From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Gorgo

For this second update of my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” Kaiju Month, we will be traveling to jolly old England to take a look at their giant monster named Gorgo! This is one of those Horror Movies I grew up watching on TV as TBS use to show it all the time, and I can always remember being glued to the screen when it was on. Many fans of giant monster movies seem to forget about Gorgo as he is always over shadowed by the likes of Godzilla and King Kong, but today he and his Momma will be getting the respect they deserve and it will be lots of fun to talk about them. So if you’re ready to find some shelter as Gorgo goes on the destruction city stomp, let’s talk about him and the film he’s from.

So first let’s see what Gorgo brings to the table when it comes to his destruction ability and his way to dispatch humans who are unfortunate enough to be in his way. Gorgo stands at 200 feet and has a reptilian appearance and an aggressive attitude. Gorgo hates humans and will not only use his massive size to stomp and smash but will also use his sharp teeth and claws to dispatch human lives. He also can use his appearance and roar to scare humans into being in frenzy, leaving themselves open for panic and leading to accidents that could cause death. Gorgo not only is a threat on land, he is also very dangerous in water as he can swim and breath underwater for long periods of time. What makes Gogro a big threat to mankind is the fact his mother Ogra is over 250 feet tall and is even more pissed and can cause way more damage. While Gorgo is a massive creature, he can be hurt as he hates fire, and even explosions and firepower can cause some damage. He can also be captured and by large nets and be kept as a prisoner by mankind. So while Gorgo might not have any special fire breath nor any other powerful abilities, he and his mother do have the tools to bring mankind to their knees if they truly go on a rampage.

So that’s what Gorgo brings to the table when it comes to his path of destruction and his way to deal with pesky humans. We should now take a look at the 1961 film Gorgo that this Kaiju appears in. As always, the film’s write up will be taken from our pals at IMDB and I will talk briefly afterwards about the film’s production as well as my thoughts on the film. So if you’re ready, I am ready to take a look at Gorgo!

Gorgo (1961)

A salvage vessel is nearly sunk off the Irish coast by an undersea earthquake. A few nights later, a walking sea monster tangles with the fishing boats and enters the town. The salvage vessel captures Gorgo and takes it to London for display. Gorgo’s mother, who is upset and significantly larger follows his trail to London leaving a wake of destruction in her path.”

Gorgo is a British giant monster horror movie that was released by MGM in America and British Lion-Columbia in England. The film was directed by Eugene Lourie and cast such actors as Bill Travers, William Sylvester and Mick Dillon as the man in the Gorgo suit. The film had a pretty normal production for this type of movie at the time and MGM was hoping that this film would be a mega hit for them and would be their Godzilla at the Box Office and usher in a new monster icon. Gorgo was released in 1961 alongside such other frightful shockers like Konga, The Curse Of The Werewolf, Reptilicus, Brainiac, Doctor Blood’s Coffin, The Pit And The Pendulum, The Beast Of Yucca Flats and Mr. Sardonicus to name a few. And the film ended up doing pretty well and built up the world of Giant Monsters at the cinema that was sparked by the success of Godzilla in 1954. There’s not much special about this production besides at one point the film was going to be set in Japan first and then was changed to France, Australia and finally was settled on England. And the film for the time was also praised very highly for its monster special effects.

Much like King Kong and Godzilla, the mighty Gorgo has always seemed to be a part of my life as I have seen this film so many times on TV as well as home media like VHS and DVD, and I have seen this film over a dozen times…in fact even while writing this update I re-watched the film again on DVD! And while I really enjoy Gorgo as a film, I have talked to many other Horror Fans of Kaiju films and one phrase always seems to come up and that’s, “It’s good but it’s kind of bland” or some phrase like it, and I think I know what they mean as the film is a little slow moving in spots and has a very British slow paced feel until the amazing climax. And I get what they mean for the most part as the film itself is a great giant monster film that showcases two massive and cool monsters, but it does have a very slow pace like many of the Hammer Horror films released in the 60’s and 70’s. But for me, the pacing and slow build are kind of what makes this film special as the over all runtime is pretty short at only 78 minutes long. The film also spawned not only the comic book series but also had a novel adaptation of the film, model kits, shirts, posters and many more merchandise items showing that Gorgo does have his own cult following. There’s not much more to say about Gorgo besides it’s a fun Kaiju film that delivers monster mayhem and shows just how popular these giant monster movies were back in the 60’s.

So now that we have taken a look at Gorgo as a Kaiju as well as the film he is from, I think it’s now time we take a look at the comic book adaptation of the film that was released by Charlton Comics! I want to send a big thank you to the Ebay seller that had this comic in stock and made this update possible. I want to also remind you all that I grade this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready let’s see just how monstrous Gorgo really is when it comes to the world of Horror Comic Books.

Gorgo # 1  ***
Released in 1961    Cover Price .10    Charlton Comics   # 1 of 24

Sam Slade and Joe Ryan are business partners who search the sea for hidden treasure when a massive storm hits that is so bad that fish from the bottom of the sea are coming to the top. And after the storm they return to a small port that as well has been hit hard by the storm and are run off by Professor McCartin who is searching the sea for something. They soon follow one of McCartin’s ships, and they send a diver down who later comes back with a fist full of Viking gold but also dies of fright before their eyes! Sam and Joe dive next as Joe wants the gold and Sam wants to make sure his greedy partner comes back alive, and while down in the ocean they soon come face to face with a giant monster that makes them flee. Once back at the island they watch as the townspeople do a ritual and then watch as a massive creature Gorgo comes from the water and is forced back by fire by Joe and Sam who have figured our the creatures weakness. The villagers praise the pair as they Joe comes up with an idea to capture the massive creature with a steel shark net and the idea works and they take their massive find to London and are making tons of money showing it to the world. But Professor McCartin warns them that Gorgo is just a baby and that his mother is on her way to get him back, and she does show up and rampages across London until she gets her son back! The army, fire, electricity and everything is useless against the mother who grabs her offspring and heads back to the water ending her terror.

Gorgo was made for comic books and that’s why he lasted 24 issues even though the final issue was renamed Fantastic Giant as he is a cool monster that has an amazing look to him. This comic follows the plot of the film pretty well and has humans capturing Gorgo and turning him into a paid attraction and by kidnapping him they unleash his even more massive mothers rage on the city to get him back. Our hero is Sam Slade, who is a man who co-owns a company that finds treasures at the bottom of the oceans and also is the one who don’t like the idea of capturing a massive Kaiju when all around him warn of dangers and bring it to a city…he and they were wise for their fears! Joe Ryan is a sleazy conman who allows money to rule his life and seem to not even care about other peoples lives and safety if money is involved, in fact even when everything goes to hell he is still willing to wait it out in order to see if he can come out ahead. Ogra is Gorgo’s Mother and she is one massive creature of the sea who can not be stopped once she starts and her child is involved, she brings down the military with ease and even shrugs off fire like its nothing…in other words she is really unstoppable! Gorgo while just a baby as well is a creature of destruction and if not for his fear of fire he could have crushed the small island and all those on it! Gorgo, just like his mother, seems to always be in a destructive mood and always in a bad one. While this comic does a good job capturing the film, it does feel a little rush and some characters from the movie seem to take more of a back seat in the comic like the Professor and the young boy who is his assistant. The comic is bloodless but does have death, injury and destruction in it and has a real classic Horror Comic feel to it. The cover is very eye catching and fans of the movie I am sure flocked to get a copy of the comic just based on it! The interior art is done by the amazing Steve Ditko and is top notch stuff and shows that his art and giant monsters go hand and hand. Over all this is a great adaptation of a solid Kaiju film and is one that you should check out if you like Gorgo and other giant monsters like him. Check out the art below to see what Ditko brought to the table.

Gorgo is a Kaiju that I think the world seems to be gaining more respect for over time as his design, movie and legacy is pretty great, and he deserves to find his cult following. Now that we have survived the rampage of Gorgo and Ogra and before that we barely got out of the way of Reptilicus’, it’s time for the main destruction event as our final Kaiju for this month long themes updates is the one and only Godzilla from the 2014 film and the graphic novel Awakening that was spawned from it! So be ready for that as it will be a massive good time. Until then, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! I hope you’re prepared for the Kaiju that is Godzilla!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Reptilicus

For the month of May, in honor of “Godzilla: King Of The Monsters” hitting theaters and it bringing us one step closer to King Kong and Godzilla battling it out in 2020, we are going to have Kaiju month here on the blof that will be filled with “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates all featuring giant monsters! And our first Titan will be Reptilicus, a sinister dragon-like beast who was the first Danish monster in cinema! Many people seem to forget about the likes of Reptilicus when they think of Kaiju and just giant monsters in general so that is why he was selected as my first choice to start off this event month. So if you’re ready, let’s see the terrors Reptilicus has in store for us and what destruction he leaves behind.

Reptilicus is a massive snake-like reptile that was frozen underground for centuries and is very combative in nature once awoken. The massive Reptilicus has many means to snuff out the life of humans as he can use his size and weight to crush and smash any and everything that gets in his way. He also sports very sharp snake-like teeth that could easily eat, impale and rip apart a man in no time. He doesn’t only attack on land but also water and even air with a strike upward. He also has the ability to grow back missing limbs and can heal from attacks pretty quick as he is a massive monster who can regenerate. Bullets, missiles and even fire from tanks do not hurt him, as he is able to shrug it off and keep on his path of destruction. And we are not even sure what his green acid spit could do when in contact with human flesh! Not to mention just the sight of him will cause panic and leave his human targets more easy to pick off as they make mistakes with minds full of fear. While he is massive and very hard to truly hurt, he can be killed as he hates fire and if burnt too long, he would die. He is also pretty slow moving on land and this also leaves him open for attacks and other means to stop him. He can also be drugged, and it’s even possible make him die of an overdose. While he might not be the most massive or destructive Kaiju in the world, Reptilicus is one of the most cold blooded who goes out of his way to kill and destroy, making him one deadly foe.

So now that we have taken a look at the destructive and killing nature of Reptilicus, we should now take a look at the film he is from. The film’s write up is taken from our friends at IMDB, and after, I will talk a little about the film’s production as well as my connection with and feelings about the film. So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at the film.

Reptilicus (1961)

A portion of the tail of a prehistoric reptile is discovered in Denmark. It regenerates into the entire reptile, which proceeds to destroy buildings and property and generally make a nuisance of itself. It can fly, swim, and walk, and has impenetrable scales, which makes it difficult to kill.”

In the 1960’s, giant monster movies were all the rage, and in 1961 American International Pictures and Denmark company Saga Studio teamed up to make Reptilicus! The film was directed by Poul Bang for the Danish version and Sidney W. Pink for the English one…as you see, the film was made in two different language in order to maximize the film’s audience with the only major change being the actress who played the character of Connie Miller. Another story goes that the English version was so bad that American International Pictures called in screenwriter Ib Melchior to help shape it up for release. This also caused Pink to be upset and threaten to sue the company, but rumor has it, after watching his version he dropped the lawsuit as he saw how bad it was! The film built a cult following in Denmark as well as the US, but critics were not kind to this film as they all mocked its cheap looking production values. So while Reptilicus might not be as loved and respected as King Kong, Godzilla or even Gamera, it still made its mark on the world of giant monster cinema. A fun fact is that in 2001 director Sidney Pink wanted to remake the film to try and cash in on the 1998 American Godzilla movie…but sadly this did not happen as Pink passed away in 2002 from a long illness.

Reptilicus was one of those movies I know I saw when I was a youngster and cannot remember if it was just shown on broadcast TV or if it was on a Horror Host program but I can remember enjoying the heck out of it. It would be years and years later that I would see the film again when my friend Jason Gilmore bought it on DVD and we watched it on one of our many late nights of video game playing and Horror Movie watching hangouts. Gilmore and I had a blast laughing at the Reptilicus puppet as it went on its rampage and for a while it was a film we loved to laugh at and reference. One surprising thing isthat growing up I never did have one of the comics by Charlton nor did I have the paperback novel adaptation even though I was into all those things at a young age. I would go on to own the film on VHS and DVD and from time to time still dust it off to give a watch. Many modern Horror Fans have also seen it on the rebirth of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that is on Netflix. I feel that, much like Konga we have talked about in a past update, Reptilicus is often over looked when it comes to Kaiju in movies as the monsters of Toho dominate it, and I feel that’s not fair as many of these less known Giant Monsters are as cool as those we all know and love. While Reptilicus might not be a household name, he is a movie monster that has built a cult following and has left his green acid spit all over the world of Horror Cinema.

So now that we know the killing power of Reptilicus as well as took a look at his only film appearance, I think we should gather our nerve and take a look at Charlton Comics adaptation of the film that ended up spinning off into a comic series. While we run for our lives from the rampage of Reptilicus, I want to remind you all that I am grading this comic on a 1-4 star scale 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 an Ebay seller for having this comic in stock and making this update possible! So let’s seek shelter and enjoy this horrifying adventure of Reptilicus.

Reptilicus # 1 **1/2
Released in 1961     Cover Price .10     Charlton Comics   # 1 of 8

Svend Alstrup is a foreman and is drilling for copper when he uncovers a bad smell and a chunk of skin that is covered in scales from deep in the Earth. After closing down the drilling, Svend calls for Professor Martens who takes the flesh to his lab. Later on as Svend finds more hunks of flesh of the beast, he delivers them to the Professor whose two daughters have formed a crush on him. One night by accident the freezer door where the flesh is held is left open, and this causes the flesh to grow and heal causing them to inform the United Nations of the discovery who in turn send two military men to supervise the experiment. The army once at the lab dismiss the chunk of flesh as a joke and seem not to be bothered that it has grown 100 times its size in eight days. But things change when a freak thunderstorm roles in and a blot of lightning strikes the tank releasing the flesh that has now grown massive and is called Reptilicus! Professor Martin and the Army come together fast to try and figure out a way to bring down this massive monster and each attempt fails as Reptilicus keeps growing and even learns to fly causing chaos and destruction every where he goes. In the end General Grayson and Professor Miller create a drug that they load into a shell and fire at the creature knocking it out and leaving it open to be disposed of, but little do they know a piece of Reptilicus skin is in the ocean waiting to grow and bring the monster back.

