The Red Devil Of Dinosaur Valley…

Welcome back to my own little slice of the internet, a place that I can sit back and be one with the memories of the past as well as those of present day and even the future. So the day I am writing this is March 16th 2014, the day before St. Patrick’s Day.  While out and about with my gal pal Juliet, we stopped at an antique mall called Peddler’s Mall in Lebanon.  You see, we love looking at old stuff from vintage toys, character glasses, metal lunch boxes, classic board games, comics and all types of other random stuff.  This place had it all, but this place was also something more to me as it’s located on the site of the old Big Bear & Hearts that I grew up going to, the same place that I got many of my toys, comics, magazines and music from as a kid. Big Bear is now split into two sides with the side that was Hearts being the Antique Mall, and the Big Bear side sitting empty with paper covering the windows and doors. When walking back into it that building, a surge of nostalgia hit me like a train as I took in the memories of Hearts and a younger me and my brother rushing to the toy aisles. I also was swept up with the vintage Charlie’s Angels trading cards, a Happy Days lunch box and Elvis Presley figures. This Antique Mall was pretty cool as many vendors inside had classic toys, even some really cool Universal Monster dolls of Son of Dracula and Invisible Man that were cheaply priced at $15.00 a piece, not to mention a basket of Kenner Super Powers with such heroes as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Arrow all priced at $10.00! They also had many great vintage character drinking glasses from Looney Tunes all the way to E.T.  They had them all priced pretty well! They even had a Pepsi “Moon” DC Glass of Robin The Boy Wonder for $14.00, and it’s amazing because the glass looked brand new! They had many great lunch boxes as well.  Besides Happy Days, they had Lone Ranger, Super Friends, Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers, Six Million Dollar Man and Buck Rogers, all priced pretty well with a few being slightly over priced for the condition they were in. The place was also packed with not only customers but also books, cloths, vinyl and baseball collectibles making the trip there a very fun one. I will admit the moment I stepped in the location that was the toy department of Hearts, I felt a sense of missing them and wishing they were still around so some day when/if I ever have kids, I could have taken them there and got them whatever they liked from the toys.  But sadly we can’t live in the past or even in the world of Marvel’s What If? And I just need to be glad something moved into the building that was empty for way too long. I will also say that the customers were all polite, and the staff of Peddler’s Mall were all nice, making the trip a good one. So I am sure you’re wondering what we bought, right? Well let me tell: you we got an Officer Big Mac glass for $3.00 and a metal Muppet Movie lunch box minus the thermos for $15.00.  So not too bad of a haul….kind of wished I would have bought the Son of Dracula Doll though.

Stuff From Mall

But while speaking of the past, I want to say that when I was a kid, like many kids of my time and before and after me, I really liked dinosaurs.  They just seemed like real life monsters that roamed our world that were all killed off by something unknown. I mean scientist have many theories on why they all died, but let’s be honest, they have no clue.  While science is cool and very helpful, some things they come up with seem as if they are pulled out of thin air. Growing up I played with rubber dinosaurs and even small plastic ones and always enjoyed going to museums and seeing their bones and watching any TV program about them. In fact some of the more fun times in school were spent learning about dinosaurs that sadly seemed to be taught way too fast. It’s really not shocking that the youth of the 80’s and 90’s grew up loving dinosaurs as we were treated to Godzilla films on TV, movies like Land Before Time, Baby and Jurassic Park as well as cartoons like Denver The Last Dinosaur and Dino Riders and a hell of a lot of toys! So with this update we are going to take a look at a dinosaur that was created by comic legend Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics, and we are talking the one and only DEVIL DINOSAUR!

T-RexTriceratopsraptor

When someone mentions an icon of comic books names like Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Bob Kane, many others come to mind but one that is always at the top of the list is artist and creator Jack Kirby who is known around the world for being the creator/co-creator of such characters like Captain America, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Thor, Doctor Doom, Magneto, The Demon, Darkseid and so many more for Marvel, DC and even other comic companies. Jack Kirby, who’s real name is Jacob Kurtzberg, was born on August 28th 1917 in New York to a poor family where he grew up drawing and tracing comic characters from newspapers and books. In the 1930’s and under many different pen names he worked in the comics industry, but in 1940 alongside friend and co-worker Joe Simon for Timely Comics, they created Captain America! Captain America was a huge hit and was a very popular character for kids to read. In the 40’s Kirby and Simon teamed up to make many different characters, but they had to take time off when Kirby went to fight in World War II. When returning from war, he went on to work for DC, Harvey and a few others before working for Marvel Comics in 1960’s and with Stan Lee they created some of the company’s top heroes like Hulk, X-Men and Fantastic Four.  While he was considered one of the company’s top artists, he felt they mistreated him, and he decided to quit and work for rival DC in 1971 where he created many iconic characters such as Darkseid, Mister Miracle, Omac and The New Gods. But while there he felt that he and DC had different ideas and after being put on comics he did not care for and finding out that they were redrawing Superman’s face in issues of “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen,” he felt it was time for him to leave in 1975. Kirby returned to Marvel in 1976 and during this time he worked on Captain America and created such characters as Devil Dinosaur, Machine Man and The Eternals.  But his time back at Marvel was cut short as in 1978 he quit again, this time over employee benefits or should I say the lack thereof. For about a year Kirby worked on animation designs for cartoons like Thundarr The Barbarian, Turbo Teen and Fantastic Four. During this time he also worked on a comic strip for Disney based on their film The Black Hole. In 1980 he returned to comics working for smaller companies like Pacific and Topps and never really making the impact he had back in his prime.  While characters like Captain Victory and Bombast were cool, they lacked the punch his creations for Marvel and DC packed. Sadly in 1994 Jack Kirby passed away from heart failure at the age of 76, and this was a major loss for the world of comics as Kirby is one of the best in the biz and has influenced so many artist around the world including my friend Jason Young who runs Buyer Beware Comics. This update is dedicated to Jack Kirby, a true legend in comics! Oh and in the first picture of a young Jack, doesn’t he look like a mafia hitman?!

