From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Dark (1993)

Cemeteries and small towns are packed with legends and tall tales of monsters and ghosts.  Around here in Dayton, Ohio I have heard my fair share of these stories and for our 3rd countdown to Halloween, we will be taking a look at a movie and comic that has a monster in the cemetery and is another in our “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates.  I am talking about the 1993 film The Dark and the Norstar Comic based on it! During the early 90’s, horror was still going strong; the direct to video market was still very healthy as video rental stores were on almost every corner, and the youth were still very much into films with monsters, killers and supernatural beings. This film was on many video rental shelves and was watched by many monster kids of the 90s late on weekend nights. So let’s go to the cemetery and enter the tunnels as we take a look at The Dark, and the weird creature that lives in it.

We first must understand this comic and film’s monster, a hairy creature, in order to truly understand the horrors we are about to face. The creature in this film is called a Allotheria and is massive in size and has sharp claws and a very large head that supports teeth much like a dog mixed with a rat.  It makes its home in a cemetery as its main source of food is freshly dead buried bodies. The creature has lots of tunnels under the ground and seems to just attack when it feels its life is in danger or if you so happen to enter its cave. Not much is known what the creature is – some say it was an unknown species while it’s also hinted that it could be alien in nature, and this causes it to be wanted dead and alive by the government and its agents. The creature’s main means to kill is its sharp claws and teeth that it is able to use to shred human flesh.  It also can move pretty fast and can uses its tunnels to stalk its attended victim. Its main defense for  is a grey goo that is like blood and seems to heal wounds causing it to be harder to kill. The weakness of this creature is that while it can be a killing machine, it only attacks when provoked and this could leave it open for attacks. While the grey goo can heal most wounds, it does not protect from severe damage like multiple gunshots, and this can lead to the creature’s death. So this creature might not be the most powerful or most dangerous killers we have covered on one of our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic updates, but one thing is for sure, he could make any of us normal humans into bloody shredded cheese.

So as you can see, this dead human-meat eating creature just wants to be left alone and has the gruesome jaws and claws to make sure that he gets the peace he wants. But now that we have chatted about this killer creature we should now take a look at the movie it’s from and as always we will be taking the film’s write up from our friends at IMDB and after I will chat about the film’s production as well as my first time seeing it. So let’s go further underground and see what we can dig up on The Dark.

The Dark (1993)

“Something is alive beneath the surface of the graveyard. Something with the power to destroy and the power to heal. One man, a cop, is determined to kill this mysterious creature. Another, a scientist, is determined to capture and save this miraculous being. Stalking the creature in it’s subterranean habitat, neither man is aware of the battle they are about to start. A battle for science, survival and revenge.”

The Dark was released direct to video in 1993 and was produced by Lightshow Communications and had a theatrical release in Canada in 1994. The film was low budget and was directed by Craig Pryce who also directed episodes of “PSI Factor: Chronicles Of The Paranormal”, “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” and “Goosebumps” and stars such actors as Brion James, Stephen McHattie, Cynthia Belliveau and is the first movie role of Neve Campbell! The film is one that was met with mix reviews and over the years has gained a very small following among diehard 90s horror fans. Not much is out in the world wide web about the making of this film as it was one that came and went and was lost in the shuffle of horror films released in 1993 as these films over shadowed it Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, Leprechaun, Return Of The Living Dead 3, Body Bags, Warlock: The Armageddon, Puppet Master 4, Maniac Cop 3 and Bloodstone: Subspecies II to name a few.

I first saw this film in August of this year and learned about it thanks to the Norstar Comic book that Pete of Bell, Book And Comic held back for me from a buy he did so that I could cover it here on Rotten Ink. So after digging around on Amazon, I found a VHS copy of the film and sadly when it showed up it was crushed and not in playing order so I had to send it back and ended up getting the film on DVD with the refunded money. Once I watched the film for the first time, I found it to be a fun monster flick that had a cool creature and an okay and simple story with cheesy lines and an ending that leaves it open for a sequel. I liked the setting mostly being a cemetery and that Neve Campbell played a young cop as she gave the film a edge as she does a good job on what little she is given. The disappointment of the film is that the monster is not shown as much as I wanted and in fact he does not seem like the biggest threat of the film as a rogue FBI Agent is clearly the more dangerous threat to our heroes. Over all while not an amazing independent horror film, it still was a fun one to watch on a boring day. You can find this film on DVD and VHS if you want to watch a film about a grey goo spewing, dead flesh eating, underground living creature who is wanted dead and alive by rival enemies.