The plot of this comic adaptation is based on both the American Version of the film as well as the Danish Version and delivers a fun read for fans of this monster flick. The major downside is that it’s an hour and twenty minute movie crammed into twenty pages and keeps lots of the boring science and military talk from the film in. The plot is pretty cut and dry and has a blob of flesh being discovered that regenerates into a massive monster that breaks free from a lab and goes onto a massive rampage in Demark as the scientist and army try to figure out a way to stop it. Professor Martens is one of the heroes of this tale as his knowledge of these types of creatures as well as his research on the skin allows him to stop the army from making big mistakes like blowing it up and causing all the small pieces to become full fledged Reptilici (Repitilicuses?)! General Grayson is also a hero as he does not back down from the creatures and does not allow his failed attempts to shake his nerves as he wants to save the people and stop the monsters rampage once and for all. Reptilicus is one mad giant monster who wants to take out all his rage and hatred on humankind and seems to not be phased when attacked by some of mankind’s most used weapons of murder. He also is so powerful that he does not stop when attacked and in fact it only seems to make him rampage more! The comic is bloodless and the body count is very low and all shown off pane, but it fits for this style of Horror Comic. The scares come more in the vein of nature running amuck and the idea of a massive beast crushing your city than blood, guts and gore. The cover for this issue is pretty great and is very eye catching for fans of 60’s monster movies, and the interior art is done by the team of Bill Moino and Vince Alascia and is fantastic classic style. If you like the film Reptilicus and enjoy Kaiju in your Horror Comics, this is one you should read, while not a perfect adaptation it is an enjoyable one. Check out the artwork below to see the style of this issue.

Reptilicus’s rampage might have came to an end, but not to worry friends and readers, Kaiju Month continues next update as we leave Denmark and travel to England and see what destruction Gorgo and his Mother will do! It’s weird that some Kaiju have never gotten a comic book adaptation or series as ones like Kraa!, Q The Winged Serpent and Deadly Mantis all would have made for great comics, and only time will tell if they ever will get their time to shine in the pages of a comic. So until next time, watch out for giant monsters, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update as we witness the destructive power of Gorgo!

 

Avengers Assemble…We’re Needed

Welcome back, True Rotten Ink-lievers!  Juliet here, on this momentous occasion where we’ll be covering one of the greatest team-ups to grace both the page and the screen. I’m talking about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, John Steed and Emma Peel.  That’s right, I’m joining you to talk about The Avengers….but not those Avengers. We’ll be looking at the spies played by John Macnee and Diana Rigg in the 1960s British television show, The Avengers, and their 2012-13 comic book series from Boom Studios.  So grab a bowler hat and a stiff drink, readers, we’re needed.

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Although knowledge of the show is more widespread these days, there are many people that don’t realize that the Avengers existed both before and after the Emma Peel years.  The show premiered in 1961 from the English ABC (Associated British Corporation), focusing on the espionage adventures of Dr. David Keel with Patrick Macnee’s John Steed showing up in the first episode offering his assistance.  Steed would remain in the assistant’s role for all of series one, which was cut short due to an Actor’s Equity strike. When production resumed in 1962, Steed was now the focus of the show partnering briefly with Dr. Martin King and Venus Smith and more permanently with Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman.  It was during this time that the show as we know and love it really took shape: Steed’s look was established as the bowler-wearing English gentleman spy, while Cathy donned leather catsuits, which Emma Peel would also adopt along with the latest in mod fashion.

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In 1965, the show was sold to the American Broadcasting Company (also ABC) and became one of the first British shows on to air on American television. The show moved from shooting on videotape to 35mm film, and in October, Diana Rigg debuted as Steed’s new partner Emma Peel.  We’ll discuss more about Steed and Peel momentarily, but for now let’s focus on the show itself. Along with Emma Peel, this new era of the Avengers introduced science fiction, fantasy and the occasional fetishistic elements to the plot. With the fifth series (aka season since we’re talking about British TV) in 1966, the show began shooting in color.  This was also the year that several of the show’s signature elements were introduced.

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Two of the best known elements that in truth only lasted for 15 episodes, are “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” and the “Steed does/Emma does” tags, both appearing at the start of an episode after of course the murder or inciting incident for the case had been established. We’d see Emma doing something ordinary. She’d then receive or encounter the message “Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” at which time Steed would appear from seemingly nowhere and their adventure would begin.  The tag would show up under the episode title and give a comedic description of each character’s actions during the episode. For example, in “The Winged Avenger,” the tag is, “Steed Goes Birdwatching. Emma Does a Comic Strip”

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Diana Rigg left the show in 1967, gone was Emma Peel and gone were the sci-fi/fantasy elements with her.  The producers opted to return to the more realistic spy adventures that viewers had seen in the Cathy Gale era, and this time Steed’s partner was Tara King, played by Linda Thorson.  This sixth series would also introduce the characters of Mother and Father who would be central characters in the 1998 movie remake of the Avengers (more on that further down). But series 6 was to be the last as, although the show was popular in the UK and Europe, in the U.S. it was airing opposite the then number 1 show in the country Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In and just couldn’t compete.  When the show cancelled in the U.S., the finances became unsustainable and Avengers ceased production in May 1969.

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Now that we’ve talked about the history of the show, let’s get into the characters and the people who portrayed them.  Born of a noble family and having served in the RAF in WWII (like his portrayer Patrick Macnee), John Steed is an agent in an unnamed British intelligence agency that some claim exists in the same universe/canon as James Bond.  In his initial appearances in Avengers, Steed was less refined than the character we’d come to know and love, but fairly quickly, he adopted the signature suave look of a three-piece suit, bowler hat, and umbrella, which would become his signature look. Steed is both sassy and sauve, and although he can be playful, when the time comes, he’s an ace spy and is well verse in hand to hand combat and swordsmanship. The role of Steed came around at the precise right time for actor Patrick Macnee.  After serving in WWII for England, he began his acting career in Canada with smaller roles but didn’t meet with much success. By the late 1950s, he was smoking and drinking to excess and had nearly given up on acting opting to produce documentaries when he was offered the role of John Steed, which he would play until 1969. Macnee helped establish the character’s look and personality, insisting, for example, that Steed never use a gun, in part because of the horrors that Macnee had witnessed in WWII.  He wrote two novels based on The Avengers and later hosted a documentary about the show. Macnee would go on to be in a James Bond film, Magnum P.I., The Howling and more, including a cameo in the 1998 Avengers remake (I promise, we’re getting there). Patrick Macnee died in June of 2015 at the age of 93.

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Dame Diana Rigg made her stage debut in 1957 and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959.  When Elizabeth Shepherd, originally slated to play Emma Peel, left the production, Rigg auditioned for the role having never seen The Avengers.  She was an instant star, despite making very little money for her work on the show, which is what ultimately drove her to leave after two years. Rigg went on to star in both film and television roles, including a stint hosting Mystery on PBS (taking over for Vincent Price), and she continued her work on stage. More recently, she’s captivated a new generation of TV viewers as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.  As for Rigg’s most iconic role, Emma Peel is a great mix of brains, battle-readiness, and sex appeal. She’s an accomplished scientist and martial artist who dabbles in many other fields, especially when it aids her investigations with Steed. Born Emma Knight, Mrs. Peel’s husband Peter is a pilot whose plane went down in the Amazon rainforest prior to her work with Steed. Peter was presumed dead for many years, returning as a plot device to write Emma off the show and introduce Tara King when Diana Rigg decided to move on.  Though the leather catsuits were introduced in the Cathy Gale era of Avengers, they became Emma Peel’s signature look along with the mod styles of the day. A quick wit with a silver tongue, Emma was the perfect verbal match for Steed, and their back and forth was part of what made the show such a joy to watch.

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I first encountered The Avengers on VHS at my local library.  I was lucky enough to grow up with two awesome libraries close by, one of which had an amazing selection of science fiction paperbacks and the other sported any amazing VHS selection, featuring a lot of British television and foreign and classic films. In the same way I have an affection for both really good and really cheesy science fiction, I adore both really good and really cheesy spy movies and TV shows, and I feel like The Avengers fall right in the middle.  It’s as classic as James Bond, but has an entirely different feel that’s so completely of its era. In the last five or six years, I’ve managed to watch the entire Emma Peel run of the show on DVD thanks to Matt, who bought me the Emma Peel Megaset after we found it at Half Price Books. In the same spirit as ST:TNG and the X-Files, I have certain favorite episodes that I go back to again and again, but I can also watch the series as a whole all over again and enjoy it, securing The Avengers’ spot among my all-time favorite TV shows.

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In 1998, Warner Brothers and director Jeremiah Chechik (of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation fame) sought to revive Steed and Mrs. Peel for a new generation on the big screen.  The film, simply titled The Avengers starred Ralph Fiennes as John Steed, Uma Thurman as Emma Peel and Sean Connery as weather obsessed villain Sir August de Wynter. Rumor has it that Warner refused to pre-screen the film for reviewers to prevent negative reviews after test screenings prompted the studio to cut it from 115-minute to 89 minutes, removing key plot elements.  An original cut of the movie has never emerged, though Jeremiah Chechik has offered Warner Brothers a director’s cut for free. The movie as it stands is universally regarded as one of the worst movies ever, but I have to tell you something, dear readers: I love it. Okay, okay, it’s by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but I see the campy potential in the look and feel. Plus, it came out at a time in my life where I was actively seeking out very cheesy spy films and novels, the more bizarre, the better….and this one is certainly bizarre.  To parrot Stefon from SNL, this movie has everything: Uma Thurman with a bad English accent, giant teddy bears, a weather device, human sized hamster balls, Patrick Macnee as the Invisible Man, Eddie Izzard. If you have an open heart for utterly ridiculous trash, give it a try. It has little to nothing to do with the original TV series, but it’s silly fun if you’re up for that sort of thing.

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In terms of merchandise for the TV show, the modern fan can enjoy the series on DVD as well as a plethora of Steed and Mrs. Peel-themed goodies on sites like Etsy.  More classic gear includes trading cards, and most interesting, paperback books. The first novel, simply titled The Avengers and written by Douglas Enefer, was published by Consul Books in 1963.  It’s the only book of the original run to feature Cathy Gale. Many novels featuring Emma Peel and Tara King would follow in the UK and US, including several co-written by Patrick Macnee who was one of the first actors to write licensed spin-off fiction of their own shows.

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The Avengers first made it to comics in the U.K. as comic strips in TV listing magazines (similar to the US’ TV Guide).  Their first American outing was a 1968 collection of these strips released by Gold Key called John Steed Emma Peel because, of course, Marvel made it impossible for them to release a comic called The Avengers. In 1990 Eclipse released a three issue series called Steed and Mrs. Peel with script by Grant Morrison and art by Ian Gibson.  Boom Studios would re-release that series in early 2012. For our purposes, however, we’ll be covering the 2012-13 Steed and Mrs. Peel series from Boom Studios, written Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe. Before we begin our adventure, I must remind you that here at Rotten Ink, we grade comics on a 1-4 star scale and look for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get started, dear reader, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #0  *** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #0 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel investigate the mysterious of Agent Colin Whitcomb. Although the cause of death is straight forward (he was shot pointe blank), the strange part is that the missing agent has aged significantly.  Their only clue is the scent of a particular cheap perfume on Whitcomb’s body, sending the daring duo to the Hellfire Club, or rather the “New Hellfire Club” to investigate. There they meet the future obsessed Cartney who leads Steed into a fight with Father Time.  Meanwhile Emma outwits Futura, the automotan, and dons her outfit as a disguise to locate the missing Steed. Steed awakens older and grayer discovering that it’s no longer 1966, but the year 2000, and that he’s now a part of the National Archives, having served as an agent of much acclaim.  But of course Steed is on to the true plot of the Hellfire Club, using an aging serum to fool intelligence British agents. With Emma’s expert martial arts skills, the baddies, which include their old Hellfire nemesis Cartney, are defeated. With the aging serum’s effects wearing off, Steed treats Mrs. Peel to a concert.

When I first heard that Boom Studios would be doing a comic based on The Avengers, I was nervous to say the least.  The charm of the show is so particular – there’s a formula to the stories, but moreover the way Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg portrayed the relationship between Steed and Peel is so very specific.  I was hopeful once I saw that Mark Waid was writing, and he did not disappoint. This introductory issue was everything I had hoped for – it felt right at home in the universe of the show, teasing a time jump but keeping things firmly in the 1960s.  Longtime fans of the show got recollections of the Hellfire Club (**find out the name of this episode) and Emma’s spiked collar, cybermen (who also appeared in Doctor Who), the familiar “We’re Needed” start to the action. Most importantly, the dialogue was perfect.  I could hear MacNee and Rigg’s voices in my head as I was reading. Steve Bryant’s art is a good balance of realistic and stylistic and captures both the feel of the 1960s and the action well. I was pleasantly surprised by this one when I first read it in 2012, and 7 years later, it’s still a great read.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #1  ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #1 of 11

Masked men infiltrate a secluded base and launch a missile attack on London.  Steed and Mrs. Peel watch the carnage, along with Lord Bailey, in an underground bunker, but just as everyone has a moment to absorb what’s just happened, an alert sounds and our heroes leap to action.  A fire in the bunker forces Emma and a fellow scientist to lead everyone in the bunker topside, but once there, Mrs. Peel discovers something unusual. Although London is leveled and their instruments are showing radiation, there’s no effect on the soil or water.  There’s no time to question it further, however, because their fellow survivors spot a figure in the distance rapidly coming towards the group. The figure is some sort of mutated creature, and it’s not alone. Steed and Mrs. Peel battle the horde of monsters, and the book ends with them getting a vital assist from none other than the Hellfire Club.

This proper first issue of Steed and Mrs. Peel begins with action that’s sustained through the book.  Our heroes seem to be in some kind of post-apocalyptic disaster scenario, which is such a perfect melding of Cold War-era spy show sensibility and our modern obsession with post-apocalyptic stories (I see you, The Walking Dead and your many and varied progeny).  The action is such that we don’t get a lot of information about what’s happened other than London has apparently been nuked, and I like that because we’ll get to discover what’s happening along with Emma and Steed. The dialogue between the two is once again spot on thanks to the team up of Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe, and the artwork, this time from Will Sliney, is really great, classic looking comic style that lends itself to both action and dialogue well.  I know you’re probably wondering, like me, what the Hellfire Club is doing there and what they do or don’t have to do with this disaster so let’s get to the next issue.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #2 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #2 of 11

Steed, Mrs. Peel, and the British MPs they were previously sheltering with are now all guests of the Hellfire Club in their lavish bunker.  Although most of the other guests seem pretty comfortable, Steed and Emma are worried that they’ve not seen Lord Bailey, General Crampton or Mr. Stanton, the other scientist, since arriving. Although our heroes don’t yet know it, we see the general being brainwashed by a member of the Hellfire Club.  She and her brother, both the offspring of Cartney, chat a bit about how Steed and Mrs. Peel will of course be the hardest to break but it’s worth it get revenge for father. Steed and Mrs. Peel work on a plan over a game of chess. Emma goes to talk to Miss Cartney about the missing general, and gets attacked.  Later Steed stumbles into another brainwashing session and is also taken out, but when he awakens, it’s revealed that his attacker was Mrs. Peel, decked out in a familiar outfit, her Hellfire Club leather and spiked collar.

