From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

On this countdown to Thanksgiving update I think we will do another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” as I have lots of fun writing them, and it seems that you friends and readers have a good time reading them! For this one I picked a movie that’s a little less scary and went for more of a humorous Horror title as I selected Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes! Yeah this musical comedy horror film has two different comic series by two different comic companies and both only lasted one issue each. So while you are planning your Thanksgiving Day meal for all your loved ones who are coming over after reading this update you might want to stay away from tomatoes as who knows they might just bite back! So arm yourself with what ever you can find and avoid rolling vegetables (or should I say fruit?) and lets dive into “From Horror Movie, To Horror Comic: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes”.

In order to understand the madness of these tasty vegetables we first must take a look at why and what they are. Tomatoes of all sizes are the killers in this film and they range from normal sized all the way to giant bolder sized and can hunt in packs or even solo making them really able to pop up anywhere for the attack and kill. The reason for the attack and invasion of these Killer Tomatoes is unknown at first and denied to even be happing, but it is soon learned that a member of our own government is responsible and has used some weird science mumbo jumbo in order to bring them to life and cause death and panic. When attacking the Tomatoes also leave behind tomato juice that appears on their victims making them look like a bloody mess. The tomatoes show that they can move quickly by rolling and they even show signs of being very intelligent as they use cunning and skill to attack and kill their victims. The fact that they also at times hunt in large packs make them more dangerous to humans as they can easily overwhelm their target. In appearance they just look like normal tomatoes and even the larger ones while maybe shocking to see the size still just look like overgrown tomatoes. The weakness for these killer tomatoes is they can be squashed as being alive does not make them unable to die, they also are drawn into places and weakened via a song called “Puberty Love” that acts as their Pied Piper. But while they have weaknesses and even most people would laugh at a tomato trying to kill them these little red killing machines are a force to be reckoned with.

Now that we learned that these tomatoes are killing machines that range in size, I think we should now take a look at the first film in the series, the one that started it all into becoming a cult classic batch of films each more silly than the other. I want to thank IMDB for the write up of the film’s plot and hope you guys are ready to learn a little about this film.

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes (1978)

“After a wave of reports of mysterious attacks involving people and pets being eaten by the traditionally docile fruit, a special government task force is set up to investigate the violent veggies and put a stop to their murderous spree. Included in this crack team are a lieutenant who never goes anywhere without his parachute, an underwater expert who’s never out of his scuba gear, and a master of disguise who conceals his appearance by dressing as a black Adolf Hitler.”

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes was directed by John DeBello and was an odd mix of comedy, musical and horror and starred such names as David Miller, Costa Dillon and George Wilson all who deliver good performances for the cheesy roles they are given. The film was so silly that it became a cult classic from the start as people found the idea of killer tomatoes so silly and funny that it found itself being a moneymaker at the theater bringing in a total of $567,000.00 on a $100,000.00 budget! The year, it hit theaters many other amazing Horror Films hit theaters and drive-ins world wide like Halloween, Dawn Of The Dead, Jaws 2, I Spit On Your Grave, Class Reunion Massacre, Mardi Gras Massacre and Inquisition to name a few making 1978 a great year for Horror Cinema and delivered many scares for fans! Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes was one of those films that I heard of from a young age as the title was silly and was something that was the butt of many jokes as the films title left it open for lots of punch lines when coming to friends who didn’t like the more bloody and gore filled horror. So while it was not a box office mega hit and was panned by critics, it still is a cult favorite film that has warmed its way into the hearts of b-movie fans and horror fans the worldwide.

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes built such a cult following that it spawned three sequels that each amped up the cheesy horror comedy action! The second film in the series was “Return Of The Killer Tomatoes” that was released in 1988 and is known for being an early role for George Clooney and was released by New World Pictures who use to own Marvel Comics! The third movie in the series called “Killer Tomatoes Strike Back” was released in 1990 and has the Killer Tomatoes back and wanting to claim more human victims. The forth and final movie is the series was released in 1991 and was called “Killer Tomatoes Eat France!” and, you guessed it, has them in France! All the sequels were direct to video and none of them captured the cult status of the original and for the most part were also lost in the shuffle at the local video store as many chains placed them in the comedy section with others putting them in horror. I mostly remember the sequels thanks to “USA Up All Night” as they were the perfect films to be hosted, and can remember enjoying them.  But I never was a huge fan of the movies – for me was more for the cartoon…we will get into that later. So while Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes is not as iconic as other Horror film series like Halloween, Friday The 13th or The Conjuring, it did make a tiny mark on the genre as proven by having sequels made in order to continue the story for fans.

In 1990, Marvel Productions and Fox Children’s Production made a very cool cartoon called Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes based on the film series! The series takes place five years after the Great Tomato War and follows Chad Finletter who is a 10-year-old pizza delivery boy who along with his friends tries to stop the evil doings of Dr. Gangreen and his band of raging tomatoes who are bent on ruling the world. This show aired on Saturday mornings and ran for two seasons and a total of 21 episodes that were 23 minutes each.  This was a cartoon I watched and enjoyed every week and even bought the toys based on this toon. The odd thing about this cartoon is that follows after the events of the film Return Of The Killer Tomatoes and holds a more comedic fun loving aspect and plays down the horror elements so as to not to scare younger viewers, but to be honest how could anyone be scared of Killer Tomatoes? I do enjoy the fact this cartoon gives the tomatoes different personalities and looks like a snake, bull and other gross and monstrous big tomatoes who act as the major threats to our heroes. This cartoon was very popular and many of my classmates watched it.  We would chat about it on the playground, and the main reason it was cancelled is the fact in season two they botched the storyline and went with a very weird computer generated style of animation that just did not fit the mood and feel of the series, but a fun fact is that this is credited as one of the first cartoons to use computer animation! I don’t want to spend too much time on the cartoon version of Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes but will say that this should have been turned into a Star Comic or even a Marvel Comic as the company was involved in the production.

So besides the movies, cartoon and comics, other merchandise has been made about the Killer Tomatoes that includes t-shirts, posters, soundtrack, coloring books, Halloween costumes, lunchboxes, magazines, buttons, video games for the Nintendo & Gameboy as well as action figures and a ton of home media releases on Beta, VHS, DVD, Laserdisc and Blu-Ray. So as you can see, if you are a fan of this film and its spinoffs and sequels, there is some cool stuff in the world for you to collect. Over the years I have owned the toys, and as I have said, many of the films on VHS and DVD, and while not on my must watch list, I do find myself dusting them off from time to time to enjoy.

So as you can see, in the late 80’s and 90’s Killer Tomatoes made a push to become a major franchise in Horror and Comedy and for the most part did become a household name for a short amount of time. I think what is cool about this film series is the fact they went that extra mile and tried to make it a hit with cartoons, video games and comics and aimed it toward a younger crowd knowing that they would eat up the cheesy premise and over the top characters. Another thing I should mention is that for me one of the coolest things about this film series is that John Astin played the evil Professor Mortimer Gangreen, and as always, he steals the show as he is one of my all time favorite character actors. And on a side note, I would love to see the Killer Tomatoes make a comeback and get a new movie sequel as well as maybe a comic that would last more than one issue!

So now that we have taken a look at Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes and its impact on pop culture and just how mean and nasty these tomatoes are, I think we should dive into the comic review. When selecting between the Killer Tomato Entertainment Inc. or the Viper comic to cover, it was a tough one but in the end I decided to go with the first as it was the earliest and I feel should get the honor of representing the Killer Tomatoes on this Thanksgiving Countdown and newest installment to the From Horror Movie, To Horror Comic series of updates. I want to thank Amazon for having this comic in stock and when picking up this can of tomato juice, I was shocked to see this written on the can “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” I must say that’s a strange thing to say on a food can, but with that, put your fears of tomatoes aside and let’s take a look at Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes…The Comic!

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes # 1  *1/2
Released in 2003   Cover Price $2.50     Killer Tomato Entertainment Inc.   # 1 of 1

At Chadwick University, a seminar is taking place by Dr. Infecto all about food genetic engineering done by Technedible Labs and how it’s a good thing and that people should not believe the lies of Killer Tomatoes! After it’s over, two students Todd Smart and Dave Valiant go to see Dr. Infecto who is in his office and just got off the phone with Dr. Gangrene who is working on experiments involving humans and tomatoes. As the two students come in, they are attacked by Killer Tomatoes that leaves Todd Smart dead and Dave Valiant running for his life and Dr. Infecto clearly in the back pocket of Dr. Gangrene! After the attack, Dave gives an interview about what he witnessed, and the media seems to not take this young man’s claim series. But this broadcast get the attention of Great Tomato War veteran Wilber Finletter who tracks down the young man and gears him up for the battle that is surly coming.

Oh lord, this 12 page comic is a mess. While cool as it’s a part of Horror Comic history, it also suffers from a terribly bland story and bad amateurish art! The plot is this simple: a college professor is working with Dr. Gangrene in order to make human/tomato hybrids and when a student is attacked and survives, this new plot gets news coverage and brings out our series hero Wilber Finletter …and that’s our plot. Our hero of this issue is Dave Valiant, a young college student who watches his friend be attacked by a batch of Killer Tomatoes that was unleashed by their very own teacher! Dave really doesn’t do much in order to battle the Killer Tomatoes…he does talk about it on TV. I guess our second hero would be the parachute wearing Wilber Finletter who has battled in two Great Tomato Wars and at least gears up and talks to Dave about what is coming. The Killer Tomatoes don’t do much in this issue as they “attack” a tied up man as well as a college student…they don’t do much. Dr. Infecto and Dr. Gangrene don’t do much as well as they are just kind of around and free the tomatoes when they are needed. One of the major issues that plagues this comic is that none of the heroes feel like heroes nor do we as the reader ever really bond with them. And on the other side, none of our bad guys seem all that bad as we don’t really get to see them in action, and it’s clear as day to me that this 12 page comic would have been better to have been 22 pages. This comic has zero scares, zero blood and very little entertainment value and is one of the weakest Horror Movie To Horror Comic issues I have read! The cover is cheesy as showcases a large chested woman hugging a tomato, and the interior art is done by Hasani McIntosh and is very amateurish and not the style of art I like, but I should say fans of independent underground comics I am sure would dig his style. Over all this comic is kind of a letdown, and while fun to read and review for this update, I must say that this is for diehard Killer Tomato fans only. Check out the art below to see the style of McIntosh and you make your own opinion on if you dig it.

