January The 13th: The Muppets Take Manhattan

In 1989, hockey masked killer Jason Voorhees, aboard a cruise ship filled with high school seniors, slashed his way into Manhattan, New York and took that city by brutal storm. But just five years before, in 1984, a band of goofy stage performs took it by laughter and cheer.  This band was lead by a noble green man named Kermit The Frog and his friends are The Muppets, and yes, they as well took Manhattan! This film and its STAR Comic mini series adaptation are the topic of this second update of 2018…wow, we are in 2018 and this is amazing as 2017 seemed to fly by. But let’s not focus on that; let’s focus on the third Muppet movie that starred Kermit and the gang getting into a fun and wacky adventure. Like many kids my age, growing up I loved The Muppets and saw this movie a tons of time as it played on HBO when I was a kid. I even taped it off TV on Beta when I was younger. My gal Juliet also loves The Muppets, and I almost had her do this update but decided that I also had some things to say about this movie! So let’s travel to New York with our pal Kermit and see why he and his pals decided to take Manhattan.

The Muppet Show was created by Jim Henson and was a variety show that aired on ABC from 1976-1981.  My brother Bryan and I used to watch it in reruns as even our Dad was entertained by these colorful puppets who had great personalities and added humor by interacting with their celebrity guests. Kermit The Frog was the head of this rag tag group of performers that had the likes of Fozzie Bear a terrible stand up comic, Miss Piggy a diva actress and singer, Gonzo a weird big nosed guy who would do stunts and Rowlf The Dog who played the piano and sang, to name a few. Amazing guest stars like Alice Cooper, Vincent Price and Mark Hamill added to the enjoyment of this program that would go on to spawn movies, comic books, video games, novels, cartoons and toys, and this is why Disney ended up buying Jim Henson Productions and continues to make Muppet stuff for fans to enjoy. Now I could really get into the history of The Muppets and their creation and such, but I would rather save that for another update that possibly Juliet will handle.  So our main focus for this update is the third movie adventure they had. But to sum it up, growing up I was a big fan of The Muppets and watched the show in reruns, loved the cartoon Muppet Babies and enjoyed the heck out of the movies over the years….so in other words, The Muppets Rule!

Growing up I was lucky that my Mom would buy me lots of toys from stores like Hearts, Hills and Gold Circle and would find also lots of great toys at garage sales.  Besides The Muppet Babies figures that were in Happy Meals from McDonalds, I had the cool Fisher Price figures called “The Muppet Show Players” that they released in 1978 with a total of seven figures in the set that included Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Rowlf and Scooter. The figures stood about 3-4” tall and had limited movement and came with a stick that allowed you to clumsily move The Muppet around and make your own plays and shows with them. Now keep in mind that these toys were made a year before I was even born and as a kid, I got some of them from Odd Lots, who had them in stock in the 80’s!! I am not sure if maybe if Fisher Price rereleased them or if a large stock of them was found, but my brother and I had many of them growing up. As I said, our parents got us many from Odd Lots and we also found a few at garage sales. I know I owned Rowlf, Fozzie, Animal and Scooter and remember my brother owning Kermit, Animal and Gonzo, and we both really did enjoy them and kept onto them for many years before we ended up giving them to our cousins when our mom “pushed” us to give many of our toys away to them. But I can remember playing with these toys and having them on the side of the Jedi in the toy wars I used to have when I was a youngster growing up in Waynesville. So did any of you readers grow up having these Muppet Fisher Price toys?

To me, the Muppets are as iconic as Looney Tunes and Disney Cartoon characters and seem to have always been a part of my life from watching them on TV all the way to reading comic book adventures about them and everything in-between! I mean heck, one of the first vinyl records I ever owned was the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie. My favorite Muppet of the main cast of characters was Fozzie The Bear as I found him to be a lovable goofy unfunny comedian who was funny because he was not funny! The other that comes close to Fozzie in my book is Gonzo as I love the fact he is so weird, had a creative mind and his close friends are rats and chickens! But my favorite minor character always has been Sweetums, a large ogre monster who towers over Muppets and humans alike and looks like a mean son of a gun but is a semi nice guy unless he is pushed or you mess with his friends. Sweetums first appeared in the TV Special “The Frog Prince” in 1971 and was a bad guy and son of an evil witch Taminella and would later make appearances on The Muppet Show becoming more of a cast member in season two. He would also go on to be in many of The Muppet movies as well as video games, comics, books and toys throughout the run of the show and beyond. I think I have always liked Sweetums lots because I have been a Monster Kid for as long as I can remember, and he looks like a giant monster that could have been the main baddy in any G rated horror film of the 70’s. Many actors have played the character, but the one who made this giant Muppet suit monster his own was Richard Hunt who played him from 1975 to 1991 and the original suit actor was Jerry Nelson who only played him once in 1971 for his first appearance. So while Fozzie and Gonzo are amazing characters who are my main cast favorites, good old Ogre Sweetums has a special place in my heart as well. Take a look at the pics below to see why this aging Monster Kid dug him.

Growing up I always thought that the monster used as a mascot for Noble Roman’s Pizza in the 80’s was The Muppet Sweetums, and once older, thanks to YouTube, I was able to finally see that he was not indeed pushing cheep greasy pizza to hungry people in the 80’s but instead the pizza place made their own walk around Muppet who very much looked like a knock off of Sweetums complete with his under bite bulldog like jaw! But let’s be honest, I really do like the fact Noble Roman’s Pizza has a mascot, and while he is not as memorable to many fast food junkies as say Ronald McDonald, The Noid or Colonel Sanders that we have covered here on Rotten Ink, he still made his mark for those kids in the 80’s who remember him…plus it appears as if they still somewhat use him but have changed him quit a bit as he no longer has brown fur like Sweetums and now has blue and purple fur much like the My Pet Monster doll! In my youth I can only remember eating Noble Roman’s Pizza less than a handful of times and can remember eating there with my cousins Dino and Norman. I have never been a big pizza eater and can remember not really enjoying my slices of the pie from them. Just wanted to throw this in as I am not sure when in the future I would be talking about Sweetums or the knock off Noble Roman’s Pizza mascot…check out the pics below to see why younger me thought they were one and the same.

So I think we are at the point of this update where we will be taking a look at the movie that spawned this comic adaptation and was a film that my brother Bryan and I watched many times and even owned on VHS for years until I, like a fool, sold all my VHS off to a second hand store that underpaid for them all. But here is what we will do for this quick look at the film, I will take the write up from our pals at IMDB and then will talk a little about watching it for the first time aka what I can remember and then talk about how well it did at the box office and such. I hope you’re ready to talk about some Muppets cause we are about to dive in their world!

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

“The Muppets graduate from college and decide to take their senior revue on the road. They hit the streets of Manhattan trying to sell their show to producers, finally finding one young and idealistic enough to take their show. After several mishaps and much confusion, things begin to come together for them.”

