by winning a war. But these barbarians of the Kingdom all take turns making fun of Hercules as well as his mother to try and get under the skin of Meneus and Iolaus before Herc arrives. But once Hercules and the rest of his crew show up, their words and mood changes as they see they truly are warriors and can back up their words and Hercules is a man with a loyal & brutal band of friends. But when Hercules is pushed too far by the words of one of the barbarian warriors, he is forced to kill him and orders his friends to kill every man and woman in the throne room and they do just that! Hercules, who was hired to bring Thrace together and train these barbarians to fight, became their Grim Reaper, as he delivered nothing but brutal death. After the slaughter Hercules and his men soon find out that the king and his guards were not the true King and his men as outside is the true King Coyts and his men looking well armed, trained and angry.

This first issue started out a little slow and was worrisome onwhether it would deliver a fun Hercules adventure, and by the end it turned into a bloodbath slaughter that would make Conan The Barbarian happy! The comic’s plot is this: Hercules and his crew are hired mercenaries who arrive at a terrible kingdom with a jerk King and a room full of drunken slobs that end up pushing the son of Zeus’ buttons that leads to them all getting slaughtered only for Hercules to find out he has been set up as the real King is outside with his massive army! Hercules is very cocky in this issue and partly lazy and is willing to start a war over being insulted. He also very much depends on his crew in order to win battles as well as scout the way of the land before he even arrives. I also like that he is wearing the hide of the Nemean Lion. His crew are loyal to Hercules and are amazing warriors who are brutal and all have their own weirdness from one having visions to another who is a cannibal. The fake King and his drunken goons are rude and crude and all find themselves very dead and have no skills when it comes to battle! While we barely see King Coyts in this issue, you can tell he is going to be one proud and strong fighter. The one thing that I liked in this comic is the fact that while Hercules is our main hero, he is also very arrogant and showcases that he is not fully a good guy. I also really like the fact that this comic is very bloody and had kills that would fit in most Horror Comics! The cover is very cool and very eye catching for fans of Sword and Sandal and Greek Mythology style comics. The interior artwork is done by Admira Wijaya and is pretty great and very fitting for this style of comic. So I will say the first issue is a great set up for this mini series and was a great way to try and bring Hercules back to the world of comic books. So with that let’s see how Herc and his crew deals with the army that is waiting for them at the end of this issue.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 2  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 2 of 5

Hercules and his crew stand their ground as King Coyts and his army order them all to stand down and follow him into the hall where Herc and them slaughtered all those people only to find that King Coyts set them up to test how brutal they were as fighters. Hercules and his crew have now gotten the jobs to train the soldiers for war and Coyts’ daughter seems to have taken a liking to Hercules, but our heroes also seem to be very on edge on this job they have taken as things just seem very odd. Plus the army’s general Sitaces seems to also to be keeping an eye of Hercules. After months of training, the army is ready for war and they decide that night to kill a young boy to appease their God, and this act sickens Hercules and his crew. Sitaces makes his army and Hercules attack small villages and slaughter all the people they come across, and finally right before the big battle, Sitaces must return to King Coyts and tell him of their victories and as he leaves, it’s clear Hercules and his people have been set up as they are attacked by a sky full of arrows!

In this issue Hercules and his band of warriors are paid lots of money, wine and good times in order to train an army of soldiers who are just brawlers, but along the way they soon find that this army are scum and they kill to bully and their general seems to have another mission and that’s to ride the world of them! Hercules in this issue is a great teacher of war and seems to be pleased with spending time with the King’s daughter as well as have the thrill of battle, but while enjoying it all, he also seems to be on edge and aware. We also get to know female warrior Atalanta who is a lesbian and has a love hate friendship with fellow member Meleager a warrior who was a ladies man and has fallen head over heels in love with her. Sitaces is a very bloodthirsty warrior in King Coyts’ army and rocks a wicked scarred face and seems to not value any human life. And as far as King Coyts, he is a man drive by ego who will do what ever it takes to be the ruler. I really like the ending of this one as hundreds of arrows are falling from the sky and could kill not only Hercules and his crew but also any of the army who have been left behind with them. This also makes you wonder if Sitaces set them up or if it the scouts did! The cover is great and eye catching for fans of Hercules and Sword and Sandal and the interior art by Admira Wijaya is great and fitting. Over all a great second issue and one that helps build up this adventure for Hercules. So with that let’s see how Hercules escapes this deathtrap.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 3  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 3 of 5

Hercules and his crew are like lambs to the slaughter as the enemy is all around them and they are stuck in a valley, but like all heroes Hercules pushes back and drives his enemies lead by Lord Rhesus back and now have them on the ropes. Hercules himself, while wanting to end the battle, is also very mad at one of his crew Tydeus, who is bloodthirsty and not listening to orders causing them to be at odds. Hercules and his crew now have Rhesus and his guards backed against a cliff, and it’s clear they are not going to just give up and push the fight until only Rhesus is left standing and instead of dying at the hands of Hercules flings himself off the cliff! As Hercules and his crew sit for a while, an arrow comes from nowhere and kills Meneus and this sets Hercules into a rage who rips the attacker apart with his bare hands. Once they bury their friend, they head back to King Coyts with a story of victory and also slightly accuse Sitaces for the set up, but it’s quickly smoothed over as Hercules goes off with the King’s daughter and a big feast is planned. Later that night after the feast Hercules sneaks up and hears King Coyts praying to his Gods in order to get the power to his newly trained army to attack Greece and Mount Olympus!

Man, this was one pickle that I was sure would leave Hercules injured, but instead sees him win against all odds and end a war with one brutal battle. This issue’s plot has Hercules and his crew being set up, and they must fight for their lives in order to escape the valley. Once they do so, they lose one of their own members to a sneak attack and return to employer only to learn he is a scumbag who wants to over throw Greece and kill Zeus on Mount Olympus! Hercules in this issues shows why he is a true iconic fighter as he does not stress over the attack and leads his group to a victory. He also shows he is pure power as he rips a man apart in a bloody gory rage! His crew are all great fighters and sadly their youngest member Meneus is killed with an arrow to the head and Tydeus is out of control and is a warrior who just enjoys killing and eating his victims! King Coyts and Sitaces are pure scum who both crave power and terror as they just used Hercules and his crew to train an army for them that they will in turn be used to attack them and their homelands! What I really like about this comic series is that while Hercules is our “hero,” he really is no hero and is just a demi-god doing bad things for others in order to get gold! I also like that his crew, while all warriors, do seem to care about each other, well all but Tydeus who cares about no one but himself even if the others watch out for him. The cover for this issue is great and the red brings out the wicked look of Hercules who clearly is in a rage for war. The interior art once more is done by Admira Wijaya and is good stuff. Over all this is another great issue in this mini series and makes me look forward to reading the final two issues.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 4  ***
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 4 of 5

Hercules is talked out of attacking the King in the temple, and this is a bad thing as he finds the tracks of Hercules in the snow and places he and all his crew under arrest until he can figure out a way to kill them all. Hercules tries to use his charm on the King’s daughter but soon finds that she has been using him all along and spying for her father and for him escaping and plotting against the King, Hercules is taken and tortured by Sitaces who is taking joy in his evil deed! Sitaces admits that he has been with the King’s daughter and he was not the one who set them up, all the while he is whipping and burning Hercules’s flesh. But Hercules has had enough and with his power he breaks free and smashes and kills two guards as well as breaks the back of Sitaces and brings the dungeons walls down on top of him! Hercules then rushes to his crew, and they make their escape in a bloody fight that leaves King Coyts in a rage and wants all of them dead! Hercules and his friends regroup around a campfire and decide that they will not run to Greece, and they will bring the fight to Coyts as they want to bring him down.