More of the mystery is unraveled and new twists appear in the second issue of this story arc.  While it’s no shock that the Hellfire Club is up to no good, what their goals are and who the mysterious Dirigent is remain a mystery. Also a mystery is whether or not this story ties in some way to the Cartney time-travel story in issue #0.  I like that we don’t know (and I genuinely don’t remember if it does from my first reading of this series seven years ago). As with issue #0, I love that this story is taking elements directly from the series and expanding them on the page, especially since they’re using one of my favorite plot elements that the Avengers shares with X-men: the Hellfire Club.  Is Emma once again brainwashed or she pretending to gain the trust of the Club? Onward to Issue #3, we’re needed.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #3 ***
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #3 of 11

Steed is hopeful that the leather-clad Mrs. Peel is simply undercover, but alas, that’s not the case as she sends him through a wall behind which the younger Cartney is enjoying his lavish Hellfire existence. Steed snaps Mrs. Peel out of her brainwashed state using some trigger words they had developed “after the first few times someone tried this.” After Emma knocks her brother out, Miss Cartney arrives with her henchmen leading Steed and Mrs. Peel to flee.  They commandeer a motorcycle (and a new outfit for Emma) and lead the Hellfire Club on a chase into the nuked out wasteland. After fighting hand to hand with Miss Cartney, Emma shoots a flare, signaling the British Air Force, who she and Steed had secretly been in contact with after figuring out that the nuclear attack was a hoax and they the MPs had been kidnapped and taken to the South China Sea. Steed and Mrs. Peel sail off into the sunset, and back at the Hellfire Club the Cartney brother plots his next move.

Thus concludes the first story arc in Steed and Mrs. Peel…sort of.  Although they’ve solved the mystery of the fake nuclear blast and London’s destruction, something tells me that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Hellfire Club in the least.  This one is the last issue for which Mark Waid did the story and Will Sliney the art, but luckily scriptwriter Caleb Monroe sticks around for the rest of the series. There’s a temptation to say that the story wrapped up too quickly, but honestly it felt right in line with the TV show, and the pacing of these three issues felt like the pacing of the hour-long episodes.  So what’s next for Steed and Mrs. Peel? Let’s find out!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #4 ** 1/2
Released in 2012     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #4 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel have been invited to a ball. In full fancy dress, they, along with many British dignitaries attend the masked party of author Lloyd Cushing.  As part of the evening’s entertainment, they meet Mr. Blackwell, an eccentric conductor accompanied by his two Butoh dancers. But a party can never be just that for our two heroes as they’re soon called upon to investigate the murder of a man who turns out to the the real Mr. Blackwell.  Trading her ball gown for more action oriented clothes, Emma joins Steed in the ballroom where all of the guests are now missing. Steed tracks them outside where the Butoh dancers are to blame for the mass exodus. Meanwhile Emma confronts the imposter conductor, who turns out to be the Hellfire Club’s hypnotist Dirigent from their prior island adventure.  Dirigent explains that he can manipulate high frequency sound to bend people to his will, but he’s no match for Emma. As Steed and Mrs. Peel continue their previously interrupted dance, we zoom out, all the way to out space where a satellite baring the Hellfire Club logo looms over us all.

Upon first glance, the is your typical post-story arc issue, a one-shot where the characters get to have a minor adventure and perhaps some fun before the next big thing.  But actually, this issue, although basically a one-shot, continues our Hellfire Club storyline and presumably is going to bridge the prior arc with the one to come in Issue #5.  Although this one has significantly less action than the last few issues, there are some really nice things happening in the dialogue, both between Steed and Peel and among the other characters.  I feel like this was perhaps Caleb Monroe’s chance to provide some of his analysis on the original show and characters, and as I fan, I really enjoyed reading it. Yasmin Liang takes over on artist duties for this issue, and although she doesn’t capture Steed and Peel’s expressions as perfectly as Will Sliney did, she’s a great addition to this story, and I’m excited to see how she tackles the action scenes that are surely coming in the next book.  So let’s get to it!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #5  **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99     Boom Studios    #5 of 11

The fallout from last issue’s ballroom party gone awry continues as Steed and Mrs. Peel find out that his friend Trevor Seabrook has been arrested for a theft related to his wife’s disappearance from the party. The curious part is that the kidnappers tasked Seabrook with stealing a seemingly empty jar, but the truth is the jar contains something that has regenerative properties, which is of course of interest to the Hellfire Club’s Dr. Peter Glass, previously presumed to be dead.  Seabrook’s wife is returned, Steed and Mrs. Peel begin to piece things together, and Glass unveils a special piece of tech as this issue ends.

The interesting thing about this issue is that both everything and nothing happens, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like the prior issue, this one was low on the action but high on information that’s obviously leading to the next chapter in the Hellfire Club’s evil plans that Steed and Mrs. Peel are constantly working to unravel.  

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #6 **
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #6 of 11

Through a flashback and conversation, Steed and Mrs. Peel reflect on the aforementioned Dr. Glass and his death, for which Steed was an eyewitness.  Seabrook’s wife is awake but only repeating the words “bleeding heart” so Steed and Emma decide to regroup. On the way, however, Emma is tricked by Glass’ assistant Jamie and kidnapped.  Meanwhile, Steed is nearly ambushed when inquiring about Seabrook’s stolen empty jar, but soon our heroes are reunited in Glass’ lair where it’s revealed that the mad doctor survived his untimely death using special goggles sported by three versions of Jamie that allow him to time travel. As Glass is apprehended, one of the Jamie’s slips away to inform someone on the other end of a video camera that this phase of the plan has failed.  Steed and Mrs. Peel end our issue reflecting on the practicality of time travel over a drink as a rocket launches on the horizon.

One of the things that I really love about this series is the layered story.  Each arc leads to another and contributes to a larger story. This is especially interesting because the show generally did not do this, but I wish it had.  All of that said, this wasn’t the most exciting arc. Granted, this issue had more action than the prior two, but the payout felt a bit weak. Although thinking of it in the grand scheme of a larger story makes even a weak arc feel important.  So let’s get to the next one, and hopefully we’ll find out who Jamie was talking to and what dastardly plans they have in store for Steed and Mrs. Peel.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #7  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #7 of 11

Steed and Mrs. Peel are sent to a small Welsh mining town to investigate an unprecedented wave of suicides. Posing as scientists (though Steed is the only one posing, as he points out), they begin their investigation by consulting with Dr. Mortimor, a psychologist specializing in suicide.  After tea with Moritmor, our duo walks back to the inn where they’re staying, taking the scenic route to stop by some of the scenes of the some of the crimes. On a seaside cliff where several people fell to their deaths, both Steed and Emma seem to lose control of themselves and nearly jump off the cliff, the other stopping them just in time. They of course realize that Dr. Mortimor and his terrible tea is to blame.  The evil doctor explains that he’s not a murder, merely an experimenter in the weaponization of suicide. Steed, Mrs. Peel and the gathering crowd of villagers are less convinced of this excuse.

What a breath of fresh air after that slightly lackluster last arc!  Although the story was a bit predictable, it shone because of both the art (great panel structure in this one!) and the writing.  We got a lot of great little moments of Steed and Emma quipping back and forth while working to solve the mystery, and these moments are golden.  I didn’t realize how much of this was missing from the prior issue until I read this one. The chemistry between them, both in the dialogue and the artwork, was so spot on, and this definitely felt like an episode of the show that I would have loved. With that, let’s see what our next issue has in store!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #8  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #8 of 11

The Cartney family is back!  Steed and Emma’s beachside holiday is interrupted with the news that Joan Cartney has been broken out of jail by a strange silver man.  While Steed and Emma investigate, knowing there’s more to this than meets the eye, the Cartney siblings are reunited with their father who is alive, but not well. Donning costumes to make them look like Steed and Emma, the younger Cartneys set out to fulfill their mission of killing our heroes by blowing up Steed’s flat, while their father undergoes a procedure to rejuvenate his body…as a Cybernaut.

With last issue’s palate-cleanser, I’m ready to dive into a new story arc, and this one sets up our story nicely.  It’s no surprise that the Cartney’s are back, and we learn that it was, indeed, them that Jamie was contacting in Issue #6.  As we set up our villain’s story, we once again get really cozy fun interactions between Steed and Peel, making me thinking that writer Caleb Monroe has gotten into the same comfort zone that Mark Waid began the series with.  I’m eager to see where the Cybernaut story is going so let’s get to the next issue!

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #9  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #9 of 11

While Cybernaut Cartney shops for a suit, his children learn that even a bomb can’t take down Steed and Mrs. Peel.  The siblings’ bickering about what went wrong is interrupted when their intended victims confront them, and quickly things turn into a street fight (with swords!). The Cartneys get away, but of course that was the plan as Steed, harkening to the original Cybernauts TV episode, plans a transponder his umbrella which he allows them to escape with.  After a quick wardrobe change, Steed and Mrs. Peel head to the Hellfire Club’s base of operations where they spy General Seabrook smuggling army tech to the enemy. Although they’re able to sneak in undetected, Cybernaut Cartney uses his super strength to bust through a wall and grab our heroes.

With the last issue being mostly set up for the new story, I was worried this one would be more of the same.  But happily, this issue is heavily on wonderfully drawn action with some great dialogue to accompany it. The way the panels mimic the style in which the show was shot is a really nice touch and combined with the coloring gives the book such a great retro feel.  My only concern moving forward is that there are only two more issues, and I honestly can’t remember if the book ends at the conclusion of an arc or if we’re going to be left hanging. I guess there’s no way to find out until we get to the next issue….

AvengersComic10Steed and Mrs. Peel #10  ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99    Boom Studios    #10 of 11

Cybernaut Cartney is about to kill our heroes but Emma appeals to the villain’s hedonistic side, saying that if he kills them now, it’s all over. This is much to Joan’s chagrin as Steed and Mrs. Peel have been a thorn in her side for far too long, but father knows best…..only Cartney isn’t really her father. Joan and her brother discover documents in Cartney’s desk revealing that they’re a young married couple who went missing and were subsequently brainwashed by Cartney in what he calls, “my greatest practical joke of them all.” After her husband (formerly her brother) is killed by Cartney, Joan sneaks back to the prison to get help from a former ally.  Meanwhile Jamie is torturing Steed in the Hellfire Club dungeon forcing Emma to strike a bargain with Cartney – Steed’s life for her hand in marriage. The issue ends with Cartney presenting Emma to the rest of the Club as his fiance and the new Queen of Silver.

This issue has so much going on!  The reveal about the Cartney siblings (or rather the not Cartney, non-siblings) was really great.  I truly didn’t see that coming, and in addition to being a great twist, it packed an emotional punch.  Cartney’s line about this being “my greatest practical joke of them all” was an amazing touch. In this issue we get more about Cartney’s weird obsession with Emma, which is framed in both flashbacks and present moments, something I like because it really gives the reader the sense that Cartney is an absolutely twisted villain.  I also loved the touch of the Silver Court being introduced to the Hellfire Club. But my concern from last issues remains; there is a lot to resolve in one issue to wrap up both the arc and the series. I suppose the only way to know how that works out, however, it to read on.

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Steed and Mrs. Peel #11 ***
Released in 2013     Cover Pice $3.99   Boom Studios    #11 of 11

We open in a church where Cybernaut Cartney stands at the altar with a silver bedecked Mrs. Peel.  The officiant asks if there are any objections to the union, and right on cue, John Steed drives his car through the window of the church.  He shouts Emma’s trigger words, but she doesn’t need to be un-brainwashed this time, she was merely buying time for Steed. While a battle ensues in the church, Joan sneaks into the room containing John’s human body that’s feeding the Cybernaut and gives him the brainwashing serum, prompting the Cybernaut to seek out its human body to destroy it. Emma and Steed follow, and Emma uses the aging serum from all the way back in issue zero to prevent the Cybernaut from destroying human Cartney.  But alas, he dies shortly thereafter anyway. The issue ends with Joan escaping to make a better life, and Emma and Steed watching the sun set and reflecting on this latest chapter in their adventures together.

This issue does a pretty good job of wrapping things up.  Yes, the Steed crashing the wedding scene is ridiculous, but it fits the show quite well.  I really liked that the aging serum from issue 0 comes back into play, but the sequence of Cartney dying anyway was slightly confusing.  The ending with Steed and Emma watching the sunset was quite lovely, and I do like that the Hellfire Club story wasn’t so final that they can’t come back again in some future series.  Speaking of future series, Boom Studios would try for another arc in 2014 called Steed and Mrs. Peel: We’re Needed, but alas, what was to be a six issue series only made it three, and quite honestly those issues didn’t hold a candle to this series. Avengers22

Part of the reason I chose to cover this particular comic version of The Avengers is that, in my opinion, it’s the most faithful to the spirit of the show, and despite a few missteps, uses the structure of comics to create an ongoing story in a way that the show didn’t back in the 1960s (though I suspect a modern rendering would).  For our next update, we’ll be leaving the world of spies, but staying in the 1960s as Matt kicks of a month of Kaiju updates in anticipation of Godzilla: King of the Monsters with a look at Reptilicus. In the meantime, read a comic or three, and support your local horror host!

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Giant Spider Invasion

The 70’s were filled with nature run amuck Horror Films, and many of them had to do with animals and one of these films was the 1975 cult classic Giant Spider Invasion, a film that was so cheesy and goofy that movie goers for decades have enjoyed! And you guessed it, this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update will be all about Giant Spider Invasion as I feel this is a great time to chat about this movie as well as the promo comic adaptation of it. So arm yourself with spider repellent and watch out for webs as we don’t want to fall victim for these giant spiders who want us all dead!

So let’s first take a look at the Giant Spiders, their killing ways, and why they are so massive! The Spiders’ origin is that they have fallen from space while inside rocks that also contain diamonds. Once freed from their stone homes, they wreak havoc on people and animals as they eat the flesh of both and grow very rapidly to massive size. The Giant Spiders use their speed and size in order to take down their victims as well as their many legs and sharp fangs that they rip and tear human flesh with. They also use their webs in order to trap humans so they can go in for the kill. The larger ones can use their size also to bring down homes and hiding spots while the smaller ones can get into tighter spaces and cause damage and harm. They also can use fear to their advantage as most people freak out when they are seen and cause people to panic and make mistakes when trying to flee. They also can kill in packs, making them deadly not only on their own but more so when they are together and can swarm and overwhelm. They also can shrug off gunfire, as it has no effect on them. While the Giant Spiders are dangerous, they do have some weakness and it all comes from a hole that was created by them falling to Earth that acts as a black hole and is the source of them living; if the hole can be closed the Giant Spiders die off! So as you can see these, Giant Spiders from Space really are very deadly and they have a taste of human flesh!

