Who Remembers Solarman?

Welcome to another update, our first one in our countdown to Thanksgiving here on Rotten Ink, as we once more take a look at a superhero that failed to capture readers and lead to a short-lived comic series that left the character almost forgotten in modern times.  For this one we will be taking a look at Solarman, a Marvel Comic character that’s long been forgotten by most. What’s really crazy is that this character is one that Marvel really wanted to take off as you will see during this update. It’s crazy to think that Thanksgiving is weeks away, and that great food and family time is just around the corner. I am sure some of you can’t wait to smell that turkey cooking, and for all my vegetarian friends, I am sure you hyped for the tofu turkey and all the wonderful sides like corn, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Turkey 2016

When you think of holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, one thing comes to mind, the word home. For me, the old two story house in Waynesville on Royston Drive will always be home.  One day I would love to buy it and have Juliet and I live there, but another place I call home is the basement of my parents’ house that was dubbed Independent B Movie Studios as it is the place that ideas for films like Werewolf Of Ohio 1-2, The Wolf Hunter and Cocktober Blood were all brainstormed. It was the “set” for no budget films Nightmare and One Second Too Late. It was the place that the first ever Horror Movie Marathon took place, and it hosted many long nights of playing video games with my pal Jason Gilmore as we tried to beat games like Resident Evil 2, Silent Hill and Clock Tower. It was the place that my old computer sat were I would write scripts for possible films and during breaks would play cheesy DOS games like X-Men, Waxworks and Plan 9 From Outer Space from hard disks. It was a place that acted as shelter for me and my past girlfriend Misty as we were in-between apartments and acted as a place for me to stay when I needed a place to lay my head for the night. Now, in 2016, it’s completely different from what it use to be in its heyday.  Gone are the movie posters all over the walls; gone is the floor model TV along with the VCR, DVD player and many video game systems.  Gone are the old computers, and gone are the days of it being the house of ideas for no budget movies but it will forever be a special place for me and many of my friends as it was a magical place filled with lots of amazing memories and great times. Below is a modern picture of the old “studio” with the amazing orange carpet that has been down there since the start of its legacy.

Independent B Movie Studio

In 1979-1980, David Oliphant created three digest-sized comics based on a character he created called Solarman that were more educational comics than your normal superhero fare.  The character was named Davos who lived inside the Sun and came to Earth.  He became a baseball player and taught the wonders of Solar Energy. In 1989, Marvel decided to buy the character rights and use him as a new hero that would set the world ablaze with his comic that was to be written by Stan Lee. They changed the character from just being a solar alien to the a teenager getting the power from a dying alien.  In other words, Stan Lee went the route he has traveled so many times and wanted to reproduce the magic of Spider-Man, but unlike that character, this one failed to capture the readers, and issue one came and went with a whisper. But this did not stop Lee and Marvel as in 1990 they tried again with an issue # 2, and this as well came and went with little to no fanfare. A third issue was not in the cards nor has a re-launch ever seen the light of day from Marvel. So what went wrong with Solarman as Marvel pushed so hard and even had the comic legend Stan Lee write his adventures? My opinion is that in 1990 the character had a dated feel to it, and by this time kids and readers were more into Batman, Spider-Man and X-Men and a character who’s a kid with sun powers was just too silly and tame for them.

Solarman Old SchoolSolarmanSolarman ad

In the 90’s, Marvel Comics captured the Saturday Morning Cartoon world with such classics as X-Men, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer and The Incredible Hulk, but in 1991, they also tried again with Solarman by turning him into a cartoon pilot for FOX with the intent of turning it into a full cartoon series.  This also failed as FOX never ordered the series after its airing. The plot of the cartoon was that of the first issue of the comic with a little added and taken away and done in the style of The X-Men that was a huge hit for FOX’s Saturday Morning Cartoon lineup later on. I was a major Saturday Morning Cartoon viewer when I was a young, and in 1991, I was watching such toons as Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Bobby’s World, Darkwing Duck, Doug, Ren and Stimpy, The Simpsons, Tom & Jerry Kids to name a few.  I can 100% say that I don’t remember the Solarman cartoon at all and don’t remember a single kid on the playground or at lunch talking about it! So do any of you, my readers or friends, remember this cartoon special airing? Did you watch it? Was it good? Comment below and let me know.

Animated Solorman 1Animated SolormanAnimated Solorman 2

So now that you are up to date on who and what Solarman is, I think we are at the point of the review where we will take a look at the comic series from Marvel based on this forgotten hero. I want to thank Dark Star in Yellow Springs for having these comics in stock in their dollar bin and must also once more like a broken record tell you readers that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready to travel to outer space and back to Earth again, let’s grab some water and a snack and visit the world of Solarman.

Solarman 1

Solarman # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989     Cover Price $1.00     Marvel Comics     # 1 of 2

Gormagga Kraal and his robot warriors are traveling in space and draining suns of their solar energy in order to feed his ultimate weapon that will help him rule the universe. Aboard the ship is an old scientist named Dr. Sha-Han and his young daughter Altarra, both of whom are shocked by the evil of Kraal who has now set his sights on the sun the Earth orbits. Sha-Han as seen enough and steals the Circle Of Power, an item that can create a powerful life that can stop the path of destruction Kraal is blazing.  When Sha-Han’s escape pod is shot down, it crashes to Earth, and while dying he meets young want-to-be comic book artist Ben Tucker who he gives the circle of power (a bracelet) to and visits him as a spirit as he dies on the beach to tell him whenever he is in danger let the sunlight hit the bracelet and that will unleash the power of Solarman! Ben Tucker is a teenager whose dad owns a gym and wants his son to train to be a jock, while all he really wants to do is draw comics for Marvel.  On his way to school, he is attacked by some robots who are looking for the bracelet who kidnap him and take him to space where Gormagga Kraal orders for his arm to be cut off so he can reclaim the bracelet.  But Ben is saved by Altarra (who dies saving him) and her tiny robot Beepie who allows sunlight into the ship, and Solarman takes over the body of Ben and blows up the massive ship forcing Gormagga Kraal to escape on a tiny escape pod vessel. Ben returns to Earth with his new friend Beepie and starts to work on his next comic called “Solarman”.

The best way to start this off is saying that this is Marvel Comics version of Green Lantern with teen drama with a main character that looks a lot like a young Peter Parker. This first issue is pretty well done, and I for one think that if they should have put it out via Star Comics and played up the fact that it’s a superhero for kids as it mixes comics and old scifi films together to create a world where aliens want to steal the energy of our sun and robots in trench coats can walk freely down the road. The plot is: an alien overlord wants to rule the galaxy and is stealing the Sun’s energy to store for his powerful super weapon.  He targets Earth’s Sun but is set back when one of his own helpers steals a powerful weapon to crash land on Earth, passing the weapon onto a nerdy kid who now gains super powers. Yep that sums it up pretty well, and I should also add in that it has a Shazam (Captain Marvel) feeling to it as well. Ben Tucker is a button up, white shirt and tie kind of kid who spends his free time drawing comic strips with the hope of being hired by Marvel.  While most geeky kids can identify with him, the downside is he comes off like a stereotype of how people think comic “nerds” act. But while he is a nerd, Ben is still a likeble kid who I am sure has a touch of us all who are creative. Solarman is powerful and wears lots of orange and yellow and has cheesy lines that would make Flash Gordon blush.  This first issue only gives me a small taste of their hero and not enough to fully judge, I would say he’s not terrible as he makes me want to check out the next issue. Oh and I should say he’s like Solar Man from the movie Superman IV: Quest For Peace as he has to get his power from the sun and without it he’s useless. Beepie is a generic tiny robot that fans of R2-D2 and BB-8 from Star Wars will surly love.  He’s a loyal little guy who wants Earth not to be destroyed so he is kind of a hero. Sha-Han and Altarra are blue skinned aliens who serve a purpose and move the story along.  Not much more can be said about them besides they are both dead. Gormagga Kraal is also a blue skinned alien who has a metal arm that can stretch and has a terrible attitude and does not value life as he doesn’t care how many have to die for him to complete his goal of galaxy ruler.  This guy would be great friends with Zardoom (Defenders Of The Planets) and Ming The Merciless (Flash Gordon), and I could picture them at a Starbucks plotting how to take over Mars. The cover is pure late 80’s cheese and has a Star Comics look to it.  The art is done by Jim Mooney with the story by Stan Lee. While Marvel really wanted Solarman to be the next big thing for them, this issue just was not a draw for readers at the time. I for one enjoyed it and think it’s a solid above average comic that’s aimed for young readers.

Solarman 2

Solarman # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990     Cover Price $1.00     Marvel Comics     # 2 of 2

Ben Tucker and his friend Jeanie are watching the news, all about holes in the ozone layer, and as Ben draws Dr. Doom, the friends chat about him and how he is the ultimate bad guy. Meanwhile Dr. Doom has shot a satellite into space and is the one who is causing the holes and wants a ransom from the world in order to stop it. Later in the day, Ben goes to his Dad’s gym to find his father being strong-armed by some goons and quickly goes out side and turns into Solarman and runs them off. When returning as Ben, he tries to tell his Dad he is Solarman but his father thinks his son just reads too many comics. Ben decides that he must keep his secret to himself as well as must stop Dr. Doom and travels to his location and tricks him into thinking he needs an interview for the school paper as they view Doom as a legend or so his story goes.  But Doom is not fooled for long as he throws Ben into a prison room. Lucky for Ben, the room has windows and sunlight and this allows him to turn into Solarman who flies into space and destroys the satellite and comes back down to tangle with Doom until the sun is about to set and leaves Doom in a foul mood! In the end as Ben returns home and bonds with his Dad with a picture he drew him, and it’s reveled that the Dr. Doom he had fought was nothing more than a hologram as the real Doom was in the basement sick with the flu.

This is the final issue of the series before Marvel gave up on trying to make readers care about Solarman and his adventures in Sun powers at least in the comic world. This issue’s plot has Ben Tucker and his hero side Solarman dealing with Dr. Doom who is trying to ruin the ozone layer as well as try and gain the respect of his father who wants a jock for a son and not an artist. The pacing is well done, and the action of Solarman is kept being used at the right times to further the plot more and not to waste panels with fights that were just put in to take up pages. Ben Tucker this time around is more skilled in his art and seems to have a crush on his friend Jeanie who always seems to be around and pushing for him to get his big break in comics in a sly kind of way. Ben himself is weak physically, but mentally he is strong and knows after a failed attempt that he must keep his hero side a secret. Solarman is as cheesy as ever as his power is high but his one liners are so bad they would make Spider-Man cringe.  Besides his power, he can also fly and breath in space with no problems. Ben’s Dad is as gym orientated as ever but shows he is no push over as he does not back down to three thugs who want his gym to pay them for street protection. It also shows that he loves his son no matter what he does or does not do. Dr. Doom is once more mad with power and wants to world to beg at his feet as he wants to be their ruler.  The fun part about this is the whole fight I as the reader was like come on, Doom could mop the floor with Solarman.  Then at the end you find out the real Doom is sick in bed with the flu…that’s right Victor Von Doom has the flu in this comic and the Doom that’s doing all the bad things is really just a hologram. The cover is pure early 90’s ham and eggs as it’s as basic as they come, and the art inside the issue is well done by Mike Zeck. Over all while Solarman is a very lame in nature superhero, but I still found the comic to be entertaining and could not see really why it only lasted two issues and became a forgotten Marvel Comic. If you find any issues in your local comics shops .25 or $1.00 box, give it a chance as you might just find yourself enjoying it. Below is some artwork from the series so give it a look as it might be what pushes you over the edge of wanting to check it out.

Solarman art 1Solarman art 2Solarman art 3

Solarman was a character who had lots of potential, and for the most part his two comic adventures were lots of fun and could have lead into more and more if fans of the 90’s would have supported it. But let’s flare away from Solarman for our next update and this time take a look at another Horror Host Icon, Iowa’s own Dr. Morbius as we continue our countdown to Thanksgiving. So I hope you enjoyed this quick update, and that you’re having a great November so far and are just enjoying life as we all live it on this great planet we share and call Earth. So until next time, read a comic or three, support your local Horror Host and as Bill & Ted would say Be Excellent To Each Other.

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The Platinum Chainsaw Massacre Of Texas!

Welcome to this haunted and spooky Halloween update here on Rotten Ink.  This year we are going back to Texas and revisiting Leatherface, or should I say visiting another Leatherface named Thomas Hewitt who took up the chainsaw back in 2003! Along this back road Texas ride, we will be making many stops before we get to the Hewitt farmhouse at a Creepypasta, 5 Questions with a Horror Host and a few other spooky and fun things. It’s hard to believe that it’s Halloween 2016 and that the ghouls and ghosts are wandering the streets looking for candy or a trick to pull. This year has proved to be very cool for fans of horror films as new entries in the Blair Witch, Ouija, Phantasm and The Purge are hitting theaters.  Video Games will be delivering some frights this year with Resident Evil 4 coming to disc on the PS4 and even a NES Homebrew game called Batman vs. The Predator attacking its way to a retro home console. Not to mention the amazing amounts of horror comics that landed in readers hands like Puppet Master, Gingerdead Man, Night Trap, Psycho Path, Lord Of Gore, We Kill The Dead, Zombie and many more! This time of the year really should spark the want to be scared, whether that is from going to a haunted house, going on a spooky real life ghost hunt, reading a horror comic, playing a survival horror video game or just watching some horror films at home, I hope you have had a fun and spooky Halloween time, and I hope this blog update at least added to your holiday. So pack some chainsaw repellent and gear up for coming face to face with Leatherface one more time!

TCM 2003 0

Let’s make our first stop on a strange sinister story of the Internet’s version of campfire tales. This year’s Creepypasta is based around a video game character that was super popular with not just me but many of the kids around the world.  That character is Sonic The Hedgehog, and the story is called “Sonic.exe.” Now I am sure many of you are wondering just how could Sonic be creepy as he is beloved by the youth of today, but once you hear this story, it will make you truly wonder if it’s real or not and if Sonic really is a hero character. Our tale starts with a Tom, a young gamer who loves playing Sonic game and one day in his mail is a CD-R with a game called Sonic.exe that was sent to him by his close friend Kyle. Along with the CD-R was a note written by Kyle in bad shaky hand writing that begged him to destroy the CD-R as he explains that something fast is after him and that the game on the disc is pure evil and must be destroyed. Kyle ends it begging his friend to not play the game. Thinking his friend had lost touch with reality, Tom, who was a Sonic fan, decided to play the game and when putting it into his PC and opening the game, he noticed something was wrong once he hit start.  The title screen turned twisted with blood instead of water and 666 appearing around a black sky and Sonic himself had turned sinister looking with red eyes in jet black sockets with bloody tears coming down his twisted face. The game once started was a mash-up of many of the sonic games and the music was not cheerful, being played backwards, and the player could only select from Tails, Knuckles and Dr. Robotnik! Thinking this was some odd hacked version of the game, Tom selected Tails and was greeted by a creepy laugh before the level started.  All seemed a little odd but turned gruesome when Tails came across many massacred small animals and the music once more became more and more dark till finally Tails runs into Sonic who looks like he did on the evil title screen and plays a game he is calling “Hide And Seek” that leaves in the end Tails crying and being killed by Sonic! Tom was disturbed but continued to play, this time playing as Knuckles and once more Sonic leaves the character crying and later dead.  This whole time Sonic is leaving messages for Tom and his character saying things like “Found you” and “So many sould to play with, so little time…would you agree?” making Tom more and more uneasy. After the death of Knuckles, the PC Game was stopped and Tom decided to take a nap and get the images out of his mind.  But he has a nightmare of the evil Sonic laugh and the cries of help from Tails and Knuckles echoed in his ears making him feel bad that he played this game and allowed two of his favorite characters to meet such a sad and sick end, and when evil Sonic confronted him he woke up and like in a trance had to play the game one last time as Robotnik! But sadly, while Robotnik might be Sonic’s worst enemy he as well meet a terrible end by the hands of this evil video game character who know was looking right at Tom from the computer screen….blood, sharp teeth and blood red glowing eyes being shown and creeping Tom out more and more as the seconds passed and finally the message “I am God” appeared and Tom knew he was played by something very evil. Tom in the end is tormented even more by Sonic who makes him see the sadness of the three characters he had lead to their deaths and even shut off his computer. Finally in the end Tom hears a whisper in his room that says “Try to keep this interesting for me, Tom” and when he looks to see who said it, on his bed is a Sonic plush doll who looks like the Evil Sonic from the game! First, I want to say that this is one Creepypasta that I for sure can say is not real as I don’t believe that a Sonic plush doll was about to torment Tom.  It just seems to much like Chucky from Child’s Play to me. But I will say I enjoy the creepy nature of the hacked Sonic game that chills the player’s blood as a character kids love is killing and tormenting not only fellow characters but also the player. While this game was a hoax, many fan made versions of this game have been made to go along with the story and to me that’s pretty cool and creepy stuff. A good Creepypasta that is sure to creep out young gamers.

Sonic exe

In strange news that took place in Ohio, on June 2016, a rodeo bull named Dumpster Diver from Clearcreek Township escaped from its pasture and roamed the land of Warren County’s woods and roadways. The bull was loose for over a week, and people lived in fear that the large animal would charge them.  On many occasions it even ran out in front of cars almost causing auto accidents during its rampage or freedom! The bull was large and hiding out in the area and sparked many sightings that kept the local cops on their toes as he could have been a major threat if he decided to charge and become aggressive. But sadly, this story does not have a happy ending as on July 8th the police shot and killed Dumpster Diver as they were unable to tranquilize him and many cars almost hit him. So I am waiting for people to start the rumor of the ghost of Dumpster Diver roaming the roads to appear online soon. But like I said not scary, just a strange thing that happened here in this wild and unknown state we all call Ohio.

Clearcreek Missing Bull

So now that we talked about a Creepypasta featuring the Sega video game character Sonic as well as a bull on the loose named Dumpster Diver, I think we should chat a little about an independent horror comic called The Killer Pumpkins that I got off of Ebay sometime back. I really enjoy picking up small press horror comics as sometimes you can find some really spooky and creative stuff and at the very least be entertained. The Killer Pumpkins is released by Middle Atlantic Comics, and I was able to pick it up for a very good price.  I saved reading it for a while as I wanted to share it here with you all on this special update, so let’s grab our carving knives and see just how killer these pumpkins really are!

The Killer Pumpkins 1

The Killer Pumpkins # 1  **
Released in 2014     Cover Price $0.00    Middle Atlantic    # 1 of 1

The Wilson family is hiding out in the woods near the pumpkin patch on Halloween night in order to steal some of them. As the workers leave, they lock the gates behind them, but the father is not worried as he has a skeleton key that he believes will unlock the gate. As the father, mother and son all grab pumpkins, the teenage daughter questions why they are stealing pumpkins and not just buying them and is quickly told to shut up by her father. With stolen pumpkins in hand, they attempt to leave but learn they can’t get out as the gate has no keyhole! As the clock strikes midnight, the pumpkins come to life and kill the family one by one with beheading the mother, crushing the son with a falling tree and stabbing the father and carving him up like a jack o lantern! They let the daughter go as she never wanted to be in the pumpkin patch, and she runs through town screaming about her parents being killed by pumpkins and everyone just thinks she’s crazy.

This is a silly short comic that was a fun read on this Halloween day as it takes place on this very holiday. The plot is simple: a family is locked in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night and are attacked at midnight by the pumpkins that come alive and want revenge on humans who carve and smash them on this spooky holiday. The Wilson family seem like they are a bunch of cheapskates who want to steal instead of buy, and the parents are teaching their kids that it’s okay to steal. The father seems like the worse of them as he is clearly the shot caller who enjoys stealing as well as bossing his family around. The daughter is the only one who has half a brain and thinks what they are doing is wrong and does not steal, and this is why she is spared when the pumpkins start their rampage of murder. The pumpkins are mean spirited and make short work of the Wilson family and commit the murders with cold vegetable hearts. The comic has lots of death.  It’s not done with over the top gore and blood but does not shy away from character deaths. The comic’s art is done by Robert Bennett, who has a very independent style to his work, which is very fitting for this style and budget level of a comic book. While not super scary or what horror comic readers would expect to read about killer pumpkins, it’s a standard average read that I am sure would be entertaining for fans of independent comics. Below is some art from this comic.  Check it out and see Bennett’s style.

The Killer Pumpkins art 1

My Birthday is in early September, and to celebrate, I decided that I would have a epic Horror Movie Marathon that would have Juliet and I having a pre-show as well as an after party in addition to the main day of frights on our TV screen! The Pre-Show was on September 5th 2016, and after a typical day at work on Labor Day and leaving early at 5pm, I came home and we started our pre-show at around 7:00pm with the film “Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival” that was about a brother and sister visiting a strange small town where their brother died in a crash and has left them strange clues to uncover about the town’s sinister past.  As they search, a killer called Black Peter who is supposed to be Santa’s evil brother is killing people in the streets. The second film was a supernatural slasher film called “Holy Terror” directed by Massimiliano Cerchi that has a landlord at the mercy of a demon nun renting a house to a young couple who find themselves and their friends, who are over for a home welcoming party, the target of her rage and murderous ways. The final film of the night was from Full Moon Entertainment that was at one time a lost film called “The Evil Clergyman” about a priest who has a sinister pact with a rat with a human face that set up women to kill themselves so they can take their souls as well as their flesh. After this fun pre-show, where we ate loaded baked potatoes and a flat buffalo sauce chicken while watching these terrors of the screen, we sat and talked about each film breaking them down and we both agreed that Silent Night, Bloody Night 2 was the worst film of the night as it had many strikes against it from the poor acting, the over use of flashbacks from the original film and even having the killer be a returning character from the first film and was so misused, it was mind numbing! While the first film was a fun slasher with twists and turns, this sequel was just boring, bland and predictable. Juliet and I also agreed on the best film of the night as we both loved The Evil Clergyman as it was a well directed film by Charles Band who captured the raw mood and atmosphere of the H.P. Lovecraft story it was based on. The score by Richard Band was well done and fitting for the mood, and actors Jeffrey Combs, David Gale and Barbara Crampton turn in amazing performances. Over all this was a really fun night of watching horror flicks, and going to bed, I was hyped for what horrors the next day was going to bring.

Silent Night Bloody Night 2 Revival DVDHoly Terror DVDThe Evil Clergyman DVD

The day’s food was set as once more breakfast casserole was for brunch and a slow cooked crockpot roast was on tap for dinner. We woke up before 7am on September 5th and started our marathon off with a 1946 film “Valley Of The Zombies” that was about a crazed man who was believed to be dead that must get blood transfusions in order to stay alive. The second film of the day is “Frankenstein: Day Of The Beast” that has Frankenstein’s Monster traveling to an island to kill Elizabeth, the bride of his maker, on their wedding day and must also fight off his hired guns that are paid to protect her. The third film of the day was a 2015 shot on video soon to be classic film from David “The Rock” Nelson called “Fishman” that follows the creature on a warpath to kill those who mocked him for wanting to become a fishman and also goes toe to toe with Detective Rock. The fourth film was “Evil Bong: High 5” and has that sinister Evil Bong once more setting her sights on conquering the world by trying to have her slaves raise a million dollars for her in just 30 days, also throw in the Gingerdead Man. The fifth film was released by Massacre Home Video and is the 1986 direct to video classic “Mutilations” about a college professor and his students fighting for their lives against aliens in a small town during a field trip. Unlucky number six is “Platoon Of The Dead” about some soldiers who find three women and an abandoned house and must hide from an army of the dead and their demon leader.  The film stars Ariauna Albright, who is one of my favorite b-movie queens. Troma Entertainment release “Plutonium Baby” was the seventh film of the day and is about an evil corporation trying to hush a family who has a lawsuit against them for radiation poisoning, and they soon find out radiation causes more than death as it also spawns mutated monsters! 1976 Greek Giallo film “The Wife Killer” was the eighth film and is about a man who wants his wife dead to get her money and hires a serial rapist and killer to do the deed, but things do not go as planed as backstabbing and greed stand in the way of the perfect murder. The ninth film of this spooky day of horror was “Blood Night: The Legend Of Mary Hatchet” about a urban legend of a woman who went mad when she would have her period and would kill all who stood in her way.  Not 20 years after her death she is back and wanting to spill more blood or is she? The tenth film was shot in Middletown Ohio at Land of Illusions and starred Robert Englund. It’s about serial killers getting free from an asylum and taking over a haunted house called “Funhouse Massacre”. Number eleven was “Last Shift” about a rookie cop having to work the old now empty police station that is haunted by the spirits of a satanic cult leader and his followers. And the final film of the night was a shot on video film called “City Of The Dream Demons” that followed a punk kid and his friends who have to do battle with nightmare demons coming into our world. The main event was lots of fun and filled with lots of different styles of horror from shot on video all the way to black and white chillers, and at one point Juliet even praised me for the depth of the day’s films.

As always after the films we sat and discussed each film and what we liked and disliked about them and picked our best and worst film of the day. Juliet picked Evil Bong: High 5 as her worst film of the day as she found its silly over the top pot humor and merchandise placement for the Full Moon product Badass Dolls to be annoying…and sad to say she is right on both accounts. My worst film of the day would be City Of Dream Demons and while it is by no means a terrible shot on video film, it did seem to spin its wheels a lot with the plot.  While the cover to the DVD looks badass, the demons in the movie just have grease paint smeared on their faces and just could have been so much more than what it was even with the no budget they were working with. My best films of the day are in this order: # 1 is Last Shift – the mood and atmosphere of this film was great.  The sprits of the cult members were creepy in spots as were the ghosts of their past victims.  Add in great acting and twists, and this was a great late night watch! My # 2 was Blood Night: Curse Of Mary Hatchet as it was a cool super natural slasher film that was filled with likeable characters, hot women, cool gore effects and a killer who can not be stopped as well as a twist baddie character, not to mention this film starred Danielle Harris! My # 3 was a little harder to pick as three other films almost closed in on this spot but in the end The Wife Killer won out as I found the plot to be very enjoyable and the twists kept me drawn into the plot not to mention plenty of hot Greek women and a killer who was a perv and a total scumbag! My runners up were Funhouse Massacre, Plutonium Baby and Mutilations all who had their charms and made the day of Horror all the more enjoyable. As for Juliet’s picks: # 1 was The Wife Killer…# 2 was Funhouse Massacre and her # 3 was Valley Of The Zombies with her runner up being Last Shift. After the main Horror Movie Marathon we went to bed and prepared for the first ever After Party!

Valley Of The Zombies DVDFrankenstein Day Of The Beast DVDThe Fishman DVDEvil Bong High 5 DvdMutilations dvdPlatoon Of The Dead dvdPlutonium Baby dvdThe Wife Killer dvdBlood Night The Legend Of Mary Hatchet dvdThe Funhouse Massacre dvdThe Last Shift dvdCity Of Dream Demons dvd

We woke up around 8am on September 7th and started the first ever Horror Movie Marathon After Party at a little after 9am.  Sadly we had to cut two films from the line up as Juliet had to go to work and in the evening do her radio show on WYSO. The first film of the after party was the found footage film directed by Ohio’s own Danny Draven called “Specters” about a behind the scenes movie crew getting lost on the set that is an old abandon haunted mental asylum and being stalked by evil ghosts! The second film of the day was a no budget slasher film directed by Joel D. Wynkoop called “Slasher Weekend” about a killer on the loose in the woods that is hacking and slashing any one who dares to enter, but is there more to the killer than meets the eye? And the third and final film was another found footage film that was directed by my good pal Henrique Couto called “Alone In The Ghost House” about a ghost hunting couple picking the wrong site for their next episode as something sinister seems to be waiting for them. The after party was really a cheesy slasher film sandwiched between two found footage horror flicks and each had their own weird charm to them. But like always we had to pick our worst film as well as our best, and this one was easy for the worst as Juliet and I both picked Slasher Weekend as it was a horror comedy that was not all that funny as well as the killer seemed to be lumbering around like a 80 year old man with bad knees and jokes went on way to long and were driven into the ground.  The only plus this film had going for it was that some of the actresses were very good looking and the gore was good backyard style effects. For me the best film of this day was Alone In The Ghost House and that’s not just cause my friend directed it, and to be honest I co-produced it, but because the acting was well done with once more Erin R. Ryan stealing the show (really she is one of my favorite independent horror actresses who I am proud to say is also a friend) and the atmosphere was really creepy and the main characters all very likeable! Juliet’s top pick for the day was Specters as she felt that it packed a creepy mood and great characters! But she did want me to stay that Alone In The Ghost House was very close to taking her top pick of the day! So over all a very fun way to celebrate my birthday as well as add to the Fall and Halloween season! Do yourself a favor and get a group of your friends together and have yourself a Horror Movie Marathon soon as you will as well find yourself having a great horrific time.

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Well it’s time for our Halloween update standard and that’s 5 Questions with a Horror Host.  This year I choose to talk to Cleveland Ohio’s very own Janet Decay.  I first meet Janet at a Cinema Wasteland some many years back as I was working with Andy Copp at his table and later would speak to her from time to time on Facebook where her past show “The Daughter Of Ghoul” would send me copies to play on DATV as part of the Horror Host Underground Block. So with pleasure I bring you this fun and amazing part of our Halloween Update that I call “5 Questions with Janet Decay”!

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Matt: So tell us about your show “The Mummy And The Monkey”, and how long have you been an undead Mummy Horror Hostess?

Janet: Well I host The Show The Mummy And The Monkey with my ape-man co-host Grimm Gorri. Together we bring our brand of offbeat weirdness all while giving you a slightly nostalgic fuzzy feeling. We play old monster movies and perform comedy bits in between. Think Elvira meets Pee Wee’s Playhouse meets Big Chuck and Lil’ John.
Janet Decay, my alter ego is Cleveland’s FIRST horror hostess and the city’s “Yummy Mummy”. The character herself is a mystery. She was a silent film actress that was supposed to be in a Cleopatra picture, little did she know that the Egyptian set props were actually ancient Egyptian cursed relics and they mystically transformed her into a real life undead mummy woman. I originally made the Decay character in 2010 for a charity zombie walk. The rags and makeup she wears I designed and put together. The tiara is made by a talented artist named Kathleen Kelley-Ottobre and some of my props were made by a little help from some other friends.
Grimm Gorri used to be on public access in Rhode Island but was really Cleveland born and raised. He came back to his hometown and ran into Ms. Decay and the rest is history.

Matt: So what horror hosts of the past inspired you to become a host yourself?

Janet: Well, all of them I suppose. Of Corpse here on the North coast we had The Ghoul, Big Chuck and Lil’ John, Superhost, Son Of Ghoul, and the older folks with more wisdom remember being glued to the TV as Ghoulardi filled the boob tube in the 1960’s. So there must be something in the Lake eerie water that does this to people.

Originally I auditioned for the hostess role for a now cancelled show on Time Warner public access called “The Daughter of The Ghoul Show”. I never really agreed with the name and received a huge backlash from it, but for a little while (2013-2014) it was a lot of fun! Decay still hosted it and I’ve always kept the rights to my own character. After the show was cancelled this little ghoul branched out and started a show with a sweet simian named Grimm Gorri and we’ve been accumulating a following.

Matt: What has been your favorite movie to host thus far?

Janet: The Screaming Skull so far, but I’m sure they’ll be new ones I enjoy just as much.

Matt: Who has been the one movie star you have been most hyped to meet at your many convention appearances and what Horror Host as well?

Janet: This is very hard to answer because there’s so many I’ve been hyped up to meet. I really can’t pick one, but I can choose a recent one. In March of 2016 I finally met in person a famous Cleveland movie host from WBNX 55, The Ghoul, Ron Sweed. I used to watch him in the 90’s on Friday nights. This guy was always wacky and goofy on TV, yet in person very polite and sweet to the fans when Grimm and I were there.

Matt: Who plays the best Mummy: Boris Korloff or Christopher Lee?

Janet: Eeek! Another tough one! They are each lovable in their own way.

I want to thank Janet Decay for taking a few moments to answer these questions for me on this update.  She has always been a very sweet and amazing person, and if you readers get a chance to meet her at say Horror Hound Weekend or Cinema Wasteland, make sure to do so! Also check out her official website here: http://www.themummyandthemonkey.com/ and get your own Mummy and Monkey DVD’s, T-Shirts and other cool merchandise. She’s very talented and one of the best modern horror hosts going, and I recommend viewing her show. Once more thanks Janet for giving us this interview as well as being who you are and keeping horror hosting alive in Ohio!

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As always around this time of the year, my cousin Stephen Alexander and my good pal Josh Weinberg decided that we needed to go to a haunted Ohio location and see if the legends and stories were true or if it was just a tall tale told to scare kids around camp fires or the glow of their flashlights during a sleepover. It took me a few months of looking over websites, books and maps to choose the location for this year’s haunted excursion and finally I selected a haunted road called Lick Road in Cincinnati that is supposed to be haunted by a young murder victim named Amy. The story, like most legends, has multiple origins but the core is the same and has Amy as a young woman who was murdered and raped on the road by her boyfriend on prom night.  Her body was left at the street’s dead end, and it’s said her spirit wanders the area in search for help and to torment those who taunt her. It’s said if you park on the bridge and wander away from your car that by the time you come back the windows will be fogged up and a message written on the window from the inside will read “Help Me”.  Also if you stop on the bridge on the street and say that you have Amy’s baby, she will appear and chase you as she is upset that her life came to an end before she could have a child and finds you saying this is a way to insult her. Other versions of the story have Amy being killed by her evil stepfather and another is that she was killed by a serial killer who dumped her body on Lick Road….so is this legend true? Is a ghost of a female named Amy really waiting for us on Lick Road? Check out below for my pal and Sparkle Comics artist Jason Gilmore’s take on what Amy of Lick Road looks like!

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On September 3, 2016 after a day of work at Game Swap, a quick meal at Applebee’s and some quick planning, Stephen and I loaded into Josh’s SUV and set out for this year’s ghost hunting adventure. The drive up their we all chatted about the legend of Amy a little and about life in general.  Finding Lick Road was super easy.  The road sits off a little from the main roads, but turning onto this haunted road things started to go south real quick as we noticed lots of houses and even a very large horse training and breeding farm….and this was just the beginning of the downfall. We drove slowly trying our best to get a spooky vide from the road and hoping to get a glimpse of Amy but all we found was no bridge and no chills. By the time we hit the dead end that lead to the park, the mood of the road was gone and we so wanted something to happen. So we got out of the SUV and snapped a few pictures, once we turned off the SUV and waited to see if the windows got fogged and Help Me to be written on the windows we walked around a little bit and nothing happened once we checked the windows, a total bust! Stephen and I were walking around as he tried to snap some more pictures when we heard a male voice from the woods mumble something at us very sternly.  We waited for a few moments and listened to see if he said something again and decided to leave. Over all while the story and legend of Amy on Lick Road is well done and a cool story to tell, the reality for us was that the road just was not spooky and besides some male voice from the park woods, nothing creeped us out and all of us would give the location thumbs down.

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After we left Lick Road feeling cheated on getting a spooky good time, Stephen looked up other nearby haunts, and we choose to visit a road that was about five minutes away from Lick called Buell Road that had its own creepy legend. Buell Road is filled with lots of twists and turns, and the story goes that in the part of the road that is straight if you park you car and flash your lights three times and than sit in complete darkness a ghost boy riding a bike will appear from behind you.  If your don’t turn your lights back on before he touches your car you will die in seven days. The urban legend reminded us a lot of the film “The Ring,” and I am sure that the story sprang up after that movie, but we decided that why not got for two haunted locations for this Rotten Ink Halloween update and wash the disappointment of Lick Road out of our minds. So did the boy on the bike ghost show up? Read on and find out. Also below is Jason Gilmore’s take on the Ghost Bike Boy.

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After stopping and getting some gas we headed to Buell Road and we soon learned that the road was filled with lots of twists and turns and that if traveled at night you could easily loose control and wreck, as we approached the straight away in the road Stephen spotted some crosses at the side of the road and started to snap some pictures before thinking he seen approaching lights behind us causing Josh to drive on as we had seen a park ranger near by. As we drove the topic of the crosses filled the car as we wondered at first if they were placed their to mess with thrill seekers but when returning and seeing names and a date we realized that sadly this was also the location of an accident were people lost their lives as well as the spot of a local urban legend. While the mood was a little down at that point we moved up a little and did as the legend demanded and flashed our lights three times, turned off the car and waited for the Ghost Boy on the bike to show up…the air was still and the road was pitch black and the three of use focused on the road waiting to see this bringer of death approaching, looking over at Josh I seen he had his hand on his lights and the other on the ignition ready to speed off if the ghost appeared. We waited and waited and nothing happened and after about 5-6 minutes we decided to just call it a bust and head out. On the way out I Googled the accident that took place in that spot in 2007 and we learned a little about the two young ladies who passed away, and we all said our respects to them as it was a sad tragic event. The atmosphere of the road was pretty good as it was super dark and the woods around the road added a creepy factor that was way better than Lick Roads! After this we drove around a little longer looking for any other creepy roads or bridges from the area and found nothing of interest, and this ended our 2016 Ghost Adventure! While Lick Road was a major bust and letdown at least Buell had a creepy feel to it. Who knows what spooky adventure awaits us next year! Below are some pictures from Buell Road as well as one of the memorial crosses in honor of those young ladies.