Wow! This fourth issue is great and showcases just how badass Hercules is as he bashes, smashes and slaughters any and all who get in his way. In fact I would say that this is the best issue this far in the series and is action packed and had a real feeling of dread and danger as the issue’s plot has the King and his army holding and bullying Hercules and his friends until they have had enough and push back! I also like the fact that the King’s daughter was just a pawn in her dad’s game as she in real life hates Hercules and Greece and was only using him to get information. Hercules in the issue really has been pushed as not only does the King plan on attacking his homeland of Greece but he also has been used and now abused and this means war in his eyes. His crew are also being treated like scum and are forced to stay inside a building and are not being feed and bullied into not having weapons and are all marked for death. King Coyts is a ruler who has used and abused his way into being even more powerful and is wanting to bring down Greece and Zeus as he has zero respect for those Gods. His daughter as well is scum as she uses sex in order to try and manipulate her target. And Sitaces the army leader is sadistic and gets what he deserves as he is broken and crushed leaving him a none factor now in the coming blood battle. This issue is filled with lots of action and lots of blood and feels like a true Sword And Sandal film from the 60’s with added modern style gore. Plus I really like the cliffhanger of Hercules and friends gearing up for a battle that they are the underdogs in, but they show no fear in the face of death. The cover is great and Admira Wijaya’s interior art is as always solid. Over all this issue is a great one to build up to the final in the mini series and is making me really looking forward to see how this adventure comes to an end.

Hercules The Thracian Wars # 5  **1/2
Released in 2008     Cover Price $2.99     Radical Comics     # 5 of 5

Hercules and his crew sneak back in the kingdom and start their slaughter and take out many of the guards by setting a fire in their quarters while they sleep. Once inside the castle, Hercules and his friends kill even more guards and even ram a spear into the King’s Daughter! King Coyts sees that his days are numbered and runs to make his escape as Hercules and friends follow him into a chamber of mazes and traps. But after dodging traps and almost capturing the evil King, Hercules and his crew find themselves trapped in the chamber as Coyts escapes….into the waiting ax of Tydeus who beheads the King and will dine on his brain after he frees his friends. Once free Hercules and pals find the gold room and steal all they can carry and as they leave the castle, they are greeted by Rhesus who they thought was dead and now has a new army and allows Hercules and them to leave with their lives, but not the gold! In the end Hercules and some of his friends sail away on a new adventure as Tydeus and others go their own way ending The Thracian War.

Hercules and his friends have gotten revenge after being set up and have stopped an attack on Greece but as always walked away empty handed when it comes to being paid for training an army to fight. So everything they did in this war really only caused death to people and only made them look like heels in the eyes of the people who witnessed their slaughter and training of a tyrant’s army. Hercules in this issue really just wants to end the life of King Coyts and his daughter and wants to stop the planned attack on Greece and while he does get to stop the act of war and gets to kill the daughter of his enemy, he is sadly not the one who gets to kill King Coyts. That honor went to Tydeus who is crazy and is a berserker when it comes to attacking and is really the most scummy of all of Herc’s teammates and by all accounts is just a cold blooded murderer. King Coyts is not only scum but also a coward who runs when it comes to battle and the odds are not in his favor. His daughter, on the other hand is a fighter and does not die without putting up a fight. The issue while bloody and filled with action seems to be more of a fast paced issue and the action seems to go by way too fast. But with that said, I will say that I do think Radical Comics really does know how to make a good comic mini series based on Hercules and writer Steve Moore shows he really does understand the world of Sword And Sandal. Plus the art by Admire Wijaya is very fitting and is perfect for this style of comic books. The cover for this issue I have is also very eye catching and reminds me of Frank Frazetta. Over all this is a great mini series and was an enjoyable read and fun review this Thanksgiving update, and I would recommend if you like Hercules to check this series out. Below is some artwork from this series so you can see the style of Wijaya.

Thanks once again for spending a part of your Thanksgiving holiday with me here at Rotten Ink as I am sure you’re much like me and are very much looking forward to diving into a tasty dinner and a chatting with family and loved ones. So next year, meet here again and we will once more talk about Hercules and cover another comic adventure of his! But to wrap this up as mashed potatoes are calling my name, make sure to spend some time with your loved ones as the Christmas season is just around the corner. Oh and I must also share with you that my next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update, and we will be traveling to Skull Island to once more visit Kong! So until next time, read a comic or three, eat a second plate of food and as always support your local Horror Host. See you all back for another tour of Skull Island on our next update.

The DC Detective Superhero Jonni Thunder Cracks The Case!

Here at Rotten Ink I really enjoy taking a look at all types of heroes, villains and characters from all types of comic companies, and one that I really do enjoy showcasing when it comes to underrated and misused heroes are those of DC Comics. In the past we have taken a look at characters like Red Tornado, Hawkman and STEEL, all topnotch superheroes that seem to be afterthoughts in the world of the DC Universe. For this update I have chosen a character who took over the role of superhero from her father, and I am talking about Jonni Thunder aka Thunderbolt a private detective who also has the power to turn into a powerhouse electric hero! So if you’re ready to solve a mini series with a super powered gumshoe, let’s take a quick case with Jonni Thunder!

Jonni Thunder and her father Jim Thunder came together in California and opened “J. Thunder Detective Agency” after Jim was fired from the police force but still felt he could help people. For years father and daughter try and help people with their skills and have lots of great success. But over the years her father Jim Thunder is slowly killing himself with hard liquor and cigarettes and dies from his bad vices leaving Jonni to have to run the agency on her own. While on a case of murder she is offered money by one of her father’s friends for a statue that turns out to hold the power of Thunderbolt, and once free the creature bonds with Jonni and she is able to control it and hence a superhero is born. The downside for her is that while she takes control of Thunderbolt, Jonni herself passes out and is left open to attacks and dangers. Jonni would later, as Thunderbolt, get involved in the Crisis On Infinite Earths and took on Knodar and also would later become romantic with superhero Skyman and would join the team Infinity Inc, that is until she would lose her power and gain it back only to find that the Thunderbolt that attached itself to her was in fact a alien who had bad attentions. Once she lost her powers and Skyman passed away, Jonni Thunder left Infinity Inc. and faded way back to normal life. So while her time as Thunderbolt and a superhero might have been short, Jonni still was a cool and interesting character that once more DC dropped the ball with and misused over the years.

So as you can see Jonni Thunder by all accounts is a normal strong willed woman who owns and runs her own business that by luck gets the power of a superhero. But like many of the characters created by DC, she was not given the chance to become a mainstream character as it has always been clear that if they were not Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman they just don’t have much for you at the time. With comic characters now being used in other forms of media like video games, novels, TV shows and movies the folks at DC seem to be more open to using the none A-List characters. But we are now at the time of this update were we will do the review for the Jonni Thunder mini series, and I want to thank Bell Book And Comic for having them in stock. I also want to remind all you readers that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready, lets see what Jonni Thunder is all about and if Thunderbolt can save the day.

