Malibu Comics Ultraverse Memories: Exiles

Remember back in the 1990’s when both Marvel and DC had some competition when it came to superhero comics with companies like Image and more important to me Malibu, who had some amazing heroes like Prime, Mantra, Prototype, Sludge and Night Man to name a few fighting for readers’ attention. Malibu also had many superhero teams like Freex, The Strangers and Exiles with the latter being the topic of this update. It’s sad that in modern times the comic industry is struggling to gain readers and most fans of superheroes don’t read the issues and only know the character from the movies or TV shows based on them. Now that I am thinking about it, I do believe that Sparkle Comics is trying to keep the world of Indie Superheroes alive with such comics as Black Jack, Silver Bullet, Black Lion and Spring Heeled Jack…so I feel good that the company I own with my friends is doing its part! Also this update really did make me miss the days of when comic companies took chances and comic shops had way more variety for readers to choose from. Around here in Dayton, I would say Bell, Book And Comic and Super-Fly Comics do the best job of offering more indies and even locally made comics to their customers and are inviting to readers. So if you are ready, let’s take a quick look at Exiles from Malibu Comics.

Malibu Comics was struggling in late 1993 as sales had dipped. The comic market was being flooded with comics and gimmicks that were hurting many of the independent companies as buyers just were not buying as many comics; the interest was fading as big events and foil covers started to annoy. And going into 1994, things got worse for Malibu as they did what they could to stay afloat and even started to cancel lower selling series as a way to cut costs and stay around in the industry. But like all mega money sharks, both DC and Marvel smelled blood in the water and opened up their checkbooks and both made bids on buying out Malibu to own their characters, logos, back issues and their coloring style and most importantly, so that the other company didn’t own it! And on November 3, 1994, Malibu was sold to Marvel Comics who became the owner of so many great superhero characters. Marvel wasted no time canceling all of the Ultraverse titles and re-launching some of the more popular ones and even crossing them over with such Marvel Characters like Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk and Wolverine all through 1995. But by 1996, Marvel Comics pretty much walked away from the Ultraverse and cancelled all their titles and just stopped using the characters sending them to the long box in the sky and leaving readers and fans of the characters wondering if they ever would return. Over the years rumors have always been talked about in comic shops, comic podcasts as well as websites about the return of the Ultraverse as well as what Marvel could do with the characters to add them into the Marvel Universe.

So before we get into the comic reviews, I am going to take a few moments and give my opinion on how they could add The Exiles into Marvel and where they would fit in. So let’s use the core original group of Exiles that includes the likes of Trax, Deadeye, Tinsel, Dr. Rachel Deming, Mustang, Catapult, Amber Hunt and Ghoul and say that events of the original comic series change when the worlds of Malibu and Marvel meet in modern times. We will also say that all of Marvel’s past Exiles teams were around, just in namesake only and had nothing to do with the original team made by Deming. I would love to see The Exiles be mixed in the world of X-Men with many of the members being mutants – they fit it really well, and to start I would love to see Dr. Rachel Deming use her team as the alternative to the X-Men and allow them to be more flashy in order to make citizens see them as stars and heroes. I would have it that Dr. Rachel Deming and Professor X have a respect for each other, they just have different ideas on how to get things done with their mutant teams. I would also have it that Dr. Rachel Deming and her Exiles open their own school of gifted students as a way to recruit for Exiles. This of course would cause friction between the two mutant groups, and while their respective leaders respect each other, the teams themselves do not and do what they can to outshine the others. I would play up on Wolverine and Mustang really disliking each other and clashing lots. While rivals, I would also make sure to have The Exiles come off as good guys who just are the Pepsi to X-Men’s Coke and are more flash as they have decided to not hide in the shadows in a world filled with super beings. The Exiles could not only be a team in Uncanny X-Men and other X-Men titles but could also spin off into their own series. One thing that would be great for The Exiles is that many of their team members are powerful and could hold their own against the likes of evil mutants like Magneto, Sabertooth and Black Tom to name a few. Just a thought of mine to bring them back, and sadly the way things look for Malibu is that Marvel and Disney have zero plans for them and if the rumors are real, the deal Marvel made when buying them was so bad that the fate of these characters are forever sealed in limbo. That’s right, the story goes that if Marvel does any new comics with characters created by Malibu they have to pay a percentage to the former owner of Malibu as well as the creators of said characters leaving the profits very low for comics being sold and not worth the time and resources Marvel would put into them…or so Comic Store Urban Legend goes.