If memory serves me right, I first saw this film on HBO when I was a youngster and my Mom use to hype up all the big kids movies that came to that paid station (that we would have on and off during my youth) to me and my brother who always were so eager to watch movies as we both loved cinema even at a very young age. There was always something very magical about watching a Muppet Movie as they always seemed like events much like many of the film series from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s did.  When a new Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park or Batman film was released, it was a major deal to many of my friends as well as the film going public and for the longest time The Muppet films felt that way! While The Muppets Take Manhattan is a great family film and was one I liked, it never was my favorite Muppet film growing up as I always loved The Great Muppet Caper as that one was just over the top silly and was one I had seen more often on TV and home video. The film was released to theaters on July 13, 1984 and was a hit for Tristar as it brought in $25,534,703.00 at the US box office on a budget of $8 million and came in at # 39 for the year beating out such films as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, The Neverending Story, Children Of The Corn, Supergirl, This Is Spianl Tap and Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai to name a few. So as you can see, in the 80’s The Muppets had box office draw and were favorites of kids and the young at heart. One thing I do want to also say is that as I kid I always thought it was amazing that the cast of Sesame Street was in this film as they are guests at a very special wedding that we will talk about in the comic review…I wonder if they will make an appearance in the comic or if they will be cut out due to rights issues?

Now that we have talked about Muppets Take Manhattan as well as about my favorite underrated b-cast Muppet, I think it’s time we dive into the adaptation comic mini series released by Star Comics! It’s been a while since I did an update about a Star Comic, and it feels good doing one based on The Muppets as they are a fun one to talk about! Also this is not the last time I will have an update here at Rotten Ink about them as sometime this year or next my gal Juliet will do a bigger update on The Muppets in general. So before we get started, I need to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. So let’s take a trip to New York with Kermit and the rest of The Muppets and see just how they take Manhattan with laughter.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 1  ***
Released in 1984     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 1 of 3

Kermit The Frog as well as his fellow Muppets have just put on a musical show the day the graduated collage and the show is such a hit the crowd and his friends push Kermit to go to New York and try and get it on Broadway! Kermit and friends pack up their stuff and head to New York with fame and stars in their eyes and the first day they go and meet Martin Price who claims to love the show and wants it to go straight to Broadway…but only if Kermit and his friends all pay him $300 a piece! The Muppets know this is wrong and before they can say no the police bust in and try to arrest Price for fraud over the years and this criminal tries to take Gonzo hostage but the blue weirdo is saved by Animal and price is brought to justice. Kermit and pals don’t loose their faith in the show even after day after day and meeting after meeting they get told NO! With no money in their pockets they stop at a diner for some soup and meet the owner, his daughter Jenny and rat waiter Rizzo who all befriend the struggling stage actors and as Kermit gets the soup, Scooter talks the rest of the gang that they should split up and make their own way to impress Kermit and themselves! As his friends all leave New York one at a time Kermit goes to the Empire State Building and looks at the city and gets motivation to get his friends back and his show on Broadway.

This first issue in the adaptation is really well done and captures the mood, music and characters of the film very well. The plot of this first issue has Kermit graduating collage and putting on a great musical show that leaves him being pushed to bring the show to Broadway by the audience and his fellow friends. And once in New York he finds that getting the show on Broadway was way harder than expected and he and his friends sleep in rented lockers and in the end his friends split off from him to get jobs and leave Kermit all alone in the Big Apple. Kermit The Frog is a very creative Muppet who believes in his projects and his friends and is chasing his dreams to be around his friends and entertain the world with his production shows. Kermit is just a great frog who has a heart of gold and makes friends wherever he goes. Scooter is a Muppet who pushes Kermit to do this show and is the goof who tells the other Muppets they should all split up and get normal jobs…what a goon…stand by your friend man if you believe in his art. The rest of The Muppets are around and all have faith in Kermit and don’t want to split away from him but it’s the idea of Scooter that forces them to all walk away, so it’s sad to say but I think Scooter is this issues bad guy next to the con man Martin Price! Jenny and the diner workers are all good people who you know will be playing a bigger part in issue # 2! Very solid issue and a great way to start off this mini series, and I must say the cover is amazing and very eye catching for fans of The Muppets and the interior art it top notch kids comic stuff done by Dean Yeagle and is the style that made me fall in love with Star Comics all those years back in my youth. I can’t wait to see how issue 2 brings the story to life.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price .60      Star Comics     # 2 of 3

Kermit is motivated to get his show on Broadway and his friends back in New York and heads to Pete’s Diner and gets a part tome job working in the kitchen as does Rizzo’s fellow rat friends! While Kermit is trying to get his show picked up a weird person in shadow keeps following him! Kermit has Jenny help him by designing cloths that he thinks will make agents pay him more attention and sadly this seems to not help get his show off the ground. The shadow figure following him is Miss Piggy who gets upset when she see’s Jenny hug Kermit and worse when se returns to her job she is fired after getting an extreme make over from her co-worker! Kermit does not give up and this time takes Rizzo and the other rats to a high-end restaurant in order to build up his show but once more he his tossed out and the show is not picked up. After being defeated again Kermit is down in the dumps and runs back into Miss Piggy who has beat up a would be purse snatcher and he gets her a job at Pete’s as a waitress. Good news comes via a letter when Kermit is called to meet a producer who turns out to be the young son of the producer who wants his first project to be Kermit’s musical! Super hyped Kermit calls Jenny at the restaurant and tells her that the show is going to happen and that she can do costumes and to let Piggy know that they are Broadway bound. As Kermit leaves the building to get back to Pete’s he is hit by a car and looses his memory!

Kermit in this issue pushes forward on trying his best to get his show to play in New York as well as get his friends to come back so they can all work together and make something special. Kermit also tries to change who he is in order to get the attention of producers and dresses like a goof and even acts and says things like one. Also Pete’s Diner turns out to be great place for Kermit to work as it puts a little cash in his pocket, is a home base for him as well as he has met lots of new friends. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo as well as the fellow rats are all great people who clearly believe in Kermit and his musical, as they are all willing to help him in his time of need and depression. Miss Piggy while she has walked away from Kermit she still loves him and has stayed in New York in order to keep an eye on him and once they meet back up she ends up working with him at the diner. The young producer is a good kid who clearly has seen the talent and special nature of the Kermit musical and chooses it as his first project even though his father does not share his love for Kermit’s play. This issue is great and builds up more of the will that Kermit has to make his own way and to impress his friends and also delivers us drama in the way of Kermit getting hit by a car and forgetting who he is making the musical’s future in jeopardy. The only down side of this issue is that besides Kermit, Miss Piggy and Rizzo none of the other Muppets make an appearance besides a brief cameo of The Muppet Babies in a two panel flashback and this is a bummer for fans of the other characters. This issue has a good cover and once more fantastic art by Dean Yeagle and is another top notch kids comic adapting a great kids movie. So lets see what issue three the final issue in this mini series has in store for us!