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On October 15, 2016 Horrorama turned 20 years old and this marked about the 15 or 16th year of me helping on this iconic charity event that I have long time now been one of the programing organizers of and this year once again we were at Danberry Cinema in Huber Heights. This year alongside Juliet, Matt Joseph and Rick Martin we decided to spice up the event and give power to the people and allow them to vote on what films they wanted to watch at this iconic event. The first and last film were voted on via Facebook months ahead of the event with “Creature From The Black Lagoon” winning the opening spot and the cheesy classic “Death Spa” getting the honors of closing the night. The event was a huge hit and we dang near packed the house and brought in lots of money for the charity that helped homeless and needy pets in and around the Dayton area. After the Creature ended the first live vote was for a 80’s Monster flick and had such films as C.H.U.D., Pumpkinhead and Hobgoblins battling it out but The Blob remake won out and entertained the crowd with its gross effects and science fiction fun nature. Next up was a Hammer Horror film that had up for vote films like Twins Of Evil and Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires but we really shocked the crowd as “PhantasmV: Ravager” was added and won hands down! After that surprise I had many people coming up to me and thanking us for showing it on the big screen! The final voting of the night before Death Spa was for an Italian Horror flick and films like Nightmare City and Torso lost out to Fulci’s masterpiece “The Gates Of Hell”! This monumental event I helped not only in the projection room but also hosted along side Rick and my pal Henrique Couto who I felt really should be up their with us. Plus in the crowd was many of my nearest and dearest friends like Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Theresa Daniels, Nick Williams, Mike Ritchie, Alia Eckhardt with the biggest surprise being my School Days main crush Tina Manning who brought her niece, very cool to see Tina as she is a wonderful person. Thanks to everyone who came to this years Horrorama as this one was for Andy Copp and Barry “Dr. Creep” Hobart as they I am 100% sure were with us all in spirit. Below is some pictures from the night from Phantasm on the big screen, the outside marque and Tina and I all taken at the event.

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I am sure many of you are wondering what Baron Von Porkchop did this Halloween season, am I right? Well sadly this year is the first year that we did not get to do a new Halloween Special as a stream of events caused it not to happen but we did put together a marathon for DATV of classic Halloween Specials of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre as well as episodes of Moraine Playhouse Theater hosted by The Creeper! Baron Von Porkchop also hosted a four-course dinner for local Dayton restaurant Lily’s Bistro that featured such dishes as Bone Marrow, Squid Ink and even a dish called The Evil Eye! So while new episodes of Baron Von Porkchop has been short coming this past year, he still has been out and about and meeting with his fans and that’s one cool thing for this blogger to see. And Baron and I promise that we are working on new episodes and that 2017 season three will be finished and aired for you all to see. Also keep your eyes and ears open as we are working on a new “Black Friday Special” that will air on DATV for the Horror Host Underground Marathon on November 25th. Below is some pictures of Baron at Lily’s for the meal that he hosted so give them a look and enjoy!

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So now we are at the Hewitt farmhouse and it’s clear that Leatherface is home as I can hear the screaming coming from the basement and the faint noise of chainsaw is also filling the air. So before we go any further this far on this Halloween update lets take a quick look back at what we have taken a look at this far that was meant to chill your blood and send shivers down your spine as we chatted about a loose bull named Dumpster Diver, explored the Sonic.exe Creepypasta legend, reviewed a independent comic, visited some haunted Ohio roads, shared a Horror Movie Marathon I had and chatted with Horror Host Janet Decay! So it’s clear that it’s time for us to take a look at who Thomas “Leatherface” Hewitt is and what this remake of a classic is all about so while the screams from the basement echo in the night air lets take this moment to chat about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 2003.

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Driving through the backwoods of Texas, five youths pick up a traumatized hitchhiker, who shoots herself in their van. Shaken by the suicide, the group seeks help from the locals, but their situation becomes even more surreal when they knock on the door of a remote homestead. It’s quickly apparent the residents are a family of inbred psychopaths, and the unlucky youths suddenly find themselves running for their lives. In hot pursuit is a disfigured, chainsaw-wielding cannibal known as Leatherface.”

Texas Chainsaw Massacres was released on October 17, 2003 and was released by New Line Cinema with it being directed by Marcus Nispel and starring Jessica Beil, Erica Leerhsen, Johathan Tucker, R. Lee Ermey and Andrew Bryniarski as Leatherface. The film grossed $80,571,655.00 at the US Box Office on a $9.5 million dollar budget. While Foreign Box Office brought in an additional $26,500,00.00 bring the worldwide total of this film to $107,071,655.00 making it a hit for New Line Cinema. The film ranked as 37 of the year and beat out such cult films as Kill Bill Vol. 1, Bad Santa, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Underworld, Final Destination 2, Lost In Translation, 28 Days Later, Jeepers Creepers 2, Monster, Wrong Turn, Cabin Fever and Darkness Falls to name a few. This 2003 remake was met with mixed reviews as many enjoyed it while others ranted about it like it used a chainsaw on their mothers! And this was also the treatment it got from Critics and Reviewer’s as it was a clear showdown of the pro supporters for this new direction for the iconic horror series. The same split was happing as well with my friends and I, but we will get to that a little later. Love it or hate it Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 was a film that sparked the Horror Remake Boom and allowed Platinum Dunes to sink their blood sucking fangs into making many other remakes of other classic Horror films like “The Amityville Horror” in 2005, “The Hitcher” in 2007, “Friday The 13th” in 2009 and “A Nightmare On Elm Street” in 2010 and they all as well have a very split ratings with Horror fans. The film also sparked a pre-equal in 2006 with the film “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”.

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I can remember that in 2003 when it was announced that New Line Cinema was teaming up with Platinum Dunes a company created by director Michael Bay and producer Brad Fuller to make a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film my friends and me were really hyped for it. But soon when news started coming out that it was a remake and being directed by Marcus Nispel who only directed music videos and documentaries for such artists as Janet Jackson, Spice Girls and Billy Joel I started to worry as did my friends. Then when the casting was being talked about things again started to take a turn even more toward the worried zone when the lead actress was Jessica Biel a great actress but known for the time as Mary Camden on the cheesy show “7th Heaven” and during interviews to hype the film the producers and crew clearly didn’t know the source material but were claiming they were all huge fans. On opening night Andy Copp, Josh Weinberg and my brother Bryan and his girlfriend (wife now) Bel and me and my girlfriend at the time Misty all went and seen it in the theater that Andy was helping out at. I can remember sitting in my seat with popcorn and a Mountain Dew to drink waiting for the film to start in the packed theater sitting next to Misty and Josh talking about Horror Films in general and what we were hoping from this film. The crowd was buzzing with talk and chatter of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and discussions of how this had to be better than Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and how it will compare to the original. As the theater lights went down and the trailers played we all sat and watched Leatherface and his family The Hewitt’s do what they do deep in the heart of Texas. After the film was over and the crowd was mixed as I heard many people talk about how it was the best Horror Movie they have ever seen with others complaining about how dumb and silly the film was and seemed like a CW show mixed with horror. After the theater was cleared we all stood in the lobby and we were all split in our reactions to the movie, “the haters” were Andy and Bryan, the “it was ok” was Josh and Me, “the loved it” group was Misty and Bel. Bryan and Andy hated it as they felt it was generic and that scenes were over the top and poorly set up. The talk lasted for around 30 minutes before we all went our own ways, and when home Misty talked about why she loved it some much as she found the characters likeable and Leatherface spooky and brutal and this made for a good watching experience for her. Over the years I have went from thinking it was ok to hating it to liking it and repeat that cycle over and over, but now I can officially say that I find the film ok while not my favorite in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre it does have some great moments and Leatherface is very menacing, the part that still to this day bothers me is the over use of R. Lee Ermey as Sheriff Hoyt, his constant screaming just is over blown and super cheesy in my opinion. I know that that’s not a popular opinion as many Horror Fans credit him for why they like the film for me he is one of the reasons its just ok, if the character was used less and not as a main focus as at times the movie seems to have him as it’s top villain and Leatherface is more of a background killer. But say what you will about the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for this Horror fan it was a fun watch in the theater with friends and has been fun to re-watch on DVD and has sparked many cool comic book series based around it and it’s characters.

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Lets now take a brief look at the Leatherface of the Platinum Dunes set of films. Thomas Brown Hewitt was born on August 25, 1939 to Slone a worker at the Blair Meat Company in Texas on her shift and when born his mother died and Thomas had a skin disease and her boss tossed him into the dumpster still alive! Thomas is found in the dumpster by Luda May Hewitt and taken home and were she raises him as her own. Growing up his facial skin disease got worst and his attitude turned violent as he is mute and has retardation and worked for the Blair Meat Slaughter House until it’s closing. Thomas to cover his face would wear a cow leather mask and would listen to what ever his adapted family would tell him to do and that included killing, cooking and eating people as the town was dying and food was hard to come by so they turned cannibal. Thomas also has a tendency to harm and mutilate himself and is easily persuaded to do bad things by his Uncle Charlie aka Sheriff Hoyt. Thomas during his killing and grilling human ways discovers that he can make masks out of human faces and cover of his disfigured face getting the nickname Leatherface. In 1973 while killing a group of young adults Thomas chases a woman into the long closed Blair Meat slaughterhouse and has the table turned on him when she uses a meat cleaver to remove his arm! Thomas was last seen sometime later when he kills a Cop and his cameraman who where sent to investigate the Hewitt farmhouse. While missing and not captured Thomas “Leatherface” Hewitt is still one the loose and eating and stealing peoples faces. Below is the three faces of Leatherface from the 2003 film to show you how his appearance changed throughout the film.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not just a series based on the lead killer Leatherface but also the fellow demented family members who make up his twisted household! The original film had Grandpa, The Hitchhiker and The Cook! The second film had ChopTop, The Cook and Grandpa! The third had Tex, Tink, Little Girl, Alfredo, Grandpa and Anne! Even the fourth film had solid family members like W.E, Vilmer, Grandpa and Darla helping Leatherface on his task of killing. The first three films that last name of the family was Sawyers with the fourth film Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation changing the last time to Slaughter and with the Platinum Dunes series their last name is Hewitt and the newer films its back to Sawyer…so as you can see this series is as jacked up as the characters that make it up but the main thing is the family was always around no matter what they name each was a crazy as the others. The 2003 family is lead by Charlie Hewitt Jr. who after killing the towns only police officer starts going by Sheriff Hoyt and is the master mind of the family killing and eating people so they will not go hungry, in the past he was a solider in war and what he seen during the war has twisted him into a terrible human being who enjoys torturing and messing with the minds of his victims. Luda May Hewitt is an older woman who is the adoptive mother of Leatherface and runs the gas station of the dying town. Monty Hewitt use to drive the towns tow truck but after an accident his legs are removed and now he is wheelchair bound. Jedidiah Hewitt is a weird bucktoothed kid who is treated like a dog by the family, while a Hewitt he seems to hate all the killing. The Tea Lady and her daughter Henrietta Hewitt live in a trailer and live a normal life of watching TV and drinking tea….and oh yeah they steal babies! All sick and all twisted in their own way and each help add to the crazy blood soaked world of Thomas “Leatherface” Hewitt.

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Andrew Bryniarski in 2003 dawned the human skin mask and picked up the chainsaw to portray Leatherface for the remake film as well as it’s follow up film, making him the only actor to play the role twice up to this point. Andrew started his career in the spotlight as a body builder and started his acting when visiting a friend in Los Angeles a talent agent spotted him and got him a role as Butterfinger in the 1991 film “Hudson Hawk”. That same year he landed a role in “Necessary Roughness” and before that in 1990 he had a tiny role in the film “Dragonfight”. Many great roles followed in such films as “Batman Returns”, “Cyborg 3” and “The Program”. In 1994 he played the live action version of video game character Zangief in “Street Fighter” and would go on to be in other films like “Scooby-Doo”, “Pearl Harbor”, “Rollerball” and “Any Given Sunday” until landing the role of Leatherface in 2003’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake. Many other horror film roles followed including the 2004 film “The Curse Of El Charro”, “Seven Mummies” from 2005 and the 2006 pre-equel film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” and his last major horror role he played Count Dracula in the 2008 film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Guest”. Over the years and during my many convention bookings and ones I attend I have meet and seen Andrew many time over the years and oddly enough many fans love his big over the top nature and on the other hand I have heard very negative things about him from fans who found him to be a jerk! I have never had an issue with him and any time I have seen him he has always treated me with respect and in a friendly manner. But Andrew has had his share of controversy as in 2012 he ran into some issues as he was arrested for hording dogs, or so the charges against him tried to say. But in 2015 when actor and original Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen passed away Andrew took to twitter to mock fans who were upset over Hansen’s passing as the two actors did not have any love for each other and had taken shots at each other before and this caused a feud between fans as some showed support for Gunnar and others took up for Andrew and his lack of sadness for the horror icons death. For me Andrew’s commits of “Boo Hoo” and telling a fan of Gunnar’s this in response to him defending the deceased actor this “Zero F*cks Given, s*ck his dead n*ts” shows that he has no common sense, but to be fair we all have said dumb things in our lives. Was Andrew Bryniarski the best Leatherface…for me no that will always belong to Gunnar Hansen as he was the original and set the bar that all actors had to follow who wore the skin mask and wielding a chainsaw, but Andrew was a new generation’s Leatherface and did his job well and helped make his films what they are. While now mostly doing B-Movies Andrew is still somewhat active in the acting game.

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So we are still outside at the Hewitt farmhouse and I can hear the chainsaw starting up again in the basement so my guess is we are now at the comic review part of our big Halloween update that brought us back here to Texas to re-visit Leatherface or at least some one called Leatherface! I want to thank Mavericks Cards and Comics, Bell Book and Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these comics in stock and making this update possible. So while Lionsgate is playing games with the release of their upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel, me on my blog Rotten Ink decided that we should have a TCM and Avatar Comics kind of Halloween! If you listen coming from the Hewitt living room window you can here good old Sheriff Hoyt telling Uncle Monty this “Matt grades these on a f#&$!ing star scale of 1 to 4 and is looking for how damn well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story.” And I hate to say it he is right on how I grade these comics. So stay low and don’t make a sound as we once more take a peek into the sick and twisted life of Leatherface.

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TCM: Special # 1  **1/2
Released in 2005     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 1 of 1

It’s 1972 in Fuller, Texas, and a group of convicts have escaped prison and are driving toward Mexico to avoid being re-captured and along for the ride are two female friends, one of whom helped with the escape. Hardy Miller is a convicted drug dealer, Ellery Watts a convicted rapist and Rufus Kimoni, a member of the Black Panthers, make up the criminals while Darlene is Hardy’s girl and Charity is a sweet young woman caught in a bad car filled with nuts! They stop at the small store run by Luda Mae Hewitt and before the criminals come in to rob her, she is able to call her home for help.  When they find she has no money, they go to leave and soon find that their car is now destroyed in a matter of minutes! Miller and Darlene go one way and leave Charity using the restroom and Ellery missing. Rufus goes back in to question Luda Mae but is chopped to death with meat cleavers by Luda Mae and Tea Lady! Meanwhile Ellery tries to rape Charity and is killed by Leatherface who chops him up with his trusty chainsaw. Charity runs to a small trailer home and meets Henrietta Hewitt who tries to calm the girl as she knows that the young woman is pregnant. Darlene and Miller make the mistake of entering the Hewitt house hoping to find a car to steal and are both knocked out by the wheelchair bound Monty Hewitt who swings a mean brick. Leatherface and Henrietta force Charity to the farmhouse as Sheriff Hoyt forces Miller to snort kitchen cleaner, and they give Darlene to Leatherface who kills her in the basement.  Lastly, after the terror makes Charity lose the baby, she becomes the final victim to taste the saw blade of Leatherface.

The crazy Hewitt family is at it again, this time setting their twisted sights on a carload of criminals who escaped from prison and are dumb enough to stop in Fuller, Texas! The plot is really that simple and has the Hewitt’s killing off a carload of terrible people who are killers in their own way with only one of them being a good person in a terrible situation. Hardy Miller and Darlene are bad people who get a joy of selling drugs and robbing people to get what they need and want.  While not the worst of the group, they get it pretty brutally with Miller getting the worst torture of it all as he has to snort dangerous chemicals that eat away his sinuses and then is chopped up like a hog! Rufus Kimoni is a killer who was part of the Black Panthers and seems to be very trigger happy to end someone’s life as he even wanted to kill Luda Mae when they attempted to rob her as she didn’t have enough money for them. Ellery Watts is a sleazy creep who gets what’s coming to him for trying to rape Charity, but to be fair I wish he got it worse as he took pleasure in his victim’s fear and screams and is a true scumbag.  Charity is the only likable character and is pregnant and just wants to get to Mexico and hitches a ride with her friend Darlene and her criminal friends.  She is truly the one you find yourself cheering for to make it out of this massacre alive. But as we all know, none of these characters make it out alive and are all turned into meals for the Hewitt family. Leatherface is a pure slasher killer in this issue and stalks and kills whoever is not a part of his family.  The rest of the Hewitt family are also very blood thirsty, and each one shows they take joy in killing as even the overweight Tea Lady uses a meat cleaver to murder a man. While the plot is simple and for most accounts very cheesy, the gore and blood level is turned up and it’s pretty brutal with the issue’s best death being the murder of a unknown female at the start of the issue that is cut in half by Leatherface in the family’s basement! Like all Avatar comics, there are like a million covers, and the one I have is called The Bloodbath Cover and is pretty dang eye catching.  I am sure it drew in many horror comic readers in 2005. The art is done by Jacen Burrows and is pretty great stuff with the film’s story being written by Brian Pulido who is known for being the creator of Lady Death and the owner of Chaos Comics. Over all a nice single issue story that is sure to please fans of the TCM series as well as gore hounds who enjoy bloody and brutal comics.

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TCM: Fearbook # 1  **
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 1 of 1

A car is zooming down a road in Texas with Charlie behind the wheel and his passengers Sahara, Lucy and Jeb are having a good time.  Jeb is having the best time as he is dropping acid! They all stop at the little gas station, and Lucy and Jeb go inside to get snacks but soon are harassed by Luda May and Sheriff Hoyt who also punches out Charlie and arrests him after he finds the young man disrespectful in tone once he enters the store looking for his friends. Sheriff Hoyt takes Charlie to the old farm house where he and Monty talk down to their prisoner.  Meanwhile Sahara follows Hoyt to the farm, and this is a big mistake as it just leads them to be trapped in the house and for Leatherface to have his fun! Leatherface guts Charlie with his trusty chainsaw, cuts off Jeb’s legs and causes Sahara to go into a panic and fall from the top of the steps and break her neck! Leatherface takes Lucy to the basement and wears the face of Charlie and nails the face of Sahara to Lucy, and the issue ends with him dancing is the basement with the corpse of Lucy.

This Fearbook is nothing special and to be honest is a very middle of the road read, as the story is just a watered down version of the Specials with way less character development and less gore. The story is a group that makes the mistake of stopping at the gas station run by Luda May and gets lured into a trap at the Hewitt farm house that leaves them almost all dead by the blades of Leatherface’s chainsaw. Charlie and Sahara are mouthy unlikable people who are disrespectful and have attitudes toward law enforcement and anyone with authority. Jeb is a hippie drug addict who spends most of his time in the comic tripping and talking about his hands…yeah, your typical druggie in a horror comic/film. Lucy is the most likable as she doesn’t like the drug use and tries her best to smooth over the drama and tension between the Hewitt’s and her friends. Luda May and Monty are barely in the comic, and as always, Sheriff Hoyt takes the main focus and cusses and belittles our characters until his nephew Leatherface can dispatch them. Leatherface makes quick work of these victims and seems to want to relax and “cosplay” as members of this group and dance the night away. The comic does have blood, guts and gore with the best kill being Leatherface using a hammer and nails to attach her friends face to Lucy’s…sick and twisted and a good kill. The cover I have for this issue is okay and features Leatherface in front of the house with the moon in the background.  The inside art is done by Daniel Hdr and is good with a story by Antony Johnston that is generic. Over all this is just a so-so issue that feels as if Avatar was just quickly cashing in on the popularity of Texas Chainsaw Massacre…let’s see what The Grind has in store for us as I hope it’s better than this issue!

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TCM: The Grind # 1  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 1 of 3

The Milsap’s are driving a bus full of choir girls, and Julie Ann is the outcast, the dark haired girl whom the other girls make fun of and spread rumors of, even her own adopted sister Sadie joins in. When the bus gets a flat tire Mr. Milsap goes for help and makes the mistake of entering the Blair Meat slaughterhouse and is killed by the chainsaw of Leatherface. Night comes as the girls and Miss Milsap and her young daughter Ellie wait for Mr. Milsap’s return with help that never comes.  This causes Mrs. Milsap to go walk for help, and she as well meets a bloody end at the slaughterhouse thanks to Leatherface. At the bus, Sheriff Hoyt appears and plants drugs on the bus and takes all five choir girls and Ellie to the slaughterhouse and locks the older girls in a walk in freezer and then gives Ellie to Henrietta Hewitt who runs off with her. Poor choir girl Louise is set free by Hoyt, and he gives her to Leatherface who of course chases the young woman around the slaughterhouse and finally meets her end by his chainsaw! Sheriff Hoyt opens the freezer door and lets them know that Leatherface needs another playmate…

A choir team on their way to a concert has a flat tire that leaves them broken down and in the hands of the Hewitt family who have targeted them for death and food. The plot is that simple but somehow is pretty fitting for this kind of comic based on a series of movies that have very similar plots. The Milsap family seems to be good-hearted people who enjoy singing and spending time with each other as well as with their students who make up the choir group that has almost won many competitions. Sadly Mr. and Mrs. Milsap are killed off before we can get too attached to their characters as well as really know them. Ellie Milsap is a little girl who loves her parents and enjoys hanging out with the older choir singers.  Once she is taken away by Henrietta Hewitt, we are not sure what her fate is yet. The Choir Girls, while snooty and always picking of Julie Ann, still stick together when the odds are against them and danger is clearly present. Julie Ann oddly enough keeps writing to her foster dad that is making her adopted sister mad as something bad must have happened. Henrietta Hewitt is as creepy as ever and wants to collect young kids, and Sheriff Hoyt as always sets up the victims and treats them terribly with insults and abuse. Leatherface in this issue just wants to kill and kill and by the end of the issue has a body count of three already! The gore and blood is toned down and not nearly as brutal as the Special and Fearbook.  Pretty disappointing as the gore could have added to the brutal nature of the characters and story. The cover I have is called the Wrap Around and is just okat and nothing too special.  The art inside is done by Daniel Hdr and looks pretty dang good, and the story was written by Brian Pulido who thus far is making the plot pretty entertaining. The Grind so far has a pretty good start, and this first issue left me wanting to see what is going to happen next! So let’s see what brutal deaths and body count issue two has in store for us.

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TCM: The Grind # 2  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 2 of 3

As Sheriff Hoyt tries to bully one of the girls to leave the freezer and get chopped up by Leatherface, it’s a hidden pencil by Julie Ann that frees the girls as she stabs Hoyt in the hand and they all escape and split up into groups of two in order to try and survive. Julie Ann and Rosa go one way as Sadie and Marsha go another while Sheriff Hoyt and Leatherface split up to catch them. Julie Ann and Rosa make it out of the slaughterhouse and end up seeing Ellie in the grip of Henrietta but have to run away before they can save her as Leatherface is on their tail.  When Rosa gets her leg stuck in a bear trap, she becomes another victim to Leatherface’s chainsaw, and her body is taken to the Hewitt house and her face is cut off. Meanwhile Sadie and Marsha are not as lucky and are caught in the slaughterhouse by Hoyt who takes them to the farmhouse leaving only Julie Ann safe and their only hope to live through this cannibalistic crisis. Sheriff Hoyt is going to kill the girls, but upon getting into an argument with Leatherface who is wearing the face of Rosa now Luda May, calls them both inside to yell at them.  This allows Julie Ann to save Sadie and Marsha, and the girls hide in the barn to come up with a plan to escape but are soon found by a very pissed off Leatherface!

The girls must keep their wits and do what they can to survive as the Hewitt’s are now in killing mode and want to teach these choirgirls a lesson in southern respect. Plus this time around we get a little more background on Julie Ann who had been arrested before being one of the choirgirls, and we find out that Sadie’s dad was a molester and that Julie Ann put a stop to his ways and that’s why she went to jail, protecting her adopted sister! Julie Ann is a character you find yourself liking as she is to the point and understands that they must fight to stay alive as well as knows when to run, as she sadly had to do when Rosa was caught in the trap and killed. Sadie, Rosa and Marsha do not have the killer instinct and that’s why they are in constant danger of being killed. Sheriff Hoyt is as sleazy and power hungry as ever and loves to talk down and torment these young ladies as you can tell it makes him feel in charge. When he takes a pencil to the hand that causes so much pain his fake teeth fall out, I found myself cheering even more for Julie Ann to make it out of this alive. Luda May and Henrietta are around but play more of background characters, but it does show that Luda May is the true family member with power as both Hoyt and Leatherface listen to her. Leatherface is still blood-thirsty and wants nothing more than to chop up these young ladies and maybe even wear their faces! I do like that in this issue Thomas does wear the face of a young woman, and this angers us Uncle Hoyt who doesn’t want his nephew to look girly. The blood in this issue is toned down even more and only one kill takes place as Rosa is chainsawed and face cut off but none of this is shown on panel and if it is, only shadows are seen. Wonder why the blood and gore is so lacking in this mini series? The cover is cool and has Leatherface coming after Julie Ann, and the team of Daniel and Pulido made it come to life. Over all another good issue with only one more issue to go with four more girls left to be killed! So let’s see if any of them get out alive or if they all will fall to the chainsaw.

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TCM: The Grind # 3  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.99       Avatar Comics     # 3 of 3

The three girls manage to get away from Leatherface and hide, that is until the fear gets a grip on Marsha and she makes a run for it and pays the price with her life as Leatherface chops her up. Julie Ann and Sadie make a run for it as well but are captured. Tea Lady and Henrietta use garden tools to knock them out. When they awaken, they find that they are tied up in the farmhouse, and Sheriff Hoyt has read the letter Julie Ann was sending to her adoptive father.  Sadie is being hit on and tortured by Uncle Monty who who ends up killing her leaving only Julie Ann left who is forced to eat dinner with the Hewitt family! During dinner Julie Ann is given away to Monty who ties her to a bed and tries to assault her but she is able to break free steal a chainsaw, rescue Ellie and run away from a very mad Leatherface.  While Ellie keeps running Julie Ann is able to get a ride into the next town where she is blamed for the murders of her fellow choirgirls and the Milsaps thanks to her letter that was to be sent to her father that tells of her murderous thoughts! In the end Luda May and Sheriff Hoyt are happy that the Hewitt family is not exposed and some one else is to blame for the murders.

This final issue’s plot has our remaining girls being captured, some killed and one promised to be the bride of the wheelchair bound Uncle Monty, and when escaping and saving a young child’s life she in turn is blamed for the murders of her friends and sister! The story is good, and Brian Pulido does a decent job of making the girls likable and the Hewitt’s unlikable making this tale work. Julie Ann once more shows that she has what it takes to survive and does all she can to help her sister and fellow choir members to make it out alive, but only succeeds with saving the youngest Ellie. The fact that her homicidal thoughts are used against her and in turn makes her out to be the killer to the police is the nice twist this story needed…but I must say I would have loved to seen a follow up that had her escape jail and try and get her revenge on the Hewitt family. Sadie, who loves her adopted sister, is the last of the choirgirls to get murdered, and sadly she gets it slow and sleazy as Monty jokes her with a string all the while licking her face and sticking his gross tongue in her mouth. Marsha is just brain dead as she makes a run for it screaming and causing her own death as it alerts Leatherface to her whereabouts. Hoyt, Monty, Luna May, Tea Lady and Henrietta are all sick and demented and while they murder people, they have a strange family pride and traditions that include praying at dinner! Luna May and Sheriff Hoyt are the masterminds of setting up the framing of Julie Ann and shows that while their minds are dark they have a sinister way of thinking that protects their kin. Leatherface is what he always is, a simple minded killing machine who uses his chainsaw to chop and dice his victims who sadly stumbled in his family’s way. The gore is stepped back up in this issue and has two deaths with the bloodies being the chainsaw death of Marsha, but the best kill is Sadie by the hands of Monty as it’s just creepy and sleazy and feels so wrong. Daniel Hdr does the art again and looks great.  His Leatherface 2003 is not as good as Jacen Burrows who did it for the special, but still holds a gritty feel to it. The cover on this issue is called “Terror” and has the girls scared of Leatherface who is coming in for the kill. These comics based on the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre have the same appeal with me as the movie where they are nothing special but are okay when just looking to kill some time. Below is some artwork from this series so you can see the look and feel of this comic version of Leatherface.

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So while Thomas Hewitt in my opinion might not be as iconic nor creepy as Leatherface Sawyer, he made for one heck of a good comic book character for Avatar and even WildStorm some time later. Thanks for spending a small part of your Halloween with me here at Rotten Ink as it’s always a fun time to write these updates and share spooky comics with you as well as a hand full of other amazing terror tales from my ghost hunting adventures to Creepypastas and everything in between! But while the chainsaw noise is fading off into a distance, the ghosts and goblins are still roaming the streets so I think it’s time for me to find a safe house and eat left over candy from last year and tell you that our next update is about a failed superhero for Marvel called Solarman! So stay safe on this Halloween Night, and I will see you back here for the next update. So read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two, play a Survival Horror Game and as always support your local Horror Host! Happy Halloween!!!

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American Hero: The Original Shield

Happy July 4th and welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place where everything nerdy that inspired me has a place to shine and be discussed! Who doesn’t love a holiday that is in celebration of our nation’s independence and is filled with cookouts and amazing firework displays? So for this update I decided to cover a patriotic super hero and had many to choose from such as Captain America or even DC’s Freedom Force with Uncle Sam, but I decided to cover The Shield, a hero who pre-dated them all and has a fun Americana feel. So grab a burger and a cold beverage, and sit back, relax and have some fun with me here at Rotten Ink as we celebrate July 4th!

Fireworks go boom

Growing up, I can remember that my Brassfield grandparents would have cookouts that would have that side of the family gathering to eat burgers, hot dogs and steaks and play some baseball, Nintendo or football with the cousins and have an overall fun time. Later in the evening, we would all go to Delco Park and watch the fireworks and celebrate our independence. But while for the most part those were fun times, I can also remember many of years drama breaking out over someone having too many beers, and fights and arguments would break out for no reason.  Maybe my friend Henrique Couto should make a follow up to his film Awkward Thanksgiving and call it Awkward July 4th cause I have some fun and silly stories to share with him on that subject! The older I got, the less the family meet up and the more I would go out with friends to watch the fireworks or attend BBQs with them.  Some of the best times I have ever had on this day had to be sitting in a football field with my friend Andrea Seay and watching fireworks, just chatting with her as we watched the sky explode with bright colors, showing me just how important she was and still is to me.  Sadly we have drifted apart due to a dumb decision I made when it came to her. I also remember having great times on this day with David & Katie Wean cooking out and eating hamburgers and hotdogs chatting about movies and music. I also remember having a good time over at Patrick Neeley’s house cooking out, chatting, listening to music and playing video games. I also always had an amazing time hanging out on this day with my brother Bryan and his family along with friends like Andy Copp, Henrique Couto, Mike Ritchie and Nick Williams grilling out and watching Couto set off tiny fireworks or blow up apples and such with firecrackers. Nowadays I spend July 4th with my girl Juliet, and we find some sort of wacky thing to do to celebrate the day. I am going to pack lots into this update, not only about The Shield but other things to do with the holiday as well as a few things that don’t! But one thing is for sure, if you’re reading this on July 4th I am sure you are enjoying some grilled out meat while being around your loved ones waiting for the fireworks to go boom!

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In 2015 on July 4th for some reason I had to work for a few hours and then went to WYSO and got Alpha Rhythms done.  When I got home, Juliet and I decided to try some chicken wing sauce we bought at Jungle Jim’s that was called “Oh My Garlic.”  This was originally bought to have during one of my Horror Movie Marathons as the bottle had a pretty cool vampire drawing on it, but that idea changed as the last marathon I had was pretty large and we ended up ordering wings from Fricker’s instead. We got some fresh farm grazed chicken wings and drumsticks from Dorothy Lane Market, and when placing them in the glass pan, I put some spices on the wings and then put a little butter on them as well to help make them turn crispy and brown and placed them in the oven at 475 degrees for about 10 minutes. When taking them out I covered them with the Oh My Garlic sauce and man the smell was great.  Juliet and I knew that dinner was going to be really good and we could sleep easy as the heavy garlic smell would scare off any vampire. After about 30-40 minutes the wings were done and our feast began. The Oh My Garlic sauce was fantastic and had a strong garlic taste and the flavor mixed well with the chicken, spices and butter drawing out the garlic taste even more and really soaking into the meat. This is one sauce I will eat again and look forward to the next trip to Jungle Jim’s so that I can raid the chicken wing sauce aisle and get another bottle and see what other wonders I can uncover! The first picture is of the Oh My Garlic Sauce.  The second is the finished meal, and the third is the wings when the sauce was first placed on.

Oh My Garlic SauceOh My Garlic Done WingsRaw Wings With Oh My Garlic sauce

What would July 4th be without talking about something creepy! In 2009, a strange video was uploaded to Youtube by a user named Creepyblog that shows a very creepy female android singing a song called “I Feel Fantastic” while it moves its hands about.  It sent shivers down viewers’ spins, and the web was creeped out with many people asking what is this?! Tara The Android is the thing’s name.  No one is 100% sure of its origins and it’s true intention of being made, but like anything odd on the internet, there are a ton of theories that I would like to share them with you. Before you read on, you should watch the original video by typing in “I Feel Fantastic” into Youtube or just click the title from this page. Many people believe that Tara was made by a man named John Bergeron who made her to be a novelty concert attraction that he planned to book at clubs and art shows to show off her singing ability as well as his android work, but after not getting the attention he thought she would via her website as well as some issue with her not being that portable, the idea was scrapped. This theory is the most logical one and takes any creepy element away from Tara and her creator.  It was said that for a short time on the website that is now almost shut down, you could buy the songs as well as the “music videos” from Tara…is this fact or was the website made up to help build the legend of Tara? The next, more science fiction, theory is that Tara was made by a man who was killed by her and now the female android is on the loose looking to sing to and kill anyone who gets in her way…this one is silly and over the top and seems like it could have been an episode of The X-Files. The best, and also very believable, theory is that a serial killer made Tara and dresses her in his victims’ clothes and has her sing positive things to him as if murdering them was the right thing.  At one point Tara says “You Are Fantastic” but also says such odd things as “Run, Run, Run” and “Please Leave” adding to the killer using phrases he wanted to hear as well as what he did hear from his victims. Many videos were made and most are laced with strange lyrics and odd costume changes for Tara. Another odd thing is during the music videos random shots of a backyard are shown zooming into the ground ,and this is said to be the location of the body or bodies of victims. The background music that accompanies her lyrics sounds like weird low budget horror film score music adding fuel to the creator being a killer. No record has ever been uncovered if this is the work of a killer, and many people think this theory is just told to scare people looking for a good Creepypasta. So I am sure your wondering what I think the story of Tara is, well let me tell you that I am not sure! So what do you think, was she a would be android pop star made to make its creator some extra money? Is it a killer android on the loose who killed its creator looking for blood? Or is it the work of a killer who uses the robot to relive his crimes and feel good about his deeds? Only Tara and her creator know for sure, and they aren’t saying anything! On a side note weird stuff like this is why I do love the World Wide Web, cause it’s open to debate what is real and what’s only fiction to make a Creepypasta.

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On this update the CD I listened to as I wrote was picked by my friend and co-worker Dan Harkless, who is a Vietnam Vet and served his country in the war.  I always enjoy sitting around and listening to his war stories, and it’s given me a perspective into battle.  He is an all around fun person to chat with who loves Russ Meyer films and Playboy Magazine.  He’s a great swimmer who won awards, a gardener, was a fan of Sub Mariner when growing up and is a music lover. Dan picked Harry Chapin’s 1977 release Dance Band On The Titanic as his favorite, and this is interesting as I know very little about Harry Chapin besides the song “Cat’s In The Cradle” that almost every music listener knows.  So this is a very big unknown for me as I do not recognize any of the songs on this CD! The first thing I noticed is the 70’s pop folk sound of the tracks.  This was not what I was expecting at all as I felt going into it that it would be 100% folk rock, so this was a pleasant surprise! The first track that caught my ear was “Why Should People Stay The Same,” a nice song about change in relationships with a touch of religion.  It’s a good song with a catchy beat. Many other well produced and well played tracks followed including the soft folk ballad mixed with a dash of big band song called “Dark Valley (An Imitation Spiritual)”, a song that also caught my attention. While this CD was nothing I would normally listen to, I did find some great songs to write to on it and want to thank Dan for recommending it to me to go outside the borders of what I normally listen to.