So now that we have taken a look at the Giant Spiders, we are at the point where we should take a look at the film they are from. As always, the film’s write up will be taken from our good friends at IMDB with everything that follows coming from my own words. So if you’re ready, I am ready to talk about some very large and angry space spiders who want to ruin days and make us all their human prey.

Giant Spider Invasion (1975)

A black hole hits North Wisconsin and opens a door to other dimensions. Giant 15 meter spiders emerge from it, who have an appetite for human flesh! Dr. Jenny Langer and Dr. Vance from the NASA try to save the world.”

Transcentury Pictures teamed with director Bill Rebane to make a Horror Science Fiction film that would feature giant spiders running wild in a small town. And with a budget of only $300 thousand the film Giant Spider Invasion went into production in order to cash in on the killer animal trend of Hollywood with Bill Rebane as the director and the script by Robert Easton. Richard L. Huff handled the casting that included aging actors like Alan Hale Jr., Steve Brodie, Barbara Hale and Leslie Parrish as well as fresh faces like Diane Lee Hart who would do the film’s nude scene. The film’s special effects for the giant spiders was mostly done with puppets as well as a car made up to look like a spider, adding to the film’s over all cheap and silly feel. The film’s score was handed by Bill Rebane as well, and once done the film was released by Group 1 and was a Box Office hit here in the US as it did $2,347,000.00 making it very profitable. After the film was done with its theatrical run, it would gain more fans when shown on ABC a total of three times. It would also gain more fans again when it was featured on the Horror Host shows Mystery Science Theater 3000 plus Dr. Creep’s New Shock Theater and even was praised by Razzie Movie Award creator John Wilson as being a bad movie worth seeing. The film would also be released on VHS, DVD and even Blu-Ray and became a massive cult classic film! Director Bill Rebane is known for his other very cheesy films Monster a Go-Go, Rana: Legend Of Shadow Lake and Blood Harvest to name a few. This film in 1975 was released alongside such other Horror Movies as Jaws, The Devils Rain, Legend Of The Werewolf, Night Of The Seagulls, Bug, Deep Red and many more! So while this film was lost in the shuffle of better films, it still made its mark on the world of Horror.

My first memories of seeing this film was when Dr. Creep showed it on his public access rebirth show New Shock Theater back in the early 2000’s, and I also remember it showing on MST3K proving the Horror Host are a great way to be introduced to movies. The thing about seeing Giant Spider Invasion is that it was a cheesy film that, while entertaining, I would always just wish I was watching the films that inspired it like the Universal Monster films “Deadly Mantis” and “Tarantula” or even the films that followed it like “Grizzly” and “Day of the Animals.” Now I am not saying that Giant Spider Invasion is bad, it’s just an okay animal runs amok film that features lots of aging actors and poorly put together giant spiders. When watching the film, I can remember always laughing out loud about just how bad the spiders looked in many of the scenes, but always enjoyed the quick nudity scene of Diane Lee Hart who I knew from the comedy film The Pom Pom Girls. It’s also really funny to see Alan Hale Jr. as the police chief when all you can really see him as is The Skipper from Giligan’s Island, even at one point he calls someone little buddy…so cheesy! The thing about this film is while I have seen it multiple times I just never really had a connection to it and for the longest time only owned the Horror Hosted versions of the film before finally breaking down and getting the Retro-Media release in order to get the comic reprint to cover for this blog update. So if you like Horror Sci-Fi films based on giant spiders that attack humans in a small town that is directed by a master of b-movies and is packed with old TV actors…this film is for you! And keep in mind I do not hate this movie. I really do enjoy it just don’t have much to say about it nor any cool stories about watching it besides the fact Dr. Creep hosted it.

So with that it’s time we take a look at the promo comic for Giant Spider Invasion that was originally given away at the theater and was later reprinted for the DVD release. I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this DVD & Comic combo in stock and making this update possible. I want to also remind you all that I am grading this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to put your arachnophobia aside and come take a look at Giant Spiders from Outer Space with me, we should get to it!

Giant Spider Invasion # 1    **1/2
Released in 1975     Cover Price FREE      Group 1      #1 of 1

Ev and Dan Kester discover a meteor that fell from space and crash landed on their farm and inside this space rock is diamonds like they have never seen before! But they fail to notice there’s also a spider…while this is going on Dr. Jenny Langer is calling NASA to warn them of the radiation that also has came with the meteor. Little do Dan and Ev know that their house is being over run by the space spiders who are also growing in size, and with this the couple meet their end by the fangs of the spiders who are also now making their way toward town! Dr. Jenny along with some soldiers arrive and think that a black hole in space is what’s feeding the spider and causing them to grow massive! While the townspeople arm themselves and try to kill the spiders and save others, a massive 30-foot spider has entered the town and all looks doomed as our mini promo comic comes to an end and informs us to go to the theater and see this movie!

This is a very cool little theater promo comic from the 70’s that I am sure did its job and got movie goers to flock to their local cinema and see the film! This is one thing movie makers are lacking right now is making free promo comics to give away to movie goers I mean imagine if movies like Hell Fest, The Conjuring and Sinister had cool comics made and given out…these From Horror Movie To Horror Comic updates could go on forever! Now I need to also stress this promo comic is super short and is only 4 pages long as both front and back cover is used for story as well. Our plot is also very simple and has a meteor falling from space that is also caring space spiders that grow massive here on Earth and start killing in a small Wisconsin town. Our hero of this short comic is Dr. Jenny Langer who is the one who warns of the fallout of radiation from the meteor and is the one who tries to enlist the help of NASA as well as find the source of the spawning point. Dan and Ev Kester are a couple who seem more into harvesting the diamonds and not paying attention to their farm being infested by spiders who are growing large at an alarming rate, but they of course meet their end by fangs. The Giant Spiders are the baddies of the comic and man once they grow they become aggressive, are unstoppable and very mean spirited. In fact even smaller the spiders are very much blood thirsty and want to kill any human who comes close to them. The comic does not have any blood and has two confirmed deaths that happen off panel, but while it does not show the red stuff, it does have a great classic horror atmosphere that will surely please fans of old school 50’s horror movies. I am not sure on who did the art, but I will say one thing it’s pretty dang great and I wish that Dell Comics or Gold Key Comics would have made this into a full comic with the same artist brought on board. The cover is pretty great as it’s the movie poster mostly with the bottom half being the first four panels of our adaptation. Over all this is a pretty great promo comic that adapts a cheesy B-Horror Movie that also leaves us as a reader on a cliffhanger making us want to see the movie to figure out how we can rid ourselves of these pesky Giant Spiders! Check out the art below to see how great the art is in this promo comic.

So as you can see Giant Spider Invasion is a fun movie that had a fun promo comic book that shows even the cheesiest of the B-Movies can make a great comic book for fans of Horror Comics. Plus for many people spiders let alone giant ones will always strike fear into their hearts and this short comic delivers scares for those with the heebie jeebies of these eight-legged creatures. For our next update we will be leaving the world of Horror Movies behind and will be taking a look at another Atlas Comic superhero with Demon Hunter, should be a real fun time. So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as we go on a demon hunt!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Leprechaun (1993)

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day ! For this update I think we are going to revisit that nasty little movie monster killer The Leprechaun! Last time I covered him was way back in 2013 when I reviewed the very cheesy BlueWater Comic series and that was also for Saint Patrick’s Day. For this update, we will be looking at the Trimark promo comic released when the film hit theaters, and it will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update so we can really breakdown the 1993 movie as well as Leprechaun the character. I am also doing this update in honor of the SYFY network’s newest Leprechaun sequel that is being released today. So if you’re ready to drink some green beer and look for the pot of gold on the other side of the rainbow, let’s dive into this pint size terror killer.

To start off this update, we need to take a look at our title killer of the film, the one and only Leprechaun, and while he has been in several films, we will only be talking about his killing abilities and flaws from the first film only as that is what this promo comic is based on. The Leprechaun is an over 3 feet tall supernatural creature who has a wicked nature and a thirst to kill those who make the mistake in taking his gold from him. The Leprechaun is very cunning and is a trickster and can use his size and appearance to scare his target victims leaving them open for the kill once panic sets in and they notice they are being stalked and hunted by a mythic creature with a frightening face. The Leprechaun also uses magic in order to dispatch his victims as, while he is not earth shattering with his powers, he can in fact use them on those who stole his gold and ones that get in his way. He also has no issues using his bare hands nor any weapon or item he can find around him on the sad person who crossed his path. He also has razor sharp fingernails that can also be used in hurting a human as well as his teeth that he will use to chomp down with. And all the while he also makes puns and jokes during his violence causing the victim to feel helpless and weak. He also can regrow body parts that have been cut off and can heal from wounds pretty fast. Oh and lets not forget, he is also good at leaving traps to capture his victims! While The Leprechaun is powerful, he does have weaknesses like four leaf clovers hurts him and leaves him powerless and open to attacks and is the true way of stopping him if one is placed on him. If he is forced to swallow the clover, he melts from the inside out. He also has a weakness for dirty shoes as he feels like he must polish them, once more leaving him open for an attack or for a person to get away from him. He is also very much empowered by his gold and is weaker without it, once more leaving him able to be hurt from counter attacks. He also can be hurt/stunned with more direct attacks like using a gun on him. While he can be stopped, this pint sized terror is a force of evil and when stolen from he has no issues ripping your guts out!

So now that we have taken a look at the Leprechaun and his powers and ways of killing, we should now take a look at the original movie that spawned him. For this part, the film’s plot write up is taken from our pals at IMDB with the production notes and thoughts being written by myself. So if you’re ready, let’s travel back to 1993 and enter the world of the Leprechaun.

Leprechaun (1993)

When Dan O’Grady returns to the U.S. after stealing some Irish leprechaun’s pot of gold, he thinks he can settle down and enjoy his newfound wealth. He thought wrong. The leprechaun followed him and O’Grady barely gets away with his life, having locked the little monster in his basement. Ten years later, J.D. and his spoiled daughter Tory move in. By accident, the leprechaun is released and almost immediately the annoying creature starts to look for his gold, not displaying any respect for human life.”

Mark Jones was a man who made his name producing TV shows and cartoons, and one day decided he wanted to direct and make a movie and choose the horror genre to make his debut. Inspired by the film series Critters and the breakfast cereal Lucky Charms, he went to Trimark and pitched the idea that became the company’s first home grown theatrical film release and brought them to the dance. Mark Jones wrote and directed the film and got a million dollar budget and began casting bringing in such names as Warwick Davis to play the Leprechaun, Mark Holton, Ken Olandt, Shay Duffin and a Jennifer Aniston in her first feature role! Gabe Bartalos was brought in to do the special effects that took three hours to apply and forty minuets to remove. One of the main shooting locations was Big Sky Ranch that was also used back in the day for locations for The Waltons and Little House On The Prairie. Before being released, the film received a massive push from Trimark as they really wanted this film to be a big hit and help bring them more attention and money to make future films. The film did okay for Trimark at the US Box Office bringing in $8,556,940.00 on a budget of only $1 million! The film ranked number 117 for the year and beat out such other cult films as Dazed And Confused, The Meteor Man, Children Of The Corn II, Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm, Surf Ninjas, Mr. Nanny, Warlock: The Armageddon and Ernest Rides Again to name a few. While this film might not have been a box office smash nor is Leprechaun as iconic as other Horror Killers like Michael Myers or Leatherface, he does have a cult following and has made a mark for sure in the world of horror.

I can remember in 1993 when Leprechaun was being released to theaters as of course my brother and I wanted to see it and our Dad laughed at the trailer of it, and this of course meant we did not get to see it in theaters! When I was a young Monster Kid, movies with weird creatures and monsters were ones I always felt like I had to see and Leprechaun fit that bill. And of course not much has changed as I still love these style of movies! When I was finally able to see Leprechaun, it was when it came out on VHS and my brother Bryan rented it, and I can remember we both enjoyed it for all its cheesy goodness and years later I can remember watching it with my friend Jason Gilmore and he as well always really enjoyed it! In 1993 I can also remember clipping the newspaper ad from Dayton Daily News and keeping it along with other Horror Movie ads for a short time. Later I bought the film on VHS as well as DVD and even at one point remember owning the movie score on CD that was sadly stolen during a move. Even now in 2019, I find myself enjoying the original film as well as most of the sequels with the reboot Leprechaun: Origins being my lest favorite, and I really cannot wait to see the new film coming to SYFY called “Leprechaun: Returns” that should be premiering the day this update goes live. It’s odd to think that growing up the Leprechaun films have always been a part of my childhood as I have so many good memories of this series like hanging out with my friend Dave Wean watching Leprechaun 3 and eating Spaghetti-O’s while off from school, and watching Leprechaun In Da Hood and making out with my then girlfriend Misty on our couch right after moving in together and even watching Leprechaun Origins with my gal Juliet while a thunderstorm was going crazy outside. While not my favorite of the lower level Horror Movie series, it’s one I do enjoy and recommend watching them all if you like a little cheese and humor with your horror.

The Leprechaun was such a cult hit that even Saturday Night Live got in on poking fun at it via their Wayne’s World skits that were the shows most popular at the time and was based around two goofy guys Wayne and Garth and their cheesy public access show called Wayne’s World. And during some episodes as well as the second movie as Wayne armed with a flashlight would torment Garth by acting as if he was the Leprechaun! The segment on the show was really funny and Juliet and I break out reenacting the segment at home from time to time. I don’t want to spend too much time on this but also wanted to show it a little love and respect.

So now that we have chatted about The Leprechaun and his ways of murder, I think it’s time we take a look at a promo comic that was released by Trimark in order to help promote the film. I want to thank an Ebay seller who had this comic for sale and I am happy to say that the money I spent on this film went towards a charity. I also want to remind you all that I am grading this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready lets dive into this first comic based on the horror movie Leprechaun.

Leprechaun # 1  **
Released in 1992       Cover Price FREE       Trimark      #1 of 1

In Ireland Farmer O’Grady follows a rainbow to the end and finds a pot of gold and rushes to sell it to the local jeweler and gets a large sum of money for it all, but unbeknownst to them all, the Leprechaun has arrived and wants his coins and jewels back! The Leprechaun starts off with burning down O’Grady’s farm and then starts his killing spree starting with the Jeweler and makes the terrified man’s fingers turn into snakes and attack himself. Then he goes after all those who bought his gold and jewels from the shop! His path of death includes decapitating a woman, makes a man’s head explode, drives one crazy and even electrocutes another! We then find out that Farmer O’Grady is on a plane on his way to start a new life in America, and in the baggage area The Leprechaun is hiding as the Farmer has kept one of the coins…and he wants it back!