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 3 of 3

Kermit is taken to the hospital after being hit by a car and is a blank slate not even knowing his own name. Meanwhile Miss Piggy, Jenny, Rizzo and Pete are awaiting his return and when hours pass and the producer of the show stops by to say the show starts in 2 weeks they must try and find their missing friend! As they hit the streets looking for him Pete writes telegrams of the good news and The Muppets all come back to town and meet at the diner and all are told of Kermit missing and all hit the streets looking for him and all come up empty handed. Kermit is now going by Phil and is working at an ad firm and just by luck on opening night he and his co-workers stop at Pete’s for lunch and his friends are happy to see him, but he don’t remember them so they kidnap him and take him to the theater to try and jog his mind. After hours of trying they are not able to and the show starts and just before they are to go on without him Kermit laughs at the fact Miss Piggy loves him and she slaps him so hard he hits his head on the wall and snaps back to normal and rushes to get onstage on time for the start of his opening night of his big musical. The show is a hit as the crowd loves it, Kermit has his friends all around him as they do the show and he and Miss Piggy are married live on stage as part of the show and this is how The Muppet Took Manhattan!

The finial issue in this adaptation is just as good as the first two issues and shows just why Star Comics when around was the best kids comic company going, better than Archie and Harvey and all others of that time. The plot of this issue has Kermit with memory loss wondering around New York as Phil as his friends and musical are in need of him. And when all looks lost Kermit remembers who he is and pulls off a massive hit musical and even marries his long time girlfriend Piggy live during the show! I love that Kermit takes on the name Phil and works along side other frogs and creates cheesy ads and slogans for products like soap! I also love as Phil is he kind of rude and laughs in Piggy’s face when she talks of her and Kermit’s plans for marriage…yeah he laughs in her face and gets slapped for his terrible manners! But I love that when he remembers who he is Kermit kicks into creative gear and gets stuff done! Miss Piggy in this issue loves her green skinned man and worries about him missing and does what she can to try and find him, and while she tricks him into marriage she is not nearly as diva acting as she normally is. The rest of The Muppets (Gonzo, Fozzie, Scooter, ect.) are all background players and do what they do well and that’s add fun moments to this comic and story. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo show that they are great friends as they as well get worried about Kermit and do what they can to help find him and make his show a hit. I also love that they did add the Sesame Street characters to the wedding and that through out the issue you get cameos from those cranky old critics Statler And Waldorf who as well add their own brand of humor. The cover of this issue has Miss Piggy and Kermit getting married and is eye catching for fans of The Muppets and once more Dean Yeagle and is great stuff. This three issue mini series is a must read for fans of The Muppets and the film its based on as it is a pure fun all age comic series that is entertaining and just plan fun! I would say that my favorite Character in this mini series is Kermit as how can you not like a guy trying to chase his creative dream and wants to share it with his friends. While my favorite backup character would be Rizzo as who don’t like a rat who waits tables and gets all his other rat friends jobs. So to sum it up make if you dig Kermit and his friends make sure to give this a read. Check out some art from this comic series done by Dean Yeagle below and see just how fun it is.

The Muppets are icons of TV and kid friendly shows, and while they have lost some steam nowadays, they still have a special place in my heart as seeing them they make me think of my youth and all the good times I had with my family watching them on TV and movies. And as I have said, this will not be the last time you will see The Muppets here at Rotten Ink.  Juliet confirmed with me that she will indeed be doing an update about them in the future! For our next update, we will be walking away from New York and The Muppets and head to the world of Horror Hosting and a rundown mansion that is the home of the one and only Ghost Host.  This Maryland Horror Host will be the next Icon we chat about. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update ghost and ghoulies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Howard The Duck Movie Special 1

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

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

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

Howard The Duck Movie Special 2

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

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

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

Howard The Duck Movie Special 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PUNISHER MOVIE SPECIAL 1

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

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

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

Punisher Movie Special Art 1

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

Cap Movie 1Captain America 1990 Movie PosterCap Movie 2

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

Captain America Movie Special 1

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

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

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

Captain America Movie Special Art 1

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

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

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

Winner – Red Skull

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

punisher-the-1989-DI

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

The Dead Arrow Comics Logo

Marvel At The Movies Part 1

It’s summer time, so let’s go to the movies! Marvel Comics and movie adaptations went hand and hand in the 1980’s and many Hollywood blockbusters found themselves as comic miniseries, giving fans of both films and of comic books something to collect and re-read at any time, reliving the adventure. So with this update I decided to take a look at three films that got the Marvel treatment: Krull, The Last Starfighter and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension.  I chose these three to start with because I feel all of them have a very rich cult status, not to mention each could have easily been a full series after the movie tie was done.  Lastly I grew up watching all three films! While movie tie in comics are still made today they are fewer and far between as Marvel no longer focuses on them unless they own the character in the film outright. But with this update I will tell you a little about the film and my thoughts on it as well as break down each issue in the Marvel comic adaptations.  So with no further ado let’s get to what I am calling “Marvel At The Movies,” and we are reading this at the imaginary Marvel Theater.

Marvel at the movies

I want to remind everyone 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.  I will give these comics a little slack on not keeping 100% to the film because they have only so many pages to contain it all in, but it will be only a little slack. I also want to thank Dark Star Comics and Half Price Books for having these issues in stock.

Krull 1Krull PosterKrull 3

Released in 1983, Krull is about a young prince and his new bride whose offspring will be the ruler of the galaxy and whose world is under attack by a monster called The Beast and his evil warriors known as The Slayers. When The Beast has the princess kidnapped, it’s up to the prince to save his bride and the world alongside a rag tag motley crew of warriors. I grew up watching this film and have always been a fan of fantasy films.  While this is not my favorite, it’s a good solid film with likeable characters and a sinister bad guy. I can remember renting this film on VHS from the public library and before that watching the film on HBO. As you long time readers know, I also was the cyclops Rell for Halloween one year and my brother went as The Beast, showing that the film did have an impact on my life. While I know a board game and an Atari 2600 game were made based on this film, I never played them. The film has gained a cult status and my friend Thomas “Maurice” Smith, founder of Beard Team Ohio, is a big fan. So with that let’s take a look at Marvel’s two issue film adaptation of the film.

Krull issue 1

Krull # 1  ***
Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #1 of 2

The world of Krull is under attack as an evil monster known as The Beast and his warriors The Slayers are laying waste to all the kingdoms and turning the whole world into a bloodbath of pain and carnage, traveling around in their spaceship called The Black Fortress. Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa are getting married, and legend says that the two will be the ones to save Krull and that their child will grow up to rule the galaxy.  But the honeymoon is cut short when Slayers attack the castle, kill as many of the men inside they can and kidnap Lyssa who has also captured the loving eye of The Beast. Colwyn awakens to his friends and family dead and his wife missing as Ynyr The Old One comes to his side and speaks of a magical weapon that will be able to kill The Beast once and for all called the Glaive that is hidden in a mountain in running lava! After retrieving it, they start on a quest to find The Black Fortress and pick up characters like Ergo The Magnificent, a goofy magician and Torquil and his ten men all who are convicts that join to get their freedom. They find the blind prophet Emerald Seer and his young apprentice Titch who try and find the location of The Black Fortress but are stopped by the even more powerful magic of The Beast. The group set out for the swamp to get a better grip on the location, all the while a cyclops seems to be following them. Meanwhile Lyssa is trapped in The Beast’s fortress and is being primed to be his mate!