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My brother and I used to rent a lot of horror films from K&L Video.  We would look up and down the New Release Wall looking for low budget titles that would catch our attention or direct to video sequels to films like Children of The Corn, but in 1996, a cover box caught my attention for a horror film called Uncle Sam that had a picture on the back of it that made me crack up and caused us to rent it! The picture on the back that had me laughing was a man dressed in an Uncle Sam mask peeking into a window and watching a woman in the bathroom…so cheesy, yet so 90’s direct to video horror! The film was directed by William Lustig, who was known for The Maniac Cop series as well as titles like Maniac, Relentless and Vigilante, and starred names like Bo Hopkins, PJ Soles, Isaac Hayes and David “Shark” Fralick and was released by A-Pix Entertainment. The film is about a young boy named Jody who idolizes his uncle Sam Harper, who is a master-sergeant in the army and is killed in a crash, but when the body is flown home, the small town soon finds out Sam is not dead.  He is a zombie killing machine and must be stopped by his nephew who once looked up to him. You see Sam was not a good man who enjoyed beating his wife as well as killing in wars.  While his nephew thought he was a true patriot, he in fact was a scumbag. While watching the movie, my brother and I spent time spotting the G.I. Joe action figures and enjoying the over all cheesy nature of the film. Sam Harper wears the Uncle Sam costume once he kills a peeping tom who was wearing it and has two looks, one with a mask and one with a zombie like burnt rotten face.  That’s right, sadly the picture on the back cover was not the killer, but just some teen tying to sneak a peek at a girl he likes. Uncle Sam leaves itself open for a comic sequel as it looks like a film one is not in the books. The story for the comic could have a grown up Jody, who is now in the military himself, being sent to a top secret base where he finds that the government has many experiments locked away including the still reanimated body of his Uncle Sam.  They want him to lead this rag tag group of “controlled” reanimated solders into battle against terrorist, and Jody soon learns that no one can lead Sam as he takes control of the zombie army and leads a war against not only terrorist but returns home to settle the score with the town that hides his ex-wife as he wants her dead! The comic would come to an epic end battle in the small town as Jody leads a group of elite soldiers against Sam and his army of the undead! The comic could be filled with lots of blood, bullets and boobs and the home coming for Sam of course would have to take place on July 4th so that during the final battle, fireworks could be going on in the background. While no major comic company would touch this to turn into a comic series I would say that out of my friends, the ones I would love to see make this would be Eric Shonborn or Justin Wasson, both of whom I think could make this idea pop and come alive the way it should. If you like low budget horror films that have a holiday themes to them, then make sure to check out Uncle Sam as I am sure it will give you at least an entertaining watch.

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The Shield was created in 1940 by Harry Shorten and Irv Novick for MLJ Comics for a series called “Pep Comics” and was one of the first true patriotic superheroes of comics. In 1959 Lancelot Strong became the new Shield for a comic called “The Double Life Of Private Strong”, but Archie Comics pulled the plug on the series after only two issues. In 1983, Lance once more as The Shield was given another run under “Lancelot Strong: The Shield” and had two name changes during its seven issue run. Think about that; the comic had three titles for seven issues! The Original Shield, who was back to the first one – Joe Higgins, came out for Red Circle Comics and lasted only four issues. 1991 saw DC Comics (under Impact Comics) giving him a try with a series called “The Legend Of The Shield” that had Joe Higgins as The Shield for thirteen issues, and later Lt. Michael Barnes took up the mantel, in a series that only lasted sixteen issues. In 2015, Archie Comics under their Dark Circle Comics banner, has released a new version of The Shield that has Victoria Adams stepping up to do America proud. So that’s the publishing history of The Shield; up next we will take a look at Joe Higgins, who is the Original Shield!

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Joe Higgins is a chemist, whose father Tom was working on a chemical formula that would act as a super solider serum, but the Germans want it and this leads to Tom’s death.  Joe continues his father’s work, and after using X-Rays and other chemicals, he does it! He gains invulnerability as well as the ability to leaps of great distance. He dresses in a outfit that sports the American colors, takes the codename Shield and takes a job for the F.B.I. to fight threats to America as well as try and clear his father’s name and expose his killers. His adventures are part superhero and part spy game as he also takes a young orphan named Dusty Simmons as his sidekick, and the pair stop many menaces and dangers. Later in life as he aged, he formed a group with teenagers he called “The New Crusaders”. Joe’s son Bill Higgins took over the role of The Shield when his dad was turned to stone by a bad guy named The Eraser, and in order to save him he also created a team called “The Mighty Crusaders! This is just a quick crash course of the history of The Shield as I don’t want to spoil too much and would like for all you readers to take some time and check out some of his comics.

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The Shield did get an action figure in 1984 as part of Remco’s toyline based around the superhero team The Mighty Crusaders that consisted of The Shield as well as 7 other figures. The Shield figure came with a gun belt, two guns and a shield that rocked the red, white and blue colors! The figures themselves are about the size of Mattel Secret Wars but more bulky in proportions, and their legs look like liverwurst logs stuffed inside spandex pants…to sum it up, they are weird looking. The Shield figure also has a goofy looking face, and sadly the whole figure line reeks of cheapness.  While my brother and I had a few of these figures growing up, hardly no other kid I knew did. The Shield was not one of the figures we owned growing up, but I can safely say if I did he would ended up just being a foot solider for my Secret Wars Captain America on rescue missions to save Princess Leia and Scarlett from the grip of Baron Zemo!

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So I think we are all in a patriotic mood right now thanks to The Shield and it being July 4th so I think we should grab a burger or dog along with a favorite drink sit back enjoy the weather and atmosphere of being our independence day and take a journey with The Shield as he battles those who want to disrupt our way of life here in America. I want to thank Bookery Fantasy and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and helping make this holiday update special. Like always, I want to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So light a sparkler and take a bite of that hotdog it’s time to go to war alongside The Shield!

Original Shield 1

The Original SHIELD # 1  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #1 of 4

A map has been stolen from the F.B.I., and The Shield wants to find out who stole it and why.  By donning his alter ego Joe Higgins, he tracks down a fellow agent who was the spy for a bad man named Boroff and was the key in stealing the map. At Boroff’s hideout he not only has the top secret map but also Professor Newton, the man who created the maps and knows the location of the item they seek,.The Shield comes in at the last second and beats up Boroff, who is working for a secret group called Delta 3 and saves Newton from being killed and finds out that what the map is hiding is no longer a threat as the radiation from bomb testing has ruined it. But things are not all good as Boroff escapes, and while one fight ends, the battle still rages on. When retuning back to work Joe Higgins finds out that the F.B.I. as part of budget cuts is closing one of their old storage warehouses and are giving away some old robots to the museum that was created by Boroff’s henchman Klotz.  He travels to Washington with Lisa Carvin, his boss, for a black tie affair and to check on the robot.  Upon arriving, he finds that they are already gone, and a man with a gun is waiting for him.

This is classic patriotic super hero action that shows a normal man in a special suit mixed with spy situations can be a great read and would be great for fans of Captain America! The plot of this issue has The Shield stopping a plan to kill a professor and steal a top secret weapon and along the way finding a mole within the F.B.I, beating up his arch nemesis Boroff, and trying to stop the transfer of old robots that he battled in the past. The Shield, aka Joe Higgins, is a great hero who uses his wits as well as his special powered suit (that reflects bullets, fire and blasts) in order to protect America from those who wish it harm. He is strong as a well-trained boxer and packs a punch that can break robots into pieces! He is firm and harsh when need be and doesn’t like to lose when it comes to the game of fighting crime.  He also enjoys being an F.B.I agent and ridding the streets of global threats. Over all I’m big fan of The Shield at this point and am very glad to be reading about him on the 4th of July! Lisa Carvin, who is Jim’s boss in the F.B.I., seems pretty cool at this point.  It’s clear she is not a fan of Joe but respects that he gets things done.  She is also clueless that Jim is The Shield. Boroff is a pointed tooth, black Mohawk haired beast of a man who clearly does not value human life.  We only get a small dose of him in this issue but I have a feeling he will be back in the future. This issue has likable characters, a fun dated yet classic story, good art and filled with pride from those who created this issue. Now the bad side is that the story picks up in the middle of the action as you had to read “Mighty Crusaders # 5” and “Pep Comics # 1” in order to really get the full backstory of what is going on.  I still am unclear as to what the map held the location of besides these numbers 42642. But even with that flaw, I really did enjoy this comic.  The cover is classic Archie Superhero stuff, and the art inside done by the likes of Dick Ayers and Tony DeZuniga and is fantastic stuff.  I really enjoyed the art as it reminded me of late 70’s Captain America work. Well let’s see what issue two has in store for us, and I am hoping it will be as good as issue one!

Original Shield 2

The Original SHIELD # 2  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #2 of 4

The man with the gun is no threat, but an old F.B.I agent named Dan Hurley who served with Jim way back when has now pieced it together that Jim is The Shield as he has not aged at all! The pair get talking about the past and how, for a short time thanks to a powerful ray gun from Boroff, The Shield lost his powers. After the talk, Jim asks Dan for help and makes it just in time to pick up Lisa for the party that is being thrown by Senator Casey.  At the party, Lisa meets an old flame named Ed Crisp, and Jim sees his old nemesis Klotz who tries to murder him with a poison gas capsule! Jim barely escapes and leaves the party with Lisa as he coughs and rambles on about a 80 year old spy. Jim passes out in front of Lisa’s hotel room, and she drags him inside where he has flashbacks to his past that include his wife, son Bill and old crime fighting partners and enemies. Once awake, he changes into his Shield outfit and finds Klotz who is out of his mind and is a working for Delta 3.  Klotz drops a grenade as our issue ends, hoping to blow them both up!

The Shield does it again with this second issue as he captures the mood of a time when comics were simple and plots were cut and dry with bad guys and good guys, another solid issue for sure! This time around Jim Higgins meets an old friend, The Shield comes face to face with an old enemy and Lisa comes in contact with an old flame. Plus throw in a shady Senator, and you have a fun spy costume hero comic plot. This issue The Shield aka Jim is once more a man of honor as he chats with an old friend and comes clean to him that yes, he is the costumed hero everyone depended on in the past.  Plus thanks to the gas, we learn that he was married and had a son, and we get a little about his old crime fighting friends who went missing.  We also learn that he was frozen into a statue by a bad guy named The Eraser, and that’s why he is so young in modern times. The Shield is a class act hero who reminds me of a character that would have been a member of The Minute Men from The Watchmen from DC Comics. Lisa Carvin is also a little more fleshed out as it’s clear that while she is hard on Jim she still likes him as a person and she is not your typical one sided female character as she acts and gets things done. Dan Hurley is a old timer who lives and breathes the F.B.I and is a pretty cool little side character.  I wonder what mission Jim asked him to do; I am sure in the coming issues we will find out. Klotz is a crazy old man and with him being nuts comes the danger as it’s clear he is not sane and will do whatever it takes to kill The Shield and impress Delta 3. I don’t trust Senator Casey or Ed Crisp as both seem a little too shady for this comic reader.  Plus Ed has one of those 70’s porn mustaches mixed with Mr. Kotter’s from Welcome Back Kotter! While not a lot of fists flying, this issue still packs a mighty punch with its simple and classic plot and good characters. The cover is pretty good, and that art inside is once again fantastic and done by three this time: Dick Ayers, Tony DeZuniga and Rex Lindsey.  It’s sure to please old school comic readers. Sad to say, we are at the half way point and this series is almost at an end. l hope the next two keep up the quality of the first two as I’m really digging this series.

Original Shield 3

The Original SHIELD # 3  ***
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #3 of 4

The blast kills Klotz, and stuns The Shield for a few moments.  During this time he remembers back to the day he was broken free from being a living statue thanks to his son Bill who was acting as The Shield. He also thinks how different his time in the 1940’s was from present time in the 80’s. While looking around the room he finds the final mission for the robots, to attack the White House and kill the president! The Shield rushes to the White House running as fast as The Flash and defeats them. Changing back to Jim Higgins, he, alongside Lisa, confronts the Senator who seemed to be working alongside the crazy Klotz, but after they find Ed Crisp dead in his office from a suicide with a note claiming allegiance to Delta 3 the heat is off the Senator…for now. Delta 3 however is very not pleased with their plans being foiled and put a hit out on Joe and Lisa that is taken by Mega, a strong tall stretching powerhouse and Bit, a small man with telepathic powers! As Jim and Lisa leave Ed’s funeral, they both have the feeling he didn’t kill himself but was murdered to cover up Delta 3 plans.  As Mega goes after Jim, he soon meets Shield who makes quick work of him as Lisa is attacked by Bit who is finally beat by Lisa and The Shield together.

This issue tones down the spy aspect and ups the fighting as Shield goes toe to toe with Mega and Bit who are mutants sent to do his boss and him harm.  It’s a pretty great plot and could be taken straight from a classic Spider-Man comic. In this issue, the Shield watches as one of his old nemesis dies, discovers corruption in government and fights two mutants to save his own life as well as his boss’! Lisa Carvin is also fighting corruption as her one time lover has been murdered and framed all to cover up for the evil Delta 3. Mega and Bit are mutants with special powers who use them wisely, but just are no match for The Shield who outsmarts them in battle. But to be fair, Lisa is the one who delivers the knock out blow to Bit with a vase to his head. Delta 3 shows two members named Number 1 and Number 3, and they are cheesy bad guys who are worried about being discovered and that’s why hits are placed on the F.B.I agents. The best part of this comic series so far is the fact that as we get deeper in it, the plot thickens! The cover is good and classic 80’s superhero stuff, with art this time around being done by Dick Ayers and Rex Lindsey only, and like before it’s fantastic! The sad part about this issue is that we only have one more in the series and then we are done, but I guess that’s a good thing as if you are reading this update on July 4th I am sure you have cooked out food and fireworks to get to. So let’s not waste any more time and see what the final issue has in store for us.

Original Shield 4

The Original SHIELD # 4  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price .75   Archie Comics   #4 of 4

Jim Higgins comes to work at the F.B.I and has a special note from his old World War II friend and now Army Col. named Boyle that informs him that in New Mexico a shield that belonged to his nemesis The Hun is being placed at an army base museum and that danger is near. As Boyle gets to the base and sees the Nazi shield with his own eyes, they come under attack as the aging Hun is mad as hell and as powerful as ever! The Hun manhandles Boyle and the aging base commander. But lucky for them, The Shield makes it just in time to tangle with The Hun and is able to make short work of him thanks to his love for freedom and power. In the end the Nazi shield goes missing, The Shield captures The Hun and America is safe from a threat once more.

This fourth and final issue in the series only slips slightly as the story is good, but also seems a little rushed. The plot is simple and has a Nazi super bad guy from the past attacking a military base.  He’s taught a lesson in manners by The Shield who makes quick work of him. In the issue the Shield comes off a freedom loving hero but oddly enough lost a little charm as this issue felt like it were trying to hard to be a Captain America issue. The Hun’s is amazing as it shows him as a German boy who had murdered people his whole life getting powers from the ghost of Attila The Hun and after doing so joined the Nazi party to try for world domination. While he sounds like a bad ass, he is shown to be a good fighter but is outclassed by The Shield in every way…making him no real threat. We finally meet Col. Boyle, and he comes off as a old man who lives in the past who is a mix of Nick Fury and Thunderbolt Ross from the Marvel Universe. With this being the final issue some questions do go unanswered.  It was clearly not supposed to be the final issue as they advertise in the end for issue five. So as far as we all know, if you just read The Original Shield series, Delta 3 is still out in the world causing issues and The Shield along with the F.B.I are still battling them, and I like that. The issue also takes a jab at Marvel Comics as in the end characters named Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are asked to dump the trash where the Nazi Shield is placed among the garbage. The cover is epic and shows The Shield going into battle with The Hun as army soldiers are frozen in place. The art this time around was done only by Dick Ayers and has a 50’s style look to it.  While not bad, it’s also not the best the series has looked. I should also mention that The Coment from Mighty Crusaders makes a cameo in the issue as he is how The Shield gets to New Mexico so fast. While The Original Shield is dated by all accounts and most modern comic fans would be bored to tears with its slow pacing and World War II dated hero who’s out of time being resurrected in the 80’s, I found lots of joy in reading it, and it triggered even more patriotic spirit in me as I read it on this day that celebrates America and all it’s glory. While this series might not be for everyone, I think fans of early Captain America will love every cheesy page of it. Below is some artwork from the series with the first two showcasing The Shield and the last being The Hun.

The Original Shield Art 1The Original Shield Art 2The Original Shield Art 3

The Shield, a True American icon, is worth the read and receiving the honor of being the first Rotten Ink update for the 4th of July under the “American Hero” banner. But our next update will take us away from the Star Spangled Hero The Shield and into the world of the living dead and another trip to Monster Bash Convention in Mars, PA, as we take a look at the IDW adaptation of Dawn Of The Dead! So until next time enjoy the fireworks, eat a hot dog or two, read some comics and enjoy this holiday with friends and family.

Dawn The The Dead Logo

DC At The Movies: Superman (The Christmas Eve Special)

Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas to all my friends, family and readers on this special Christmas Eve update to Rotten Ink. I hope on this day you are surrounded by loved ones and sharing good stories and memories with one another. Last year for Christmas Eve I took a look at DC Comics movie adaptations of the early Batman films, and this year I have chosen to cover the one and only Man of Steel, Superman, and the films from the Christopher Reeves years and those that followed and were inspired by it. So pull up a comfy chair near your heater or fireplace and pour yourself a glass of eggnog or your favorite choice of holiday drink, and let’s take a fly around the world of Superman as we enter DC At The Movies: Superman!

Superman The Movie Logo

Before Batman in the late 80’s and Marvel’s The Avengers were the top notch comic book movies in the world, Warner Brothers had Superman a series of films that made kids and the young at heart super hyped to visit their local cinema and watch the adventures of Superman on the silver screen. Superman was no stranger to being the world’s most popular comic book hero as before the 1978 film, he had already taken over the world of comics with Action Comics as well as had a very popular radio drama and TV show called The Adventures Of Superman along with many other forms of media like cartoons and movie serials. But in ’78, he took over the world of movies and held the top spot until 1989 when Tim Burton’s Batman took the mantel away. I sadly was not born when Superman: The Movie came to theaters and was only a tiny baby in 1981 when Superman II was released, but I do remember the hype for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace as my brother Bryan and I wanted to rush to a theater and watch it in 1987.  For some reason I want to say we did go and see it at Beaver Valley Cinemas and when asking my Mom, Dad and brother, they said that they think a family member took us to see it and our main guess was my Aunt and Uncle, Laverne and George. Christopher Reeve to me was the perfect Superman and Clark Kent, as he was able to balance the boy scout do-gooder aspect of Superman and the goofy, nerd aspect of Kent.  To this day, I feel no actors before or after him have 100% captured the character like he did. I was so sad when in 1995 Reeve had a terrible accident while riding his horse that left him paralyzed.  His condition later lead to his death at the age of 52 in 2004. I can remember watching these films many times when they aired on TV and buying them on VHS and enjoying every cheesy moment of them.  When Reeve passed away, it looked as if the Superman series was over with, that is until Bryan Singer, who made the X-Men movies, decided to make a sequel to the first two Superman films and cut out parts 3 and 4.  The film was Superman Returns and cast Brandon Routh as The Man of Steel.  It had charm but was not in the league of the originals. But before I ramble on and decide to give you a full rundown and review of each of these films, I should instead give you all a quick rundown of the films’ plots as well as who played Superman, the films’ main bad guy as well as the lead actress. I took these write ups from our good friends at IMDB as I would have been too long winded. So enjoy this quick rundown, and I hope this triggers good memories of watching these films.

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Superman (1978)

Unable to convince the ruling council of Krypton that their world will destroy itself soon, scientist Jor-El takes drastic measures to preserve the Kryptonian race: He sends his infant son Kal-El to Earth. There, gaining great powers under Earth’s yellow sun, he will become a champion of truth and justice. Raised by the Kents, an elderly farm couple, Clark Kent learns that his abilities must be used for good. The adult Clark travels to Metropolis, where he becomes a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet…and a caped wonder whose amazing feats stun the city: Superman! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, the world’s greatest criminal mind, is plotting the greatest real estate swindle of all time. Can’t even the Man of Steel stop this nefarious scheme?

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

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Superman II (1981)

Picking up where “Superman: The Movie” left off, three criminals from the planet Krypton are released from the Phantom Zone by a nuclear explosion in space. They descend upon Earth where they could finally rule. Superman, meanwhile, is in love with Lois Lane, who finds out who he really is. Lex Luthor escapes from prison and is determined to destroy Superman by joining forces with the three criminals.

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

General Zod – Terence Stamp

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Superman III (1983)

Wealthy businessman Ross Webster discovers the hidden talents of Gus Gorman, a mischievous computer genius. Ross decides to abuse his talents, in a way to help Webster with his plans for economic control. When the man of steel interferes, something must be done about Supes. When Gus’ synthetic Kryptonite fails to kill Superman, it turns him in an evil incarnation of his former self. The tar-laced Kryptonite pits man against himself, setting up the Clark vs. Superman battle.

Superman – Christopher Reeve

Ross Webster – Robert Vaughn

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Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)

Superman does a lot in his newest adventure. Archvillain Lex Luthor, determined to make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man. The two super-powered foes clash in an explosive screen extranvaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, repulse a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna, rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China and perform many more spetactular feats.

Superman – Christopher Reeves

Lex Luther – Gene Hackman

Nuclear Man – Mark Pillow

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Superman Returns (2006)

Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth in the epic action-adventure Superman Returns, a soaring new chapter in the saga of one of the world’s most beloved superheroes. While an old enemy plots to render him powerless once and for all, Superman faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Or has she? Superman’s bittersweet return challenges him to bridge the distance between them while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him. In an attempt to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction, Superman embarks on an epic journey of redemption that takes him from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space.

Superman – Brandon Routh

Lex Luther – Kevin Spacey

The first Superman film was directed by Richard Donner, who did a fantastic job of showing the character’s origin story as well as balanced between Clark Kent and Superman. The second film was directed by Richard Lester as well as in parts Richard Donner, who was replaced by Lester after Donner had some bad blood with the film’s producers, but the film did add General Zob and his followers who had the same power as Superman making the threat more real for the man of steel. The third film was directed by just Richard Lester and took a more comedic turn even casting Richard Pryor as a lead for comedic relief.  This was the first film not to have Lex Luther in it. Superman IV was directed by Sidney J. Furie and has Superman trying to get the world to get along. Superman was the # 2 movie in 1978 bringing in $134,218,018.00 and beat out such films as Animal House, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, Jaws 2, Revenge of the Pink Panther and Deer Hunter. Superman II in 1981 was # 3 and brought in a total of $108,185,706.00 and beat out such films as Stripes, Clash of the Titans, An American Werewolf In London, The Great Muppet Caper, Halloween II, The Howling, Friday The 13th Part II and Tarzan The Ape Man. In 1983 Superman III was # 12 and brought in $59,950,623.00 and bested films like Jaws 3-D, Scarface, Psycho II, Never Say Never Again, The Outsiders, Krull and Strange Brew. Superman IV in 1987 did not do well and brought in $15,681,020.00 and was # 69 but did beat out such films as Hellraiser, Creepshow 2, House II, Teen Wolf Too, Death Wish 4, Evil Dead 2 and Chipmunk Adventure. Superman Returns in 2006 was # 6 and brought in $200,081,192.00 and pulled ahead of such flicks as Casino Royale, Borat, Saw III, Rocky Balboa, Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning and Pans Labyrinth. So as you can see, the original Superman series had many ups and downs, but as I stated before, they were the original superhero films that made kids and the young at heart hyped to watch at their local theater. Now we should briefly talk about the ladies of Superman, and the lovely actresses who played them.  The most popular and the one who was in a total of 4 of the films is Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane and was not only a tough, smart and independent woman who was the Dailey Planet’s top reporter but was also a cute as a button! She is Superman’s love interest in two of the films, and he spends so much time saving her from dangers and battling his own judgement of telling her he is also Clark Kent. In Superman II, while Lois Lane was his main love interest, Sarah Douglas played Ursa, the goth looking tough woman who is part of General Zod’s trio of super villains.  While good looking, she does have a goddess complex as she looks down on normal man! In Superman III, Annette O’Toole plays Lana Lang, a small town girl who went to school with Clark Kent who he had a crush on.  She is a single mother, has a sweet heart and is amazingly good looking. Superman IV has Mariel Hemingway playing Lacy Warfield, the daughter of a mogul who buys the Daily Planet.  She is a nice woman who wants to do real journalism and has a crush on Clark. Kate Bosworth plays Lois Lane in Superman Returns, and the character is now a mom and is still strong minded and looks great but somehow got younger looking…odd. If I was Superman/Clark Kent and I had to date one of these women, I would choose Lana Lane hands down.  Not only is she beautiful, but she is also a kind and loving person. But all of these women are fine choices and all of them have their pluses to why they would be dateable.

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The Superman films also sparked a tie-in film called Supergirl in 1984 and had Helen Slater play the title part, the cousin of Superman. The film’s plot is this (from IMDB): “After a power source for the community of Krypton survivors is accidentally whisked to earth, Kara-El, cousin to Superman and niece to Jor-El, chooses to go to earth to find it, and bring it back. Upon her arrival, she becomes just a powerful and Super as her cousin, but encounters dangerous battles and unexpected obstacles when a mean spirited woman who practices rituals of the occult takes the power source for herself, and uses it to cause destruction and attempt zenith human status..”  Although this was to be a new blockbuster franchise, it fizzled at the US Box Office, only bringing in $14,296,438.00, placing it at # 66 of the year. It did however beat out such films as Ice Pirates, The Evil That Men Do, Terror In The Aisles and Cloak And Dagger. 1997 saw the release of Steel, based around the character who was a major part of the aftermath of the Death of Superman storyline that was rocking the comic book world.  The main character Steel was played by NBA player Shaq and had this as its plot: “John Henry Irons designs weapons for the military. When his project to create weapons that harmlessly neutralize soldiers is sabotaged, he leaves in disgust. When he sees gangs are using his weapons on the street, he uses his brains and his Uncle Joe’s junkyard know-how to fight back, becoming a real man of “steel.”  The film was a total bomb at the box office, bringing in a total of $1,710,972.00 in the US making for the lowest money maker for the Superman series of films. Steel was # 178 for the year and beat out the likes of Kiss Or Kill, The Van and The Winter Guest. But I should also mention the first official Superman film was 1951’s Superman And The Mole-Men starring George Reeves as Superman who was also the man who played him on the hit TV Show The Adventures Of Superman. Say what you will, but even with two poorly received spin offs, Superman and his friends at least did what they could to entertain us at the movies.

Superman mole men PosterSUPERGIRL postersteel poster

Now before we go on, I know may of you readers are waiting to see if I mention the Superman film that was being worked on by Tim Burton and would have had Nicolas Cage playing Superman.  To answer your questions, of course I am going to cover it, but also some of the other Superman films that never came to light. “Superman V” or also called “Superman: The New Movie” was being developed by Cannon Films before Superman IV was even out in theaters and would have had Superman dying and coming back to life in a shrunken city called Kandor that was original on his home planet of Krypton.  The film was to be directed by Albert Pyun, who was the director of such films as Alien From L.A., Cyborg and Captain America and Christopher Reeve was slated to play Superman once more. But when Superman IV was not a super hit and Cannon Films went bankrupt, the plan for this film disappeared and was never meant to be, but as many people point out, this would have had the death and rebirth of Superman way before the comics did it. In early 1993 Warner Brothers wanted to cash in on the Death of Superman comic craze and came up with a film called “Superman Reborn,” a hip take on the character that would please the MTV Generation and would make great action figures for toy companies. The original idea was to have Superman die at the hands of Doomsday, but before Sups passed on he would have his life force go into Lois Lane and make her pregnant with a baby that would be the reborn him…yep….the second idea had Brainiac teaming up with Doomsday, Silver Banshee and Parasite to kill Superman who would later come back to be reborn. This film did not come about when Kevin Smith was hired to rewrite some of it, but he decided the film was too campy and he had ideas of his own. This lead to “Superman Lives,” a film that would have had Superman dying, a giant Spider and even Brainiac fighting polar bears! The film would have had Superman dying by the hands of Doomsday who was sent by Brainiac and Lex Luther, and Superman when coming back alive must find a way to over through his enemies. The film was offered to Robert Rodriguez, but he had to decline and the directing seat went to Tim Burton and the role of Superman went to Nicolas Cage, even though Smith wanted to hire his friend Ben Affleck. Burton, before filming, would bring in his own guys and would rewrite Smith’s script.  This was the beginning of the end as many actors were attached for roles and all of them came and went.  The film died when Burton left the film as well saying he wasted a year of his life working on it. Other would-be films came after like Batman vs. Superman, a movie that would have had Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent down on their luck and being set up to fight each other thanks to The Joker and Lex Luther as well as an origin film called Superman: Flyby! One things for sure, while none of these films made it to the big screen, I am sure some of the films that have been made in recent years have taken bits and pieces from these scrips. Below is Nicolas Cage in a version of the Superman suit, and I can 100% say that I wish this film would have been made as well as Superman V.

Nick Cage as Superman

Some of the best merchandise to come out of the Superman Movies has to be the doll action figures made by MEGO as well as MEGO’s 3 3/4” Pocket Hero figure line. Growing up, I sadly never had any of these figures as they were out of stores way before I was old enough to play with action figures, and when we found them at garage sales they were always way over priced for our Mom to buy us one. My brother Bryan, on the other hand, did have a Superman one that was his favorite toy for awhile.  He even swung it around a string once when he was a kid at my grandparents house and lost it on top of their roof! By the time he got the figure back, it was dirty and gross as it sat up there for awhile.  When they finally got it down, the figure was thrown away. Don’t be too sad for him, he got another many, many years later and it sits in his hallway in his house. When I was in my mid-twenties, I was able to track down and get a full set of the Pocket Hero Superman figuresm and I must say I really wished I had them when I was young as Zod would have made a perfect ally for Darth Vader in my Toy Wars!

Mego Superman Dolls

Collector drinking glasses were super popular for fast food joints and gas stations to give away or sell dirt cheap in the 60’s-80’s, and Taco Bell and Pepsi did just that with very cool Superman glasses in 1979! The series had six different glasses, and if you bought a medium soda and payed .69, you could get one with your meal, a very cool way to get customers into your restaurant to buy food as well as give them something to take home that they drink out of and will remind them of your food. While we never had one of these glasses, we did have a Pepsi Superman glass from the comic books that had him busting out of chains, and it was one of my favorite glasses to drink chocolate milk out of. Over the years I have seen these Taco Bell/Pepsi Superman glasses at Antique Stores and Flea markets, and they are on my list of glasses to get for my apartment. I wonder if Christopher Reeve ever drank tea or lemonade from a Superman glass?

Taco Bell Superman Glass 1Taco Bell Superman GlassTaco Bell Superman Glass 2

Another popular part of merchandising back in the day besides toys and glasses were trading cards.  Topps was the king company who not only made cards on sports but also movies and TV shows, and of course they made some for Superman 1-3! Besides the base card set, each series had a sticker set, and each pack came with a stick of bubble gum. Growing up, I did have lots of these trading cards for all these films as I was a trading card fiend and would buy all that I could new from places like UDF and would buy bags full from garage sales. One thing I should say also is that at Game Swap Kettering this year someone traded in a complete set of Superman: The Movie trading cards as well with the stickers and even a unopened pack.  It was lots of fun to flip through the base card set as each were so vintage and cool.  It makes me miss the days of classic Topps Trading cards as lots has changed in that world that includes not only the price per pack but also the quality of the cards themselves. But as always you can’t stop change, and those who collect cards I am sure have at least one of these films in their collection.

Topps Superman And Superman II Wax PacksTopps Superman III Wax Pack

I was going to cut this from my update as I didn’t have that much to say about it, but I think those who had one or wanted one would like to take a trip down memory lane so here it goes. Iron on T-shirts were super popular for some reason back in the day, and I can always remember hating them as the image on the shirt after a few washes would crack and peel away leaving the shirt looking like a mess, something even as a youngster I would not wear out in public. But for those who remember these, Superman II had an iron on transfer shirt that I am sure brought joy and happiness to those who had it.  I’m not sure if the terrible lack of quality these style shirts had makes any of my readers mad like it did me but for those things ruined my childhood by ruining my Skeletor and Star Wars shirts!

Superman II Iron On Transfer

While I was working on this update I was listening to the Superman: The Movie and Supergirl soundtracks and enjoying the epic nature of these themes as I remember my childhood of watching these films and reading Superman comics. The first film’s score was done by John Williams, and his theme is so iconic that whenever people think of Superman, that theme comes to mind.  Believe me, it was a great score to have playing in the background while I read the comics. Ken Thorne did the score for Superman II and is great just as the original and captures the vibe of the film and the mood of the John Williams score that came before it. Ken returned to score Part III and once more did a great job of capturing the action and comedy moments with his music. Superman IV’s score was done by Alexander Courage and is good, while not as iconic as the scores that came before it, this score still helped add to the film’s over all vibe. Superman Returns’ score was done by John Ottman and is a solid piece of work and was fitting for the film. For those wondering, Supergirl’s score was done by Jerry Goldsmith, Steel’s was done by Mervyn Warren and 2013’s Man of Steel’s was done by Hans Zimmer. While all have their own great tracks, I would say that if you’re a music score fan like me, I would suggest buying the John Williams score for Superman: The Movie on CD, cassette or vinyl and give it a listen some late evening, and yes, I play some of these scores on Alpha Rythems.

Superman The Movie SoundtrackSuperman II SoundtrackSuperman III Soundtrack

While no direct video game has been made around the Christopher Reeve Superman films, one was made for Superman Returns that was on Playstation 2 and Xbox 360. The one I remember is Superman for the Atari 2600, where you play Superman and must rebuild a bridge that Lex Luther blew up and all this is timed! Superman also had a game for Commodore 64 made by First Star and an arcade game made by Taito that I can remember playing at a video store that had the machine.  Years later, that same machine is now at Game Swap in Kettering ready to be played by shoppers! One game for Nintendo was released by Seika and was a game that not only made The Angry Video Game Nerd mad but me as well as the game was terrible and treated Superman like a bigheaded small weakling. Sega Genesis had Superman, a game released by Sunsoft, that was a side scrolling cheesy action game that was one of the first games I ever bought for our Genesis as I used by birthday money to buy it. This is just a drop in the hat on video games that are about or even star Superman.  A big rumor going around is that Rocksteady and WB Games, the same team who brought us the Batman Arkham games, are working on a new Superman game that will be out for PS4 and Xbox One.  So here is hoping that these rumors are true. If you’re a gamer and you can’t sleep this Christmas Eve night, maybe pick up a controller and play a Superman game while you wait for Santa.

Superman Atari 2600Superman C64Superman NESSuperman Genesis

So I think at this point in the update we are ready to take a look at the DC Comic adaptations of the Superman films.  For some reason DC Comics were late to the game and did not do adaptations for Superman: The Movie or Superman II, but they started at Superman III so that is where we will starts as well. Well maybe for fun I will throw in the Treasury Editions that breakdown the first two Superman movies! I want to thanks Game Swap Kettering, Lone Star Comics, Mavericks and Ebay for having these issues in stock and while you turn up the heater or throw another log on the fire, I want to 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. I must say that just like last year’s Batman update I am really looking forward to reading these adaptations of Superman films and hope that like the Batman issues they do the films they are taken from justice.  So let’s look to the night sky and look for Santa..I mean Superman!

Superman The Movie Comic

Superman The Movie # 0  ***
Released in 1979    Cover Price $2.50    DC Comics    # 0 of 0

This book adds more to your Superman The Movie experience as it acts as a way to show the connections and differences between the movie and comics. It breaks down Krypton and Smallville, shows the layout of the Fortress of Solitude and speaks of the wonders of the Daily Planet and it’s workers. It also tells about Superman, Lex Luther and his fellow team of evil doers. One amazing thing is, it does a great job of showing the characters in the comic and how they look in the movies.  For some they did a fantastic job, while others they were close but not on the dot. It also gives you some history on much of the crew and makers of this film like the producer, director, costume and production designer and John Williams, the composer of the film’s soundtrack. It shares information on actors from the film from Christopher Reeve to Gene Hackman and in-between and shows some behind the scenes looks into how they made a scene. One cool thing is that they also show the two young kids who won DC Comics contest to get a cameo in the film and shows who they played. While most of this information could be looked up much quicker on the internet than fumbling through this over sized book, I still found this a fun read on a chilly night to spark the nostalgia of the film series in me.

Superman II Comic

Superman II # 0 **1/2
Released in 1981    Cover Price $2.95    DC Comics    # 0 of 0

This oversized Treasury Comic breaks down the film Superman II with a look at the actors, sets, characters and even filming elements like the films fight scenes! It covers lots of great stuff and even contains some amazing pictures of actress Sarah Douglas looking pretty hot in low cut shirts. It’s much like the first Superman: The Movie breakdown and really while entertaining, just makes you wish these were comic adaptations of the films instead of oversized magazines. So let’s move onto the real highlight of this update the DC Comics based on the rest of the Superman films.

Superman III Comic 1

Superman III # 1  **1/2
Released in 1983    Cover Price $1.00    DC Comics    #1 of 1

August “Gus” Gorman is a man down on his luck who has been on unemployment for over 36 weeks and might have found his break on the back of a pack of matches that leads him to become a computer programer for Archibald Data Processing and he does things that even his instructor never knew a computer could do! At the Dailey Planet editor Perry White lets Lois Lane take a vacation to Bermuda, Clark Kent go back to Smallville for his high school reunion and Jimmy Olsen go along to snap photos, but during the trip back home Clark must turn into Superman as a chemical plant has caught on fire and it houses the most dangerous acid in the world that could kill many if it gets too heated up! As Superman saves the lives of workers, he also must save Jimmy Olsen who breaks his leg trying to snap pictures and uses a nearby lake to put out the fire and save the day. With Jimmy Olsen having to go back to Metropolis, Clark goes to his reunion and runs back into Lana Lang, his crush who is now divorced and has a young son Ricky.  Lana is trying to dodge Brad, a drunk one time jock who is the jerk of town who wants to win her heart. Ross Webster has lost $85,000.00 from his company Webco Industries as someone embezzled it, and he know its Gorman, who he ropes into helping him take control of a satellite that can control the weather so that he can ruin all of Columbia’s coffee beans and can be the king of coffee. Meanwhile Clark in Smallville is becoming close to Lana and her son Ricky and must turn into Superman and save Ricky’s life after an accident in a field almost leaves him plant food! Gorman gets the satellite to work as bad weather unleashes itself on Columbia but is stopped by Superman who know becomes the target of Ross and his sister Vera and his girlfriend Lorelei who want to build a piece of kryptonite to use against and kill Superman! But they make a mistake, and the kryptonite does not kill Superman but turns him bad.  As the Man of Steel does evil things, Ross and Gorman set their sights on building a super computer and taking over the oil industry. Lana and Ricky move to Metropolis and find the Evil Superman.  The boy’s kind words leads to an inner fight and turns Superman good again.  He fixes all his wrongs and goes after Russ and his goon squad who have built the super computer and use it to fight The Man Of Steel! Gorman realizes that the computer is evil and tries to save Superman, but the computer is now working for itself and even turns Vera into a robotic droid of destruction! In the end, Superman uses the acid from the chemical lab and destroys the computer and takes Gorman to safety and lets the cops deal with Ross, Vera and Lorelei.