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I felt the need to share some of the great art of Jack Kirby so that you readers who may not be familiar with his style can get a good look at what he brought to the comic table. Kirby’s style was that of his alone and over the years many artists have tried to copy it and none look as good as his. I am sure most modern comic readers who were born in the late 90’s or after would find his style dated and blocky (yes I have heard younger comic fans use these terms to describe his artwork), but to me nothing can beat the art used in comics from the 60’s-80’s.  To me that was when comics truly were comics.

Kirby Captain AmericaKirby Silver SurferKirby Darkseid

Dinosaur World is a place were time has been forgotten and dinosaurs still roam the lands and even early man is around to provide a source of food for the great beasts. This world is not of our Earth’s past but more of an alternate planet that coexists with ours. In the world is also a volcano that acts as a symbol of power and fear as man and dino know that its red lava means death for those it touches. Devil Dinosaur a red t-rex with not only power but a mind is the ruler of this planet and his own will to keep order is what makes him stay at the top of the food chain. What really sets Devil apart for his fellow Dinosaurs is that fact he seems to have a brain that allows him to strategize and feel emotions. Devil Dinosaur was born from the fire of a tribes mans torch and as a baby watched as his mother and siblings were murdered in cruel ways, and with out the help of a young man named Moon-Boy he would have died as well. The fire from the torch that burnt him left his skin bright red and this giving him the name Devil Dinosaur. As Devil grew older be became respected and feared and along with his “brother” Moon-Boy they run Dinosaur World with a tiny iron fist. So really I just wanted to write real quick a little bio on Devil Dinosaur so you the reader could maybe have a slight connection to the character as you read my reviews of his issues.

Devil Dinosaur

As young kids my brother and I always loved to read and collect comic books, we were lucky to have parents who didn’t mind buying us issues off the News Stand and Garage Sales as well as getting us subscriptions sent to our house. While my parents would buy us both comics for some reason my Grandma would go out and buy tons of comics and give them to my brother and my younger cousin and none for me….I can remember being really upset about this and even asked once why I didn’t get any and she said I was to young and wouldn’t take care of them, but what even boggled my young mind was the fact she would give them to my cousin who is like three years younger than me! In one of the stacks of comics given to my brother from my Grandmother was a copy of Devil Dinosaur and I can remember reading it and being very bored and not impressed with it back then and over time while I was still young I read a few more issues and was very lukewarm on how I felt about the characters and the story. So now being older and more mature (yeah I know) I really cant wait to read this series and see how it holds up now, so are you readers ready to travel to Dinosaur World and hang out with Devil and Moon-Boy as they travel around and get into all kinds of adventures? Well I know I am, but before we do I need to remind everyone I grade these comics 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. Also want to think my friend Geoff Burkman and Bell, Book And Comic for getting me these issues for this review.

Devil Dinosaur 1

Devil Dinosaur # 1  ***
Released in 1978    Cover Price .35     Marvel Comics     #1 of 9

Devil Dinosaur is in a battle with Thunder Horn, they are fighting to the death over ruling the Valley Of Flame. As the two massive dinosaurs are doing battle Moon-Boy sits and watches and cheers on his big red friend, as victory comes his way and the two head off into the on coming night. As Moon-Boy sits on top of Devil Dinosaur he remembers back on how they became “brothers”.  Some years back when Devil was a baby his mother and siblings were killed by a race called The Killer-Folk, Moon-Boy came to his rescue and the two have been best friend sense. But as they sleep this night The Killer-Folk also still remember the Red Devil and set a trap for him that will have him fall off a cliff onto spikes and equal his death! Will Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur fall to their sharp pointed end? Or will they figure out the trap and ride the land of the Killer-Folk for good? We will have to see what happens in Issue 2.

Devil Dinosaur in 1978 was that odd cross between very old school Cavemen themed books as well as the Horror Comic boom that Marvel was having at the time. This first issue acts as a quick way to show why a young cave boy is best friends with a very large and red skinned T-Rex and repairs us for the world that is known as Valley of Flame that all centers around a volcano. Moon-Boy in the first issue seems to really have pride in his friend and almost also seems to enjoy the power that comes with it’s friendship. Odd thing also is that is seems Devil understands what Moon-Boy is telling him making one wonder which is the smarter one of the two. Devil Dinosaur is all business and seems to really understand right from wrong and rules the land with an iron fist, and seems not to mind to kill to keep said peace. The artwork is great Kirby stuff and helps add a touch of comic class to the issue. While in my youth I would say that I would have found this issue boring like I did the ones we did own, over the years and rereading this one I find it to be a solid comic with a great potential of a storyline, so lets see how the other issues hold up and lets see if this will remain a good short run comic series.