Jonni Thunder # 1   ***
Released in 1985       Cover Price .75       DC Comics     # 1 of 4

It’s a stormy night in California as Private Investigator Jonni Thunder returns to town after her father’s funeral. Once back at her office she finds a body of a would-be client dead with gun shot wounds, and after the cops question her, she gets a weird phone call that says if she seeks answers to why the man was murdered in her office she must meet them at the tar pits. Jonni jumps into her 1957 Thunderbird and in the pouring rain finds that her mystery caller was a no show. When returning to her office she finds a weird metal insect waiting to try and kill her and with lots of luck and after escaping her office via the window in the ally she is able to make the machine blow up with a well places umbrella to the metal machines eye. After the attack the cops once more give Jonni guff and act as if her story of a killer robot is fake and takes the word of a drunk who claims he was in the ally and seen and heard nothing. Jonni storms off and heads to the office were she finds a note to meet one time western actor and singer turned TV mogul Slim Chances who makes her an offer to buy an old statue of her fathers that has a story of power around it. Jonni knows that the statue was turned into a lamp at the office and when bringing it to the set up meeting spot she is attacked by the old bum who has a high powered laser gun and he as well wants the statue and even tells her he is the one who sent the metal bug assassin! As he tries his best to kill her with his laser gun the statues starts to glow and a being of energy comes out of it and Jonni passes out and is now controlling it and chases the old man who falls off a cliff and dies! The flying energy being returns to Jonni who awakens and is confused on what just happened.

This first issue in the mini series is fantastic and a great way to kick it off and bring readers in. The thing that works the best for this comic is the nice mix of classic detective comic with a touch of superhero comic by the end. This issue’s plot has Jonni Thunder after the funeral of her father being the target of a hit that by the end of out story all revolves around a statue that was sent to her father when she was young that was stolen from a foreign country that has stories of powers. Jonni Thunder is a good detective, who is skilled at her job as she is always looking for clues and always paying attention to things going on around her and best of all she is sharp witted with good survival skills. Jonni also is very skilled at combat and is a strong willed character who does what she can to get the job done, plus she does not take any guff from anyone…she is a really cool basic detective character. Thunderbolt is a female being of energy that can fly and shoot energy blasts from her hands, she has the mind of Jonni and at this point Thunderbolt does not speak nor do we really know much about her yet. The main villain of this issue is the old man who clearly wants the statue and will kill in order to get it.  At this point we don’t know who he is, but I am thinking he might be the man who originally stole the statue decades past. I also don’t trust Slim Chances as this old time western actor seems a little too interested in buying the statue and even never showed up at the meeting spot, making me wonder if he hired the old man to kill the daughter of his one time friend. This far the story is well done, and I am looking forward to seeing how this all plays out as well as I hope to get the answer of who the old man is and who hired him. The cover is pretty eye catching and is very 80’s DC Comics.  The interior art is well done and is done by Dick Goirdano. To sum this issue up, it’s a great first issue and introduction to a character that had/has lots of potential, and I am looking forward to seeing what issue two has in store for us.

Jonni Thunder # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 2 of 4

The police have shown up to the crime scene and find the dead body of the old man at the bottom on the cliff, they of course have it in their mind the Jonni Thunder is the killer but they have no proof and seem to get joy in given her a hard time. Once she leaves the crime scene she goes home and tries to figure out what this statue is and why it has given her powers in times of need. She goes home and thinks about her next move when she finds a private detective like herself named Harrison Trump digging through her mail, the two get into a struggle and Harrison gets away before she can figure out why he was snooping. Jonni goes to the office and finds Slim Chances and his bodyguard Roadblock waiting for her and they are not their as friends as they search her purse for the statue and leave when they think the cops are on their way. Jonni who has hidden the statue finds the Harrison has stolen it and she travels to San Francisco to get it back. She soon finds that Harrison was working for night club owner and dancer Red Nails who has turned on Harrison and is trying to figure out the power of the statue when Jonni breaks in and confronts her. The two women share some words and Red throws the statue at Jonni knocking her out but also allowing her to turn into Thunderbolt who chases Red around but should have taken her out fast as Red picks up a gun and is about to shoot the knocked out Jonni in the head!

The second issue has Jonni Thunder at odds with many people all who want the statue minus the cops who think she might be covering murders that are happing by not giving them all he details. The poor detective is also having to deal with the fact that a statue has given her powers that turn her into a living raw energy power superhero! Plus she gets attacked and bullied all through the issue as Slim Chances and his bodyguard try and rob her, sleazy private detective Harrison Trump snoops around her house and does rob her and club owner beauty Red Nails knocks her upside her head and also tries to rob her!! Jonni Thunder in this issue is tough and also confused as after the death of her father her life is becoming stranger and stranger and she herself is trying to solve her own case of what’s the deal with the statue and why the world wants it and why does it have weird powers. The cops are no real help, and they keep just blaming and investigating Jonni instead of listing to her statements. The old western actor Slim Chances and his former NFL player bodyguard Roadblock are scum and are greedy for the statue and try to bully their way into getting it and even try and use money as means to get it. Harrison Trump is a P.I from San Francisco who is not a good one as he is willing to steal for his clients and even is willing to fight against a woman in order to get his case closed, funny thing is he is a fool and becomes a hostage of his own client! Red Nails is a pretty red head woman who owns a dance club and is clearly cold blooded and willing to kill in order to get the statue as she wants it’s power for herself. The cliffhanger ending of this issue is really well done as it’s clear that Thunderbolt has to be fast in order to save her own life! The cover for this issue is great again and is classic 80’s DC Comic stuff and the interior art by Dick Goirdano is great once more and is great classic art stuff. To sum it up, this is a great DC Comic for a female hero they sadly seem to have forgotten for the most part. So lets see what issue three has in store for me!

Jonni Thunder # 3   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 3 of 4

Red Nails forces Thunderbolt to retreat back into Jonni Thunder’s body as if the hero don’t she threatens to shoot the host body in the head! Once awake Jonni and the still captive Harrison Trump are handcuffed and forced by Red and her henchwomen to sewer tunnels where they are shown a giant electric machine that was built by Red who besides being a stripper is also a whiz of electricity machinery and has designed a massive laser gun that she plans on powering with the power of Thunderbolt, but first she wants to use it on Jonni and Harrison! But when the statue doesn’t power the laser gun, Red Nails sends her goons to kill Jonni and Harrison instead who end up escaping right after Jonni is able to grab the statue. The pair find themselves on the run and end up being kidnapped by Slim Chances whose limo is now being chased by Red’s lady goons on motorcycles! Jonni and Harrison leap from the limo just in time and find themselves having to work together to really get out of harms way. But their escape is cut short when Red Lips starts to use a lightning machine try and stop them forcing Jonni to become Thunderbolt and for Harrison to try and control the run away car that the body of Jonni is passed out at behind the wheel! With some luck and power Thunderbolt is able to electrocute Red Nails ending her reign of terror, and return to her body and she hopes this is the end.