This comic adaptation is pretty dang good, but the odd thing is it takes lots of the film’s comedy aspects away.  While it’s still very light hearted, it’s by no means as goofy as the film. The plot has Superman going back to his hometown of Smallville, falling in love with his crush and trying to find a way to get her to move to Metropolis, all the while a con man named Gus is working for a big business man who wants to rule the world.  Superman must find away to stop them and their scary giant computer. The first thing that I noticed is that the comic has lots of changes like Lana in the end does not get a job with the Daily Planet nor does the fling go anywhere, also Brad, the sleazy one time jock is down played and is not nearly chasing Lana like he is in the film. All of Gorman’s slapstick over the top comedy is gone, and he is played more like a normal guy who, while a con man looking for a quick buck, is really just a nice guy. The worst part that was cut and happens to be my favorite part of the film is when Superman goes to Lana’s house for something to drink and the fake kryptonite starts to turn him bad and he gets all sleazy on her. Superman is as noble as ever and saves many lives and stops lots of disasters all the while doing so with a smile as he takes joy in helping out mankind. Superman, in this comic adaptation, is strong but seems slightly weaker than the comic book version but who really is looking at that aspect? Ross Webster and his sister Vera are rich snobs who thinks the world owes them everything because they have more money than you, are really snooty and are willing to kill Superman so that they can get more money. Gus Gorman is a man who as well is looking for quick cash, but while he will steal your cash, he by no means wants to kill or hurt someone to do so. Gus is almost a puppet to the evil Ross who is the puppeteer and is pulling his strings by using his own greed to get him to obey. Lana Lane and her son Ricky are great characters as they are used to show a human side to Superman who has a bond with the pair.  I really like Lana as well because unlike other lead female roles in these style of films, she is in no need of saving and can take care of herself. The cover is okay, but it’s odd they chose to use a blurry still of the film instead of drawing something original.  The artwork inside is done by Curt Swan & Sal Amendola and looks like a normal issue of Superman but the characters only slightly look like the actors who play them in the film.  That’s kind of a let down as I would have loved to have seen it look like Christopher Reeve and Annette O’Toole. To sum it up, while good, it does lose some of the charm of the film and is an okay adaptation of a classic superhero film I grew up watching. Below is some artwork from the issue that shows the inner battle between Clark Kent and the Evil Superman.

Superman III Art 1

So from Superman III, it’s now time to take a look at DC Comics look at Superman IV: The Quest For Peace movie adaptation.  The question is, will it capture the cheesy magic of the film or will it fall a little behind like the Superman III did?

Superman IV Comic 1

Superman IV # 1  ***
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.00    DC Comics    # 1 of 1

In space, a Russian astronaut has an accident and is about to float away into space when Superman saves him.  Superman returns to earth and as Clark Kent has his family’s old farm house for sale in Smallville and finds a old message from his real father and a crystal that will act as a shot of power if he ever needs it. The next day on his way to work Superman saves a train full of passengers as the conductor suffers from a heart attack and when at work he gets news the Daily Planet has been bought out by tabloid tycoon David Warfield and his daughter Lacy who want to change the Planet into a trash paper. Lex Luther escapes from jail thanks to his nephew Lenny, and they steal a strand of Superman’s hair from the science museum and use radiation to create a dimwitted super guy who fights Superman in the street and is destroyed with ease by the man of steel. Jeremy is a young boy who is flown to Metropolis in order to talk to Superman as the child wants him to destroy all the nuclear weapons in the world, and Superman does just that as he flings the weapons into the sun. Lex Luther, with the help of some top war monger government army brass, sends a chemical human stew into the sun hidden into one of the missiles and so is born Nuclear Man, who feeds off the sun rays and is now out to destroy Superman on Lex Luther’s orders. The pair fight all around the world, and Nuclear Man lands a powerful blow that leaves Superman injured and oddly makes him start to age faster! While Superman/Clark Kent tries to nurse himself back to health, Nuclear Man decides he is in charge and turns on Luther and Lenny and also comes to the decision that Lacy Warfield will be his Queen, but before things get too bad Superman uses the crystal of power.  After a tough fight Superman beats Nuclear Man with the help of an eclipse and Lacy and puts the super baddy into a nuclear core where he will be drained of power and die! In the end Superman and youngster Jeremy teach all the people of the world we are all the same, and Perry White with the help of the banks buys the majority shares to become the owner of the Daily Planet.

The first thing that I must say is that all the flaws and moments of the film that make no sense are fixed and explained in this comic adaptation as no film editor took their scissors to the print to make a runtime. The plot is very simple: Lex Luther escapes jail as the world is in a nuclear weapon panic, Superman saves the day by ridding the world of all those nasty warheads and by doing so creates his own worst enemy in the Nuclear Man, all the while the Daily Planet is being taken over by a creepazoid smut news publisher. Throw in some love story with Lacy and Clark as well as Superman aging, and you have this cheesy comic storyline. While the film is a mess, I did find this comic adaptation to be lots of fun and better than part III. Superman in this comic is very noble and after fighting with his mind, listens to his heart and tries his best to rid the world of evil nuclear war weapons and truly embraces Earth as his home. Lois Lane is sassy, Jimmy Olsen is a background player, David Warfield is a scum bag, and Perry White is a man on a mission and saves his paper from being a tabloid magazine. Lacy Warfield is a rich woman who at least has some kindness in her heart as she wants to do the right thing and wants to win the heart of Clark Kent. Lex Luther once more is filled with pure revenge as world peace is not enough for him; he would rather risk that all for money and the death of Superman. Lenny is a goofball, as is the first Super clone, and Nuclear Man is a powerful narcissistic hothead who uses all his power for evil. The big things that are different from comic to film is that this comic shows the first attempt of the super clone as well as explains him getting sick when injured and turning old.  These scenes in the comic help make the whole thing make sense as some of these elements are left in the movie with no backstory. The art is really well done and is done by a handful of artists, and while they don’t look anything like the actors who play the characters in the film, it does hold the DC Comic charm and looks as if it could have been just a normal issue in the Action Comic series. So over all, this is a good comic adaptation done right by DC and really makes me wish they did ones based on the first film and Superman II, but we can’t change the past so before we move onto Superman: Returns, check out some art from Superman IV.

Superman IV Art 1

So from Nuclear Man to, you guessed it, more Lex Luther.  Let’s see how this more modern comic adaptation holds up, shall we? I should also note that while I don’t hate this film, I did find it to be just mediocre at best so it will be cool to see how this adaptation holds up to the film.

Superman Returns Comic 1

Superman Returns # 1  **
Released in 2006    Cover Price $6.99    DC Comics    #1 of 1

Superman has left Earth for over five years on a quest to find his home world in space and comes up empty handed.  He returns home to find his mother dating another man and wanting to sell the family farm to move away from Smallville. Lex Luther is out of jail and has dated an old sick rich woman who has just died and is now a millionaire and uses his new wealth to track down Superman’s Fortress of Solitude along with his girlfriend Kitty and his hired hand goons.  They learn all of the Man of Steel’s secrets. Clark Kent returns to work at the Daily Planet, and Superman returns in saving people as he saves a plane full of reporters that includes Lois Lane who is now a mom and engaged to Richard White, the nephew of Perry White. Lex Luther has found the the secret of Krypton is that the crystals can build land, and he has a plan to just do that as well sink America in the process, and along the way he kidnaps Lois Lane and her son Jason as they head out to sea. Lois is able to fax her location to the Daily Planet.  Richard takes the sea plan and Clark turns to Superman, and they both rush to the rescue. Luther has began creating land that is laced with Kryptonite, and this makes Superman weak as he is beat up by the likes of Luther and stabbed with a kryptonite dagger and thrown into the cold water. Lois and Jason was saved by Richard and in turn Lois saves Superman who lifts the newly made crystal land mass and leaves it into space, but this takes a lot out of Superman who falls to Earth and looks as if he could die! In the end Lex escapes, and Superman lives and makes peace with Lois even when he finds out Jason is his son.

First thing I have to say is I hate when DC Comics did the prestige binding for their adaptations of their films.  It just doesn’t feel like reading a comic as much as it feels like I am reading a book or a graphic novel, and sadly this was the only way you can get this issue. This adaptation is pretty good, but does suffer from what I felt dragged the film down and that’s a snail’s pace plot with not a lot of action. The plot of this comic is Superman returns to Earth after time away and must battle Lex Luther who wants to control land and also battle his feelings for Lois Lane who is now a mom. The story is not terrible, just a little weak and best of all Superman is a deadbeat dad as it’s shown Jason is his son and he has not taken care of him for over five years, and decides to not to do so even after he finds out! Superman in this issue is still noble for the most part but is not given much to do besides stop a plan crash, stop some robbers and lift a crystal land mass that really makes no sense as the Kryptonite should have left him weak as a baby. Clark Kent is not given much to do as Sup’s secret identity is more of a background player in this adaptation. Lois Lane is as snarky and strong willed as ever and while happy with her life, does still have feelings for the Man of Steel. Richard and Jason White are background players and serve a bigger purpose than Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. Lex Luther is such a so-so bad guy in this comic as I am sorry his main goal is to make new land to sell to nations as well as kill Superman…out of the the six Superman films Luther has been the bad guy in four and in this one he should have been given a rest.  It would have been nice to see Parasite or Doomsday. This comic follows the film pretty well and only has some changes like Jason killing one of Luther’s men with a piano is gone as is Kitty and Luther being stuck on a tiny island.  Not to mention that many parts also seem sped up and lose impact like Lois saving Superman goes by with a blink of an eye. The art in this adaptation is okay but is slightly sloppy and is done by Matt Haley.  This just adds to the boring nature of this adaptation. Over all while it was fun to read this adaptation, it is one that I am sure I would never read again. I would say that it was bland and boring! Check out the art below done by Haley for this adaptation.

Superman Returns Art 1

That marks the end of comic adaptations of Superman movies as none was made for Man of Steel, the film that came after Superman Returns.  So I figured why not take a look at Supergirl and Steel films that were spin offs of Superman! So up first is the Woman of Steel Supergirl!

Supergirl Comic 1

Supergirl # 1  **1/2
Released in 1985    Cover Price $1.25    DC Comics    #1 of 1

Argo City is in space and is the last of Krypton where Kara, the cousin of Superman lives.  An accident caused by artist Zaltar makes them lose the powerful and magical Omegahedron sphere as it’s sucked into space. Kara feels that she is also to blame and climbs aboard a tiny ship and follows it to Earth, during her travel she ages from a youngster to seventeen years of age and takes on the secret identity of Linda Lee and joins Midvale School. Meanwhile the Omegahedron has fallen into the hands of a witch named Selena who along with her roommate Beanca want to take over the world, all the while her one time mentor Nigel watches on trying to get his own hands on the powerful sphere. Linda has a roommate in school that is Lucy Lane, the sister of Lois, and who is dating Jimmy Olsen! Selena spots a lawn worker named Ethan and uses a love potion on him that backfires when he spots Linda Lee and he falls head over heels in love with her.  This leads to Selena trying to kill the pair on a carnival ride as well as sends an invisible monster to kill Linda Lee at school.  Both fail, and this sets the hatred up for Selena and Supergirl/Linda Lee. Later in rage, Selena kidnaps Ethan as well as Lucy Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Nigel and threatens to kill them as Supergirl comes to their rescue, but she is tricked and sent to the Phantom Zone and must use the help of Zaltar, who has been sent there for stealing the Omegahedron in the first place, to escape. When back on Earth Supergirl defeats Selena, frees her friends and heads back home to Argo City with the Omegahedron a new self confident woman.

This was a fun adaptation for a film that I grew up enjoying and owning on VHS and watched many times. I must say that growing up Helen Slater, who played Supergirl, was an actress I had a crush on and I am shocked that I did not own this comic as a kid. The comic does a good job on capturing the overall fun and silly nature of the film and while it makes some changes and rushes some others, it does not take away from the enjoyability of the comic.The plot is that Supergirl comes to earth to get back a powerful sphere that was lost from her home planet and must do battle with a sorceress who has the sphere. Throw in a love story and some friend characters who are connected to the Superman movies, and you have the story of this adaptation comic. Supergirl/Kara/Linda Lee is a gentle and sweet young woman who is not only strong on Earth like her cousin Superman but also has a very strong will and a sharp mind.  The way she rushes to her friends in need and stands up to any of the challenges thrown at her proves she truly is a hero. Lucy Lane is a nice side character as she is the sister of Lois Lane who she takes a lot of her personality from, and to top it all off she is dating Jimmy Olsen! Ethan is just a generic boyfriend character who falls for Supergirl thanks to a love potion, but his love breaks that magical spell as he truly just loves the seventeen year old Supergirl…wait he is out of school and works for lawn care…yeah, he’s a creeper! Selena is a wicked and selfish woman who is into black magic and treats her “friends” like trash as she clearly views them as lower than her. Not to mention she wants to murder a teenage girl over a man! The cover is pretty cool and shows Supergirl flying over the city, and the art inside is done by Gray Morrow.  While not my favorite style of art, it works well for this adaptation as the characters look enough like the actors who play them in the film. One nice addition to this comic are all the pinups of Helen Slater in her Supergirl outfit..very nice indeed! If you enjoyed this movie, put on the Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack for the film and give this adaptation a read.  Also check out the artwork below to see Morrow’s work.

Supergirl Movie Art 1

So Supergirl was not the only spin-off film to the Superman movies as in 1997 Warner Brothers hired Shaq to play Steel…let’s see if the comic is better than the movie, shall we?

Steel Comic 1

STEEL # 1  *1/2
Released in 1997    Cover Price $4.95    DC Comics    #1 of 1

John Henry Irons is part of a military group that tests and design new weapons that also includes Sparky, a cute and highly smart female solider, and Burke, a know it all hothead glory hog. During a presentation for a senator, an accident happens caused by Burke that leaves Sparky paralyzed and the senator dead, and Irons has to testify against his one time partner in military court. Irons quits the military when they allow Burke to walk away from the accident and he returns home to the streets of L.A. where is young brother and grandma try and avoid gang violence. After gangs on the streets have the high powered secret weapons of the military and Iron’s cop friend is hurt, he gets the help of Sparky as well as his Uncle Joe who runs a junkyard.  They make a metal suit, and so Irons become Steel and takes the fight to the gangs. Meanwhile Burke is the man behind the guns in the gang’s hand, and he is also using a video arcade store as his front and has Iron’s younger brother on his payroll! Burke sets up Steel with a bank robbery and outguns him and makes him look like a fool, and then sets him up with the cops and has Irons arrested on suspicion of being a gang member with illegal guns. Joe and Sparky trick the cops and get Irons free and he tracks down Burke and as Steel has a showdown with all the weapons and all Burkes men.  In the end Steel wins and saves the day by blowing up Burke in his super cannon powered truck.

This box office bomb made for one comic bomb as well as this was a dumb cheesy read that clearly was the worst of not only the Superman films, but also comic adaptations! The story is John Irons is a military weapons maker who quits after an accident and turns into a metal suited superhero when his home town streets are infected with gangs with high power weapons. John Henry Irons/Steel is a cool character who is super smart and very noble and risks his own life to try and get the weapons he help create off the streets. Uncle Joe and Sparky are great side characters who are very important in Steel’s quest as they do just as much as he does in order to rid the streets of the gang punks. Burke is a scumbag who wants to sell weapons to terrorists all over the world and doesn’t care how many people die in his quest for money.The thing that doesn’t work for this adaptation is that Steel has no connection to Superman.  In fact he is just a tall guy who is supposed to be this genius that’s bad at basketball, oh yeah they have to point out several times that he is smart and that he could never make it in the NBA…you get it… because Steel is played by Shaq…yeah, terrible. The art is okay and is done by the team of Jon Bogdanove & Dick Giordano.  This at least helps the comic to be a little better as at least characters look a little like the actors who played them. The reason this comic is so bad is because the source material was bad, and I feel like I have spent more time talking about this adaptation than the writers took to write the script so I think it’s time to end it. Check out a sample of the art below.

Steel Movie Art 1

Superman is not only a icon of comic books & the box office but he also rocked the world of comic adaptations.  While he might not have the impact he did on any of these the way he did when I was a kid, he still remains one of the most recognizable superheroes in the world. I really enjoyed taking a look back at the Superman movies and hope you had at least a small amount of good time reading this Christmas Eve update. I also hope you are having a great Christmas Eve that is filled with good times with loved ones and some great food. Our next update will be my best films of 2015 so that should be a great way to kick 2016 off! So if you’re reading this late in the evening, you should get yourself a warm glass of milk and head to bed as Santa Claus is on his way with his bag full of goodies! So have a great a safe Christmas and enjoy your time with friends and family, and I look forward to sharing 2016 with you all.

FILMS OF 2015 LOGO

Hercules and The Three Stooges Save Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s once again that time of the year for family, football and good food, and as you longtime readers know, its time for my Turkey Day Hercules update.  This year we will be looking at when Hercules met the princes of slapstick comedy, The Three Stooges. But before we get silly with this update I want to get serious for a moment and say that I am thankful for my family, friends and readers all of whom make my life way more fun! Plus, I want to dedicate this update to family and friends I have sadly lost over the years as each of them have helped make me the person I am today and they are all missed. I should also state that once more this year I am over at my parents house this Thanksgiving and waiting to eat some amazing home cooked food and enjoy good conversations with my family. So here is hoping that the belly full of laughs from this update doesn’t counteract your belly filled with food as we take a trip down memory lane with The Three Stooges.

Three Stooges and Turkey

It’s crazy to think that I have been doing this blog for several years now, and I have yet to talk about The Three Stooges, comedians I grew up watching alongside my Dad and brother and whose classic movies and shorts still entertain me to this day. The Stooges started out in 1925 as Ted Healy and His Stooges that consisted of Ted, Moe, Larry and Shemp, and the group toured around entertaining the masses and even made a feature film called “Soup To Nuts”. Shemp left the group in 1932 and was replaced by Curly, and a brief time later The Stooges broke away from Ted Healy in 1934 after making several short films and became The Three Stooges! Ted Healy died in 1937 from unknown and mysterious causes. One thing that should be noted is that Moe, Curly and Shemp were all brothers and all had their own wacky style of slapstick style humor. As The Three Stooges much work came their way in the form of short and feature length movies, and the threesome became one of America’s top comedic acts with Curly becoming the fan favorite for his silly faces and childlike behavior. But while things were good for the Stooges, bad luck caught up to them in 1946 when Curly suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to work, and up to the stroke Curly’s health was on a decline. Time passed, and The Stooges retired for some time hoping that Curly would get better, but the signs of him coming back were growing slim so they asked Shemp to rejoin.  He did for some time, and even was a part of The Stooges’ first ever TV appearance on “Texaco Star Theater” in 1948. But once more some bad news was coming The Stooges’ way in 1952 as Curly passed away at the age of 48 from a cerebral hemorrhage caused by more strokes.  They also lost some of their supporting cast when Columbia, the studio they were signed to, decided to downsize its short film department and the short films of the Stooges were being done cheaper and faster. Then in 1955, Shemp passed away from a heart attack on his way home from a boxing match; he was 60 years old. I should also note that in many of The Three Stooges films, a stand in was used for Shemp in shots who would wear a wig; this term was called Shemping and is still used to this day. In 1956 The Stooges hired Joe Besser as the new member who was a character who was goofy and would also fight back against Moe who was the dominate Stooge.  During this time The Three Stooges lost steam, and Besser was considered the weakest link in the trio.  After only three years with them his time came to an end, and in 1959 it appeared The Three Stooges had come to an end or did they?! The old Three Stooges short films were now being aired on TV and aimed toward kids.  This gave Moe and Larry an idea to try and launch a quick comeback with new Stooge named Curly Joe, and the trio launched into making movies again, this time aimed at the young and young at heart in the 1960’s.  They became one of the highest paid acts in Hollywood and even got turned into an animated cartoon series in 1965 called “The New 3 Stooges” and even tried their hands at becoming a weekly TV show that would have been called “Three Stooges Scrapbook”. In 1969, they were given another chance at becoming weekly TV stars with a show that would have been called “Kook’s Tour” that would follow the Stooges as they traveled the world, but this was not to be as Larry suffered a heart attack ending his run with the trio as well as ending The Three Stooges.  Even a dark comedy film written by Moe’s grandson called “Make Love, Not War” or “Make Mine Manila” and was about Moe, Curly Joe and Emil Sitka (a regular in Stooge movies) being POWs of World War II trying to escape never could get a green light from a studio. In 1974 Larry at the age of 72 suffered a stroke that put him into a coma, and sadly a short time later he passed away. Moe tried so hard not to let The Three Stooges end even after the death of his long time comedy partner and tried to get many movies off the ground but never could.  His last idea was a movie called “Blazing Stewardesses” but before it began Moe fell ill with lung cancer and had to retire from acting and passed away in 1975. Curly Joe still performed for years with a group he called The New Three Stooges that consisted of Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell that went on till 1979. Joe Besser passed away in 1988 at the age of 80 from heart failure; Curly Joe passed away in1993 at the age of 83 from pneumonia, and Emil Sitka who was the only Stooge replacement never to be in a movie or show as a Stooge passed away in 1998 from a stroke at the age of 83. The Three Stooges are icons in the world of comedy, and now that I gave you a brief history on who they were, next I will share some memories of watching them!

The Stooges 1The Stooges 2The Stooges 3

I can remember even as a young child my dad watching old Three Stooges shorts on TV, mostly on WGN, a TV station out of Chicago that use to air them a lot on Sunday mornings. I used to laugh at the silly ways The Stooges would smack each other and all the silly faces they would make when they were worked up over whatever was annoying them at the time. While my Dad liked The Stooges, my Mom was the opposite and was not amused by their slapstick antics and was by no means a fan. I think my brother liked them like I did because I can remember watching them with him and him laughing at them as well. Besides the short films, I also really enjoyed watching the Three Stooges movies with my favorite being, of course, them meeting Hercules.  I can remember watching this film on TBS and loving every cheesy sword and sandal moment.  I can also remember watching the cartoon at my grandparents’ house with my cousin Nathan on VHS. I also always wanted 3 ¾” action figures of The Stooges that I could have had as characters in my Toy Wars.  Imagine Moe slapping Han Solo or Larry poking the eyes of Captain Power; that would have been some epic stuff. Even at the age of 36, I still find myself really enjoying The Three Stooges and can say they were a part of my childhood that was good memories watching with my Dad and brother.

MBDYONA EC001

On January 26, 1962, Columbia Pictures released a comedy sword and sandal film that mixed the Greek hero Hercules with the slapstick goofballs The Three Stooges that consisted of Moe, Larry and Curly Joe at the time. The film had The Stooges helping a down and out scientist with his experiment to create a time machine, and by accident The Stooges, the scientist and his girlfriend are flung back to ancient Greece and come face to face with an evil king and his henchman Hercules. The film was filled with lots of moments of silly comedy, and the Stooges played off Hercules who was the prefect straight man who had no time for their silly antics. The film starred Quinn Redeker, Vicki Trickett, Samson Burke and Emil Sitka and was, and still is, my favorite of all the Three Stooges movies. The plot is filled with lots of fun surprises, but I figured we would save that for the comic adaptation made by Dell. I used to not only watch this film on TV but also on VHS and later on DVD.  So do yourself a favor and check it out if you’re into sword and sandal films and Three Stooges comedy.

The Stooges 5Three Stooges Meet Hercules PosterThe Stooges 6

In 1965, Saturday Morning Cartoons as well as after school kids programs on TV were very import to stations as they tried to lock viewers for their station over the other and many production companies took advantage of this as they made syndicated programs and so was born The New 3 Stooges that combined live action segments to intro the cartoon and was distributed by Normandy Productions. Each episode ran for 30 minutes and had a total of 4 seasons and 156 episodes with 40 live segments shot making many of the cartoons use the same intro, confusing the viewer. The cartoon was a pretty big hit at the time and reruns can still be seen on TV to this day on Me-TV and Boomerang as well as can be found on many cheap dollar DVDs and VHS as well as all 156 episodes on DVD thanks to Image Madacy Entertainment. It should also be noted that many of the episodes are in the Public Domain and that for some time The Stooges were in a legal battle with Normandy over the show’s profits. So I am sure if you grew up watching classic cartoons, you have seen a few episodes of this series and have fond memories of it.

The New 3 Stooges

In 2012, someone in Hollywood decided that the world needed a new Three Stooges movie that would have three new actors step into the shoes of Moe, Larry and Curly as well as recycle plots from many of their short films. This time around Chris Diamantopoulos played Moe, Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame played Larry and Will Sasso of MADTV played Curly. The plot had The Stooges having to go into the cruel world in order to get money to save the orphanage they grew up in after they could not afford the insurance due to all the accidents the Stooges have caused. During this adventure, they stumble on a murder for hire plot as well as go their separate ways after a fight leaves them at odds. In the end, they stop the murder, patch up their friendship and get the money needed to save the day thanks to Moe and MTV…yep, the one time music station. I saw the film in the theater with Josh Weinberg, and we both thought it was okay.  I watched it again with my Dad when I bought it for him for Christmas. The film did $54,819,301.00 at the USA box office for 20th Century Fox, but was trashed by the critics. I should also say that The Three Stooges showed up on WWE Monday Night Raw and got booed by the crowd, and they only cheered when Kane choke-slammed Curly!

THE THREE STOOGESthe three stooges 2012 posterNew Stooges 2

So I am sure you are wondering who played Hercules in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules…it was Samson Burke.  Now I am sure some of you are now asking who is Samson Burke, well I am here to tell you a little about him. Samson was born on April 8, 1929 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and got a degree in physical education as well as wrestled and swam for Canada in the 1948 Summer Olympic Games. In the 1950’s, he became a bodybuilder even winning Mr. Canada, Mr. Montreal and Mr. Muscle Beach, and his pure power also lead him into becoming a pro wrestler where he went under the name Sammy Berg and wrestled such legends as Lou Thesz, Nick Bockwinkel and Johnny Valentine. Samson also got bitten by the acting bug and started to appear in sword and sandal films like “The Revenge Of Ursus”, “Toto vs. Maciest” and “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules”. When the sword and sandal genre faded, he continued to act in such films as “The Triumph of Robin Hood” and “Sartana The Gravedigger”. In the 1980’s, he moved to Hawaii and retired from acting in the late 80’s, and as of 2009 he ran his own fitness business. Samson, who is 86, still makes appearances at conventions and is a beloved icon of Three Stooges lore and remains one of the only actors to play Hercules not as a hero but as a jerk!

Samson Burke

So before we take a look at the Dell Comic adaptation, I will pause for a moment to let you get another plate of food…go on, I can wait…. you good? Okay, let’s continue then, shall we? I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this issue in stock even though they had it listed as in great shape but it came complete with water damage and mold and a very strong rotten ink smell.  So yeah, great shape it is not! Before we get to the review I want to thank you for spending a part of your Thanksgiving with me.  I should also note that I grade this issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get on that time machine with Moe, Larry and Curly Joe, and let’s not forget our turkey leg and see just why Hercules is being a henchman jerk to a evil ruler. I am going to guess he is upset because someone ate the last corn on the cob, but that’s just a rumor.

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules 1

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules # 1  **1/2
Released in 1962    Cover Price .15     Dell Comics     #208 of ??

Moe, Larry and Curly Joe are working at a drugstore that is being rocked by the next-door neighbor inventor Schuyler Davis whose experiment to make a time machine is going a little crazy. While The Stooges like him, the owner of the drugstore, Ralph Dimsal, hates him and wants him to fail in his attempt to time travel and even tampers with his plans. Schuyler is in love with Diane Quigley, and she gives him only two more days to get his time machine done before she walks away from their relationship because he is spending all his time on it and not her. All the while Curly Joe has made some pills that calm things down, and they use it on Schuyler’s machine.  After the Stooges try and help, it causes them as well as Schuyler and Diane to travel back in time to 900 B.C.! They land in the middle of a battle and meet Odius and his right hand man Hercules and help them take the crown of Ithaca from Ulysses when his men flee that battle. Odius takes a liking to Diane and has a feast for his new friends, but when Schuyler figures out they helped an evil man get into power he has The Stooges set Ulysses free after he had been captured. Ulysses escapes, and The Stooges and Schuyler are punished to work the rest of their lives on a slave ship, but after some time they are able to taste freedom when Schuyler gains muscle mass and a King thinks that he is Hercules and asks them to kill a two headed Cyclops that has been eating the kingdom’s live stock! With the help of the pills, Schuyler beats the Cyclops, the Cretan Bull and a Hydra and builds the name of Hercules. Meanwhile the real Hercules is not pleased with the fake and gets his chance to challenge Schuyler to an arena fight when The Stooges and he come to the castle to stop the wedding of Odius and Diane. In the arena Schuyler manhandles Hercules and makes him promise to turn good and help Ulysses reclaim the throne.  He along with The Stooges save Diane and head to the time machine and return home, only in the end for Schuyler to punch out Dimsal!

This is one of those adaptations that does a great job of capturing the silly story and the goofy characters that made the film such a classic in the first place. The plot of the comic is a great mix of many genres like comedy, sword and sandal and science fiction, and they make them all blend so well together. The plot has three dim whit drugstore workers as well as a scientist and his girlfriend being flung back in time to ancient Greece, and by doing so they change history and must make things right before they return to modern times.  To make things worse, Hercules is not the hero icon we all believed but is an ego driven creep who works for the side of the evil King. The Stooges are screw ups, but their heart is always in the right place.  If not for Curly Joe’s pills, they all would be in serious trouble many times. Moe is the hotheaded and smarter of the group, Larry in this just seems like a bit player who is around to get smacked and deliver jokes and Curly Joe is the dumb one who might not be as dumb as everyone thinks. Diane is just a sweet beautiful young woman who acts as the love interest to both the film’s hero and villain. Schuyler is the main hero who turns from nerdy wimp to strong nerd and even matches strength with Hercules and brings down the evil king. Hercules is a smug ego driven super strong man who reminds you of the bully jock in high school, and funny enough he is beaten down and made to look a fool by a man who he viewed as weaker. Hercules in this comic’s good guy legend was really built by Schuyler, who forces him to stop being a jerk and be the hero he can be. King Odius is a cruel man who doesn’t get much time in the comic to show his true evil ways but is given enough for the reader not to like him. As always with most Dell Comics I could not find the artist’s name, but I must say it’s very cartoonish in nature and while good, at some times it appears like a talented 10 year old did it, but I still found myself enjoying it. Over all this is a cool comic adaptation, and while not as good as the Steve Reeves Hercules comics by Dell, it still was a perfect read for this Thanksgiving update. Check out some samples of the artwork below and see the cheesy cartoon nature of this fun issue.

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It’s weird that The Three Stooges didn’t meet more Greek and mythology icons. I mean who wouldn’t want to see “The Three Stooges Meet Samson” or “Maciste and The Three Stooges Save A Roman Holiday” or better yet “Three Stooges and a Strong Man”…so many missed opportunities. Well our next update will be in December, so I am thinking that we will do something fun and toy-related so let’s take a look at Starriors, a robot toy line that was created by Marvel Comics and Tomy Toys that had a four issue mini series. So until then I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and remember to read a comic or three and support your local horror host.

Starriors logo

DC At The Movies: Batman (The Christmas Eve Special)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Eve.  While this has been a year filled with lots of ups and downs for me, I have also had a great time loving life and am happy for all my friends and family in my life who have helped make me the person that I am today! While last year we covered Thundercats, this year we are going to cover something a little different as we will be looking at the movie series Batman that started with the Tim Burton directed film in 1989.  When that movie came to theaters on June 23rd the following Christmas every male kid I knew wanted Batman stuff for presents, and boy was their a lot to choose from! On this update we are going to cover the DC Comic Movie Adaptations of the Batman films so let’s sit back with some eggnog and wait for Santa to come down the chimney and talk DC At The Movies: Batman!

Batman 1989 Symbol

When I was a kid, the most popular superhero films were the Superman films starring Christopher Reeves as Superman/Clark Kent.  The only other DC heroes I could think of that had their own movies were Swamp Thing in 1982 and Batman had a film based off the 60’s TV show in 1966.  They did also have some great TV shows like previously mentioned Batman as well as Shazam, Wonder Woman, Legend of Isis and of course Adventures of Superman. Marvel at the time was mostly just focusing on TV with shows and made for TV Movies based on Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Captain America and Doctor Strange and did have the bomb Howard The Duck in 1986 a cheesy film directed by George Lucas, but I must say as a kid I really liked the film Howard the Duck.  I guess very loosely you could say that the Conan films as well as Red Sonja were a sliver connected to Marvel who made comics based on those characters at the time. But when 1989 came around, and Tim Burton, director of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, made Batman, the youth at the time exploded and Batmania was born! You couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing something about this film, and most kids at school had Batman t-shirts, folders, backpacks and toys. If your grew up when the 1989 film and its sequels came out, then you know what I am talking about when I say Batman ruled the world for those months leading up to the releases and the months that followed. So before we get too much into the insane popularity and merchandise of Batman I should give you a crash course on the films, and of course I will be getting the help of IMDB for these write ups as I would be far too long winded to tell you the readers the plots. So let’s set the bat signal off and see what these films were all about! Oh I will also put on here who played Batman as well as who played the main villain in each of these films.

Batman (Keaton)Batman 1989 PosterThe Joker (Jack)

BATMAN (1989)

Gotham City: dark, dangerous, ‘protected’ only by a mostly corrupt police department. Despite the best efforts of D.A. Harvey Dent and police commissioner Jim Gordon, the city becomes increasingly unsafe…until a Dark Knight arises. We all know criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot…so his disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. He becomes a bat. Enter Vicky Vale, a prize-winning photo journalist who wants to uncover the secret of the mysterious “bat-man”. And enter Jack Napier, one-time enforcer for Boss Grissom, horribly disfigured after a firefight in a chemical factory…who, devoid of the last vestiges of sanity, seizes control of Gotham’s underworld as the psychotic, unpredictable Clown Prince of Crime…the Joker. Gotham’s only hope, it seems, lies in this dark, brooding vigilante. And just how does billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne fit into all of this?

Batman – Michael Keaton

Joker – Jack Nicholson

Bob The Goon – Tracey Walter

Batman (Keaton 2)Batman Returns PosterThe Penguin (Danny)Catwoman (Michelle)

Batman Returns (1992)

Having defeated the Joker, Batman now faces the Penguin – a warped and deformed individual who is intent on being accepted into Gotham society. Crooked businessman Max Schreck is coerced into helping him become Mayor of Gotham and they both attempt to expose Batman in a different light. Earlier however, Selina Kyle, Max’s secretary, is thrown from the top of a building and is transformed into Catwoman – a mysterious figure who has the same personality disorder as Batman. Batman must attempt to clear his name, all the time deciding just what must be done with the Catwoman.

Batman – Michael Keaton

Penguin – Danny DeVito

Catwoman – Michelle Pfeiffer

Batman and Robin (Val & Chris)Batman Forever PosterThe Riddler (Jim)Two Face (Jones)

Batman Forever (1995)

The Dark Knight of Gotham City confronts a dastardly duo: Two-Face and the Riddler. Formerly District Attorney Harvey Dent, Two-Face incorrectly believes Batman caused the courtroom accident which left him disfigured on one side; he has unleashed a reign of terror on the good people of Gotham. Edward Nygma, computer-genius and former employee of millionaire Bruce Wayne, is out to get the philanthropist; as The Riddler he perfects a device for draining information from all the brains in Gotham, including Bruce Wayne’s knowledge of his other identity. Batman/Wayne is/are the love focus of Dr. Chase Meridan. Former circus acrobat Dick Grayson, his family killed by Two-Face, becomes Wayne’s ward and Batman’s new partner Robin the Boy Wonder.

Batman – Val Kilmer

Robin – Chris O’ Donnell

The Riddler – Jim Carrey

Two Face – Tommy Lee Jones

Batman Robin Batgirl (movie cast)Batman & Robin PosterFreeze Ivy Bane (movie cast)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman and Robin are back working side-by-side to stop the villains of Gotham City, but is there tension appearing between them, especially when one villainess who calls herself Poison Ivy can make anyone fall in love with her…literally. Along with Poison Ivy, the icy Mr. Freeze is freezing anything which gets in his way from achieving his goal.