This first issue packs so much action, drama and adventure that it makes you want to turn the page and find out what is in store next for Colwyn, who is a likeable and nobel hero who wants his true love back safe and wants to save his world from the death that awaits it. The comic captures the fantasy of the film, and while the battle scenes are not as epic in the comic, when The Slayers attack it still is just as impactful as it was in the film. The Beast is a mean spirited monster who almost seems to get pure joy out of all the murder and death and gets glee from keeping Lyssa prisoner. Ergo acts as the comic relief in the comic just as he does in the film.  Look at him as a less over the top version of Orko from Masters of the Universe or Snarf of Thundercats as he trips and makes a fool of himself almost at every moment. Torquil and his men seem like second thoughts in this first issue and just seem like they are around for the ride. Ynyr is used like he should be, as the wise old man who wants to set everything right and pretty much is right on to his on screen counterpart. Over all this first issue is a well done movie adaptation with pretty good artwork and an amazing cover that uses the film’s poster. For fans of the film like myself, this is a good read and for those who have not seen the film, this comic could be used as a tool to get them to watch. The only flaw that I see is that the storyline is pretty epic and this makes for lots of dialogue moments to get the story out that could lose some younger readers. Let’s see if the fantasy magic holds up in issue 2. 

Krull issue 2

Krull # 2  ***
Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics   #2 of 2

Colywn and his group are deep in the swamp as Slayers attack, and the cyclops comes to help.  After the fighting he joins the group on the quest, and they find out his name is Rell. Emerald Seer is killed, and his apperance is taken by a shapeshifter who in turn tries to kill Colywn but is stopped by Rell who found the old man’s body in the swamp water. Now the group is lost without a guide to show them where the Dark Fortress is.  Ynyr sacrifices himself to find the answer when he cross paths with the spider lady and her giant spider! Colywn and his men get the answer they need but lose a dear friend in Ynyr, but they continue to the Black Fortress.  Upon entering Colywn and his true love Lyssa are reunited and must use their love to defeat the evil power and grip of The Beast!

The second issue just like the first is a solid film to comic transfer and adds all the action and drama of the film to inked pages. Colywn is a likeable hero who you find yourself cheering for and in my opinion looks less geeky than he does on film.  He has just the right amount of badass in him to make his against the odds quest more believable. Lyssa in the comic and even somewhat in the film is your very helpless princess who adds the classic fairy tale feel to this epic adventure.  While she does very little to help bring down the evil, she’s who the whole quest is truly about. Ynyr The Old One is a great guide to the hero and is truly the comics’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, even dying like a hero like the Jedi Master before him.  In fact, this whole film has many connections to Star Wars! Rell is a nice side character who adds the brute power to the team much like Chewbacca. Torquil is a convict who still has a good heart and is noble like Han Solo. Ergo The Magnificent is like C3PO and is a goofy sidekick who even takes on a friend with Titch, who in the comic adds nothing to the plot. Even The Slayers are very much like Storm Troopers in their mindless attacks and the way they all look the same. The Beast is a kick ass bad guy who should have gotten more panel time and seems as if he truly could take over a planet with his army and magic, and yes he reminds me of a blend of Darth Vader and The Emperor. The Glaive is a silly weapon that mixes knives with a boomrang, but I do give it credit as it’s at least original and gets the death blow started on The Beast. The end battle should have been a little more over the top and had way more tense moments but even the film in my opinion lacked that. The comics’ art work is solid, but this time around the cover is a little lacking and could have been spiced up a bit. Over all this comic did a great job of bringing the big screen to the panel and does justice to the film by not cutting too much of its charm. Over all I would say this is a good comic film adaptation.

Laststar1laststar2laststar3

In 1984 a film hit theaters called The Last Starfighter about Alex Rogan, a young man with dreams to better himself through school or the military.  He works at a trailer park and spends his days with his girlfriend Maggie, fixing issues at the trailer park and playing an arcade game called The Last Starfighter. But his dreams come true when Centauri, an inventor from the galaxy comes to take him away after he gets the highest score in the game’s history and in his place on Earth an android named Beta who looks like him is left to work his everyday life. Alex is flung into a galactic war that leaves he and his alien co-pilot Grig as the last Starfighters and the only hope for mankind. As a kid I remember loving this film and wishing for toys, comics and video games to be made around it.  I did get the video game that came out on the NES, and I did get the comic thanks to Marvel’s 3 issue movie tie in run. But I never did get the action figures. I can remember watching this film on VHS and on cable while playing with Star Wars and G.I. Joe’s acting out my own intergalactic battles. So let’s see if the comic series can hold up to this fun 80’s sci-fi film.

Last Star Issue 1

The Last Starfighter # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #1 of 3

Alex Rogan is a young man with big dreams who can’t seem to get his life in order and get out of the trailer park his mom runs. He has a job working maintenance for the trailers and even has a loving girlfriend Maggie, but his life just seems so boring.  His only real escape is playing a video game called The Last Starfighter in which he has gotten the highest score possible! Late one night Alex meets Centauri, the man who created the game who takes him away to the planet Rylos to join in a war that threatens all worlds and wants him to become a true to life starfighter. Back on Earth, an android named Beta has taken the appearance and life of Alex so that his loved ones would not worry about him. After listening to a meeting for new recruits, Alex decides he wants to go home even after meeting his reptile like co-pilot Grig, but everything stops when a hologram of the sinister Xur leader of the Ko-Dan Armada appears.

This first issue is a great way to introduce you to Alex and his family and girlfriend as they live their everyday lives in the trailer park. It also makes you really root for Alex as all he really wants to do is better his life with a good college education. While the issue leaves him almost spineless as he wants to leave instead help fight the good fight, you can see a true hero in the making. Even in the comic Centauri comes off like a good guy but also has that sleazy used car salesman charm. Maggie comes off as a loving and supportive girlfriend and is the nice counter piece for Alex to really care about. Other than that these are the only three characters to truly stand out, and I look forward to seeing more of Xur and Grig.  The comic follows the movie pretty well and holds onto the kid friendly sci-fi action and adventure appeal that made it a cult classic to this day. The art work is a little weak and in spots looks unfinished, while the cover is pretty good and eye catching for the time. I can’t wait to read issue two and get more into this adventure.

Last Star issue 2

The Last Starfighter # 2  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #2 of 3

Xur’s message is clear, and it’s that anyone who stands in his way of ruling the world is as good as dead.  Alex hears this warning and wants to go back home.  Disappointed, Centauri starts the journey to take him home. After Alex leaves Xdur and his Commander Kril unleash an attack on the starfighter base that kills them all.  While on Earth Centauri gives Alex a communicator if ever he changes his mind and wants to help fight the good fight. Alex returns home and gets the cold shoulder from Maggie and also finds Beta sleeping in his bed.  The two talk about what’s happened in Alex’s life on Earth while he was away.  When Beta is leaving an alien bounty hunter tries to kill Alex, and Centauri comes to the rescue but takes a shot in the process. Alex sees now that he must take a stand and returns with the wounded Centauri to Rylos where he not only sees his guide and now friend dying from his wound but also sees that the whole star fleet has been killed in an attack.  Grig has survived, and the two get aboard a starship to prepare for battle, and that’s just what they do as enemy fighters approach and Alex finds out that he truly is the last starfighter!