While this 12 page comic was a letdown and should have had more substance or at least an issue 2 in order to deliver any kind of major entertainment, I still find myself happy that at least this comic was made no matter how many flaws it had against it as it delivered a comic to fans of the Killer Tomatoes. But as we inch our way closer to Thanksgiving, we will leave the world of horror movie inspired comics behind and go to Greece once more as we continue our tradition of looking at Hercules in the world of comics.  This time around we will be talking about the second series of Marvel Comics’ Hercules! So that should be lots of fun as I always get a kick of talking about Hercules, plus as a special announcement you will get the first info on a upcoming Sparkle Comics series that will make sword and sandal fans happy! So until our next update aka Thanksgiving Day 2017, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Until next time my readers and friends, make sure to enjoy the upcoming Holiday season.

The Incredible Werewolf

Fall’s in the air, and the Halloween season is quickly approaching.  That means we are all entitled to a good scare so let me take a look at an old creepy house me and my friends use to go exploring inside and we also filmed many no budget horror films around; it’s one we all dubbed “Murder House”! This house sat in Beavercreek off Indian Ripple Road and was just down the street from a cemetery.  The yard was always overgrown with weeds, and all around it was trees and unkept bushes. Every window on the ground floor was boarded up as the second floor windows were all clear but busted. In what was once the driveway to the house, an old dresser sat tipped over and was on top of a body of a deer that was just a skeleton. On the left side of the house was a cage used for dogs and around it bones and skulls of cats and dogs were thrown about. The right side had a covered porch that was covered with vines and rotten leaves, and also around this part in the yard were old metal toy trucks that were rusting from years of neglect and weather. The backyard had an old cellar that had caved in and was blocked by all types of debris and a little further back pens used for sheep as well as a little stream could be seen. The backdoor to the house was busted open and this would allow you access to the inside, that we would all enter when wanting to get a good scare. For years I was obsessed with this house and would drive past it with friends on late night ghost hunts or just cruising around blaring music.  Keep in mind I was in my early 20’s and loved making my own shot on video horror flicks so this house was my go to spooky place to freak out dates and get a shiver up my spine as well. When around the house at night I would always get a weird vibe that someone was watching me. The first time I ever entered the house was with my pal Josh Weinberg.  Armed with flashlights and pocket knives, we creeped into the backdoor that lead us to the kitchen.  The first thing we noticed was that a freezer had been tipped over and was laying on its side but the rest of the kitchen, while dirty, was not vandalized. The odd part was that dishes still sat in the sink and the cabinets were filled with dishes and caned goods.  The grossest part was the fact the refrigerator still had lots of food in it that had turned into a molded mass of goo! A door off the kitchen lead to the garage that was packed with normal stuff like a lawnmower, but it was also packed with lots and lots of trash bags filled with junk and clothes. Another door in the kitchen lead to the basement..that at first we did not go down due to time and I am sure as well nerves. Off the kitchen was a small dining room area and this is were the house got its name among us friends because on the carpeted floor was a giant blood stain, a stain so big that whatever lost the blood clearly passed away..

Blooooodddd

Josh and I looked at the blood stain for awhile and chatted about what we thought had happened in that spot.  We went a little further into the house, and the next room was a very large living room that still had the furniture around.  While it was clear that someone had tipped it all over, it was still intact. I should also say that the house was pitch black and not even the flashlights seemed to help all that much as the darkness always seemed to be all around you. Off the living room was some stairs that lead to the second floor, but we didn’t go up them as we wanted to go tell the others about the blood stain. Later that night Josh and I returned to Murder House with Matt Hoffman, Dave Wean and Brandon Womeldorff to show them the stain and just how odd the house was.  It was at this time we noticed that 1994 was the date on the calendar and all the left behind bills we could find. At that time we never did go into the basement nor go upstairs, but we did get a scare from a raccoon who came out of nowhere hissing and acting like a wild nut. A few months later Brandon and I went back to the house and found that the carpet in the room with the blood stain had been removed exposing the hardwood floor. Who would remove carpet with a giant blood stain on it from an abandoned house? Years would pass and Murder House became the set for my films like “Cocktober Blood” and the unfinished “Frankenstein Meets The Werewolf,” and I would also still take girls to it to give em a scare as well as people I didn’t like to freak em out and tell them that I saw people watching us from the windows upstairs and laugh as they would freak out. One night many years later when I was in my very late 20’s, I went back inside Murder House with my friends Max Ervin, Chris “Doogie” Mollohan and Lauryn Campanell and finally went into the basement and upstairs! The basement was very plain and while the washer and dryer and some tools was around and the atmosphere was spooky, it was nothing to special. The upstairs however was pretty creepy as all three bedrooms still had the beds and furniture intact.  One bedroom was also filled with toys I can remember Max and I finding a Muppet Babies See and Say as well as the video game cart of Indiana Jones for Atari 2600. That was a fun night with great friends one that I will always remember sharing with Max and Chris who sadly have both passed away. Murder House was torn down shortly after that night and now all that stands in its place is an empty lot that is for sale.  After trying to find information on the house and its history, we never could figure out just what happened there.

Murder House Lot

The year was 1987, and the Fox Network was trying to become a major player for prime time television viewership.  One of the shows they made was called Werewolf that followed a young man named Eric Cord, played by John J. York, who was bitten by a werewolf and must try and find a way to kill the lead werewolf who started his bloodline in order to rid himself of the curse. The “lead” werewolf was a one eyed ship boat captain named Janos Skorzeny, who was played by TV acting veteran Chuck Connors. To add more stress to Eric’s quest, he was also being hunted by a bounty hunter named Alamo Joe Rogan played by Lance LeGault. The series premiere was a 2 hour event, and Fox put a lot of hype into it’s airing.  I can remember the buzz going around it, and my parents even planned on watching it.  That seemed like a big deal to me at the time as my mom never really liked horror themed things, so the fact she was going to watch the premiere peaked our interest. My brother and I wanted to watch it so bad but due to what time it aired and our mom thinking that the show was going to be too bloody for our young eyes to see, we didn’t get to watch it when it first aired.  We did however get to watch it on tape as they recorded it on beta. When we finally were able to watch it, I can remember loving every cheesy and scary moment of it.  The werewolf costume was perfect and pretty great stuff for the time. After watching the episode my brother and I became fans, and our parents worked it in on the family TV viewing lineup.  We tried to not miss an episode although we did miss many. One of the reasons I loved the show so much was the fact it reminded me of the 1978 Incredible Hulk show with the fact Eric, much like David Banner, had to travel from town to town and when their monster side came out, the beast always did the right thing, but it became unsafe for their human side to stay around. Werewolf was canceled in 1988, and only lasted 1 long season that had 29 episodes and sadly the series never had a full fledged ending leaving us loyal viewers hanging. The series had solid ratings but the rumor going round was that the budget for episodes was too high and this was the reason for the cancelation.

Werewolf 1Werewolf 2Werewolf Logo

A short time after Fox pulled Werewolf from their lineup, USA Network stepped in and started airing the reruns and even showed the two hour premiere episode on Saturday Nightmares! My brother and I watched the episodes on USA and was able to catch the ones we missed on Fox. I can remember sitting in our living room on Royston Drive in Waynesville Ohio watching Werewolf and cheering for Eric to turn into a werewolf and find a way to end his curse. I can also remember seeing in Cracked Magazine parodies of the show and always for some reason nerding out.  In fact, in some of my lame home made comics I had the Eric Cord werewolf as a character! At some point in the coming year here at Rotten Ink, I will cover a comic series I made called Robo-Raccoon that followed a Raccoon man and his friends who were trying to collect bounties in space. Wow, I was way off track with Robo-Raccoon, but really just wanted to write this little part to say thanks to both Fox and USA for airing a show that made my childhood even cooler!

FOX Network Logo 1Werewolf TV adUSA Saturday Nightmares for Werewolf

Chuck Connors was a very popular actor in our household as my parents loved shows like The Rifleman and Branded and us the kids had Werewolf and the film Tourist Trap. Chuck Connors was born Kevin Joeseph Connors in 1921.  Growing up, Chuck was a great athlete in high school and after spending two years in South Orange College in New Jersey, he decided to join the Army during World War II and become a Tank Combat Instructor. During this time as well he played for the NBA team Rochester Royals and helped lead them to the 1946 championship! Also in 1946 he was discharged from the military and joined the basketball team the Boston Celtics, but left the team to join the MLB team the Brooklyn Dodgers whom he had been a fan of since youth. But before he left the Celtics, he became the first player to break the backboard! Sadly the Dodgers had him mostly play for the minor teams before letting him play only one game with them in 1949. By 1951 he started to play for the Chicago Cubs as a first baseman for a total of 66 games. Connors floated around the sports world for awhile even getting drafted by NFL team the Chicago Bears, but he never once suited up and left sports altogether to become an actor in Hollywood. Connors, early in his acting career, was in such films as Pat and Mike, South Sea Woman, Trouble Along The Way and Old Yeller. Connors even began taking small roles on TV shows like Adventures of Superman and Dear Phoebe, but in 1958 he landed the role of Lucas McCain on the ABC western show The Rifleman! The show was a huge success and lasted 5 seasons for a total of 168 episodes. After The Rifleman went off the air in 1963, Connors found work again in TV and movies landing roles in such projects as Arrest And Trial, Branded, Flipper (film) and even had a part of a slave owner in the 1977 mini series Roots which he won a Emmy for. In 1979 Connors played Mr. Slausen in Tourist Trap, a horror film that also starred Tanya Roberts that was about a rundown tourist attraction were a group of friends come face to face with a crazed killer. In 1987 he took the role of the one eyed werewolf in the horror series Werewolf. His last major role came in the 1991made for TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck Of The Draw were he plays once more Lucas McCain. Connors over the years had been married three times and had four children and had smoked since 1940 and for many years he smoked three packs a day. Sadly in 1992 at the age of 71 Chuck Connors passed away from pneumonia and was battling lung cancer. Chuck Connors was able to do many great things during his lifetime and is a true icon of western TV programs and even is in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Mueseum’s Hall of Fame. So this update is dedicated to you Chuck Connors for entertaining the Brassfield family for generations.