Devil Dinosaur 2

Devil Dinosaur # 2   ***
Released in 1978   Cover Price .35    Marvel Comics    #2 of 9

Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur have out smarted the Killer-Folk and have gotten past their pit of spikes, but what they don’t get past is the giant rocks that fall from the sky onto them. Devil is buried under tons of rocks as Moon-Boy is taken from the rubble and is to be sacrificed to Long Legs a giant spider that lives in the mountain. Devil who is thought to be crushed to death is indeed alive and after escaping from the rocks he has to make a quick fight of another dinosaur who was looking to eat him while he was pinned down. Moon-Boy is tied up and as Long Legs comes to eat him Devil Appears and sets fire to all the grass around The Killer-Folk and Long Legs, he then saves his friend and together the squash the leader of the Killer-Folk and flee the flames. In the end Long Legs kills the remaining Killer-Folk who had to hide in his cave from the smoke and flames and some one big watches as Devil and Moon-Boy walk the path to find a place to rest.

One thing that people have learned from this issue I am sure is not to mess with Devil Dinosaur, cause he will squash you like a bug, set the ground around you on fire and pay no attention to your screams of pain. The issue also really shows the bound that is between it and Moon-Boy as he force himself into the heart of a fight even though he is injured to save his only true friend from being eaten by a spider. Moon-Boy is not given much to do in this issue as he knocked out and tied up for most the issue, though the part he is playing is very important to the over all scheme of the issue. The Killer-Folk look as if they have been wiped out and this makes me wonder if they are all truly dead or if they will return for revenge soon. As for Long Legs he reminds me of the Godzilla Kaiju Kumonga who as well is a giant spider. Over all issue two offers lots of suspense and action and with the element of Moon-Boys possible death it was a page turner and I am sure had comic readers of 78 on the edge of their seats. Kriby’s art and story telling as he also wrote many of these issues shows you that this comic legend really knew is craft and made people care about a hairy cave boy and his red dino friend.  With the tease of someone called Giant aiming for Devil at the end of this issue we should not waste any more time and we should see just who Giant is and what’s his plan to bring down the King of Valley of Flames.

Devil Dinosaur 3

Devil Dinosaur # 3   ***
Released in 1978    Cover Price .35     Marvel Comics     #3 of 9

While Devil and Moon-Boy are resting something is scaring and killing other dinosaurs in the jungle and for this Devil cant let what ever it is get away with it so he sets out to find what’s causing all this destruction and while tracking he his hit with a rock and taken off his feet! The next morning Moon-Boy who thinks he seen something the night before returns to the spot and finds that a Giant of a man wearing a triceratops head as a helmet is the one causing all the issue and he wants what’s his and that’s a missing youngster of his race of giants, and to make it worse the another captures Moon-Boy and tries to make him his pet as Devil who is really mad does battle with the other that leaves the giant sinking into a tar bog. Moon-Boy escapes the younger giant and puts two and two together and asks Devil to save the Giant and a respect is built between the Giant and Devil.

This issue has Devil Dinosaur meeting his match and at first it looks as if he could loose the fight, if not for his smarts and using the bog around him is it he is able to beat Giant.  Giant is a rampaging brute who kills a ton of Dinosaurs before he is stopped. All his rage and destruction is all over finding a younger Giant who is kind of a brat who likes to torment things smaller than him like Moon-Boy. Speaking of Moon-Boy he as well uses his brain and out smarts his Giant showing that much like Devil he is quick minded when faced with over the top odds. I like the fact that Devil Dinosaur also seems to look after his fellow kind when they are being bullied by some wicked foe, it almost reminds me of Godzilla ruling Monster Island and King Kong ruling over Skull Island. Fun plot that’s well written and well drawn once more by Kirby wraps up this fun third issue, with this staying at a solid three star pace I am pretty hyped to move onto issue 4.

Devil Dinosaur 4

Devil Dinosaur # 4   ***
Released in 1978    Cover Price .35     Marvel Comics     #4 of 9

Moon-Boy is being plagued by nightmares of terrors falling from the sky and eating up everything living in The Valley Of Flames. When he awakens from his nightmare something does fall from the sky and when he and Devil go to investigate they are attacked by Giant Robot Aliens who are there to study the planets creatures and destroy anything and everything. The fight leaves Devil knocked out and Moon-Boy once more a captive of the aliens, but when Devil comes to he makes friends with a pair of Hill-Folk lead by White-Hair and his young friend Stone-Hand and together they save Thunder Horn and kill one of the alien robots. The new team goes to the robots base and see that they not only have Moon-Boy captive but also tons of Dinosaurs and Hill-Folk! In the end Devil has a plan to use The Tower of Death as a way to fight them! What is this plan well we have to read the next issue to find out!