This second issue is filled with sneak attacks, death, assassination attempts and finding one’s inner strength. Alex, while still reluctant to be a hero, steps up when he sees that the whole universe needs him to be a hero and stop Xur and his goons from taking over.  While he still speaks of going home even, he knows he must do the right thing. Beta is a cool character who mimics Alex, and Centauri shows that while he might be a con man, he is a great friend and truly a believer in the cause to stop Xur once and for all.  In this issue it appears that he is dying from a gun shot that was meant for Alex. Grig is more fleshed out in this issue and acts not only as a partner but also as a coach as he boosts Alex’s ego and self worth. Xur is a spoiled brat and comes off not so much as an evil mastermind but more of a child who wants a new toy off the shelf when his mom told him no.  That said, he does have the means to take what he wants as he had his men blow up the starfighter base killing almost all of the world’s hope. I like the idea that hitmen are sent to kill Alex because he was at one starfighter meeting, showing that Xur is cold blooded and wants no one to oppose him. The issue’s art work, much like issue one, seems not done in spots and at times Alex looks laughable with the lack of human expression.The cover is pretty good and makes the issue look action packed.  I say this is a pretty good issue that kept me reading and even remembering the parts of the film so let’s get to issue 3!

Last Star Issue 3

The Last Starfighter # 3  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #3 of 3

Alex and Grig are at war in space while Beta is on a date with Maggie when he is attacked by another alien hit man who shoots the robot, and he now must tell Maggie that he is in fact a robot and that they must stop the alien from reporting back that the real Alex is alive.  They do so by crashing a truck into his spaceship. Meanwhile Alex and Grig are one ship against many, and Xur is overthrown by Commander Kril who now is in control and wants to destroy Alex and control the universe. Alex beats the odds and brings down the attacking army and becomes a hero to the whole galaxy.  He returns to Earth to visit his mom and brother and then takes Maggie to space with him so they can live happily ever after.  Oh yeah, Centauri is alive and proud of his friend!

This final issue is fully about the space battle that shows Alex as the hero we all know he can be. Alex is a great character who as the issues go on gains more and more self esteem and shapes up to be a hero much like Luke Skywalker of Star Wars and Prince Colwyn of Krull. Xur, who thinks he holds the power, is shown to be nothing more then a pawn for the war hungry aliens who put up with him until they felt like they had the upper hand. Xur is the perfect spoiled brat character who you’re happy to see betrayed. Grig is a good side character who acts as the character who helps push Alex to his potential though I wish in the comic they would have given him a little more panel time. Commander Kril for most of the 3 issue series is nothing more than a lapdog for Xur, but when he turns on his one time ruler he is also shown to be a madman. Maggie is a good girlfriend character who is loyal to her boyfriend even when he is acting odd. And last Centauri is a perfect wise old man character that is one part conman and one part nice guy. The comic series does a pretty damn good job at making the film come to ink and the only true downfall to the mini series is the fact that the art is below par and not as solid as most Marvel Comics at that time. While some things were changed slightly from film to comic, it still is a good film adaptation that only has its art as it’s negative marks.

Buckaroo 1Buckaroo posterBackaroo 3

In 1984 moviegoers were treated to a fun over the top Sci-Fi adventure film thanks to 20th Century Fox that told the tale of Buckaroo Banzai, a scientist and rock star who along with his band must try and stop an invasion of inter-dimensional alien beings from another planet lead by Lord John Whorfin who has taken over the body of a fellow scientist Dr. Lizardo. The film was a strange and fun film that I remember watching as a kid and even remember parodying the end credits with my brother. We mostly saw this film thanks to HBO and a beta tape that we recorded it on.  While I liked the film, I was never a super fan like friends of mine are like artist Eric Shonborn. The cast was a big plus for me as I was a fan of Peter Weller who plays Buckaroo, John Lithgow who played Lizardo/Whorfin, Christopher Lloyd who played Bigboote and even Jeff Goldblum who played New Jersey at the time. Sadly the film, while a cult classic today, never had toys or board games based around it, but did have a text based game for Adam Computer/DOS and only had this two issue film adaptation as far as comic books go for the longest time. So let’s see how this over the top film transfers to comic ink, shall we?

Backaroo issue 1

Buckaroo Banzai # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #1 of 2

Buckaroo Banzai is performing surgery and rushes to a test site were he takes a super fast car and has it travel through a solid mountain and into the 8th Dimension.  This is a good and bad thing. While the experiment is a success, he also sees the inter-dimension and returns with a goo like substance attached to the car. Dr. Lizardo, who is possessed with the inter-dimensional sprit of Lord John Whorfin, escapes from the asylum when hearing about the test run and wants to open a portal to his world so that his people can take over Earth as we know it. That night Buckaroo Banzai along with his band The Hong Kong Calvalers (Rawhide,Reno,Perfect Tommy, New Jersey and Pinky) are playing at a club, and before they take the stage they find out that the goo is alive.  During the show Buckaroo meets Penny, a woman who captures his eye and his heart.  After she tries to kill herself Banzai befriends the young woman and she goes to the press conference set to speak about the goo and during this event The Black Lectroids, a good race from the 8th Dimension share knowledge about the Red Lectroids and Buckaroo finds that two of the evil are among the press at the event.

This comic has to cram in so much story that it comes off really slow, and while entertaining still lacks the real excitement that one would expect based on the adventures of Buckaroo. Banzai is a man of many talents who is trying to live life to its fullest and is a doctor, scientist, rock star and saver of the masses all rolled into one cool dude. Buckaroo is a prime example of Sci-Fi hero of the 80’s, and by that I mean that he is over done and has that nerd mixed with cool guy attitude.  The Hong Kong Calvalers are given very little to do in this first issue and are mostly used to fill in plot and to be background filler. Lord John Whorfin is bat shit crazy and is a perfect wild eyed bad guy, and the race he rules over The Red Lectroid’s are perfect war hungry, world conquering baddies. Penny kind of gets the short end of the stick as her back story is rushed and not as impactful as it should be. Over all while this is an entertaining comic, the rushed feel of it takes the magic away and makes what could have been a solid movie adaptation into an okay one. The cover is well done and one of the better ones done for this whole review.  The art work is also well done and has that classic early 80’s Marvel look.  So let’s jump into issue 2.

Backaroo issue 2

Buckaroo Banzai # 2  **
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Marvel Comics   #2 of 2

Buckaroo and his band chase the Red Lectroid’s out of the press conference, and they become the target of a battle the leaves them finding a Black Lectroid sent to Earth to help in the fight to save Earth. Along the way Penny finds out she had a twin sister that was once Banzai’s girlfriend and is kidnapped and put into a coma, and a member of the band is killed! This all leads up to a showdown with Lord John Whorfin that has them flying spaceships, leaving the Red Lectroids blown up, Banzai saving the world and his new girlfriend Penny with a kiss.