Chuck Connors 1Chuck Connors 2Tourist Trap Poster

Werewolf the Complete Series has never found it’s way to VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray here in the United States by a main stream company but can be found on the Grey Market. Some years back I can remember that Shout Factory was going to put out the series and this made many fans happy cause they could toss away the old DVD-R’s and get a legit with better picture quality and extras! But as the release date drew near, the boxset was pushed back not once but twice and then it quietly was canceled, and fans of the show once more were left out in the cold with no official release. The story I heard of why this series has never made it out on home media is that some of the music that was used in the series is costing any company wanting to put it out too much in royalties. The big rumor on the band that’s caused much of the drama of this series not coming out is Mike + The Mechanics whose song Silent Running is used during a key part for the first episode, and they want way too much money for the rights to the song for home video. But again I must stress that all this is just rumors I have heard, but whatever the reason this series has not made it to DVD needs to be figured out so us fans can re-live the hunt for the werewolf curse cure.

Werewolf DVD-R setWerewolf DVD=rShout Factory Werewolf DVD set

So the full moon is in the night sky, and I can hear the children of the night howling with delight as we are about to take a look at the six issue comic series done by Blackthorne Comics based on this short lived horror TV series. So make sure you have your silver bullets ready and always keep in mind that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So let’s go on a wild ride of full moon fever and roam in a pack with Eric Cord. Also thanks to Bell Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock

werewolf 3d

Werewolf 3-D  #1  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne    #1 of 1

A couple is attacked and killed in the parking lot of the local disco by some kind of werewolf. The next morning Eric and his girlfriend Kelly are by the pool when her father comes out and is shocked and fearful of the attacks going on in their hometown.  You see Eric has been raised by them and his relationship with Kelly is a secret as they both don’t know how her dad would take the news as he looks at Eric as a son, and Eric’s best friend Ted is also Kelly’s brother. When Ted comes back into town he has Eric come over and tells him that he is the one killing all the people around town and that he is in fact a Werewolf! Ted begs Eric to kill him but after some time it’s too late as Ted becomes a werewolf and bites Eric who is forced to shoot and kill his friend, as the neighbors come rushing over they see Eric holding the dead body of Ted and he is blamed for murder. Out on bail Eric is picked up by Kelly who tells him that she knows her brother was a werewolf because he sent her a cassette tape message telling her the whole story the morning of his death.  So together Kelly and Eric deal with his full moon change that leaves him a crazed beast and together they find that a ship captain named Janos Skorzeny is the start of the curse, and when Eric meets him things go south real quick! That evening Skorzeny kidnaps Kelly as Eric is picked up by bounty hunter Alamo Joe Rogan on a full moon night for skipping out on bail.  When Eric turns into the beast, he escapes and saves Kelly from Skorzeny as a werewolf battle rages on in a burning cabin in the woods. In the end the sun comes up and the werewolves stop fighting.  Eric, while human, tells Kelly he must kill Skorzeny and set himself free, as Alamo Joe understands now he is no longer hunting just a man but now a monster.

This 3-D issue is a lot of fun and is really just an adaptation of the first episode of the series. The artwork and story are really well done but once more I found that the 3-D effect didn’t work all that great, much like it didn’t with The Noid comic and when wearing the glasses I could almost feel a headache creeping in. Eric Cord is our hero, a normal guy who just so happens to have really bad luck as he kills his best friend and at the same time is infected with a curse that turns him into a werewolf, and to make it all worse his girlfriend knows of his condition and he has a bounty hunter after him…so let’s just say our hero needs a lot of support from the reader. Plus I think the best thing about Eric is that he seems like an average guy, no different from you or me. Kelly is Eric’s girlfriend and is a huge help to him once he decides that he must track down the werewolf who started the bloodline that affects him.  While she is confused, she is a great help and a likable character. Alamo Joe Rogan is a great character who has been a bounty hunter for 21 years and has never lost one of his targets, and when he comes face to face with Eric as a werewolf he doesn’t blink an eye and just goes out and gets blessed silver bullets…now he’s what I would call a badass. The lead bad werewolf Janos Skorzeny is an evil man who takes joy in killing when the moon is full, and he is hard for the cops to find because being a sailor takes him from place to place.  He doesn’t get to flex his evil muscle much in this issue, but I am sure he will be a thorn in Eric’s side a lot during this comic series. The werewolf fight at the end of the issue was thing comic books are made of as the two beasts duked it out all the while the cabin around them is on fire and a lovely woman is caught between them….amazing! The artwork is really well done by Donnie Jupiter who captures the feel of the TV Show and the mood of a late 80’s horror comic, and the story from Frank Lupo and adapted by Lance Hampton is also top notch. Over all if you like the TV show or like werewolves then check out this cool little 3-D gimmick comic. So let’s travel deeper into the woods of this full moon and see what more mayhem we can read about.

Werewolf 1

Werewolf  # 1  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #1 of 5

Eric Cord is hanging out at the dock where Skorzeny’s boat is and with a stolen gun and some silver bullets he plans on killing the old ship captain and lifting his curse. While waiting around the docks, Eric also finds out that Alamo Joe is on his tail and is also packing a gun with silver bullets but he is aiming for him and not Skorzeny.  To make it all worse, Alamo Joe has places a bounty on Eric’s head and now some of the shady dock workers want the money. Skorzeny gets mad at another ship captain and turns into a werewolf and kills him very brutally as Eric as well turns into a werewolf and has to kill some dock workers who were attacking him to collect the reward on his head. In the end Werewolf Eric comes face to face with Alamo Joe, who fires a silver bullet into his ear, causing the beast to leap into the water and disappear into the night sky. In the morning Skorzeny shows up and is upset about the bullet holes in his ship, as Alamo Joe finds out that brutal murders have been happening around the dock for months now and he also finds Eric’s journal that tells the story of Skorzeny being the werewolf king! As for Eric, he wakes back up as a human on shore and knows that he must try and kill his tormentor again and again until he succeeds.

What a great first issue, and while it is just based on a script from an episode of the TV Show, it still translates to comics really well. The downbeat mood of the issue is well described by the setting of the dirty and scummy docks where not only Skorzeny roams but also some real dirt bags.  Placing yourself into Eric’s shoes as he searches the area for his target helps add to the over all chill of the issue. Eric Cord in the issue is more of a man on a mission and with Kelly safe at home and his mind on the cure, he comes off way manlier and way more ready for action. As the Werewolf, Eric is a killing machine and if the 3-D issue taught me anything, it’s that as the werewolf he can even stand toe to toe with Skorzeny who is older and tougher than him. Skorzeny is a cruel evil man and when the werewolf he don’t care who he kills and how brutal it may be, in fact in this issue when he kills the fellow sea captain, he doesn’t just claw and bite him, he also impales him on a metal rod! Alamo Joe in this issue don’t get into the action too much as he only gets one good shot off from his gun and that only clips Werewolf Eric’s ear.  He mostly is around to be a pain in Eric’s side as he puts pressure on the dock workers to turn him in. The issue, while in black and white, does have the use of blood during the werewolf attacks and while I would not say it’s a bloodbath it is nice to see in this TV Adaptation comic series. The issue’s artwork is once more top notch late 80’s independent horror comic work and is done by a great artist whom I could not find his or her’s name in the credits. The issue’s cover is pretty cool and has all the main characters shown so it does its job. I used to have this issue when I was younger as well, and it held up really well as I liked it back then as well as today. So let’s see what happens in issue two and see if Eric can fulfill his destiny.

Werewolf 2

Werewolf  # 2  **
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #2 of 5

Davey is a 10 year old boy who loves monsters who lives with his mom and her abusive boyfriend Bobby. Late one night Davey hears a gunshot as well as a howl, and he gets hyped that a real life monster must be out and near his house.  He sneaks out and finds a werewolf who has a bullet wound and takes him to his tree house to hide. The next morning Davey is caught entering the house by his mother and he tells her about his monster friend, she thinks he just telling stories and allows him to eat his breakfast in his tree house as Bobby bullies the Mom and always trashes and picks on Davey leaves for work but not before meeting a man who comes to the house looking for a wounded man he has shot and who he tells them is a murderer. Davey finds that the werewolf is now a man who needs help to remove the bullet from his shoulder and the young boy helps him.  Later in the day Bobby returns home and starts beating on Davey and his Mother, and the wounded man comes to their aid and turns into a werewolf and kills Bobby and escapes into the night as Davey warns it of the law coming to kill it.

This issue is a major disappointment as I am sure that this issue has zero to do with Eric Cord or any other character from the TV show and was just a generic werewolf story they had sitting around the Blackthorne office and decided to slap the Werewolf logo on it and pass it off as one. Not once is the man shot referred to as Eric Cord, and in fact he is nameless as is the hunter who is hot on his trail, plus not once is Skorzeny brought up. While this issue’s story is not bad, it would have been a better fit for a comic series like Howl, Creepy or even Vault of Horror as I feel the story line would have been better suited for that style of horror comics. The plot is really simple, and it’s about a boy with a big imagination who meets a real life werewolf who is injured and the youngster takes care of him and in return he kills the evil and mean boyfriend of his mother who has beaten them and made their lives miserable. The artwork in this issue is really weak, and The Werewolf looks terrible and NOTHING like the werewolf from the show and past issues and was done by Abel Laxamana. Don’t want to spend to much time on this issue and hope that # 3 gets better and goes back on track on what the series should be about and that’s Eric Cord and his hunt for his cure.