So The Dark, as you can see, is a direct to video film from 1993 that features an underground creature, and while not a household name, it did get the comic book treatment and that to me is very cool as I think that many independent horror films should be doing this. Imagine comics based on films like Redsin Tower from Toe Tag or Babysitter Massacre from E.I. Entertainment getting their own comic books. So we are here deep in this tunnel under this cemetery, and as I look for a place to sit and read this comic, I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for getting me this comic and scratched in the wall made of mud is this “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 I think the Creature wanted me to remind you all about this, so let’s sit back and prepare to be scared as we come face to face with The Dark!

The Dark # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price .80     Norstar Comics     # 1 of 1

Jake and Ed are digging a grave at the cemetery they work for when they witness a tombstone drop into the ground and Jake’s leg falls into a hole in the ground that is really a tunnel and Ed is able to get him free right before a creature is able to grab him. The cops are called to look into the tunnel and while searching it one cop is left dead as the gravediggers and female officer Jessie are greeted by Hunter and Tanya who warn them not to touch the black ooze that was left behind after the attack as he is here to capture the creature that made the tunnels and killed the cop. But as they are chatting, former FBI Agent Buckner shows up and locks all of them in a work shed besides Jake who he takes hostage and tosses in the tunnel as bait as he wants to kill this creature due to the fact the creature killed his partner years ago. Hunter and his crew escape the shed and he has a plan to bury himself in order to get the creature’s attention and try to capture it. And on this cliffhanger is how this issue ends with the question being what will the creature do.

This is a solid promo comic that gives you a taste of what to expect in the film and delivers good quick character development as well as a few cheap scares of the monster almost getting characters. The story is this: some gravediggers and a police officer team with a scientist and his new girlfriend to find a creature that lives in tunnels under a cemetery who become the target of a former FBI Agent who is hellbent on killing the creature as it killed his partner years back. Hunter is our hero of the issue as he is the scientist who wants to study the healing factors of the creature and knows that it could save many lives of injured people from all over the world. While he doesn’t get to flex his hero muscles to much in this comic he does use his brain to get them out of the shed and also comes up with an idea to bury himself to get close to the creature and find its lair. Tonya, Jake, Ed and Jessie are along for the ride and sadly are all caught up in this twisted game of kill or be killed. Buckner is a man who has turned mad and is eaten up with revenge and looks like he is willing to kill people in order to get it! The Creature is just being that an animal who is protecting its home and will kill and eat whom ever gets in its way! The comic is bloodless and doesn’t have any creature attacks and the horror aspect comes from suspense of the creature almost getting people and the drama of Buckner being crazy. The cover is an art version of the poster that hung in rental stores and is pretty eye catching for the time and for Horror Comic readers. The interior art is done by Paul Jenner and is solid and captures a true early 90’s independent comic feel. Over all this is only 12 pages long and is a great way to get readers hyped to see the film and is as well a great item for fans of the film to collect. To sum it up not life changing but a good quick read that does justice to the film. Check out the art below to see the Creature in all his ink and pen glory.

So we have gotten out of the tunnel and more importantly out of The Dark and we have found that the Allotheria Creature is a killing machine when provoked or attacked and that he jumped from movie to comic thanks to Norstar, a production company who released the film in Canada. So while we are all still in awaiting Halloween and with our next update being in October we are going to stick with our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic theme and take a look at The Willies! That’s right, the PG-13 Horror flick got its own comic and we will be taking a look at it next time we meet here at Rotten Ink. So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! The next update will give you The Willies!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Legend Of Diablo

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

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

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

The Legend Of Diablo (2003)

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

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

So now that we have an understanding of Azar and the film that spawned him, The Legend Of Diablo, I think it’s time to go from the movie to the comic book that was released by Image Comics. The only reason I knew this comic book was made was again thanks to Game Swap and the customer who brought up the DVD that boldly states “based on the popular comic character!” And that sparked a hunt for what comic this film was based on and with the help of Todd The Fox we found it, but only after asking many comic reading friends of mine if they knew like Jason Young and Jeremy Hoyt and none of them knew…so Azar must not have been that popular of a comic character. I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having this issue in stock as that made this update possible. The Aztec spirits are wanting me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So beware of the stalking red light that lurks outside as it could be Azar, and let’s dive right into this comic that helped spawn the film or is that they spawned each other!