As you can see, Malibu Comics is a company over the years I find myself thinking about what could have been if they could have survived the Comic Book Crash of the 1990’s and even what they could be if Marvel would do anything with the characters. But we are now at the point of the update for the reviews, and I want to remind all you readers that I grade these issues on a standard 1-4 star system and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic and Game Swap Kettering for having these comics in stock and making this update possible. So if you are ready, let’s gear up and hangout with The Exiles.

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

Amber Hunt is a high school student who one day is bored in class when an explosion rocks the school, and she sees that bad guy Supreme Soviet along with his Cybernoids are fighting with members of the superhero team Exiles (Trax, Deadeye & Tinsel) all over her! The battle leaves many of the Cybernoids destroyed, Supreme Soviet tricked and defeated, and Trax injured and having to be rushed back to their base. They also take Amber Hunt who still is confused and angry on why she is being targeted. Once at the island base, Amber meets Dr. Rachel Deming who is the keeper of the team as well as the one who has cured them all of the Theta Virus and soon will also cure Amber Hunt who is infected and has special powers she just doesn’t know about yet. While there, Amber is acting like a brat and even meets team member Ghoul who she also treats terribly! Meanwhile in L.A. Supreme Soviet visits his boss Mr. Malcolm Kort who wanted Amber Hunt killed and for his failure Supreme Soviet is forced into a tube and injected with a virus that kills him and shows that Kort wants to really use this virus as a bio weapon! Meanwhile in a neighborhood in San Diego a young man named Timmy is taking out the trash when he is surrounded by Bloodbath and Bruut who have been sent by Mr. Kort and thankfully Exiles members Catapult and Mustang are near by and step in to help the kid from meeting his maker. The heroes get the upper hand but when Bruut attacks Timmy’s mom an accident happens and Mustang with his electric powers falls into the water from the broken sink and fries and kills Timmy’s Mom as well as Bruut! Bloodbath knocks out Catapult and escapes with Timmy.

This first issue of Exiles is a very good solid read that showcases the style and world of the Ultraverse. It also sets up that our heroes the Exiles are a team of powered beings who are brought together to do the right thing and are watched by after Dr. Rachel Deming going against entertainment tycoon and evildoer Mr. Malcolm Kort and his band of super powered hired guns. The story while it is your normal superhero fare the main plot of the issue is the Theta Virus and one side wanting to cure it and the other side wanting to use it to gain power as a weapon. The Exiles are a rag tag team that has many members who all have special powers and in this issue we meet Trax, Deadeye, Tinsel, Ghoul, Catapult and Mustang all who work well together and have one goal and that’s to save the youngsters who are virus carriers. This far I think my two favorite members are Tinsel as I dig her look and she can fly and fire energy from her hands, I also like Catapult who comes off as a surfer metal head guy who has the power to easily lift and throw things. I also like Ghoul as he is a green skinned zombie who we gather can talk to the dead…but he has not done much yet to make him a favorite. Dr. Rachel Deming who is the watcher of all the team is a very wise and smart woman as she has the cure for the Theta Virus and I am going to guess she as well has some sort of powers. Amber Hunt is a terrible young lady who is self centered, rude and mouthy who treats not only the Exiles like crap even after they saved her life but also fellow classmates as she calls one young lady a “cow” as they are trying to get away from the opening battle! Mr. Malcolm Kort is cold blooded and has no loyalties to even his own hired super powered beings as he will kill them if they fail him! Speaking of his hired guns Bruut, Bloodbath, Hot Rox and Supreme Soviet all are trained killers who don’t mind killing women and children as long as they get paid! This far I like the story that is being set up and it makes me wonder what the outcome will be once the Exiles and the Kort side clash all over a virus. The cover for this first issue is totally 90’s and for me not very eye catching as it looks super cheesy. The interior art is done by R.R. Phipps and is really good and embodies the art of the 90’s superhero titles. So with this lets see what happens next in issue two and see if Mustang can get his revenge for accidentally murdering a young man’s mom.

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

Mustang and Catapult are standing in the home of Timmy with the bodies of his mom and super villain Bruut when they are surrounded by the cops who want to take them in for questions, but Bruut is not dead and awakens and goes on a rampage that leave many cops hurt and dead and both Mustang and Catapult can not stop him from escaping by stealing a helicopter. And before the remaining cops can regroup our heroes escape and head back to their island base with news of their failed mission. While back at the base news is spreading of the fight at the house and Dr. Rachel Deming tells Amber Hunt it’s her choice on if she wants to be cured of the virus as it will cause change and Amber learns she has the power of fire. While Malcolm Kort and his team of scientist are trying to force Timmy into letting them “cure” him so his pain will stop as his hand keeps growing and shrinking back to normal. Rachel Deming now calls on the Exiles team and the order is to do a full attack on Kort’s entertainment building and get Timmy back before he can be turned into a henchman tool for evil. Before the Exiles leave Amber informs Rachel that she will take the treatments once the team is back from the rescue mission. In the end young Timmy is being treated by Kort’s science team and things go wrong as Timmy turns into a massive beat man with tusks and breaks free and knocks even the Exiles out of his way as he escapes into the city.