Werewolf 3

Werewolf  # 3  *
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #3 of 5

A couple is attacked and killed in the parking lot of the local disco by some kind of werewolf. The next morning Eric and his girlfriend Kelly are by the pool when her father comes out and is shocked and fearful of the attacks going on in their hometown.  You see Eric has been raised by them and his relationship with Kelly is a secret as they both don’t know how her dad would take the news as he looks at Eric as a son, and Eric’s best friend Ted is also Kelly’s brother. When Ted comes back into town he has Eric come over and tells him that he is the one killing all the people around town and that he is in fact a werewolf! Ted begs Eric to kill him but after some time it’s too late as Ted becomes a werewolf and bites Eric who is forced to shoot and kill his friend.  As the neighbors come rushing over they see Eric holding the dead body of Ted and he is blamed for murder.

Yep, as you can see issue # 3 is just part of the 3-D special done in none 3-D and this is one CHEAP move by BlackThorne who did not even state this anywhere on the cover as they try and pass it off as a third in a series.  What makes this more annoying is all this stuff told in this one is supposed to take place before # 1. As you all know I enjoyed the 3-D issue and liked the artwork and the story, but for this cheap move I have to give this issue, aka cheap reprint, a 1 star.

Werewolf 4

Werewolf  # 4  *
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #4 of 5

Out on bail Eric is picked up by Kelly who tells him that she knows her brother was a werewolf because he sent her a cassette tape message telling her the whole story the morning of his death.  So together Kelly and Eric deal with his full moon change that leaves him a crazed beast and together they find that a ship captain named Janos Skorzeny is the start of the curse, and when Eric meets him things go south real quick! That evening Skorzeny kidnaps Kelly as Eric is picked up by bounty hunter Alamo Joe Rogan on a full moon night for skipping out on bail.  When Eric turns into the beast he escapes and saves Kelly from Skorzeny as a werewolf battle rages on in a burning cabin in the woods. In the end the sun comes up and the werewolves stop fighting, and Eric, while human, tells Kelly he must kill Skorzeny and set himself free, as Alamo Joe understands now he is no longer hunting just a man but now a monster.

The second part of the reprint of the 3-D issue and once more a major let down that they would take such a cheap route on a series that thus far only had two good issue in its pretty short run. It’s no wonder why this series was on the chopping block and sales must have been really bad after three issue coming out being this bad and poorly thought out. This is very disheartening that Blackthorne treated this series with this little of respect and delivered these two issues to fans of the show and comic series. Let’s not harp on these two issue reprints and move on to the 5th and final issue in the series. But I do want to state again, I loved the story of this issue and #3, I just hate the fact they are just reprints of the 3-D issue that came out the same years as these.

Werewolf 5

Werewolf  # 5  ***
Released in 1989    Cover Price $2.00    Blackthorne    #5 of 5

Some young lovers are camping at a lake in the woods, and they are attacked and killed by a werewolf. The next morning Eric wakes up in the woods and meets Deidra, a good witch who invites him back to her home for some fresh cloths and a good meal. While home Tracy, a young woman, shows up and gets a love potion from Deidra and rushes off to give it to the boy she is crushing on. Deidra talks to Eric and tells him that she knows what he is and can 100% say that he was not the werewolf who killed the campers and that she can try and help him control the curse. Eric don’t believe in witchcraft but feels a bond to Deidra so he agrees to the help, just as Tracy comes running to them with he would be boyfriend chasing her in a rage and hyped up on PCP and dies from the overdose. The father of the boy blames Deidra even after the police tell him his son died from the PCP and he along with some fellow towns people set fire to Deidra’s house killing her and forcing Eric to turn into the werewolf and teach them some manners. In the end Eric once more must move on to find a way to end his curse and still a little heartbroken over the loss of his could-be lover Deidra.

What a breath of fresh air that this series ended on a good note and had another solid and well-done issue for its final! This time around Eric Cord finds himself befriending a white witch who tries to cure him but gets targeted by local hillbillies who ruin his chance at a cure of his curse. Eric in this issue comes off as a man worried about the deeds his werewolf side commits and also in an odd turn a disbeliever of the unknown.  I mean you would think he would consider the fact that witches are real given the fact he’s a werewolf! Deidra is an okay character and is a good witch and for some reason while reading this I kept flashbacking to the Dark Horse Comic Pumpkinhead mini series that had the good witch Mariah who also meet an early death due to backwoods thinking rednecks. While the series ended on a good issue the series still very much was lacking with two issues being a reprint and one issue feeling as if it shouldn’t even be in the series due to the poor werewolf drawing. Below is some of the artwork used in this series so give them a look and enjoy. 

werewolf art 1werewolf art 2werewolf 3

So the moon is going away and the sun is coming up, and our werewolf hunt has come to an end, well for now.  I must say over all I enjoyed the comic series based on one of my childhood favorite shows.  The major letdowns that really bogged the series down have to be the reprints for issues 3 and 4. If you’re a fan of the show or of werewolves, this is one series you might want to check out, and while it was no bloodbath, the series did have some cool kills and the black and white art will remind you of classic horror magazines like Creepy and Eerie. But our next update will move away from Eric Cord the Werewolf and will focus on Pinhead the Cenobite as I take a look at Epic Comics’ movie adaptation of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.  So until then read, a horror comic or two, watch a horror themed TV show and support you local horror host and beware of the full moon!

Hellraiser III Logo

I Want to Believe in The X-Files Season 1

Greetings, gentle readers of Rotten Ink, Juliet here. I’ve decided to take advantage of Matt’s longstanding invitation to do a guest post and give him a break after a busy Halloween season by exploring one of The X-Files comic series with you.

Hum the theme with me. Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo-doo...

Sing the theme with me. Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo-doo…

The X-Files premiered on September 10, 1993. Realizing that I was 10 when the show premiered 20 years ago this fall is the first thing to truly make me feel old. Although there were other shows I was a huge fan of as a child, The X-Files is the first and only show where I’ve watched ever single episode as it aired for the entire run of the show. It was without question my favorite show during its 9 year run and if pressed to pick an all-time favorite TV show, that’s my answer. There are plenty of shows I absolutely adore: The Avengers, The Rockford Files, Star Trek, Sports Night, Six Feet Under and my current TV crush, Fringe, but my affection for The X-Files simply cannot be matched. It’s everything I love in a show: some kind of detective or spy element (the more strange/covert, the better), strong female characters, the ability to be both dramatic and funny, an element of the supernatural or paranormal and, as my mom best put it, “a super complicated plot with plenty of twists and turns that you can babble on and theorize about nonstop.” But The X-Files was even more than those elements combined. As the seasons and the mythology progressed, I became so emotionally invested in the show. Both characters’ quests to believe in something whether it be aliens or religion, Scully’s battle with cancer and Mulder’s feeling of responsibility for putting her in harm’s way, the ideas of trust and truth and how both can be twisted and broken, these are the things that made it easy to become so completely invested in this show, to the point that I can still remember how devastating the end of season 4 was and how agonizing it was waiting all summer to find out whether or not it was going to be okay. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I won’t spoil it for you, though given that 5 more seasons and two feature films followed, I don’t know that you’ll be able to experience the uncertainty about that particular moment the way those of us watching in 1997 did.

Artist's rendering of my reaction to the end of Season 4.

Artist’s rendering of my reaction to the end of Season 4.

The X-Files was an important turning point in television for a lot of reasons: one of the first television shows to be released in season sets on DVD and as one of the 20th anniversary articles pointed out, one of the first shows whose fandom thrived on the internet yet one of the last shows set in present day where the internet was not yet an integral part of day to day life. More on the internet/fandom points in a bit. The X-Files DVDs are among my favorite items in my movie collection. I have the original run of giant, fat, fold out cases, and wouldn’t trade them for the world even though they take up an insane amount of shelf space . The season sets started coming out right around the time I got my first job in high school at a locally owned CD & DVD shop. I didn’t even own a DVD player when I began saving up and buying those sets with my employee discount (which still made them over 10 times as much as the sets cost nowadays).

They take up a mile of shelf space, but I love them.

They take up a mile of shelf space, but I love them.

Admittedly, even when I was younger, the thought crossed my mind that my infatuation with The X-Files would fade, and certainly the later seasons sometimes made the show hard to love. Both before and after The X-Files’ run, there were shows that began as my FAVORITEST.SHOW.EVER. That either got increasingly stupid (Lois & Clark) or increasingly repetitive (C.S.I. – more on that if Matt ever lets me write another one of these – which is really a promise and a threat). It says a lot about my attachment to show the and its characters that 20 years later, I can still not only watch it over and over on DVD, but am also still hoping that the oft-rumored third movie will one day materialize. I’d also be lying if I said my fangirl heart didn’t do a little flipflop upon seeing David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson’s latest Entertainment Weekly cover.

Seriously...look at them.

Seriously…look at them.

Ah, shipperdom.

Aren't they just the best?

Aren’t they just the best?

Wait, what? For those of you who know what I’m talking about, feel free to skip the next four paragraphs ahead or nod along as you read the testimony of your fellow nerd…as in Nerd…capital N. None of this trendy nerd business, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I say capital N Nerd because that’s seriously how I felt about fandom and shipperdom when I was younger – painfully nerdy. Of course, as a grown up, I’ve met many many people who are into fandom, hell, who taught me the term fandom, but as a younger person, it was at times isolating to be so.freaking.into. something in a way that goes beyond liking a TV show, movie, book series, etc. Remember, this is all happening right as the internet is very slowly becoming commonplace in people’s homes (yes, children, there was a time before we all had all of the internets at our fingertips 24-7). As I got older, it was amazing to meet people who shared this similar kind of obsessive love for a fictional series, whether it be the same series I loved or not, the first of these folks being my best friend Anne. When I met her in high school, Anne was super into the Buffy fandom, a love that she passed on to, and that I’ll write about at some future point. She’s also the person who introduced me to online fandom, which really opened up a whole world and connected me to people who were the exact type of obsessive, yet creative fan that I was previously so embarrassed to be.