Batman – George Clooney

Robin – Chris O’ Donnell

Batgirl – Alicia Silverstone

Mr. Freeze – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Poison Ivy – Uma Thurman

Bane – Jeep Swenson

The first two films were directed by Tim Burton and have a brooding dark feel to them while the latter two were directed by Joel Schumacher and take a more neon and goofy approach. Say what you will about any of them, you cannot deny the impact they had on the youth at the time as well as the box office. If you look at 1989, Batman was the # 1 film of the year bringing in $251,188,924.00 beating out the likes of Lethal Weapon 2, Back To The Future Part II, Ghostbusters II, The Little Mermaid, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Born on the Fourth of July, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Karate Kid Part III, 007: License To Kill, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween 5, All Dogs Go To Heaven, No Holds Barred, Cyborg, Kickboxer, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, The Burbs, Major League, Tango & Cash as well as Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade! So as you can see it had very stiff competition and ended up beating them all. Batman Returns took the # 3 spot in 1992 beating out Wayne’s World, Lethal Weapon 3, Hellraiser III, A Few Good Men and Alien 3 to name a few! While in 1995, Batman Forever took # 2 and beat out such films as Pocahontas, 007: Goldeneye, Seven, Braveheart, Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers and Billy Madison. Batman & Robin took # 12 in 1997 and beat Scream 2, Austin Powers, Cop Land, Jackie Brown, Wishmaster, An American Werewolf in Paris, Lost Highway, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and Alien Resurrection. But one thing I want to point out, is does anyone else notice that in every Batman movie in this series Bruce Wayne has a new love interest and almost always shows them that he is Batman! I think if I was Bruce Wayne, and while all the ladies are very lovely, I would try to stay with Chase Meridian played by Nicole Kidman as she is smart and very good looking! But no mater how you slice it, Wayne knows how to pick the ladies!

Kim BasingerBatmans RŸckkehrNicole Kidmanelle macpherson

The first batch of action figures based on the Batman movie was made by Toy Biz and showcased not only Batman but also The Joker and Bob The Goon. While many kids like myself rushed to get these figures to have our own Batman Movie style adventures, the figures themselves looked terrible and nothing like the actors from the film. I can remember many kids bringing these figures to the playground, and while we were happy to have them, we still all knew that the figures just looked cheap and were shells of what they should be. I had Batman and The Joker and skipped Bob The Goon, The Joker’s action was a squirting flower that acted like a squirt gun while Batman’s was his belt could be used as a hook. While Toy Biz tried, they really did fail, and the license was quickly taken away and given to Kenner.

Toy Biz Batman ToyToy Biz The Joker ToyToy Biz Bob The Goon Toy

When toy company Kenner got the license to make Batman movie toys, they went for the kill and made figures that looked like the actors as well as accessories like the Batmobile, The Batcopter and the Batcave. They also stayed with the film series and made figures for Batman Returns, Forever and Robin! Each series focused on many different versions of Batman and did all the core bad guys from the movie. On some of the molds they reused ones from their old Super Powers line as The Penguin is the same figure just his suit is painted a different color. When Kenner put these out I had to get my hands on one of the Batman’s as well as Catwoman, and they quickly replaced the Toy Biz ones when it came to Toy Wars. One thing that always cracked me up is the Poison Ivy figure done for the Batman & Robin line looks nothing like Uma Thurman who would not give them permission to use her likeness and looks like a man in drag instead! Don’t believe me, just take a look below, as well as take a look at some more of the Kenner Batman figures!

Kenner Batman ToysKenner ivy & Freeze

Back in 1989 Taco Bell released collector cups featuring Batman, and these were something that I felt I had to have when I was a kid and begged my parents to take me to Taco Bell to get one! When I did get one I can remember drinking everything from Mountain Dew to Chocolate Milk out of it, and it lasted away! After so many washings, the image on the cup began to disappear and sadly the Batman cup was retired and sold in a garage sale. I also remember them doing the cups for Batman & Robin, and I also collected those and got the whole set. McDonald’s did cups for Batman Returns, but I never did get any of those.

Taco Bell Batman Cups

McDonald’s had some Happy Meal toys as well as other merchandise for Batman Returns when the film was released, and many kids I knew had the cars that came in the meal. I can remember having Batman but none of the others. My cousins Dino and Norman had them all and so did Nathan. During this time, they also had pen necklaces that had Batman, Catwoman, Batmobile and The Penguin as topper caps on a very cheap pen. McDonald’s took some heat for putting out these toys in their kids meals by parent groups who thought the film was too violent and should not be geared towards the youth.  Parents groups sure can be silly sometimes.

McDonalds Batman Returns Happy Meal BagMcdonalds Batman Returns ToysBatman Returns Neck Pens

Trading cards have been made for all the films, but none were as popular as those based on the 1989 film put out by Topps. I used to get packs of the cards at United Dairy Farmers as well as at Big Bear and would trade my extra cards and stickers to my neighbor Carmen Fields who was making a whole set. The cards were well done, and they did two sets based just on the first film! I used to love buying old wax packs of cards and chewing on the stale gum as I flipped through to see what cards I had gotten. Oh the good old days!  But while the cards were cool, the whole set doesn’t sell for much as on Ebay.  They go for about $14.00 for both 1 and 2.

Topps Batman CardsTopps Batman Cards 2Batman Returns Cards

Batman t-shirts was also all the rage when I was younger, and while I didn’t have any for the first film I did have some for Batman Returns and as of the last few years I do have a Mr. Freeze one from Batman & Robin thanks to my brother Bryan who found it at a thrift store. I can remember that when I got my Batman Returns shirt for school I felt really cool with my all over print shirt Batman design and wore that shirt for many years after, mostly for gym or to sleep in. Sadly the shirt got holes in it and went to the big washing machine in the sky. But I am sure many of you reading this remember just how important it was for you to have the right cool shirts or shoes to fit in, I however was always just me and would wear movie and band shirts way past there popularity like my old blue Alice Cooper shirt or even Flattop from Dick Tracy. But while my old Batman shirts are gone or way too small at this point, I still have great memories of wearing them and being me.

Batman Returns T Shirt 1Batman Returns T Shirt 2Joker T-Shirt

Do you remember when companies like Post and Quaker Oats made cereals based on all types of cartoons and movies like The Addams Family and Gremlins? Well of course Batman cereal had to be made and company Ralston was the one to deliver it to the masses. Every morning when I was a kid my Mom made sure we ate some breakfast, and while some times it would be eggs & toast or oatmeal, it was mostly cereal and Batman was one that we tried and kind of liked. I can remember the main reason I choose it from the shelves of Big Bear is because it came with a free bank shrink-wrapped to the box. While the original Batman cereal was pretty good, the Batman Returns one made as well by Ralston was not so much! I can also remember eating Batman cereal watching Saturday Morning Cartoons.  Man I really do hate that in October 2014 Saturday Morning Cartoons ended on all major stations, ending an era.

batman cerealBatman Returns cereal

What would a movie be without a video game tie in back in the 80’s and 90’s and of course Batman had a number of game come out based on the blockbuster flicks. First Batman: The Video Game for NES came out in 1990 by SunSoft, and this game was super popular with the Brassfield cousins as we would all try and beat it while at our Grandparents house or even at each others. This game was followed up by Batman: Return Of The Joker, a follow up to a movie game that has no ties to any Batman movies by SunSoft for the NES and Sega Genesis in 1991 and 1992. When Batman Returns was released, a video game was made for many home consoles like NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD and even Sega Master System. Batman Forever, a very cheesy beat em up game, came out for Sega Genesis and SNES while Batman Forever The Arcade Game was made for Arcades, Playstation and Sega Saturn. Batman & Robin also got the video game treatment as a game was released for Playstation, and I can remember getting this game from Blockbuster Video and trying my hardest to beat it…I never did and I blame it on the poor controls. While they all have a charm in their own way Batman: The Video Game for NES remains the best video game based on this series.

Batman NesBatman Returns GenesisBatman Forever GenesisBatman & Robin PSX

When Batman and Batman Returns came out in theaters I did not get to see them as we had to wait for the VHS tapes for hit the library and local video rental store.  My Dad was not a fan of the 1989 film when he watched it and didn’t want to spend money on the second one. But I can remember me and my brother trying to get them to take us but it didn’t work. Well for my 15th birthday, my parents and brother took me to the Belmont Drive-In to watch Batman Forever and I can remember the night we went it was kind of rainy out but while I was not a fan of the movie it was fun watching the flick in the old family car with everyone. I can remember that they also made snack food for us to munch on. Sadly the old Drive-In went out of business thanks the those wonderful land hogs at Reynolds and Reynolds who bought them out and let the land sit empty for years till they built another soulless building in its spot. I saw Batman & Robin in the theater inside The Dayton Mall with my Brother and younger cousin Nick when our aunt asked us to babysit him and offered to pay for our tickets and snack food, how could you go wrong. After the movie we played on the arcade machines that were in front of the theater. In closing, I miss the Belmont Drive-In and wish it was still around today.

Belmont Drive In

Well my fellow Bat-Fans, we are at the point of looking at the comic adaptations and I for one can’t wait to relive many of them. You see in my youth I had read the comics based on Batman and Batman Returns and want to see if they hold up! And want to thank you for spending this Christmas Eve here at Rotten Ink. So before we Biff and Pow our way into action, I should remind you that 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. I want to also thank Mavericks and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock.  So put another log on the fire and get your self another glass of Eggnog we are going to be having a good Bat Time.

Batman 1989 1

Batman  # 1  ***
Released in 1989   Cover Price $2.50   DC Comics   #1 of 1

A family is robbed and left in an ally.  As the crooks make off with the loot, they get a visit from Batman who teaches them that he is the night! Crime Lord Carl Grissom is being targeted by Gotham Police Department but up to this point they have nothing on him as he has a rat in the department who fills him in and helps cover things up. Reporter Alexander Knox along with photographer Vicki Vale are on the case of who and what Batman is, as crime on the streets is lowering as criminals are in fear. Billionaire Bruce Wayne is in fact Batman, but no one besides his butler Alfred knows his secret. Grissom’s girlfriend Alicia is cheating on him with his right hand man Jack Napier who he sets up at a chemical plant that leads to Batman knocking him into a vat of chemicals, and his face is turned white and his hair green and Jack becomes The Joker! Bruce Wayne however finds himself falling in love with Vicki Vale.  As they go on a date The Joker shoots and kills Grissom and now is in charge of his operation. Vicki is following Bruce Wayne and while out The Joker attacks and his men fire guns into crowd.  When the attack is over, they interview Vicki on TV and The Joker likes what he sees. Weird deaths are happening all over Gotham as people are dying of laughter and it’s shown that The Joker is using chemicals in every day products to spread his death. The citizens found out thanks to Batman who saves Vicki Vale from a Joker attacks at a restaurant and gives her the secret.  The next day Bruce Wayne on his date with Vicki is about to tell her that he is Batman when The Joker once more attacks and with this attack Bruce Wayne figures out that Jack Napier (now The Joker) is the thug who shoot and killed his parents! The Joker throws a parade in downtown Gotham and not only giving out free “money” but also poisoning people via balloons. Batman spoils his fun as The Joker takes Vicki prisoner on top of a bell tower.  Batman comes to her aid, and the fight leaves The Joker falling to his death as Batman becomes the savior of Vicki and Gotham.

This is 100% a comic movie adaptation done right, as the look and vibe of the comic captures the magic of the film. The story of this comic is Batman is new to Gotham, and the cops nor the civilians know what to think of him as he takes down crooks with his vigilante justice, and during one of his crime stopping nights he takes a crazy crook and by accident turns him into an even more crazy crook, The Joker, who is tormenting the city! Throw in the fact that Batman is Bruce Wayne, a rich respected man who is torn between doing what he thinks is right and love as he falls for a beautiful photographer who has also captured the eye of the crazed Joker! Batman comes off as a focused hero to the helpless who takes his crime fighting very serious, while Bruce Wayne is an odd rich man who is complex and is torn between fighting and love. Vicki Vale is a likable female lead who has just the right amount of damsel in distress to make you as the reader want to see her get saved. The Joker is crazy and seems like his whole goal in the issue is to cause chaos and to murder the helpless, very great bad guy character and changed just enough from the normal comic series that was also going at the time of this comic adaptation’s release. The Joker’s death is impactful as he falls from high above and dies still with a laugh as a laugh box in his pocket goes off after the impact. The cover is very eye catching, and fans of the movie would for sure nab this one up.  The art inside done by Jerry Ordway is fantastic, and all the characters look like the actors that played them in the movie. I can remember that I read this comic when it first came out as our friend Mike Cessna had it, and I loved it back then, but then again I did have Batman fever! In closing if you like the 1989 film and like comics then check this one out as it was made for you.

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So The Joker is dead, and Batman is now a full savior of the city.  So what baddies awaits him in this second comic movie adaption?  Let’s read on and find out!

Batman Returns 1

Batman Returns  # 1  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

It’s in the past as a family drops a baby in a basket off the side of the bridge, and as the basket floats down the river and into the sewer, a family of penguins are there to rescue it. Max Shreck is a very powerful businessman in Gotham and is a man with a vision of a more powerful city.  He has the Mayor in his back pocket and he even runs his poor assistant Selina Kyle day and night. While giving a speech about Christmas, Max and company are attacked by a band of scary circus performers know as The Red Triangle Gang.  As Batman comes to save the day, Max himself comes face to face with a strange deformed man called The Penguin who lives in the sewer and knows all Max’s dirty little secrets.  So the two team up to allow Penguin to come above ground and be loved by the people of Gotham. Max has an idea to have a power planet that does not give off energy but takes energy to store, and when Selina gets too close in looking into the plant, she is shoved out a window by Max and is saved by cats who she now has a bond with.  This also makes her an anti hero as she dons a leather cat suit and calls herself Catwoman. Bruce Wayne and Max have a meeting over the power planet but don’t see eye to eye, as Selina shows back up to work to Max’s surprise as he thought she was dead. This bad meeting makes Max turn to Penguin who he now wants to make Mayor, and they hatch a plan of mayhem as they set the Red Triangle Gang free on the city.  As Batman takes out the trash he comes to find that Penguin is not a good role model as Max wants them all to believe and also meets Catwoman who is targeting business owned by Max. Catwoman and Penguin team up to frame Batman and to get the people of Gotham to turn against him by killing The Ice Princess and making it appear as if he did it.  While he is trying to save her ,they will turn the Batmobile into an out of control death machine! With the Ice Princess dead and Batman able to get back control of his car after a nasty joy ride, he is able to use messages he tapped of Penguin to have the people of Gotham turn on him and as he goes back to the sewers he tells his gang the plan of stealing all the first born children of the city and how he wants them all to die in a watery grave! Also by this point Catwoman and Penguin have turned on each other and to make things worse Bruce Wayne has to go to a costume party put on by Max, and that’s when Selina and Bruce find out each others secret identities. Penguin crashes the party and kidnaps Max who he has now turned on, as Bruce turns into Batman and stops the kids from being killed.  With one plan stopped, Penguin now sends his animal penguin brothers above ground complete with bombs and rockets strapped to them to cause death and destruction! Batman stops this attack as well and knocks Penguin out a window and he falls into the sewer bellow. Meanwhile Catwoman kills Max and herself as Batman is powerless to stop her and looses his love.  As Penguin once more appears and is at death’s door complaining of the heat and dies in the sewer water as his animal friends take his body away. Bruce Wayne won’t forget Selina Kyle as Catwoman’s shadow is seen in a ally.

Good comic adaptation follow up to the original but slightly looses the magic of the film, as many plot moments seemed a little rushed. Bruce Wayne/Batman in this comic are almost one and the same as he allows emotions to interfere with his personal life as well as his crime fighting mission. I also am puzzled as too how quickly Vicki Vale is thrown to the side and in a matter of seconds, he is head over heels in love with Selina Kyle who he briefly meets as Bruce during a meeting at Max’s and once for seconds as Batman during the first Red Triangle Gang attack. Bruce is really like a love struck teenager who is longing to be loved and chooses the most complicated women to fall for. Max Shreck is your typical rich big business man who acts as if he cares about the people, when really he cares about his own personal gain. Max is a total scumbag who kills and manipulates whoever he can to become more powerful in Gotham. Penguin is also a very violent and conniving man who kills and takes advantage of whoever can get him ahead in his plan to take over the city. The fact that he runs a gang of circus rejects and has a plan to kill children shows you just how gross of a person he is. Penguin’s death is a little to close too The Jokers with it coming via a fall, but it still works as he makes one last attempt to kill Batman grabs the wrong umbrella, and then falls just short of making it into the cold water before he dies. Penguin is nothing like the comic version and is not classy in any way and is more of a freak, but he still does use umbrellas of all types to fight with. Catwoman/Selina Kyle is an interesting character as she is not good nor bad and while she loves Bruce Wayne, she dislikes Batman and does take the life of his boss Max in the end. This really is a cool adaptation and is a nice follow up to the first with an equally cool cover, but I will say the artwork by Steve Erwin, while good, does lack the charm of making the characters look like the actors of them film, while some do, many don’t. I can remember buying this comic as a kid from The Bookie Parlor and thinking how cool I was cause I had it.  Also while reading this comic, I listened to the score for the film done by Danny Elfman. If you like the film and liked the original film adaptation, this is a good one to have in your collection!

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Penguin is dead and Catwoman is missing, who will be the next to step up and get beat down by Batman? Well let’s see in this next issue based on my least favorite Batman film of all time or should I say forever?

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Batman Forever  # 1  ***
Released in 1995   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

Two Face has escape Arkham Asylum and is robbing a bank and has a live hostage, as Batman approaches Commissioner Gordon.  Batman also meets Chase Meridian, a doctor in abnormal psychology.  He goes in to save the day, but while he does save the guard Two Face gets away. Edward Nygma works for Bruce Wayne and is a little crazy.  When Bruce shoots down his idea of a TV that broadcast into your brain he decides to kill the manager and seek revenge on Bruce whom he leaves a riddle for. Bruce takes the riddle to Chase, and after they crack it, they go to a charity circus event and when The Flying Graysons are on, Two Face enters complete with a bomb.  As son Dick Grayson gets the bomb to safety, his parents are murdered by Two Face and Bruce can do nothing to save them. Dick stays at Wayne Manor as once more Two Face tries to kill Batman and fails.  While at his hideout he gets a visit from Nygma who is know calling himself The Riddler, and they two form a team to kill Batman that involves Nygma’s TV Mind Box! Dick sneaks and follows Alfred to the Bat Cave and takes the Batmobile for a drive and saves a woman from some street punks and gets a taste and wants to join Batman as a team who of course rejects the idea. At a party for Nygma’s new invention that is making his company out do Wayne Enterprises two to one, Two Face crashes and Batman this time around is hurt in the fight but is saved by Dick who is wearing his circus outfit and a tiny mask. Alfred tries to push a bruised up Bruce that he should train Dick and allow him to help in crime fighting.  As Bruce thinks it over he becomes Batman and meets Chase at her house as it’s clear she has feelings for Batman as well as Bruce Wayne, but she in the end chooses Wayne! The Riddler finds out thanks to his TV machine that Wayne is Batman, and the evil pair decide to make a statement. Bruce invites her over to tell her he is Batman, and Two Face and The Riddler come in and shoot Wayne, kidnap Chase and blow up the Batcave. After the attack, Batman along with his new sidekick Robin (Dick Grayson) head to Nygma’s factory and battle it out with the baddies. The end fight leaves The Riddler’s brain boiled by his own machine, and Two Face falls to his death into spiked rocks and ocean water. With The Riddler crazy and in Arkham Asylum, Chase knows now she loves the man behind that bat.

I must say I liked this comic adaptation better then the film it’s based on! Gone is the terrible over acting of Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face; missing is Jim Carey’s version of The Riddler just being silly and Ace Ventura like.  Instead we get a fun kid friendly Batman adventures that is laced with some fun silly moments. The story has Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman once more falling for a woman who is torn between the two, not knowing till later that they are the same person.  Along the way Batman makes enemies with a crazy inventor and a baddy from his past comes out to play. He also adopts a circus performer who turns into his sidekick in fighting crime. Batman/Bruce Wayne in this issue is on the verge of walking away from crime fighting to settle down with a woman he once more just meet, but by some point comes to learn that both sides of his life are important, and they can come together. Dick Grayson/Robin for the most part takes a back seat and is used just right, not forcing him down your throat and allowing him to become important to the film’s end plot. Chase Meridian is smart and pretty but besides being a love interest does nothing to special to make her on the level of Vicki Vale or Selina Kyle. The Riddler/ Edward Nygma is crazy and wants to really show Bruce Wayne up and is obsessed with power.  His defeat coming by his own invention is well done, as is the fact his head becomes misshapen with the overload. Two Face loves to kill and is a good comic book villain in this comic. The lame thing is once more Two Face, much like The Joker and Penguin before him dies via a fall! The cover on this one is okay and not as eye catching as the other two.  The art done by Michel Dutkiewicz is really great and helps add to the over all appeal of the comic. To sum it up, a solid good adaptation that is better then the movie it’s based on!

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Two Face dead via a fall onto some pointy rocks and The Riddler looks like the Elephent Man and is in the loony bin.  So who’s next on Batman’s list to rid Gotham of?  Let’s read the last to find out!

Batman & Robin 1

Batman & Robin  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1997   Cover Price $3.95   DC Comics   #1 of 1

Batman and Robin try to stop Mr. Freeze from stealing a giant diamond but fall short when Robin is turned into an icicle and Batman must save him from freezing to death as Mr. Freeze escapes. Meanwhile in South America, Dr. Pamela Isley is working on a chemical that will make plants stronger as her partner Dr. Jason Woodrue uses it to make super soldiers and creates Bane, a muscle bound brute who does what he’s told.  When Isley finds out, he attacks her and knocks her into chemicals that turns her into Poison Ivy who kills Woodrue with a kiss, and she and Bane heads to Gothan City. Meanwhile Mr. Freeze is only doing all these bad things so that he can get money for research to cure his sick wife.  While Alfred’s niece Barbra comes to visit and stays at Wayne Manor. Batman uses diamonds from his private collection to lure Mr. Freeze out of hiding but it also draws out Poison Ivy who turns Batman and Robin against each other to get her attention. But the trap works, and they are able to capture Mr. Freeze and send him to Arkham Asylum, but the heat between Batman and Robin grows deeper. Ivy and Bane break Freeze out, and Batman and Robin find them at Freeze’s old hideout and while they fight off Bane they also come face to face with Ivy again who uses her charm to make Robin and Batman fight which leaves Robin knocked out.  She also unplugs Mr. Freeze’s wife and blames it on Batman making him want to kill his enemy. During this time we also find out Alfred is sick with the same disease that was killing Freeze’s wife leaving Bruce, Barbra and Dick helpless to save their friend and loved one. Barbra finds out the secret and becomes Batgirl and teams with Batman and Robin to fight off Ivy, Bane and Mr. Freeze who plans to make the whole world freeze in another ice age. Batgirl takes out Ivy with Robin beating Bane and Batman knocks around Mr. Freeze and tells him that Ivy pulled the plug on his wife but he saved her just in time and talks sense into him and gets him to help cure Alfred’s diseases. In the end, Alfred is okay and Batman & Robin have a new partner in Batgirl as Ivy gets a new cellmate Mr. Freeze!

The first thing that I have to say about this adaptation is that I hate the fact it starts off showing a movie set setting up the first shot…this takes you 100% out of the comic and makes you say who cares it’s all just a movie.  Dumb move by DC for allowing this to be the opening panel of this comic. But take that terrible mistake out of the picture, and this is a fun average adaptation that showcases the silly nature of the film it’s based on. The plot is Alfred is sick and his loved ones want to save him, Batman has an issue trusting that Robin can handle himself, Ivy wants to save Mother Earth and Mr. Freeze wants to save his wife….this comic is all about saving. Batman is a little controlling in this one and seems to almost have a chip on his shoulder, but as Bruce Wayne he is more caring and worried about his sick friend Alfred. Robin is a ball of rage as he feels Batman just won’t let him be the hero he is. Batgirl is a waste in this comic and besides the very end when Barbra becomes Batgirl, she is given very little to do. Alfred is caring and sick so you find yourself hoping and knowing he will get better. Poison Ivy is an extreme environmentalist who puts nature over human lives, and for all accounts is like a pretty ex-girlfriend who is borderline psychotic. Bane is a mindless brute who says nothing at all through at the whole comic.  He is as far from his comic counter part and is nothing more than a glorified henchman. Mr. Freeze retains all his cheesy one liners that all tie in to cold, and is a bad guy that you feel sorry for as he is doing everything bad to try and save his wife, but man when he’s doing bad he goes for broke! Much like the movie that I don’t think is as terrible as people say it is, this is pretty average and cuts out many of the really silly things from the movie like the Bat Credit Card. The cover is average as well and for some reason more reminds me of the kid’s novel version that you would find at a book fair. The art is done by Rodolfo Damaggio and is pretty well done.  In some panels it seems rushed but is not terrible looking even then. Over all if you like the film check it out, otherwise I would avoid this one.

Batman & Robin Art 1

That was a good time for me, and we have read some pretty good comic adaptations that did the films they were based on justice. The art of making movie adaptations seems to be lost as now it’s not so much a comic of the movie as they are mini series that act as lead up to the films. Say what you will about them now, but The Batman films was a series that got the young and young at heart hyped to go to the movies and I for one grew up being a Batman kid thanks to not only the 60’s TV show but also the 89 Burton film.  So with this I should tell you the next update will be my top films of 2014 and I look forward to bringing you that. Well I hope you all have a great Christmas and Santa brings you all what ever you asked for.  Until then spend time with your loved ones, read a comic or two and have a safe holiday.

2014

The Haunted Holiday Tomb Of Ligeia

Brrrr…it’s getting cold outside so why not throw another body on the fire and spend some time drinking hot chocolate with Dell Comics, Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Price as we take a look at Tomb Of Ligeia. The holiday times are always so stressful and filled with the pressure of buying loved ones gifts, and if you work retail then you know as well as I do that work can be total hell no matter how much you like your job. So for me around this time, I love to sit back turn down the heat a little and crack a window open to let in the perfect amount of chill, then make myself a mug of hot chocolate and pop in a DVD of a horror host or horror film and relax on the couch and let the stress float away as I watch the horrors of what Hollywood have to offer or the zany humor of the host. One other thing that always is stressful around this time is driving on snow and ice covered roads.  I have a blue Chevy Cavalier that I nicknamed The Blue Demon who is too light and slides all over the place, making the drive to and from work not only interesting but also dangerous! The first and only car wreck I ever had was on a snow covered night as I crashed a coworker’s car into a pole by being young and dumb and driving too fast on a slick parking lot.  I am just glad that no one got hurt including myself. So to de-stress this update I figured why not also write about a horror film that was adapted to a comic by Dell, and then I figured why not one of the of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe films starring the horror legend Vincent Price! So with that combination I choose Tomb Of Ligeia, a very underrated film in Corman’s Poe Series. So let’s warm up and get less stressed and have some spooky good times with Mr. Price.

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Edgar Allen Poe was born in 1809 in Boston Massachusetts to two actors, but in 1810 when he was only one years old his father up and left his family and sadly a year later in 1811 his mother passed away leaving he and his older sibling orphans. Edgar was taken in by a family but never truly adapted were he spent his youth with a male father figure who was tight with money when it came to paying for Edgar’s collage education at the University Of Virginia. So he chose to drop out and inlist in the Army in 1827 and at this time also began writing such poems as Tamerlane. But after awhile he switched from poems to becoming a a literary critic and was known for his unique criticism on others works. In 1835 Edgar married his 13 year old cousin Virginia and 10 years later he wrote his most famous poem The Raven making him a success but sadly two years after it was published his wife passed away from tuberculosis. Over the years Edgar kept writing and wanted to release his own journal called The Penn but never was able to get it off the ground. On October 3rd 1849 Edgar Allen Poe was found wondering the streets of Baltimore in another persons cloths delirious and needing medical help, a stranger named Joseph W. Walker found him and took him to Washington Medical College for assistance, Edgar died a few days later on the 7th of Congestion Of The Brain tho many other causes of death have been talked about everything from Suicide to rabies and no one is for sure as over the years both his medical records and death certificate have gone missing. Edgar the who time never made sense in his ramblings as he was at deaths door and it’s said his last words was a name he shouted “ Reynolds” while others reported it was “Lord Help My Poor Soul”, very interesting words from a dying man. Many people think that Edgar also was a victim of Cooping a vicious 19th century act were citizens were forced to vote for a candidate over and over and by a gang of thugs on the politicians payroll who would force the person to drink and do drugs and go to the voting booth and vote for the same person over and over, they would even force the victim to wear disguises. In some cases after they got the votes they needed they would beat the victim and sometimes kill them, and this is what many believe happened to Edgar Allen Poe. After his death a fellow author named Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote an obituary that was very mean spirited and showed through with true jealousy and a hatred for a man who’s work has lived on way past his death. Poe’s work is very iconic and is embraced not only by the Goth Culture but as well as many creative people from Roger Corman to The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Here is to you Edgar Allan Poe and may your soul find rest and may your work forever entertain all those who read it.

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Vincent Leonard Price Jr. was born on May 27th 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and was the youngest of four children, his father was the President of the National Candy Company and his Grandfather Vincent Clarence Price was the inventor of “Dr. Price’s Baking Powder” and set the family up to have a big fortune. Vincent went to Yale and got a degree in History in 1933 that lead to him going to London to try and get his Masters in fine art but while there is were he fell in love with acting and theater. Vincent began acting in plays that lead to even work on “Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre”, but his break into films came in 1938 in the film “Service De Luxe” and he took other character actor roles, he also starred along side Boris Korloff in the 1939 Horror flick “Tower Of London” and in 1940 he starred in “The Invisible Man Returns” but made a splash in the film “Laura” in 1944. Many great roles followed in the Horror genre like “Shock (1946) “, “Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)”, “House of Wax (1953)”, “The Fly (1958)”, “House On Haunted Hill (1958)”, “The Tingler (1959)”. “Return Of The Fly (1959)”, “The Bat (1959)” and then went on to be in many films based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe like “House of Usher (1960)”, Pit And The Pendulum (1961)”, “Tales Of Terror (1962)”, “The Raven (1963) and “The Masque Of The Red Death (1964)”. But this did not stop him from being in other films as well as other horror flicks like “Diary Of A Madman”, “Twice Told Tales”, “The Haunted Palace”, “The Comedy Of Terrors” and “Last Man On Earth”. In 1964 he played the lead role in the Poe based film “Tomb Of Ligeia” that is the topic of this December update, and through out the late 60’s he starred in other great horror films like “The House Of 1,000 Dolls”, “Witchfinder General” and Poe inspired flick “The Oblong Box”. But in the 70’s Vincent really turned up the chills with such films as “Scream And Scream Again”, “Cry Of The Banshee”, “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”, “Dr. Phibes Rises Again”, “Theatre Of Blood” and “Madhouse”. By the 80’s he was still getting many great Horror films to star in like “The Monster Club”, “House Of The Long Shadows”, “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”, “Bloodbath At The House Of Death”, “Terror In The Aisles”, “From A Whisper To A Scream”, “Dead Heat” and Tim Burton’s odd family flick “Edward Scissorhands”. But during his time Vincent also did some great TV work like playing Egghead on the 60’s Batman and roles in The Muppet Show, The Brady Bunch and The Bionic Woman to name a few. I remember him also doing the voice of Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective and also for his work on the album and movie Welcome To My Nightmare by Alice Cooper. Sadly the world lost Vincent Price in 1993 of lung cancer at the age of 83, many odd things have been written and spoke about Vincent Price and some things are for sure he loved art and his impact on the world of movie is major, so here is to you Vincent Price! This is just a brief look at Vincent Prices’s life and career if your looking for more make sure to read up on him, you’ll be glad you did.

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So Tomb Of Ligeia is the film adaptation that we will be taking a look at for this update done by Dell Comics and I would like to take the write up from what imdb has for it and then share my thoughts on the film. “Some years after having buried his beloved wife Ligea, Verden Fell meets and eventually marries the lovely Lady Rowena. Fell is something of a recluse, living in a small part of a now ruined Abbey with his manservant Kenrick as the only other occupant. He remains infatuated with his late wife and is convinced that she will return to him. While all goes well when first married, he returns to his odd behavior when they return to the Abbey from their honeymoon. The memories of Ligea continue to haunt him as well as her promise that she would never die.” So one late night in October I decided to watch this film pretty much for the first time, while I am pretty sure I seen it when I was a kid I truly only remembered bits and pieces so this watch was like seeing it for the first time all over again! The pacing is very much like your standard ghost horror film of the 60’s and the film is more shock horror then blood splattering. Vincent Price is great in the role of Verden Fell and while its not his best performance its a very solid one. If you haven’t seen the film and like the work of Price and films based on Poe stories then check it out.

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Tomb Of Ligeia has been released on many home viewing formats including VHS via HBO and on a double feature DVD from MGM, with the DVD its paired with “An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe” that also stars Vincent Price. Its on Laserdisc via Orion as well can be watched via instant streaming. So if your looking to watch the film there are many ways to do so.

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So many comic companies have made comics based on Vincent Price and his films, companies like Dell and Bluewater have done several but much like Night of The Demon and Curse Of The Cannibal Confederate there is another film that I feel that would and still could make a fun comic book and that film is called The Video Dead! The film is about a TV set that holds the spirits of zombie like monsters who come out of the TV and kill those they come in contact with, brother and sister Jeff and Zoe Blair are fixing up a house their parents bought and are delivered the cursed TV, and of course this is bad news for them as the Video Dead escape and target the neighborhood and even kidnaps Jeff’s new girlfriend! Their only help is a man named Joshua Daniels who has spent his life trying to find and kill the Video Dead. The film is a dark Horror Comedy were The Dead laugh their butts off as they murder people and they can be tricked into thinking they are dead again with simple arrows and other ways of killing a normal man. I first seen the film years back on the USA Network on their popular weekend show Saturday Night Nightmares, and was drawn in to the totally cheese story and the fun 80’s looking zombies. After seeing the film I was a fan and even had a nightmare about the wedding dressed chainsaw caring female zombie in the film, who was chasing me around the Waynesville house I lived in! The films woods scene also reminded me of the woods by our house that we played in, and my brother Bryan and I use to play the “What If” game and acted as if we wondered what if The Video Dead were waiting for us. The comic series could follow Mr. Joshua Daniels as he tracks down the cursed TV from town to town and has to kill and deal with all The Video Dead that have been left behind, but he also has to find out who is the person sending out the TV to people like a curse. So the comic could act as a prequel to the film and capture lots of the 80’s culture and attitude. This is one that IDW could have done during their MGM Midnight Movies Comic Line as MGM owns the film, if I could make the comic for this blog I would love to have Rachael Lare or Eric Shonborn on board for it cause both would do a fantastic job on bringing the zombies alive on paper. So here is hoping that one day The Video Dead will come alive in a comic book some way or another.

The Video Dead 1The Video Dead PosterThe Video Dead 2

Well lets place an extra log on the fire and top off the hot chocolate and dive into Dell Comics adaptation of this Edgar Allen Poe inspired film. Before we get to far though I want to remind everyone once again 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, its art and story. I also want to think Mavericks for having this comic in stock when I bought it some years back. So with the winter nip in the air lets take a look at this spooky comic for this Holiday season.

Tomb Of Ligeia 1

Tomb Of Ligeia  # 1  ***
Released in 1965   Cover Price .12   Dell Comics   #508 of ?

Verden Fell has to bury his wife Ligeia who he thinks is not truly dead, but in some sort of state of mind because she willed herself not to die therefore she is not dead. The townspeople want nothing to do with the funeral that even has a black cat leaping out of the fresh grave! While on a fox hunt Rowena Trevanion, her father Lord Trevanion and Christopher Gough are on horseback in the woods.  An accident leaves Rowena being thrown from her horse after she broke from the group and landing on the grave of Ligeia where she twists her ankle and meets Verden who she falls in love with, and later marries. But things are not well for Rowena as the black cat tries to hurt and kill her at every turn, and Verden himself is acting odd at night leaving her always alone. Christopher later finds out that his friend Rowena can’t be married to Verden as legally his wife is still alive due to the fact there is no death certificate! In the end Rowena finds a hidden staircase that leads to a room where Verden hangs out with the dead body of Ligeia, as Christopher digs up the grave of Ligeia and finds a wax dummy in the coffin! As Christopher gets to the room he finds that Rowena has “died” from blood loss as she cut her wrist on a broken mirror and when she comes to Verden strangles her.  As Christopher gets her body out of the house Verden comes face to face with the Black Cat as the room catches fire and both man and beast are burned alive. Oddly enough when the cat and Verden die, Rowena comes back to life.

First thing I need to point out is this comic had a great Rotten Ink smell and this helped add to the classic comic book reading experience. The comic adaptation of the film is pretty good but also could be a little confusing for younger readers as the plot is squeezed into pages and plots are not fleshed out like they should be. The story is this man loves his wife even after death.  She was a witch and placed a trance on him thinking that she would return from the grave, he falls in love with another woman later in life who looks like her and a war in his mind consumes him. Verden Fell is an interesting character who wears giant sun glasses during the day and is very secretive in nature.  We also learn that he can hypnotize people as well as sculpt with wax. While he does some bad things, he is clearly not a bad guy just a man who was in love and under a witches spell. The Spirit of Ligeia who also seems to poses the Black Cat is very mean and tries to murder several times in the issue, she truly is an evil witch. Rowena Trevanion is a lovely young woman who is drawn to the tormented Verden and wants to make him happy, but sadly is just a pawn in the game Ligeia is playing. Legal man Christopher Gough who is Rowena’s bestfriend is a man of action when he thinks his friend is in trouble and when things just don’t seem right with Verden; he truly is a classic horror comic/movie hero. Lord Trevanion is just a background player and the only other major player in this story is Verden’s servant Kenrick who in the end has all the answers of the spell on his master. The issue is bloodless and offers more spooky mood chills then monster thrills holding true to the movie it’s based on. I could not find who did the art but they did do a fantastic job and it has that Dell Comic charm. If you like the movie, like spooky old horror comics then I would say check out this adaptation comic for sure.