The third issue once more is a solid read and shows that Jonni Thunder when pushed can take care of business and truly has the will to live when faced with odds that are stacked against her. In this issue Jonni is kidnapped and set to be murdered by a laser cannon, but is able to escape and stop her enemy who is using the cities electric power to try and kill her and gain back that statue. Red Nails is one mean woman as she is unfazed by the chaos she is creating and the lives she might be taking, she also clearly only really wants power and money…too bad she gets none and finds herself fried like a piece of chicken. Slim Chances the one time movie cowboy turned TV tycoon is also a true scumbag as in this issue he even turns to kidnapping in order to get the statue and it’s power. Harrison Trump who is the goofy private investigator who really help start this drama shows that he is not a fully bad guy as he risks his neck to not only try and save his own hide but that of Jonni’s as well. Thunderbolt is shown that she does have a weakness as all the electric power of the city really zaps and hurts her, but she also shows that with the mind of Jonni she is smart and quick to come up with answers to major problems. This issue helps build up the story really well as it once more shows you that this statue is something special and has bonded with Jonni who cant get a moments peace in order to figure out what and why! The cover for this issue is very eye catching and good use of the colors yellow and red with interior art once more being handled by Dick Goirdano who once more captures the feel of DC Comics in the 80’s. Over all this is another solid issue that makes me look forward to the fourth and final issue to see how our story plays out.

Jonni Thunder # 4   **1/2
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics     # 4 of 4

Jonni Thunder and Harrison Trump are driving back home when they are pulled over by the cops and as Jonni is taken to the station as Harrison steals her car! After being questioned by the cops a call comes in from the higher ups to leave Jonni alone who leaves only to be once more taken by Roadblock to meet with Slim Chances. Once at the mansion Jonni beats up and kills Roadblock and soon finds that Slim is the man who hired the laser gun madman who tried to kill her at the meeting spot and that he also is the one who shot the man who died in her office! Slim also tells her that the statue came from space and that he and Red Nails had nothing to do with each other, but he goes too far when he is about to kill Jonni with his laser gun and Jonni turns into Thunderbolt and electrocutes Slim killing him before in a daze back as Jonni she leaves the mansion with two dead bodies left behind and lots of thinking to do as she returns to her office. Once back she finds her friend beat up bad on the floor and a note left behind by Harrison for her to meet him alone, Jonni is in a rage as she thinks he has beaten her friend near death and rushes to bring down Harrison who she quickly learns is innocent and that Red Nails is still alive and she and her goons are the ones who beat up her friend. After tricking the goons Jonni targets Red who she lets in on the secret that the statue no longer has power, as she is now the source of the energy.  Red in a rage tries to shoot Jonni and a struggle ensues that leaves Red shot thanks the cops that have been called. In the end Jonni has cleared her name, she has the power of Thunderbolt living inside her and she now has friends in the police department as well as Harrison Trump a fellow P.I.

This is a mini series that does a great job of bring the world of comics and cheesy detective pulp style novels together to deliver a very entreating adventure. In this issue Jonni Thunder learns that she truly has the power of Thunderbolt and is able to clear her name as well as deal with all those filled with greedy wants and needs that all breaks down to the statue. Jonni Thunder is good at her job and knows how to find the information she needs to close a case as well as survive any and all bad situations that come her way. But while Jonni is smart and tough as nails, she still has a soft side as it’s clear she loved her dad and cares about her friends old and new. When as Thunderbolt she has massive raw power and energy and will do what she has to do to save her hide and others, also as Thunderbolt her power could easily kill a human. Whats weird is the power of Thunderbolt lived in the statue for awhile but once bonding with Jonni the power makes it’s home inside her. Harrison Trump is a sleazy dude who was willing to steal to make money and only after being saved and almost killed does he really come around to be a decent guy.  Plus I think once he started to having romantic feelings for Jonni his attitude and look out on life changed. Slim Chances and his ex-football player Roadblock were slimy rich people who wanted the power of the statue and looked at human life as disposable! Plus for their greed and power hungry mindset both Roadblock and Slim meet their deaths by the hands of Thunderbolt/Jonni. Red Nails and her goons as well are terrible and greedy people who meet their ends as well trying to get power. Plus the cops while a thorn in the side of Jonni finally turn out to be heroes when one of them shoots and kills Red Nails before she could end the life of Jonni. Over all this is a nice action packed detective romp mini series that does a great job of blending noir and superheroes to make me as a reader wondering what turn was next for our characters. The cover for issue # 4 is ok and by far is the weakest one in the series.  The interior art is still great and done by Dick Goirdano again. Over all if you enjoy detective comics that have a hint of superhero this mini series is for you! Check out the art below to see the style of Goirdano.

DC Comics has a bad history of really back burning many of their characters in favor of just focusing on the same main A-List heroes. I think they dropped the ball on Jonni Thunder as I think she could even have been a great side character in one of their mainstream books like they could have had her move her office to Gotham and enter the world of Batman! But sadly I just don’t see this changing at DC as they will always be the comic company that Superman and Batman built, and they will always only focus on them and a handful of other heroes. For our next update we will be walking away from DC Comics and one of their many forgotten heroes and take a journey with another detective, but this one is like none other as he is a talking dog named McGruff The Crime Dog! So until next time, read a comic or three, remember an old superhero or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update as we take a bite out of crime!

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!

Robotech: Defenders Not To Be Confused With The Anime Robotech

Robots ruled the 80’s and early 90’s.  I know I have said this before, but it was so true.  Toy aisles were filled with Transformers, Go-Bots, Robotix, Robocop and Robo Force to name a few, and they were always a hit on the playground as almost every kid I knew owned tons of Go-Bots and Transformers.  Many even drew pictures of robots as they seemed like the most popular during my youth! Not to mention that also around this time lots of Japanese cartoons were being dubbed, renamed and repackaged for American audiences, and if you think we are going to be chatting about Robotech, the anime that took US by storm in 1985, you are sadly wrong as we will be talking about the model kits from Revell that helped name the famed series that many of you know and love to this day. So sit back, grab an oil can and let’s briefly dive into the world of Robotech: Defenders, the models and the comic mini series from DC.

Revell was founded in 1943 by Lewis H. Glaser, an entrepreneur from California who made kitchen products that were heavy on plastics.  Their first major toy/kit released was a HO scale train set, and this started the company down the path of being one of the top early plastic model makers as they became kit makers in 1945. By the 1950’s they started making models of cars like the Ford Model T as they teamed with English company Gowland Brothers and these models became a hit in the American market. And these type of older cars would be released many times by the company under all types of line names as model makers seemed to not be able to get enough of the classic cars. In the 50’s they also made models of battleships, airplanes, rocket ships and even modern cars of the time. By the 1960s the market had changed and so did Revell’s releases as they focused on Hotrods and racing cars.  This kept them at the top of the line for those who enjoyed the hobby of model building. But the party of being one of the companies at the top of models came to a harsh end when the 80s came around and kids of the time wanted to get new interests like video games, comic books, sports cards and action figures and the bubbled burst on the world of model kits as sales became very weak and companies who made their fortune with these plastic kits found themselves losing profits.  Revell even merged with another company only to once more be on its own two feet in around 1983. By 1986 Revell was bought by Odyssey Partners who had the model kit brand Monogram, and they decided to merge the two companies using both brand names to try and keep them alive. But while fighting to get plastic model kits to be in fashion again, Revell was bought by Hallmark Cards in 1994 as they wanted to try and cash in on the products they made.  By 2007, they as well sold Revell this time to Hobbico Inc. and still to this day are the parent company. Also I should note that Germany also had a branch of Revell that is also owned by Hobbico, who bought them in 2012. While I have never been a model kit kind of guy, I can respect the hobby and do enjoy seeing the ones people have built based on monsters. So this was a quick crash course on Revell as a company and to sum it up they make plastic model kits and have been bought and sold several times.