This super short Horror Comic acts as a prequel to the film and sets up how the gold coin got to America as well as how The Leprechaun did. The plot is pretty paper thin and has a farmer finding the gold of Leprechaun and the sadistic little killing machine wants it back. Farmer O’Grady is a man who falls into luck when he finds the gold at the end of a rainbow and is able to sell it off and better his life even moving to America with the money he got…but sadly, we do not get to really get much character development from him as he is just kind of a bookend character for this short comic. The Leprechaun is filled with rage when he finds his gold missing this shows that this rhyme speaking mythical creature will kill in brutal ways! I like that it shows he very much enjoys killing people and even likes to get creative with his kills. The comic is filled with violent acts but does not show blood and gore and the kills are done in shadow, off panel or in a comedic way making the comic safe for readers of all ages. While this is a quick and fun read that does do a good job of feeling like it is a part of the film it’s based on, its small page count and rushed story also kind of hurts it as the kills fly by way too fast. The cover is fantastic and is just a drawn take of the film’s poster and is 100% eye catching for fans of the flick as well as Horror Comic readers. The comic’s interior art is done by William Clausen and is well done in spots as The Leprechaun looks great…the victims not so much, but to be fair it all does have a very underground comic book look and feel to it. Over all this promo comic is a fun read and captures the silly spooky nature of the film it was made to promote and is great for collectors who love comics based on films. Check out the art below to see the style of Clausen used in this comic.

So as you can see, Leprechaun makes a great character for comic books and while this Promo Comic nor the BlueWater Comics could do him full justice, they both show that with the right writer and artist a solid comic could be made and could help add to the character’s Horror legacy. I hope you enjoyed drinking your green beer and reading about this Horror Flick icon of murder on this update, and I also hope you get home safe and watch Leprechaun Returns on TV! And I have said it once and I’ll say it again, I do not understand why more companies don’t do promo comics to advertise their upcoming film…and I am not just saying this about Hollywood films, I am also looking at you Indie creators! I mean so many amazing Horror Movies have been put out over the past years that would make for a great comic series or promo that readers and fans would love to get their hands on…but yet nothing! That’s why I do want to send a big shout out to comic companies like Eibon Press, IDW, Blood Scream Comics and Dynamite who do deliver some amazing Horror Comics based on Horror Movies. For our next update we are going to stay in the world of Horror and do another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update as we take a look at the promo comic for The Giant Spider Invasion! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for an arachnid good time!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Mole People

The Universal Monsters are in some of my most favorite Horror and Science Fiction films and have been something I have really been into since I was a very young kid. Looking over my list of comics to choose for a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic,” I quickly decided on the Warren Photo Comic Magazine for The Mole People as I think they are very underrated when it comes to classic monsters and are sadly often forgotten when fans talk about great Universal Horror. So for this update we are going to showcase the Mole People and let them shine in the spooky spotlight of Rotten Ink. So if you’re ready, let’s go underground and visit with the Mole People!

Let’s first take a look at the Mole People who are the film’s bad guys and also good guys as they walk the line. The Mole People are a race of humanoid moles who walk upright and are underground dwellers who have been forced to be slave labor to the Shadow Dynasty who are a batch of albino people who think they are the only living people. The Mole People have a very odd appearance with a lumpy style skin and have big eyes plus weird mouths. The Mole People, while slaves, do act out and have ideas and motives of their own, and they are also very much a horde society that have a history of eating human flesh! The Mole People, while slow and lumbering, use their weird appearance to scare victims with their main source of killing coming from their massive clawed hands that can rip and tear human flesh with ease. They also can burrow deep underground to travel faster and can pull victims under with their raw power that is well above an average man’s. But while The Mole People are killing machines when pushed, they also have some intelligence that makes them loyal to not only each other but also those who are nice to them. But like all things the Mole People do have some weakness like sunlight that blinds them and can possibly also burn them to death. They can be beaten with items as well as killed like any normal human, as they are not immortal. And let’s not forget that they can also be kept at bay with a flashlight that hurts their eyes. The Mole People’s slowness also makes them easy to get away from while walking on land, and they can also be starved to death as they do need to eat in order to get energy like any normal living thing. So while Mole People are not the most brutal nor vicious monsters we have covered here, they still are very efficient when it comes to killing humans.

So now that we have taken a look at The Mole People, we should dig our way into the film that spawned them. As always we will be taking the film’s plot from our friends at IMDB and after I will share some production notes as well as my thoughts on the film as well as other cool little information about it. So if you’re ready, let’s dive into some talk about this great Universal Science-Fiction Horror flick!

The Mole People (1956)

“On an archaeological dig in Asia, Dr. Roger Bentley finds a cuneiform tablet referring to an ancient society, the Shadow Dynasty, that was destroyed. An earthquake soon after reveals an ancient artifact and the scientists discover the ruins of an ancient temple world on a remote mountain site. It leads them to an underground world, lost in time, where people have adapted to low light. The High Priest Elinu doesn’t welcome the presence of the new arrivals and wants them eliminated.”

In the 1950’s Universal had moved away from Horror Films that dealt with Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy and Frankenstein’s Monster and headed toward giant insects, atomic age and mixes of science fiction and horror. And in 1956 they made such a horror film when they released The Mole People to the cinemas all across America. The film was written by Laszio Gorog, and produced by William Alland with the directors chair going to Virgil W. Vogel who was originally an editor for Universal, and this was his first film as a director. The film would cast John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Hugh Beaumont and Alan Napier as its leads and was one of the first Universal Monster films to show a woman disrobing, pushing the limits of what they did for their monster films. Rumor also has it that the film’s budget was $200,000.00 and its returns are unknown. When the film was done, it was released on December 1, 1956, and in some places it was shown with the jungle monster film “Curucu, Beast Of The Amazon”. The film was released the same year as these other classic Horror Flicks: Creature Walks Among Us, Bad Seed, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Godzilla, Rodan and Indestructible Man to name a few. The film over the years has had a very mixed response and mostly is met with negative reviews by critics and fans that enjoyed when it was blasted on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The film went on to be released on home media like VHS and DVD and Blu-Ray in our and foreign markets.

The Mole People is a film I learned about at a young age as I used to read any and all books I could get my hands on that featured classic Universal Monsters and many of them featured The Mole People. One of the books I remember the most was the Crestwood House book that was all about The Mole People and acted almost as an adaptation of the film. Sometime later I can remember seeing the film on broadcast TV and was drawn in by the Mole People themselves and was angry when the Shadow Dynasty were on the screen being mean to them. Some years later I found the film on VHS at an event called Belmont Days from a small video store that had a ton of Horror Films for sale on VHS when it was still king of home media, and in 2014 I got the film on DVD thanks to Universal’s Vault series of releases. Over the years I have shown Mole People to friends who enjoy classic horror and even have toyed with the idea of doing a fan film sequel to it…but that will never happen. So while this film was released many decades before I was born, for some reason it has always been in my life…for some reason I also remember my Mom talking about this movie when I was a youngster! So if you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and track it down and give it a watch.

So as you can see, the Mole People, while not bloodthirsty, can and will murder and eat humans when the time is right! We also learned a little about the film and my connection to it, and now we are at the point of reviewing the photo comic magazine. I want to first thank Mile High Comics for having this magazine in stock and making this update possible. I need to also remind you all that I am grading this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready, make sure to grab your flashlight to fight off the Mole People and let’s get into this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update.

Mole People # 1  ***
Released in 1964       Cover Price .35     Warren Publishing     # 1 of 1

Researchers Dr. Roger Bentley, Dr. Jud Bellamin, Dr. Paul Suart and Prof. Etienne Lafarge along with others are in Asia looking for artifacts from a lost civilization, and get their dreams fulfilled when they find a tablet and lamp connected to them. They head to the mountains as that is where their finds lead them, and after an earthquake happens at the sight of ruins, a hole opens up and Dr. Suart falls to his death and Bentley, Bellamin and Lafarge are trapped underground! Once down in the dark only armed with a flashlight, they wander the caves and find buildings from the old world, and when they decide to get some rest, a race of humanoids called the Mole People attack while they sleep and drag them underground. When they awake, they are met by two albino guards who take them to see the High Priest who orders them to death as he claims they do not have the food to feed them! Our heroes fight and escape their albino captors and find themselves in a place that has Mole People all around who are being treated like slaves by albinos with whips. While trying to escape, Lafarge is killed by a Mole Person and Bentley and Bellamin figure out that the flashlight hurts both the albinos and Mole People giving them power and are now in the favor of the albino king. Once back at the kingdom Bentley meets a young normal servant girl named Gizelle who he saves from a whipping, and she is given to him by the King as a gift. The pair of doctors try to figure out a way to return above ground and even save some Mole People from being beaten by the albinos, but while they save them, the flashlight also goes dead as its batteries die! The High Priest dislikes the outsiders and thinks they are not gods like the King does but just normal guys and even sacrifices a group of woman to the burning light in order to please their god. The High Priest is able to convince the King that the Doctors are mortal and not gods, and they drug their dinner and set to murder them. But luckily for our heroes, Gizelle runs into the caves and tries to get help from the Mole People who have grown to respect the doctors for saving them from beatings and death sentences. The Mole People attack and kill the albinos, and the Doctors along with Gizelle escape the underground and once back to normal life another earthquake hits and a stone falls and kills Gizelle before she could even live a few moments of life above ground and our tale ends.

This is one cheesy and yet fun Photo Comic that blows through the movie really fast and delivers an entertaining quick read for readers that holds true to the film for the most part, but also adds its own touches with a few twists not from the movie. Our story has a group of doctors on the hunt to find a lost city that end up falling into a hole in the ground that leads them to the lost city as well as to the people still living there and a race of humanoid mole people. The doctors must fight for their lives to find away to escape, and their only weapon is a flashlight that is getting low on power! Dr. Roger Bentley is our main hero and the one with the flashlight. He is also the one who is saving peoples hides from beatings as it’s clear he does not like the albino people of the lost city and their cruel and selfish ways. The one down side to Bentley is that at times he as well comes off as kind of full of himself, and I think gets a slight god complex as he knows he has the power. Dr. Jud Bellamin is a smart man who clearly follows the leader as he is a fish out of water when it comes to the underground world. Prof. Etienne Lafarge is an old goof who leads himself to his own death and also is the weak link of the group and his dead body is also the one who leads the albinos back to the headhunt of our heroes as it showed they are also mortal. Slave woman Gizelle, who is normal, is also very sweet and is the true hero of the story as she is the one who gets the Mole People to help the doctors. The Albinos are very cruel and keep slaves, beat and kill those who cross the King and treat the Mole People like scum. The High Priest is the worst of the albinos as he is very much the one who pushes for cruel punishments and hates the power the Doctors and their flashlight had over the King. The Mole People are starving and will attack and kill people and yet also have a loyalty to them as they will help those who help them. Some of the changes made in the magazine are noticeable and are nice surprises, and I will not spoil them for you readers as you should read it and catch them yourselves. The comic downplays the horror elements and does have some blood via a massive scratch done by one of the Mole People and does have death as many albinos die during the final attack. The cover is eye catching and is that classic 60’s Horror Magazine look, the picture layouts is done by Russ Jones who also did the script for this photo comic. Over all this is one of the better Photo Comics I have read and is cool retro Universal Monster item for a Science Fiction Horror Movie that is often forgotten. Check out the panels below to see they style used in this magazine.

So while many comic readers don’t like Photo Comics (Magazines) and others view it as a dated style of comics, I for one find them fun and enjoyed reading this one. Plus it’s been very fun talking about the Mole People as well as the first time I have covered Warren Publishing here at Rotten Ink. But I fear it’s time we walk away from the underground world of the Mole People. We will be heading to the old west for my next update as we take a ride with the one and only Rawhide Kid from Marvel Comics! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Universal Monster Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. So hope you’re ready for a western done Marvel style!

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Ink!

Rotten Ink…The Final Frontier…This Is The Blog Of A Grown Up Monster Kid….His Mission Is To Write About Comics, Movies and Horror Hosts…And To Boldly Read And Review Lots Of Fun Comics!! Welcome to Rotten Ink. For this update I felt like I really had some unfinished business with the world of Star Trek. While I covered the original TV series and the Motion Picture, I did not get to really talk about the sequels that starred the original cast, and I think now is the time to travel back to space with the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise and take a look at the most well respected and loved film in the original crews sequels, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan! During this update mission we will talk about the film, its legacy, merchandise, my thoughts on the film and will of course review the IDW adaptation of the film! So put on your none-red Star Fleet Uniform and let’s take a space journey with Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the crew.

So to do this update right, we must take a look on the screen and talk about the film in general. For that we will be taking the film’s plot from our pals at IMDB and then after I will share my thoughts and memories of the film from over the years. And no joke, my friends and readers, I am really looking forward to talk about this film as well as all the other sequels in future updates as for me Star Trek films are as big of events as Star Wars films. So if you’re ready, I am ready to discuses the Wrath of Khan!

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)

“It is the 23rd century. Admiral James T. Kirk is an instructor at Starfleet Academy and feeling old; the prospect of attending his ship, the USS Enterprise–now a training ship–on a two-week cadet cruise does not make him feel any younger. But the training cruise becomes a deadly serious mission when his nemesis Khan Noonien Singh–infamous conqueror from late 20th century Earth–appears after years of exile. Khan later revealed that the planet Ceti Alpha VI exploded, and shifted the orbit of the fifth planet as a Mars-like haven. He begins capturing Project Genesis, a top secret device holding the power of creation itself, and schemes the utter destruction of Kirk.”

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek wrote a sequel to his first motion picture that would have had Captain Kirk and crew having to set history right after the Klingons change events on Earth going back in time. Paramount Pictures however was not impressed with his script and the poor performance of the first film in their eyes that they also felt had too big of a budget. After fights over the script, Paramount booted Roddenberry from the film, and Harve Bennett was called to executive produce the film. The downside of Bennett was that he was not a fan of the series and had to binge watch the original series after which he selected the character Khan Noonien from episode Space Seed as the villain for his film. The film’s script went through lots of drafts that even at one point had Kirk’s son being a leader of rebels, and finally they all agreed on a script that was done by Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas Meyer and production started. The film’s shocking moment was having Spock die early in the film, but after it leaked to the press, this was twist was changed to the end of the film. Nicholas Meyer also directed the film, and production started on November 9, 1981 and made Paramount happy as the film’s budget was way smaller and even their TV branch was put in charge of its over all production. When dailies started to come in, Paramount knew they had something very special and that this film would make up for the failure of the first film in their eyes. The film’s production like all bigger blockbuster titles had a few hiccups but over all came together very well and was released in theaters on June 4, 1982 and was hit for Paramount Pictures as it was the 6th grossing film of 1982 in America bringing in $78,912,963.00 on the budget of $11 million. The film beat out many great titles that year like First Blood, Annie, Poltergeist, Dark Crystal, Friday The 13h Part III, Tron, Blade Runner, Road Warrior and many more cult and respected films. Say what you will about Star Trek, but the proof is in the Box Office that this is a film series that has had ups and downs but will forever have a place in the hearts of the Trekkies worldwide.