This issue has a prehistoric mixed with cheesy sci-fi feel and touch to it, making it really enjoyable and a really cool read. Devil Dinosaur like in last issue has come face to face again with enemies that can hurt him and possibly kill him in the Robot Aliens. And much like in the last issue Devil uses his brain to find ways to survive the attack after he gets a beat down for being to cocky and thinking his strength can always get him out of trouble. With Devil it always seems to take him getting smacked once or twice before he decides to not charm in to a battle with ego alone. Moon-Boy while the voice of reason to Devil as of late seems to always find himself being held captive by the enemy, making one wonder if Devil at this point is getting a little annoyed with his friend. I am really starting to wonder also if the Hill-Folk are also the Killer-Folk as they speak of Devil at first as if he is an enemy, but none the less I like the fact they must team up with him in order to survive this invasion. The Robot Aliens take no crap and stomp dinosaurs and blast cave people left and right. Kirby’s Story and Art are well done and the only real down side to the issue is that it kind of has the same formula as issue 3 with Moon-Boy being captured and Devil facing a strong foe, but even that little flaw don’t keep the issue form being a good fun read. So I am not sure about you, but I know I am ready for issue 5 and to find out how Devil and White-Hair are going to stop the Alien take over, so lets not wait any longer!

Devil Dinosaur 5

Devil Dinosaur # 5   ***
Released in 1978   Cover Price .35    Marvel Comics    #5 of 9

Devil Dinosaur along with his new allies White-Hair and Stone-Hand watch the Alien Robots and try to figure out a plan of attack, and while they watch they are attacked by two of them who were sent out to kill them! Devil tricks both and by doing so he leads them both to their deaths, but he also leads himself and his friends into a very bad place as giant ants want to eat them alive! While fleeing from the ants more Robot Aliens come into the fight and are eaten by the ants as Devil and the Hill-Folk hide in the ants home (Tower of Death) and only escape after the Aliens blow up the tower causing the ants to attack them! All the while Moon-Boy and the rest of the prisoners are on the ship and Moon-Boy is selected to be studied for his intelligence, and this will also lead to his death.

This issue has Devil Dinosaur thinking that Moon-Boy is in fact dead and that’s why he kills as many Alien Robots he can shake his tail at! This adds another layer to Devil who now is shown can feel anger and has a need for revenge and vengeance when he thinks his friend/brother from another mother has been killed. But once again it shows he makes bad mistakes as he almost gets himself and his new friends killed by messing with flesh eating ants. White-Hair follows Devil blindly and does not question his new friends path of war, while Stone-Hand is kind of a pain in the butt as all he does is question why they follow Devil and it’s clear as the day is bright he hates the red skinned dinosaur. The Alien Robots are as soulless as ever, but they do show more anger when many of them are killed by Devil. The Giant Ants are the real bad guys in this issue as they really want eat and kill what ever they can grab ahold of, pretty scary stuff if they were real. The end of the issue also has Devil down and out and thinking his friend is dead, making you now have to think that Moon-Boy is going to have to try and get himself off the ship and back home on his own, and I kind of like the fact he is going to have to help himself as I feel he relies on Devil way to much! Kirby Art and Story is well done as is the cover, in fact this far into the series I must say all the covers look great. So another solid good issue lets see if # 6 can keep up the good work.

Devil Dinosaur 6

Devil Dinosaur # 6   ***
Released in 1978   Cover Price .35    Marvel Comics    #6 of 9

Devil Dinosaur is drained and must take a rest as White-Hair stays with him, Stone-Hand rushes to save a woman named Eev who is being attacked by two of the giant ants. The odds looks against the cave people but they fight on as Devil gets back to his feet and makes short work of the ants. Eev joins the group and together they watch as the Giant Ants destroy the space shit causing it to explode and for all inside to die along with it…or so they think. Devil Dinosaur sad about his loss of Moon-Boy walks off into the woods as Stone-Hand shows his true side by trying to attack Evee and knock the snot out of White-Hair and claims he is now in charge! While in the rubble of the ship many Hill-Folk escape as well as Dinosaurs and even Thunder Horn, and than Moon-Boy comes out he is shaken and scared and finds that escaping dinosaurs all around him want to eat him! Moon-Boy finds shelter in a small cave as a thunderstorm moves in, meanwhile a giant computer sits were the alien ship once sat and gets the attention of Stone-Hand, Eev and White-Hair.

This issue is pretty shocking and I am not 100% sure but I think in this issue you see an attempted rape as Stone-Hand gets wayyyyyy to forceful with Eev and forces her to he his woman…cause he likes her…yep it’s a little creepy. Poor Devil fights with all his might in this issue and crushes a few ants and even lets a few live, but sadly in the end his soul is crushed as he thinks his best friend is pushing up daisies. This shows an odd side of Devil as well cause it comes off not only as a saddened friend but also that of a pet whose master has died. Moon-Boy who at first I thought was shapping up to be his own man in this series quickly turns back into a character who just really wants his must stronger friend to fight his battles for him. Stone-Hand is just a total ass and I really cant wait for Devil to stomp him to death! White-Hair and Eev are ok and are kind of forced to follow the new rules set in place by Stone-Hand who acts as if they are his people and slaves now. The Giant Ants kick the crap out of the Alien Robots who don’t last long once they become under attack. And now I wonder what this Giant Super Computer Tree like thing is up to and how while it help or destroy Stone-Hand and his “people”. Once more Kirby does a great job on story and art and I will say that being 34 years old now and reading this series some for the first time and some for the multiple times I find this to be a great series this far and I am sure readers of 78 also thought so. So lets move onto issue # 7 and find out if Moon-Boy and Devil will finally reunite.