This second issue is where all the action is at, and while again rushed, this issue is an improvement over the first and delivers more of the story not just the action. Buckaroo in this issue is more of what one would say is a hero and goes around kicking butt and saving lives, Banzai is a good comic book ready character. Lord John Whorfin, while again a good crazy bad guy, just does not seem as much of a threat as he should be  He could have gone back to Sci-Fi bad guy school and learned a little from other villains. The Hong Kong Calvalers again are background guys, but do add to the over all feel of the story and are the perfect background soldiers all with their own personalities. Penny is a good love intrest and when they show she had a sister who she never knew who looked just like her, it makes more sense why Banzai fell so fast for her. The cover on this issue is a little lame.  While eye catching, it’s not nearly as cool as issue one’s, and the art is the same good solid work it was before and seeing the comic version of Peter Weller (Buckaroo Banzai) is pretty cool. I would say fans of the film might feel a little cheated by these two issues, but I am sure they would get some enjoyment out of them as well.

So now I would like to take this time to have a fantasy warfare between all the films’ bad guys.  So it will be Krull’s The Beast going up against Last Star Fighter’s Xur and Buckaroo Banzai’s Lord John Whorfin.  They will be doing battle in Yellow Springs Ohio on a Sunday afternoon. So let’s get ready to watch a rumble of 80’s baddies who all want to take over our world!

The BeastVSXURVSWhorfin

It’s a sunny day in Yellow Springs, and the street musicians are in full swing as Tom’s Market and Dark Star Comics are packed with customers as is Dino’s Coffee Shop where would-be ruler Xur sits sipping his Carmel Pumpkin Latte and mumbling to all who will listen about being so close to ruling the Galaxy and almost killing the last starfighter, when he is interrupted by a voice proclaiming that nobody cares about his failures.  This voice belongs to Lord John Whorfin who is gulping down his Frozen Hot Chocolate. Xur takes offense and walks over and slaps Whorfin across his face and challenges him to a duel outside the Whorfin gladly accepts. The two go outside spewing hateful remarks to each other, and as they set the rules for the duel the ground starts to shake and crack as the Black Fortress appears in the middle of town next to Ha Ha Pizza and The Beast comes walking out as everyone looks on with horror the two feuding baddies get upset that this volcano headed monster stole their spotlight and decide that they will start a fight with him and show the people who are the ones they should fear. The Beast makes his way toward Ha Ha Pizza, after choosing to eat there over Sub Way across the street, as Xur and Whorfin quickly stand in front of the door and try to intimidate him.  This don’t work as quickly The Beast grabs the head of Xur and crushes it with his bare hands and makes ground beef of it as Whorfin lands a left hook to The Beast’s jaw that don’t phase the monster who then in turn uppercuts Whorfin so hard he flies through the air and lands in John Bryon Park and the impact snaps his neck like a twig. The people of the town cheer as The Beast is handed his large sausage pizza and walks back to the Black Fortress which disappears to end yet another day in Yellow Springs.

Winner – The Beast

Hands down, this would be an easy win for The Beast who would truly make short work of Xur and Whorfin combined, while the latter would at least put up a better fight. So after reading all three films comic adaptations, it’s time for me to pick the one I think should have gotten a full comic series from Marvel that would have moved past just the film and into its own epic adventure much like they did with Star Wars and Star Trek. While I truly think all three would have made amazing comic series and all three have so much more adventures to be had for the hero, I was really torn between Krull and The Last Starfighter.  After days of thinking about it, I have chosen Krull because like Conan, Red Sonja and Kull, the film opens itself to be made into one hell of a good action series and many more bad guys could be made to try and take over the kingdom.

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So while the clean up crews here at the Marvel Theater clear the floors of dropped popcorn and spilled soda and the last Screening of Buckaroo Banzai is letting out, I am going to stay seated for awhile, soak in all the epic comics I just read and give you readers the low down on what the next update will be all about: getting back on track and taking a look at IDW’s IT! Terror From Beyond Space.  So until then, read a comic, watch a movie/TV or play a video game and stay nerdy.

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DC’s Second Greatest Detective

Hey gang! This update is going to be a smaller one, and I am going to take a look at DC Comics’ run of Sherlock Holmes that started in 1975 and lasted one whole issue.  Yeah, believe it or not the series sadly lasted one issue, making me wonder if DC only had room for one master detective spot, and Batman was their choice. But more than likely, it was a rights issue or just very poor sales for issue one that kept this from becoming an ongoing series like planned. But before we go to the comic review, let’s talk a little about Sherlock Holmes and his impact on culture.  So we have to start at the beginning with the stories for books (4 total) and magazines short stories (56 official). In 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a fictitious detective by the name of Sherlock Holmes for Beeton’s Christmas Annual for the short “A Study in Scarlett,” and the story was so popular that he was asked to write more stories based around this character.  He did so with glee until he grew sick of the character and wanted to move on, but the fans and publishers wouldn’t allow him so he continued unwillingly, even at one point killing off Holmes in the short story “The Adventure Of The Final Problem,” only to bring him back by fan request. But even after the books and short stories, Sherlock Holmes would gain even more fans with films and shows!

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The first Sherlock Holmes movie was made in 1916 and stared William Gillette as Holmes and Edward Fielding as Watson.  Many more would follow in the 20’s and had such actors as John Barrymore, Clive Brook and Eille Norwood playing Holmes. But Holmes’ true movie break started in 1939 when actor Basil Rathbone stepped into the role as the great detective for 20th Century Fox and made “The Hounds Of Baskerville” and “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”  Both films were hits at the time, and from there Universal picked up the series and made a total of 12 films that included “Dressed To Kill”, “The Spider Woman”, “Terror By Night” and “Sherlock Holmes and The Voice of Terror”. Sadly in 1946 the Rathbone era of films ended, and many other films based around Holmes would pop up that included Hammer Horror’s “Hound of Baskerville” starring Peter Cushing as Holmes in 1959.  “The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes” had Robert Stephens in the roll and had him searching for the Loch Ness Monster in 1970.  Nicholas Rowe played a teenage Sherlock Holmes in 1985’s “Young Sherlock Holmes”, and most recently Robert Downey Jr. played Holmes in 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes” and then again in 2011 in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows”, and these are only a few films that were made about the iconic character.

DVD CoverYoung_sherlock_holmessherlock-holmes-movie1

Sherlock Holmes has also been a TV draw and has had numerous live action shows and even cartoons. Most of these series are on England’s BBC, who brought us other great shows like The Young Ones, Monty Pythons Flying Circus, Dr. Who, The Mighty Boosh and horror host show Dr. Terror Presents to name a few. The most recent BBC Holmes inspired show is called simply “Sherlock” and started in 2010 and is on its third season that starts in 2013. In September 2012, CBS began a new show called “Elementary” where the Holmes legend is set in modern times, and one time Charlie Angel Lucy Liu plays Watson. Not to mention in 1999 on Fox Kids, the animated show “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century” aired for two seasons. Showing that Holmes is not only a box office hit but also a boob tube hit! 