In this second issue the Exiles are forced to face lots of difficult things from one of their members accidentally killing a woman, being caught on camera and now the world knows that they are in town as well as must face a failed mission that clearly looks like is going to cause them major problems in the very near future. The Exiles try so hard to keep their existence low-key, as the world is not keen on the super powered humans walking among them. And worse is the team itself is torn about if they should come out and be seen or hide in the shadows and save the world. Dr. Rachel Deming is clearly in charge of the group and she also knows that they must do all they can in order to save as many of those infected by the virus as they can and do so before Kort and his goons turn them into raging monsters. Mustang in this issue feels terrible and he blames himself for the death of Timmy’s Mom and his powers of electricity is what lead to her neck being crushed by the unstoppable Bruut, even though he played a part in the death he is over taken with guilt. Meanwhile the rest of the team are ready to go to war and try and get the kidnapped kid back and cure him before he is mutated by the bad guys or killed by the virus. Kort once more shows he is an evil man as he forces a young man to be experimented on and all he cares about is power and control. Meanwhile his goons Bloodbath and Bruut one time partners are at odds as it’s clear within their group its all about the money and every super powered man for themselves. Poor Timmy in one day looses his mom, learns he has a deadly virus, is kidnapped and then forced to be turned into a raging monster. And man I cannot see this hulking tusked monster tangle with the Exiles in a battle that I am sure is going to be epic. The one thing that does stink about this issue is that one of my favorite characters Tinsel is just a background team member, and it’s a shame as I would have loved to seen her kick some butt. The cover for this second issue is way better and eye catching as it showcases our team looking like they are ready for action. The interior art is done by R.R. Phipps again and is good stuff. Over all this second issue is very entertaining and has locked me in as a fan of this team this far, and I cannot wait to read the next issue.

Exiles # 3  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price $1.95     Malibu Comics     # 3 of 4

Timmy lands on the street below and is confused and just wants to be left alone, but also landing on the ground is Tinsel as well as Ghoul who try and talk to the enraged teenage monster who don’t want to hear it and just our heroes luck they are attacked by Hot Rox who takes them both prisoner as Timmy escapes deeper into the city. The remain Exiles team chase down Timmy who hides in a closed mall and they try to talk to him, but he attacks causing destruction and injuries before turning back into a young man and running off into the night. Meanwhile back at the lab Amber Hunt is trying to push Rachel Deming’s assistant into given her the treatment as she don’t wanna die from the virus and has no faith in the Exiles returning, the assistant refuses. While back at Kort’s building Ghoul has been thrown into a waste bin and barely escapes as they set it on fire with the hopes of killing him. Meanwhile Bloodbath has Tinsel in his room and is about to sexual assault her, but she is able to use her power and blind him (as she is blind as well) and he grabs his guns and fires wildly into the air and sadly kills her as Ghoul gets to her way to late and this sets him off for revenge!

Well Malibu Comics and Exiles gone and done it they killed off my favorite hero on the team and did so very brutally! You see Tinsel in this issue is taken prisoner and we learn she is also blind and needs her visor in order to see and when she wakes up she is in the room of Bloodbath who wants to rape her….and when she fights back and tries to get away he shoots her a dozen times ending her life! Why would they let a hero die like this? Don’t get me wrong it was very effective and wants me as the reader want to see Bloodbath get his, but it also makes you a little mad at the rest of the Exiles besides Ghoul as they left her in the hands of the baddies in order to save a teen who is now a monster who just wants to be left alone. That is pretty much the major plot of this issue is the Exiles trying to reach a scared Timmy who is now a massive wooly mammoth monster man who don’t trust anyone. Kort and his goons pretty much stay out of the hunt for Timmy as they figure they will just attack and get him back once the Exiles do all the hard work and get him to a safe place. Bloodbath is enemy # 1 for this comic reader as I am glad he is blind now and hopes it permit and that Ghoul once he catches up with him is able to eat his heart out! I must also say I do also really like the look of Timmy as the monster who is called Mastodon because he seems like he could be a villain for the Incredible Hulk and is well designed. The cover for this issue is also very eye catching and is a perfect cover for a 90’s superhero comic. The interior art once more is done by R.R. Phipps and is great stuff and has the 90’s look but yet also still holds a very 80’s style as well. This third issue is a great read and I cannot wait to read issue four that is the final in this very good series.