Tomb Of Ligeia art 1Tomb Of Ligeia art  2Tomb Of Ligeia art 3

So Tomb of Ligeia is a good horror comic that is packed with charm and a great rotten ink smell! But next update will be our Christmas Eve update, and last year we took a look at The Thundercats.  This year we will be looking at the Tim Burton Batman movie series and the DC Comic adaptations that followed, so you can say Rotten Ink will be having Batmania! So make sure to come back for that one but until then have a safe winter and make sure to read a comic or three, see you next update.

Batman 1989 Logo

Thundercats Are Ho..Ho..Ho!!!

Rotten…Rotten….Rotten Ink Ho! Yeah, I know that one was lame but welcome back to my little flashback place on the web, and with it being Christmas Eve, I decided to take a look at one of the heavy hitters that Star Comics has to offer, something that I watched the cartoon of and even collected the figures when they came out.  Of course I am talking about Thundercats! The cartoon hit airwaves back in 1985 and was a solid hit with the youth at the time.  The animation was done better than Masters of The Universe and had a Japanese flair to it that made us believe we were watching something more than a cartoon. I was about six years old when the cartoon was out and was in first grade and can remember kids talking about the cartoon and how epic it was on the playground at Beavertown Elementary.  This led to every boy I knew wanting to collect the action figures that were being made by LJN. I even remember one kid saying that Thundercats was better than Masters Of The Universe and many of the kids agreeing with him.  I for one was on He-Man’s side, but I could not doubt the power and impact this cartoon was having on all our young minds. The odd thing though is when I moved to Waynesville in the 1st grade, I only remember a handful of kids being totally into the cartoon and toys, and they had other top toys to worry about. The cartoon, as I said, aired in 1985 and had a total of 130 episodes and ran for 4 seasons ending in 1989. I can remember being so hyped to watch the first episode of Thundercats and after seeing it, I was not let down.  It was adventure and fantasy wrapped into a nice package and had elements of Masters of The Universe, Voltron and The Beastmaster, and this made it a must see toon for me. I stuck with watching Thundercats till the end but will admit that midway through season 3 my watching habits had changed, my interest in them lessened and I watched it sporadically at best. My favorite characters in the cartoon were Lion-O, Mum-Ra, Jackalman and Monkian.  For some reason when I was younger I always liked the bad guys more, like in He-Man I liked Skeletor, Star Wars was Dark Vader and in G.I. Joe I liked Cobra Commander! The cartoon has been released on VHS and DVD and for those looking to capture the magic of watching again or want to share with their children, you have the chance to thanks to Warner Brothers. Well I guess it would be smart of me to tell you readers what the plot of Thundercats is about now wouldn’t it? It’s about a race of feline humanoids who have to flee their planet of Thundera and find a new place to live.  They are attacked by their enemies, the Mutants of the planet Plun-Darr, and one ship is left that holds the Sword of Omens that houses the Eye of Thundera, the source of the race’s power. They crash on Third Earth and Lion-O who was a boy at the time of his escape from his doomed planet has now has a grown up body but still the mind of a young child! Mumm-Ra is an evil powerful wizard who wants the Eye of Thundera for himselfm and this begins the long battle of The Thundercats! I could explain a whole lot more, but if I did we would be here a long time.

Thundetcats Cartoon 1Thundercats Season 1 dvdThundetcats Cartoon 2

The first episode of the cartoon also helped spark the playground talk of Cheetara being the sexiest cartoon character, and that’s because in this episode she is shown nude!! Cheetara has her boobs out, and while she had no nipples, we kids thought we were seeing something naughty. I can remember one of my friends drawing pictures of her and always talking about how much hotter she was than other cartoon girls. Isn’t it great that when I was younger in the 80’s, we spent time talking about who was hotter in cartoons and comics instead of truly looking at real life girls…but the interest in girls was close at hand for many of us. Nowadays the naked female cartoon character would not pass the censors who would be in an uproar way before it hit the airwaves, and thats why I am happy to say I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s where cartoon cat girls could be naked and we kids had the freedom to think she was hot stuff! Below is a pic of Cheetara that amazed us all!

Naked!!!

Long before all kids wanted were ipods, tablets, cell phones and ipads, actions figures, board games and video games were on all our minds. When LJN put out the action figures for Thundercats, kids went crazy and the toy shelves of Children’s Palace, Hearts, K-Mart and Hills were left with empty spots or characters no one wanted. These toys were so popular. I was also very much taken in by the hype and the cool designs of these figures, and for my 6th or 7th birthday my mom and dad took me to K-Mart and said for me to pick out three Thundercat figures that I wanted.  This was on a good day, and the shelves were filled with all the main figures.  The only one missing was Cheetara, but this didn’t matter to me as I was not looking for any of the members of the Thundercats. I was looking for the bad guys, and I was so happy when I found Jackalman, Monkian and Slithe! I already had Mum-Ra as I was able to gain him in a trade, and this made my legion of bad guys complete. At this point Mum-Ra and his crew in my toy playing world joined the side of Skeletor and were all trying to stop He-Man! I was so happy to get these figures, and my favorite was Monkian who I would carry around the house and even bring on a long trips to visit my grandparents who lived on a farm. Later on for another birthday I got the super cool Vultureman, and he became one of my favorite figures of the time. The kids on the playground with the most cool and modern toys always seemed to be the most popular and for a short time, and these figures made me a king….well a toy king. The figures were all well done and come with weapons and some even had light up eyes like Lion-O and Mum-Ra. The Thundercats figure lasted for many lines but as all things lost steam, and they were phased off toy shelves and replaced with the next popular toy. I should note that my cousins Dino and Norman had the biggest Thundercats collection of any kids I knew and even had the Cats Lair base playset!

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I can remember one Christmasm I think it was 1986, that it was a very Thundercats and Masters of The Universe Brassfield Family Christmas. Back in the 80’s and most of the 90’s, we would always have Christmas Eve at my Brassfield Grandparents’ house, and all the cousins would gather in the living room that held the tree as well as a fireplace that would be cranking out super hot heat. Well this year I can remember that my aunts and uncles got me and my brother some really sweet action figures! I can remember that on this Eve I got a Lion-O figure as well as Mantenna from Masters of The Universe.  I can remember my cousion Nathan getting Beastman, Norman getting Battlecat, Dino getting a walking robot with a dinosaur head and my brother getting Panthro from the Thundercats….those were the days when the family would all be together and all us young Brassfield kids would spend the night playing with toys and having a blast. Below is a picture of that Christmas Eve of 1986 and all of us having a blast.  Yeah, that’s me with my Lion-O.

Brassfield Old School Christmas

In 1985 Burger King also had kid meals that came with Thundercat prizes like plastic cups featuring your favorite character, a light switch sticker cover, a ring and even a Snarf pencil topper! Of course when the news broke of Thundercats at Burger King, my brother and I had to go and my Mom and Dad gave in a few times and we were able to get the light switch cover both times that made our Dad get mad at us when we used it on our rooms light switch.  He got over it. The crown jewel of these prizes was the Snarf topper figure who kids wanted so they could use when they played with the LJN figures. We never got one from the kids meal but one day at school on the playground at Beavertown Elementary I found one and took it home.  Yeah, it was the old finders keepers rule.

BK Light SwitchBK Kids MealSnarf topper

As I said Thundercats had a video game for the Commodore 64 made by Elite, and it played like a standard 8-Bit action side scrolling game, making one wonder why it never made it to the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game’s plot is about Mumm-Ra stealing the Eye of Thundera, the source of the Thundercats’ power and its up to Lion-O to battle through 14 levels of action to get it back. It’ a very cool and challenging game and is well worth tracking down if you like The Thundercats and retro gaming.

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In 2011 Thundercats was brought back to the airwaves in a new series thanks to Warner Brothers and Cartoon Network, the series only lasted one season but for a total of 26 episodes. The style and look was changed and was not the same. I only seen some brief moments of this series and lost interest quickly.  I would rather have just popped in the classic series than watch this new one. Sometimes you just don’t need to remake things because while it could be good, it’s also just not the same. Below is the new looks for the new Thundercats.

New Thundercats

Before we dive into Star Comics 24 issue run based on the classic Thundercats, we should take a drink of eggnog or whatever other holiday drink you like, and take a look at some cosplay girls dressed as Cheetara.  If your a kid of the 80’s you know this is kind of hot in a weird way.  My favorite is the woman in the middle but sit back and enjoy.

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When Star Comics was going strong in 1985, they were looking for kid popular IPs and were nabbing up such things as Star Wars: Droids, Care Bears, Fraggle Rock and of course Thundercats! Star kept the series going until 1988 for a total of 24 issues, and it was one of the longest running series for them next to Heathcliff and Muppet Babies. Growing up I watched the cartoon, collected the toys and even read a few of these comics so with that on this very cold night, I am going to sit back with a blanket and some hot chocolate and I am going to travel to Third Earth and review these comics.  Oh yes Santa Claus wanted me to remind all you readers that 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, its art and story. So with that while not a creature is stirring besides a Streets J. Cat (my cat I rescued from the streets of Dayton), I am ready to read Thundercats!

Thundercats 1

Thundercats # 1  ****
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #1 of 24

The Planet of Thundera is doomed and from space Jaga, along with fellow passengers Panthro, Cheetara, Tygra, Snarf, WilyKat, WilyKit and Lion-O, watch as their beloved planet explodes and is no more. Jaga takes the young Lion-O to an important part of the ship and shows him The Eye of Thundara, a stone that holds the power of their planet, as well as the Sword of Omen, a powerful sword that will house the eye and become the most powerful weapon in the world. While they all wait and learn of the things to come, they are attacked by Mutants lead by Slithe who wants The Eye of Thundara, and all their fellow ships are shot down leaving them the last survivors of their race.  As the Mutants enter the ship, the Thundercats spring into action, and young Lion-O swinging the Sword of Omen scares them off. The ship is damaged and the nearest planet they can land on is light years away so Jaga places them all into sleep pods and mans the ship and for this he dies in time for his friends to make it safely to their new home. As the ship crash-lands, the remaining Thundercats wake up from their sleep pods and Lion-O who went in as a young boy now has a grown up body yet still the mind of a young man! The Mutants followed them to the planet and after a quick fight they find an old castle crypt and make a pack with the evil old wizard inside named Mumm-Ra.

This is a perfect first issue based on a cartoon/toy line and is nothing more than a condensed version of the first episode of the cartoon. This issue is the origin story of the Thundercats and follows them from the death of their home planet to their landing on Third Earth. It also explains The Eye of Thundara and the importance of Lion-O who is to become the leader of what’s left of their race. It’s also great to see Lion-O as a young adult at the start and by the end of the issue, while still young in the mind, his body grows and he comes the hero we all know him to be. Jaga is the wise one who knows the history of their doomed planet and is the Obi Wan Kenobi to Lion-O’s Luke Skywalker as he can speak to him in spirit forum. The rest of the Thundercats in this issue are played up as more background characters. and you know that they will be more major players as the series goes on. This issue’s main bad guy is Slithe who leads the Reptilians as well as makes an alliance with Jackalman (leader of the Jackalmen) and Monkian (leader of the Simians) in order to steal the Eye of Thundera.  He is a strict leader who means business and will kill to get what he wants. Mumm-Ra in his old wizard look makes a brief cameo in the end to make an alliance with Slithe in order to rid the planet of the Thundercats. Now let’s get to Snarf who is the small cat like babysitter of Lion-O who whines and complains a lot and is that annoying sidekick character that plagued the cartoons of the 80’s.  While he is not terrible in this issue, the groundwork is being built that he will be very annoying in future issues. This issue is filled with action, drama and even a little comedy and this makes for one fun comic that is a great start to the series. The art is great and well done by Jim Mooney who is clearly Star Comics’ best artist of the time, and the cover is really bad ass and should have been made into a poster! So let’s see how issue 2 does as we go now to the follow up to this great A+ issue. 

Thundercats 2

Thundercats # 2   ***1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #2 of 24

A race of robot bears named The Berbils live on Third Earth and are the allies of The Thundercats and have helped them with food as well as building a giant base called The Cats Lair. While out “practicing” with the sword of omen, Lion-O disobeys Snarf and eats a wild berry that is poisonous and leaves Lion-O with a very high fever and at death’s door! Snarf goes to the old wreckage site to find Lion-O’s old stuffed animal and is kidnapped by Slithe and the other mutants who use him as bait to lure out the rest of the Thundercats into a trap! Lion-O pushes himself forward to come to the aid of his friends and by doing so helps break his fever and not only saves himself but his friends.

This second issue packs just as much of a punch as issue one and is filled with action, drama and a message, all the things one would want from a comic based on an 80’s cartoon. Lion-O almost dying helps add the feel of doom as the mutants are attacking his friends and you find yourself cheering for him to push himself to save them, but yet you are worried that the strain and stress could also lead to his death. Snarf comes off as a caring friend for Lion-O, and it’s clear that he is not just the young leaders guardian but also his dear friend. The Berbils are pretty cool and to make the connection to Star Wars again, they are just robot versions of the Ewoks. Mumm-Ra makes a small apperance once more and this time transformers into the warrior version of himself to punk out Slithe and company who are questioning him on his part of the alliance. I feel like the rest of the Thundercats again play background parts but yet they all seem important to the story arch. The cover is pretty well done and is very eye catching for fans of the cartoon and toys, and the artwork inside done by Jim Mooney is top notch stuff and looks like the work of an A list Marvel artist. So with a solid issue # 2 let’s see how issue # 3 holds up, shall we?

Thundercats 3

Thundercats # 3   ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #3 of 24

Lion-O is working on the roof of the Cat’s Lair and uses the Sword of Omen to call all the Thundercats to help.  When they get there and find that no danger is around and it’s just that Lion-O wanted help moving shingles, they all get mad about the misuse of the sword and leave him and Snarf to finish the job. Panthro takes the Thundertank to get more fuel for it as well as the base and comes across a human girl named Tessa who is being attacked by a horde of Rockmen who wish to do her harm. Panthro springs into action and saves her for the time being.  As the two rush off in the Thundertank, it runs out of gas just as he is able to use it to trap them in a cave and away from the swords and spears of the Rockmen. While in the cave Tessa tells him that she is from a race of warrior women and that she left her home due to uncontrollable powers she got from a spell in order to save her village from a magical giant bird that was sent by Mumm-Ra and how the power has not left her so for the safety of her people she left and was attacked by the Rockmen who, while story time is going on, are trying to still get inside the cave. Lion-O with the Eye of Thundara sees that Panthro needs help and rushes to his aid, not calling upon his fellow Thundercats and in his rush is trapped in living vines! Panthro has the woman use her powers to charge the Thundertank, and they escape and her powers are depleted letting her return home.  Lion-O escapes the vines and is shown by Jaga that its ok to call for help when it needed but something goes wrong the Jaga’s spirit is ripped away!

This is a showcase of Panthro, and it works well to highlight another member of the Thundercats besides Lion-O. Panthro comes off as a catman who has honor and risks his own life to save that of a woman he does not know.  Plus it shows that he has a sharp mind as he is able to save them both with ideas. Tessa is a good character who when unleashing her power against the magical bird shows how powerful she was.  It’s a shame she lost the power cause she could have been a major help to the Thundercats in their war against Mumm-Ra and the Mutants. Lion-O shows that he still does have the attitude of a child but is learning to be more adult like with his powers and responsibilities. The Rockmen seem like mindless brutes who want nothing more than to destroy things, and I think I see them teaming with Mumm-Ra in a later issue. The cover is pretty good but not as eye catching as the first two, but fans of Panthro I am sure love it. The art inside is once again done by Jim Mooney and is fantastic! The issue also had a ten cent price increase for those of you readers you pay attention to those details. With this issue ending with a cliffhanger of the Ghost Spirit of Jaga being ripped from the sky, I am pretty hyped to get on to issue 4 to find out why.  So let’s get to it. 

Thundercats 4

Thundercats # 4  ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #4 of 24

The Thundercats are all out looking for clues to why Jaga’s spirit is missing and all are worried about the reason why.  Even though Lion-O is the only one who can see him, they all still believe in his visions. They all go out to look for clues and each are captured by an unknown attacker who seems to know the ways of the Thundercats. Lion-O finds the spirit of Jaga who tells him that what had happened to him was just a change in the planets atmoshere and that he is well and with them once again, but when Lion-O leaves to tell the others the good news it’s clear this spirit is not of their friend!  Upon returning to The Cats Lair, Lion-O finds that his friends are missing and goes to try and find them only to come face to face with female one time Thundercat Lynxana The Hunter who has captured his friends for the mutants and was banished from Thundara by Lion-O’s own father some years back! The two clash only for them to be on the same page when the Spirit of Jaga shows himself to really be the mighty Mumm-Ra! After Mumm-Ra leaves them the pair of Thundercats decide to team up and rescue rest in order to ride the planet of the evil grip of Mumm-Ra.

This issue is filled with drama and action as Lion-O must face the fact that his guiding spirit Jaga is missing still and he was duped into making bad decisions and worse that his actions of having his friends look for clues leads to them all being captured and in the hands of The Mutants! Lion-O is clearly the star of the issue, and he is the brave one that goes toe to toe with whatever stands in his way to help his friends. Mumm-Ra is a tricky one as he uses his powers to trick Lion-O into trusting him and even makes him second guess the Eye of Thundara who tries and warns him of the trap that awaits ahead of him. Lynxana The Hunter is one butt kicking woman who is part Kraven The Hunter (Amazing Spider-Man) and part Boba Fett (Star Wars) in the way she handles herself.  Shes a very nice addition to the story line this far and helps add to the building aspect of the rescue that is about to happen in the next issue, because it makes you wonder can Lion-O trust her? Very good storyline that helps build the excitement of the next issue and this is truly this far what a kid comic based on a toy/cartoon line should be! The art is once more done by Jim Mooney and is top notch and the cover is a nice homage of The Uncanny X-Men #141 cover for Days of the Future Past. Well I for one can’t wait to see what happens in issue 5, so let’s get to it.  

Thundercats 5

Thundercats # 5  ***
Released in 1986    Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #5 of 24

Lynxana The Hunter has seen how evil Mumm-Ra is and makes a plan with Lion-O to rescue the rest of The Thundercats from the Mutants who plan on torturing and killing them all by Slithe orders. Lynxana takes Lion-O prisoner and marches him to the gates of the Mutant base.  She knocks out our hero and takes the Sword of Omens and delivers both of them to Slithe who now feels as if the war with the Thundercats is over. Later in the night Lynxana free’s Lion-O and steals back the Sword of Omen, and together they fight off the mutants and rescue all the Thundercats! As they all escape the Mutants’ hideout, Mumm-Ra appears and blows up the Mutant base and now wants a battle with the Thundercats! 

A very cool issue that builds upon whether you can trust Lynxana or not.  When she knocks out Lion-O and delivers the Sword of Omen/Eye of Thundara to Slithe, you start to wonder if she can be trusted and if she has just played Lion-O like a fiddle. Of course it turns out that you can trust her and she becomes a great ally in the rescue of the Thundercats. Lion-O is growing as a hero and leader and this issue shows how brave and loyal he is to his people and his friendships. Mumm-Ra takes a back seat as the main bad guy in this issue though he is such a mean ass as he blows up his allies base and wants to show off how powerful he is to anyone who can see his actions. Slithe is one dumb leader of the Mutants as he could have ended it all by killing Lion-O and not leaving the Sword of Omen in plan sight.  I guess cheesy cartoon kid show bad guys will never learn. The odds are against the Thundercats as they all band together to escape and this adds some fun action moments that have you cheering as they make their way out of danger’s way. Jim Mooney’s artwork once again is great, and the cover this time around is okay with the Lizard man Panthro is punching face being very weird looking. Well let’s see if Lynxana stays with them to help fight Mumm-Ra and how this battle will end in issue 6!

Thundercats 6

Thundercats # 6  ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #6 of 24

The Thundercats are shocked as it looks as if Slithe and all his mutants are all dead at the hands of Mumm-Ra who had blown up their base. Lion-O figures out that the destroying of the hideout was just an illusion done by Mumm-Ra and the Mutants come out and are ready for another battle.  But as the fight is taking place, the Giant Mumm-Ra shows up once more and attacks both sides declaring war with both sides who now must team up to stop the evil wizard from taken over Third Earth. Slithe and Lion-O make a treaty and join forces and head to Mumm-Ra’s pyramid and start attacking the Giant Mumm-Ra who seems unstoppable! During the attack Lion-O along with Lynxana and Cheetara use the Thunder Tank to drill into the pyramid and find that the source of Mumm-Ra’s new power lies in versions of himself from the other Earths and Jaga’s spirit that is trapped in a crystal.  After a fight with some stone soldiers, Loin-O busts the crystal and undoes the spells of Mumm-Ra leaving him weak. Slithe, who is about to attack the Thundercats now that the battle is over, is scared away by harsh words from Mumm-Ra.  The Thundercats are saddened when Lynxana turns down joining them for she needs to think about her life.

A team up that none of us readers saw coming, The Thundercats and The Mutants joining forces to save Third Earth from the mighty and more powerful Mumm-Ra who has gone even more mad with power. Lion-O once more plays the hero and with the help of Jaga, he brings the final blow that ends the battle and leaves Mumm-Ra weak from the battle. Slithe, while teaming with the Thundercats, did have it in his mind to turn on them once the fight is over, but when he hears that he and his band of goons are now on Mumm-Ra’s hit list, he and his men flee back to their hideout to make it stronger. Lynxana once more proves she was a great ally and sadly after they win, she leaves The Thindercats to get her head on straight and rethink her life.  I like this character and hope she comes back in future issues. I love the fact that Mumm-Ra’s new power was coming from not only the captured Jaga but as well as the Mumm-Ra’s of Earth 1 and Earth 2 who he held in his tomb! Very fun issue filled with lots of battles and some cool and interesting ideas and has the Multi Universe feel to it that DC Comics is in love with. The art is done by Mooney again but this time it seems a little rushed and not as detailed as the other issues, while good it’s just not as pretty. The cover is well done and eye catching and the Giant Mumm-Ra helps add to the “epic” feel of this issue. I am 6 issues in and this series has yet to lose steam, so here is to hoping this stays that way as we head into issue 7. 

Thundercats 7

Thundercats # 7  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #7 of 24

Third Earth is having a terrible storm heavy rain and red lightning is striking all around causing damage to the small village of the Berbils when Lion-O uses the Sword of Omen to knock the lightning away and causes it to hit the near by mountain. Lion-O is missing his home world and his spirits are down.  He feels like he does not belong on Third Earth. But when a glowing light is seen on top of the mountain where the red lightning hit, the Thundercats go to investigate.  Lion-O and Cheetara get separated after a land slide, and they find a portal that leads them to the past on back on Thundara as the rest are being attacked by Insect people lead by their queen Sectra. While Lion-O and Cheetara play the role of heroes to the primitive cave Thundercat people, the rest are in deep trouble as the insect army horde just keeps coming! In the end Lion-O and Cheetara return to Third Earth to save their friends, and Lion-O learns that home is with his friends…oh yeah and the red lightning and the insect people’s attack was all set up by Mumm-Ra!

This issue only slips a little and by no means is it a bad one.  It just is very average and seems almost like a throw away issue used to fill space in the series. Lion-O is a sad sack at the start of this issue and misses his home planet, and when he gets the chance to go to the past of his home world his spirits are lifted and he even finds love in a cave girl Thundercat.  But even in his happiness, he learns that home is where you’re loved and with your friends and family. Cheetara is also homesick but she also acts as the guardian of the young leader and even tries to smooth over his disruption with one of the Cave Thundercats who seems to not like the young heros fame among his people. Mumm-Ra is the pain in the butt who had set all this up from the insect people attacking to the portal to the past all in an attempt to once again rid Third Earth of Thundercats. Sectra The Queen of the Insect people and her army are the major threat of the issue, and they are very mean as at one point they want to pour lava on the Thundercats below.  But while mean and a threat, they were played like fools by Mumm-Ra who used them to battle his enemies. The art this time is done by Jose Delbo, and while good, it’s no Mooney and lacks the charm of his artwork.  The cover on this one is also a little cheesy yet fun. Let’s see if issue 8 can lift it back into three and four stars or drop it lower than two and a half.

Thundercats 8

Thundercats #  8  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #8 of 24

The Thundercats have built a reservoir to get fresh water to flow to the Cats Lair and decide to have a field day to enjoy themselves with sports events. But the day of fun turns into a huge argument amongst them all when WilyKat and WilyKit start fighting over tying during a race and sharing the prize. The fight leaves them all not speaking to each other, and this leads to both WilyKat and WilyKit being kidnapped by Slithe and the mutant, the reservoir being blown up and the Cats Lair being flooded and taken over by the Mutants. It takes the team work of the youngsters WilyKat and WilyKit to force the mutants out and allow the Thundercats back in.

This issue has a message that its best to work together and work out problems instead of brooding on them. WilyKat and WilyKit are the focus of the issue and their fighting and rivalry gets out of hand, but when it comes down to it they both step up to bat and help each other as well as their fellow team mates. Slithe is the main bad guy and sets up the attack on Cats Lair that actually works, once again though he and his band of mutants are out smarted and out classed. Mumm-Ra is MIA and doesn’t even have a small cameo. Over all this issue is 100% average, and there is not much to talk about for it. Art work is done by Jose Delbo and with the inks added I think it all looked a little odd and off.  The cover reminds me of that issue of Amazing Spider-Man (#33) were Spider-Man was holding back water from a cracked wall…here is to hoping issue 9 is better than 8.

Thundercats 9

Thundercats # 9  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #9 of 24

The Thundercats are building a wall to help protect the Cat Lair, and Lion-O and Panthro have been working at it all day in the heat.  Little do they know that they are being spied on by the Rockmen, and an accident leaves their Prince injured and to them Lion-O was to blame. The King of the Rockmen with a little mental push from Mumm-Ra sets up attacks on the Thundercats that leaves poor Snarf with a bad head injury, and this pushes for a full on battle between The Rockmen and The Thundercats! Snarf in a daze follows his friends into battle and meets the injured Rock Prince and the two figure out the whole fight is based on an accident and together they stop Lion-O and The Rock King from killing one another in a battle that was sure to end badly for one of them. In the end it appears as if peace has happened between the two sides and Mumm-Ra’s plan once again has failed him.

This issue gets back on track and is a pretty fun read and once more has a message packed into the pages: don’t over act on things before you get the full facts. Lion-O loses his cool in this issue and acts out of pure anger and rage and is letting vengeance cloud is judgement. Poor Snarf takes a nasty hit to his head and even with his major injury, he helps set the facts straight and stops the battle. I will say I like the fact that Snarf in the comic is not annoying and is used just right in the series and not over used. Making the Rockmen return was also cool to see showing that even these other races that live on Third Earth are not forgotten and pushed to the side like some of the other Star Comics we have read, the one that sticks out the most for doing this has to be Wally The Wizard. To sum it up this issue has drama, action and even slight humor and gets the series right back on the perfect kids comic track. So let’s not wait, let’s get to issue # 10! Oh yeah, Jose Delbo does the artwork and it looks pretty dang good as does the cover. 

Thundercats 10

Thundercats # 10  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #10 of 24

The Thundercats are on the hunt for meat as they are all a little sick of eating Snarf’s veggie stew. The hunt is going nowhere fast, but Panthro does not want to give up and breaks off from Lion-O and the rest who are all now heading back home.  Each hit a snag in their quest as Lion-O’s group runs into mutants who attack, and Panthro finds an old graveyard for an ancient race called the Si-Tare and upsets the spirit of the leader of the race named Ashtar who wants vengeance for what he thinks is disrespect from Panthro who entered their final resting place. As Lion-O and the rest escape the Mutants so does Panthro who flees from the angry spirit, and they all make it home to the Cats Lair

This issue once more is a spot light on Panthro who once more on his own stumbles into a bad situation.  This time instead of Rockmen, it’s the spirit of a pissed off king. Panthro in this issue as well really knows the odds are against him and runs away from the battle with the spirit causing even more drama as the spirit takes its revenge on his fellow Thundercats hoping this will cause a final fight with its attended target. At this point in the series its starting to become clear that Panthro does not mix well with other races/monsters of Third Earth and has caused many fights, even tho for the most part he does not intend for bad things to happen nor to piss them off. Lion-O once more gets a high fever and this makes one worried for this young heroe’s brain as it’s had some major illness dished out to it. Ashtar is sinister and while bad, one gets the feel that he does what he does for honor. This is a great issue and showcases Panthro again in just a way that makes you really start to bond with the character. While the momentum is this high, let’s get onto issue 11! 

Thundercats 11

Thundercats # 11  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #11 of 24

Small earthquakes are striking all around Cats Lair causing damage and injuries and almost leading to the drowning of WilyKit! The Thundercats figure out that it was not natures doing but that of molemen who have taken residence under that Cat Lair and this was their way of striking out at those who live above them. Lion-O leads them all underground and finds that the molemen are lead by Rix who is ordering his men to destroy the Thundercats! After a quick battle, a cave-in happens that separates Panthro, WilyKit, WalyKat and Snarf from the rest and they all find themselves prisoners, as Lion-O and the rest resurface and find that the Molemen’s past home has been taken over by an insect monster.  Lion-O figures out that the molemen are blaming them for this and decides that to get things back to normal they must team with the molemen and rid the land of this insect problem. After some heated words both sides come together and kill the monster, and a new friendship is in place.

Pretty fun issue that has Lion-O using his brain over his muscles and turning a bad situation into a new friendship and a way to help a race of people get their homes back. The rest of the Thundercats are around but none of theme really get to shine tho we do find out that WilyKat is scared of the dark and not being able to see.  We also get to find out that Cheetara loves her garden…yep. No Mumm-Ra or Mutants this issue, and Rix is the main “bad” guy who really is just a headstrong leader who thinks he was doing what was right for his people. Taking the Thundercats off the land and putting them underground was a nice touch as I felt that they were truly the underdogs…wait undercats in the battle and were out of their home turf leading to be that they could loose this fight. The Insect Monster was straight out of a horror movie as many tiny bugs come together to make one giant pissed off one, I love the fact at the end it’s set on fire and dies a painful and horrible death. The art work is once again done by Jose Delbo whose stuff just keeps getting better and better issue after issue and I am starting to really dig his style.  The cover on this one is just ok and nothing special. Over all another solid issue and fits nicely in the series this far.  Now let’s get to issue # 12 that marks the half way mark for Thundercats and let’s see if it can keep up the three star ratings. This also marks the point that the series had a price markup from .75 to $1.00. 

Thundercats 12

Thundercats # 12   ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #12 of 24

A small fishing village on Third Earth has been attacked and taken over by a band of Berserkers lead by the ax wielding Horak.  One female escapes capture and asks Lion-O for help to free her people and to run these mad man from their land. Lion-O agrees to help as Cheetara is annoyed and thinks the only reason they are going to battle is cause Lion-O thinks the young lady pretty.  When they get to the village, they see that the Berserkers are terrible people, but they also see that the villagers will not help themselves and with the odds against them, the Thundercats might just be over their heads on this one.  Will Lion-O be able to raise the spirits of his team?  Will he be able to get the villagers to also fight for their own freedom and will he be able to beat Horak in a one on one fight? Well of course he can on all these questions and along the way learns that it’s a good thing to stand up for those weaker than you.

Lion-O, once more being headstrong and not looking into facts, dives his team head first into a battle that they could have easily lost. And as always once it’s too late he looks back at his rush decision and second-guesses it. I do find the sexual tension between Lion-O and Cheetara interesting, and it’s very subtle and with Lion-O being younger, it’s less on his part and more on her’s as it’s clear she kind of has a thing for him. The villagers are odd ones as they do not lift a finger to help in the battle till the very end.  It’s almost like they are too lazy to fight for their own lives. Horak is one mean mother who carries a huge ax and is ready to fight and kill at the drop of a hat.  This is a guy Mumm-Ra needs to get on his side to help kill the Thundercats! It would have also been cool to see The Molemen or The Rockmen get involved in the fight as both have joined sides with the Thundercats and would have made great allies in the battle with the berserkers. Over all this is a great issue filled with action, a message and some great art by Jose Delbo, not to mention an eye catching cover! This is a solid issue and shows that this series at the half way make shows no signs of slowing down.  So with that let’s get to issue 13 and see if the # will be unlucky and get the series its first one star or less!

Thundercats 13

Thundercats # 13  **
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #13 of 24

Slithe has stolen a farmer’s herd of unicorns, and she rushes to the Thundercats to help get them back. The Thundercats rush to the Forest of Silence to get them back but instead they find traps set for them all and with this they become the prisoners of Mumm-Ra who had sent the mutants out to execute his plan. The only Thundercat left is Snarf who was helping some bats make nests and now has the gift to talk to the planet’s animals. When he finds out his friends have been kidnapped he goes to rescue them with the help of animals from the planet. In the end he frees them, Lion-O beats back Mumm-Ra and they all escape and return home to Cats Lair.

This issue seems like nothing more than a fill in and was very lack luster all around! The story has the Thundercats not taking Snarf serious as a fighter and in the end his skill of talking to the animals of the planet save them from doom at the hands of Mumm-Ra….so now Snarf is like Mark Singer, The Beastmaster! Not to mention now all of a sudden Mumm-Ra is afraid of his own reflection and is beat when he sees it in the Swords of Omen. Even the art of Jose Delbo is not as good in this issue making me think that 13 might be a curse for this series.  I don’t know what else to say besides this issue is a major disappointment and is bland.  So let’s waste no more time on it and get to issue 14 that I hope is better.

Thundercats 14

Thundercats # 14   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #14 of 24

Safari Joe, a galaxy famous hunter, has landed on Third Earth and is on the hunt for Thundercats! One by one Joe uses the Thundercats’ own fears and weaknesses against them leaving only Lion-O and Snarf left as the rest are all placed in cages waiting for their own D-Day. Safari Joe comes to the Cats Lair and tries to bag himself a Lion-O but with the help of Snarf, the two defeat Safari Joe who turns out to be a coward when the odds are against him.  This leads to all the Thundercats being set free and Joe promising to stop hunting.

Another issue with a message, and this time around its about bullying and how most bullies are cowards and can’t take what they dish out. Lion-O once more uses his head and outsmarts Safari Joe and uses a simple bucket and a kick from Snarf to knock him down a peg and turn his spine into jelly. Snarf comes off again as a hero and is an up swing for the character making two issues in a row where he is a hero. Safari Joe and his robot sidekick Mule are great bad guy characters who use technology to hunt and by using his machines it also points out his preys powers and flaws making him very dangerous. Once more Mumm-Ra missed the boat and should have had him join his team of baddies trying to kill The Thundercats. The art work is pretty bad, this time done by Ernie Colon, and to me looks like sketehes and not a finished product, I am hoping they don’t let this guy take over from here because his stuff is weak. The cover is pretty good, nothing special, and sums up the issue pretty well itself. Over all no one likes bullies, and Lion-O and Snarf takes one down a peg making for a fun issue.  Now let’s see what issue 15 has in store for us.

Thundercats 15

Thundercats # 15   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #15 of 24

Lion-O is once more homesick and is missing Thundara.  In his downtime he gets a visit from Jaga’s spirit who tells him of a crystal that holds all of their doomed home planets history that was lost during the wreckage! Lion-O makes it a top priority for them to find this, and they all head out to find this key to the past, each go their own ways and each run into the likes of The Unicorn Farmer Girl, The Rockmen, the massive Black Widow Shark and even the Molemen! In the end Lion-O finds the crystal in the arms of some cavemen who are using its power to grow food for their village.  A fight breaks out as Lion-O wants his history back but quickly gives in when he see’s that it will do more good to help feed hungry people than to live in the past. In the end all the Thundercats meet up and each feel better about the future they will all be sharing with each other.

This issue is all about looking to the future and not allowing the past to rule your life.  It also touches on putting your own selfish wants and needs to the side if your wants and needs can negatively affect others around you. Lion-O once more learns that with being the leader of the Thundercats comes the weight of others’ fates by his decisions and that they are more important than silly quests. Rix, the leader of the Molemen, is now called Mole Master and has turned bad as he is bullying his own people and The Rockmen once more go in for the attack throwing out the friendships the past issues has built up between the two races and the Thundercats. Over all this is a pure go and fetch issue and is a fun average read.  The artwork is done by Jose Delbo again and looks fantastic.  The cover is misleading.  While the Black Widow Shark is a pretty big part of the story, it also makes it look like a solo adventure for WilyKat and WilyKit that it is not. Average sadly seems to be the new norm for the series now and here is to hoping that some of these future issues capture the magic back of the past issues….wait, I must not have learned a thing from this issue, so it’s best that we move onto issue 16.

Thundercats 16

Thundercats # 16   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #16 of 24

Mumm-Ra has yet another scheme in mind to stop and kill the Thundercats and it involves the newly hatched Spidera the Queen of the spiders who is hungry for flesh. Mumm-Ra transforms himself into a tiny fairy and goes to Lion-O for help and uses his magic to hypnotize the young leader into following him into the forest and to the lair of the Spider Queen.  Lucky for Lion-O ,Snarf follows and is able to wake him from his trance but not in time to stop him from being taken to Spidera’s web where the tiny Thundercat is used as bait for Lion-O who comes to his aid along with the other Thundercats.  Together they defeat Spidera and trap her back in the egg from which she hatched.