Back in 1985, DC Comics decided to make a deal with Revell to make a comic series based on their model kits called Robotech: Defenders, and I think we should take a few moments to take a look at the history of the Revell model kits of the same name. As you have read, Revell was in some trouble finically back in the 80s as they were at one time one of the biggest names in plastic model kits.  They needed new life breathed into the stale market of cars, boats and planes and decided to jump on the giant mecha robot craze that was sweeping Japan at the time to see if they could as well make it stick here in America.  So they licensed kits from foreign kit makers and put them out under a name they created called “Robotech: Defenders” and unleashed these in the American and European markets. This series had a higher price, and while they did okay in America, they did not fare well in Europe as sales were low. But while the kits were trying to bring in money for Revell, it was media company Harmony Gold USA that helped make Robotech: Defenders a payday! You see Harmony Gold USA had bought the rights to Japanese anime series Macross to release in the American market, and the downside for them is that Revell had licensed the model kits of Macross and this made for a bad situation as market confusion could ruin both parties’ plans of making big cash on their investments. So Harmony Gold made a deal with Revell to co-license Robotech, and this became the series that American fans watched and loved as Robotech was used for the models and the anime! So as you can see Revell turned a semi hit plastic model kit line into a beloved anime that had nothing to really do with each other as nothing but the name was used for the toon. So if you’re a fan of the anime, these model kits and the story of its characters has nothing to do with your characters. Check out some of the model kits packages below.

Robotech: Defenders was the birth of the Robotech universe here in America even if the product itself had zero to do with the anime that has made the name Robotech mean something to fans. But Revell themselves really did believe in their plastic model kits and even before the Harmony Gold USA deal, they had a team up with DC Comics to make a 3 issue comic mini series to give their models a back story and to market them to youngsters who were enjoying reading comics at the time. The funny thing is that when the deal with Harmony Gold USA came into play,  they did not want the comics to confuse their watchers and when combined with the the poor sales of issue # 1, this comic mini series went from 3 issue to being wrapped up in 2! So here we go my friends and readers, I think we should move onto the comic review part of this update as I am really interested to see what kind of personalities DC came up with to give to plastic models! I want to thank Half Price Books for having both issues in stock and for even alerting me that this series was even made. And as I climb into my favorite mech-suit, the computer system keeps repeating this “You, Matthew, grade these comics 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,” and this robotic voice is right! So sit back and relax, and let’s see what this Robotech: Defenders is all about.

Robotech: Defenders # 1  **1/2
Released in 1985    Cover Price $.75    DC Comics    # 1 of 2

The planet Zolteck is under attack by an evil race of aliens called Grelons who have advanced weapons and lay waste to towns. Opposing the evil aliens are the Robotech: Defenders, a group of noble pilots who risk it all to save innocent lives and bring the Grelons down. Malek is the leader of the Robotech: Defenders, and Zolteck was her home planet.  Now all that’s left after the battle was a stone statue of a robot that turns out to really be a giant robot mech-suit! Malek in her new robot fighting machine tracks down the warship that attacked her home planet, and she makes quick work of it, and best of all the suit alerts her that they are six more mechs like hers on different planets. Her team is fellow human Dex and aliens Eedon, Icik, Akros, Scal and Silky, and they are all ready to find the mech suits and take the war back to the Grelons who started the war months back after killing ambassadors of planets who would not allow the Grelons to take over other planets, so they made a deal with S’Landrai the adviser for an alien race to get machines of war. Meanwhile our heroes all travel to their home planets and each find their robot waiting for them and as they all meet back up on Zolteck, the Grelons attack with hundreds of battle bots and the Robotech: Defenders must gear up and get ready for the fight of their life.

This comic about giant robots that is based on plastic model kits was way better than what I expected as I found it to be a nice touch of action, adventure and science fiction all wrapped around a traditional space war story. The plot is pretty simple and has a terrible race of aliens making a deal with another alien race in order to take over other planets.  The only thing standing against them is a group of pilots who find ancient mech robot suits and are the galaxy’s only hope. Our main hero is Malek, a wise female pilot who’s spirit is almost broken when she witnessed the destruction of her home planets town, but she gets her fighting spirit back when she finds the giant robot. Her crew is loyal and also understand that in this war that they might not survive as the odds are against them, but they as well find a new insight on the battle when they get their own robots. The Grelons are being lead by Ssegma, who is the brains behind these attacks that are leaving planets destroyed.  They are barbaric and think of nothing more than universe domination. Not much at this point is known about S’Landrai, who is the alien who’s people are supplying the Grelons with their weapons of world destruction. This first issue does a great job of building and introducing or heroes and villains and makes you want to learn more about them in the issue to come. They also do a great job of leaving you with a cliff hanger that makes you wonder how our heroes will survive a horde of 100 war bots rushing them with orders to destroy. The cover is pretty badass and showcases our hero robots and I am sure was very eye appealing for kids and readers at the time. The interior art is solid and done by Judith Hunt and is topnotch 80’s DC stuff. Over all this was a way better read than I was going in thinking it would be and I really can’t wait to see how this story plans out. So with that let’s head to issue # 2 and see how Robotech: Defenders save the galaxy.

Robotech: Defenders # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price $.75 .    DC Comics     # 2 of 2

The Robotech: Defenders are ready for war and do well against the ground bots but are over matched by the warship high above that leaves our robot hero team defeated and one member Silky dead. The Grelons bring up the robots to the monster warship and start heading toward their home planet. Malek figures out that they all must push the glowing red buttons in the suits and the robots come alive and have a mind of their own and escape the warship and go into hiding to repair themselves and inform the humans/aliens that the true evil is S’Landrai who is a parasite and is using the Grelons to fulfill is own evil plan! And that they need to get back the fallen robot that was driven by Silky if they want to win this battle.  With the help of a Cyba, a Grelon General who has turned against his race, after hearing the true plan of worlds destruction they come up with a plan to get the robot back and they do when Cyba and Dex enter the planet under the guise of the human being a captive and as a team they active the robot and get him back to his friends. Meanwhile S’Landrai is pissed and uses his power to kill Ssegma and some of his warriors in order to steal their energy and try and bring some of his own race back, and by doing this he also destroys the planet of Grelon! As the Robotech: Defenders are reunited the plan is for one rider and one robot to arrive at their planet and wait for the attack of the S’Landrai who are using satellites to steal the energy of planets and leave the world dead and everything on it in order for them to steal the life energy and become powerful once again. As the attacks are launched some of the Robotech: Defenders stop the launches while other fail as both sides are in a power struggle to get the upper hand, and this all comes to ahead as the Robotech: Defenders face off with the S’Landrai mothership and while out gunned they are not outsmarted as the Defenders reroute the syphon satellites to the sun and the power surge explodes the S’Landrai mother ship and ends the war as they are all killed. The Robotech: Defenders and their riders return to the planet Zolteck and stick together to rebuild what was destroyed.