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

The Exiles decide to give up tracking down Timmy and return to the base so they can regroup and figure out a better plan. While at the lab Amber Hunt decides that she is going to just sneak and give herself the treatment so that she can survive the virus. Meanwhile Ghoul makes contact with the soul of Tinsel and gets the name of her killer Bloodbath and sets his sights to really get revenge and massacre the super powered hitman. As Bloodbath gets painkillers and head back to his room he is attacked by Ghoul who is crazed with anger and after a brief fight he is able to kill Bloodbath and not only end his life but also his soul! And once he drained him Ghoul grabs some guns and starts his one-man war against Kort and his people. While at the lab Amber has done the treatment wrong and the machine is over loading and the Exiles and Rachel Deming are rushing back to try to stop the explosion as well as save Amber from dying. Ghoul blows up the generator at the Kort building and the explosion seems to have killed anyone in it. While back at the Exiles Lab the tank and machines explode and kills many of the Exiles in the process as Heather the Assistant, Trax and Mustang are all killed with Catapult, Deadeye and Rachel Deming are all severely injured. In the end, Amber Hunt is now a flying flaming super powered woman who’s selfish nature has killed many.

This comic series had guts as many of the team members meet their maker by the end with most being killed by the hands of a terrible narcissistic spoiled teenage girl that they were helping who ended up dooming anyone around her when she decided to treat herself. This issue’s plot brings everything together for the most part but also leaves lots of things unanswered as this was a lead in to a series called “Break-Thru” that they wanted readers to buy next…and that was always one thing that annoyed me about Malibu Comics and their Ultraverse as they tied in all their comics together so in order to finish stories you would have to buy another title in order to do so, and that was some of the silly stuff Marvel Comics also did very badly in the 80’s and still do it somewhat to this day. Amber Hunt is a terrible person who becomes even more terrible when she gets power beyond most other heroes in the Ultraverse. When you really think about it all the true evil villain of this comic series is Amber Hunt as she is narcissistic and does not seem to care about others or how her actions effect anyone around her. Rachel Deming is a woman who does want to help those with powers, but also slightly seems to be doing so to stroke her own ego as some of her decisions help lead to the teams downfall. Ghoul in this issue is a true badass as he goes for revenge of the death of his friend in the last issue and does so in a brutal way…Ghoul is very cool and a great character that walks the line of superhero mutant and horror character. This series really is a great read and shows why Malibu Comics was a great alternative to Marvel and DC as they delivered good solid stories about interesting characters who had a vast world. The cover on this fourth issue is not as eye catching nor as cool as the three issues that came before it, but while a little plan it still ok. The interior art is once more done by R.R. Phipps and is good and has a very 90’s comic look and to be honest has what I would say is the Malibu Comic house style. For me Exiles is a great series and one that fans of X-Men and all their clones should check out as these characters and stories could fit in very nicely with the Universe that Marvel Comics created for their readers. Check out the artwork below to see the style of R.R. Phipps and see what I mean when I say this looks like Malibu Comics house style.

Exiles is a great team from Malibu Comics who never got the respect from Marvel Comics when they bought the characters rights way back in 1994 and even when they did use the team they only did so in name only. It’s a shame as I do not think comic readers ever will see new adventures of the Exiles as I do feel they had many more in them, but truly only time will tell if Rachel Deming’s team will see a new series. For my next update, I will be stepping away from comic books and will be once more taking a look at a Horror Host from the Dayton area as I take a look at Rayne of Studio Cinema! So until next time read a Malibu Comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for a spooky good time.

 

Horror Host Icon: J.R. Ghul

Well due to misplacing my issue of Star Trek III comic adaptation by DC Comics, I decided to treat readers to a quick Horror Host update until I can find it. The state of Texas has had its fair share of Horror Hosts over the decades with names like Dr. Zekow, Professor Cerberus, Gorgon The Gruesome, Professor Anton Griffin, Miss Jami Deadly and the short lived one we will be looking at today known as J.R. Ghul! This host is very interesting as while his show “Bloodshot Theatre” carried on for years, his time as host was very short as a host named E.Spanto took over, but he will be covered in a future update I am sure. So as I have said before, in my book there are no too big or too small Horror Hosts as they all mean something to their fans and viewers and I feel that J.R. Ghul’s time to shine here at Rotten Ink is now! So it’s with great honor that I bring to you this fast and spooky update called Horror Host Icon: J.R. Ghul. So sit back, relax, and let’s take a trip to the Bloodshot Theatre.