This seems like yet another throw away issue and has filler written all over it as large panels and very little story is used to tell the very basic plot. Lion-O seems younger and not as wise as he does in issues before this, and with Jim Mooney back on art, this makes me wonder is this issue was one that had been done for awhile and had sat around the office waiting for a time when some one was behind on the current issue so they could use this one to meet the pressing. All the Thundercats besides Lion-O and Snarf are wasted and not used, and Mumm-Ra himself mostly appears as a rainbow winged fairy and in no way comes off as a threat. Spidera is a mindless insect and when the battle gets thick is easily defeated. The reason I would say that this is an average issue that holds some fun moments is because it reminds me of early Conan The Barbarian stories and pits a hero against a giant spider. Not much to say about this issue besides feels and reads like filler and served its purpose, as I was at least entertained. 

Thundercats 17

Thundercats # 17  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #17 of 24

WilyKit and WalyKat are in the woods of Third Earth and try and help a man who is being robbed by Gargoyles who steal his daughter’s wedding gift that was left to her from her mother who had passed away.  Sadly they get away with the crime and take the gift to The Black Tower that is the hideout of Baron Karnor who is the king of these winged thieves. The Wily ones travel to the tower to get the gift back but while there WilyKat goes missing leaving WilyKit by herself, that is till Lion-O with the help of the Sword of Omens finds that his friends are in trouble and comes to their aid. Lion-O and WilyKit enter the tower and find that it’s filled with traps and dangers and finally they find WilyKat and get the gift back and find that Baron Karnor has been dead for years and the Gargoyles only do this because of magic! Lion-O calls the rest of the Thundercats and they destroy all the Gargoyles who were made out of stone and make it to the wedding on time to deliver the gift.

This is what I want from my Thundercats Star Comics, and with this issue they strike back being a A-List kids comic series with a good story and some great adventure. WilyKit takes the lead role in this issue and runs with it as she is the one who teaches WilyKat a lesson that it’s not nice to pull jokes on people.  She is the one who shows the pure heart as she wants to get back the stolen gift because she understands its meaning. WilyKat also has a bigger role and comes off as a jerk as pulling pranks seemed to be more important to him than helping a stranger in need as he plays dead after a brief scuffle. Lion-O of course plays a big part and flexes his muscles and leadership and helps the Wilys escape the tower. Great haunted house feel as well to the issue as the Tower is dark, scary and filled with traps making it feel right at place with a Vincent Price film, not to mention the Tower is also the main source of bad in the issue with the Gargoyles acting as its henchmen. Artwork done by Jose Delbo again looks amazing, and the cover once more is eye catching and well done. Here is to hoping that this is a sign that the series is back on the up swing and that it stays this solid for the remaining issues. So let’s get to issue 18 cause now I am back looking forward to the next issue. 

Thundercats 18

Thundercats # 18  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #18 of 24

Slithe and mutants have attacked Cheetara and while she’s knocked out, Mumm-Ra transforms himself into a Thundercat and calls himself Pumm-Ra and acts as her savior. He is welcomed into a friendship with the rest of Thundercats for his rescue and taken to Cats Lair where at night he breaks their defense systems and steals the Sword of Omen. The next morning as all the Thundercats minus Lion-O and Snarf go on a hike Pumm-Ra shows his hand and calls in Slithe and the Mutants who take over the Thundertank.  A brawl with Pumm-Ra gets the Sword of Omens back in the hands of Lion-O and together they run off the Mutants and get Pumm-Ra to show his true identity of being Mumm-Ra and they run him off as well.

The message of this issue is don’t trust strangers because they are more than likely an evil ancient wizard! Mumm-Ra as Pumm-Ra comes very close to finally beating the Thundercats but once more puts way too much faith in the mutants for assistance who are cowards and always flee when the tide turns in battles. Lion-O once more wants to rush into things and wants to make Pumm-Ra from the start a full member of the Thundercats and if not for Jaga’s ghost he very much so would have been one! Tygra for once gets to play the hero as he risks his own life to enter a vent that could be filled with fire at any moment to get inside Cats Lair after Pumm-Ra locks himself inside, and I will say I am really happy to see him finally get a heroic moment and I feel in the series he is the least used one. Ernie Colon returns to art and while still not the style I like, it’s better than the style he had in issue 14.  The cover is eye catching and has Pumm-Ra standing over the knocked out body of Cheetara, and I am sure got a few new readers at the time to give the series a chance. Over all this is a pretty good issue and is above average but by no means a true stand out issue. 

Thundercats 19

Thundercats # 19  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #19 of 24

A Man-O-War JellyFish Cloud has entered the small village and has kidnapped the robot bear girl Ro-Ber-Belle right before the Thundercats eyes! As Lion-O and Snarf head one way, Cheetara rushes ahead all in hopes to save their friend. Along the way Lion-O witnesses Jackal steal the shoe off a unicorn, and Cheetara has some of her hair cut off by Slithe, all in some sort of odd way this all seems to be connected. With the help of the Sword of Omen, they find that they have taken Ro-Ber-Belle to the top of a mountain and they are doing a spell to free Mumm-Ra’s sister Ta-She from a prison that has her roam the worlds forever. Ta-She is powerful and holds the power of the Doomgaze that can make anyone do what she wants them to and to be free she must have Lion-O take her place in the prison! She uses the doomgaze on him and all looks lost until he is able to use all his power and break free and send out the call that has the rest of the Thundercats crashing the party and sending the Mutants running and Mumm-Ra and Ta-She defeated…in the end Ta-She returns to her prison as Ro-Ber-Belle is rescued.

For some reason this issue reminded me of the old board game CLUE and had me thinking Mumm-Ra with the Unicorn Shoe at Cats Lair! Mumm-Ra is the main bad guy again in this issue and once more losses with the help of the coward mutants.  You would think by now he would give up using those knuckleheads and would go and find himself some major help in his quest to kill the Thundercats. His sister Ta-She gets to do very little besides use the Doomgaze on Lion-O and to everyone’s shock it fails as his will was strong enough to break it with ease. Speaking of Lion-O, he once more shows why he was chosen to lead as his will and noble heart leads them to win and save their friend. I also once more picked up on some tension between he and Cheetara as he says in a round about way he was able to break the Doomgaze cause of thinking of her…yep, he wants her. This one was a lot of fun and I enjoyed every page and action packed moment, not to mention the artwork done by Mooney again is well done. Great issue and now let’s get onto # 20!!

Thundercats 20

Thundercats # 20  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #20 of 24

Mumm-Ra looks to the past and finds the tale of King Author and his mighty sword Excalibur and decides to trick the Lady of the Lake and get the mighty sword and use it to beat the Thundercats’ mighty Sword of Omens. Making himself look like a knight Mumm-Ra gets Excalibur and comes to Cats Lair and challenges Lion-O to a duel that happens the next morning all in the name of honor. The duel is going back and forth, and both swords and their handlers are holding their own until finally the swords take to the air by themselves.  Excalibur wins by cutting the Eye of Thundara and making all the Thundercat loose their power! As Mumm-Ra brags of his win, the great Wizard Merlin appears and takes away Excalibur and returns the power of the Eye of Thundara to the Thundercats! In the end Merlin takes Lion-O to the Lady of the Lake, and he returns Excalibur to its watery resting place.

What a fun way to mix the legend of King Arthur with that of the Thundercats and to pit two of the worlds most powerful swords Excalibur and Sword of Omens against each other in such an epic way. Lion-O has the true warrior spirit and fights for the pride of his fellow Thundercats as their honor is questioned by a knighted stranger. Mumm-Ra for once has a great idea and if not for Merlin would have beat the Thundercats once and for all making this the closest he as been in 20 issues! The artwork is done by Colon and is some of his better work. At this point in the comic run it’s clear many of these stories in the issues are just adapted from the cartoon and its scripts, but at the end of this one they flex some muscle and claim from here on out they will be doing more original stories.  So let’s see how this goes shall we?

Thundercats 21

Thundercats # 21  **
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #21 of 24

Snarf is home alone at Cats Lair and finds that he has been left a baby to watch who is as strong as Hercules and as destructive as a tornado! While watching from the woods, Vulture Man thinks that Snarf has invented a formula that causes superhuman strength and with the blessing of Slithe he steals the baby and his bottle and brings it to their base only for the baby to run wild and break all that’s in its way! Snarf comes after the baby to rescue it but is meet by Slithe, Jackalman and Vulture Man who beg him to take him back! In the end the parents come and pick the baby up, and Snarf is worn out from his babysitting adventure.

They break into doing an original story and what they do is one generic and stale idea of having the un-wanting babysitter and the pain in the butt kid. Snarf is the main focus of the issue and all the “action” is done in slapstick and your very typical kid comic kind of way. While reading it I was like wow look it’s Vulture Man….wait, he being beaten up by a baby….look, Jackalman….wait, a baby just threw him into the water. It was very plain and kind of bland and so far I would say the worst issue in the series. Mooney returns for art and does a pretty good job even though there is not much to the story at all. This also marks the final issue for STAR comics as the remaining issues would be put out by Marvel, and it’s a shame that this generic issue marks the end for a company I love so much. I don’t wanna waste any more time with this vanilla issue, so let’s get to # 22. 

Thundercats 22

Thundercats # 22  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel   #22 of 24

Lion-O and the Thundercats are the guests of honor at the small fishing village, and as they go to have a fun filled day WilyKat and WilyKit are left behind to watch Cats Lair and are attacked by robot clones of themselves made by Vulture Man for Slithe. When Lion-O returns to the Cats Lair, he finds out that the Wily’s are being held ransom for diamonds and will be killed if those diamonds don’t make it to them on time! Lion-O, Cheetara and Panthro go and rescue the Wily’s and spend the day playing kickball with them to show how much they all love them.

Robot Wilykittens and a greedy Slithe make up this issu,e and this marks the first issue to be made by Marvel.  While good, once more it has that VERY average feel to it. Slithe is a evil man and means to kill his prisoners who are children all over diamonds that he can’t really spend anywhere! Vulture Man shows that while a lack,y he still has a big brain as he is the one who creates the robot clones. Lion-O once more shows he is a man of honor and risks his own safety to save his fellow Thundercats in need. Art done by Jose Delbo is good, while the cover is generic and bland.  This issue is just kind of around and was so average that I am looking forward to just moving on to the next issue, so that’s what I will do. 

Thundercats 23

Thundercats # 23  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00  Marvel  #23 of 24

Dr Dometone along with his giant robot frog named Hercules watches over a plug that helps keep Third Earths waters safe, but a bad man named Scrape has been sent to pull the plug that would cause doomsday for all that live on the planet. Lion-o and WilyKat and WilyKit go with Dometone to try and stop the destruction and finally with the help of the rest of the Thundercats, they are able to stop Scrape and protect the Plug from being tampered with.

This issue is filled with way too much slow drama and the action is very generic and bland.  While not 100% terrible, this is by no means a good issue. Lion-O, while the main hero, is wasted and given nothing to really do besides dress in a shark suit and swim around. The rest of the Thundercats take back seats and are barely used and are wasted on this lame story line. Scrape is no real threat and could be knocked out by a sneeze.  His only threat really is his eel ship. Dr Dometone is lame and talks way too much though I do love that his two giant frog robots are named Hercules and Samson. The art work is done by Dwayne Turner and has that classic late 80’s Marvel Charm.  In fact even the cheesy cover has that Marvel feel. Over all this issue is kind of bland and makes for a quick read. 

Thundercats 24

Thundercats # 24  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel   #24 of 24

WilyKat and WilyKit are in the woods when they stumble on some pods that hatch and unleash evil clones of all the Thundercats that were created by Mumm-Ra! These clones’ main purpose is to help spark a war between two mountain tribes so that the evil Mumm-Ra can weaken them and then rule them! The clones keep WilyKat and WalyKit hostage and start their evil quest and succeed in getting both sides to prepare for war. But the Wilys get free and help the good Thundercats defeat the evil clones, and Lion-O with the Sword of Omen is able to get the feuding sides to calm down and talk of peace. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is what this final issue reminded me of and in fact it had a very Sci-Fi meets Fantasy film feel to it. The Clones were darker versions of the Thundercats and each were turned up a notch to be very narcissistic and self serving. The Wileys were the main heros of the issue as they were the ones to help find the sinister plot, tell the right people of said sinister plot and were the ones who help the real Thundercats win. Lion-O once more is very noble and carries the weight of Third Earth on his shoulders as he tries so hard to keep it a peaceful planet. Mumm-Ra, while having a good idea to use clones to start a war, once more should have pushed harder and helped his evil army to succeed. The issue also had a feel of importance as at any moment a war was about to pop off and all sides would have lost many lives and each also were targeting the Thundercats. Marvel in my opinion did disrespect the series and let it end with this issue and did not give it a clear cut final issue like it deserved.  In fact I am going to say that Marvel as a whole disrespected Star Comics and did not fully support nor give them the time to grow as a power house in kids comics. The issue’s cover is cool looking, but not as epic as is should be, and the final issues art is done by Rodney Ramos and it looks okay. Over all this is a great issue and it makes me happy that at least the series ended on a high note!

Thundercats Comic Art

Thundercats by Star Comics had many great issue, and while it did have a few duds, this is by far my favorite series I have read this far by Star! I am sure you are all noticing that this update has been posted way after Christmas Eve, and I must say that I am sorry for that. I had a few roadblocks in getting this one up from computer issues and long days At work, normal holiday stuff and even had a terrible case of the flu! But I hope that you all had a wonderful Holiday season and that your 2014 is going well this far. But to get back on topic Thundercats was a big part of my childhood as with many kids of the 80’s, and I was glad to see Star give these characters comics that fans enjoyed. I will say I wish they had less issues that were just based on the cartoon episodes cause this took away the fun factor of this being your fix to the next cartoon cause when reading the ones based on episodes the element of surprise was gone. It was neat to see Marvel take up the series after they closed Star and ran it to see if it could hang with their long running Transformers and G.I. Joe series and if given the chance I think it could have. Well next update I am going to do something a little different and thats I am going to showcase a Horror Host that I love and talk about the impact they had on me, the memories of watching and even do a little episode guide of the ones I own on DVD! I am calling the updates Horror Host Icon and the first one we will be taking a look at is the one and only Commander USA, I am sure you long time readers are not shocked by this one. Till next time stay nerdy, and stay safe this cold winter! 

commander usas groovie movies logo

 

Hammer Horror Halloween Hootenanny!

It’s Halloween, and I hope you have a bellyful of sweet treats and are ready to have some spooky fun with me here at Rotten Ink. Halloween has always been special to me, and I can remember looking forward to this holiday more than any other and loving the cool fall weather with the leaves on the ground and a chill in the air as my brother and I would dress up and have our pillow cases ready for some door to door begging for candy. In the early years, our Mom would of course go with us as our Dad would pass out candy at our house.  Then as we got older, we went on our own or with a group of friends. Those of you who grew up in a small town or even fellow Waynesville kids that grew up with me know how magical this holiday felt back in the day before all the rules and Stranger Danger took full effect…but wait we did have the Satanic Panic at that time but even that could not stop us from having a good time. One thing that I would love to do some Halloween soon is what I spoke about before, have friends like Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Garrison Kane, Dave Wean, Maurice Blurton, Henrique Couto, Juliet Fromholt and a few others and sit around a fire in the middle of the woods on a cold fall night and exchange spooky stories and real legends.  Now that would be a real fun time. So for the first Halloween day update, I decided that I would go all out and have a spooky kooky packed house of things to talk about from horror host Count Gregula who answered 5 Questions, all the way to a scary trip to old amusement park Fantasy Farm! But the main attraction will be my look at Hammer Films.  I will talk about some of the films and actors that made this English company an icon of horror. I will also be reading comics based on Hammer films at real haunted locations in and around Dayton.  But enough with this introduction, let’s get to the scary and weird stuff, shall we?

Count Gregula

To start things off, I figured we would take a look at Chicago horror host Count Gregula. In 1998, a Vampire attended a Halloween party held by horror host icon Svengoolie, and this inspired this cool ghoul into becoming a host himself.  After centuries being undead the option of showing cheesy horror films seemed like a great idea. In 2005 his first show called “Count Gregula’s Crypt” aired as he hosted the film Night Of The Living Dead.  After two episodes, the show took a break and came back on the air in 2007 when he hosted Missile To The Moon and would again take a small break until 2010 when he scared viewers once more by coming back to TV/DVD with the hosting of the films Grave Of The Vampire and Eegah. Count Gregula would go on to also interview celebrities on his Youtube account as well as guest on many other horror host shows. In 2011 he also starred in a film called The Giant Rubber Monster Movie where he was able to show his acting fangs. On his show Gregula is joined by his wife Countess Gregula, the Daughter of Satan, and The Children of The Night. The Gregula’s were also some of the first none Ohio hosts to fully support and stand beside Baron Von Porkchop as he started hosting movies with his show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre. So now that you know a little about Gregula, let’s get to what I call ” 5 Questions With Count Gregula”!

Me: So tell me about your show, and that wicked cool theater you host your movies from in your crypt?

Gregula: Vell, ve host the good old classic horror movies that all of us grew up vith as little monsters. Only thing is that ve don’t have access to that theater anymore, but ve are planning on doing a live stage show version of COUNT GREGULA’S CRYPT in the near future! Keep checking my sites for further details.

Me: Very cool, live hosting is always fun. I have seen Dr. Creep and A. Ghastlee Ghoul host movies live and it’s been a real treat if your a horror host fan. So what horror hosts of the past inspired you to become a host yourself?

Gregula: Son of Svengoolie (a.k.a. Svengoolie) & Elvira!

Me: Both are so great and both are in the Horror Host Hall of Fame, proving how inspiring they were to viewers. So this is something I have always wanted to know: does drinking blood ever get old? And if the artificial blood like True Blood (from the HBO show of the same name) was real, would you drink it or stay with the fresh stuff?

Gregula: Drinking blood never gets old! Only the people I drink from get old. *vink* Oh, it has to be the fresh stuff! Nothing beats tapping a vein!

Me: No fake stuff for you.  I guess nothing does beat fresh on whatever your choice of drink is, well besides wine, the older the better. You travel around to many conventions of all types.  Who has been the one movie star you have been most hyped to meet and interview and what horror host as well?

Gregula: Finally interviewing Pat Priest (Marilyn Munster) of THE MUNSTERS made me the most hyped because I missed meeting her several years ago vhen I made the trip all the vay to Texas for a special Munster Masquerade that I vas invited to attend. I heard she vas too sick to make the trip there herself. I even mention about vaiting all these years to meet and interview her in my video and she seemed very pleased. Interviewing horror host Svengoolie vas my nightmare come true vithout a doubt!

Me: It’s always nice to meet a star you always have wanted to.  Sadly we are on our fifth question so I will ask something that my readers and I must know: who is the better Dracula: Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee?

Gregula: Bela Lugosi of corpse! He is the BEAST claws down!

Me: I am a Lugosi man myself, but I still have a hard time picking.  Both are so great as that character. So once more thanks for answering these five questions for us.

Count Gregula DVD 1Gregula and pretty ladyCount Gregula DVD 2

Gregula is such a fun undead ghoul to be around and at one Horrorhound Baron Von Porkchop, Juliet and I went out to eat with him and the Countess and he was in his full vampire gear and made for one fun dinner. Also in the Dayton market on DATV during the HHU (Horror Host Underground) showcase that plays when Baron is off filming a new season, we from time to time show an episode or two of his show. If you want to learn more about Count Gregula and his Crypt you can also always check out his website www.count-gregula.com. I would also like to show off a cool piece of artwork that was done by my talented friend Justin Wasson of Count Gregula that was made for the upcoming comic idea I had called “Who’s Who of Late Night Horror Hosting”.

count_gregula art

Speaking of artwork, while listening to my friends Jason and Eric’s podcast Gutter Trash, I found out about some cool projects that could have been made into a comic book series and a TV show based on the classic Vincent Price Horror Film “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” done by comic book icon Jack Kirby that looks like it would have been called “The Sinister Dr. Phibes”! Yeah, so think about that, a comic drawn by Kirby that would have been a companion piece to a weekly TV show based around Phibes who according to gossip would have had him as a detective working for the good of mankind and not for his quest of revenge. Phibes is said to have use his masks and traps to capture criminals, and the issues were rumored to have came out via DC Comics. I can’t tell you how amazing this comic series would have been, and I for one would have gotten them and for sure they would have been used as an update on this very blog! Test artwork came to light when the original art went up for sale on Ebay and many say that it was Kirby’s nephew that was selling off much of the artwork.  With this Ebay auction also came questions and the guessing game to what it was drawn for and this is one big puzzle that has many internet “answers.”  What ever the reason it was drawn, it’s a sweet piece of artwork that I wish would have gotten a full comic series. Below is the original artwork as well as a colored version done by a fan and of course of pic of Price as Phibes.

Phibes colorphibes Jack Kirby artDr Phibes

In the 1960’s and 70’s, a Bigfoot like creature frozen in a block of ice traveled around state fairs, carnivals, sideshows and shopping malls as an attraction of the macabre, and the creature was called The Minnesota Iceman. People all over America and Canada paid money to see this creature in the ice who had a back story told by the body’s owner Frank Hansen.  He said the Iceman was shot and killed in Siberia and that it’s true owner was a rich man who allowed him to travel around showing the creature off to all who want to pay and see it. Some people at the time thought that the Iceman could be a caveman, a person that time forgot who was shot and killed, while others thought it was a murder victim who was dressed up to look like a creature so that the killer could hide the body in plain sight. Bigfoot researchers back then have even examined the body and claimed that some of the creatures flesh could be touched via some melted ice and that it was 100% real and was proof that Bigfoot is real! The body even caused some panic at the Canadian border when officials would not allow it to cross because it was a cadaver, but after some smooth words Hansen was able to get it across. But in the late 1970’s the Iceman just vanished from the public eye and as quickly as it hit the sideshow scene it disappeared, causing many people to wonder what had happened to the evidence that Bigfoot was real. But like all things, not everyone believed that The Minnesota Iceman was real and many labeled it as a hoax claiming that it was nothing more than a prop to con people out of their money. Eyewitnesses and some photos of the creature showed it to be a hairy humanoid that stood about 6 feet tall and had a bullet wound to its eye, and many say that its arm appeared to be broken.  For many this sight was horrifying and chilled the bones of many customers. For years the Iceman was missing until this year (2013) when The Minnesota Iceman showed up….on… Ebay for sale! The listing blew the top off what the creature was and stated it was in fact a hoax and was crafted by a team that later went on to work for Disney. The Minnesota Iceman sold for an accepted offer to a man who plans on putting it on display in Texas.  This marks the end of what the Iceman was, fact or fiction and thanks to Ebay it’s been proven as a hoax. But while the body and freezer sold online, many think that the Ebay listing was the true hoax and that the real body of the iceman is still out there. Only time will tell what the true fate of the Iceman is and rest assured, I will be waiting to discover the truth. I should also say that I learned about the Iceman from a old book I checked out from the library in Waynesville and after seeing the creature’s picture I became obsessed with finding out all I could about it and spent many days reading about it.  Once the internet hit I would spend time trying to find info on where it was….sadly though the image and wonder of the Iceman is now shattered over an online auction for me.

minnesota icemanThe Minnesota Iceman nowThe Minnesota Iceman hoax

Wow, we have just gotten started and thus far we have talked about horror host Count Gregula, Jack Kirby’s could have been Dr. Phibes comic and hoax of The Minnesota Iceman, and yet we have so much more to come! So now I would like to talk to you about a moment in my life that scared that crap out of me.  While it was not a near death experience or a Halloween prank gone bad, it was a moment that has stuck with me for years. I was about 8 or 9 years old, and for summer vacation my parents took me and my brother to Fantasy Farm, an amusement park and petting zoo in Middletown, Ohio, a place that we would go every summer (that or Americana) to ride all the rides and pet and feed all the animals. Two events at Fantasy Farm always stick with me, and one is more traumatic for me than the other so let’s get to the less scary one first. As you long time readers know, I grew up as a monster kid and loved everything horror.  At Fantasy Farm, they had a haunted house ride with the side of the building was painted with images of Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster and I can remember taking my old camera out and snapping a picture (that I still have to this day and that I will post on here for you all to see) and before we went in I remember my brother Bryan teasing me about how scary the ride was going to be and how Frankenstein’s Monster was going to grab me. I acted like I was not scared, but to be honest I was terrified.  Back then I believed what my brother said and didn’t understand he was just teasing and having fun and adding to the horror of the haunted house ride. Bryan and my Dad were in one car, and my Mom and I were in the other.  I still was acting tough and as if the horrors that awaited me in the ride were nothing but pure cheese and nothing to be scared of.  All the while I was waiting for Frankenstein’s Monster to jump out and get me! As the ride started I had this idea that I would close my eyes, making it so that he could not find me in the dark.  I missed the ride but heard all the spooky sounds, and it just added to the fear that was building up in me.  At one point my Mom, not knowing that my brother said anything about him, said look it’s Frankenstein as the attraction had a cardboard version of The Monster and this triggerd the “this is the end” moment for me, but in seconds nothing happened and I opened my eyes as we approached the end of the ride and I remember a skeleton. After the ride my Dad and brother made fun of me for having my eyes closed but deep inside I was just happy to have not been taken away by The Monster! But the scare of Frankenstein’s Monster getting me was nothing compared to the terror that awaited me in the petting zoo! Besides monsters, I also love animals and one of the highlights of Fantasy Farm was always petting and feeding the animals.  It was always cool feeding goats corn that they would eat from your hand. But this one time we went into one of the barns that held the animals, and I spent time petting cows and other barn yard animals and in the last stall in the barn was a giant bison.  I mean he was huge and as I walked up to this massive animal he started to make this weird snorting and throat noise and he locked on staring at me.  I was scared yet I still walked forward and stuck my hand out to pet him, as my hand touched his face he let out a load snort and I jumped back at least 4 feet and was scared as this giant animal kept making noises.  Needless to say I got they hell out of dodge. The moment when that Bison snorted could have been one of the biggest scares I had ever gotten in my life. Sadly Fantasy Farm is gone, and it’s a shame as it was a place I would have loved to taken my future kids to.  I blame Kings Island for it’s departure. 

Bison-Ceasol

By 1955 with the Universal Comedy film “Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy,” the end of the classic monster movies based on Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein and The Mummy had came to an end.  By this time the classic monsters were not treated as scary but as jokes as the horrors of the real world and the coming atomic age seemed much scarier. But by 1958 with the release of Horror of Dracula, classic monsters were making a comeback and this time they were laced with blood and large breasted women.  The company responsible was English company Hammer who up to this point were known more for film noir movies. With the success of the film they found that making horror films was more profitable than noir and drama and started turning out films based on many classic monster to the delight of monster kids of the time. Hammer became so popular in in the UK that USA companies took notice as Paramount, Warner Brothers and even Universal started to release their films in theaters across America exposing even more fans to the blood soaked monster mayhem. Hammer was getting so popular in its home country that in 1976 a magazine called “House of Hammer” was released by Top Sellers.  The issue showcased Hammer stars and films as well as had comic book adaptations of their popular films. But like all good things, the classic monster film ride came to an end again as Hammer’s box office draw dwindled in 1979, and the company closed the production doors until 2007 when a new group came in and breathed life into the company once more and started making films again like Let Me In, The Woman in Black and The Resident. I grew up watching many of the Hammer Horror films, seeing many of them on Commander USA’S Groovie Movies and Super Scary Saturday and then later on VHS tapes. While I liked the Hammer versions of the classic monsters, I still feel Universal did them better, but that said, Hammer was and still is one of my favorite studios to make classic monster movies.  They added just the right amount of blood and sleaze to make the viewer think they are watching something they shouldn’t be, but at the same time they do so with such class you feel as if the budgets on these films were bigger than they were. I credit a lot of Hammer’s early film success to a director named Terrance Fisher who seemed to get the gothic feel and tones of these movies really well and was able to bring that dark and brooding feeling to the movie screens.  My friend Chris Workman is a huge Fisher fan and could teach a class at a college about the impact of Hammer films on the horror genre. If you love classic monster and have never seen a Hammer film, do yourself a favor and go watch one. I am sure you’ll become a fan just like I did.

Hammer logo

The biggest series in all of Hammers classic monster films was its Dracula series that had a total of 9 films that are as follows Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula: Price of Darkness (1966), Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968), Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970), Scars of Dracula (1970), Dracula AD 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1973) and ending with The Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires (1974). In all but two of the films Count Dracula was played by Christopher Lee who grew to dislike and despise the character and films Hammer was making.  The rumor goes that he was forced to play the part when studio higher ups said basically that if he did not act as Dracula then a lot of people would be put out of work. As the films went on and Lee grew more bored with the scripts, rumors say that he refused to do the lines because he felt that they were all just so poorly written. But Christopher Lee made for an amazing Dracula and in moments he comes off super scary and in control whenever he’s on screen, making for the perfect vampire king.The two films that Lee did not play Dracula were Brides of Dracula, that in fact didn’t have Dracula at all in it, and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires where actor John Forbes-Robertson played Dracula. While Lee might have grown tired of his character, actor Peter Cushing seemed to enjoy playing the hero Van Helsing and played him a total of five times. In this series Dracula has been killed by stake in the heart, frozen in ice, sunlight and even captured in thorns, but after every death by the next film he would come back to life with the help of some numbskull or freak accident. My favorite film in the series has to be Horror of Dracula and my least would be Satanic Rites of Dracula as I feel by that time they were running out of ideas and putting Dracula again in modern times like they did in Dracula AD 1972 and it just lost its charm. Over all while Hammer’s Dracula films were great, the next series was my favorite!

Horror of Dracula posterScars of Draula PosterSatanic Rites of Dracula poster

Before Dracula Hammer gave Frankenstein and his monster a try and made The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 that was followed by a total of 6 sequels.  Unlike the classic Universal series their Frankenstein series focused on the Doctor and not the monster, as each movie had a new monster and the same Doctor almost always played by the amazing Peter Cushing, with Ralph Bates playing him in Horror of Frankenstein. The films in that series are as follows: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell (1974). Baron Von Frankenstein in the Hammer films was a selfish man who did whatever he wanted in order to make his creations work, from murder to rape! Changing the focus of the movies and taking away the likable element of the Doctor allowed Hammer to make the characters their own. These are by far my favorite series done by Hammer with my favorite film being Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell and my lest favorite being Revenge of Frankenstein.  While a good film the “monster” in this film is the weakest. I recommend watching these films if you’re in the mood to watch some classic gothic horror with that touch of sleaze and blood.

revenge of frankenstein posterhorror of frankenstein posterfrankenstein and the monster from hell poster

Besides Dracula and Frankenstein, Hammer did lots of other creatures of the night films! They have done films on vampires, mummies, a werewolf, zombies, devils and so much more, and each of them were well done on lower budgets and had just the right amount of horror to make them chill your blood on late night viewings. As the years passed, Hammer also added in more gore and nudity to try and spice up their films and compete with the boom of Grindhouse and shlock films that were filling up the theaters and drive-ins, and while it made the films more R-rated, the charm of the classic monsters had once more lost it’s appeal to movie going audiences.  This lead Hammer into trying many different monsters and ideas to stay on top of the growing horror market. I for one am glad that Hammer has risen out of the ashes in the past years and are backing making horror films that are solid shockers with time and passion put into each production. My favorite none Dracula/Frankenstein film has to be Curse of the Werewolf, and my lest favorite is, well, I can’t really think of one really! I know that one I have not seen that I really want to is The Gorgon, and I look forward to watching it on DVD or even VHS very soon. 

Curse of werewolf postergorgon posternight creatures poster

Hammer is also a studio that helped create stars that almost every horror, sci-fi and just movie fans will know! First, we have Christopher Lee, an actor who for Hammer has played Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and even Sir Henry Baskerville (Hounds of Baskerville) and is known also to me for playing Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II and III, Stefan Crosscoe in The Howling II, and Doctor Catheter in Gremlins 2: The New Batch among many other roles. Lee, who is 91 years old as of this year (2013) and has also been knighted, is the last remaining true icon of the the classic horror era. Peter Cushing was the true face of Hammer for me and during his amazing career with Hammer stared as Dr. Frankenstein, Van Helsing and even the Sheriff of Nottingham and is also know to me for playing Grand Moff Tarkin is Star Wars Episode IV, Arthur Grimsdyke in Tales From the Crypt, Professor Paul in Legend of the Werewolf and Baron Corofax in Land of the Minotaur. Cushing truly is one of my favorite actors, and sadly he passed away in 1994 at the age of 81. Oliver Reed is another great actor who got his acting chops sharpened in Hammer films with roles like the werewolf Leon Corledo in Curse of the Werewolf, Lord Melton in Sword of Sherwood Forest and a bouncer in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll to name a few and is also know to me for roles Dr. Hal Raglan in The Brood and Antonius Proximo in Gladiator. Reed was an actor who just seemed to have it and could play any role that he was given.  Sadly Reed passed away in 1999 at the age of 61. Lastly I would also like to mention David Prowse, who in the 70’s and 80’s was the Kane Hodder of his time and could rock a monster suit like it was his job..wait it was his job for Hammer.  He played The Monster in Horror of Frankenstein and The Monster from Hell in Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, and even a Strongman in Vampire Circus. I also know him for Julian The Body Guard in A Clockwork Orange and Darth Vader in Star Wars Episodes IV-VI! Prowse is the man, and don’t let George Lucas tell you any different as the two seem to have had a falling out that has lead to Prowse being banned from official Star Wars gatherings. These are also only a drop in the hat of the talented actors, actresses and directors that worked for Hammer!

christopher leepeter cushingOliver Reeddavid prowse

Besides the blood and monsters, Hammer was also known for its lovely large chested actress who helped add to the gothic and gritty new legends being told about classic monsters. By this time films in the horror genre were changing, but they were still not using females as full eye candy.  Hammer figured a way out to get sexy yet talented actresses to star in films and have them showcase their acting talents as well as their massive cleavage! I remember growing up and seeing Hammer movies on TV or VHS and crushing on Hammer starlettes Madeline Smith and Yvonne Romain and being taken by their beauty. Smith drew me in with her amazing eyes and girl next door looks while Romain has the exotic beauty to her. Two of the most popular actresses that worked for them are Raquel Welch and Caroline Munro who both went on to be in bigger Hollywood productions. The women of Hammer are so popular and have made such a mark on fans that many books, magazine articles and conventions showcase them. Now I could spend all Halloween update talking about Madeline Smith and how sexy she is, but you are here to be spooked so let’s move on! And for those wonder Smith is the first picture and Romain is second. 

madeline smithYvonne RomainCaroline Munrojulie

So before I dive into the spooky world of Hammer Comics, I would also like to talk about a brief two-day long mini horror movie marathon I had at my apartment with Juliet that consisted of a handful of films and one horror host Halloween special! The first film of the night was the new Child’s Play movie called “The Curse of Chucky” where the killer doll comes back one last time to torment a wheelchair bound young lady and her family in a giant mansion. The film was a little slow paced but it was nice to see Chucky back. The second film was “Frankenstein’s Army,” a neat found footage film about Russian soldiers during World War II that stumble on Dr. Frankenstein who is making an army of monsters! Really cool creature designs, great gore effects and an original plot made this one a good watch. Juliet than wanted to watch “Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales of the Macabre: Halloween 2012” episode were Baron and Melvin go trick or treating and have a run in with New Burlington’s Headless Horseman.  The film he is hosting is Werewolf of Ohio! I will say out of all of the specials we shot, this could be one of my favorites. “Razorback” was next, an Australian film based on a giant Razorback hog that is killing people in the outback and has to be stopped by an American who lost his wife to the beast.  I waited along time to see this film, and Warner Brothers put it out via their on demand disc burn service and I will say the film is fun. The next day of film watching started with “Wrong Turn 5” that follows a group of collage kids going to a music festival that has a deadly run-in with the inbreed hillbillys. This one was a bloodbath and not as bad as I had heard it was, it was filled with blood, boobs and killers and was just ok. Then we went into “World War Z” about a zombie outbreak that leaves the world at the mercy of the undead and one man must find a way to stop them. I saw this in theaters as well and I must say I liked it, a good PG-13 horror film and nice to see Paramount make a bigger budget horror picture. The next film I went for a Universal Classic with the 1935 film “The Raven” were a mad doctor played by Bela Lugosi sets his sight on a young female he has saved the life of and wants to use torture to get ride of those who stand in his way. The film stars Boris Karloff as well as a disfigured brute who is used as a tool. It’s a very fun old black and white horror filmed based very loosely on the work by Edgar Allen Poe that’s worth the watch! Next up was the underrated film “Waxworks” about a wax museum that kills people by having them meet the monsters of wax. If enough souls are taken, the horrors of the past and classic monsters are set loose in the world. It’s a very cool film that I have loved since I was young, filled with lots of great effects. October horror movie-thons are the best.

Curse of Chucky DVDFrankensteins Army DVDTerrifying Tales of the Macabre Halloween 2012 DVDRazorback DVDWrong Turn 5 DVDWorld War Z dvdThe Raven DVDWaxwork Poster

So let’s get to the comic reviews, and this first Halloween update I have gotten some comics based on Hammer films and I read them at haunted locations in and around the Southwestern Ohio area. Almost all the comics came from a U.K Magazine called House of Hammer and were then made into normal modern sized comics complete with custom covers and numbering! So how this update will go is I will tell you about and share picture of the haunted location and then get into the comic review of the issue I read at the location, and will share the mood and such of the location and if it helped add to the horror of the issue. And as always I want to remind you readers I grade these comics on a 1-4 star ranking and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So with this, let’s get into some creepy reviews and places! 