I still have my copy of this one.

I still have my copy of this one.

The X-Files became my first formal foray into fanfiction, though, as I recently told another friend I had really been writing fanfiction from a very early age as a young Star Trek fan, though never really knew that there was name, let alone a community of people who write it. Fanfiction is another one of those weird to talk about things, especially because of the whole 50 Fifty Shades of Grey situation. And actually my discussion of fanfiction would be much better suited to a blog about C.S.I. So look forward to that at some point (again, if Matt ever lets me do this again). Now to return to the digression from which I digressed, what is shipperdom? Shippers are typically members of a fandom who are want to see or are supportive of two of the characters getting together in a romantic relationSHIP. It goes beyond just wanting to see the characters end up together though. If you’re a shipper (or at least this is how all of the shippers I know, including myself, are), you study every interaction between your pairing in a given episode. You look for the subtle, the subtext of the conversation; you analyze everything. It’s a huge emotional investment for many. If you happen to watch a show where there are two major but opposing ships (C.S.I. is a huge, personal example…again, more on that another time), it’s that much more intense. And remember, this is all for fun.

I have a never-ending supply of these.

Shipperdom is having a stockpile of pictures like this.

Again, if you’re into fandom and/or a shipper, I’m probably just hitting the tip of the iceberg. If you’re not, you just might be questioning my mental health and relationship to reality. Here’s my disclaimer in the simplest of terms possible: yes, as with anything else, there are people within the fandom community who don’t have a good handle on reality and thus form a unhealthy obsessive relationship with whatever fiction they’re a fan of. There are plenty of people, however, for whom even a seemingly obsessive relationship with fiction is relaxation, a creative exercise and is leisure-time and balances can be struck, line can be drawn between fandom, work, family, etc. So long-story short (too late): I was/am a Mulder-Scully shipper.

fa84c6adb5e9ff0111e8bfd7b18ef742

Duh.

You can imagine, I’m sure, my excitement when in the third theatrical trailer for the first film, Fight in the Future, it looks like we’re finally going to get the kiss we’ve all been waiting for. To be fair, that was only one of many things that had me completely hyped to see Fight the Future, and it’s one of those films I have a very distinct memory of seeing in the theater. I went with my dad (also a big fan of the show) to see it at the Beaver Valley Cinema (yes, the same theater Matt recently talked about in his rundown of now defunct independent movie houses). We had to see it at Beaver Valley because right when the film opened, there was some kind of issue with 20th Century Fox and Showcase Cinemas (at the time, the main first-run theater chain in the Dayton area), and I think the Showcases got the film a week or two late or it closed early. I can’t remember precisely how it all went down, I just remember that we felt lucky that Beaver Valley had the film because it was the only theater in the area showing it for a while. It was a packed house, and (SPOILER ALERT) coming back to the kiss, I will never forget the loud groan from the audience when Scully gets stung by the bee.

So that happened.

So that happened.

A side note about Fight the Future: its soundtrack remains one of my favorites to listen to front to back. The show soundtrack, Songs in the Key of X is also great, but the Fight the Future soundtrack is the perfect combination of dark, moody late 90s songs and some really unexpected covers (Filter’s rendition of “One,” anyone?). I just might be listening to it as I’m writing this…maybe…. Another side note: I was researching who wrote the Fight the Future paperback adaptation on Amazon, and a beekeeping book was the first item in the related searches. Ha!

The bees' big scene costarring Mulder and Scully.

The bees’ big scene costarring Mulder and Scully.

When Matt and I saw the second film, I Want to Believe, it was a nearly opposite experience. Although the film was available most everywhere, we were two of maybe five people in the entire theater, and I really ought to apologize to those 3 other people and to Matt because I may have been, uhm, a bit vocal about (more SPOILER ALERTS ahead) the lack of aliens, any mention of the 9 seasons of mythology, any acknowledgement of the fact that Mulder knows the date of colonization or comments about a certain infant. I have really mixed feelings about I Want to Believe. On one hand, it’s a miracle that it got made so long after the end of the show. The new content was a pleasant surprise and felt like a good extended episode that was not mythology related but served the characters well. On the other hand, for a fan who stuck with the show for 9 years of twists and turns in the mythology, sometimes brilliant and other times horrendous, it felt like such a betrayal to loyal fans to not even have a passing mention of what had come before. I understand the bind the writers were in; one of the flaws cited about Fight the Future was that it wasn’t very accessible for folks who didn’t know the show. Luckily when it came out, The X-Files was one of the most popular shows on TV. However, when I Want to Believe came out in 2008, The X-Files hadn’t been on TV for 6 years, and many loyal fans hadn’t even made it through the last 2 sans-Mulder seasons of the show or had only watched the admittedly lackluster series finale. So yes, including a lot of mythology in the main plot of I Want to Believe would have made an uphill battle of a film that much more difficult, but I feel like the message to diehard fans was, “well guys, at least you got another movie…”

And at least we got this.

And at least we got this.

There have been, of course, on-going rumors about a third X-Files film especially this year with the 20th anniversary giving the show renewed media coverage. Chris Carter, David Duchovney and Gillian Anderson have all been quoted as saying that they’d be interested in doing a third, but there’s been no movement from Fox yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if happens though. Despite years of rumors about a second film, I had just about given up hope when I Want To Believe materialized. Until then, we’ll have to settle with the season 10 comic series that’s currently being put out by IDW, which I’ll probably touch on in a future guest post once the series is a bit farther along.

Come on guys, that third movie can start filming any day now.

Come on guys, that third movie can start filming any day now.

But comics are why we’re here so let’s get onto it, shall we? Today I’m going to look at the Topps X-Files Season One tie-in comics as well as the comics for Fight the Future. During the show’s original run, Topps had a 41-issue main series of comics based on the X-Files with stories that different from what was on television. In the middle of this run, in 1996, they began to publish a special series of episode adaptations from season 1. The idea was actual to do comic adaptations of the whole show, but that fell through before the season 2 books were ever completed. We start with the Pilot, naturally.

PilotThe X-Files Season 1: Pilot   **1/2
 Released in 1997  Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   0 of 8

The following is inspired by actual eyewitness accounts. In Oregon, a young woman is found dead in the woods, and the authorities begin wondering if “it” is happening again. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, a young FBI agent named Dana Scully receives her new assignment working with Fox “Spooky” Mulder on an unusual case docket known as the X-Files. These cases deal with the unexplained, the paranormal, and they’re Mulder’s passion in life. Scully’s job, per her superiors, is to use her scientific knowledge to debunk these cases, the first of which is figuring out who killed Karen Swenson, the young woman in Oregon. Mulder thinks this is a classic example of alien abduction, while Scully maintains there must be some logical explanation for what’s been happening to Karen and her fellow schoolmates from the notorious class of ’89. The truth is, of course, out there, but will our daring duo be able to figure it out before more kids are abducted?

Ah, the pilot episode. It will always have a special place in my heart. Although not the best story of the series, it’s certainly a strong start – better than many first pilots, and some first seasons of the average TV show. The comic version is an extremely faithful adaptation, to the point that X-Files creator Chris Carter is given the writer credit for the comic, while Topps’ Roy Thomas is merely credited for script adaptation. More on that later. John Van Fleet did both the cover and the interior art, while his style works for the cover, I’m not wild about the interiors. I get what he was going for with the shadowy, painted look, but it tends to look sloppy in more panels than not and doesn’t serve the story well. In 1997, your options for re-experiencing the pilot episode were to track it down on VHS, read the YA paperback adaptation or read this comic. But today, the DVDs are so readily available that if the comic doesn’t have anything to add, it’s hard to make a case for it over the actual episode. Let’s see how Deep Throat fares next.

 DeepThroat

The X-Files Season One: Deep Throat  *** 1/2
Released in 1997   Cover price $4.95   Topps Comics   1 of 8

There’s something strange going on with test pilots at Ellens Air Force Base, and Mulder takes it upon himself (and Scully) to investigate. But before they can get rolling, Mulder meets a mysterious man who advises him to drop the case, citing “a certain interest” in Mulder’s work. But that doesn’t stop Mulder’s quest for the truth, which puts he and Scully into harm’s way as well as the path of young UFO nuts, faux journalists, military wives and, perhaps, the spaceships they seek.

I always forget how much I really love this episode. It’s certainly not extraordinary like “Bad Blood,” “Jose Chung’s From Out Space,” and many of my other favorites, but it’s a strong episode. While the Pilot establishes the paranormal aspect of the show, and teases the conspiracy, Deep Throat ushers in the mythology that, for better or worse, would sustain the show for nine years. I think I especially connected with this one because of the idea of the Air Force pilots flying either UFOs or planes built with UFO technology because I grew up not far from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where it’s rumored UFOs and or aliens were brought after the Rosewell crash. Hangar 18, anyone? Comic-wise, Roy Thomas gets a title change from Script Adaptation to Writer, and while the comic still doesn’t deviate from the television episode, that fact doesn’t seem so completely obvious this time around. What may have helped with that was the addition of Claude St. Aubin on pencils and Rick Magyar on ink. The art was so much better in this issue and served the story well. Mulder and Scully, for the most part, looked like Mulder and Scully, and the UFO scenes that were super dramatic onscreen looked really nice on the page. John van Fleet is back on the cover with a nice painting of our heroes.

Squeeze

The X-Files Season 1: Squeeze   ***
Released in 1997   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   2 of 8

People are getting their livers ripped out, and Scully’s former classmate is on the case. He asks her opinion on the case, and she and Mulder end up joining the investigation. The other FBI agents think their suspect, a name named Tooms, is a serial killer. Mulder posits he’s a 100+ year old genetic mutant who comes out of hibernation in his creepy newspaper nest to feed on livers every so often. Who’s right about the killer? Read and see.