Devil Dinosaur 7

Devil Dinosaur # 7   ***
Released in 1978    Cover Price .35     Marvel Comics     #7 of 9

Stone-Hand and his followers soon find that the Demon Tree as they call it really just wants to keep them as slaves, yet if they stay with him they can have it all fresh water, fresh fruit and green grass under their feet. The only catch this paradise is coasting them their freedom as Demon Tree places them all into a force field to keep them safe and his for as long as they live. Moon-Boy leaves his cave hideout and by luck just as he is to become a snack to a hungry dinosaur Devil appears and saves him and together they wonder towards the Devil Tree, meanwhile Stone-Hand don’t want to be a slave and finds that he can not escape the force field nor can he get close enough to attack the Devil Computer Tree as it uses gas to knock him out. Eev and White-Hair want to stay in this new paradise and tell so to a now pissed off Stone-Hand who sleeps on it. In the morning Stone-Hand awakens to find White-Hair dead of radiation poisoning and this is the final straw as Stone-Hand attacks the Devil Tree and hits it with a mighty blow causing it to go into a countdown to explosion! Stone-Hand and Eev try to escape the force field and it looks as if they may die from the exploding doom, but just in time Devil shows up and flings his body against the force field several times breaking into it and freeing his two new friends just in time. In the end Stone-Hand finds respect for Devil and says he shall speak of how great he is as Devil and Moon-Boy set out find a place to relax.

So Devil and Moon-Boy are reunited and together they save the day and help save the lives of two people that now will help spread the legend of Devil Dinosaur. Moon-Boy once more shows that really he can’t function of live with out his big red buddy, and Devil shows that he has feelings and really gets down in the dumps when he is not around his little hairy buddy. I really do like the fact that Devil Dinosaur is a true noble giant and when seeing Stone-Hand and Eev in trouble he flings his own body into danger to save them from the force field and the big boom of the computer blowing up. Plus by the end of this issue Stone-Hand who has been a butthole for the last few issues seems to have a turn around and finds respect for Devil who saved him and his woman from deaths door. White-Hair who was for staying in the bubble wonderland of slavedom at least dies of radiation poison and don’t get to truly see how evil the trees intensions are. This is a great ending to The Robot-Alien Invasion storyline and keeps the quality and entertainment level high showing why we comic readers love us some Jack Kirby. So with no more wait lets get to the next issue in the series.

Devil Dinosaur 8

Devil Dinosaur # 8   ***
Released in 1978    Cover Price .35     Marvel Comics     #8 of 9

Moon-Boy wishes to return to his tribe called the Small-Folk and travels to a cave with Devil in order to talk to them, while inside a pack of cavemen called the Dino-Riders attack Devil and try to make them their master Grey-Tooth’s new ride! Moon-Boy tries to rescue his friend but is quickly ran off into the near by forest. The Dino-Riders take Devil to their camp tied up with vines and try to break his spirit by placing mud in his eyes and a foul smelling mask over his face. Moon-Boy wants to help Devil so bad he returns to his people the Small-Folk and gets them to help him save Devil from their evil plans. In the end the Small-Folk trick and defeat all the Dino-Riders as Devil gets free and stomps out the life of Grey-Tooth.

This issue takes a switch as most the time Devil is the one in danger and Moon-Boy is the one who must come to his aid and risk his own life. I like this change and it helped spice up the issue as Devil’s life is the one at risk and he can’t do anything really to free himself. That’s the really cool part of this issue is how Moon-Boy is able to get his tribe together to fight to save Devil, and he then puts his own life on the line when he runs into Grey-Tooth who sprung to action once Moon-Boy got close to Devil. Grey-Tooth who is the leader of his tribe called the Dino-Riders (Not to be confused with the toys of the same name) is really just a loud mouth bully who gets stomped to death by Devil in the near by jungle. The issue also brings back the Small-Folk who have been missing from many issues and it’s nice to see that they put their fears aside to help the one thing they fear and that’s Devil. Good story and while a little weak on plot it was still well worth the read and is another solid adventure for Devil. The art is your classic Kirby style and I must say I felt so bad for Devil in the parts were he gets mud placed in his eyes and a bag of rotten tree sap placed over his nose. This issue is the weakest in the series this far and even with that it’s still very entertaining, so lets move onto the 9th and final issue of Devil Dinosaur.

Devil Dinosaur 9

Devil Dinosaur # 9  ***
Released in 1978    Cover Price .35     Marvel Comics     #9 of 9

Moon-Boy and Devil watch as an old Witch makes nice with the spirits and asks for more power, Devil looks at the old woman as a threat to his rule and attacks even against the wishes of Moon-Boy. The old witch gets away and warns them to get out of her land before it’s two late and that their fate is in their own hands. Devil and Moon-Boy decide to not follow the witch, but take her advice and leave. As they leave the ground gives way and they both fall into the earth below as Moon-Boy is able to hold onto some of the stones in the hole, Devil falls all the way down into a light pit that travels him to the future the year being 1978 and while there he is scaring people and being attacked by modern man. Moon-Boy is pulled up from the hole by the Witch and her Son who he begs for them to help Devil, and while at first they don’t want to the Son thinks that saving him might be for the best and together they pull him from the future and bring him back to the past. The series ends with Devil and Moon-Boy walking into the Valley to rule some more.