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

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

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

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

Marvel At The Movies Part 3: Bring On The Superheroes!

The doors are once again wide open at the Marvel Theater, and they have welcomed Rotten Ink in once more to take a look at more comic adaptations of movies.  This time around we will be taking a look at comics based on movies that are based on Marvel Comics! Nowadays, Marvel is ruling the box office with their films based on The Avengers, X-Men, Captain America, Iron Man and Guardians of The Galaxy, proving that these comic characters are truly box office gold. It’s crazy to think that back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Marvel was struggling to get their movies even made and the ones that were did not live up to what they wanted as Superman and Batman were clearly the powerhouses and led DC to being the go to company if you needed a comic character to make a movie around. For this update I have chosen three comic adaptations for Marvel films I grew up watching, not the more modern ones.  My picks are Howard The Duck, The Punisher and Captain America, all considered turkeys of films and all films I enjoyed watching over and over as a kid. So let’s find the perfect seat and settle in as we have some movies to talk about!

marvel-at-the-movies-3 update logo 00

Before we get too comfortable in our seats, I should thank Mavericks Cards And Comics and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock, and most importantly, I should also sound like a broken record and remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with our popcorn and favorite drink in hand lets take a look and talk about some fun comics based on Marvel characters!

Howard The Duck Movie Still 1Howard The Duck Movie PosterHoward The Duck Movie Still 2

In 1986, George Lucas produced Marvel Comics first hero to make it to the big screen.  It was not Spider-Man nor was it the Fantastic Four as those would have proven to have been wiser choices.  Instead, we got Howard The Duck! The film followed Howard The Duck as he is sucked to Earth, befriends a female rock band, and saves the world from a inter-dimensional being who wants to rule the world. Universal Pictures as well as Marvel Comics put a lot of time and money into promoting this film and even cast some pretty great names to star in it like Lea Thompson, Tim Robbins and Jeffrey Jones with Chip Zien providing the voice of Howard.  But none of these elements could help the film with critics and moviegoers who snubbed it. The film did very poorly for Universal, only bringing in a worldwide total of $37,962,774.00 on a $37 million dollar budget! I for one always enjoyed this film growing up.  I first saw it on HBO, and by that point my brother and I already had Marvel Comic issues of Howard and I even had the paperback novel adaptation on the film,  The film was super fun and any film that had Lea Thompson in her panties was a-ok in my book! I am not so sure why this film has as much hate as it does.  None of my schoolmates on the playground in Waynesville ever trashed this film nor did I really hear all that much hate for it until the social media boom of the 2000’s happened. So let’s see how this comic adaptation series holds up and if it can capture the cheesy magic of the film.

Howard The Duck Movie Special 1

Howard The Duck # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986    Cover Price .75    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 3

Howard The Duck has just gotten off work and is sitting in his apartment, drinking a beer and enjoying the new issue of Play-Duck, when he is suddenly pulled by an unknown force out into space and left stranded on Earth in Cleveland, Ohio right outside of a rock venue were the all female group Cherry Bomb is playing. After being lost in the city and seeing just how cold and uncaring it can be, he ends back up at the rock venue just as Bev, the lead singer of Cherry Bomb is having some words with their manager who has not paid the band for their past gigs! As Beverly is walking home, she is attacked by some hoods who have bad intentions and is saved by Howard who uses Quack-Fu, and a friendship is sparked as Howard stays the night at Beverly’s flat where he opens up about his life in his world that included him wanting to be a song writer. The next day Beverly brings Howard to the Cleveland museum to meet Phil, a friend of her who works there.  After that gives them no answers, Howard losses his cool and runs off Beverly, and now he is alone and mad in Cleveland!

This is a fun first issue that holds the charm and good nature of the film and its characters. The plot for issue one has Howard being zapped from his planet and trapped on Earth and becoming friends with Beverly who is a lead singer for a rock band who wants to try and help him return to his planet, but one little argument leaves the two at odds by the end of the issue. Howard The Duck is a blue collar kind of character who is stuck between living his dreams of being a creative person and “growing up” and working a adult job. He comes off short tempered but also noble as he risks his own life when a stranger is in danger. Howard is scared and yet trying to stay strong as he really just wants to go home and get away from Cleveland. Beverly Switzler is a sweet young woman who fronts a popular all female band called Cherry Bomb.  She is an independent person who lives on her own and is following her dreams. She also has a great heart as she takes in Howard who saved her from being attacked and wants to try her best to find a way to get him home. Phil Blumburtt is a total goof who so far wants to help Howard but also wants to help himself as he feels this could get him into the Science Hall Of Fame.  While a smart person, he is also very much a goof. Ginger is a jerk and is the manager of Cherry Bomb. Howard is mistreated by Metalheads and Bikers in this issue and all the while you find yourself cheering for this duck to make it out alright. The cover for this adaptation is just okay and is lacking the major eye catching appeal, while the art inside is done by Kyle Baker and is pretty good stuff.  Some of the characters loosely look like the actors who played them in the film. Over all a very good first issue and is a fun enjoyable ride with likable characters and some kid comic like charm. Well let’s see how issue two holds up!