This is one of those X-Files episodes that even people who didn’t watch the X-Files seems to know: that one with the guy that eats the livers. Actually they’re referring to two episodes because Eugene Victor Tooms is so delightfully creepy that he makes a comeback later in the season. Squeeze was the first Monster of the Week episode (the ones that were not connected to the mythology/conspiracy story), and we’ve once again got Roy Thomas writing the comic. Val Mayrick is on pencils this time around, and the art is good, but we’re back to a more painted coloring style. While it works on some pages, I still prefer the artwork from Deep Throat. John Van Fleet did two covers this time: one of Tooms and one of Mulder and Scully. Overall, it was really hard to capture the super creepy vibe of this episode on the page, especially those last few minutes that were so effective on screen.

Conduit

The X-Files Season 1: Conduit   **1/2
Released in 1997   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   3 of 8

A girl vanishes in a flash of light and her little brother claims to have the key to her disappearance. While the validity of the X-Files division is debated, Mulder finds him drawn to this case from reasons beyond the surface paranormal occurrences that are very similar to an important event from his childhood.

For being such an important episode, this is one I often forget about. Or maybe it’s that I take it for granted. After so many years of being a fan, it’s just ingrained in me that Mulder’s sister got abducted that I tend to forget when we actually learned that for the first time (hint: it was in this episode). This is also the first time “I Want To Believe” takes on a greater meaning beyond the UFO poster on the wall of the basement office. Roy Thomas is once again our writer. Upon further investigation, I found out that he wrote the comics based on the episode scripts and then would watch the episode to confirm that everything matched up correctly. So that explains the near perfect adaptation of the story/lack of additional scenes. On the art end of things we’ve got our fourth artist in four issues with Sean Scoffield on pencils. He’s a little sketchier than the others, but still okay. I do like John Van Fleet’s cover for this one.

Ice

The X-Files Season 1: Ice  **
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   4 out of 8

Mulder and Scully are sent to a remote Arctic research station to investigate what’s making the team members freak out and kill each other. A prehistoric worm is the culprit, but things get complicated when our agents are stuck at the station with the remaining scientists and no one knows who precisely is infected.

With issue 5 of the comic, we’re now going out of air order for the episodes. I do like this episode. It’s another Monster of the Week (though when you consider Fight the Future, it might almost fit into the mythology), and it’s got a guest appearance from Felicity Huffman, though if you were to rely on the art for the comic, you wouldn’t know it was her. John Van Fleet’s back on the cover and interiors. So things are bit, uhm, painty in the image department. Roy Thomas is once again writing so the story is tight like the episode its based on.

Space

The X-Files Season 1: Space   ****
Released in 1998  Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   5 of 8

Mulder and Scully are sent to investigate a potential saboteur of a space shuttle mission. The mission’s supervisor is experiencing flashbacks from a 1977 Mars mission during which it appeared that a face was sculpted onto the planet’s surface. But soon others on the mission are seeing the ghostly face. Is it a message from another world or simply a man at the end of his rope?

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Alright guys, I’m going to level with you. This comic really surprised me. The episode as it aired was extremely lackluster. In fact, it’s regarded as one of the weakest in the first season and is reported to be Chris Carter’s least favorite. What was boring on screen actually almost works better in the comic format. What was way too slow on the screen seems to be better told on the page. Roy Thomas once again writes and Alexander Savink delivers some really nice artwork, which I think also lends to the good storytelling. John Van Fleet’s cover is one of my favorites of the Season One series, in part because it’s simple and striking. I really expected that getting through this one would be a total chore. I was happy that wasn’t at all the case.

Fire

The X-Files Season One: Fire   ***
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   6 of 8

An arsonist is targeting British ex-pat aristocrats and is able to make them seemingly spontaneously combust. Mulder and Scully are lured into the case by Mulder former flame (see what I did there?), Phoebe Green. The arsonist poses a caretaker at the vacation home of his next target while Mulder and Scully race to identify the criminal. Oh, and did I mention that Mulder is afraid of fire?

The overwhelming theme of this is one that you hate Phoebe Green, which I think is the point. She’s a rival for Mulder’s affections and therefore she must go. Granted, she’s significantly less annoying in the comic than she was onscreen. Speaking of being less annoying, for once John Van Fleet’s artwork serves the story well. The super painty style makes the fire look really menacing and all-encompassing. The cover, also done by Van Fleet is really nice – one of the standouts of the series along with Space.

BeyondTheSea

The X-Files Season One: Beyond the Sea  ***1/2
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   7 of 8

A young couple is kidnapped and Luther Boggs, a serial killer on death row, claims to have had psychic visions that can help the police. While in the midst of this investigation, Scully is dealing with the death of her father and some visions of her own. Boggs tries to convince her that he can channel her dead father, while Mulder is injured trying to track down the kidnapper.

This is one of those great character episodes that added a lot of depth and background to Scully. The comic does a good job of interpreting it, and the artwork pairs really nicely with the story. Scott Scoffield is on pencils this time around. The coloring is done to look painted, almost in Alex Ross’ style (maybe capitalizing on the success of Kingdom Come?), which serves the story really well. I was wondering how they’d capture Boggs’ creepy vibe in the art, and this seems to have done the trick. John Van Fleet’s on cover duty again; this one is okay, but not the one of the better of the series.

Shadows

The X-Files Season One: Shadows  **
Released in 1998   Cover Price $4.95   Topps Comics   8 of 8

Mulder and Scully are brought into a strange case involving two men found dead with their throats crushed from the inside. The men are found to have ties with a terrorist organization and are linked to a women named Lauren who seems to have some force protecting her.

This was one of those rather forgettable episodes, and the comic is much of the same. If I could trade this one in for a comic adaptation of Eve, consider it done. John Van Fleet’s on cover and interior artwork, but this time his interiors are really different. They’re way sketchier than his other work, lots of pencil hatching instead of blobby painty coloring. I know that they had planned to do all of season 1 and into season 2, but this was such a lackluster way to end this run.

Speaking of plans for continuing the episode tie-ins, I find it interesting that the comics did not go in order of the air dates and that they completely skipped some of the episodes. Part of me is not bothered that they skipped Jersey Devil and Ghost in the Machine, though I’d be curious to see if the latter could’ve been better served by a comic like Space. It’s totally disappointing, however that they skipped Fallen Angel and Eve, the former such a important building block in the early days of the series mythology. Speaking of mythology, how about a bonus review in the form of the comic adaptation for Fight the Future.

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The X-Files: Fight the Future  **
Released in 1998   Cover Prize $5.95   Topps Comics   1 of 1

It all begins with cavemen (doesn’t it always?), but soon we are in modern times in Northern Texas, the very land where the cavemen walked hundreds of years ago where children now play and fall down holes that may be the ancient home of a certain living black oily substance. With the X-Files closed down at the end of season 5, Mulder and Scully are investigating a bomb threat at a federal building in Texas. The building explodes, and our heroes quickly realize that all is not what it seems. What follows is a twisted tale into the heart of the conspiracy filled with bees, cornfields, black oil, more bees at really inopportune times, and a giant UFO in the middle of the arctic.

If it’s not already obvious, I love Fight the Future. I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count, have read the paperback adaptation more times than any sane person should, and yet, somehow I missed out on the comic adaptation until now. So I was really excited to see what the comic treatment would be for such a complex story. How could they cram that much story into a 56 page comic? Well, I’ll tell you how: by formatting the darn thing like an intermediate reader for kids with paragraphs of text and a few pictures on each page. LAME. Seriously, what a disappointment. The page count is just enough to cram all of text in, but not really enough to give the story a thorough treatment. Give me the paperback any day. John Rozum did the story adaptation and our old pal John Van Fleet did the artwork, which is sometimes pretty nice and others really just too dark and indistinguishable. The stuff in the arctic in particular is really hard to parse out what’s happening if you don’t know the movie extremely well. If you’re not a super fan, I don’t recommend wasting your time with this one.

I wasn't kidding about the cornfields

They did WHAT to the comic adaptation of the movie?! (Also, she wasn’t kidding about the cornfields)

Thus concludes my brief journey into the comic world of The X-Files. Provided I haven’t scared away all of Matt’s readers, I may return at some point to cover the original Topps run of X-Files comics (that don’t have episode tie-ins) and explore other titles that I enjoy. In the meantime, I return you to his capable hands when next time he’ll be telling you all about the comics based on Steve Reeves’ Hercules movies. And remember: the truth is out there!

Hercules logo

The Softer Side of the Toxic Avenger

In the mid 80’s and throughout the 90’s big companies were buying up licenses to turn anything into toys, cartoons, video games and comics.  I mean there were Nintendo games based on Jaws, Conan The Barbarian, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street and many more off the wall selections. So independent sleaze studio Troma thought hey why not us and made a cartoon series based on their R-rated drive-in/video hit film The Toxic Avenger to Fox, and not to anyone’s surprise it happened. For those readers who may not know what Troma is I will give you a quick rundown.  Troma is an independent film studio based in New Jersey, owned and run by Lloyd Kaufman & Michael Herz who specialize in making and buying low budget films to release in grindhouse theaters, drive-ins and the home video market (Beta,VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray).  They are know for sex, boobs, mutants, slime and gore and besides the Toxic Avenger movies, they are known for Class of Nukem High, Mothers Day and Terror Firmer. While Troma is still around, they are no longer the power houses they once were, but I still love them anyway. Fox, who only aired 5 out of the 13 episodes, thought that they had something special that could have been a runaway hit much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but they would soon be shown wrong.  The show would be canceled and shown for awhile on USA’ Networks Cartoon Express. While I would love to get into some funny stories about the films about The Toxic Avenger, I will save them for when I take a look at Marvel Comics’ short run of issues based on it.