Scary Pumpkins

Carpenters Road in Beavercreek Ohio is the area’s most haunted road, and stories of what has happened there have been around for generations.  My Dad and his friends use to travel that road to scare dates and each other as the road use to be filled with woods, fields, swamp lands and hardly any lights. When I was a teenager, my friends and I use to go up and down this road late at night hoping to be scared silly, and a few times I am sure our imagination got the best of us. The road has many legends that range from super natural to real life horrors, and many people swear that they have been scared by something on this road. A ghost farmer on a tractor is said to chase off anyone who is parked on the road during the fall months and is said to be very aggressive and mean. A hooked hand killer is said to have once roamed the swamp lands in the area and looked for young couples making out to make them his next victim. A car on prom night is said to have crashed on the street’s sharp turn killing the young couple, and it’s said on late nights you can see the car crash and watch as the ghosts of the two killed teens climb out of the ditch.  This is said to work if you turn your car lights on and off three times than exit the car and watch the horrific event unfold before your eyes. The most popular ghost on the road is that of a man who hung himself from one of the roads large trees in the 1970’s.  It’s said if you park your car under the tree at midnight and turn off your head lights, you can hear the mans feet drag across your roof top and hear him moan and gasp for air! So on this road I have one legend killer, one mean farmer ghost and three sad case spirits who left this world before they should have! Some scary stuff happens here, and it still remains a popular destination for teens around Halloween. 

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So with that let’s get into our first comic as at Carpenters Road I read “Curse Of The Werewolf”! 

Curse of The Werewolf 1

Curse of the Werewolf  # 1  ***
Released in 1978   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 1 of 1

An old beggar makes the mistake of wandering into the castle of a lord who has just gotten married, and after he is made into a fool, he is locked into a dungeon where he grows into a savage man that attacks a maid some years later who has been locked up for not making out with the now old and creepy lord of the manor. She is raped, and once she is let out, she kills the lord and escapes into the night where she is found by writer Alfredo and his sister Teresa who nurse her back to health.  Sadly she dies in child birth, and they raise the woman’s son Leon as their own nephew. But young Leon has something very wrong with him as he is struck with the curse of the werewolf and kills the locals farmers sheep, and while a werewolf he is shot by the local hunter and returns home were his uncle discovers his dark secret. Years pass and Leon grows up and leaves home and takes a job at a winery where he meets the owners lovely yet soon to be married daughter Cristina who he falls madly in love with. Leon can’t control his sinister curse and kills his co-worker and some female bargoers and roams the land as a werewolf.  This murder leads to him going to jail where he transforms once more at the full moon and runs wild in the village and Alfredo uses a silver bullet and kills him as sadness rushes over him as well as Cristina and Teresa for the loss of a man they all truly loved.

Curse of The Werewolf transfers to a comic really well, even if major plot changes happen from the lack of Cristina’s fiance to the rush death of his co-worker this short comic adaptation does it right and makes you almost forget about the elements that are missing. The one thing that doesn’t work as well is how fast and out of nowhere it seems that Leon and Cristina fall in love. The werewolf murders are all done fast paced, and all the blood is left out making this a bloodless horror comic.  While it would have been nice to see the red stuff, it doesn’t effect the well written story line or the likeable characters. Leon is a sad case and is a man who really just wants to live a normal life, hold a job and find true love and once he leaves his hometown this all goes to hell when his curse of being a werewolf runs wild. The town hunter in the comic plays a smaller role, but it’s still his silver bullet that brings down the blood thirsty beast. Cristina is used in the comic as both a love interest and a trigger as her first rejection of Leon is what sets the curse back off. The story is simple a baby is born out of rape on Christmas Day, and this is a bad omen and causes him to have a curse of being a werewolf. The love of his adoptive family keeps the curse at bay for years until he grows older and moves away and the rejection of a woman he falls for triggers the curse back up and in the end love is what has to kill the beast once and for all. The artwork is amazing, and I truly wish more comics would have been made about Leon so artist John Bolton could have worked on them and made them looked as stylish and artistic as this issue. The cover is also very eye catching and would have been a perfect match on comic shelves with the likes of Werewolf By Night and Tombs Of Dracula. Over all this is an amazing good creepy comic that should be read by fans of the Hammer film and fans of horror comics.

The day I read this, Carpenters Road was covered with fog and the sky was grey. I parked near the swamp where the hook handed killer was said to have prowled and began the trip into werewolf madness. The fog helped add to the creepy feel, and I was very much getting into the over all feeling of the comic. The downside is that many cars passed and this broke the brooding danger feel of the location. The area has changed for the worse as many new houses and even the back of a giant high school are now around. The curve where the wreck was to have taken place is now gone and has given way to a new housing neighborhood.  The hanging tree has been cut down and even the stump removed! The only things left is the swamp of the hook handed killer and the field of the ghost farmer. Nothing happened this evening of reading and while the fog and swamp made the reading more fun, it’s a shame that what use to be a kick butt haunted road is now just a shell of what it once was.

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Woodland Cemetery in Dayton is the area’s most haunted site, hosts many spooky stories, and is one of the oldest graveyards in the area. The cemetery is the final resting place for many famous people such as Wilbur & Orville Wright, inventors and first humans to fly in a flying machine, Loren M. Berry the inventor of the Yellow Pages, James Ritty inventor of the cash register, Leslie Carter silent film actress in movies like Rocky Mountain Mystery and The Heart of Maryland, not to mention the King and Queen of the Gypsies Levi and Matilda Stanley are also buried there. But while it’s a peaceful and lovely place, it also is a source of many haunts that include a blonde college teenage girl who wears jeans, a stripped shirt and white shoes who talks to those she comes in contact with.  It’s also said the gravestone she hangs out around glows blue/green at night. She is said to haunt the area because she is mad that she is buried so far away from her father and this is her way at getting back at those she thinks did this as well as fill her loneliness. The cemetery is also said be haunted by many other ghosts from all ages and decades and many “orbs” have been seen in the area. The most famous ghosts are that of Johnny Morehouse, a five year old boy who drowned in a canal and his dog who died at his gravesite when it refused to leave its deceased master’s side. Johnny and his dog’s ghost can be seen walking in the cemetery after close through the gates and his dog’s bark can be heard at night. His tombstone also has a statue of him and his dog that was put up in 1861 to honor their bond. This is a perfect place to read issue’s one and two in the Hammer Dracula series so I will be covering Horror of Dracula and Brides of Dracula at this amazing and creepy place! 

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Now let’s get spooky and take a read of the first two issues of Hammers Dracula.

Horror of Dracula 1

Horror of Dracula # 1   ***1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price 30p   Top Sellers   # 1 of 9

Johnathon Harker is an invited guest to Castle Dracula to look over some papers, but that first night you see that he is not just there to look at papers but to try and find the real secret of who and what Dracula is. He hides his journal in the woods near the castle and finds that he is in the mist of vampires as Dracula and his bride show him their true nature. The next nigh,t Harker kills the bride but in return is killed by Dracula himself who is now on his way to the Harker home to seduce and turn his soon to be wife Lucy into a vampire. Van Helsing, a long time friend of Harker’s, has found the journal and is on a quest to kill Dracula and save Lucy, but sadly he is too late as Lucy becomes one of the vampire brides.  Her brother Arthur is the one to end her blood sucking ways, but this death also angers Dracula who now has sights set on Arthur’s wife Mina! Van Helsing and Arthur are tricked, and Mina becomes a slave to the vampire king.  The two vampire hunters track him down at his castle, and it’s Van Helsing that uses sun light and a cross to burn the vampire to death and free Mina’s soul.

This comic book is AMAZING! I enjoyed every second of it and found it to be very close to the film that it’s based on. Van Helsing is a great hero, and this first issue shows that while he is smart, he is not yet the vampire killer he soon will be in many other issues and films.  The artwork also makes the character look like actor Peter Cushing, who played him in the film, and this helped add to the mood and vibe of the comic that sucked me in. Dracula is a pimp in this comic and truly loves the ladies as he jumps from bride to would-be bride with the drop of a stake in the heart.  Plus when he is mad in this comic, his rage comes out and his fangs are flashed. The rest of the supporting characters in this little vampire romp are all well written and each serves a purpose. The death of Dracula looks great and seeing his face being burnt by the sun is stuff of nightmares. The comic takes its time and builds the story and captures the true soul of a Hammer film.  This is why I think that this issue will be hard to beat for any of the following Dracula issues, and I for one wish that this would have been made into a comic series that would have 100% truly followed each film. I could not find the artist who drew this comic but I must say he did a fantastic job, and each character looks like the actor who played them on film.  His Lee Dracula is stunning and made the horror kid in me very happy to see. The cover is okay and the use of Yellow makes it very eye catching, but the cover art does not do the comic justice as the work inside is so much better. 

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Well let’s move onto Brides of Dracula and see how well issue 2 compares to the first.

Brides of Dracula 2

Brides of Dracula # 2   **1/2
Released in 1977   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 2 of 9

Marianne Danielle is a young woman who is left by her coach driver near an inn where she meets and befriends an older woman named Baroness Meinster who invites her to stay at her castle. Marianne, while in her room, looks out her window and sees a man standing on the balcony below.  She finds out that he is Count Meinster, the Baroness’ son who is supposed to be a mad man. When she sees him again, it looks as if he is going to jump off the balcony to kill himself, and Marianne rushes to stop him to find that he is chained to the wall. She is shocked by his treatment as he seems real sweet to her and cons her into getting the key to free him and she does just that. Count Meinster is in fact a vampire and turns his own mother into one setting his site to make Marianne his bride. Enter Van Helsing, who gets wind of the vampire and sets out to stop him and save Marianne from his evil grip.  Along the way Count Meinster turns a friend of Marianne’s into a vampire and she tries to trick her one time friend into following her so that Count Meinster can turn her too! Van Helsing has a final battle with Count Meinster at a mill and uses holy water and the blades of the windmill as a cross and kills the vampire.

This second issue is a fun quick read, but the quickness of it is also its down fall. It’s only 13 pages long, and the story moves so quickly that I didn’t get an attachment to or fear any of the characters.  That’s a shame as I feel that the story line was really well done. The comic does follow the film but as one would guess, large chunks have been cut out. Count Meinster is a smooth talking vampire whose reign of terror could have been avoided if Marianne just left the blood sucker alone like his mother told her to. Marianne, while sweet in nature, does not fully get to shine in the comic like she does in the film.  I did find myself trying to get behind her in the comic. Van Helsing is once more back as the hero, and in this issue he is more than ready to kick some vampire butt and even when things go south for him, when he looses his cross, he makes due with what he has and gets the job done. The story is simple girl enters house, helps a stranger who in turn is a crazed vampire and she spends time trying not to become his next meal while a hero comes to her aid and rids the area of his curse. The art work is well done like all of these comics thus far ,and once more I could not find the artist’s name who did this cool short comic. The cover is good but not great and is a take on the official movie poster. Over all it’s a good follow up but not in the same league as issue one.

On the day I went to read these comics, Woodland Cemetery was quiet and a cool slight breeze was in the air. I was pretty relaxed to read these, and the lack of sounds around me made the mood just right. I read them both pretty fast and had very little interruption making the time nice and not very spooky. I wish I could have gotten into the cemetery at night as I feel that this would have been the prime time to get the true spooky feel, imagine sitting around the grave of Johnny Morehouse with a flashlight reading about Count Dracula and Count Meinster while the moon is full and the air chilled, and as you turn a page you hear a dog bark….now that would have been amazing! Over all not much to report on the reading of these two besides Woodland is a beautiful place to relax and read a comic. 

Brides of Dracula art 1Brides of Dracula art 2Brides of Dracula art 3

To finish out Hammer’s Dracula series of “Dracula Prince of Darkness” and “Legend of The 7 Golden Vampires,” we will be reading them at Yellow Springs, a place filled with many ghost and ghouls, a perfect small town to read these spooky comics. The town is the home of many ghosts like the “Thunderstorm Ghost,” who is a woman who was stuck and killed my lightning durning a thunderstorm at the turn of the century near an oak tree.  It’s said when she was found, her face was stuck in a half scream and her arms were outright, and it’s said that durning thunderstorms if you go and sit under that oak tree that when lighting flashes you can see the woman’s ghost looking the same twisted way she was found. “The Jersey Angel” is the ghost of a 1870’s cattle rancher named Joseph S. Saberton who was the first rancher to bring Jersey Cows to the area and was land owner of what would be now John Bryan State Park. Joseph was a good man who loved his cows so much he gave them all names and treated them not just as livestock but as pets. Joseph passed away from an infection and asked to be buried in his pasture next to his cows, and it’s said after his death and even after his cows had been sold off, late at night you can hear Joseph call for his cattle. The ghost of Helen Birch Barlett, for whom The Glen Helen Nature Preserve is named, is said to haunt the woods around the area. In life Helen was said to have been a spoiled brat who died at a young age of cancer. “Woman in Blue” is an angry ghost that brings down the vibe at The Olde Trail Traven and knocks things off the walls and counters an is always in a foul mood. “The Twilight Man” is one of the towns biggest legends.  He is a ghost who walks the roads at night wearing a blue shirt, overalls and a red handkerchief around his neck and always has his left hand in his pocket he just walks the road and disappears before he reaches Meredith Road. Other takes on Twilight Man have him being a man in a car who watches and does sinister things, almost like a small town serial killer! Besides these, many other ghosts and orbs have been seen all over town and on the Antioch College campus. So with that, I am going to kick back and read these two comics outside near John Bryan Park, Near Town and Near the Collage wish me luck that the Twilight Man doesn’t get me!

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I should note that I am a dork and didn’t bring a camera to all these locations, so I would like to send a big thank you to all the people who took these pics! I did take two of the pictures at Carpenters Road with my crappy cell phone…go me! Well, let’s get back to the creepy and Dracula.

Dracula Prince of Darkness 3

Dracula Prince of Darkness # 3   **1/2
Released in 1977   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 3 of 9

A group of travelers are stuck at the side of a road and speak of how while in town no one would give them a ride near the old castle at night. The travelers are Alan, his wife Helen, his brother Charles and his wife Diana, and they are shocked when an un-maned stage coach comes for them and takes them to the castle where they meet Klove, the servant of the dead Count Dracula who has rooms and a meal waiting for them. That night Klove tricks Alan into following him into the basement where he kills him and drains his blood into the coffin of Dracula’s ashes.  The blood brings him back to life! Kove then tricks Helen into the basement and she becomes the first new bride of Dracula as her husband’s body hangs from the ceiling with his neck slit. As Diana and Charles wake up the next morning, they see that their family members are gone and that something is not right with the castle so they flee.  But Charles can’t leave his brother behind and after returning he finds that his sister in law is now a vampire and that his brother is dead! Klove tricks Diana to return to the castle and after a run in with Dracula and vampire Helen, the couple barely escape and have a terrible coach wreck and are rescued by Father Shandor who takes them to the church for safety. But they are only safe for a short time as Dracula, Klove and vampire Helen come for Diana, and a battle breaks out that leaves Klove and Helen dead and Diana kidnapped by Dracula! In the end Dracula tries to escape with Diana over a frozen river and meets his doom when they break the ice from under his feet and he falls into the moving water below.

The third issue in the Hammer Dracula series is pretty good but does lack the charm of the film as a 90 minute movie got squeezed into a 16 page comic book. The story has Charles and Helen’s battle to survive from the grip of Dracula and meeting their only hope Father Shandor who teaches them how to out smart and kill the vampire king with nothing more than running water. Sadly, you don’t get a full attachment to either Helen or Charles as they are not fleshed out enough for me to truly care about.  Helen is given less than Charles who kind of is a laughable hero in this comic because he kind of just in a round about way manhandles Dracula with lame stuff like makeshift crosses and ice covered water. Dracula is as always bad ass, but man is his death in this comic as well as the movie lame.  Ice is shot from under his feet and he falls into the running water below and dies…yep, I know that could be the worst death of a vampire ever. In the issue Dracula kills zero people and transforms only one person into a vampire. Dracula seems more into scoring Diana than killing and feeding in this comic. Klove, the strange servant of Dracula, is one sadistic son of a gun and tries to kill a few and at least has the body count of one. Vampire Helen seems like a second thought in this comic and is killed off pretty fast.  While an extra threat to the heros, she is wasted. Father Shandor takes the place of Van Helsing, and while he is interesting, he is not as cool.  In fact I feel that he comes off a little preachy with his advice on how to kill vampires. The art in this comic is done by John Bolton, who is known for his work on such comics as Kull, X-Men Classics, Man-Bat and The Book of Magic, and it looks amazing! His drawings of Christopher Lee’s Dracula is very well done and makes this all right comic adaptation a little better. Bolton’s style has an almost solid pencil look to it, and his shading is well done and makes his work pop. The cover on this issue is also pretty eye catching, and I am sure caught the eye of horror kids of 1977! Over all this issue is just okay with a rushed storyline, cheesy Dracula death, great artwork and some creepy classic monster moments.  

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After this issues 4-8 have been M.I.A. for decades.  Many think they were never made, while others say they are lost in a haunted crypt.  This brings us to our next issue, “7 Golden Vampires.” So let’s chill our blood some more here in Yellow Springs, test our luck against Twilight Man, and read the last issue in the Hammer Dracula series. 

7 Golden Vampires 9

7 Golden Vampires  ***
Released in 1977   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 9 of 9

Dracula kills a man who is in charge of guarding the legendary 7 Golden Vampires, and after killing him Dracula takes his appearance. Meanwhile across the world, Van Helsing is giving a lecture about the legend of the golden vampires when he gets a visit from a man named Hsi Ching, who tells him that the legend is true and that he comes from that village and needs his help to stop the remaining 6 Golden Vampires who wish to avenge the death of the 7th on the seventh moon! Leyland Van Helsing, his son, and a rich young widow Vanessa Buren are attacked by a warlord, and his men and are saved by Ching’s brothers.  This act and the money of Vanessa send the Van Helsings, The Chings and Vanessa on a quest to stop the 6 Golden Vampires who attack along the way. The battles are filled with lots of death, and both sides lose many.  Once more Van Helsing tricks the overly cocky Dracula into showing himself to be staked,and as the vampire king dies so do the remaining golden vampires.  Once more peace is brought to the small village.

This final issue in the Hammer Dracula comic series is well done and is a comic adaptation of a film done right. The down side of the comic is the fact it is very talkie and the action seems like the second thought and is crammed into only a few panels while the long talks of legend and fears seem to take up pages. In the issue  Dracula is not in his true image for most of it nor is his taken image….in fact Dracula is barely in the comic at all! Dracula in the issue is just not a threat at all and is almost forgotten about.  Not to mention Van Helsing kicks his butt quickly in the end, and this makes the supposed vampire King look like a cheap fool. The 7 Golden Vampires while spoken about being complete evil killing machines, they don’t kill as many of the brothers as the reader would think and makes them more of a threat than Dracula but still not totally challenging. Van Helsing is the main hero of the story, and he is once more filled with the knowledge and the means to kill some vampires. His son Leyland seems to be thrown into the mix only to fall in love with the Chings’ only sister.  This is the drama that was needed to make the film have some “oh no” moments as his love is kidnapped by the vampires. The Ching brothers are cool and have an almost Shaw Brothers feel to them that comes out even on the comic pages.  They are bad asses, and they know it. Vanessa Buren seems like a background character until she turns into a vampire and is killed by her crush Tsi Ching who also kills himself in freeing his would-be lover’s soul. Over all the comic is well done and got three stars for sticking pretty close to the movie and making the pages they had very enjoyable. Thoough this is a sad way to end the Hammer Dracula comics and not to mention the film series with a weak lame Dracula who does not look like nor is played by Christopher Lee. Sadly I could not find who did the artwork in this issue, but I will say that its well done and captures the feel of the film. The cover is also well done and is very eye catching! Over all I would say a good issue with a cool story that has the worst payout for any iconic bad guy character, but is totally worth a read.  

While reading these comics in Yellow Springs, the sun was going down and a slight breeze was in the air making it a little chilly. Noises of birds and squirrels in the trees filled the air as well as the thuds of walnuts falling from the trees echoed like sounds of heavy footsteps pounding the ground.  Fall was in full effect this day and the atmosphere was just right. Bugs were all over the air flying around in large groups and landing on my arms making me have to swat at them to knock them away. As I sat on a old park bench in the middle of a field that had trees all around me making almost a perfect circle that I was trapped in, I waited to hear a whistle or a ghostly noise from something from beyond the grave! After Dracula Prince of Darkness, I heard and saw nothing besides normal nature sounds.  So for 7 Golden Vampires I decided to walk around and read, as the sun was fading fast the air got a little cooler and helped add to the spooky nature of the Golden Vampires. But sadly after reading this comic and being in Yellow Spring,s I can 100% say that while the atmosphere was right the evening of reading, these comics just was not scary. So here is to hoping I can get a creepy charge from Frankenstein’s Castle! 

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Frankenstein’s Castle/Witches Tower is a haunted tower in Kettering that is the source of many haunts and strange things. The “Castle” is the source of many orb spottings all around it that interfere with people taking pictures and video of the area. A ghostly blacked cloak figure can be seen at the top peering over and watching people below late nights.  It’s said that the cloaked figure is a witch who curses those who get to close. A shadow man roams the woods near by and has been known to kill animals and chase cars of those who cross its path. The ghosts of four teens who were killed inside the tower during a thunderstorm that had lightning hitting the metal rail as they climbed down, are also said to haunt around the tower. The giant metal monument of Henry Patterson is also said to be haunted and that the book he carries is said to have occult writings in it, and the head of the horse he is riding is said to follow you. The tower itself seems to be a mystery as no one can find why it was built and by whom. I have been to this location and the woods around it many times late at night and have in fact had some odd things happen mostly having to do with the shadow man, I have also had camera issues around the tower that at one point locked up a camera that we were using to film an episode of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. I very much look forward to reading Curse of Frankenstein in this area and wish that Eric and Kurt could have gotten “Frankenstein and The Monster From Hell” comic adaption done in time.  But like all good things, these things take time ,and I will review it and do a whole write up on that film and comic when it’s done. Well with that, let’s get scared and have some spooky times at Frankenstein’s Castle. 

Frankensteins Castle Ohio

Yep, just look at it….I know its creepy and yet super cool!

Curse Of Frankenstein 1

The Curse Of Frankenstein # 1  ***
Released in 1976   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 1 of 7

Baron Victor Frankenstein along with his good friend Paul are robbing bodies from graves and hangmen nooses to try and build a new super being and to give life to the dead. Paul is getting cold feet and is backing out of helping, and to make things worse Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s fiance, has come to live at the castle and he has very strong feelings for her. Frankenstein continues his experiment and even hides the fact he has been sleeping with his maid from everyone.  His obsession gets worse as he kills an old Professor friend for his brain that is damaged when Paul and him have a fight over what he is doing. The Monster awakens and is out of control and escapes, and this leaves Paul and Frankenstein having to shoot and kill the Monster and bury its body in the woods. But as days pass Frankenstein can’t let his creation go that easily and digs it up and brings it to life once more.  This time he fixes the damaged brain, and the Monster acts more like a dumb dog than a raged-filled monster. This doesn’t last long as The Monster kills the maid and tries to kill Elizabeth, leaving Frankenstein to have to torch his monster with an oil lamp and knock it into acid. But it’s not a happy ending for Frankenstein as he loses Elizabeth to Paul who also does not come to his friends aid, and he is hung for the murder of his maid.

This comic adaption is super fun, even if the first six pages are super fuzzy and are hard to read. The comic is filled with sinister deeds and paints Victor Frankenstein to be an evil man who does what he wants when he wants and will take a life if it benefits his needs. That’s what makes Victor one of the best bad guys of any of these comics; while Dracula and Leon are monsters, Victor is a real man who does not feel bad for his deeds. Paul plays the good guy who for the most part is also kind of a scum bag as he had helped Victor up to a point and only started to get odd about it once it came close to the monster getting life. The Monster, while a killer, doesn’t do much in this comic and is more of a tool to show the evils of its creator. I like the fact that Frankenstein has a lovely woman in his life, but also likes to slum it and get some of his maid who he kind of treats like a no good whore. The fact that Frankenstein dies in the end of this issue just like in the film is shocking and helps add to the message that being an evil doctor with a bad heart leads to death. The comic captures the mood and terror of the film, and right behind “Horror Of Dracula” this could be one of the better comics we looked at this Halloween. It’s crazy to think that no other Hammer Frankenstein comics were made because this series of films were perfect for comics. The art work is well done and once more no artist name was given.  The cover is one of the better in the Hammer comic series. Over all this is a great read and I recommend finding this one.

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Frankenstein’s Tower was in full effect when I went to read this comic, and the leaves were falling from the trees all around.  The sounds of people in the park filled the air, and the air was chilled and that perfect temperature to read a horror comic in. Sounds of leaves blowing around and animals running about filled the air as The Monster came alive in the comic. After reading the issue, I drove around the park at night and waited for The Shadow Man who didn’t come this night, but I could kind of see The Black Cloaked Witch at the top of the tower.  I am sure it was all in my head, right?

What would Halloween be without a fantasy warfare?  So in this one we will pit Hammer’s heavy hitters Count Dracula, Leon The Werewolf and Victor Frankenstein against each other at a haunted Ohio location known as Prospect Place that is filled with many hauntings and ghost. The day the battle will take place is Halloween Night, and the moon is full.  A storm is coming, but for now the stars are bright. So let’s get into this epic battle of Hammer Horror icons!

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The moon is full and is shinning and a storm is blowing in at the old mansion that is known as Prospect Place.  Inside near one of the windows is an oil lamp, and a man sitting at a makeshift desk writing down notes of the morning’s failed experiment.  The man is none other than Baron Victor Frankenstein! The air is so cold he warms his gloved burnt hands over the lamp and is deciding if he should try and get some sleep. Meanwhile in one of the second story rooms, a coffin sits.  Inside is Count Dracula sleeping in the box filled with his home land’s soil, and he his now getting up and looking for a blood snack. The coffin door creaks and this noise alerts Frankenstein who now knows he is not alone in this creepy old place.  He makes a decision to leave the old house and hold up in the barn until morning for he knows he can’t be seen because he is a wanted man for all his crimes against God. The Baron turns off the lamp and grabs his top hat and slips out the front door.  As he looks back he sees that a man is watching him leave the house.  Unbeknownst to him, that man is Dracula who has just found his next victim.  Victor rushes to the barn to fetch his horse.  He has been seen, and he knows it’s time for him to leave and not look back. As he enters the barn, he finds that his horse has been killed, and a werewolf is the killer.  As the beast is drinking the blood from an open wound on the dead animal’s neck, Victor backs up slowly and right into Dracula who lets out an unearthly hiss.  This noise alerts the werewolf who now is up and ready for a fight! The Werewolf lunges toward Victor who just in time side steps, and the werewolf tackles Dracula instead.  This enrages the vampire king who in turn grabs the beast by the neck and starts to squeeze.  As Dracula’s death grip tightens Victor runs to the house and grabs the oil lamp.  Meanwhile the werewolf scratches at Dracula’s face ripping chunks of flesh off, but this does not phase the vampire as he gives one more powerful squeeze and ends werewolf Leon’s life and torment. As Dracula turns, Victor throws the oil lamp at him and it explodes covering him in oil.  Victor strikes a match as quickly as he can and as he is about to flick it at Dracula, the rain starts to poor down.  Victor looks at the wet match as Dracula moves closer. The wind blows and the last scream of a evil yet brilliant Baron fills the air.

 Winner: Dracula

So there you have it.  While both Werewolf Leon and Victor Frankenstein tried, they just could not beat Dracula on this haunted battlefield.  But make it near running water, and they stand a chance. This was a fun Halloween, and the month was filled with lots of good times as well as sad times but I hope you all enjoyed yourself and hope your bellies are filled with candy. Next update we will take a look at Wally The Wizard, one of Star Comics’ original characters.  So until then, stay spooky and read some comics!

Wally The Wizard Logo

Start Halloween with the Universal Monsters!

The late night has a chill, and the leaves are blowing in the air as we approach my favorite month with my favorite holiday that’s filled with ghost, goblins, witches and ghouls.  Of course I am talking about October and Halloween! Growing up, Halloween, also known as beggars night, was always one of the highlights of the year.  Dressing up in whatever costume you or your parents wanted and going around town and getting free candy from neighbors and hearing spooky stories shared amongst friends always seemed like a perfect night. In Waynesville, Halloween always seemed more special as I was younger and enjoyed seeing friends from school walking around town dressed up, getting the free candy and walking around with my brother and his friends. When we moved back to Kettering, I was much older and spent most Halloweens watching horror films on tape or TV or driving around backwoods with Matt Hoffman or Josh Weinberg. One funny story about driving around had Matt Hoffman and I driving late around Bellbrook on Halloween night.  I was dressed up as Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th), and he was dressed as The Wolf Hunter (a character he played in the movies we made).  We got lost and drove up what we thought was a small road that turned out to be someone’s driveway, and when we got to the house, a group of people were sitting on the porch and one had a shotgun in hand! Hoffman and I saw this, and I rolled down the window in the mask and all and said we were looking for the killer party, and then we quickly backed up and they just stared at us.  In my mind I was hoping they thought that we were real ghouls looking for a secret party. Before we get into the comic reviews on DELL Comics take on Universal Monsters Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Wolf Man, Mummy and Creature From the Black Lagoon, I am going to share things that I look forward/think about every Halloween season!

The first thing is the Halloween decorations from cheap plastic skeletons to the traditional Jack O Lantern.  They make the season of fall seem so much more magical. Growing up my mom use to let me decorate the living room for Halloween.  It was quickly filled with ceramic painted ghosts and vampires, cardboard skeletons and frankenstein monsters in the windows and Addams Family flashlights of Lurch and Fester on the mantel. I like to drive around and look at Halloween displays people have in their yards and windows like some people do with Christmas decorations. I have seen some really cool stuff in Kettering, Waynesville and Fairborn.

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Another thing that kicks off the fall/Halloween season for me is the Sauerkraut Festival that my hometown Waynesville has put on for 44 years that’s always held of the second full week of October. The event is filled with great food, outdoor vendors that sell homemade crafts and almost all the amazing shops and restaurants are open for business. Over the years I notice the crowds at the event get bigger and bigger and lots of kids come and have fun. One of my best memories is buying ceramic halloween decorations that me and my mom later painted in her craft room that was also taken over as the NES Game Room, and also buying really cool homemade buttons of Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson and Billy Idol. If you have not ever been to this event and are a fan of homemade crafts and food and like the feel and fun of a small town, I would highly recommend you check out this fun festival.

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Of course one of the best parts of Halloween is finding the right costume and dressing up as your favorite hero, fiend or celebrity. Over the years I can remember dressing up as Rell the Cyclops from Krull, Skeletor from Masters of the Universe, Dracula, a Clown, The Wolf Man, Bigfoot, Jason Voorhees, Billy Idol and Alice Cooper. The Rell costume was one that scarred me.  Longtime readers will know the story.  I dressed as The Wolf Man from my own film Werewolf of Ohio for a Halloween party held at my friends’, brother and sister Chris and Rosetta Workman’s old house in Troy. The lamest costume I can remember is being a clown.  My mom was too scared to put the black makeup close to my eyes so she left them bare. I looked like a meth addict clown who just couldn’t get his stuff together for that one last show of the night. One of my favorites was Dracula it was pretty cool putting in the fake teeth and wearing the cape with white grease paint on. But I also loved dressing as Bigfoot for my cousin Steve and his then girlfriend Emily’s Halloween Home Warming Party.  It was great spending a spooky night with friends like Max Ervin, Nate Stevens, Josh Weinberg and all the rest of the gang. Halloween lets anyone feel like a star as they can dress up and act like what ever they want to be.  If you want to be a zombie, then be it.  If you wanna be Lady GaGa, then dress like her! Below are a few pics of me from the ages dressed as all types of ghouls and fools.

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The main point of Halloween is to go trick or treating, and every kid, with his pillow case, plastic pumpkin or plastic bag, hopes for the good stuff like Snickers, Kit Kats and Milky Ways and dreads candy corn, pennies and taffy. Some of my favorite treats to get were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  They were and still are my favorite candy to treat my sweet tooth to. I like the old wax type wrapper better then the more lame plastic type. Another favorite was Monster Candy sugar sticks put into boxes that showed Universal Monsters on them. We use to buy these to give out for Halloween by my request and before Halloween I would sneak and eat a few.  I am sure my Mom and Dad knew but didn’t care. One other fun one I use to love was Wax Lips.  Terrible candy, but a fun trick! I remember getting a pair one year that I would wear around and then in a few hours I decided to chew on them and made them into a wax ball….such a lame treat but really fun and lame entertainment. I wonder if I dressed as Bigfoot this year and went door to door here in Dayton, if people would give me candy….hmmm makes me wonder!

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Halloween TV Specials were also something I looked forward to and some of my favorites include The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” every year.  They are fun horror themed stories that have The Simpson family in situations that are not in the normal season story arcs. Roseanne had some of the best Halloween episodes on TV.  The Conners understood the spirt of Halloween, and the episodes were done so well and had that blue collar appeal to them that made them over the top yet realistic. As the series went on, they slowly lost some of the charm but Roseanne had some of the best episodes for this holiday. Two specials that used to air when I was younger every Halloween and that I still love to this day are “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” and ” Garfield’s Halloween Adventure.” Both were fun animated family entertainment.  Charlie Brown is the better of the two, and who can forget Chuck’s many holed ghost sheet and the fact he got a rock for a treat, classic stuff. Garfield had that wonderful ghost story meets John Carpenter’s The Fog feel to it, and the creepy old man that tells them the story is great stuff for young ones to get their bones chilled by. Halloween Specials are a fun way for TV Shows to cut loose and have fun and CBS, FOX, ABC and the rest need to look back at the golden age of specials on TV and bring this generation some spooky stuff for their Halloween nights.

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Speaking of TV, another thing that Halloween Season always makes me think about is Shock Theatre and The New Shock Theater both hosted by the late great Dr. Creep! Late night TV watching in October was always a treat when Dr. Creep and crew would host a terrible b-movie shocker, and the Creeper would be on the screen hamming it up in skits and later interviews with the horror stars of the past and present. Halloween time in Dayton and the surrounding area always belonged to Dr. Creep who will always be the icon of fright to anyone who grew up watching his show. During the holiday time Creep would make many public appearances, one of which was the charity horror film event called Horrorama where films would be shown from 35mm prints and Creep, along side Andy Copp and Rick Martin and later myself, would hold contests and entertain the crowd in between films.  Fall will never be the same without the Creeper who sadly passed away in early 2011, and while he might be gone, he will never be forgotten and his local TV work will forever have a legacy that will entertain generations to come thanks to DVD and VHS.

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This time of year also brings the Halloween Specials of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre to local Dayton airwaves.  These hour long specials are some of my favorite episodes I shoot in a season and are for Dayton’s Scare-A-Thon, a long block of Horror film programing that airs on both DATV and MVCC. Baron Von Porkchop, the host of the show, always seems to get himself into trouble during this time of the year and for the first one The Baron meets the killer The Sadness from the film of the same name at Wright State University during another one of his killing rampages.  The second one had Baron hosting “Werewolf of Ohio” and going trick or treating with his weird hunchback friend Melvin.  They make the mistake of getting the wrath of The Headless Horseman after them! These episodes are so much fun to make and rank always as the top sellers for us at the end of each year. I hope that the fans have as much fun with them as The Baron and I have making them. I am also so glad to have dug up The Baron from his grave and share his silly adventures with the fans, and I hope that The Baron adds to people’s Halloween experience as Dr. Creep did for mine. I should also mention another great Halloween event is Boo-Fest, a Halloween party put on by a friend of the show named Len, that he has Baron Von Porkchop as the guest judge of the costume contest, a fun time with really good people.

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When I was young, McDonald’s was the cool place to eat for kids, and Happy Meals and the toys inside were things we all collected and traded on the playground. Some years around Halloween time they would also have pumpkin and ghost buckets for sale and when released they were everywhere in kids hands during trick or treat. But another thing I always remember is when the Chicken McNuggets in a commercial dressed as classic monsters.  I mean who can forget the Vampire McNugget or The Mummy McNugget? The commercial had them doing all kinds of silly stuff that all was to make their own dipping sauce.  Later in the short commercial Ronald McDonald just gave them dipping sauce. I don’t know why, but this commercial has always stuck with me and I thought it was even cooler when they gave away McNugget toys in the Happy Meals that had them dressed as the monsters. Fun stuff, and man now I am hungry for McNuggets!

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Kids and the young at heart always wish that Halloween Town from Tim Burtons “A Nightmare Before Christmas” was real.  Well here in Ohio, we have something very close with Foy’s Halloween Shop and all of it’s other shops (adult and kids costume stores, a haunted house supply shop, etc) in Fairborn! Foy’s is run by Mike Foy and is a one stop shopping for all your halloween needs they have masks, costumes, candy, decorations, make up, gag gifts and so much more. In October the store really comes alive with a DJ outside that plays music.  When Dr. Creep was with us, he signed autographs and DVDs out front. They have a Batman on top of one of the buildings and lots of animatronics of people puking! The street is filled with people just hanging around and having a good time.  Every year I try and make at least one trip to Foy’s in October because the over all energy of that area is great Halloween fun. If you ever find yourself in Ohio in October, do yourself a favor and check out Foy’s.

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Speaking of costumes the older I got, the more I took notice of the sexy halloween costumes that are just wowing. Halloween is one