AnimatedBBC SherlockElementary-TVseries

Not only has Sherlock Holmes conquered books, movies and TV, he has also stepped into the world of video games and has made a nice little mark in that digital entertainment. While there are way too many to talk about, Holmes has had games on so many systems that include Commodore 64, PC, Sega CD, Turbografx 16, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360 and PS3. While some are text based adventures and point and click games, others have you fighting Jack The Ripper and clearing your name of murder. The newest Holmes game out via Atlus for PS3 and 360 is called “The Testament of Sherlock Holmes” and has been meet with some good reviews. Who knows what future systems await a Holmes game and only time will tell when he will pop up next on our home consoles to solve a crime or two.

Sherlock_Holmes Sega CDSherlock vs The Ripper PCSherlock PS3

But wait, Holmes has also been made into a comic book hero many times from different companies like Dell, Classics Illustrated, Dynamite, IDW, Blue Water, Moonstone and so many more.  While none of his comic series had a full long run lasting more then 23 issues, he still remains a draw and has had comics based on him as late as 2012 from Blue Water comics in a series called “Sherlock Holmes Victorian Knights” that as of now is still running and with its fourth issue out soon. While he has not become a top seller in comics, Holmes remains a popular character and even has teamed up with Batman once!

classicsDELLsherlock Bluewater

One other thing I should talk about is the 1986 film “The Great Mouse Detective” by Disney that had a detective mouse named Basil, who also happens to live on Baker Street (in the same house as Sherlock Holmes) and takes the case of trying to find a missing little mouse girl who has been kidnapped by a bat.  The cool thing about this film is when you hear Sherlock Holmes speak in the film, it’s actor Basil Rathbone’s voice that was taken from his classic Holmes films.  Not to mention horror film icon Vincent Price voiced the film’s lead bad guy.  This film, like everything else animated Disney touches, was a hit and sparked all types of merchandise from stuffed dolls to a video game.  Growing up I found this film a fun little throwback that had a simple plot and a very likeable lead character.  If you have not seen it check it out for sure. 

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Before we get into the review, there are a few other things I would like to talk about.  The first is the closing of Hostess, the company who gave us not only Wonder Bread but also Twinkies, Ding Dongs and HoHo’s.  Wonder Bread began making bread in 1921 and became a favorite of kids as they used the likes of Howdy Doody and other TV stars to promote the surgery white bread. But the company was mostly known for their snack cakes made popular by mascots like Twinkie The Kid and others like Fruit Pie The Magician, Captain Cupcake, King Ding Dong, Happy Ho Ho, Chief Big Wheels and Chauncey Choco-dile. It was a sad day when 2012 marked the end of a company that made its mark so deeply in American culture, and not to mention the fact that thousands of people are now out of work as the planets are all now closed. Times had been hard on the company, who mismanaged money and could not keep up with the health food trend that is sweeping America, and when workers went on strike over pay decreases this was the final nail in the coffin of the struggling company. I know someone will come in and buy the brands from Hostess, but it just won’t be the same, R.I.P. Twinkie The Kid and company, you and your sweet snack cakes will be missed. 

Hostess Icons

I do have a funny story about a Hostess product aimed at people my age when we were kids: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pies, a crispy pie crust with a very sugary pudding center and green icing on the crust.  Sounds great right..right? They were terrible, but I found myself asking for them at grocery store Big Bear because they gave away stickers inside the package and I had to collect them all.  So I would get my mom to buy me one, and I would force myself to eat this terrible snack enjoying the crust more than the terrible pudding death that waited for me inside. At some point I know I came close to getting that sticker set and packed away many of the Turtle Pies.  So I feel good that I did my part back then to help Hostess stay alive. I know many people did enjoy the Turtle Pies, but I for one was not a fan…but as I said I did sill eat them.

turtle pudding pies

Another cool thing about Wonder Bread was the free giveaways and mailaways.  You could get cards from football stars to DC comic heros to even Warner Brothers cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny. One of the best things they ever offered was Wun-Dar, a brown haired version of He-Man for the Masters of the Universe toy line, who was a mail away and has become one of the most collected figures in the line.  Not to mention that he is so popular that Mattel made an updated version of the character for their order direct Masters Toy Line. Companies just don’t do these kind of cool promotions anymore leaving this generation of kids having to do with out the excitement of the “giveaway”  But then again, kids in this day and age are glued to their over priced Apple products so I am sure a free toy is nothing to them.  Man, I just sounded like a grumpy old man!

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It’s funny like everything that disappears, Twinkies have now become a collectors’ item as people have snatched up stores’ stock to sell them high on Ebay and Amazon.  Only in America would some one pay $80.00 for three boxes of Twinkies online. But enough of this depressing stuff of people loosing their jobs, the death of Twinkie The Kid and friends, nasty pudding turtle pies and the lack of giveaways. Let’s just look at this blonde girl eating a twinkie, a hottie and sexy singer Katy Perry eating ice cream.

Twinkie The BlondeSnack Food QueenKATY-PERRY

Two updates ago, I told you about the first no budget movie that I was apart of with Fairmont Productions called Teen Suicide and its sequel Suicide 2.  While we were wrapping up Suicide 2, I began working on another project with my brother called “Twisted Batman Theatre” and Brass Bros was open for business.  My older brother Bryan was in college at the time, and I was just a year fresh out of High School in 1999.  He was taking a Shakespeare class at Sinclair Community College, and for one of his projects he decided to make a video.  So he wrote this script that combined the 1960’s Batman TV show starring Adam West with the works of Shakespeare and had the idea to make the film stop motion by using his Super Powers Batman and Robin and would add Billy Dee Williams as the guest detective (a Star Wars Power of The Force Lando Figure).  The team would have to solve the cases of Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth. The script was funny and filled with pop culture references, Shakespeare quotes and one liners, and my brother also took the time to make sets for the figures that almost looked like early silent German horror films meets Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. He borrowed our grandparents’ VHS camcorder and hired me as the camera man and to do a few of the voices needed.  We set up the “sets” in the basement and began the long process of making the film. How we pulled off the stop motion was we would hit pause while recording and move the figure where we wanted and then un-pause it, and we would do this as quick as possible all the while he would be doing the voice overs as we filmed.  This process made tempers fly, and I can’t count how many times I quit or got fired from this production, only to come back for more.  Even though it was a pain, I still enjoyed working on this film a lot.  Not only did I get to make another film but I got to help my brother make his vision come to life. The filming took a few days and many hours to complete, my brother hand wrote all the credits, did his best INXS Mediate video impersonation and then edited the film on two VCR’s. The best thing about the film was he also used many of the Batman rogues like the Super Power figures of The Joker and Penguin, the Toy Biz versions of The Riddler and Mr. Freeze, The Batman Returns Catwoman and The Animated Series Bane and gave them a plan that was lifted from an old Cracked Magazine. I had a blast on this film and got to voice Paul Stanley of Kiss (Kiss was used to portray the Witches from Macbeth) and do the laugh for The Joker, and would do it again in a heartbeat. 