J.R. Ghul was the singer for an 80’s rock band called Tortured Skull and after playing a gig at a Taco Land restaurant, he was driving home when he crashed into a tombstone at a local cemetery. The impact left him hear death, and as he emerged from the wreck, he crawled toward the headstone he had hit only to fall into the grave that was freshly dug, and oddly enough the coffin inside the grave was filled with VHS copies of Horror Movies. The lid closed shut and J.R. died in the pine box that was reburied. His car was towed, and rocker J.R. Ghul was missing in the public eye. In the early 2000’s, on a Public Access Station in San Antonio somehow the undead spirit of J.R. Ghul has hacked in to the feed and hosted Horror Movies in short 30-minute segments. J.R. would bring his rock n roll style to hosting and would brood and yet take pleasuring in introducing the film to viewers. His cold and cool delivery always made for an eerie opening and his all black clothing played well off the red light that was always present. The undead ghoul J.R. Ghul hosts his show from an unknown tomb-like area and is still a rocker at heart. While it’s not really shown, I would say that J.R. Ghul is more sinister then fun loving and is one that might take a bite out of you. While not a full fledged Icon of Horror Hosting, he did mean something to his viewers who enjoyed his micro dose of horror every week. I want to also say that J.R. Ghoul became a character again when the show turned into an animated series and was joined by a werewolf sidekick.

Bloodshot Theatre started in 2004 and aired on Channel 20 in San Antonio and was a spooky and fun time for viewers. The show was unlike anything else in Texas public access at the time and was a pretty different idea for Horror Hosting as well because instead of showing the full film for the episode he would instead bring you the first 27 minutes or so! The show would air and switch hosts and even at one point became animated and ended its run as far as I can tell in 2015. The show was seen on San Antonio Public Access as well as via The Horror Host Underground (all over the US) and later via the Internet that seemed to be the show’s main source to watch. During the show’s 11-year run, it gained a cult status and fans still remember J.R. and hope someday for a comeback. It’s always so interesting when these lower key shows are rediscovered and the host finds a new fan base.

So as you can see, while not the show Bloodshot Theatre’s host for very long, J.R. Ghul still was the original who first drew viewers in. I am sure you readers are wondering how I heard of Bloodshot Theatre and host J.R. Ghul…well the answer is easy as it was thanks to A. Ghastlee Ghoul and his tape archive of Horror Host Underground episodes! And while helping him archive his show, I came across one single episode on a tape and knew I had to cover it! I want to remind all your readers that I will not be giving this episode a star rating and will take the film’s write up from our pals at IMDB, and I myself will write about the host segments. So let’s see what this one and only episode of Bloodshot Theatre I own has in store for us.

Bloodshot Theatre: The Pit (part 1)
Starring – Sammy Snyders & Jeannie Elias     Rated R       1981

Host: We start the show with a rubber bat on a wall with all the lighting in the room being bright red. We then show J.R. Ghul who is relaxing in a chair and welcomes the viewers to the show and then tells us about the night’s movie The Pit from 1981. He then ushers us into the first 27 minutes of the film before the rubber bat on the wall returns and the end credits roll.

Movie: Twelve year-old Jamie Benjamin is a misunderstood lad. His classmates pick on him, his neighbors think he’s weird and his parents ignore him. But now Jamie has a secret weapon: deep in the woods he has discovered a deep pit full of man-eating creatures he calls Trogs… and it isn’t long before he gets an idea for getting revenge and feeding the Trogs in the process!

So as you can see, J.R. Ghul was a host of few words, and I really wished I could have found more episodes in the Horror Host Underground Archives in order to deliver a longer update and bring you more a taste of his style of Hosting and his show’s format fully. And to be honest I even did some web searching to find J.R. himself, as it would have been fun to have had “5 Questions” with him and got into the undead rockers mindset and motivations of hosting Bloodshot Theatre, but it was not meant to be. I do hope that this Horror Host Icon update does help readers discover this host or even maybe let those who watched him remember him and all the ghoulish good times you had watching spooky movies with him. But for our next update we will be leaving Bloodshot Theatre behind and will hopefully be going to space to finally find Spock! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Let’s hope Spock is found to make this update finally happen!