The battle to save the worlds was won by the Robotech: Defenders, and I can not say I am shocked as even when the odds was bad and their spirits broken they never ever fully gave up on hope and fought until they could change the odds into their favor. The plot as Malek and her crew finding out that their new robots also have a mind of their own and that they have been awaken in order to stop the destruction of a galaxy by the hands of a parasite race called the S’Landrai who are using the Grelons in order to drain planets of their life in order to feed their hunger for the energy. The robots are all ready for battle but weird enough they as well at times seem to make dumb mistakes just like the riders did and while in the end they do win they used brains and not the massive weapons they had to win. Malek and her team seemed loss as they no longer are in charge of the war as they are just going along for the ride as its clear the bots are in charge now. I did really like General Cyba who turns against his race the Grelons in order to stop the multiple worlds destruction and even takes the place of Silky who died during the first wave of attacks. The S’Landrai are real scumbags as they live off the live energy of the others and kill whole planets and everything on it just to feed, so when they get blown up at the end of this story you find yourself cheering! The Grelons who as well crave power are just puppets and when they cross the true evil of their puppet master the S’Landrai they are squashed like a bug. So if you really look at this story, its like World War III in space as you have the S’Landrai, the Grelons and Robotach: Defenders all really in a struggle against each other each with their own reasons. It’s funny how this comic drew me in when I am not a model kit nor an anime kind of guy and I found this series well written and entertaining and no joke it really surprised me on its over all quality. The cover for issue two is ok and reminds me for some reason of issue # 2 of the DC Comic mini series for Power Lords another toy line from the 80’s that we will have to cover sometime. The interior art is done by Judith Hunt as well as Mike Manley and is really great and captures the magic that was 80s comic style. Over all this is a really cool mini series and by all accounts made plastic model kits cool. Check out the art below to see what this series looks like.

So crazy as it sounds, this mini series made me want to check out the comics based on the Robotech anime series and sometime do an update about it…well maybe not as I just never see myself watching the toon in order to do the update justice. So for our next update we are walking away from robot plastic model kits and into the world of horror films as we are going to kick off our countdown to Halloween a little early with a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update.  The film we will be chatting about is the low budget flick Legend Of Diablo from 2004 and the Image Comic based on it. So until next time, read a comic or three, build a model kit or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you all next update as we explore the legend of Azar!

American Hero: Fighting American

Happy July 4th! If you’re like me, you can smell the hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and are ready to pig out on that tasty grilled meat as well as loads of potato chips and all types of salads from macaroni to pasta. Like last year I hope I can add a little fun to your holiday by bringing you another “American Hero” update that showcases a comic character that embodies the spirit of America.  This year I decided to choose Fighting American, and out of all the companies that had released adventures based on him, I chose the DC Comics version to review as I feel that this 1994 series was the closest to my youth, and I feel like DC is lacking the love here on my blog so why not give them another holiday update! So sit back with your favorite summer time beverage and spend just a moment of your Independence Day before the fireworks with me here at Rotten Ink, as we are about to get into the world of Fighting American!

When I was a kid, lunch time was always really good in Waynesville Schools as they had amazing cheese pizza that was made even more tasty with salt and even the hamburger with a pickle on it was good. But the one thing I always looked forward to was drinking milk.  From 2% to chocolate milk with my meal, I really enjoyed that as my drink of choice.  In fact, I still love a good tall glass of milk from time to time. One of the cool parts of the milk cartons was seeing Safetypup, a superhero puppy who wore a mask, cape and costume who would give a message of safety to us kids. My brother was the first to tell me about Safetypup as he called him “Superpuppy,” and I can remember he brought home the carton so I could see him! Growing up I have always wondered why they never made a Safetypup comic book, you know, like a promo comic that they could have given away at schools and family events.  Imagine comics where Safetypup could teach us about stranger danger, drugs and Halloween safety! Another thing that would be cool is that Safetypup has a walk around mascot costume, and it would be amazing to have him on an episode of Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre teaching kids safety tips alongside BVP! So I just wanna thank Safetypup for making my childhood safe and for all his years of making milk cartons cool in school.

Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were the team that created Captain America for Timely Comics in 1941, and after the company was bought out by Atlas Comics, their character was continued without their permission.  This angered the pair and caused them to create a new American themed character called Fighting American, and in 1954 the first issue came out for Prize Group and lasted a total of 7 issues. The character was created to fight The Communists as at the time the Red Scare was in full effect and the comic reading world needed an outlet to release the fear they felt. The most important thing about Fighting American is that he is, in fact, the first comic hero to tackle the Cold War and was also the first to switch gears and just become a fun superhero comic thats Kirby had fun with. After the character’s seven issue run, he has returned to comics via many different companies like Marvel, DC, Harvey, Awesome and Dynamite! Fighting American is really Nelson Flagg who has his mind and life force placed into the corpse of his brother who was a murdered star athlete and war hero, thanks to the top secret military project dubbed “Project Fighting American” to seek revenge and fight the Red Scare and other costumed baddies. Over his original adventures, he also had a sidekick named Speedboy who is a teenager that worked at the same place as he and his brother. While Fighting American might not be as iconic as Captain America or even as known as The Shield, he still truly is an American Comic Icon that stands for the red, white and blue that we all love here in America. Check out below for three looks at Fighting American over the years in comics from different companies.

So we have taken a look at the history of Fighting American as well as a brief character bio, but for many of you like myself the grill is still going and the fireworks are about to go off, so I think its time we dive into the DC Comic mini series based on this true American comic hero. The sky flowers are wanting me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having issues in stock to make this update possible. So if you’re ready let’s grab old glory and head into the battle against those who wish America ill will with the one and only Fighting American.

Fighting American # 1  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 1 of 6

Big Brother is with two of his wrestling federation’s pro wrestlers Bear and Bull watching the madness of the New York stock exchange when Fighting American appears looking for a man named Little Brother.  After making short work of the wrestlers, he loses Big Brother in a car chase that leaves Fighting American falling off a bridge and into a boat filled with garbage! He is called back to Washington D.C. and finds that the government scientists lost monitoring contact with him and that he has pleased the Army who is financing his superhero adventures. Fighting American flashes back to how he became a hero and remembers the story of two brothers Johnny Flagg and his younger brother Nelson who make a TV talk show that pushes lots of buttons.  When Johnny talks ills of Ivan Brotski, he becomes a target for a hit that leaves him dead and Nelson at a cross roads as the government has offered him a way to merge with his dead brother and become a fighting machine for America.  The catch is the merge will take years! He snaps back to present day when he is reamed by one of the scientist for failing and is told one attack on his brother’s killers was enough, but he soon finds that Big Brother and his Pro Wrestling federation has a show that night and after making short work of their champ Mister Fixit he is able to bust Big Brother who is being taken away by cops after admitting his part in the Flagg murder and also informs him that Ivan has been missing for years. On his way back to the base, Fighting American finds Ivan who is now homeless and dies in front of him of a heart attack. Meanwhile a secret meeting is held by people in shadows, and the topic is how to deal with Fighting American.