Howard The Duck Movie Special 2

Howard The Duck # 2  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   # 2 of 3

Howard is now on his own and finds a job at a spa, but quits that quickly when he finds out he hates to swim and his boss is a fat jerk. While walking the streets, he ends up at a club were Cherry Bomb is playing and overhears Ginger bragging about stealing the band’s money and is talking sleazy about Beverly.  This angers Howard who beats him up, takes the bands money to give to them and gets it so now he is the band’s manager! Howard goes back to stay with Beverly, and they are soon visited by Phil and a Dr. Walter Jenning who is in charge of the Spectroscopic Laser that was the tool that pulled Howard to Earth! They decide that if they reverse the experiment that they might be able to send Howard home.  This turns bad when the laser explodes and brings something more dark and sinister to Earth and leaves Howard on the run from the cops for being a illegal alien. Beverly breaks him loose from jail, and Dr. Jenning is sick and needs help as he took the blunt of the blast and is also wanted for questioning as this last experiment was not on the record. The trio ends up at a small roadside diner where Jenning goes through a transformation and is now calling himself The Dark Overlord.  He wants to use the laser to bring more of his kind to Earth and take it over! As Howard and Beverly try to escape the diner and leave Jennings behind, they soon find the locals want to cook and eat Howard, but he is saved by Jennings who roughs up the diner and takes back the gold key that starts up the laser that Howard stole. In the end it’s clear The Dark Overlord is now in control and wants to bring the end of the world with the coming of his friends.

The story is starting to bubble now as we get some action and science fiction elements that bring the plot to life. This far the plot has Howard almost finding his way back home but something goes wrong and he is instead being held by the cops who came to the lab after an accident that leaves Dr. Jenning injured and possessed by a evil being called The Dark Overlord who wants to bring down the world and a new age of evil. Throw is a greasey spoon diner straight out of Superman II and you have this issue. Howard kicks some butt as he takes Ginger and his con man ways to an end and even starts to build a crush on Beverly who he feels drawn to, Howard sadly also is so close to going home yet so far away as the accident as well as The Dark Overlord is keeping his homecoming away. Beverly thanks to Howard now has her musical career going in the right direction, but also finds herself getting a crush on the three feet tall walking and talking duck Howard. Phil is as goofy as ever, but does come up with how and who brought Howard to Earth and comes up with the possible way to send him home. Dr. Jenning as a man is a bright and helpful man who wants to help get Howard home, but once transformed into The Dark Overlord he is a mad man with plans to bring the fall of man and has no time for people or ducks who get into his way. One odd thing that you must think about is how many characters seem not to be puzzled or freaked out about a walking and talking three foot tall duck, not to mention like in the movie the comic plays up on the sexual tension between Howard and Beverly! But cant say I blame Howard as getting a crush on a woman that looks like Lea Thompson seems easy to do. The diner is filled with some blood thirsty jerks as they really want to kill Howard and eat him, I mean really they take him to the kitchen and the cook is about to chop him up before The Dark Overlord saves his tail feathers. The issue is another fun one and this time around the cover is pretty fun as it has Howard about to be chopped up, the art is done by Kyle Baker again and is good stuff. So far this has been a solid adaptation mini series and one that makes me look forward to reading the finial issue to see just how it all ends! Ok I know as I have seen the movie many times but thats besides the point.