Twisted Batman DVD

Twisted Batman Theatre played to his class, got a great response and earned him a good grade for the project. It did so well that he was asked if they could show it on monitors in Sinclair’s then soon to be reopened media department.  Bryan of course okay’d it but was never sure if they played it. After that the film sat and collected dust for a short time until we decided to open Independent B Movie, and Twisted Batman was snatched up by us and was released on VHS at conventions we attended.  It sold pretty well to people who remembered and loved Kenner’s Super Powers toy line and not to mention to Batman fans. Years later the film had a very short DVD run, but was recalled when the disc was found to have a flaw in one of the extras. Brass Bros was going to work on a sequel to Twisted Batman in the early 2000’s but it never came about.  I had even planned sequel I was going to direct in 2007, but that never came about either. Bryan would go on to make a short film called Nightmare (that we will talk about shortly) and then had a film he started called “The Kenny Rogers Project” in which he mixed horror and humor into a film about Country Music Star Kenny Rogers alongside George W. Bush and rocker Ted Nugent who were killing people and making people sick with roasted chicken. The film had many faces in it that would become main stay actors for years to come including Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Garrison Kane and Jason Gilmore, but sadly was canceled midway through filming. Bryan would also try his hand at making a public access show years later with “Josh Vs.” a show that had my friend Josh Weinberg challenging celebs at horror convention to dumb contests like arm wrestling and push-ups. He filmed one episode where Josh had a staring contest against Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses), but lost faith in the project after the first episode footage went “missing,” and David Hess of Last House on The Left let him down on episode two. While it’s quiet now who knows what lies in the future for Brass Bro.’s Studio. 

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Sometime in late 2001/ early 2002 my brother took a class at Sinclair alongside Josh Weinberg that was being taught by local filmmaker Andy Copp, and one of the class projects was to make a short film.  He made another mostly stop motion film called “Nightmare” that followed an old man on his deathbed that sees visions of a bloody eyed baby doll, a ventriloquist dummy with a cracked face, a hooded masked wearing demon, death himself and a woman who holds a heart. The film was shot in my bedroom at the time, and while I did some camera my brother shot this one mostly himself.  In fact, the only live person in the film was a girl named Carley Owens who was in Bryan’s class and worked at Blockbuster Video down the road from the one I worked at. A scene was shot and never used in which I played the hooded demon who jumped up from his rocking chair and pointed a gun at the old man’s head.  Sadly that footage is lost forever. Like Twisted Batman Theatre, Nightmare found a home with Independent B Movie and was released on VHS and sold fairly well. The short film was also a extra on the short printed Twisted Batman DVD. 

Nightmare VHS

But now onto the DC comic of Sherlock Holmes! Remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. This review was made possible by Mavericks Cards and Comics.

Sherlock Holmes 1

Sherlock Holmes   ***1/2

Released in 1975    Cover Price .25    DC Comics   #1 of 1

Sherlock Holmes has been targeted and escapes an attempt to snuff out if life as he walks down the road.  Even at home on Barker Street another chap makes an attempt at ending his snooping ways. So he and Watson decide to get out of the country for awhile to avoid the murder attempts so they head to a snowy mountain region, and while on a snow covered mountain the man behind the attempts shows his face.  Both he and Holmes struggle atop the mountain, and both are believed to have fallen to their deaths during the struggle. Holmes knew his attacker would be there and even sends Watson away on a task before the fight. Watson returns home, and a man is gunned down in the streets with a firearm that makes no sound.  As he is looking into the murder, he is visited by a homeless man who turns out to be Sherlock Holmes alive and well and looking to help crack this case of the silent gun murder.  Once more using his brain, he is able to set the killer up using a stuffed doll of himself showing why he is considered one of the best detectives in the world. So I am sure you’re wondering he survived the fall.  To that I will say, I don’t want to spoil it all for you.

This could be one of the best Sherlock Holmes comics I have ever read and follows the classic story well, adding just a little more spice to make it appeal to fans of Batman, Dick Tracy and other hip detectives. Sherlock Holmes has only the slightest trace of the cocky attitude that he has in most of the books, making him more likeable. The chemistry that he has with Watson in this issue is top notch and again goes back to the way Batman and Robin interact and even the way Dick Tracy and Sam Catchem work together. The art style is really good and has the DC of the 70’s look. It’s strange to start your first issue off with what looks like the death of the title character, but it also works really well as it hypes you up to see just how you will survive his fall. This issue also delivers on his return, and it’s great to see the master detective dressed as a homeless man to set up a assassin who is trying to kill him if he in fact did not die in the attack. The art is top notch DC work, and the cover is eye catching and very cool  It’s a shame this is the only issue in this series as I really would have looked forward to reading them for this blog. Also, below this is a cool picture of Batman and Sherlock Holmes showing both of DC’s greatest detectives.

Holmes and Batman

The City of Chicago needed a master detective on November 22nd 1987 during a Dr. Who marathon when the broadcast signal of PBS Channel 11 was highjacked by a strange man in a Max Headroom mask.  The pirate broadcast sound was muffled as the man yelled, groaned and said all types of odd things from new Coke slogans to even humming the theme from the cartoon Clutch Cargo. The broadcast ended with his bare ass bent over with the rubber mask to the side of the camera as a person smacked him with a flyswatter. The broadcast only lasted a total of 90 seconds before the signal was cut by the pirate. This was really his second attempt at this as earlier in the night he made a small broadcast during the news on WGN Channel 9. To this day no one has been able to identify who this man was and why he did what he did.  I for one enjoyed his odd antics that I was able to see thanks to my brother Bryan and our friend Andy Copp, who had the incident on a VHS tape. The Max Headroom Pirate has never stuck again, and no one is sure if he ever will, but one thing is for sure he is still out there waiting and watching the airwaves of Chicago. I am sure that if Sherlock Holmes was a real person, he would have found out who this broadcast pirate was.

pirate

Speaking of pirate broadcasts, the other famous one happened a year before in 1986 when a man named John MacDougall going by the code named Captain Midnight was upset by the treatment satellite dish owners were getting from movie channels like HBO who were charging fees to watch.  So he hacked into their feed and placed a simple text message that ran for about 4 1/2 minutes that said “Good evening HBO From Captain Midnight $12.95/Month? No Way! [Showtime/Movie Channel Beware!].”  His message was clear, and he wanted HBO to see that the fees just were not right. But unlike the Max Headroom Pirate John was caught and forced to pay a high fine and be on a year of probation. Captain Midnight

In 1977, the United Kingdom also had a strange pirate broadcast that only affected the audio of a TV Station from an “Alien” named Vrillon who said he was a representative for the Ashtar Galactic Command and wanted to tell us Earth people that we need to get rid of our evil weapons and to live in peace and be ready for our evolution as a race. The message went on for about four minutes before he left our world. Many think this was a hoax, and the British government passed it off as one but those who heard the distorted voice think it might of really been a message from an alien from beyond the stars. Much like Max Headroom this pirate never was caught. Below is an image of what Vrillon is thought to look like.

Vrillon

Wow, this update took us from Sherlock Holmes to Hostess closing to Twisted Batman and ended with pirate broadcasts! My next update is something I spoke about in my look at the AniMax issues from Star Comics, and that’s a list of my top 10 Cartoons, Toy Lines, TV Shows or Celebrities that should have been made into a comic for Star, if they would have lasted that long and or could have nabbed the rights to do so. I will also be joined by some guests who will share their top 5, so until then, stay young at heart my friends. 

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