Toxic Avenger PosterTroma Logotoxic avenger

The Toxic Crusaders first aired in 1991 for Fox and followed Toxie, his loud mouth mother and his bimbo girlfriend Yvonne as they team up with a band of freaks, such as No-Zone a big nosed, wheeled legged blue skinned one time pilot.  Junkyard is a mix of homeless man and stray dog.  Major Disaster is a planet man who controls plants, and Headbanger is a two headed person that has one half surfer dude the other mad scientist! Put them all together and you have The Toxic Crusaders who want to stop all the pollution caused by alien smog lover Dr. Killemoff and his band of evil mutants. The series ran for 5 episodes before FOX decided that it was a no go and pulled the plug on it, but it did show briefly on USA’s Cartoon Express. This was a cartoon that took a stand to try and teach kids to try and save the environment much like Captain Planet and Swamp Thing, but did so in more of a silly goofy nature. I remember being pretty hyped to watch the cartoon, and was super let down by it and found it to be mediocre at best.  While the animation was cheap looking, it was more of the lame story lines that made me stop watching after the 3rd episode in. I later watched episodes on USA and still found it just so-so. The show had a total of 13 episodes, and while not all of them aired on TV, you can find the whole series on DVD thanks to the fine folks at Troma who put it in their Toxic Avenger Box Set. The show has built up a small cult following, and while I still find it cheesy bad, it’s that charm that makes me still remember it and its theme song to this day. Oh did you notice they call him Toxie and not Toxic Avenger?  I guess they wanted to make him more kid friendly.

Toxie Shirt 1Toxic Crusaders DVDtoxic_crusader_cartoon

Playmates was a huge toy company at the time, and they were doing figures for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barnyard Commandos, Dick Tracy, Darkwing Duck and many more.  They ended up getting the rights to make action figures based on this short lived series. The figures were in scale with the Ninja Turtles, and I am sure that many kids had that amazing toy cross over, and came with many weapons most of which glowed in the dark. Not to mention the figures also had a vehicle line that made many off the wall rides for the Crusaders and baddies. The toy line came and went and not much hype was put into them. I do remember the TV commercials for the toys, and I did know a few friends who had the figures at school. When I was younger I only had 2 of them and that was Dr. Killemoff and his skeleton mutant henchman Bonehead, both of which I got new at Big Bear. It’s crazy looking back that I passed on Toxie to get the bad guys that while cool figures were not nearly as cool as Toxie’s. I do remember having Killemoff & Bonehead team with the Shredder & Krang to try and stop the Ninja Turtles, and later Dick Tracy and Itchy were added into that “story line”. Over all the line was short lived, but they were pretty neat figures.

dr killamoff toyToxie ToyMajor Disaster toy

Not only were toys made based on the cartoon but so were video games for Nintendo, GameBoy and Sega Genesis. The game on all formats was a side scrolling beat’em up that would have Toxie fighting from level to level to get to Killemoff. In my youth the only one I played was the Sega Genesis version, and that’s because me and my brother rented it from a small video store called K & L Video. The game was entertaining and a little annoying in game play.  I remember staying up late trying to beat it but never did, and we had to return it in the rented time frame. K & L was my favorite video store in the area and stocked way better stuff then Blockbuster Video.  The horror section was amazing, and he carried games for the older systems. Kenny was the owner, and he was a super cool guy, always giving pep talks and posters & selling horror VHS to me. But sadly Kenny (who’s real name was Michael Wayne Brown) made a mistake in his youth and killed a man during a botched robbery.  After being captured, he escaped and went on the run finally settling here in Ohio.  Changing his name, he opened a video rental store and became the champion of good deeds to the teens in the area. I think Kenny saw some of us who might have been on a bad path and wanted to make a difference and steer us away from mistakes he made in his past. Kenny ended up turning himself in after his story aired on Unsolved Mysteries, and an employee knew his secret.  Kenny did make a mistake in life, but he should be used as a speaker to troubled youth.  He could make a difference in someone’s life.

Toxie NESToxie Video GameToxie Genesis

Not only were toys, video games and comic books made based on this short lived cartoon but there were also coloring books, trading cards, Colorforms, Halloween masks, T-shirts and puzzles.This showed you everyone thought that this cartoon series was going to be a huge hit with kids, and the money making machine was in full effect. In fact New Line Cinema bought the rights to turn the cartoon into a movie, but when the series bombed, the plug was pulled. Troma sued New Line and won for not coming through on their side of the agreement. I used to have a Toxie Halloween mask but due to age the cheap mask degraded and is now a mangled mess.

Toxie Coloring Book toxie shirt 2Toxie CardsToxie Puzzle

So in short Toxic Crusaders was a cheesy fun cartoon that in all terms bombed but sparked a ton of merchandise all that was made to cash in the the super popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It played very shortly on Fox and switched to USA. In 1992 Marvel Comics made a 8 issue series based on the cartoon that never had a full time writing staff, but will this series be good? Remember I rate the issues on the 1-4 scale and base it on art, story, how close it stays to the source material and over all entertainment value. So let’s get Toxic!

Toxic Crusaders 1

Toxic Crusaders # 1  **1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   Marvel Comics   #1 of 8

“The Making of Toxie”. Dr. Killemoff is an evil man with four arms and purple skin who loves smog and toxic waste and has decided to dump a very toxic batch in Tromaville, New Jersey where an accident causes Melvin Junko to fall into the batch and turn into a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength known as Toxie! Our hero makes his home in the city’s junkyard and comes to the aid of a nearly blind dim whit blonde babe named Yvonne and causes bully Bonehead to turn into a skeleton mutant himself and is joined by Killemoff, Pyscho (his righthand man) and the radiation rangers who all jump Toxie. But a bus full of fellow good mutants show up to help lead by Major Disaster (who controls planets).  The team consists of No-Zone (with power of Sneeze), Head Banger (two headed) and Junkyard (a dog man).  They save Toxie, run off the bad guys and become The Toxic Crusaders!

This first issue is a fun read but does have lots of flaws in the very rushed story. The coming together of the team is done so half heartedly that the impact of them being a positive team is lost, and worst is the comic seems to be in on the fact it’s lackluster and even takes pot shots at itself! The build up of a feud between Killemoff and Toxie is for the most part vacant and not fleshed out, leaving it to be a very loose rivalry.  I mean I get the fact Toxie loves the environment and Killemoff who is a giant roach wants the world to be poisoned with foul air, but I am pretty sure that would make anyone hate Killemoff and want to stop him. Plus they way over used the phrase “hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength” to the point of being annoying. The good things about the issue are that they did a good job of putting the cheesy cartoon into a comic book and do a good job of showing Toxie’s birth and keeping it close of the R-Rated film he comes from.  The comic also has some good and shocking action as Toxie even knocks a punk’s eyeball out…now that’s hardcore! The art is also well done and has a nice cartoonish look. The cover art on this one is not very well done and is for the most part generic. Over all this is an average action comic based on a cartoon and was worth the read.  Let’s see if the same could be said for issue 2.

Toxic Crusaders 2

Toxic Crusaders # 2   **1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   Marvel Comics   #2 of 8

“The Big Broadcast of 1992”. Island City is the smog-infested home of Killemoff who has come up with a ray that will spread pollution throughout the world and interrupts a TV show to go about his plan and to challenge the Toxic Crusaders to try and stop him. Toxie and team enter the sewers and walk to Island City to find a horde of Radiation Rangers and Tromaville’s own fat Mayer Grody along side them.  Toxie and team defeat them and head to the tower of Killemoff, but they are met by Bonehead, Psycho and a horde of troops.  Only Toxie has time to get to the top as the team holds off the bad guys.  Toxie tries to talk Killemoff from using the ray but fails and the ray is used! Toxie and the Crusaders return to Tromaville to find it the same and not polluted because the ray was a dud!

This issue is again average all the way around, but this time the plot is a little more fleshed out and there are many more fighting panels that make it chug along. The issue, like the previous, seems to make jokes about itself, making you wonder just how miserable the writers must have been working on this comic series. The plot is very typical and has Toxie and Friends going to the bad guy’s hideout to stop him from causing harm to the whole world.  Wwhile that premise has been done many times, it’s still a good generic plot that you feel okay reading again. The rest of the Crusaders also get a little more panel time and are turned into likable side characters that are good for one liners and fighting. The fact that Toxie failed to stop Killemoff also makes our hero seem incompetent and a dummy, and those aren’t not good traits for a superhero to have. The art in this issue is for the most part the same as the last issue but this one does make parodies of many other media such as Wheel of Fortune, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Jack and the Beanstock among many others. While again capturing the cheesy nature of the cartoon, this just seem to be missing something. The cover on this one is also very so-so, and making this issue over all just average all the way around.  This is not a good start for this series so let’s hope 3 breaks the average mold. 

TOXIC Crusaders 3

Toxic Crusaders # 3  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   Marvel Comics   #3 of 8

“Night of the Living Dessert”. Killemoff is at it again, but his money man from his home planet is mad about all the money that is being wasted to fight the Toxic Crusaders and to gain Tromaville.  So a plan is hatched to poison a batch of custard to get at the men of Tromaville. Bonehead screws it up and instead delivers the wrong batch of goo, and the company makes a Custard Man Monster who just wants someone to eat him! But once it attacks Yvonne, Toxie and The Crusaders must track down the slimy dessert monster before it chokes and kills someone.  The Crusaders attack the creature but only seem to make it mad when they won’t eat it alive.  So it grows and is about to destroy Tromaville.  Killemoff has an idea that if the Crusaders eat the custard man it will live in their bloodstreams and he will be able to control them.  This backfires on him.  As they eat the monster he comes to brag, only to get a toxic team burp that knocks him from his car and landing hard on the ground and then having the car fall and crush him.  Toxie and friends win this round and head home to the junkyard for a well deserved nap.