Howard The Duck Movie Special 3

Howard The Duck # 3  **1/2
Released in 1986    Cover Price .75    Marvel Comics    # 3 of 3

The Dark Overlord kidnaps Beverly and heads toward the lab to use the laser to bring his friends to Earth, as Howard rushes to her aid and along the way frees Phil from the back of a police car and the pair barrow a small plan and fly it to the lab. During this time Howard comes to terms that he has been sent to Earth for a reason and thats to save it from the upcoming doom that awaits it. Phil at the lab rigs another big laser to a cart and Howard must aim it at The Dark Overlord to stop him who is going to use Beverly as a host body for one of his friends coming from the other dimension. Howard drives the cart and heads for The Dark Overlord and as both his each other with a massive hit the spirit of the Overlord leaves the body of Jenning who tells Howard the only way to defeat these evil beings is to destroy the laser which would leave Howard stranded on Earth! Howard does what needs to be done and the laser is no more and the portal for the Overlords is closed for good. At the end Howard is now the manager of Cherry Bomb and he is content on being on Earth with his friends.

The final issue is as solid as the two before it and I must say that this adaptation over all truly does capture the feel of the film and keeps the humor and adveture nature. This issues plot is Howard going after The Dark Overlord who has kidnapped Beverly, and must man up (or is that duck up?) and choose between going home and saving Earth.Howard in this issue becomes a hero and puts his own needs in the corner so that the needs of many are meet and the human race is safe. Howard also learns a little about friendship as he and Phil must work together to accomplish their goal and also learns about love as he truly finds himself caring for Beverly. The Dark Overlord is a sinister being who does not care about anyone else besides his wants and needs and that is just for the world to end and his race’s time to begen. The downside to this powerful being is that while he can crush and shock his way into power he is easly defeated by a blast from a laser gun and goes down with out a fight really. Beverly in this issue goes from rock n roll chick to helpess damsel in distress back to rocker, she is very likebale as a character and I found myself routing for Howard to save her. Phil and Jennings are helpful in their roles and each offer the ideas that bring down the Overlord and this is fitting as neither character is over played. What I like best about this adaptation is that it holds true to the film as it captures the family fun comedy adventure and showcases the fact that Howard The Duck is a character kids could like. The art is done by Baker once again and it looks great and the cover is pretty good and is a nice way to showcase all the heroes and our issues main baddie! So far this is a great start to this Marvel At The Movies and I look forward to see what The Punisher and Captatin America adaptations have in store! Check out some Baker artwork below. 

Howard The Duck Movie Art 1Howard The Duck Movie Art 2Howard The Duck Movie Art 3

From the silly adventure of Howard The Duck now to the savage brutal action of The Punisher!

Dolph Punisher 1The Punisher (Dolph) Movie PosterDolph Punisher 2

In 1989 New World Pictures was the parent company of Marvel Comics and wanted to turn their popular anti-hero vigilante character The Punisher into a film that would blend action and comic adventure into one entertaining film starring Dolph Lundgren that could compete with DC Comics and Warner Brothers Superman and Batman films. But sadly, this film was not to be the major blockbuster hit they were hoping for as New World’s financial issues caused the film to never have a theatrical run in the United States (while it did overseas).  Its fate was Direct To Video and airing on cable. The film has The Punisher having to team with the mob bosses whose kids have been kidnapped by the Yakuza as well as dealing with his own war on crime. The film is straight action with lots of gunplay, hand to hand combat as well as some ninja action! The main reason people hated this film was the fact The Punisher didn’t wear the skull logo on his chest.  I can remember friends ranting about this all the time and saying the movie sucked.  I have always taken up for this film because if you removed the name The Punisher, people would have liked this it as a solid 80’s action film. I first saw the film via a video rental when our Dad rented it for us all to watch.  I can remember that my brother and I both liked it, and this sparked out want and need to get issues of Spider-Man that had him fighting The Punisher. The film was pretty brutal, and I am wondering how well this adaptation issue will capture the violence and grim nature of the story. So let’s not keep The Punisher waiting any longer and see just what this adaptation has to offer.

PUNISHER MOVIE SPECIAL 1

The Punisher # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990    Cover Price $ 5.95    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 1