This is it the final issue of Devil Dinosaur and in this one we get to see him not only in Dinosaur Valley but also in modern 1978 Earth were he torments modern man as well as gets attacked by modern weapons. This issue reminded me of Jurassic Park a little were a T-Rex is the fish out of the water in a big modern city and while confused he still knows that he must fight to stay alive. Moon-Boy as always is the brains of the group but is also the one who is weak link and must get the help of others to save the day. The Witch and her Son who everyone thinks are evil really are good people who just want to be left alone and live in a dangerous part of the valley hoping to keep the spirits in check and the strangers out of their homeland. While this final story is pretty fun, I do feel that it was not the right one to end a series on and lacks the impact I as the reader was looking for to end the characters comic run. The last panel ever for the 78 run of Devil Dinosaur only reads “And Thus Endeth The Chronicle” and has Devil and Moon-Boy walking into the light nice gesture but would have liked a little more. This issue also packs a message and that’s don’t judge people before you know them, as every one judges the Witch who really turns out to be a pretty good person willing to help Devil out even after he tried to kill her. This issue is also the one I remember me and my brother having that our Grandma Brassfield found at a garage sale and got for him, I can remember us always for some reason laughing about Devil Dinosaur but for some reason we both always looked at and read this issue. The artwork in it has that amazing Kirby look and the story while good does have a normal issue feel and not a final issue one. Over all this is a good issue just not what I would have wanted to end it all with.

Devil Dinosaur art 1Devil Dinosaur Art 2Devil Dinosaur art 3

Devil Dinosaur is one of those characters that I think many Marvel fans forget about or even treat as a joke.  While nowadays the character would not fit in with the “Ultimate” or “Modern” style of comics, I do find him to be one that holds a lot of charm and captures the true spirit of comics of the 70’s. Jack Kirby, I think, took pride in the character and delivered a short lived series that was aiming to please horror comic fans as well as sci-fi comic fans and readers of such comics as Turok and for the most part delivered. As I stated before in this update I grew up thinking the series was boring when in fact if I would have just chilled out and read the whole 9 issues I am sure I would have been a fan of it. So next update I have been going back and fourth on what I want to do, and I have decided to do a smaller one before I tackle another big one so I will be looking at the comic sequel to the Lucio Fulci film “Gates Of Hell”!! So until then shop at a local antique store, watch your local horror host and read a comic or two.

Gates Of Hell Logo

 

Marvel Smurfs

I was born on September 8th 1979, and I was lucky to be a kid through both the 80’s and 90’s. Much like every kid from my generation, I loved toys, video games, horror films, Saturday Morning Cartoons, horror hosts, surgery breakfast cereal, pro wrestling and of course comic books. I grew up in a small town (Waynesville, Ohio) that was dubbed the antique capital, and from day one I was the strange kid who spent his time drawing demons, the rock band Kiss and Frankenstein’s Monster and never making the move on the girl of my dreams who just so happened to be good friends with my next door neighbor who at that time was basically my best friend. I know you’re all thinking wow what a wuss, but if you would have seen how beautiful this young lady was and how she could make your heart skip a beat you would understand why a oddball like me in my Ultimate Warrior or Alice Cooper shirt never made a move.

On Saturdays my mom would take my brother and I to the neighboring town to a store called Big Bear & Hearts and for grocery shopping/ The store was one half food (Big Bear) and the other half department store (Hearts). Cool things in this store included not only the Street Fighter II Arcade Machine but also the giant stuffed bear that was like your greeter. The toy department was magical in my eyes and was always packed with the newest G.I. Joe, Transformer, Battle Beast, WWF wrestler and every other new figures. If we were good we would get a toy and usually along with it a comic or a Mad or Cracked Magazine. I was always into The Incredible Hulk and Captain America and most of the time that’s what I would pick to go alongside my new Monster in My Pocket, G.I. Joe or whatever toy I was into that month. Then we would be off. After we checked out and would stop at the store’s snack bar for an Icee (Blue Berry or Coke) and sometimes a soft pretzel or nachos, we would get home in time to watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies or sometimes Grandpa Munster host his Super Scary Saturday film on TBS.

Comic Books were a fun way to leave reality and to step into the boots of your favorite hero or villain, leaving behind all the annoying life drama just for the brief moments it took you to read the issue. DC had some great heroes like Superman, Batman, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman and Flash. While they had some great issues and characters, I have always been a Marvel man due to amazing characters like Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, Man-Thing, Iron Man and Thor. Marvel also had great comics based on toylines like Transformers and G.I. Joe. Comic books have always been apart of my life thanks to my Mother who bought them for me, my older brother Bryan who read them to me when I was younger, my Uncle Thurman who gave me many of his older issues and my cousin Chris Jones who got me one of my first new Hulk issues off the newsstand when we has babysitting me.

Comics and other things from my youth made me more creative and lead to me to making my own comic books with such characters as Benny the Squirrel, Robo Raccoon, Fred The Mole, Mr. Emo and many more. Most of the comics I made were to amuse myself and sometimes my Mom and friends. But even without any real talent for drawing, my Mom and Dad would encourage me to keep up the good work. I was never really good at art so the hobby faded, but the creative bug stayed with me and lead me into the world of films and TV shows. To this day I am the proud owner of two small film companies, Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video, and have made such films as Werewolf of Ohio, The Sadness, Cocktober Blood, Bark at the Moon: Scars and am currently making the popular horror host show Terrifying Tales of the Macabre hosted by Baron Von Porkchop. So for all those people that were told comics will rot your brain, that’s in no way true…well maybe not completely true.