This 3rd issue is a fun ride that reminds me of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle issue from Archie Comics! The plot has the team having to fight and eat a monster man made of mutated custard, in order to free it and pay back Killemoff with a wicked team burp. This issue has lots of humor that works and does not make fun of itself or the reader. Killemoff and his men are used not only as villains but also as stooges who get beat up and things dropped on them. Toxie also comes off very heroic as does the whole team. One of the better things about all the issues so far is while it’s a dumb cheesy series it really does have good messages hidden under its childish nature. The Mutant Custard Man is a great character that while hurting people just really wants some one to eat and enjoy him; you see he really just wants to be liked. The art work is good and cartoonish.  The cover while silly still is well done, and the plot is fun making this the best issue this far in the series. Let’s see if issue 4 can keep this on the right path and make for another good issue. 

Toxic Crusaders 4

Toxic Crusaders # 4  *1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   Marvel Comics   #4 of 8

“Gnaws” Dr. Killemoff has set bombs in the sewers of Tromaville to explode and cause the city’s toilets to shoot out waste filling the streets, but his plan is stopped by Toxie and crew who go down to get rid of the bombs but before they can they must face a very pissed off giant rat. In the end Toxie’s mop saves the day. Story 2 is “Porcelain Paranoid” Killemoff is at it again as he pumps deadly water into Tromaville, killing many people with its acid like powers, but Toxie saves the day as he uses No-Zone’s massive sneeze to push the bad water back to Island City. Story 3 is “From Seat to Shinning Seat” has Toxie trying to clean a very messy bathroom for a factory and instead meets an undead plumber who fights what he thinks is a giant turd monster!

This issue is 3 short stories all having to deal with pipes, poop, muck and toilets, and none of them are any good! They all feel very rushed and for the most part each have very similar endings making them all seem almost interchangeable. Out of the 3 stories the best is “From Seat to Shinning Seat” just for the fact it’s the only one that don’t cram so many characters into one lackluster story. I am not sure why they chose to do this issue with different stories, artist and writers but it made for one poor read. Toxie’s attitude and speech changes in almost each story, and while in the cartoon the mop never was alive but now all of a sudden 4 issues in the mop is alive and the brains of the team. The art in the first story is piss poor and is very sloppily done.  The rest of the art for the other stories is what came before. The cover is one of the only nice things I can say about this issue.  So to sum it up this is this far the worst issue in the run.  I hope issue five brings the series out of the toilet!

Toxic Crusaders 5

Toxic Crusaders # 5  **1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   Marvel Comics   #5 of 8

“Delivery System” Toxie’s body warns him of danger, and he and the Crusaders rush off to save the day, but as Toxie keeps running the Crusaders stop the ice cream headed Double-Dip gang.  Toxie runs out of town and finally collapses from exhaustion and it’s shown that Psycho and Bonehead has figured a way out to make his blood boil and they want to use this to make Toxie a walking bomb.  Toxie’s Mom has reconnected with her old high school love, and he is the key to set off the bomb that is now Toxie.  In the end he has a change of heart and before Toxie explodes Major Disaster uses No-Zone to destroy the detonator.  Once more The Toxic Crusaders save the day and are treated to Liver and Onions in BBQ Sauce.

The series picks back up to average with this issue, and I am fine with that.  This time around Killemoff takes a backseat as the main bad guy, and Psycho and Bonehead take the role and come up with a good plot to kill the Crusaders by making Toxie a bomb. They also flesh out Mom’s role in the series and show her back history that is done like a twisted version of an Archie comic. The issue has comedy, drama and action and makes it a fun read, and I think its funny how at the start they beat up a gang of thugs who have heads like ice cream scoops. They also go back to the mop not being alive and a character, and again I am totally cool with that. The thing is I am not sure if this issue is as good as it seems or of it’s just that the last issue was so bad that it made this issue seem better. Plus the cover claims that it has the “Grossest” kiss in comic history, and it’s just Toxie’s Mom kissing her old man lover…yeah…not worth the build up. The art work is standard for the series, and the cover is pretty damn eye catching. Over all I found myself enjoying this issue, and while not the best in the series thus far, it was a solid average outing.  So let’s see if issue 6 is any good.

Toxic Crusaders 6

Toxic Crusaders # 6  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   Marvel Comics   #6 of 8

The Toxic Crusaders are yesterday’s news and have lost all the female groupies to Corporal Globe and The Globiteers who have came into Tromaville and beaten all of Killemoff’s new plans. Corporal Globe is a environmental super powered being who wants nothing more than to save Mother Earth from pollution and the ladies love him for it. Toxie and team are thinking about packing up and leaving to see if another city would need their help when Psycho comes up with walking time bombs that when exploded releases Jock Sweat all over town! And when one explodes Corporal is down for the count, and its up to The Toxic Crusaders to save the day, and when they do the town and ladies are back on their side.  The Globiteers disband and leave Corporal all alone.

This issue is really fun and is one big parody of Captain Planet and his sappy messages about keeping Mother Earth clean. Corporal Globe comes off as an ego driven hero who who believes in his message but also seems to be doing it for the fame. In the issue Toxie seems to take a more side character approach until he is needed to save the day. There is also a ton of random cameos from such people as Ted Turner and Rowan Atkinson all of whom just seem to pop up in Tromaville. This issue was also to mark the end of the series.  In the back of the issue states that the current series has ended with this issue but a new # 1 is coming soon….wonder what happened as two more issues followed this one! The art is hit and miss in this one as some times it seems sloppy and rushed, but the story line seems more thought out than issues of the past and makes this next to issue 3 the best in the series so far. The cover on this one also is pretty rocking, and while this goes away from the source material I still think the premise works and makes the characters more fun and while making fun of themselves it’s not rammed down your throat like in the first couple of issues. This is a very good issue and makes me wonder what the next issue holds.  So with that, let’s not wait and get into issue # 7!

Toxic Crusaders 7

Toxic Crusaders # 7  **1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   Marvel Comics   #7 of 8

“Girl Power” Yvonne is sick and tired of being treated like a slave while at the dump hideout house of the Toxic Crusaders who make her cook, clean, bend over to stare and get comics for them.  So she does what any smart woman would do, she leaves. She gets it in her head that she will go to Island City and defeat Killemoff once and for all, but what she finds is that Psycho has created a time machine and has gone back in time and got a giant man made of Asbestos who is on his way to Tromaville to posion and kill the citizens. Yvonne with the help of Toxie’s mom warns the team of its coming in a round about way and feeds them a plan that Toxie can take credit for.  The plan works, the Asbestos Man is defeated and Yvonne and Toxie are happy once more.

This issue’s cover lies! When first picking this issue up one would think that The Crusaders were on the popular USA Cartoon Express, but sadly this just doesn’t happen and we only get the Cartoon Express in a very tiny cameo. In fact this issue again has some cameos with the best being The Bride of Frankenstein who Psycho uses the Time Machine on to bring to the present to go on a date with. The plot is good and gives Yvonne time to shine making the issue more about her then the Crusaders.  This is a good thing and adds some spice to the series. It is odd that they all treat Yvonne like a useless slave, and Major Disaster comes off as a sleaze as he clearly keeps checking out her boobs and ass and making comments about them! And why is Toxie okay with his team mate asking his girlfriend to bend over in front of him so he can see her butt?! The art in this one is fun cartoonish again, and this is the style I like for this series. To sum it up great plot, Yvonne rocks, lying cover, good art and some fun cameos make this one a fun time. Let’s see how the final issue goes and will it make this series go out with a bang. 

Toxic Crusaders 8

Toxic Crusaders # 8  *1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.25   Marvel Comics   #8 of 8

“Toxzilla” Killemoff has kidnapped a tourist and turned him into a 500ft toxic giant who is sent to Tromaville to crush, eat and destroy everything in sight. So Toxie and the Crusaders head into town to do battle and are eaten by the monster! And once inside they must dodge tapeworms and Radiation Rangers to stop Toxzilla’s brain.  Once they do so Toxie and crew save the day again! “Beau No3e” Nozone is feeling lonely and Killemoff has made a woman out of sludge to blow up The Toxic Crusader’s hideout but the sledge woman starts to feel for Nozone and turns on her makers!

This issue is a complete mess and is back to having multiple stories, and none of them worth much more then a once read. Toxie & crew in the first story “Toxzilla” fight a fat bloated disgusting giant.  Oh wait, they barely fight him and spend most the issue inside his body and cram as much gross stuff in it as possible. The second story “Beau No3e” is a complete waste of time and adds nothing to The Toxic Crusaders story arc we have been dis-treated to in the past 7 issues. The message of save the environment is missing and instead random gross stuff is thrown into its place. The art in both stories is terrible and seems very rushed, given that this was the intended last issue in the series, it’s clear as day that no one working on the comic gave a rat’s ass about the story, art and presentation. This issue just stinks all the way around and has more crap moments then good making this the winner of worst issue in the series.

The Toxic Crusaders was a failed attempt to capture the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in both cartoon and comic forums. The biggest issue with the comic is lack of care that was given to the property,  The characters’ moods and style change several times as do the artist and writers making the 8 issue Marvel series  come off as a clustered mess with no direction. Plus it’s clear that Marvel wanted to do very little with the series once the cartoon and toy line was canceled and only stayed with it due to contract with Troma. I mean the series was slated for “last” issue a number of times during its short run! In fact issue 8 that was the planned last issue for the series states that a 4 issue mini series was in the works, and as you can see that never happened. Plus let’s be blunt: taking a character like Toxic Avenger who is a R-Rated hero, who in the films rips off arms and beats people with them or makes their face into a milk shake and the changing his name to Toxie and making him a lovable nature loving knuckle head is just not a recipe for success. But on the other hand, I give both Troma and Marvel credit for trying something new and making a extreme step into trying to make a kid show hit. Over all The Toxic Crusaders run at Marvel was a mediocre at best effort that produced more so-so issue then solid good ones. I was never sold on the cartoon and am not sold on the comics! I want to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having the issue for me to get for this review. Next update we are going to do something a little different instead of a look back and a review of Star Comics, we are going to be doing an interview with local Dayton, Ohio comic artist and maker Jason Young who has made the hit indie book Veggie Dog Saturn! So see ya next update.

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