As I stated before, I grew up a Star Trek fan and can remember the excitement when I first got to watch Star Trek II on cable. The one thing I cannot remember was if it was on HBO or Cinemax as that part of my memory is fuzzy. I remember that we all sat as a family and watched it, and after it was over, I can remember playing with my Mego 3 ¾” Star Trek Kirk Toy and having him take on the Empire and try and outsmart Darth Vader like he did Khan in the movie I had watched. It was a film that I would watch anytime I would find it on cable and can even remember asking my Mom to check the cable book to see when it was playing. I can also remember watching the film on VHS with my aunt Theresa, my uncle Thurman and my brother Bryan at my grandparents’ house as my Uncle was a big Trekkie! In the 80’s I feel like Star Trek films were events and would get old and young excited to get to the cinema, and these were films I can remember talking to classmates about. And this film was one of the biggest of Trek movie talk as the topic of Khan being the biggest threat to the crew and being the most iconic of their villains always being a hot topic, plus let’s not forget the most important moment of this film and that’s the death of Spock! I have had so many amazing talks about this film as it’s one of the best in the series…but this is not my favorite of the Trek films, and you readers will have to wait till I review it to find out. Star Trek II is a film I have bought on VHS and DVD and is a film I watch about once a year either at home or at work. The one thing that has always worked well for me about this film is that it always feels as if a cloud of gloom is overhead and the threat of Khan is very high and really set the tone and pace of future films in the series and showed that Star Trek could also deliver Science Fiction action just like Star Wars and Flash Gordon. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan is a very iconic and well-respected Sci-Fi film and is one I would recommend seeing if you have not. Plus I am not going to lie, actress Kristie Alley was really hot as Starfleet crewmember and Vulcan/Romulan Saavik. I thought so as a kid and still will stick by that in 2019!

The most iconic scene in the movie is of course when Captain Kirk screams the name of Khan with pure anger. And like all iconic scenes, this has been parodied a number of times on many different movies and TV shows like Robot Chicken, In Living Color, Big Bang Theory as well as many more internet parodies. It’s amazing to think how impactful this scene is as many movie watchers and lovers know this scene and some have gone on to say it’s one of William Shatners best performances. So right now I want you to take a deep breath and scream “KHHHHAANNNNNNN”…felt good didn’t it?

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan was a big hit and like all big box office hits, this film had its share of cool merchandise over the years that was and is very cool for Trekkies who can not get enough of Khan and his Wrath. We got books, magazines, soundtrack, toys, posters, shirts and even playing cards and so much more, much of which I owned when I was younger. Growing up I had the movie on VHS that as I stated before would watch pretty often. I had the paperback novelization that I read while living in Waynesville and later when older I even had the Playmates action figure of Khan! And all of the above stuff that I owned then, I still own now and the one thing I do want is the soundtrack on CD as I find the score by James Horner to be very good as is all of the scores for the Trek movies. So if you’re a fan of Star Trek II and are a collector, there are lots of cool items for you to collect.

For many Trekkies Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan is their favorite film in the franchise and is the bar that all the sequels that followed had to live up to and for sure that bar was set high due to this sci-fi motion picture as it’s a true classic. And shocking that this film did not get a comic adaptation until 2009 thanks to IDW who knew the world needed one. And thanks to Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics, I was able to get copies of these issues for this review. The voice on my communicator is wanting me to tell all you red shirts 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 to battle Khan with the crew of the Enterprise, let’s boldly go where IDW allowed us to go thanks to this three issue comic mini series.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan # 1  **1/2
Released in 2009     Cover Price $3.99     IDW       # 1 of 3

Saavik is training to be a Captain for a starship and fails her test under the watch of Admiral Kirk who is feeling his age as well as really wants to leave the his promotion as he would rather be a Captain again and be with his crew on the Enterprise. Meanwhile Checkov has landed on a planet and soon finds himself as the prisoner of super engineered human Khan! And while Kirk is hanging out on the Enterprise with his old crew, Khan is controlling the mind of Checkov who is now tricking his way into taking the Genesis project away from Carol Marcus and her crew including Kirk’s son David he had with Carol! After Carol calls Kirk who denies the order to take Genesis and he takes back over the Enterprise and heads to Carol to get answers.

It’s amazing to think it took over 20 years for comic readers to get an adaptation of Wrath Of Khan, and I must say in this first issue IDW delivers the goods and fills that gap that used to be void of this comic in the collection of Star Trek issues. This issue’s plot has Kirk wanting to take his role of Captain of the Enterprise back and Khan who blames Kirk for abandoning him on a planet that has been left baron for decades. Now Khan is playing a game and is luring Kirk and the Enterprise where he wants them with a trick of taking the world builder tech Genesis. Kirk in this issue has gotten a promotion some time back and is now an Admiral for Starfleet when all he really wants to do is be a Captain for the Enterprise as he misses his friends and crew as well as the thrill of exploring space. Kahn is filled with anger and yet is calm and just wants his revenge on Kirk who he really does blame for everything that went wrong for him and his people that Kirk sent into space decades ago. Carol and her son David are the heads of Genesis and are also at odds over Kirk as the young man has lots of built up anger toward his father. One thing that puzzles me is when Kirk keeps calling Saavik a Mr. as clearly she is a she! The cover is amazing and is very eye catching for fans of Star Trek and the interior art by Chee Yang Ong is great stuff and characters look like the actors who played them. Over all this first issue is a great build up for the action that is to come and makes me look forward to reading the next issue.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan # 2  **1/2
Released in 2009     Cover Price $3.99     IDW       # 2 of 3

Kirk along with Spock and McCoy are watching a file about the Genesis Project and how in the wrong hands it could wipe out a whole planet killing everybody along with it. As Kirk and the Enterprise are about to set out to get answers of who really gave the order to hand over the project, another Starship appears and attacks taking out power and when coming on screen Kirk finds out that Khan is the man in the other starship and he wants Kirk to surrender as well as Genesis! Kirk stalls for time and in turn sets up Khan and damaging his starship as well leaving both Captains coming up with battle plans and becoming a game of chess in space. The Enterprise rushes to the Genesis labs and finds many scientist dead as well as the Genesis project, Carol and David are all missing. Kirk, McCoy and Saavik beam aboard the lab and they find Checkov who seems to be confused and things seem very bad. Kirk ends up figuring out where Carol is hiding and finds that she as well has Genesis & David with her, but it was a set up as Khan still had Checkov under control and beams up Genesis to his ship and thanks to McCoy’s fast actions he breaks the hold he had on Checkov. Now they are all stuck in the lab! But after hours pass Spock is able to fix the transport room on the Enterprise, and now Kirk is on a mission of revenge.

Our second issue has Kirk and Khan going after each other and both using their minds in order to get the upper hand. While Kirk is blindsided in this first encounter, it’s his years of being a Captain that turns the tide and allows him and his crew to figure out what to do from here by giving them a few moments to plan. And in the second chess move, Khan gets the upper hand and outsmarts Kirk and even is able to get his power monger hands on Genesis. In this issue Kirk goes from gaining is confidence back, to doubting himself due to age to getting into rage mode. Khan goes from being cocky to rage filled to blood thirsty showing that he really is a madman who only cares about his own goals and his own revenge plan. I like how David Marcus also has lots of build up anger toward his father Kirk, and this also adds a layer of stress to Kirk who has lots on his plate this far. The Enterprise Crew seems to be around but also take a back seat in the story with even Spock not being a major focus…and that’s shocking as Spock is one of the biggest characters in the series. This issue also brings in a good amount of Star Trek style action and brings us readers to a great point in the story where in the next issue Kirk and Khan’s blood feud will come to an end. The cover I have for this issue is okay and is a photo of Spock from the movie and the interiors once more are being done by Chee Yang Ong and is good stuff. This second issue is as good as the first and is a great way to lead us to the final issue in this adaptation series, so with that let’s take a look at the final issue.

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan # 3  **1/2
Released in 2009     Cover Price $3.99     IDW       # 3 of 3

Kirk and the rest are now back on the Enterprise and must make a run for it fast as Khan and his starship are gunning for them. Kirk figures out that if they enter the nebula Khan’s shields would stop working and after sending a message that mocked Khan, the madman follows and after being out moved and outsmarted, his ship is blown up but not before the Enterprise also takes a hit that leaves the engine room to fill with radiation. Before he dies, Khan triggers the Genesis that is about to go off that would leave not only Khan dead but also the whole crew of the Enterprise, and worse Scotty cannot fix the warp engine due to the radiation! Spock takes things into his own hands and enters the engine room and fixes the core and allows the Enterprise to get away before Genesis goes off. Kirk rushes to the engine room and is able to share some words with Spock who passes away from the radiation. Kirk and the crew send Spock’s coffin into space with it landing on the new planet created by Genesis and Kirk feels the sadness of losing his best friend but does gain the respect of his son David. In the end, Kirk is back and has found himself once more and is ready to explore space.

This final issue brings us the final showdown between Kirk and Khan that shows no matter how smart and evil Khan is, he is still outclassed by the wise Kirk. I also like that this comic really does make it clear that both Khan and Kirk have massive egos and each does not want to lose to the other. The whole main part of this final issue is the fight between the two. Their weapons of war are starships, and the odds are even. Only Kirk’s experience is what wins the day. The Genesis Project is something that could really help the universe by given new places to live as well as food supplies that could last forever, but as seen here, in the wrong hands it can be used as a weapon of mass destruction and can kill the population of a whole planet if used that way. Another of the subplots going on in this issue is Carol and David having to get the help of Kirk who is the one time lover of Carol as well as the father of David who they both don’t speak to. And yet we also have the fact Kirk is having issues about getting old as he wants to be doing more for the Starfleet than just being an Admiral. And finally, the major story of this series is that fact Spock puts his life on the line and is willing to die in order to save the Enterprise Crew that he views as his friends. Sad stuff as Kirk and Spock speak for the last time (well in this comic) as Spock slowly dies. Over all this comic adaptation of The Wrath Of Khan is well done and captures the mood and vibe of what many think is the best Trek movie. The pacing is well done and keeps you on your seat for the final battle as Khan is so revenge thirsty that you want to see him be brought down…even if you do understand why he is so angry with Kirk. The photo cover on this one is as well okay, but I would have liked to have gotten the one with art. The interior art is done by Chee Yang Ong and is very good and as I said before he captures the look of the characters really well. Over all, this is a fun and great comic mini series and is a must read for fans of the film it’s based on. Check out below for the style of Chee in this issue.

So it looks like our space adventure with the crew of the Enterprise has came to an end, and next year we will take a look at DC Comics adaptation of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock! Star Trek really is a blast to the past for me and brings me back to my youth when Trek was very popular in our household. But for our next update, we are going to dive into the world of forgotten superheroes as we take a look at the masked hero Rottweiler and maybe a few other surprises. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a Sci-Fi film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for a indie hero good time!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Konga

Giant Monster Movies were all the rage back in the 1960’s and many followed in the giant footprints of the 1933 film King Kong and none followed more closely than the 1961 film Konga as it as well featured a giant gorilla running wild in a major city! And I figured covering the first issue of Konga by Charlton Comics would be a great way to talk about the film and its title monster as it’s an adaptation of the movie! So if you’re ready to once more take a look at a giant hairy movie monster with me this winter and take another journey on a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. It’s a great honor that I bring you this look at Konga, a very underrated monster movie.

We need to take a look at Konga himself before we dive into the film that he comes from. Konga was a baby chimpanzee from Africa who is brought to London, England by Dr. Charles Decker, a famed botanist who has discovered a serum to make planets and animals grow very large. Konga is the test subject for this serum and grows to the size of a full-grown gorilla, and, after being given too much of the serum, he grows to super size! Konga has a very violent streak and uses his brute strength and power to choke the life out of humans when he’s gorilla-sized and has been given the orders from Decker. As a giant ape, he has no loyalty and wants to crush and smash people in his way. Konga’s way of killing includes choking, throwing and crushing, and he can easily do so no matter his size. He not only can use his power and strength to dispatch his victims but can also use his massive size to his advantage as he towers over buildings and homes and can carry a person in his hands like a doll. But while he is a giant and strong, Konga does have weaknesses as he can be hurt by weapons like guns and rockets and while large, it also appears as if he loses some of his smarts and becomes confused easily, leaving himself open to attacks. But while he can be stopped and killed, Konga is still a force to be reckoned with and is a killer primate brute who don’t realize he is a killing machine frightful bad guy.

So as you can see, Konga is a massive powerhouse of fury and animal instinct who is a giant monster who can smash and crush us humans. But now that we all know about Konga the giant monkey, we now have to take a look at the movie he stars in! So I will be taking the film’s plot from our pals as IMDB and after I will talk a little about my connection to the film as well as some cool other facts. So let’s learn a little about Konga the film that was supposed to be the first colorized version of King Kong.

Konga (1961)

“Dr. Decker comes back from Africa after a year, presumed dead. During that year, he came across a way of growing plants and animals to an enormous size. He brings back a baby chimpanzee to test out his theory. As he has many enemies at home, he decides to use his chimp, ‘Konga’ to ‘get rid of them’. Then Konga grows to gigantic proportions and wreaks havoc all over the city of London!!”

Anglo Amalgamated and American International Pictures teamed up in around 1959 to make a release of the film Konga thanks to British producer Nat Cohen asking American producer Herman Cohen to make another Horror Picture in the U.K. after “Horrors of the Black Museum” was a major hit in theaters and drive-ins. Herman, who was a big fan of King Kong, decided that he was going to make a colorized version of a giant gorilla this time around running wild in London. So Herman, along with Aben Kandel, wrote the script to the film that was being called “I Was A Teenage Gorilla” and was later changed to Konga. Herman would hire John Lemont to direct and brings on actors like Michael Gough, Margo Johns, Claire Gordon and Paul Stockman as the man in the Konga suit. Gerard Schurmann was brought in to score the movie and was filmed in Croydon and Merton Park Studios in England. With a budget of $500,000.00 production went by pretty easy and smooth and was ready to take cinemas by storm. For marketing the film Herman also paid RKO Pictures a pretty big sum in order to use the words King Kong on his posters and marketing. When released, it was shown on a double feature with the film “Master of the World” and would go one to be a cult classic film. The year of Konga’s release, it was joined in the cinemas by such other Horror titles like Curse Of the Werewolf, Doctor Blood’s Coffin, Beast Of Yucca Flats, Gorgo, Reptilicus, Snake Woman and Brainiac to name a few. When released the film also spawned a comic book series as well as a paperback novel adaptation.