One off the wall brand that always peeked my interest even before I was in school was Star Comics, the kiddy branch of the mighty Marvel Comic juggernaut. They would make comics about popular cartoons or toy lines and were be a cheap way for parents to keep us youngsters happy till the next episode. One of the first times I discovered Star Comics was when I was really young and a cereal company gave away free issues with a mail-in. Oh the good old days of amazing and cheap prizes in your cereal! So this little blog is about re-living my youth, looking back at Star Comics, Topps Comics and other wonderful Marvel Comics that have always peeked my interest that are not normally what you would think of when someone says Marvel. And who knows, maybe I will review some other comics based on cartoons, toys, video games and TV shows from other companies. So let’s start this off with looking back at The Smurfs’ short run at Marvel.

I am going to grade these comics on a standard one to four star scale. For each issue I am going to be grading the story, the art, how true it was to the cartoon or toyline it was based on and its entertainment value. So with that said, let’s look at The Smurfs!

Smurfs #1  **

Released in 1982     Cover Price .60     Marvel Comics     #1 of 3

The premiere issue is filled with three major stories and a few small fillers. Major story number one is called “ The Smurf Plane” and shows a Smurf building an airplane to impress the other Smurfs and later using his plane to save Smurfette from the evil Gargamel. “Nearer. My Smurf, To Thee!” is the second and has a Smurf who is trying so hard to hit the bullseye on the target with his bow and arrow. The third major story “The Smurf of Youth” has Smurfette fearing she is getting old and ugly and conning two other Smurfs into following her and a strange map she found to the fountain of youth, that really is just another sinister trap from Gargamel. Once more they don’t fall for it and escape unharmed.

The first thing you notice upon opening up this issue is the so-so art work that almost seems more of an amateur’s drawings for a youngster in their family. While it’s not that bad, it’s still puzzling to me how the Smurfs in this issue just don’t seem to look right. The sub par artwork aside, for a premiere issue it seemed very dull and rushed with the third major story “The Smurf of Youth” being the best in the book and keeping a silly fun shallow vibe throughout. I am puzzled as to why no one besides Papa Smurf questioned Smurfette as she vainly insulted herself by saying that because she’s older she is ugly, so one can only imagine just how foul Papa must be in her eyes. Smurfette does not come off as a good person in this issue and like I perviously stated seems self-absorbed. The first story is fun yet really anti-climatic. And the second story while “cute” still is just a filler entry. The best moment in this part being a Smurf using bees as darts. Most of the smaller stories also seemed like page filler and while fun and silly, they really just left you wishing the writers would have just made one solid story. Oh and a really odd thing is that Gargamel keeps calling Smurfette “The Smurfette” making for some odd reading. I mean is there some fake Smurfette running around as well? This comic doesn’t capture the good natured heart and soul of the cartoon and almost seems like a strange fan made comic. This issue # 1 didn’t impress me, and really gives a person nothing to talk about besides Smurfette’s shallowness sticking out like a sore thumb. I am sure even in my youth I would have found this issue to be a bland way to bring the Smurfs to comics. The cover on this one, while okay, should not have been used for an issue one. This looks like it should have been the cover for an issue after # 6! And man look at the Smurf in the plane he just looks super pissed off to see Gargamel!

Smurfs #2  **

Released in 1982     Cover Price .60     Marvel Comics     #2 of 3

This second issue is much like the first and has three major stories and a handful of small fillers. The first major story is “The Smurfs and the Evil Bird,” in which Gargamel turns himself into a bird to sneak into the Smurf village to kill them all while they sleep. But his plan is discovered by Papa Smurf who runs him out of the village but not before he takes a hostage! With the help of Mr. Crane, they get the Smurf back and Gargamel gets his. Second is “Smurf the Birdie” where Farmer Smurf wants to protect his corn seeds from the birds and must find the perfect scarecrow. After a failed one, he gets a statue of Smurfette that keeps the birds away because of all the Smurfs are just staring at the statue! This leads also into a few pages of Smurfs trying to win Smurfette’s affections. The final story is “Sticky Smurf” in which Gargamel uses a sticky sundae to capture a Smurf but the treat turns out to be so sticky that he also gets stuck in the desert! And of course it’s up to Papa Smurf to come up with a position to free his trapped friend.