Frank Castle and Jake are cops on a bust to bring down the Franco crime family, and while they capture some of the mob’s goons, they fail to capture their main target. Frank and Jake get the call they have been waiting for as they get to deliver a surprise to Franco before he flees the country. This makes the mob boss very angry and a hit is placed on Frank Castle and his family who all become victims of a car bomb. Five years pass as a vigilante named The Punisher has killed over 100 mobsters, and Castle’s old partner Jake thinks that Frank Castle is alive and is this punishing angel. Franco has now returned to America and wants to unite all the crime families into one corporation and sets up a big drug deal to bring them all together, but during the pick up they are attacked not just by The Punisher but also ninjas who steal the drugs and kill many in the process. The Punisher is getting his information from an alcoholic washed up stage actor as Jake gets a new partner in Sam, a young female rookie cop. Hideko Tanaka is the leader of the Yukuza, and along with her mute American adopted daughter, is responsible for the ninja attack.  They warn Franco and the crime lords that they are taking over the town and to insure this they kidnap all their children! The Punisher stays out of the war for a short time but with kids’ lives at risk, he takes the war to the Yukuza and warns them to free the children or else. The Yukuza set up The Punisher and his actor friend and torture them to try and get information as they think the crime bosses hired him to attack, The Punisher escapes and saves all the children except Tommy Franco who was taken by Yukuza members. The Punisher is captured by the cops and besides rescuing the kids, Jake finds that his friend Frank Castle is alive yet is a shell of the man he was. Franco has The Punisher rescued from going to jail and begs him to help him get his son back from Tanaka.  The pair enter her headquarters and wage war with her bloodthirsty men and her skilled mute daughter. The Punisher kills Tanaka with a knife to the head as she holds Tommy hostage and is forced to kill his father when the crime lord is about to try and kill him! In the end, The Punisher runs into the night as Jake and the police show up knowing that his war in crime is not over.

The first thing I want to say is that this is a really fun comic adaptation and adds in moments that were cut from the film.  It has a nice quick pace that captures the action feel of the film. The downside is that the art is pretty crappy and not my style at all, as well as the copy I have was misprinted which made it hard to read pages that were mis-cut during binding. The plot has The Punisher going to war with the Mob and being forced to join forces with them once a rival foreign mob comes to town and puts the lives of kids in danger. Frank Castle/The Punisher is a good man who becomes confused about justice when his family is brutally murdered and he is left for dead.  His one man war on crime has left hundreds dead and has crime lords shaking in their boots. It’s odd that he never went to his friend and partner Jake for help, but I think it goes to show you the man he was died alongside his family that day. I love how he steps up and helps the crime lords when their kids are put in danger showing that while he is a cold blooded killer he still has humanity left when it comes to the innocence of children. Jake and Sam are good cops who know that Frank is The Punisher and want to help him before the rest of the law catches up to him and puts him in jail! Franco is a slimeball who deals drugs and kills to achieve his goals in the world of crime. Even after The Punisher helps him, he still wants to try and kill the man who saved his child’s life as well as his own as Tanaka wants him to kill himself in order to save his son! Hideko Tanaka is the worst of the worst in the world of crime, and to prove how evil she is, she killed her own brother to please the Yukuza bosses! She has an army of well trained ninjas at her side as well as her daughter who is also cold blooded. Tanaka is the kind of bad girl who kills and gets enjoyment in not only the act but all the sadness that effects those who loved her victim. The rest of the characters all are well done from Tommy Franco to the drunk actor, they all survive a part and all are important to the story. Oe thing I want to point out is that in the comic for the end battle The Punisher does have to skull on his chest, and this is something that fans of the movie wanted…read this comic, and you’ll get him in the costume. The cover is amazing and eye catching.  The art inside is done by Brent Anderson and is kind of sloppy and characters look nothing like the actors who played them in the film. To sum it up, this is a solid adaptation and is well worth checking out for fans of the film as all the classic lines are present.  Check out some art below to see the style of Anderson.

Punisher Movie Special Art 1

He only punished the guilty, and now it’s time to take a look at a hero who fights for America!

Cap Movie 1Captain America 1990 Movie PosterCap Movie 2

This is the film Marvel Comics really thought would put one of their characters at the top of the box office, but like Howard The Duck and The Punisher, this one just could not get footing and was shelved for a couple of years and then quietly put out direct to video. 21st Century really wanted Captain America to be a huge success like Tim Burton’s Batman and spark a merchandise frenzy as well as sequels that would be box office gold.  Instead all they had was a cheesy film starring Matt Salinger as Captain America is a great yet laughable costume and Ohio born Scott Paulin as The Red Skull who most of the film does not have a Red Skull as he has plastic surgery to cover his face! The film had a hard time even getting made as it was passed around by production companies, and many dates were set for it to hit theaters throughout 1990 and 1991 before, as I said, it was released straight to home video. The film had the right heart with the costume being as close to the comic character’s as possible, and the casting of actors like Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox and the lovely Francesca Neri were wise choices – all the right things to do to make this a hit, but for all the good there was the mediocre script, the lack of Salinger in the suit and the terrible acting of Kim Gillingham that held it back. Everyone I knew who had seen this film when released on VHS said it was terrible, and for some reason I enjoyed it.  I think it all came down to the fact Captain America along with the Incredible Hulk have always been one of my favorite super heroes, and besides the made for TV films from the 70’s, this was as close to seeing Cap come alive I was going to get.  Plus my Dad bought me the movie on VHS for my birthday and that also made it special. The film is about Cap fighting the Red Skull during World War II and saving the world leaves him frozen and now in present day he is found and returns to stop The Red Skull who is now a terrorist. This is a total guilty pleasure film and is one I still watch from time to time when looking for a ham packed with cheese super hero film. So let’s see how the comic adaptation holds up to the film.