What we have here is DC Comics trying to update a character from an era gone-by and make him hip and cool for readers of the 90’s, and for the most part it works. The plot of this first issue shows how two brothers became the target of a hit when they talked about the wrong crime family on their talk show.  With the help of science, the two brothers become one person and are now a tool for America to help with domestic terrors. But also revenge is on the mind of our new hero called Fighting American as he wants to bring down those who gunned down one of the brothers causing them to become this science experiment. And when getting to the one he thinks is responsible, his revenge is snatched from him due to natural death! Johnny Flagg is a talk show host who was a former soldier who speaks his mind on his TV show as he believes in America and what it stands for, and while a stand up guy, he does get gunned down before we truly get to know him. Nelson Flagg is a nerdy kind of guy who idolizes his brother and gives up his own life in order to merge with his dead brother, kind of weird but I guess that’s the American way! As Fighting American thus far all we get from him is that he is a superhero who works for the government who is more wrapped up into revenge than following orders. Big Brother, “Poison” Ivan Brotski and Mister Fixit are all just scumbags who were tops of the crime world but quickly fell from grace as they lost power, and all they have left is one Pro Wrestling Federation! It was nice to see Fighting American fail at his first attempt at revenge and later gear up and head into the lion’s den (or is that wrestling ring?) and try again until he was victorious.  It shows he has heart but is not going to be a puppet for anyone. The cover for this first issue is pretty eye catching and showcases the modern era Fighting American really well.  The one change to the costume that I find just silly if his blonde hair flopping out of the top of the mask…just silly and reminds me of The Shield that we covered last 4th of July. The interior art is done by Greg LaRocque and is pretty great stuff and is truly a capture of 90’s mainstream comics appeal. Over all this first issue was a great way to start off this series, and I am looking forward to see where the story goes and how our hero grows.

Fighting American # 2  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 2 of 6

Fighting American has become a media sensation after he gave an interview after saving a cat from a flag pole high above the city. The Shadow Organization are plotting a way to bring him down in the people’s eyes while the Government has decided to give him his own TV Show back as Johnny Flagg and has come up with a story that he has been MIA because his plan crashed in a jungle over 10 years ago, and this is were he meets his new producer Mary Loo. Meanwhile the ones who want to ruin him hire a band of performance art terrorists called Media Circus that has members like Anchorman, Spin Doctor, Sound Byte and Satellite Dish who are going to ruin Fighting American’s image and start by manipulating video of the kitten rescue to make it appear he placed the frightened cat on the pole to start with! The smear campaign hits, and the people turn on Fighting American and even on his show as Johnny Flagg.  He must cover the topic and Media Circus are the guests, but as the show goes on Mary Loo and a show worker find the tapes that clear Fighting American’s name as Johnny shows the whole world he is in fact the star spangled hero and along with his show crew they clear his name and take down the Media Circus as the evil shadow people are not happy.

This second issue lets the cat out of the bag as now the whole world knows that Johnny Flagg is the one and only Fighting American as he is sick of living a lie and telling untruths to the American people. The plot has a band of terrorist using TV to smear the name of the superhero, and he and his friends not standing for it and taking them down for the count. The Fighting American is a good man who does what he can to save the day no matter how big or small if he can help he will. As Johnny Flagg is out of touch with the times but is finding his way as he is now making friends thanks to the return of his TV Show and is also very much into his cute producer Mary Loo. The Media Circus are a band of weird looking carnies who can be hired to ruin someone’s life, and they try so hard but fail in their mission as they were just out classed and out matched by the pride of America. This issue does a great job of balancing both the character development of our hero as well as delivers lots of fighting action! The only downside to this issue is that Media Circus are not major threats and when push comes to shove they are beaten and exposed as frauds super fast giving the reader a lack of a really powerful villain. The one thing I do like is the fact Johnny no longer has to hide is identity as he has told the world he is the superhero that they all need. The cover of this issue is pretty cool and showcases the weird and wild look of TV mixed with the circus and a touch of costumed hero! The art is once more done by Greg LaRocque and is good stuff! Over all this is a solid second issue and really makes me look forward to reading the third to see what’s next for Fighting American.

Fighting American # 3  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 3 of 6

Fighting American is a hit with the American people again and has taken on a sidekick named Kid who works for his TV show that is also a ratings hit! But next the evil shadow group has hired Gross National Product, a fat yellow skinned man who is in Government power and who eats and eats.  He and his conman sidekick Def Izzit have caused madness with the people all in the name of greed and excess. Madness is running wild in the streets and people are attacking each other, not helping their fellow man and even has Fighting American arguing with his sidekick and during a fight almost breaks the finger of Def Izzit who in turn has the superhero arrested! In the end, the Fighting American is in jail waiting for a lawyer and gets the news that the head professor of the program has been kidnapped!

This third issue has Fighting American in a battle of good and greed as he is outsmarted by the hairy, fat, spaced toothed Gross National Product who has used his powers of persuasion to trick the people of America into being self-absorbed mindless tools. And when Fighting American gets the upper hand, he still is in the wrong and goes to jail for assault. Fighting American in this issue is still the pride of the goody two shoes but also has an edge to him as he has been mind tricked by his foe. His new sidekick, who they have not given a name to, is on his way to becoming the next Bucky as he is skilled and yet still young and sloppy in battle. Mary Loo in this issue takes a back seat, and while she shoots down Johnny Flagg’s dinner dates, it’s clear that she is a lesbian as her date shows up to take her to lunch and it’s a woman. Def Izzit is annoying and talks in riddles and rhymes and is one character that I hope gets the tar kicked out of him! Gross National Product is a great villain as he is pure evil and uses his powers to cause chaos and enjoys the evil he does and gorges himself while doing it on food, paper, boots and whatever else he can shove down his fat neck! The cliffhanger of Fighting American being in jail and his friend and the program doctor being kidnapped makes for a great way for the reader to want to see what’s next. The cover is pretty cool and showcases not only Fighting American but also his new sidekick and Gross National Product allowing the readers to know what they are in store for. The inside art is once more done by Greg LaRocque and is again great.  So to sum up this issue good classic superhero stuff with a touch of the 90’s.

Fighting American # 4  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 4 of 6

Fighting American is sitting in prison and is keeping his fellow inmates in good behavior all the while Mary Loo and Senator Dorkin are trying to get plan together to get him out. Gross National Product and Def Izzit have spread greed to the American people who are all now rushing to stores and spending all their money on products that they don’t need. The Kid is also inflected bad with the want to buy as he does not care about his friend Fighting American and even mouths off and steals from his parents. Mary Loo has the TV show film in the jail as The Kid snaps out of his trance and goes after Gross National Product and is able to find out that the heavyset baddie’s power comes from his sunglasses and uses it against him turning him into a man who regrets what he has done and even drops the charges against Fighting American and does work in the community to make things right! Out of jail, Fighting American goes back on the streets to save the town from evil, and we find out that Senator Dorkin is not a friend to our hero and is working with the shadow people to find whys to bring him down.

This issue should be called “Fighting American Goes To Jail” and should have been written and drawn like the Ernest movie! But really the plot has The Kid showing why he is a superhero now and with the help of his parents locking him in a back stock room, he is able to shake off the effects of the consume idea planted in his brain and single handedly defeats Gross National Product by using his own power and tricks against him and in turn gets the charges dropped against Fighting American who is now free and can do his TV Show and Superhero the streets. The Kid, who at first kind of felt like a way to make fun of classic Captain America stories by parodying Bucky, really became his own with this story, and they gave him more of a personality than just a goofy kid who tags along side our book’s hero. Fighting American takes a back seat in this issue as he is in jail all the way until the very end so he does not get to fight nor even clear his own name. Even while helpless Fighting American is still a very cool classic style superhero! Gross National Product is scum who in this issue makes the world want to buy, buy and buy all the while he still stuffs his face! But when the roles are turned and he sees what he has done, he turns over a new leaf and does good by the world and tries to keep it clean! Def Izzit is still just a rhythm-talking goof who sadly does not get his face pounded in! This issue also shows the read evil mastermind behind the attempted downfall of Fighting American and it’s Senator Dorkin! You see, he is the one works along the shadow people who want him out of the way so they can do their evil stuff. Nice twist as he seems like a friend the whole time. The poor Professor is set free and becomes self aware that the whole lab dislikes him as been the story of his whole life and becomes an alcoholic whom no ones seems to care that is free nor not returned to the lab.  I see him coming into play soon as a tool for evil…I could be wrong just have the feeling. Over all this is another solid issue with a cool cover and great art done by Greg LaRocque who is making this American Hero come alive in the pages of this DC Comic series.