My first memory of Konga was watching it on cable when I was a youngster as I think it was on TBS and I was glued to it as it was like a generic King Kong.  Over the years, the film faded in my mind and it was not until MGM released it on DVD and VHS that I remembered it and was able to watch it again, and man did I enjoy this cheesy and fun giant monster run amok film! While Konga is no King Kong, he is a nice knock off version that offers some great moments and a super sad ending that will leave an image of a street and a small chimp forever burned into your memory. Another way I remember Konga is the comic series that was released by Charlton Comics in the 60’s as I would see them at comic shops and even in a few antique stores growing up. The thing about Konga is that he is not super respected by fans of Kiju Films as many do not even put him in that category of Horror and Science Fiction Films and look down upon his rampage and size. Now most of the Kiju we think of all come from Japan or some weird island and are the likes of Godzilla, Gamera and King Kong and most lists of these films leave Konga off, but I feel he belongs.  While smaller than many of the above mentioned, he still is a giant monster on a rampage. So here right now on Rotten Ink we are going to give Konga the respect that is long over due and say he is a Kiju Monster and that his film is entertaining and underrated.

So now that we have taken a look at Konga as a monster and the film that spawned him, I think we should dive into his comic adaptation released by Charlton Comics in 1960 a short time ahead of the films release as a tool to promote it before it hit theaters and drive-ins. I want to thank the Ebay seller who had this comic in stock and made this update possible. I also want to remind you that I am grading this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and it’s art and story. I also want to say that I am only reviewing the first issue in this series as it’s the adaptation of the film and it would cost me a small fortune to get all the issues in this series as well as its follow up series. So if you’re ready, let’s take a look at Konga in the world of comics.

Konga # 1 ***
Released in 1960       Cover Price .10      Charlton      # 1 of 23

Doctor Decker along with his pilot are flying over Africa when the plane starts to have issues. Before it crashes, Decker is able to jump out and is found by a small monkey named Konga who takes him to a village of giants. While with the giants, Decker discovers a plant that brings growth when eaten and can bridge a link between planets and humans! Decker returns home to London with some seeds and Konga and has some experiments in mind that will help mankind become more powerful than ever before. Along with his wife Margret, they inject Konga with some of the seed serum and he grows showing this experiment will be a success, but also Decker must return to his teaching job and takes on a new student aid named Sondra who’s boyfriend Bob is not happy nor is the Dean of the school who thinks Decker’s claims of planets and man being linked looks poorly on the school and says he is going to request that Decker takes time away. Decker returns home very upset and injects Konga with more of the serum and now the monkey has turned into the size of a gorilla and he picks up the anger of Decker for the Dean and escapes his cage and kills him! After the attack, Decker meets a fellow scientist who is coming close as well on figuring out planet growth being used on humans and once more after Decker thinks bad of this man Konga escapes and kills him! The crimes are going unsolved and when Sondra steps down from being Decker’s aid due to her boyfriend Bob he once more returns home and upset with the young teenage lovers, and Konga once more escapes and this time injects himself with more serum and grows to be giant and busts the house in pieces. By this time Decker has figured it out and is able to call the police before he and his wife are killed by the house falling apart after Konga busts out. The massive Konga is now in the streets of London and thanks to the Police and Army, they are able to kill the beast who shrinks back down to small monkey size.

This comic was used to help promote the movie a year before it was released, and boy is this story way different in this comic than in the movie! The plot here has Doctor Decker returning from Africa with the idea to help mankind with his experiments done with the seeds of massive planets, and when using his friend, a small monkey, as the test subject the primate grows and picks up the anger thoughts of his friend and kills his enemies for him. But things really get out of hand when the monkey injects himself with lots of the serum and grows into a massive ape that terrorizes London and must be brought down by the army. So as you can see, in the comic Konga is the true bad guy who kills and is out of control with Decker being a kind man who just wants to help mankind, while in the movie Decker is the one who uses Konga to kill and he himself is a sleaze ball with Konga being the gentle one who is forced to be a massive ape. Plus in the comic, Margret is Decker’s wife when in the film she is his assistant who loves him, not to mention in the comic he only wants Sondra to help in in class, while in the movie he wants to have relations with her! Decker here in the comic world is a nice guy who took a bad situation like a plane crash and turned it into a plan to help mankind. He has a big heart with lots of goals in life and wants nothing more than to get his experiments done and become famous for doing something that a positive. Konga starts off as a small ape who is friends with Decker as he watched after him in Africa and comes to London to be a help and soon turns their friendship into a gateway to murder as the more Konga grows, the more bloodthirsty he gets. Just like in the movie, Konga dies in the comic when he is fired on by the Army and Police and in death shrinks back down to his normal size. The comic does not have any blood or gore and the horror element comes from the off panel deaths and the fact it’s a giant ape running loose in a city! The cover for this issue is great and classic and showcases Konga bringing in fans of giant monsters as well as King Kong fans. The interior art is done by comic artist legend Steve Ditko and is really great early comic art from a man who first drew Spider-Man for Marvel and by all accounts co-created him. I think about it two years after this comic that Ditko did Amazing Fantasy # 15. Over all, this is a great early Horror Comic that was based on a film that never has gotten the respect it should. Check out the artwork below to see some of Ditko’s early comic work.

Konga is a cool cult classic film that is also a great comic book that is worth checking out in both forms of media. And think, while the film was only one, the comic series lasted 23 issues and had a second series that lasted 3 issues. So if you love Konga, his giant sized adventures continued in ink for you to enjoy. So while we must leave London and Konga behind, our next update will place us on Christmas Eve and after some major thought and eliminations I decided that I will take a look at Garfield’s Christmas Special as well as have a NES Challenge of the unreleased Garfield video game! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a giant monster movie or two and as always spend some time with your loved ones. See you next update for a fun time with Garfield as well as the NES.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Kong Skull Island

Christmas is creeping up on us, and as always, this time of the year makes me think of things from my past that still bring me joy to this day. That’s why I decided to choose to once more take a look at King Kong, a giant movie monster that has always brought me joy, and what better way to kick off our countdown to my Christmas Eve update then to do a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update that breaks down Kong Skull Island and the Legendary Comic prequel comic series released to promote it. Now I am sure some of you readers are saying “What!? Kong Skull Island is not a Horror Movie but an Adventure film!” My answer to that is that I have always considered King Kong and Godzilla films to be giant monster horror films that have elements of fantasy, adventure and science fiction…plus if Fangoria and other horror magazines covered Kong, then it has elements of a Horror Movie. So let’s sit back and take a look at From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Kong Skull Island.

Before we explore Skull Island we should first take a look at its ruler, King Kong! King Kong is a massive giant gorilla that stands about 104 feet and makes his home on Skull Island. He is very protective of his home and most of the creatures and primitive humans that live on it. No one is really sure where King Kong and his massive family blood line came from; all that is known that in the Legendary Pictures timeline is that he’s the last of his kind up to this point. He is massive in stature and stands more like a human than a primate and is super strong as well as smart when coming to survival. He also uses the land around him to his advantage, and while not overly aggressive toward man, he could easily kill one in seconds. King Kong uses his pure power and size to crush, smash and pummel his target. He also can use his fists to deliver massive hits to his enemies and can use his huge sharp teeth to rip and tear his foe. His brain allows him to make better decisions, making him more dangerous than most of the monsters his size. We should also note he can use things like trees and chains as weapons! But while Kong is massive, he does have weaknesses like all living creatures such as fire, bullets, bites and beatings. All can hurt and even possibly kill him. King Kong also bleeds and wounds effects him like they would normal gorillas. But while he can be hurt, it’s very hard to keep King Kong down as his heart and will to survive is a true force of nature.

So now that we know the power and attack style of King Kong, we should take a look at the film that this version of Kong comes from. The film’s write up will be coming from our friends at IMDB and it will be followed up with a little production history of the film as well as some of my memories of watching it for the first time. So let’s dive into the movie that inspired this comic mini series.

Kong Skull Island (2017)

“A washed up monster chaser convinces the U.S. Government to fund a trip to an unexplored island in the South Pacific. Under the guise of geological research, the team travels to “Skull Island”. Upon arrival, the group discover that their mission may be complicated by the wildlife which inhabits the island. The beautiful vistas and deadly creatures create a visually stunning experience that is sure to keep your attention.”

In 2014, Legendary Pictures was going to team up with Universal Pictures to make a King Kong movie, but this plan quickly changed when Legendary switched to Warner Brothers in order to add Kong into the world of Godzilla. The next step for them was to find a director and many names were suggested like Guillermo del Toro, but they ended up picking Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Next up was the script that had lots of writers attached with names like Max Borenstein, John Gatins, Dan Gilroy and Derek Connolly and the finished product had elements from each writer’s ideas. Next they worked on the design and look of King Kong for the movie and then cast names like John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson for major roles. On October 19, 2015 filming started, and it was over all a smooth production that ended on March 18, 2016. The only bump this film had was a lawsuit from writer and artist Joe DeVito who wrote about Skull Island and felt this film stole many of his ideas. The film’s budget was $185 million and brought in $168,052,812.00 at the US Box Office and $398,600,000.00 foreign. The film was also scored by Henry Jackman, and his music was very well done and fitting. The film was # 20 for the year and beat out such other Horror and Sci-Fi films as Split, Annabelle: Creation, The Mummy, Alien: Covenant, The Shape Of Water and Happy Death Day to name a few. The film was meet with mix reviews from critics and fans with most finding it very enjoyable.

Kong Skull Island was one of my most anticipated films of 2017 and was one of the films that I along with my gal Juliet and friend Jeremy Hoy went to on opening night at Cinemark Dayton South. I was blown away by it as the film lived up to what I wanted and that was King Kong fighting other giant monsters with a fun human story. On my “Matt Goes To The Movies 2017” update Kong Skull Island was my top Horror Film of the year. Since I was a youngster, I have always been a big fan of King Kong and when this film was released I made sure to get the film on DVD as well as got the CD of the score that I have played on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO Public Radio. Kong Skull Island leads to Kong’s next appearance for Legendary Pictures in 2020 that will have him taking on Godzilla with the makers of this film saying there will be a clear cut winner! While I also really love Godzilla, I am cheering for King Kong as he has the brains and raw power to stop Godzilla’s rampage and rage. Do yourself a favor if you have not seen this film yet and make sure to check it out as it’s a giant monster film packed with action and adventure and even a little horror.

Kong Skull Island was a prefect choice to make a comic series based around it, as the movie starts with a young Kong with his family already dead. So this comic series brings his past to light and allows us to witness the sadness and rise of Kong to really be the King of Skull Island. I also really want to say that I have been looking forward to sitting and reading this comic series since it was released as I truly do enjoy King Kong in films, comics and novels and this one being tied to the newest film in the Kong series really peaks my interest. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for getting me these issue for my pull file and would like to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s see what Legendary Comics brings to the table with this mini series.

Skull Island The Birth of Kong # 1  **1/2
Released in 2017    Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics     # 1 of 4

The year is 2012, and a group of sailors find a Monarch recorder and return it to the company. It turns out that the recorder belonged to Aaron Brooks, a solider for the company and son of Houston Brooks that has been missing sense 1995. Houston unlocks the recorder and starts to listen to Aaron’s words. He lead a team to Skull Island as he doesn’t trust Kong to keep the islands’ monsters in check. Before Aaron and crew can land on Skull Island, they are attacked by giant flying monsters that cause them to have to leap out and the pilot and helicopter to crash. As Aaron and his crew move, they are attacked leaving one of his people dead and another missing a leg when dinosaurs attack, and if not for Kong they all would have been killed. After they regroup, they are soon greeted by natives who are speaking English, showing that Skull Island is changing!

Skull Island has become a place that has been hidden and kept secret by the government and Monarch as they just keep an eye on it as well as its King the great ape named Kong. But a young worker for Monarch does not think it’s right that the world does not know about the monsters on the island as well as relying on Kong to keep the monsters in check, so he and some other hotshot workers travel to Skull Island to expose it to the world…and this was a big mistake! Aaron Brooks is a young hotshot who thinks that he knows it all and wants to expose the world to the giant monsters, and at this point all he has done is get some of his crew members injured and dead on an island he has no business being on! His crew are all go getters, but now it’s clear they are second guessing going along with Aaron’s plan. Our baddies at this point are the creatures that live on the island, and they are just hungry and want to eat what they can kill. Kong himself appears briefly as he smacks away man eating dinosaurs who were eating our cast for lunch, and as quickly as he saves the day he also disappears. The Natives seem to be educated, which makes you wonder who has taught them and why they think Aaron and his crew are special and been foretold would come for decades. This first issue is a build up for our mini series, and while good, is a little slow and bland and thus far only adds a hint of Kong and a heck of a lot of Aaron and his cocky way. The cover is great and very eye catching for fans of King Kong and the interior artwork is good but not my style and is done by Zid. Over all this is a good issue but nothing special, and I am looking forward to issue two and hope Kong has more of a part and we get some answers to questions this issue has presented.

Skull Island The Birth of Kong # 2  **1/2
Released in 2017     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics     # 2 of 4

Aaron and his crew find themselves the guests of the IWI who are nursing them all back to health and are telling them that they have been waiting for them to come. Aaron finds out that one of the young tribesmen learned English from Hank Marlow, a downed U.S. air force pilot who taught his father many years back. Aaron also begins to notice one of his own men is becoming addicted to the juice the natives are given them and is having visions of the islands past and the bloodline of King Kong! The young tribesman and some warriors take Aaron and his crew on a very important pilgrimage to the parts of the island and along the way they find some history of Kong and the people who live on the island and are almost even attacked by a massive water animal, but they also find old weapons left behind by Monarch from years back. But before they can use them, the mighty roar of Kong echoes out and the creature goes back into the water as Aaron and his crew gear up and head out to finally meet King Kong.

The second issue has Aaron and his crew being taken in by Skull Islands natives and being healed of wounds and shown the history of the Kong bloodline. While Aaron and most of his crew are cautious and focused, one of his members is acting odd and over drinking a juice and claiming to be linked to the island and filled with visions. Aaron is kind of just a man who rushed into something thinking he was going to be the hero of the day and in return just got his crew lost and in some cases dead.  Thus far to me, he has also really come off as a self centered person who craves to be that guy who sticks it to the system. The rest of the crew are just around, and one is clearly slipping into madness and is one I think will be the downfall of not only the crew but also himself. The natives seem nice and mean no harm to the crew and even seem like they would die to protect them. Kong is not seen, and we only get treated to quick flashbacks of his family from the past. While this second issue is a good read, it also is a very slow burn and even with a monster showing up and “attacking,” nothing really seems to happen and it feels like a filler issue. The issue has no blood and scary spots, and the biggest issue this comic has is that Kong, the main attraction of the mini series, is nowhere in site. The cover is cool and showcases Kongs fighting skull crawlers and the interior art is fine and done by Zid again. Over all not much to say about this issue so let’s move onto number three.