Captain America Movie Special 1

Captain America The Movie # 1  **1/2
Released in 1992    Cover Price $3.50    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 1

In 1936 the Nazi’s kidnap a young Italian boy who is super smart and a master piano player and murder his family in front of him.  He is taken to Dr. Vasari to be experimented on turning him into a killing machine. Dr. Vasari does not agree with testing on humans and runs for her life as the boy becomes the first human subject for the Super Soldier Formula. Flash to 1943, and the skinny Steve Rogers who walks with a limp has been picked by the government to be a test subject that might just be the tool to win the war.  Rogers is happy as he wants to help in the war but his girlfriend Bernie is not too happy and is filled with worry. Steve Rogers is picked up and taken to a secret lab where Dr. Vasari injects him with a new and improved Super Soldier Formula, but she is killed by a Nazi spy and he is forced into action fast as The Red Skull is about to set off a missile that would be heading straight for America and our nation’s capital! Captain America and Red Skull fight.  This leads to Captain America being attached to the missile and The Red Skull loosing a hand, but the White House is saved when Captain America at the last minute gets free and takes the missile off course and to the the frozen land up north. Youngster Nick Kimball was in Washington and was able to snap a picture of Captain America on the missile and this sticks with him over the years all the way till adulthood when he even becomes the President of the United States as he has always wanted to know who Cap was. Sam, who has been Nick’s friend since childhood, is now a reporter and has as well tried to find out who his friends mystery hero was. Captain America trusts no one and rushes to Bernie who is now old and meets her daughter Sharon who he stays with and gets a job at the gym she works for. Meanwhile The Red Skull along with an American turncoat named Millhouse come up with a plan to kidnap the president to experiment on him with mind control, but he also sends his daugther Antonella to kill Captain America and instead she and her goons just kill Bernie and Sam! This sets Captain America off and he travels to Italy to save the President and to stop The Red Skull! In the end with the help of The President, Sharon and a cassette tape of The Red Skull as a child playing piano they are able to stop him from blowing up Italy with a bomb more powerful than the atom bomb when The Red Skull flings himself off the side of his castle and into the cold waters below. Saving the day Steve Rogers now finds happiness with Sharon.

Besides some little changes this comic adaptation is just as cheesy and silly as the movie, but I must say that one of the pluses is that Steve Rogers stays in the Captain America suit a little more than he does in the movie! The plot of this adaptation is this Steve Rogers is injected with a super formula that turns him into the ultimate solider, he battles The Red Skull in his first mission and while a hero he is frozen in a block of ice and many years later thawed out and must stop The Red Skull who is now a terrible terrorist who know has a plot to kill our president. The major changes is that The Red Skull commits suicide by jumping off the side of his castle in this comic while in the movie he is knocked off it by Cap’s shield. The other change is that Sharon and Steve Rogers end up hooking up by the end and that Steve has a day job of being a janitor at a gym. Captain America in this comic is very heroic and does what ever he can to save not only the American people but also the people of Italy along the way of saving the President. But to break this down more its funny to think in this universe Captain America failed on his first mission to stop Red Skull and while saving the White House from a missle his legend is unknown as he never became the true hero of World War II like the comics show him to be. Steve Rogers is a man with a limp who takes some super soilder formula injections and becomes a hero, he also back in his youth had a girlfriend and when returning to modern times is able to win the heart of her daughter…what a pimp. The Red Skull in this comic adaptation as well as the movie is Italian and is forced into his life of being a Nazi super soilder and is driven nuts by the formula, but not while he starts with the Red Skull face he ends up getting plastic sugery as he does in the movie and looks normal. Sam, Millhouse, Bernie, Dr. Vasari and Antonella are just side characters that keep the comic moving along as President Kimball is also just around to be kidnapped and in the end come to the aid to save America by fighting his captors. Sharon is a fighter and also must like older men and get turned on my people who dated her own mother. The art is well done and while it looks nothing like the actors who play the parts in the movie its based on, it does look like an issue of Captain America from the 90’s. The cover is way more action packed than the story inside and is pretty eye catching with the art inside being done by Bob Hall and are well done. Over all this adaptation is just as hammy as the film and was a good read once and something I will not re-read anytime soon. Check out the art below for what this comic looks like inside that cool cover.