Fighting American # 5  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 5 of 6

Senator Dorkin is being threatened by the shadow crime group for failing at getting Fighting American to be out of the hero business, and his last chance is the helmet wearing, mind controlling eye doctor named Phoroptor who is set to clean up the bad turn he sees America heading down and fills them with nostalgia! Meanwhile the Professor is going to blow the whistle on Senator Dorkin to Fighting American as Mary Loo herself finds that Dorkin is on the run and has a sinister past and present! While out Fighting American and The Kid are battling Phoroptor who is attacking civilians causing them to cry and go into rages over the present not being like the past. After a quick fight Phoroptor gets the upper hand and makes Fighting American question who he is as he has the memories of Nelson and Johnny and this makes him in the end realize that he is in fact both and is the hero known as Fighting American and with the help of the Professor he defeats Phoroptor and is soon joined by The Kid and Mary Loo who tells them that Dorkin has fled the USA and now they are all going to Europe to get answers and stop this evil plan.

This fifth issue of the Fighting American mini series from DC is lots of fun and crams in lots of great classic comic book hero moments as well as adds messages about America at the time. This one has the rug being pulled out from under Senator Dorkin who is being targeted by the shadow people as well as is now on the radar of Fighting American who’s TV producer has found his dark secret and the Professor is about to spill the beans on everything her knows. Fighting American in this issue is brave and fights past the crippling power of his foe and even seems to finally become one with who he really is and that’s both brothers! The Kid is around and is a solid generic style young sidekick character and shows that he as well is a good man as he saves people from the nostalgic feeling that was being spread by the evil foe in this issue. Mary Loo does a great job of piecing together the evil deeds of Senator Dorkin by entering his office and finding odd papers and a bad answering machine message. The Professor who is now a drunk is trying to turn his life around and wants to spill his guts to Fighting American on what he knows about the Shadow Group who want to ruin his heroic ways as well as keep America down. Senator Dorkin is a man with lots of power who is also now running for his life as he has gotten involved with the wrong type of people who don’t like failure! Phoroptor is a purple bubble mask wearing eye doctor who loves the past and cant stand the future and uses his special mask to make people become walking talking crybaby’s who yarn for the good old days of their youth. Over all this really is a silly and fun issue that is a great one to build up to the final issue in the mini series as we end with Fighting American on a mission to go to Europe to get answers and justice on Senator Dorkin! The cover is cool and the interior art is great and done by Greg LaRocque and not much more can be said besides this is a great and fun issue and keeps this series solid and enjoyable.

Fighting American # 6  **1/2
Released in 1994   Cover Price $1.50   DC Comics   # 6 of 6

Fighting American arrives in Ireland with his crew The Professor, Mary Loo and The Kid and soon find out that the shadow people are called The Free Association and that they have spies and workers all over.  Word gets to the group that they now have Dorkin and are taking him to a site that is said to be a gateway to another realm and soon find out that in this place has unknown spirits like Banshee’s that are really just holograms to keep people away.  Soon Fighting American and crew find themselves in the secret base of The Free Association and start to crack heads when they are trapped to the floor and an alien appears and tells them he is in fact the leader of The Free Association and that he is the one who ordered the killing of Johnny all those years back.  He is in fact the one who started the Fighting American program as he wanted to control him as a super solider for the bad guys! After some tourist stumble into the secret base Fighting American is able to break free and chase the Alien back to his UFO and ride the world of The Free Association!

The final issue of this mini series brings Fighting American and his war with The Free Association to an end and shows that the mastermind behind the attacks on our hero was a fat old alien who when confronted makes a run for his UFO and returns to space the loser in the battle. While the battle is not super epic and if not for the goofy tourist the fight might have gone another way as Fighting American was being held as bay as well as his crew and if not for the distraction the Alien had the upper hand! That’s one thing about this hero, he is just a normal guy and many times in this series luck and friends is how he beats his enemies. I also like that while he looks and is Johnny Flagg, he has the mind and smarts of Nelson Flagg and after some inner drama he is able to come to terms that his superhero alter ego Fighting American is in fact both brothers as one person. The Kid is a cool young sidekick who worked for the TV Station, and I like the fact that he comes from a family who owns a little bar that also bookies bets just to make ends meat. Mary Loo is also a cool hero who loves her job as a TV producer but also is not afraid to dig deep into trouble in order to get the truth.  I also like that she is not ashamed of being a lesbian and that the part of the character is treated really well and made me laugh when she finally told the aged Fighting American that she is gay and that’s why she don’t want to go on a date with him and at first he takes it as that she is happy…funny out of touch hero stuff. The Professor starts out as an over bearing grump who is the head of the program and after being kidnapped and made to feel useless he becomes an alcoholic only to snap out of it and join the team that is surrounding our hero. All the villains from the Alien to Media Circus to Senator Dorkin are great cheesy bad guys, but none of them feel like major threats and all are beaten pretty easily. The one thing that I really enjoyed about this comic that while done very over the top, it did have a message about how we as society at the time believed what we saw on TV, trusted all our politicians that they have our best interest in heart, how we buy things we don’t need just to spend money and so on and while its major part of the stories, it’s not super in your face. I also liked the fact that they took the main female character Mary Loo and had her be a strong gay character, and his sidekick was a young black male who broke the comic stereotypes.  Both were perfect for the roles they played in this comic adventure. Another cool thing is that while Fighting American is a fish out of water, they do not play up on that too heavily and just allow the character to accept times had changed. To me its crazy that DC Comics did not do anything with this character after this six issue mini series and allowed it him to just fade away from their company.  The only thing I can think of is super low sales or maybe the creative team moved onto another project and they could not find another team who wanted to keep the story going. The cover for this final issue is fantastic and showcases our three main heroes and the art inside once more was done by Greg LaRocque and is top notch 90’s comic book stuff! Over all I really enjoyed this comic series, and he was a perfect fit for this July 4th update as he embodied the sprit of this holiday and that’s a celebration of freedom and being American. Check out the artwork below to see what Greg LaRocque work looks like, and enjoy.

That was lots of fun, and Fighting American truly is an American Hero and is in league with The Shield and Captain America at being a true patriot superhero and a perfect fit to talk about on Independence Day. I am sure you are wanting to get back to the cook out or gear up for the fireworks so I will wrap this update up so you can all get back to enjoying your holiday! Our next update will be my vacation update where I will chat about Monster Bash and the Romero Dead film Day Of The Dead! So until next update, I want to thank you friends and readers for spending a small part of your July 4th with me and make sure to read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host! See you next update to relax with the zombies and monsters…