This is not an improvement over the disappointing issue one and still has the same bland art inside. This time around also rocks one hell of a lame cover, I mean take a good look at the cover. While the bird and the background look okay, the Smurfs on the ground look terrible. In this second issue the best of the main stories would have to be the opener “The Smurfs and the Evil Bird.” This seems like it could have easily been on the cartoon and also makes for a shocking moment as Gargamel tries to smother the Smurfs with smoke as he clogs the chimney of Papa Smurf hoping to kill him. Also I should state that in this issue it’s shown that the Smurfs drink Brandy! Wow, these Marvel Comic Smurfs are badass party animals! That’s one thing I have noticed so far, Marvel has changed some of this happy go lucky kids cartoon’s concepts into a little more sinister and sly ways to work in some adult style shockers from drinking to narcissism to even murder, making the issues a little more enjoyable to see just how much they will push the limit. The best moment in this one comes when a Smurf wins a kiss from Smurfette after he brings her was she thinks is a fur scarf, that turns out to be really a pet caterpillar! Smurfette being the classy woman she is throws the insect out and is mad for not getting a real fur like she thought. Wow, what a Smurfy Bitch! Issue two is only slightly better than issue one and still does not bring the charm of the cartoon to cheap comic paper. Maybe issue three, the final in the Marvel Smurf series, will be just the right amount of fun this series needs.

Smurfs #3   **1/2

Released in 1982     Cover Price .60     Marvel Comics     #3 of 3

This is the third and final issue and once more it semi-follows the formula of the past two issues with this time only two main stories and a few filler ones. Story one “ Monster Smurf” shows how all the other Smurfs get sick of Jokey Smurf’s pranks and decide to pull an ultimate prank on him in return. Then up is “Smurf Ball” were Hefty Smurf is two strong to play smurfball with the others so Handy rigs up a ball on a rubber band that Hefty can play with on his own and it leads to him on accidentally leading Gargamel to the village. It’s up to his quick thinking to save the day.

This third go around is still a major let down. While this issue is closer to the cartoon, it still lacked something to make it rise above and pull it out from being a two and a half star issue. This issue’s best offer is “Monster Smurf” just due to the fact it showed Jokey Smurf being the prankster we all knew and loved from the cartoon. This one also took out the third story and focused more on short stories that mostly dealt with Harmony Smurf and his lack of ability to carry a note. It was also nice to see an issue that focused on other Smurfs beside Smurfette who seemed to be a huge part of the past two issues. Like I said earlier, this one is the closest out of the comics run to capture the lighthearted fun tone of the cartoon and is the best issue in the series for doing so. The cover is also an improvement and is more eye catching and better drawn than the issues that came before it. So it seems just as the series seemed to be changing for the good, it was cancelled never to fully redeem itself.

My connections to the world of the Smurfs in my youth was very loose. While I watched the cartoon and enjoyed it, I only had a few of the small figures and they acted as the wussy background characters the good guys had to protect when I would have my all out toy wars. I also remember my Grandmother had a few on a shelf that when we would visit she would let us play. She also had glasses we drank from. My aunt also had a few, but again the toy line was never my thing. The cartoon and toys were always thought of more as a girl items with all their positive messages, cheesy romantic figures and no beat ’em up action or moveable parts so I am not sure why Marvel, who mostly made comics for young males, decided to make this short comic series. It also makes me wonder why only three issues – were the sales that bad they pulled the plug on it fast? Or were the people who owned the rights to the Smurfs that hard to work with? I tend to think that it probably started out as a trial run with only three issues being made with the option of more, but sales were most likely mediocre at best and the deal was just not in the cards. I happened to get these issues at Maverick Cards and Comics run by Jack Maverick in Kettering, Ohio in 2008 in a brand new sealed three pack that someone before me bought at K-Mart for a dollar when it was released. I paid three for the set! Not a bad pick up at all and they sure did come in handy for this blog. But now I am off topic. Over all Marvel’s Smurf run was a mediocre outing with some odd behavior coming from the pint size blue little bastards. The issues did not wow me now and I would be so bold to say that even in my youth I would have not been impressed.

On a fun side note in 1982, a Smurf game called “Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle” was released for both Coleco Vison and Atari 2600 and marked the first time the characters would be in a video game. The little blue mushroom house living icons would also have games on many of the top systems such as Playstation, Nintendo DS, Wii, NES, PC and many more home systems!

One thing I have noticed about Smurfs as well is that almost every one of my girlfriends (past and present) have loved them! I am not sure what the appeal is to women but they seem to really have a bound to the Smurfs. In fact here is a pic of my current girlfriend’s Smurf Collection and this is a drop in the hat compared to how many she really has.

Another thing I would like to briefly talk about is “The Smurfs Enchanted Voyage,” a boat ride at Kings Island Amusement Park here in Ohio. The ride would have you sit in a boat and travel down a path that had scenes all around you and voices and the theme song would play throughout. I first heard about this ride via my mother who went to the theme park for a Christmas celebration with her friend and was able to ride it. Many years later my brother and I went to the park with some family members and were able to ride it and I must say, being young the ride was pretty sweet! I remember being amazed by the Smurfs from around the world. Sadly the ride is no longer running and has been changed to many different things that included “The Phantom Theater”. Below are some pics of the ride. Sadly I did not take these myself – I was able to find them online, so thanks to whom ever shared these pics with the world.

In 2011 the Smurfs came to the silver screen for the first time and guess what? It was not an animated feature film but a CGI live action one! I have not seen the film nor do I have any desires to, but it did do well at the box office showing that these little blue forest dwellers still pack a punch in the eyes of the youth.

So my next update I think we will look at Marvel’s A-Team run that also only ran for three issues, and I will share some of my fond memories of Mr. T and the A-Team.

Oh yeah, and this blog is a work in progress and I am still working out the bugs of how I want things set up, but I hope you enjoyed this entry and I hope reading also helped trigger some past fun memories for you.