Skull Island The Birth of Kong # 3  **1/2
Released in 2017     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics     # 3 of 4

Aaron and his crew, while looking for Kong, find the body of the sea monster as Kong has killed it and all the other giant beasts are coming to the area to feed.  While the feeding frenzy takes place Aaron gets word from his pilot that he is alive and the helicopter can still fly and they plan to meet up in the bone graveyard and end their trip to Skull Island! When getting to the graveyard they soon find it crawling with Skull Crawlers and must take shelter in a cave and in a vision from one of the crew, they are told about the death of Kong’s parents as well as his birth that all took place on the same day…baby Kong witnessed as Skull Crawlers killed his mother and father before his young eyes. Aaron has heard enough, and as they all rush to the approaching helicopter they witness it get shot out of the sky thanks to their crazed fellow crew member who also shoots one of his own dead and demands they all go and see Kong!

This issue brings our story more on track as Aaron and his crew decide that Skull Island is not for them and just as they are about to leave, they are forced to stay due to one of their own turning crazy and downing their helicopter killing the pilot as well as one of his fellow exploring crew! Aaron in this issue is finally becoming a character that’s likable as he knows now that he has made a big mistake in coming to Skull Island to try and test the rule that Kong has over it, but while he finally sees his mistake, he still has lead three people to their deaths. The crazed crew member is a psycho who really thinks Kong is a god and is willing to kill his own friends just to be able to see the great ape in person. The Skull Crawlers are around and are as mean as ever, and lucky for Aaron and his crew they have not been spotted and became dinner…yet! King Kong is shown as a baby in a heart breaking part of this comic as he as a newborn watches his parents die! As an adult we only get to see the aftermath of his fight with the sea creature that is dead. Two things I really like about this issue is that we do get to see Kong’s parents in action as they take on a horde of Skull Crawlers and that when Kong kills something, the rest of the beast around come and feed on the corpse of the fallen. This issue has lots more action and suspenseful moments making it the best issue in the series thus far as it delivers a more classic Kong feel. The cover for this issue is heartbreaking for fans of Kong as it shows him as a baby crying over the bodies of his Mom and Dad. Interior art again is done by Zid who I should also say did all the covers as well. Over all, a good solid issue that was a fun and quick read and really does make me look forward to see what happens when Aaron and crew finally do get to see King Kong in all his hairy glory.

Skull Island The Birth of Kong # 4  ***
Released in 2017     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics     # 4 of 4

Aaron along with what’s left of his crew and the tribes men are being held captive by a Wildman who has lost tough with reality and is taking about blowing up the fence around the village to see if Kong will protect them all and prove he loves mankind. Aaron and the rest escape the madman when some creatures from the jungle appear and attack letting them get to the village, but they are too late to warn the villagers as the madman blows up the walls and allows giant spiders to enter who start attacking and killing any one they see. They even kill Aaron’s last crew member besides the madman and all hope seems gone, until Kong shows up and starts smashing the spiders and saves human lives. After Kong runs off the spiders, he also smashes the madman and looks at Aaron letting him know that he is as people say the true King of Skull Island and a protector of man. Aaron decides to stay on Skull Island and help the IWI rebuild the wall and sends his recorder on a small-unmanned boat into the ocean. We end back in modern times and Aaron’s dad at his retirement party tells his former co-workers that he is going on a cruise to some place warm.

Now this is what I have been waiting for in this comic series as we get King Kong beating up and smashing giant spiders and saving human lives and even taken one of a clear crazy man! The issue’s plot has Aaron and his crew being taken out one by one by the creatures of Skull Island as well as one of their own who has flipped his lid and believes he is one with the island as well as linked to Kong. The mad man also decides to test the nature of Kong and blows up the wooden fences around the IWI village allowing all the creatures to enter and attack and kill and waits for Kong to save them…what a nut and he does get to witness Kong who appears and saves the day but he also get the wrath of Kong who smashes him into the ground! Aaron learns that some secrets are best left hidden and that he must stay on Skull Island to help rebuild what he and his now all dead crew destroyed. And Kong proves that he really is the King of the island and that he does understand that he must help the weak and small humans from the beasts that make up his home. This issue is filled with action and adventure and really allows our characters to learn from mistakes and witness the wonders they questioned. Aaron who at first was an unlikable rebel character by the end turns into a guy you come to understand and cheer for as he does the right thing. This issue has violence but no gore or mass amount of blood and does have an adventure horror feel to many of the scenes. The cover is eye catching for fans of King Kong and has him doing what he does best and once more like the interiors is done by Zid. This comic mini series is a slow burn just like the Pacific Rim one I took a look at early this year, but unlike it, I found this one to be entertaining even with the lack of Kong in issues. Over all if your fan of Skull Island and King Kong in general check this series out. While it is not the best Kong has to offer in the world of comics, it’s at least a solid one with a fun story. Check out the art below to see the work of Zid and see what King Kong the 8th Wonder of the World looks like in these issues.

King Kong will always be my favorite giant movie monster and while I also love Godzilla, Kong will always be the tops for me. Plus I really do think that Kong makes for a great comic book character and hope that more issues of his rampages and adventures will come out sooner than later! Kong Skull Island was one of my favorite movies of 2017 and was a perfect film to go alongside the original 1933 film. So with this being the Christmas season and all, I think that my next update will be something everyone loves to chat about for this Holiday time of the year and that’s the 1961 giant ape film Konga! Wait what? You don’t gather with loved ones and chat about Konga over a glass of eggnog while sitting by the fire? Well if you have not, you don’t know what you’re missing! So we will be leaving Skull Island and go to London for our next update, and until then, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always enjoy your Holiday season with all your loved ones. See you next update for a Konga good time.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Darkness Falls

Many Horror Movies take inspiration for their plots from sources like real life tragic events, fever inducing nightmares and even folklore, and one of the biggest movies that did this when I was in my early 20’s was Darkness Falls, based on the legend of the Tooth Fairy turned up a notch to scare kids and terrify movie goers. In the early 2000’s Horror was making a major comeback at the cinema with lower budget horror bringing in extra cash for studios much like today with Blumhouse setting lower budgets but making great profits, and Darkness Falls was one of these films released. Fairy Tales can be scary, and the Tooth Fairly can be super scary when she not only takes your lost tooth but also your soul! So if you’re ready like I am, lets take a grim trip into this From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update for Darkness Falls.

Before we get into the film itself, we need to take a look at the killing monster, Matilda Dixon or, as her victims call her, The Tooth Fairy! Matilda was a kind older woman who would give gold coins to the children of the town when they would lose their teeth as an act of kindness earning her the nickname The Tooth Fairy. When a house fire left her face burnt and sensitive to light, she would walk the streets at night wearing a porcelain mask, and when two children go missing she is blamed and hung for a crime she didn’t commit as the kids were found alive and well. Before her death, she cursed the town and the children of it.  When they lose their last baby tooth and if they look her in the face, it brings a terrible death to them as she is now a vengeful spirit. Matilda is a supernatural being who enjoys killing and placing cold fear into her victims with not only her appearance but also her sinister screams. She lurks in the shadows and pounces on those who don’t follow her rules of never looking at her when she comes for your last tooth. Matilda can fly and glide through the air to track and hunt down her victims, and once she has them, she does use her looks and noises to put the fear into them before she uses her hands to claw and mutilate. She also uses the darkness to her stalking advantage as she must stay in the dark in order to get her target. Her weakness is light; whether it’s the glow of the sun or the light of a bulb, she cannot stand it as it burns her skin and enough of it will kill her and send her soul where it belongs. So while she has a pretty big weakness in light, she is one murdering supernatural being in the dark making The Tooth Fairy a really dangerous killer for all who has not followed her rules.

So as you can see, Matilda Dixon was a woman who turned her kindness into vengeance when her own town turned on her due to her horrific appearance.  Now that we have taken a look at her killing ways, we need to dive into the movie she stars in and for that our friends at IMDB will bring us the film’s plot and after that I will talk a little about the film’s production as well as my thoughts on the film. So if you’re ready, we have to stay in the light and whatever you do, don’t look at her face!

Darkness Falls (2003)

“A vengeful spirit has taken the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the town that lynched her 150 years earlier. Her only opposition is the only child, now grown up, who has survived her before.”

Darkness Falls was released in 2003 and was directed by Jonathan Liebesman and was a team up production of American and Australian companies. The film was written by John Fasano and Joe Harris and was a twisted supernatural reimagining of the Tooth Fairy legend and was riding the popularity of The Ring that was released a year before it. It starred such actors as Chaney Kley, Emma Caulfield, John Stanton and Antony Burrows played Matilda Dixon aka Tooth Fairy. The film had a budget of $11 million and brought in $47,488,536.00 worldwide making it a hit for Sony. The film also was pretty well liked by critics and fans making it odd that a sequel was never made. The film was released during a Horror Movie boom as 2003 also saw the release of such films as Freddy vs. Jason, Jeeper Creepers 2, Wrong Turn, Underworld, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Willard, House Of 1000 Corpses and Beyond Re-Animator to name a very few showing that 2003 was a good year for fans! Darkness Falls also had some merchandise released like movie poster, soundtrack, novel adaptation, an action figure and of course the comic book. So while it’s not a major franchise, it’s still one that has made its mark on the world of Horror Movies. I want to also bring to you readers’ attention that in the original script, The Tooth Fairy only showed up in the final act of the film and her appearance was way different from the one used in the final film.  If you want to see her original look, just get yourself the Movie Maniac figure as that was supposed to be her main look in the film before the change.

Darkness Falls is a film I can remember hitting theaters and the ads being on TV and posters in the theaters, and while I was very much into going to the cinema to see films, for some reason I skipped seeing this one. Honestly I think I skipped it to see Final Destination 2 as they both were released in the same month. It would be when it hit VHS and DVD that I finally watched the film as I was working at Blockbuster Video and rented it and remember watching it with my brother and I found it to be a pretty good shocker with some cool effects and a spooky monster. Once watching it I ended up getting the film on DVD and still have it in my collection to this day, and will dust it off from time to time to watch. I also ended up getting the comic book from Dark Horse Comics as well as have the music score CD that I play on the Halloween edition of Alpha Rhythms on WYSO from time to time. For me what works very well in this film is that it has a very mean and dark tone as our main villain takes joy in scaring and killing children, and I like that she does not speak and only screams and moans making her come off way more creepy. Over all while this film is not groundbreaking, I do find it to be a very entertaining and spooky film from the early 2000’s that has built up a solid cult following and is one that should have gotten a sequel as one was talked about but never made.

So now that we have refreshed our memories of Darkness Falls and its supernatural killer The Tooth Fairy, we are going to take a look at the prequel comic released by Dark Horse Comics based on the films folklore. It’s really cool that a comic was made about this film as it’s a Horror Movie that really does lend itself to be one. And I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having this comic in stock and want to remind everyone that I grade 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 lets stay in the light and enter Darkness Falls…and for the love of comics whatever you do don’t look at her!

Darkness Falls # 1  **1/2
Released in 2003       Cover Price $2.99     Dark Horse     # 1 of 1

Emma and William live in the small town of Darkness Falls.  The year is 1841, and the young man has lost one of his baby teeth and they are on their way to visit Matilda Dixon to trade the tooth for a tasty treat! Along the walk, the kids talk about how five years earlier Matilda’s husband Sonny died at sea. As they continue to walk, they run across youngster George who tells them how a year ago Matilda’s house was set on fire by accident when kids were snooping. The fire left her terribly burnt and forced her to wear a mask made of porcelain to hide her burns and disfigured face. The children were scared of her now, and she would have to leave the treats on their porches as they left their lost tooth there as well. William and Emma leave George behind after his story as it’s getting later. William’s father is mad and thinks that Matilda has done something to his son and gets a mob together to do something about her! Meanwhile William and Emma get to her house and meet her, and as she gives them treats, the mob shows up and hangs her for “killing” the kids only for them to find the kids okay and all of them are guilty of murder!

This comic is a great prequel to the film and really helps build the mood and world that the film was creating as the plot of this is all about the sad life and tragic death of Matilda Dixon. The thing that works great for this comic is that it makes you feel bad for Matilda as she was murdered for no reason and she really just wanted to make kids happy as she was just a very lonely person who always wanted to have her own children, and a town full of superstitious judgmental people took her life over. Emma and William are two kids who are on their way to visit Matilda to get baked treats for a lost tooth. It’s clear they are best friends and each kind of has a crush on the other, and while they do want the treats they also want to see her appearance as she is kind of the town’s boogeyman. And while they are the cause for her murder, they by no means meant for it to happen and just really lost track of time. William’s dad is a terrible person who bullies not only his family but also the townsfolk to do what he wants as he is a mean spirited person with a bad attitude. George the little kid who is semi friends of Emma and William is also a little jerk as he is the one who plants it into the adults mind that the kids are missing cause of Matilda even though he knows that the woman has done nothing wrong. Matilda Dixon is a woman who had faced all types of tragedies as she lost her husband to death by sea, was never able to have children of her own, has been treated like a weirdo by her neighbors and has been burnt due to plundering kids setting a fire in her home…in other words, she is the victim of this comic tale as she is murdered for no reason. Matilda is really just a lonely woman who enjoys being around youth as she fills it gives her a real purpose in life, and because of the evil deeds done to her they are the ones who forced her to become a monster! The comic’s horror comes from atmosphere and not blood & gore as the comic is pretty much bloodless but still delivers some chills. The cover is cool but is also just the film’s poster making it kind of lame as original art would have been better. The comics interior art is done by Charlie Adlard and is pretty great stuff! Over all this is a solid good Horror Comic based on a Horror Movie that could have made a really good mini series if Dark Horse would have been on board to do so, and I would say if you enjoy folklore style tales and liked the film Darkness Falls give this one a read. Also check out the art below to see the style that Adlard brought to this comic.

Darkness Falls is a pretty good 2000’s Horror Movie that featured a very classic style monster that is perfect for cinema and literature, plus is great for one of our from Horror Comic To Horror Comic update as we countdown to Halloween. As I have said before, I am really shocked we never got a Darkness Falls 2, as I would have liked to see more of the Tooth Fairy and her killing ways. But for my next update it will be our big Halloween update and we will leave the Tooth Fairy and Darkness Falls behind as we will be heading toward Haddonfield, Illinois and witness the killing spree of Michael Myers as the film Halloween will be our topic! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Oh and remember you can’t kill the Boogeyman!