Captain America Movie Special Art 1

So while I stew on which one of these films should have had a comic series based around the movie universe it created, I think it’s time for a Fantasy Warfare! I have been slacking on presenting the Fantasy Warfare and feel it’s time to unleash a battle of the movie versions of Dark Overlord of the Universe, The Red Skull and Hideko Tanaka! The battleground will be the Waffle House on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road around 1a.m on a cool windy night in May right after a nasty storm. So if you’re ready to watch an epic B-movie villain battle for the ages, let’s head into the Waffle House and see who comes out the winner.

Dark Lord (Movie)VS redLady TanakaVS redRed Skull Movie 90s

Peg is working the late shift as the waitress as Ryan is working the grill the two workers are barely talking as the two mid 30 year olds once dated and the relationship ended bad, and worse it’s been a very slow night. As the minutes tic by a stranger comes walking in he is covered up with a long grey trench coat, a scarf over his face and wearing a hat he takes a seat away from the door and orders a Texas Cheesesteak Melt, a Triple Order of Hash browns Smothered, Covered & Diced with a Chocolate Milk to drink and Peg goes to read off the order but as she does another guests comes in she is alone and has a bandage over her forehead and introduces herself as Hideko Tanaka and demainds that she becomes the leader of this Waffle House and that she will take 70% off the stores profits! Peg looks at her as if she is speaking japaness and is at a loss of words for this strange statement she ordered as another stranger comes stumbling in pushing Tanaka out of the way and demanding eggs! The Dark Lord has now entered the Waffle House and is angry and really craving eggs.  He is yelling at Ryan about sunny side up eggs, Tanaka springs into action and she plunges a steak knife off a dirty table into Dark Lord’s back, but to her shock, he just shrugs it off, turns to her and uses powers to fling her against the wall.  With his other hand he makes all the sharp knives in the place fly toward her and just before they all plunge into her body, she mumbles the words “not again” and with that she is staked to the wall never to demand 70% of profits again. As Dark Lord laughs and celebrates his victory, he turns to find a luger pistol to his face as the stranger in the long coat has taken off his hat and scarf.  We see that it’s The Red Skull as he fires a bullet into the Overlord’s brain.  The crimson faced villain makes it known that he wants his meal and all this fighting has kept him away from it! As the body of the Overlord hits the ground, The Red Skull turns back to his table just as Peg places his plate down and informs him they gave him extra pickles for his trouble. As Peg goes to get the mop to clean up the blood, Ryan is gearing up to pick up the bodies and dump them in the dumpster as The Red Skull takes a drink from his chocolate milk looking out the window and is enjoying the silence of the restaurant.

Winner – Red Skull

The Red Skull would out smart the competition, get his greasy spoon meal and leave the winner of this Fantasy Warfare, but he could not help pull off the win for the film that should have continued as a comic series as Captain America sadly came in last place because it was not as impactful and fun as the other two comic adaptations. Between Howard and The Punisher, I had a tuff decision as both had some great pros and some slight cons, but when it comes down to it I would give this win to The Punisher! Marvel could have continued the police hunt for The Punisher, and they could have fleshed out that his one time partner Jake while wanting to help him also must do the right thing and stop him from killing criminals. I think The Punisher would have made for a good series based on the film, but then again The Punisher, Captain America and Howard The Duck all have comics so whether or not Marvel wanted to make a comic series based on any of these films, fans of the characters already had issues of these heroes to make them happy!

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The clean up crew is here to shut down the Marvel Theater so I think it’s time to take our leave until the next update, which will be our second Undead File as I take a look at Arrow Comics’ The Dead! So as we walk out this exit door, I would like to say that I did enjoy reading these adaptations, and that I truly think out of the three The Punisher would make the best comic series. Until next time, go see a movie at your local theater, read a comic or three and support your local Horror Host. I will see you next update for a undead good time!

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